Perfect London Itinerary for First-Timers: 4 Days in London

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London for first timers can be completely overwhelming! If you’re planning to visit London for the first time, it’s important to think about how to spend your time in the city. I used to live in London, and put together this guide to outline the perfect 4 day London itinerary for first time visitors to London. Whenever friends or family came to visit me, this is exactly where I’d take them! With 4 days in London, you will have plenty of time to see all of the best sights in London for tourists. I’ve also included my recommendations on where to eat and where to stay if it’s your first time in London. Keep reading for the perfect 4 day London itinerary! 

london phone booth

Before You Visit London for The First Time, You’ll Need…

When you’re planning your first trip to London, there are so many things to think about ahead of time. I’ve put together this handy checklist for traveling to London, so make sure to check it out to simplify your London travel planning!

When you’re packing for London, there are a few things that you’ll need to bring on your trip. Most importantly:

Important Packing tip for England: Don’t forget to pack a power adapter! I love this UK power adapter because it has two outlets AND two USB ports. AND it’s less than $15!

Where to Stay With 4 days in London

How do you even start to pick a place to stay in London?  The hotel options are truly countless.  With 4 days in London, you should stay in a central part of the city, and close to a tube station, so that it is easy to get around.

You can also check out a post I’ve done on the best neighborhoods to stay in London for first time tourists. This must-read guide has all my favorite places to stay in London!

First Time London Visitors Can’t Go Wrong with These Hotels

The London hotel I’ve stayed at again and again is the Marriott Grosvenor Square.  It’s perfectly-located!  

The Marriott Grosvenor Square is close to multiple tube lines, meaning that it is very easy to get around.  It’s also walking distance to TONS of shopping and restaurants.  I also love that I can earn or spend my Marriott Bonvoy points there.

Another favorite London hotel is The Rosewood London.  If your budget can accommodate a stay here, I couldn’t recommend a better hotel!

For a budget-friendly option, I recommend the Thistle Piccadilly.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Mistakes Tourists Make in London…And What to Do Instead!

A 4 Day London Itinerary for First Time Visitors

Now that you know what to pack and where to stay, let’s kick off your 4 day trip to London!

4 Day London Itinerary Map

Here’s what this 4 day London itinerary for first timers looks like on the map:

Perfect London Itinerary: Day 1

Get your trip, and your perfect London itinerary, started on the right foot with a visit to my absolute FAVORITE spot in London: The Tower of London.

Visiting the Tower of London

I love visiting the Tower of London because of its vivid history and the role that it played in London’s past.

The history of the Tower of London will give you goosebumps.  You even get to view the crown jewels as part of the tour.  Be sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time to avoid the lines.

After your visit to the Tower, walk along the promenade by the River Thames, which is the perfect spot for a photo opp with the Tower Bridge in the background.

Wait long enough, and you’re likely to see Tower Bridge open up to let a ship pass through.  Many people confuse this bridge with London Bridge, which is further up the river and not nearly as good-looking.

READ MORE: The Best Instagram Spots in London

Lunch with a View in London

At this point, you’ve probably worked up an appetite.  Lunch at Duck & Waffle is the perfect place to stop.  The restaurant is open 24/7, but there’s not an all-night-diner vibe in sight.

Instead, you’ll be treated to boho chic decor along with incredible views of the city.  Not to mention the coolest tile floors I’ve ever seen!  There’s a reason it’s always on my list of the most Instagram-worthy restaurants in London.

Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral

After lunch, pop over to St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the architectural icons of London.  You’ll no doubt recognize it from photos of the city.  You can book your tickets ahead of time here.

You can tour the inside of the cathedral, but make sure to appreciate the exterior, too.

One of the best places to see the outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral is by walking across the Millennium Bridge to the south side of the Thames.   Turn around halfway, and you’ll have a very cool photo opp of old meets new in London.

london itinerary travel guide

Across the bridge on the other side of the Thames is the Tate Modern, another one of London’s gems.  The Tate is absolutely worth a visit, especially if modern art is up your alley.  Even better?  Entry is free!

Pro Travel Tip: These days, travel can be more uncertain than ever. Check for any COVID-related restrictions at your destination, and never travel without travel insurance! I recommend SafetyWing, because they have flexible + affordable insurance plans, and also cover COVID-related impacts on your trip (not all companies do)!

See London from Above

End the first of your 4 days in London with a view of the city from The Shard.  I’d recommend going up to the observation area, and getting a glass of champagne.

You can get your tickets to the viewing area online ahead of time.  Afterwards, make your way to dinner at one of the chic restaurants in the building.  I would recommend either Aqua Shard or Hutong.

london itinerary travel guide shard

London Itinerary for First Timers: Day 2

Get an early start this morning with breakfast in Notting Hill.  London’s most picturesque neighborhood is filled with candy-colored houses and dreamy private gardens, so wandering through it is a real treat.

Walk down Portobello Road, the most well-known street in the neighborhood due to its renowned market.  Don’t miss the smaller side streets around Westbourne Grove, which are incredibly charming.

perfect london itinerary notting hill

Breakfast in Notting Hill

My favorite spot for breakfast is Farm Girl Cafe, where you won’t be disappointed in the food, the coffee, or the instagram-worthiness of the decor!

Farm Girl opens at 8:30am, so you’ll have plenty of time for food before heading to your next stop: Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards.

Viewing The Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace

If you want to get a good spot for viewing said guards, you’ll want to get to Buckingham Palace by 10:30am at the absolute latest.  It gets crowded quickly!

The ceremony typically takes place at 11:00am – and it doesn’t always happen every day!  So make sure to check the schedule ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Mistakes Tourists Make in London…And What to Do Instead!

