5 Days in London Itinerary Top Attractions and Things to Do in London

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London attracts visitors from all over the world and there’s no wonder why. London is one of those cities where you can always find something to do. London has world-class museums, a lively theater scene, and centuries of history to explore! 

As first-time travelers to London, we wanted to see the top attractions and things to do in London. During our first visit to London, we stayed for 5 full days and felt that we got to see and experience some of the best things London has to offer! Here is our 5 day London itinerary to give you some inspiration for your London trip planning! We have included the top tourist attractions and must-see places in London in this 5-day itinerary.

5 Day London Itinerary for First Time Visitors

If you’re visiting London for the first time, here is some practical information for visiting London!

5 Day London Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Show at the West End
  • Day 2: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, St Paul’s Park
  • Day 3: Westminister Square (Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, Palace of Westminister), London Eye
  • Day 4: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, British Museum
  • Day 5: Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Harrods
  • Personalize this Itinerary

Practical Information for Visiting London

Natural History Museum London Guide

Getting Around London

Central London is very easy to get around either by walking or Underground. If you are planning to use the Underground, you can buy day passes at any station of single ride passes for where you want to go! You can also use the double-decker bus system if you would like, but we personally find subways easier to navigate!

If you’re looking to have a local’s insider experience in London, consider booking a personalized tour through Hi, Hi Guide

Getting to London

London Airports

London has six major airports: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend. London Heathrow is the largest airport that services internationally. When we flew into London, we arrived via Heathrow. Going through customs and immigration took forever, but that’s typical for most major airports!.

By Train

London is also accessible via train. You can get to London by Rail Europe or Eurostar train systems.

Top Things to Do in London: First Time Visitors Guide to London

In this 5 day London itinerary we have included the best tourist attractions in London and some of the top museums in London. There are so many must-see places in London, so we tried to fit them all in for 5 days. We felt that 5 days in London was enough for us!

Tip: In this London itinerary, we’ve allotted plenty of time at London’s tourist attractions because we’re the type of people who like to take our time in places. So this itinerary leaves a lot of room for flexibility. For example, we have planned for entire mornings are afternoons for in museums. Because honestly, when we spend 5 days in London, we easily look up halves of our days in different attractions and museums!

Day 1: 5 Days in London Itinerary

Morning: Tower of London

On your first day in London, start your day off with one of London’s top tourist attractions, the Tower of London! Take the Tube to Tower Hill and get in line for your timed ticket! (Get your ticket here!)

The Tower of London, or the Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the bank of River Thames. The structure isn’t one single tower, but a series of towers built over centuries. The main tower, The White Tower, was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1078. The Tower of London has served as an armory, a treasury, public record office, prison, the home of the Crown Jewels of England, and a museum.

See the Crown Jewels

If you want to see the Crown Jewels and experience the history of London, put the Tower of London on the top of your list. This was on the top of our London bucket list! During your visit to the Tower, you get one of the infamous and humorous tours with a Beefeater. After your tour, you can wait in line for the Crown Jewels or explore the grounds and exhibitions. Don’t get discouraged with the sight of the line for the Jewels, it moves quickly considering the volume of people. If you’re planning on visiting the Tower, allow most of your day for your visit and book your tickets ahead of time.

What to do in London
The White Tower

London Bucket List

Where: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK

What: Home of the crown jewels

Underground Access: Tower Hill: District and Circle Lines

Cost: 23 £

Save up to 40% off tours and activities in London

Afternoon: Tower Bridge

After your morning at the Tower of London, visit the other famous tower in London: Tower Bridge. Built in the late nineteenth century, Tower Bridge has witnessed over a century of water travel that has included industrial shipping and modern tourism. Crossing the River Thames, this bascule and suspension bridge is often confused with the London Bridge. You can books tours for the towers or simply enjoy the site by walking across.

