Epic 5 Day London Itinerary for Your First Time in London

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Looking for the perfect 5-day London itinerary? This guide provides details on the best things to do and see on your London trip.

5 Day London Itinerary

Wondering how to plan a trip to London, England? This 5 days in London itinerary is packed with the best things to do and see – tourist hubs, luxury shops and hidden gems!

After being asked numerous times by visiting family and friends about all the things to do in London.

I thought I’d put together a 5 day London itinerary for first-time visitors to give them a head start on how to explore this bustling metropolitan capital that I live in.

Don’t have time to read the whole article? This epic 3 in 1 tour which includes Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off, London Eye and River Cruise tours with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating. If you are short on time and what to make the most of your time in London.

Big Ben in Westminster London

From London’s iconic landmarks, its free world-class museums, and coolest neighbourhoods to a long list of popular tourist attractions.

London is a destination every traveller should visit and I’m not just saying this because I live here.

If you’re looking for more on London or planning a trip to the Big Smoke then read my London travel tips guide.

5 Day London Itinerary for First-Time Visitors | How To Plan Your Perfect Trip

Waterloo Bridge 2

If this is your first trip, you can rest assured there are lots of things to do in London for first-time visitors.

A week in England is an ideal time to spend in London as this gives you a chance to explore the city’s best attractions and even enjoy a day trip from London to Oxford or Bath.

You can also read this post on the best day trips from London. I have put together this 5 day London itinerary for London to help you get the most from your time in the city.

It includes things to do in and around London and ensures that you not only see the main tourist sites in London but also have time to experience how the locals live by visiting lesser-known parts of the city like the Borough of Greenwich and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in Surrey.

London in 5 days Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Shopping Street In London

So, I know you’re thinking about how to fill your time in the city. I’ve broken this London itinerary blog post into 5 separate days for you where you’ll know what to do and see.

You can always add or remove things from the itinerary based on your interests. Here is your ultimate 5 day itinerary for London.

Day 1 – 5 Day London Itinerary

Your first day in London should be a welcome introduction and give you a sense of the city for further explorations. Here’s my recommended itinerary of what to do in London in a day.

Grab Breakfast in Covent Garden

The Ivy Canary Wharf

Start your five days in London brunching. I’ve written extensively about the best brunch spots in London and the best bottomless brunches in all four areas of London.

So whether you’re staying in central London, like in Covent Garden, or you prefer the gritty hipster vibe of East London there is a restaurant for you to not only grab a good English fry up but also some nice dinners as well.

Handy tip

Check out my guides on the best bottomless brunch Shoreditch, best brunch in London, and best brunch in Covent Garden for ideas on where to eat.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Hop on hop off London

Starting off your day with a bus tour? No, that wasn’t some lame attempt at a joke. In many places, this wouldn’t be ideal, but this is London.

Taking a bus tour is a perfect, low-key start especially for jet-lagged travellers to get an overview of the city.

From Original Tour to Big Bus, and Golden Tours, there are many companies that offer Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours, and most of these companies offer multiple routes to allow you to view the endless sites the city has to offer.

Westminster Abbey Icons – St. Paul’s Cathedral | London Eye | Big Ben | Parliament

The Top of St Pauls Cathedral

On your first day in London, you’ll want to go and see some of the most famous icons around Westminster Abbet!

St. Paul’s Cathedral is an iconic feature, and from the top of the dome, visitors can enjoy incredible views and see the place in all its glory.

With your London Pass, you can enjoy all the amazing sights and even visit Westminster Abbey (where Prince William married Kate Middleton) for free.

You could stop by at the iconic Millennium Footbridge to take photos too, with St. Paul’s in the background, pics of the bridge will be worth your time.

St-Pauls-London-best-attractions-in-London

The first day is just the tip of your 5 days itinerary in London. If you’re a history buff then check out some of the best historical London walking tours.

Pro tip

If you want to get a photo with no other commuters on the Millennium bridge with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background, then get up early (6:00am) apart from a few city runners.

You’ll have the bridge to yourselves. Another magnificent view of St. Paul’s Cathedral is from the café in the Tate Modern. If you’ve got time to kill afterwards, check out the Parliament and Big Ben, and the London Eye for a sunset ride.

Day 2 – 5 Day London Itinerary

Guide South Bank Walk

Foodie? History buff? You’ll love the lineup for day 2 of this 5 Day London Itinerary!