Visit Green Park and Harrod’s

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without enjoying the city’s public parks, many of which used to be hunting grounds for the Royal Family.

After Buckingham Palace, you can stroll through Green Park and then over to Harrod’s, London’s most luxurious department store, and an absolute must-see if it’s your first time in the city.  Don’t miss the food halls on the very bottom floor!

Best Place for Afternoon Tea in London

After you’ve gotten your shopping fix, walk through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace Pavilion, where you can have a lovely afternoon tea overlooking Kensington Palace and the palace gardens.  

It’s my absolute favorite spot for afternoon tea in London!  Make sure that you make a reservation in advance.

london itinerary

Visit the British Museum, Home to Many of London’s Treasures

No 4 day London itinerary would be complete without a visit to the British Museum.

So plan on spending the last few hours of the afternoon at the British Museum, another must-see for first-timers in London.

The British Museum is TEEMING with incredible treasures that celebrate human history and culture…including the Rosetta Stone!   The museum is typically open until 5:30pm, but check the website for opening hours on the day you’re planning to visit.

For dinner on Day 2, you can’t go wrong with Sketch!   The decor, including egg-shaped toilets (!) is a must-see.

Perfect London Itinerary: Day 3

Start off your third day in London by checking out some of the city’s most iconic sights: Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. For first time visitors to London, these are a must!

Outside of Westminster Abbey, you can admire the Gothic architecture of the Abbey, and then head inside to soak up the vast amount of British history that’s housed there – you can buy your tickets online ahead of time to avoid long lines during peak times of the year.

Visit the House of Parliament

Walk over to next door Big Ben and the House of Parliament.  Fun fact: Big Ben isn’t the name of the tower – it’s actually the name of the bell that’s inside the tower!  Now you know.

If you’re interested in seeing the inside of the building, you can take a virtual tour online, but my favorite thing to do is walk across nearby Westminster Bridge to view the building from across the river.  

This is also a great spot to check out the London Eye!

parliament and big ben

Afterwards, walk over to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, home to world-famous paintings by Van Gogh and Michelangelo.  

After the museum, you’re in the perfect spot to head to nearby Covent Garden where you can shop, grab a drink, or eat dinner.

After dinner, you can check out a show in Leicester Square – London has some of the world’s finest theatre on offer (think Mamma Mia, Wicked and the Lion King) so it’s worth checking out what will be on when you’re visiting!

Perfect London Itinerary: Day 4

Start off your last morning in London with a cruise along the River Thames to Greenwich, where you can visit the Cutty Sark (the world’s last-surviving tea clipper, built in the late 1800’s and designed to carry tea from China to England ) and the National Maritime Museum.

You can also stand on the Prime Meridian line – otherwise known as 0 degrees longitude.

Check out the Greenwich foot tunnel that goes under the River Thames (and is rumored to be haunted!) and make your way back north and over to Shoreditch, one of London’s most colorful, up-and-coming trendy neighborhoods.  The graffiti is photo-worthy for sure!

Shopping in Shoreditch

For the next few hours, explore the trendy Shoreditch neighborhood.

There’s plenty of cool shops on Redchurch Street, as well as in nearby Spitalfields Market.  Another cool shopping spot is Boxpark, a shopping area in Shoreditch made entirely of shipping containers.

street art in shoreditch

A great spot for lunch is Boundary London, or one of the many delicious curry joints on Brick Lane.  

With a few hours left in the afternoon, you can head back across town to check out either the Natural History Museum or Churchill’s War Rooms (a secret bunker from World War 2).

Had enough museums?  A great alternative is to spend the afternoon walking down King’s Road in Chelsea, and checking out the boutiques and cafes.

For drinks and dinner, you can’t go wrong with The Wolseley or Chiltern Firehouse.

There you have it, the Perfect 4 day London Itinerary!

I hope that this 4 day London itinerary has helped you plan your first trip to London!

How Many Days are Enough in London for First Time Visitors?

If it’s your first time visiting London, I recommend spending at least 4 or 5 days in the city. With 4 or 5 days in London, you will have enough time to see most of the city’s main sights, but be able to do so at a relatively relaxed pace.

In addition to seeing the top sights in London, 4 days in London is enough time to enjoy the city’s fantastic restaurants and boutiques.

Is 4 Days Enough for London?

If it’s your first visit to London, you might be wondering if 4 days is enough time to spend there.

While you could spend months, even years, exploring everything that London has to offer, 4 days in London is enough time to see most of the tourist highlights of the city. Of course, if you have more than 4 days in London – there is even more to see!

If You have More than 4 Days in London

With more than four days in London, you definitely have time for a day trip to explore outside of the city!  If your’e into castles, check out Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Castle.

If you’d rather spend your time exploring a smaller city with tons of curb appeal and a rich history, you could visit Cambridge or Canterbury.

If You Only Have one Day in London

If you only have one day in London, I would recommend seeing Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London. Those sights will give you a good flavor for the city in a very short period of time.

What is the best Month to Visit London?

If you’re planning your first trip to London, you might be wondering what month is best to visit London. I recommend first-time visitors to London try to visit between May and August.

In the summer months, the weather is warm and the outdoor weather means that you can enjoy so much more of the city.

Of course, if you’re not able to plan your first trip to London during the summer, the early fall months of September and October are also great months to visit London.

For More London Inspiration and Packing Ideas, Check out These Posts!

A Guide to the Best Instagram Spots in London

Ten Best Packing Tips for Europe

My Best Packing Tips for Women

And don’t forget to check out my post on the 10 most common London tourist mistakes – it’ll save you from doing the same!

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