Highlights of London

Where: Westminister Abbey, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

What: Not the London Bridge

Underground Access: Tower Hill on District and Circle lines

Cost: Free to walk across, Tours and entry into Tower Bridge: £3-10 by age, family packages available 

Evening: See a Show on the West End

If you’re planning on visiting London and you love the arts, you should consider seeing a show on the West End. For those who are unaware, the West End is essentially London’s Broadway (or to some, Broadway is America’s West End!). Here, you can see world-class theatrical performances of some of the most famous shows, like The Lion King, Wicked, and Les Mis.

The West End Theatre district was founded in the early 19th Century after the opening of some small theatres. The expansion of the district grew rapidly after the passing of the Theatres Act in 1843 which lifted the restrictions on theatre in London. “Theatreland” or The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west, and Kingsway to the east is the area of the West End where many of the theatres put on shows daily. Many of the theatres as built in the Victorian or Edwardian style, making them very beautiful on the inside.

Les Mis West End

Our Experience Seeing Les Mis on the West End

During our trip to London, we decided to see Les Mis. And all I can say is I WAS SHOOK. The performance was absolutely fantastic, and we were in the third row! The price for our ticket wasn’t as much as you would think, only 70 British Pounds. For being in the third row of Les Mis on the West End, that was cheap to us.

London Shows – Save over 40% on Wicked, The Lion King and more. Book Now!

Les Mis West End
Les Mis West End

Day 2: 5 Days in London Itinerary

Morning: Buckingham Palace

Start your second day off in London by visiting Buckingham Palace! Containing 775 rooms, today Buckingham Palace is the working building for the monarch and London residence. The core structure of Buckingham Palace was constructed in by the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. Over the next century, the palace was enlarged and became the official royal palace for the monarch in 1837.  You can take tours of staterooms and exhibitions during the summer or simply view the grandeur from the outside. 

Buckingham Palace is absolutely beautiful to photograph! Read more about photography tips for London here.

London Bucket List

Where: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK

What: Royal residence of the Queen

Underground Access: Tower Hill: District and Circle Lines

Cost: State Rooms £24

Afternoon: National Gallery

After your visit to Buckingham Palace, make your way to the National Gallery. If it’s a beautiful day, you can easily walk to the National Gallery from Buckingham Palace! The National Gallery, located at Trafalgar Square, is home to a range of pieces from the Renaissance, Impressionism, Baroque and much, much more. Visiting the National Gallery made for a relaxing afternoon after visiting the busy sights. Some of the most famous pieces at the National Gallery include the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Raphael, and Michaelangelo. You can see a list of the 30 must-see paintings at the National Gallery here!

National Gallery Georges Seurat
Bathers at Asnières-Georges Seurat
National Gallery London

Hours: Daily 10am-6pm Friday until 9pm

Admission: Free 

Underground Stop: Charing Cross, Leicester Square

Visit Saint James Park

After spending hours in museums, it’s nice to get outside right?! London has beautiful parks and outdoor spaces scattered throughout the city. Visiting a park is a great way to slow down during your busy day of exploring the city and enjoy a cup of tea. In addition to being beautiful places during the spring and summer season, parks and outdoor spaces in London are transformed during the holidays into stunning Christmas Markets!

Things to do in London
Saint James Park

Day 3: 5 Days in London Itinerary

Today you’ll be exploring everything in Westminister Square! This district in London is full of London’s historic icons and government buildings like Parliament and the famous “Big Ben.” During this day of touring London’s historic buildings, you won’t have to travel very far to get from one to another.

Morning: Big Ben

Big Ben isn’t the clock tower, it’s the bell inside the tower! Located at the north end the Palace of Westminster, the clock tower is one of the most iconic sites in London. After a fire in 1834, the new buildings for the Houses of Parliament were designed to include a clock tower. The first chimes were heard in 1859. Beginning August 2017 to 2021, Big Ben will be silent except for special events due to renovation. The tower is not open to the public; however, you can tour The Palace of Westminster next door.