Tower of London

We are starting off the second day with a visit to one of the major highlight places of your London tour. Everyone will enjoy the trip to the Tower of London because of its noble history, especially with King Henry VIII and the crown jewels.

Tower of London

You will read everywhere that it is ideal for you to get here early. Hence, it makes sense you make the trip to the Tower of London the first thing on the list.

With 1,000 years of history, the Tower of London is worth exploring, so get your London Pass ready and get going as early as you can. The Tower of London opens at 9:00 am.

Tower Bridge

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TOWER BRIDGE TOUR

No, this is not the London Bridge. The Tower Bridge is a beauty to behold – just walk across the bridge to the other side of the river where you can visit the museum and have a splendid view of the glass floor exhibit.

One of the best things about Tower Bridge is it’s a working drawbridge that is raised up to allow passing ships. This is something worth seeing and is quite entertaining to watch.

It’s a common mistake most people make if they don’t know the difference between the two bridges, made worse by the catchy Fergie song ‘London Bridge’ video with her in a speedboat on the Thames and Tower Bridge in the background.

Let’s say this did not go down well with Londoners.

Borough Market + The Shard

London Borough Market UK

Are you a foodie? No? Do not worry, you’ll be converted to one at this food lover’s heaven. There is a plethora of culinary options you can choose from at the Borough Market.

It’s one of the best markets in London. The market dates to the 12th century, has over 100 stalls and produce is sourced from local British traders and International producers.

For coffee lovers visit Monmouth Coffee Company, and cheese lovers should visit Neal’s Yard Dairy and Kappacasein.

For baked goods go to the famous Bread Ahead.  Visiting Borough Market is one of the many things to do in London for free.

Borough Market Food Markets in London

Full market operations begin at 10:00 and end at 17:00 on Wednesday to Saturday. Though the market is usually open on Monday and Tuesday, only a few traders are available.

There are also food tours of Borough Market that you can enjoy.

If you have some extra time, you should also pop over to The Shard for one of the best views in London!

Alternative Day 2 Itinerary – Leadenhall Market + Sky Garden + St. Dunstan-in-the-East

If you want to stay north of the Thames River, you can still enjoy awesome markets and views of London.

Leadenhall Market is just a few blocks from Tower Bridge, where you can shop for apparel and accessories, as well as jewelry and other boutique items. It’s a different feel from Borough Market and might be more what you are looking for.

Once you’re finished, you can head to Sky Garden for gorgeous views of the city or St. Dunstan-In-The-East if you prefer to indulge in some more history near Tower Bridge.

Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeares Globe London

From Borough Market, you can make your way to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where you can take a guided tour of the place which will prove helpful as you find your way around.

If you are visiting in the summer, you could go have a feel of the intimate-setting shows in the open-air constructed theatre. To get most of the show, try getting tickets for the front row of the middle gallery.

Camden Market

Camden High Street

Camden Market is one of the most popular attractions in London, featuring an array of stalls where you can find a variety of crafts, clothing, and cuisines in fast food spots.

Visiting the Camden Market is a great way to round off activities on your second day in London as you get to enjoy a great mixture of cultures and mouth-watering street food.

If you only have a shorter time in London, why not check out my London 2-day itinerary?


READ MORE |  THINGS TO DO ALONE IN LONDON


Day 3 – 5 Day London Itinerary

St Katharine Docks UK

Looking for what to see in London in 3 days? These activities and attractions should be at the top of your list.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch and has been the official residence of British sovereigns since 1837.

The State Rooms are usually open during the months of August and September for a period of 10 weeks.

BuckinghamPalace

If you are in town during the summer, ensure you make the trip. If you are not visiting at this time, you could plan a visit to see the Changing of the Guard, which usually starts with a procession at St. James Palace around 11:00 am.

Harry Potter Tour Studio London

Shaftesbury Avenue London

The Harry Potter Studio Tour takes place at the Warner Brothers Studios where all the Harry Potter movies were made.

Wardrobes, props, sets, and behind-the-scenes technology are prominent features of the studio.

You can do lots of stuff here: drink butterbeer, fly in an enchanted car or on a broomstick. Harry Potter fans can also stop by Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore’s Office, and 4 Privet Drive.

The studio is outside London in Leavesden. You can either take the express train from London Euston in London to Watford Junction (about a 20-minute ride) or take a tour coach there from Victoria Coach Station and make it a coach trip.

Churchill War Rooms

10 minutes away from Buckingham Palace is the Churchill War Rooms – the underground headquarters of the British High Command during the Second World War.

