Irresistible itinerary: how to spend three days in London

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London tour

So you’re planning a (maybe) once-in-a-lifetime visit to the UK capital, London. But you’re only going to be in the city for three days? What to see? What to do? What can you actually, realistically squeeze in? Good question. The answer is you can get around a lot of its biggest and best attractions in that limited time so long as you do a bit of research and planning. What you need then is to create an itinerary for yourself. One, for example, rather like this…?

Day 1

If you’re staying in the centre of London (not least in the Mayfair/ Marble Arch/ Hyde Park area), then it’s a fantastic inducement to kick off your London visit by taking a stroll into the capital’s premier expanse of green itself. If you head south towards the impressive Wellington Arch, you’ll eventually reach the almost as tranquil and delightful Green Park. Cross through here and you’ll arrive at the icon for all times that’s HM The Queen’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace. And, should you have started your day early enough, you’ll be just in time to catch the world-famous Changing of the Guard ceremony (which usually takes place here around 11am).

 

Following this, you can complete the Central London Royal Park hat-trick by taking in the gloriously charming St. James’s Park, en route to one of the most significant of all the sights in the capital, arguably the UK’s most important church, Westminster Abbey. Located as it is in the district that’s at the very heart of the nation’s political power, it’s then just a few steps from here to the globally-recognised symbol of democracy that’s the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (the alias for its clock tower) and 10 Downing Street, home and work-place of the British Prime Minister, which is down Whitehall.

From Westminster, cross the bridge over the Thames and you’ll find yourself on the South Bank and right in front of the famed London Eye (formerly known as the Millennium Wheel). An hour-long trip in one of its pods will afford you a fantastic view of the entire city’s skyline – see if you can spot where you’ve been and your hotel (for instance, the Park Grand London Hyde Park hotel)!

Finally, you’ll need some food. Why not finish off the day by returning to your hotel for supper – or trying out one of the fashionable, stylish but affordable restaurants to be found in the West End’s Piccadilly Circus area – just re-cross Westminster Bridge, head up Whitehall, through the globally renowned Trafalgar and Leicester Squares and you’ll arrive at the Eros statue in no time.

Explore Piccadilly Circus & China Town

Day 2

Why not start off your day at the incredible attraction that’s the Tower of London – medieval fortress, palace, prison, treasury and now an incredible site of living history; the Tower truly has it all. After a two or three hours checking out all it has to offer, cross the Thames via the iconic international landmark that’s Tower Bridge, head past the squashed-tomato-like City Hall building and the magnificent 17th Century-like theatre venue that’s Shakespeare’s Globe and eventually you’ll reach the incredibly interesting HMS Belfast – a fully preserved World War Two-era naval ship.

From here, head to London Bridge station and take the London Underground (everyone has to travel by ‘Tube’ when in London!) to Camden Town, where you can while away some hours amidst all the markets, weird and wonderful fashion outlets and pop-up food stalls; Camden’s a supreme haven of alternative culture that has to be seen – and experienced – to be believed.

After this, pop on the Tube again and make for Goodge Street for the British Museum. Arguably the greatest museum in the world, you could spend hours and hours in here. Instead, do your research before your trip to London – what do you fancy seeing most of all? The Elgin Marbles? The Rosetta Stone? The Egyptian mummies? This place is so vast you’ll simply have to prioritise as you won’t be able to see all that you might want to. But it’ll be totally worth it, even so.

Finally, if you’re not too tired, head ‘up west’ to the West End’s shopping district of Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street for some retail therapy. After which, how about trying the excellent ethnic dining of Chinatown for dinner? Alternatively, if you are tired; head back to your hotel for supper.

Day 3

National Portrait Gallery

It’s your last day in the UK capital – boo! – so make it a great one. Start off as you mean to go on; with an unparalleled level of grandeur by heading off east to The City for the unmistakeable domed magnificence of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece that remains the city’s ‘church of the people’. After exploring inside – taking in the tombs in its crypt and that famed dome – jump on the Tube and head west to Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross station) for the National Gallery. Containing more than 2,300 artworks by masters such as van Gogh it’s a magisterial gallery; as is the one next door, the National Portrait Gallery, which offers a breath-taking journey through five centuries of British history via the medium of portraiture.

By now, you may be all museumed-and-galleryed-out, so walk the short way to the charismatic and utterly charming Covent Garden. A marvellous tourist-trap, it offers a plethora of quaint shops, bars, pubs and restaurants in which to spoil yourself before your journey home.