London is the kind of city where there is always something to do and never a dull moment. It stays busy around the clock and caters to all types of travellers. If you’re planning on visiting the English capital, the longer you have to spend here, the better.
Fitting all of the sites into a London itinerary may seem a little daunting, but I’m here to help. This guide lays out the city’s top attractions and experiences. I’ve also included some of my favourite cafes and restaurants to try out.
If you’re exploring London in 5 days, you’ll have plenty of time to see the highlights and discover the city like a local.
In this guide:
- 1 London Itinerary Day 1 – Central London
- 2 London Itinerary Day 2 – Notting Hill & South Kensington
- 3 London Itinerary Day 3 – South Bank
- 4 London Itinerary Day 4 – East & North London
- 5 London Itinerary Day 5 – Beyond London
- 6 Where to stay for 5 days in London
London has very efficient public transport, but getting around London can be a bit of a nightmare (there’s a reason there are so many London tube memes). I divided this itinerary with a different area for each day, to minimise travel across London.
Kick-off your 5 day London itinerary by exploring some of the city’s most popular squares and attractions. It’ll be a busy day out, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and have your camera handy.
Covent Garden is an area of London that perfectly personifies the local vibe. The neighbourhood is centred around the lively Covent Garden Market. This sprawling piazza is full of shops, eateries, and market stalls.
Neal’s Yard is a more quiet corner of Covent Garden full of charm, colour, and excitement. It contains a treasure-trove of independent shops, local boutiques and a wonderful mix of cafes and food joints.
I love walking around this part of London, because while being very distinctly London, it feels far from the usual hustle and bustle of the city.
There are endless options for entertainment in Leicester Square. This popular pedestrianised area is full of shops, theatres, restaurants, pubs, and clubs. It has a great atmosphere and there is something to do 24/7.
If you’re visiting London during the holidays make sure to check out the annual Leicester Square Christmas Market.
Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and busy public space. Similar to Times Square in New York, there are lots of large screens with various advertisements. As you can imagine, at night the whole area really lights up and stands out.
No London trip itinerary would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace. Serving as the headquarters of the UK monarchy, this iconic palace is a symbol of the city.
If time allows, try and schedule your visit when the Changing of the Guard ceremony is taking place.
Snapping a picture of the guards with their blazing red tunics and bearskin caps will make the perfect #London Instagram post. If you need help crafting the perfect London Instagram caption, check out these suggestions!
Westminster is one of London’s 32 boroughs. It contains many famous sites, like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square.
But possibly the most popular attraction is Westminster Abbey. This gothic church has been the setting for royal marriages and coronations for hundreds of centuries.
Mayfair is an upscale area of London with rows of elegant Georgian townhouses, well-kept squares, and gourmet eateries. It’s walking distance from Westminster and is a lovely area for a quiet afternoon stroll.
Cap off the first day of your 5 days in London itinerary with an exciting night out in Soho. This area is known for its lively vibe and has entertainment options galore.
For dancing and drinks, head to All Bar One. For something a little more casual, Ronnie Scott’s is a jazz bar that hosts some of the world’s top musicians.
Central London has lots of great UK chain restaurants, like Wagamama and Wahaca. But if you’re looking for a more personal dining experience, here are two great restaurants.
Feya – This stylish patisserie/cafe is great for brunch in London. Their latte flavours are quite creative and their brunch dishes are presented as a work of art.
Chotto Matte – This hip Japanese restaurant and sushi bar is big on flavour. They do an amazing weekend brunch that’s great value for money. And, you have the option to add on unlimited drinks.
The Portobello Road Market has something for everyone. Although its main draw are antique and vintage goods, you’ll also find plenty of souvenirs, local vendors, street eats, and a weekend farmer’s market.
Notting Hill has all the features of an amazing London neighbourhood: history, culture, shopping, and an incredible food scene. It’s an affluent area filled with colourful Victorian townhouses, tiny boutiques, and quirky cafes.