What to Do in London

Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place for The House of Commons and The House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The first royal palace was constructed in the 11th century and was the residence of the Kings and meeting site of Parliament until a fire destroyed it in the 16th century. After the fire, the new palace remained as a meeting site for the Houses of Parliament. Today, the Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and open to the public for debate viewings, committee hearings, and guided tours. Visit the Palace of Westminster

Where: Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

What: The Heart of the UK Government

Underground Access: Westminister on District, Circle or Jubilee lines

Cost:  £18

Highlights of London

Afternoon: Westminster Abbey

Over a thousand years ago, Benedictine Monks came to the site of Westminster Abbey establishing daily worship. Since 1066, Westminster Abbey has been a coronation church for the kings and queens of England and remains one of the most important Gothic buildings in the United Kingdom. The Abbey offers guided and audio tours that you can book online.

If you want to experience Westminster Abbey in a different way, the Abbey offers free admission to worship and recitals. Although you cannot tour the Abbey during these events, it is a great way to experience its beauty through music and worship. If you plan on attending, arrive at the Abbey at least 40 minutes ahead of time, because seating is limited and the line will be cut off. Check the Abbey’s daily schedule for details.

Things to Do in London

Where: Westminister Abbey, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

What: Where the Royals are Coronated

Underground Access: Westminister on District, Circle or Jubilee lines

Cost: £9 Children, £20 Adults, discounts available for students, seniors, and families when booked online

Evening: London Eye

After spending a full day touring Westminister Square, cross the River Thames and hop on the London Eye. The London Eye is one of London’s famous tourist attractions. The London Eye offers one of the highest panoramic views of London!

Day 4: 5 Days in London Itinerary

Morning: Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Saint Paul’s Cathedral is the most famous church in London. It has hosted famous services including the funerals of Admiral Nelson, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher; the jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. A visit to Saint Paul’s includes the crypt, main church, and dome. Guided tours are available.

Where: St Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD

What: London’s most famous church

Underground Access: Central Line Saint Paul’s

Cost: £20 Adults

Tate Modern and Millenium Bridge

If you’re a fan of modern art, the Tate is for you. Here you can see the work of some the most famous modern artists. And it’s so appropriate that it’s located in the old power station on Bankside.

On your way to the Tate, walk across Millenium Bridge. And instead of looking at the River Thames around you or the Dome of Saint Paul’s, take a moment to look down at your feet. Here, you’ll see some really modern art. Ben Wilson, an artist, used chewing gum to create small art pieces along the bridge! Read more at this awesome post by the Culture Trip!

Millennium Bridge London
Millennium Bridge London with Saint Paul’s Dome
Millennium Bridge London Modern Art

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10am-6pm, Friday to Saturday 10am-10pm

Admission: Free

Underground Stop: Southwark or Saint Paul’s

or Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

If you’re looking for the non-musical, you can visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The original theatre was built in 1599 and the one standing at the nearby site today is a modern reconstruction. The original theatre had a rough history. The all wood Elizabethian style theatre went up in flames and was shut down the Puritans in its time. Obviously today, it’s most famous for who put on their shows there (Duh Shakespeare). If you want to see what it’s like in action, you can see performances at Shakespeare’s Globe!

Shakespeare's Globe London
Shakespeare's Globe London

Hours: Daily 9am-5pm

Admission: Accepts London Pass, 9-16 British Pounds

Underground Stop: Blackfriars or Mansion House

Afternoon: British Museum

The British Museum is considered one of the greatest museums in the world because of its immense collection of human history and antiquities. The British Museum was founded as a “universal museum” in the will of Sir Hans Sloane, a naturalist, and physician. Today, the Museum holds thousands of years of history, with some of the most iconic specimens that draw the millions of visitors each year.

London Museum Guide

Some of the most famous pieces include Elgin Marbles from the Acropolis in Athens and the Rosetta Stone. These pieces are actually under ownership controversy from their home country. Many people claim that these items should be in their home country. Others like they are in a popular museum like the British Museum. What do you think?

London Museum Guide
The Rosetta Stone is a popular artifact!
London Museum Guide
British Museum Guide

If your time is limited, you can visit the top things to see in the British Museum using the guide on their website. 

Admission: Free

Hours: Daily 10am to 5:30pm Friday 10am to 10:30 

Underground Stop: Goodge Street, Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square 

Day 5: 5 Day London Itinerary

London has some of the best and most famous museums in the world, many of which are free to visit! London museums feature a range of interests from history, art, culture, to natural sciences. Visiting Museums was one of our top things to do in London! So on this final day of your 5 days in London, spend it in a museum!

