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3 1/2 day itinerary for London

My family and I will be in London for three and a half days in July after spending two weeks in Ireland. We are firming up our London itinerary and are open to suggestions and feedback. We know we won't be able to see everything and are attempting to prioritize the sites we want to see with our limited time in London. Our goal is to see the amazing sites but not to wear ourselves out before heading home. Thanks for any input.

Sunday (1/2 day) arriving at 5pm - we are planning an evening hop on hop off tour.

Monday - Westminster Abbey (planning on a verger tour), Big Ben, and House of Parliament. We already have tickets for Phantom of the Opera in the evening so need to save time to get back to the hotel to get ready and get dinner.

Tuesday - Afternoon Tea (Aqua Shard). Tower of London and Tower Bridge after Tea.

Wednesday - Buckingham Palace for changing of the guard, National Gallery, and then to the Borough Market.

Thursday - travel day home

If we have the time then our secondary sites are St. Paul's Cathedral and Abbey Road.

Posted by
6472 posts

Couple of thoughts ( been going to London since Nixon was President. )

Parliament Square ( Parliament buildings, Churchill statute, Churchill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey) will take 3-4 hours. Double check opening times for each of them.

Rarely do people dress for theatre anymore. You’ll see folks in tights, jeans, skirts, shorts, t shirts, dresses….

The Changing of the Guard is a massive waste of time and energy. You’d need to get there as early as 8am and then wait to secure a great viewing spot.

Instead go and enjoy the Horse Guards parade grounds and watch their ceremony before they head up The Mall to the Palace.
https://changing-guard.com/queens-life-guard.html
After 11am if you walk along Birdcage Walk adjacent to St James Park you’ll be able to see the Royal Military Guards march back to their barracks.

Its a substantial jaunt from the Palace to Borough Market. Hour to walk to. 25 minutes on the Tube.

Lastly, if you enjoy Chinese food the wonderful Joy King Lau is a only a few minutes stroll from Her Majesty’s Theatre where Phantom is staged.

Great city. Lots to see and do.

Posted by
1236 posts

I agree with Claudia-

Changing of the Horse Guards is much more intimate and you can get closer.

Also Borough Market is nearer the Shard then the Palace. I would visit the Market the same day as your Afternoon Tea.

I'm not a big fan of the HIHO buses. The regular TfL buses will show you the same things for less.

Posted by
1263 posts

You've got time to add to your itinerary, a rarity in any travel forum. Sunday night seems like an odd time for a hop on hop off, but if they're offering it, then it should work out well. Traffic will be as light as it can be for London so you're not just stuck in traffic looking at bank buildings or office workers out for a smoke,

On Monday, you've got time for a second activity, Westminster Abbey will be a couple of hours or so. Seeing Big Ben and the outside of the Houses of Parliament and getting whatever selfies you want won't take too long. Parliament usually only is open for touring on Saturdays and that is what I see for July 2022.

Tuesday, are you going to do the Tower of London in the am? Is Tower Bridge just for photos and selfies? You can walk around the general area, in warm weather, a pint by Thames is quite enjoyable. More theatre in the evening or do you have other plans?

If you want to do the Changing of the Guards, I highly suggest London Walks. They have a tour on Wednesday which covers it. https://www.walks.com/our-walks/royal-london-guard-change/ You'll get an excellent tour as well. In fact, I love London Walks so much, you might look at their website for other walks which could fill in some of the gaps in your itinerary. London Walks has Beatles Walks which cover Abbey Road, there's also one for St Paul's Cathedral.

The National Gallery is amazing, it can fill an entire day. Entry is free, last time I was there, they encouraged you to make a donation. If you have leftover cash/coins, museum donation boxes are a good place for them.

www.walks.com is the general London Walks website. Musuems also tend to have a night when they are open late, so yet another possibility for the evening.

Posted by
527 posts

Time-wise it’s pretty leisurely, you shouldn’t feel rushed to make your sights on these days. You may be able to increase a little efficiency though. Take a good look at where you’re staying and what tube lines you’re on. Borough market, while worthwhile is a bit of an outlier if you’re not exploring Bankside. If you’re looking for a market experience, Camden or Spitalfields might be an easier tube ride depending. Crossing the Thames to Borough via the tube is difficult (bus is probably easier).

I would absolutely bump St. Paul’s into your “must-see” list. To my eyes you will have time for it.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. I will be working on sites to visit during our trip.

Posted by
1800 posts

The Changing of the Guard is a massive waste of time and energy. You’d need to get there as early as 8am and then wait to secure a great viewing spot.

Claudia said it best!

Posted by
1681 posts

We also have 3.5 days, but have been to London several times previously.

Our plan is for the half/day Walkies - either Green Park - St. James Park OR South Bank. Dinner Sherlock Holmes pub
Thursday - Westminster Abbey - the other walkies - dinner at Sky Garden
Friday - Kew Gardens, British Museum early evening (it's their late night) pub dinner somewhere in the vicinity
Saturday - Parliament tour, Greenwich boat ride (maybe just there and back again, depending on time) nicer dinner - maybe Brasserie Zedel
Sunday - train to Edinburgh
Some alternate half choices you might consider: Tower of London OR Victoria and Albert Museum OR St. Pauls and Leadenhall Market. Theatre one evening.

Posted by
6472 posts

Either The Museum Tavern or The Plough by the British Museum serve good pub grub.