Close to it, the district of Kensington offers some of the most picturesque streets in London. You’ll definitely have house envy as you wander the cobblestone streets and admire the decorative buildings.
You can do your own self-guided and free walking tour of Notting Hill by following my route, and really soak in everything this London area has to offer.
South Kensington houses some of London’s top museums. Here are a few that make great additions to all London itineraries.
Natural History Museum –This massive museum displays a vast collection of specimens from different segments of natural history. From dinosaur bones to space exhibits, you’ll be entertained for hours.
Victoria and Albert Museum – Also called the V&A Museum, this is the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design. The permanent collection alone has over 2.27 million objects. Experience the artistic richness of the world in one place.
London Design Museum – This museum covers all different aspects of design, from product and graphic to fashion and architecture. The exhibits regularly change, so there’s always something new to discover.
This public park is very close to Buckingham Palace. It’s one of London’s royal parks and has a relaxed atmosphere. It’s perfect for a scenic stroll or a quiet picnic under a shady tree.
The Hummingbird Bakery – this quaint bakery is one of the best cafes in Notting Hill. It’s a great place to grab a sweet snack. They have a wide selection of pastries and desserts in lots of different flavours.
The Kensington Creperie – This simple creperie is great for breakfast and lunch. Their menu includes sweet and savoury crepes and galettes.
On day three of your London travel itinerary, get ready to see the city from all different angles. After all, this is a city you’ll want to see from all different perspectives.
The London Eye is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels. Marvel at one of the most unique views of the city in an enclosed capsule on a slow rotation that takes about 30 minutes.
Set along the River Thames, it offers a birds-eye view of famous London landmarks, like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Make sure to book tickets online so that you don’t have to queue as much.
Tate Modern is an art gallery that houses the incredible national collection of British art and international art that dates from 1900 to the present day. There’s no general admission charge, which makes it a fun and free London activity.
The Millennium Bridge, commonly referred to as the Harry Potter bridge by muggles, is a popular pedestrian crossing bridge. It’s suspended over the River Thames and links the Tate Modern with St Paul’s Cathedral.
You can capture some stunning views of London in the background, making it a great place for a quick photoshoot or a selfie.
The Tower Bridge is a historic London landmark. It was built between 1886 and 1894 and sits close to the Tower of London.
It offers beautiful views of the River Thames and the surrounding area. The top section of the bridge has a glass floor so you can view the road and river underneath while you’re crossing.
Tower Bridge itself is also one of the most recognisable and beautiful landmarks in London. I love taking pictures of it at sunset.
Borough Market – This lively market has lots of street food options and is perfect for lunch.
The Shard – For fancy drinks and some of the best views of London, visit The Shard. It’s a little pricey, but totally worth it!
Breakfast Club – This London chain restaurant does a fabulous all-day breakfast. It caters to carnivores as well as vegans and vegetarians.
Now that we’ve covered a fair share of the city’s main highlights on your itinerary for London, let’s get into some lesser-known (but just as incredible) areas and attractions.
The artsy neighbourhood of Shoreditch has a youthful vibe and offers something different from your typical tourist trends.
Discovering street art in Shoreditch is the perfect addition to any London sightseeing itinerary. The murals are very eye-catching and unique, and they’re always changing.
The Brick Lane Market is in London’s Bangladeshi community. It’s full of unique items, from antiques and second-hand clothing to furniture and food stalls. There are plenty of good deals to be had, and you never know what unique treasure you’re going to find.
If you want to taste some amazing curry, then this is the place to do so!
Camden Market is a hub of energy and excitement. It’s one of London’s most popular markets and has a bit of a “hipster” vibe. It’s full of just about anything you could imagine: souvenirs, clothing stores, local craft vendors, restaurants, and bars.
The main draw is the countless food stalls. You’ll find something for all tastes and dietary requirements.