Whitehall London

It’s one of the most unusual places to visit in London, but if you like battle history, then visit Churchill War Rooms as it might be the ideal place for you.

Trafalgar Square + Afternoon Tea

LONDON TRAFALGAR SQUARE

It will probably be early afternoon when you are out of the Churchill War Rooms, the perfect time to go to Trafalgar Square in central London.

The hustle and bustle around the area brings the place to life, so just walking around and seeing people pop in and out of shops even feels like a great idea. After some time spent getting a feel of the environment.

You can head to Sketch, one of the trendiest afternoon tea spots in London, for a classic British tea time experience.

Chances are you’ve already got a feel of what this place looks like on Instagram even before your trip to London.

Natural History Museum

The National History Museum is a perfect site for individuals and families of all ages. One of the best natural history museums in the world, the Museum houses a vast selection of specimens collected by Charles Darwin, mammals, and some of the most important minerals on earth.

But the museum is most famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and its ornate architecture. Visiting a museum is one of the countless things to do for free in London.

National Gallery

National Gallery UK

The National Gallery, London’s most popular art gallery, is in Trafalgar Square. It is home to British art from the 13th century to 1900, and it could take up to a full day to explore the displays on offer.

If you want to see London from a different perspective, why not explore the city on foot with a walking tour?

Day 4 – 5 Day London Itinerary

If you’re using this guide to explore London in 4 days, here’s the best way to spend your last day in the city.

Regent Street London

Lunch Near Hyde Park

Hyde Park in Autumn London

Since the past 3 days have been packed with endless sightseeing, it’s great to have a slightly relaxed last day.

A walk through Hyde Park in the heart of London marks the beginning of your 4th day.

Here you can buy ice cream, feed the ducks, ride a bike, or rent a boat to have a go at paddling around the pond.

If royalty appeals to you, you could visit the residence of the Royal Family and continue in the same direction to stop by for some lunch at the Portobello Road Market.

The market is usually filled with unique antique shops, giving the area a rustic look.

Continue your walk to nearby Notting Hill for a stroll through the charming neighbourhood and take in the colourful houses that Notting Hill is known for. You can even find the famous Notting Hill film locations where the romantic comedy ‘Notting Hill’ was filmed.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

Similar to Times Square in New York City. Piccadilly Circus is a meeting point where several major roads come together.

You will find enormous neon signs that add splashes of colour to the area, along with double-decker buses and cars streaming by.

Yes, you can watch London in the thick of its glory from the steps of the Shaftesbury memorial fountain, which are views to be savoured.

Hampton Court Palace

What a way to round off your fifth day in London! The Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent stretch of red-brick royal buildings – a former home of King Henry VIII.

He developed this grand palace after they acquired it in the 1520s, and these developments have continued throughout the centuries.

Your visit to this palace will be incomplete without a visit to the Cumberland Art Gallery to view the revolving display featuring massive art collections in the court.

British Museum

The British Museum is one of the most historical museums in the world. They amassed the historical collections in the museum during the reign of Great Britain.

Artifacts such as the Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, hieroglyphics, and a portion of the Parthenon are prominent in the museum.

As a first-time visitor to London, you can get bogged down with all the touristy sites and attractions in London, so I recommend taking time out and visiting spots that are not as popular or in your Lonely Planet’s guidebook.


READ MORE | 17 COOL THINGS TO DO IN SHOREDITCH LONDON BY A LOCAL


Day 5 – 5 Day London Itinerary

St Katharine Docks London

Concluding your London trip itinerary, day 5 of this itinerary focuses on some of the less touristy destinations and attractions. The following are some amazing experiences with which to end your adventure.

Non-touristy things to do – London Itinerary for 5 Days

Here are some of the best non-touristy things that you can do in London in five days

Discover Brick Lane

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The colourful street art, Sunday markets, and the mix of culture and curry houses along Brick Lane make it a hotbed for London’s art students and street artists. And, it is an ideal site for those looking for a non-touristy place to visit in London.

Visiting Shoreditch in East London is one of the coolest things to do in London. This once-forgotten and derelict part of London is going through regentrification and is now a hub for street artists, hipsters, London’s young entrepreneurs, and creative types.

If you want to have a fun night out in London like a local hit up Shoreditch as it’s far cheaper than going out in Central London.

I recommend checking out The Blues Kitchen, The Book Club, Dinerama and Floripa. You will mostly need Londoners at these places.

