Earlier this year, I spent a week in England with three of my best girlfriends and, let me tell you, it was a trip to remember. We spent one night flying overseas, 3 nights in London, and 3 nights in the Cotswolds. I would do the trip over and over again if I could. The best part would be that I’d never run out of things to do in London because it is such a vibrant city! I could live in London in a heartbeat and routinely ask Edwin if we can swing moving our family there for a period of time. That’s how much I adore the city. We were tasked with a hard job for our trip… what to do in London for 3 days. Only 3 days.
That simply isn’t even close to enough time so we decided to fully embrace that fact and just enjoy every single second in the city without trying to force too much into our short trip. London is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world yet it is also one of my most historic. The city offers tons of activities for all kinds of travelers all year round and boasts fascinating history, colorful neighborhoods, too many Instagram-worthy spots to count, to-die-for restaurants, and endless destinations to explore including art galleries, museums, palaces, parks, and note-worthy shops.
What To Do In London For 3 Days
With all the choices London offers, it can be overwhelming to plan your activities in London especially if you’re there for a short stay like us. Today, I’m sharing a round-up for activities you can be confident in doing and excited to experience when tasked with what to do in London for 3 days. Along with this post that includes our 3 day itinerary for London, I also wrote a post on what to wear in London and will be sharing a general greatest hits post for London (which will be much shorter and to the point than this lengthier post) and my guide to The Cotswolds. We did tons of research before our trip so it’s a joy to share it here!
Before I dive in, y’all know I always recommend working with my sister’s travel advisory company, Sea to City Travels, but it really does make all the difference when planning a big international trip. She had everything booked in advance for us from our airport transports to every single reservation (she works with hotel concierges to make reservations happen – even hard to get ones!) and helped us map out an itinerary that fit what we were looking for and that made sense geographically. From central London to the South Bank to landmarks like Kensington Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London is huge, especially when you don’t know the lay of the land so she is immensely helpful to work with.
London 3-Day Itinerary
The Goring hotel
Start your trip by checking into The Goring hotel for a truly sensational stay. Staying at The Goring Hotel in London is a quintessential British experience, where you can indulge in luxurious accommodations, impeccable service, and the charm of a family-run establishment. Located in the heart of Belgravia, this iconic hotel offers a perfect blend of timeless elegance and modern comfort for an unforgettable stay in London. We stayed here and absolutely loved everything about our trip.
Freshen up and walk to The Ivy Chelsea Garden for a delightful culinary experience, offering a charming garden setting and a menu filled with delectable dishes and a whole section of classically British food called ‘the Ivy Classics’. The garden here is stunning but don’t forget to use the ladies room while dining here as it is gorgeous too.
Get moving after a filling lunch with an afternoon of shopping. I suggest one of two options for shopping nearby The Ivy Cheese Garden… 1) shop in Chelsea (where The Ivy is located) for some high end designer shopping and lovely strolling 2) take a 20 minute walk to the quintessentially English street in Belgravia called Elizabeth Street, where you’ll find charming cafés and coffee shops as well as so many wonderful boutiques for you, for littles, for the home, and for your beauty cabinet. Elizabeth Street is in between The Ivy and The Goring so I like this option and then you can walk back to the Goring to get ready for the evening.
Enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the incredibly cozy and inviting bar at The Goring and then head out for dinner at Gymkhana for an exquisite experience dining on the best Michelin-starred Indian cuisine. The flavors are incredible and the ambiance is special. This is a very memorable London meal that we were obsessed with!
Start the morning with a neighborhood walk to get coffee/tea or enjoy a relaxing morning at The Goring.
Make your first stop of the day a visit to The Victoria and Albert Museum (30 ish minute walk or 10 ish minute car ride) in South Kensington. A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum promises a captivating exploration of art, design, and history, with its extensive and diverse collection that spans centuries and cultures – you can truly get lost here for hours. I also gravitate toward the V&A because the museum has a fashion exhibit.
After taking in history, culture, and art at the V&A, walk over to lunch at the divine restaurant Daphne’s. Lunch at Daphne’s in London is a delightful experience, offering Italian-inspired cuisine in a chic and stylish setting, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely and indulgent meal. We ate here for lunch on my birthday and it was sensational meal in the most beautiful setting!
You’ll want to get some steps in after an indulgent lunch so my recommendation is to walk over to Harrods (under a 15 minute walk) for an afternoon well spent in the most beautiful department store. Shopping at Harrods is a luxurious and unparalleled experience, where you can peruse a vast array of high-end products, from fashion and jewelry to gourmet foods (the foods and desserts!!), within the opulent confines of this world-famous department store. In all honestly, you could spend an entire day just inside Harrods.
Take a 10 minute cab back to The Goring to freshen up for a very London night out!