Choose from Vietnamese, Columbian, Indian, Mediterranean, British cuisine, and more. Vegan and gluten-free options aren’t hard to find either.
My personal favourite is the halloumi fries stall. These are thick chunks of halloumi, fried and served with pomegrante seeds, yogurt and molasse sauce. Trust me, they’re delicious!
During the final moment of sunlight, make your way to Primrose Hill to catch an amazing sunset. Most tourists don’t know about this spot, which makes it a bit of a hidden gem. The hill is 65 metres high and offers picture-perfect views of London’s skyline.
There are a few benches and plenty of grassy lawn space to get comfortable on.
Rapsa @100 Hoxton – This Asian fusion restaurant features innovative dishes. They do weekday lunch and boozy bottomless brunch on weekends.
Doughnut Time – For a sweet snack, this doughnut shop makes over-the-top creations that are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the stomach.
Sky Garden – Visit this awesome rooftop bar for incredible views and top-notch drinks. I personally love Sky Garden. The drinks are a bit pricey, but the views are unlike any other in London. I always say Sky Garden is a must-see on any London bucket list.
Dinerama – This global street food market houses cuisine from all over the world in one convenient location.
To finish off the perfect five days in London, here are two more areas definitely worth checking out.
Richmond, formally called Richmond upon Thames due to its position on the river, is a town 15km outside of London.
Although just a stone throw from the city, it offers a completely different vibe. You’ll find plenty of open space, large parks, and scenic trails.
Richmond is where the famous Kew Gardens is located. This is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers visitors plenty to see and do.
Wander around an exotic rainforest, see giant lily pads, and walk 18 metres above the ground through the treetops. 132 hectares of gardens will be yours to explore.
Hampton Court Palace and Gardens is another popular Richmond attraction. This 16th-century Tudor palace was a favourite of King Henry VIII.
Explore the lavish residence and discover the young King in an exhibition showcasing his relationship with his first wife, Katherine of Aragon.
You are also free to explore the 24 hectares of the magnificent palace gardens that run along the River Thames.
Located on the banks of the River Thames, Greenwich is a London borough famous for its maritime history.
The National Maritime Museum is a historical institution filled with British naval treasures. Discover artefacts, paintings, documents, and other pieces of antiquity.
The Cutty Sark is part of the museum’s complex. Hop aboard this restored 19th-century sailing vessel and imagine what it would have been like to voyage around the world back in the day.
Continue your discovery of maritime Greenwich at the Royal Observatory. Established in the 17th century, this is where the great scientists of the day mapped the stars to navigate the seas.
See the famous Meridian Line and stand with one foot in the western hemisphere and one in the east. Add a little variation to your London 5 day itinerary by spending some time in exciting Greenwich.
Where to stay for 5 days in London
Since you only have five days in London you want to make sure you stay somewhere central and well connected. You don’t want to spend your 5 days in London wasting time on the tube!
Budget: SoHostel is considered one of the best hostels in London, and it’s easy to see why. With its cool interior design, spacious rooms and central location, it’s the perfect place to stay in London without breaking the bank.
Mid-range: Artist Residence, Pimlico – This London boutique hotel is in the heart of London, easily connected all of central London. The tastefully decorated rooms are the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring London.
Luxury: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – This beautiful property is located right next to Kings Cross Station. It’s in a perfect location to explore London, and also offers luxurious rooms and a spa for those looking to treat themselves.
London is a hub of activity that delights all travellers. It’s one of the largest European cities, which means there’s no shortage of things to do. Explore state-of-the-art museums, bustling markets, charming historical sites, and scenic parks.
I’ve lived in London for eight years, and I still haven’t explored everything there is to see in London.
On this site I put together also a London weekend itinerary, however if you have longer I definitely recommend taking your time and following this London 5-day itinerary.
Five days will give you just enough time to hit the highlights without rushing your trip. You’ll probably fall in love with the city so much, you’ll want to plan another London vacation itinerary!
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your 5 days in London. If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!
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