London is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. It’s a place filled with culture, history, excellent nightlife and a lot of things to do. The following itinerary is based on my 5-days stay in London (back in March 2011). Among the sites visited are: British Museum, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Bucking Palace, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park and Westminster Abby.
In order to save money on your trip to London , it’s best to plan the visit outside the summer season. Sure, you need to pack layered clothes and make sure you have something to withstand the wind and the damp air, but the sights aren’t very crowded and everything is cheaper.
When you have only 3 days to spend in a large and interesting city such as London, you need to set the priorities. Which are the sights you must see and you would be sad if you left the city without seeing them? Mark those on the map and then create an itinerary. Everything else comes in second.
- You stay in a budget hotel or hostel easy to reach by underground.
- During your stay in London you’ll be using day travelcards outside the peak hours (from 9:30 a.m.). The long distances are covered by the tube , the shorter ones on foot.
- You have both a map of the city and a map of the tube (you can usually find them bundled , in pocket size maps).
- For the purpose of this article, you get to stay 3 full days in London; hence you’ll be leaving on Day 4.
Get to know the area around your hotel/hostel. Which is the closest underground stop? What important sites are close by? If you stay in Bayswater , you can walk to Kensington Gardens and then all the way to Hyde Park with its famous Speaker’s Corner, then to the Arch of Wellington and the Buckingham Palace .
In the afternoon, find a pub (chances are there plenty of them close to where you stay and many offer free wi-fi). Try the pub food – fish and chips are a must-have – and the beer. Get to know the locals and feel the vibe of the city. Maybe even watch a football game on TV in the pub.
Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace: if you visit London outside the summer, the changing of the guard doesn’t take place every day, so do a bit of research ahead of time. And make sure to get to Buckingham Palace at least 15 min before the scheduled event as you need to find a good spot to watch the changing of the guards. Even outside the summer, there are crowds waiting. The ceremony takes about 45 min.
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British Museum : the museum is huge, so make a plan. Visit the exhibits you don’t want to miss and then leave some time for the rest of the museum. Just remember that it takes hours and ½ a day is minimum what you’d end up spending here. You can take breaks and enjoy a coffee or something refreshing at the café within the museum
>>read about the Best Exhibits at British Museum
St. Paul’s Cathedral : easy to get to from British Museum by underground. Remember to look behind you when you exit the underground stop. You can visit the inside of the church or just take photos from the outside.
In the evening, you can enjoy the nightlife, whether you head to a pub or a club. Just remember that if you visit London during major events (such as a football game or St. Patrick’s Day), by 7 p.m. the pubs are full and it’s hardly like to find a table.
Tower of London: exit the underground exactly opposite the castle. Visit the Royal Jewelry if you want to. But you can certainly spend a lot of time just walking around the castle.
Make a stop and enjoy some coffee (and probably internet, too) at the Starbuck’s located close to Tower Bridge . Then cross the bridge on foot. The bridge can also be visited inside.
Then, you can catch the underground directly from a station close to Tower Bridge and get off at the Parliament. And the exit is right near Big Ben (this girl was quite scared of the …Big clock). Spend some time taking photos of the Parliament and the famous clock (good luck being able to fit both you and it in the same picture!).
London Eye : cross the bridge to London Eye. Although some say it’s an overrated experience, I loved it. I admit my husband sort of dragged me to take the ride but the 4D experience before the read really was worth it, too. In a less foggy day, the views are amazing.
Westminster Abby: you can easily spot it from the London Eye. Just cross the bridge back to the Parliament and walk by it. There’s a fee to visit the Abby but there’s a smaller chapel close to the Abby which can be visited for free.
All photos by Cristina Puscas and may not be used without permission.