Start your night with one of my very favorite London experiences, martinis at The Connaught Bar. I can’t express enough how much this needs to be on your London itinerary (our concierge at The Goring helped us secure the reservation). The Connaught Bar serves up the best martini I’ve ever had in my life, hands down. Sipping martinis at The Connaught Bar in London is a refined affair, with expertly crafted cocktails, elegant surroundings, and impeccable service that epitomize the art of cocktail hour. It’s a spot. We randomly ran into some of our friends from Los Angeles while cocktail-ing here, which was too much fun!
Depending on your footwear for the evening, take a 10 minute walk or a 7 minute cab over to dinner at Isabel Mayfair. Dinner at Isabel Mayfair in London is a glamorous and immersive dining experience, combining Mediterranean flavors, stylish decor, and a vibrant atmosphere. We went here with a party mindset, and party we did. After dinner, we went to the club downstairs for libations and dancing.
History & Architecture
Start your day with a little British history and culture by walking over to Buckingham Palace from The Goring (10 min walk) to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Follow this by strolling through St. James’s Park, the most royal of London’s Royal Parks, to enjoy the scenic views. Next, walk to Westminster Abbey (7 min walk) to explore its stunning Gothic architecture and the rich history of one of the most famous churches in the world. It has been the location of the coronations of 40 English and British monarchs (including The Queen and, recently, King Charles) as well as the burial site for 18 English, Scottish, and British monarchs.
Make your way back to The Goring (20 min walk, 8 min car ride) for one of my absolute must-do London experiences, afternoon tea at The Goring. We had afternoon tea here because we wanted to enjoy all our hotel had to offer and it was splendid in every way. The scones were the best scones I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m still thinking about them. Afternoon tea at The Goring in London is such a quintessentially British experience with exquisite teas, delectable pastries, and elegant ambiance – there’s a reason it’s a royal favorite. My other suggestion for an afternoon tea reservation would be at Claridges. Indulging in afternoon tea at Claridge’s is a timeless experience, where the impeccable service, opulent Art Deco surroundings, and an array of delectable treats create a truly delightful afternoon. It is beautiful!
Relax after tea in your room or by the fire downstairs at The Goring before changing and heading out the door to Chiltern Firehouse for a lively night out. Dining at Chiltern Firehouse is the London night out you’re looking for: a trendy atmosphere, delectable modern-European cuisine, and the prospect of celebrity sightings (Michael Strahan was there right next to us the night we were there), making it a spot to nestle into but also to see and be seen (there is a no cell phone policy, which I love!). Make a later dinner reservation so that your dinner bleeds into the small hours and stay at Chiltern all night as it turns into a lively bar.
More London Recommendations
My itinerary for what to do in London for 3 days barely scratches the surface of what London has to offer. Visiting London is a rich experience as the city seamlessly blends centuries of history with a vibrant contemporary culture. From iconic landmarks like the Tower of London (home of the Crown Jewels) and Buckingham Palace to the unique neighborhoods of South Kensington and Notting Hill, the city offers a diverse tapestry of experiences. The world-class museums, bustling markets, and the charming parks like Hyde Park contribute to the beautiful city that truly encapsulates the essence of both tradition and modernity.
With an exhaustive list of museums to choose from – Victoria and Albert Museum, The National Gallery, The British Museum, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Museum of London, Design Museum, The Wallace Collection (to name some) – London offers SO MUCH. Then there are experiences like taking a ride on the London Eye, eating your way through Borough Market, shopping in Covent Garden, and walking the Tower Bridge over the River Thames that are so uniquely London. There are no limits when it comes to exploring London!
How To Get Around London
Transportation around London is key. When thinking about what to do in London for 3 days, we kept a focus on the fact that our trip was so short so we didn’t want to be spending a ton of time in cars or in transportation around town. We created an itinerary (the above itinerary) that involved a lot of walking and short car rides so we could maximize our time. This limited us in that it kept us from going to a few restaurants and attractions we wanted to experience that were father away from our hotel but, in the long run, it was absolutely the right call because London felt totally accessible this way.
When planning your trip, especially if it is a short trip where time is of the essence, remember to check the opening hours and any entry requirements for attractions (an advisor like my sister can help with this!), plan geographically, and consider purchasing an Oyster Card for convenient access to public transportation. I’m certainly not a bus tour gal, but people do swear by the Hop on Hop tours in London. London offers a wealth of experiences, so feel free to adjust my itinerary to suit your interests and pace.
How To Save Money On London Attractions
Booking with a travel advisor will help you save money on your London trip with all the hotel amenities they can secure. Also, it is worth noting that you can save money on London attractions with the London Pass. Our trip consisted of a lot of meals, exploring, and shopping so it didn’t make sense for us but it could be practical depending on the trip. The London Pass gives you free admission to 80+ attractions in London and allows you to skip long entrance lines at several on the lengthy list.
Stay tuned for more England posts to come from me!