Morning: The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London holds a vast collection of botany, zoology, ornithology, and geology with exceptional and interactive exhibits. The Museum has a beautiful Great Hall, an amazing exhibition of dinosaurs, and the collection of the one and only Charles Darwin, just to name of few highlights! During the summer, you can visit the butterfly garden outside!

Natural History Museum London Guide
Natural History Museum London

The Diplodocus dinosaur cast or “Dippy” that was located in the Great Hall until 2017 is actually a cast of the original skeleton that is located at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh? Dippy was on display for 112 years and now in 2018, the Great Hall features the skeleton of a blue whale!

London Museum Guide
Say hello to the animatronic T-Rex at the Natural History Museum!
And don’t forget to say hello to staff and volunteers, too! They can answer questions and share their knowledge about the natural world.
Natural History Museum London

Hours Daily: 10am to 6pm

Admission: Free

Underground Stop: South Kensington

Afternoon: Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, or known as the V and A, is a unique gem in London. Conveniently located next to the Natural History Museum and Harrods, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. The concept of the museum began in 1852 as the Museum of Manufacturers and throughout the next twenty years, it evolved into the museum that it is today. Today, The V and A honors thousands of years of human creativity.

The galleries of the V and A are filled with art and decor from all around the world and through centuries of trends. You can see pieces of Art Deco, 1960’s fashion, sculpture, and jewelry.

London Museum Guide
London Museum Guide

Hours Daily: 10am to 6pm Friday: 10am to 10pm 

Admission: Free

Underground Stop: South Kensington  

Evening: Stroll Through Harrods or Hyde Park

Not far from Hyde Park is a lovely neighborhood called Notting Hill. (Yes like the movie!) This neighborhood is known for being vibrant and trendy with its boutiques, restaurants, and markets. Every year Notting Hill attracts huge crowds for the Notting Hill Carnival!

Personalize this Itinerary

If you only have One or Two days in London pick between activities on Days 1 and 3. These days are full of the “bucket list” attractions in London so get them checked off if you only have one or two days in London

If you have more than 5 days…

London is full of different things to do aside from the highlights that we just talked about in this post. So if you have more than 5 days in London consider adding these few things to your London itinerary!

With all of its museums and things to do, London is a great place to travel with families. If you’re traveling with kids, especially tween-aged, the Educational Tourist has put a together a guide about how to prepare to visit London with your kids and tweens!

Book day trips from London! Visit Stonehenge, Windsor castle and bath

Where to Stay in London: Stafestay Elephant and Castle

If you’re looking for a hostel close to central London, SafeStay is a good option. During our stop in London on the Grand Tour of Europe, we stayed in the SafeStay Hostel at Elephant and Castle. This hostel had rooms of bunk beds accommodating six people; however, private rooms were available. The beds had curtains for privacy, which was nice, but they did not include personal outlets. Our bathroom was separated into a toilet/sink room and a shower room. The shower room was literally a shower room, so the entire 4×4 space would get wet while showering. Sheets, blankets, and under bed lockers were provided; however, towels and breakfast were an extra charge.

Since we were traveling as a group with EF College Break, towels and breakfast were included for us. The breakfast was simple and included yogurts, fruit, cereal, and bread products. For us, it wasn’t the best breakfast; we found ourselves getting hungry earlier than normal. Our days were very busy, so our logic is to always eat larger breakfasts in the case we would have a late lunch. The breakfast room also served as a bar in the evening.

Since the hostel was located a 10-minute walk from the Elephant and Castle Underground Station, we had access to central London. Not to sound like a stereotypical American tourist, one downside to the hostel was the lack of air conditioning. Although London doesn’t get incredibly hot in the summer, it was hot enough during our stay (85 and sunny) that air conditioning would have been nice. The wifi did not work very well in the room. You had to be in the lobby to get the best connection.

Who’s Ready to Spend 5 Days in London?

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