Read this post to find out the top things to do in London at night.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens England

Based in Zone 5, Kew Gardens is a lovely and serene setting, with over 250 years of history sitting gracefully on 300 acres. Kew is one of the world’s leading botanic gardens.

To see plants from every corner of the world, some even near extinction, then visit the iconic Palm House at Kew Gardens, which has the climate of a rainforest inside or the exquisite Temperate House.

The Kew Gardens are loved by local Londoners and should definitely be on your itinerary of London.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

The former residence of Sir John Soane is one of the finest public museums in London. With over 20,000 architectural drawings including artworks by Turner, Canaletto, and Piranesi, the museum has a lot to offer a first-time visitor.

Day Trip to Greenwich

Greenwich
GREENWICH

If you are still wondering what to put on your itinerary for London in 5 days? A day trip to Greenwich is a wonderful way to see a different, more relaxing side of London.

You can take a boat trip to Greenwich on the Thames River cruise. Greenwich Park is also one of the Royal parks in London and a beautiful place to see the cherry blossoms in London if you are visiting in spring.

Greenwich is where you can also see the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian.It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site which served as a naval hospital before they converted it to a naval college.

They use the site as a filming location for several famous movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The King’s Speech, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers.

Check out my post on things to do in Greenwich. View of the National Maritime Museum and Canary Wharf – London, England.


READ MORE | 30 OF THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON


Up at the O2

O2 Arena London

Up at the O2 takes you through an exhilarating 90-minute experience where you can climb over the roof of the most popular entertainment venues in London. You can climb during the daytime, at sunset, or even at twilight.

This is a fun thing to do in London at night as you get some of the best views of London’s skyline all lit up and some of the most famous London buildings you’ll be able to see from Up at the O2 are the walkie-talkie building, The Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral and trust me there isn’t anything like it.

Where to Stay in London

The Pink Flat Iron Notting Hill

While London is a massive city and one of the most expensive in the world, you can enjoy an amazing trip here without breaking the bank, which is always a  bonus.

As a first-time visitor planning an epic 5 Day London itinerary, you’ll want to stay in or close to central London as this will ensure you are close to the city’s main tourist attractions and not miss out on the many things to do in London at night.

London has hundreds of hotels to suit every traveller and their 5 days in London budget. Below I have included a few of the best hotels in London in some of the coolest neighbourhoods in London.

Where to Stay in London

The Levin Hotel Knightsbridge

In the heart of Knightsbridge, the Levin Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in London that offers maximum luxury and style. It is one of the most sophisticated accommodation spots in London.

The Levin Hotel has 12 bedrooms, and with its charm and personality, the hotel is a ‘home away from home’ for potential travellers to the famous city of London.

Check the Latest Prices Here

Hotel 55

For a quick 5 day trip to London, look at staying at Hotel 55. Once known as a local brothel, Hotel 55 is a cool and welcoming place featuring abstract paintings that add splashes of attractive colour.

It has three-bedroom types: Cosy, Garden, and Street, with Garden being tiny, great for one but suitable enough for two at a pinch.

The dining area serves mouth-watering Japanese cuisine on the menu. Hotel 55 might be one of the best places to stay in London as it is only two minute’s walk away from North Ealing Tube and is a 30-minute ride to the West End on the Piccadilly Line.

It is a handy accommodation spot for travellers who will exit London through Heathrow. At £74 per night for the double rooms, Hotel 55 is just ideal for the London visitor on a shoestring budget.

 Check Latest Prices Here

The Corner London City

Things to Do in East London for Couples

Also known as the most sustainable hotel in London, The Corner London City is a modern mid-priced hotel that features creative designs and uses sustainable practices. The innovative design of the rooms is not only inviting and fun.

They also feature framed art built from sustainable materials, an eco-friendly rain shower, an eye-level television, lighting that can be controlled from the bed, and a natural bespoke mattress.

Other amenities in The Qbic include free Wi-Fi, free tea and coffee, and free bike rentals.  The hotel is just perfect for your 5 day’s visit to London.

Check the Latest Prices Here

London Airbnb

Airbnb London

Booking through Airbnb is a top choice for many travellers, no matter where they travel to. I have booked with Airbnb abroad and in London and have been quite satisfied.

Airbnb London is a fantastic way to see inside some of London’s coolest flats and trendiest neighbourhoods and is a great option for first-time visitors that are staying in London for a week.

