There is so much to do and see in London that it seems simply overwhelming. I was fortunate to make multiple trips to London around the year and explore it at a very leisurely pace. Based on how much time you have on hand, select your top attractions and cover it area wise.
Suggestions for a packed London sightseeing trip
- Day 1 : Start with Tower of London, see St. Paul’s Cathedral, cross Tower Bridge, checkout HMS Belfast, Globe Theater and Dungeons (London bridge experience). End the day overlooking the city from Shard or go shopping at Oxford street / Bond Street.
- Day 2 : Start with Westminster – See the Parliament, Big Ben and Abbey. Walk through St James Park to Buckingham palace. Walk back along the Mall to Churchill War Rooms and then Downing Street. Walk down to famous Trafalgar Square. End the day by walking over to Piccadilly Circus.
- Day 3 : Get some fresh air at Hyde Park. Take a tour of Kensington palace and Royal Albert Hall. Take a bus/train to Covent Garden. Quickly walk through Transport museum and enjoy the evening shopping/ eating/ watching a play at Covent Garden.
- Day 4 : Take a tour of Lords stadium. Explore Regent’s park, Zoo and Primrose Hill. Go on a Thames river cruise to Greenwich and see Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory.
- Day 5 : Take the long ride to Wimbledon for a tour. Come back to the main city to explore British Museum and National History Museum. Take a ride on London Eye or just go to Harry Potter studios in the evening!
If you have more time, take a trip to Windsor Castle (covered in London pass). You can also consider day trips to nearby cities of Bath, Cambridge, Oxford to explore these lovely towns.
Other Paid Attractions not covered in London Pass
- Plays: Do make time to watch at least one play in London. Tickets ain’t cheap, so book in advance or try for last-minute discount at shops in Piccadilly circus. Watch a Disney musical like Aladdin/ Wicked or see one of oldest running play, Mousetrap (written by Agatha Christie’s)
- London Eye: We finally decided to go see what the fuss is about. It was a nice sunny day and there was a really long queue waiting for us. Ticket cost is around GBP 24, but we used the Kellogg’s coupon and got 50% off. After the short 4D movie we waited for the 30 minutes ride. Nice views of London, especially Westminster. Nothing exceptional but probably one of the best compared to similar structures in other cities like Singapore.
- Harry Potter Studio: Do book tickets well in advance for your preferred slot (Cost around GBP 40) . We took the train to Watford and then took the studio shuttle (GBP 2.5 for return ticket). The place isn’t very big but you can spend a lot of time, looking, reading and reliving the magic of Harry Potter films. Walk along great hall, see Dumbledore’s office, stroll through Diagon Alley and then get awed by replica of the castle. You can even get dresses in Hogwarts robes and get yourself a picture/ video with special effects (SS Tip: even if you don’t buy it in the end, do try it out for fun). The whole experience takes 3-4 hours based on your interest. Worth going for HP fans!
- London Pass: If you plan to cover multiple attractions, I strongly recommend buying the London Pass. This is applicable at multiple places and covers majority of the attractions. It’s a single card (fixed amount based on number of days) and you just need to swipe when at attraction entrance. Great savings and we actually covered more places due to this card
- Oyster Card: If you plan to use the tube (fast and easy) or bus, then get an oyster card. Either just top up with 10-20 GBP or buy a pass for unlimited travel within the specific zones. Majority of attractions are within zone 1-3
- SIM: It’s easy to buy a sim card right at the airport or anywhere in the city. We found Lebara to be cheap and efficient. You will need internet for Google maps and figuring out routes (Dont be surprised if some lines are closed on the tube)
- Clothes: Wear layers as it can rain anytime. Indoors are very warm so you would want to get rid of your jackets when you step inside a museum or restaurant