It is a terrific way to save money and have an incredible experience, as it is usually more authentic and helps you get the feel of what it’s really like to live in the city. It’s also the perfect option for couples, friends, and groups.

If you want to see how the locals live, then check out Airbnb.Airbnb coupon code BONUS: if you’re looking to use Airbnb, you can get a £25 Airbnb coupon by clicking here.  Don’t worry if this is your first time using Airbnb coupons, it’s really easy to sign up.


READ MORE | DETAILED NEIGHBOURHOOD GUIDE ON WHERE TO STAY IN LONDON FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS


Must-Have London Accessories

Having savvy advice from someone who has “been there and done that” is always worth considering if you are planning a trip to London. Here are must-have accessories that may come in handy during your London trip.

A Good Camera

London is a beautiful city. The architecture of the buildings and cute streets will have you wanting to capture everything so bring a good travel camera. Check out my guide to the best travel cameras for optimal photo opportunities.

A Rain Jacket Or An Umbrella

London is known for its unpredictable weather going from a nice bright sunny morning to torrential rain by noon. So, having a lightweight jacket or umbrella will save you from getting soaked if it suddenly rains.

Comfy Shoes And Clothes

London is a walking city; most Londoners love to walk or cycle to get around because it’s faster and cheaper than taking public transport. Packing a pair of comfortable shoes is a must if you want to explore the city or while doing one of many free walking tours in London.

If you are looking for the best travel shoe, then read this post on the best travel shoes and tips on how to choose the best travel shoe.

From stylish walking shoes to the best flats and lightweight shoes for travel, this guide has all your shoe needs covered.


READ MORE| Things To Know Before Visiting London 


Getting Around London – Do I Need an Oyster Card?

Getting Around London

London is made up of nine fare zones, with zones 1 and 2 representing Central London and increasing as you go further outside the city. For instance, Heathrow Airport is in Zone 6.

There are several ways you can pay for transport in London including purchasing an individual ticket, buying an Oyster card, buying The London Pass or using a contactless card.

But to make the most of your time in the city, it would be ideal if you buy The London Pass.

Why You Should Get a London Pass

24HoursinLondon

The London Pass is a prepaid card designed to give you free entry to the top tourist attractions in London.

The London Pass attractions list includes Westminster Abbey, the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour, the Tower of London, the Thames River cruise, and over 80 other London attractions. Making it a useful ingredient for the best London itineraries.

With an optional Visitor Oyster card in addition to your London Pass, it covers all your transportation needs.

Why You Should Get a London Pass

The London Pass is a prepaid card designed to give you free entry to the top tourist attractions in London. It’s perfect for your five days in London itinerary.

The London Pass attractions list includes Westminster Abbey, the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, the Tower of London, the Thames River cruise, and over 80 other London attractions. This makes it a useful ingredient for a great week in London. 

With an optional Visitor Oyster card in addition to your London Pass, it covers all your transportation needs.

The London Pass is a great option for first-time visitors who want to stick to a budget and save money while still having an amazing time in a famous city like London.

It also allows you to skip the long queues, so you can spend more time sightseeing. If you are looking to hit all of London’s major tourist attractions, buying The London Day Pass is an ideal option.

In this London trip planner for 5 days, I’ve also listed a few of the best things to do in London. These are just a few of the many things to do in London.

Here is your ultimate 5-day London itinerary

Final Thoughts: on Your London in 5 Days Itinerary

It’s no secret that there are tons of amazing things to do in London.

If you’re wondering, “Is 5 days in london enough?” Hopefully, this 5 day London Itinerary shows you that you can fit a lot of the city’s best activities and attractions in a short week.

While five days may not be nearly enough for some people, this itinerary has tried to include something for all travellers.

 While in London, enjoy Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. Also visit the Tower Bridge, as you simply cannot say you’ve visited London without visiting the Tower Bridge.

Remember to take pictures as proof. For something more relaxing, take a  walk through Hyde Park, one of the best parks in London.

Of course, there are many more things to explore, but these are all some things I would recommend to someone visiting London for the first time. They are some iconic historical monuments that make London so unique.

Struggling with knowing what to do in London?

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    Grab this hassle free checklist of the top 90 things to do in London from a local, includes:

    ✅ Top Free Things To In London

    ✅ Cool Touristy & Non-Touristy Things To

    ✅ Epic Free Viewpoints

    ✅ Cute Instagrammable Places in London

    CLICK HERE FOR THE GOOGLE MAP OF MY 5 DAYS IN LONDON ITINERARY

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