The Complete London Itinerary for 7 Days
London is an incredibly diverse city and full of historical sites, restaurants and gorgeous parks. While 7 days in London may seem like a lot, this complete London itinerary is packed with great activities that you may want even more time.
London is sometimes summed up as being an easy city for English-speakers traveling abroad for the first time but, trust me, there are plenty of nuances and underlying cultural aspects to make it interesting for even the most seasoned traveler. Plus, it’s one of (if not) the most global cities in the world.
What should I know?
Options to get to central London from LHR:
- Underground (aka the Tube); this is what I did every single time I flew into LHR. It’s cheap at just £2.50 per person and takes 45 minutes to get to the city.
- Heathrow Express; if you don’t mind spending £25 and want to save 30 minutes, this option will get you to central London in just 15 minutes. I never did this as the time savings wasn’t worth it to me but if your time is limited, consider it.
- Uber; if you have more than on person, this option is probably cheaper than taking the Heathrow Express at around £25-40.
- Black Cabs – these are very expensive at around £50-60; if you want the black cab experience, I’d recommend taking one for a short distance in the city center itself.
- If arriving from another airport, try booking a bus on EasyBus; the fares are typically cheaper than booking on National Express directly. Trainline is another great app for booking trains to/from central London.
Once in London, I’d recommend (in order):
- Walking (it is so easy to walk around and generally safe. Plus, more calories burned = less guilt with all of the great food you’ll be eating.
- The bus (it’s so cheap at just £1.50 per ride and gives you a great above-ground view of the city)
- The Overground (like the underground but on the outskirts of the city, above ground like the name suggests and only £1.50 per person)
- The Underground/Tube (still cheap at £2.50 per person and gets you around more quickly especially in Central London)
- Black Cab
Buy yourself an Oyster card when you land at the airport; it’ll cost you £5 just for the card but you can return the card at the machines when you are departing London and will get that £5 back plus any money unused on the card; this can pay for your last meal before flying out!
Google Maps is a great way to navigate. Each place you visit will have a post code (similar to a zip code for Americans) but it identifies the precise location of the building and that’s all you need to type in from a longer address to find your destination. It’ll start with the region of London (e.g. NW1 – north west zone one) and then has a second set of three letters/numbers.
Where to stay:
London is so easy to get around that you don’t need to stay in the city center where prices are high, unless you want to. Airbnb is a great way to experience the local lifestyle; just remember this is an old city and most buildings are not as modern as you may be used to. If you want something modern, I’d stay at a hotel.
- If you’re looking for a posher area, stay around Notting Hill/Kensington. This will put you just west of all the big museums and near Hyde Park.
- If you want to be close to the shopping area, stay around Marylebone/Mayfair. This will put you near Regent and Oxford Street and still close to Hyde Park and the museums.
- If you want a hip experience, stay in Camden Town or Shoreditch. Shoreditch is bigger and more spread out while Camden is a bit smaller and near Regents Park.
- An up and coming area where many transplants are living is stay south of the river in Clapham Common. There are tons of great brunch spots around here and it’s also easy to get to the city center with a direct tube line.
Consider making bookings at some of the restaurants that interest you in advance. Some great places don’t accept bookings but many do and I’d hate for you to miss out on a fantastic meal at a place you could have reserved in advance.
12.5% at restaurants (often already put on your bill so check for this), usually no tipping at the pubs
It’s very easy to get a SIM card around London; stop in to any 3Mobile shop and you can buy a short- term SIM which will allow you access to data anywhere in the UK and Europe, plus the ability to make phone calls without finding a WiFi connection. Worth the £10 in my opinion.
Depending on the time of year of your visit, consider adding the following to your list:
- Wimbledon (Jul)
- Proms (Summer)
- Frieze Art Fair (Sep)
- Charles Dickens house/museum Christmastime events (Dec)
- Bonfire Night (5 Nov)
- Christmas Carols at Westminster or St. Paul’s Cathedral (Dec)
Day One: Central London
Start your day early with brunch at SkyGarden – great views of the city and a delicious brunch. (some mornings they offer yoga which is a fun and invigorating way to start your day!)
After yoga/brunch, check out the Tower of London (opens at 9 or 10 am generally) for a couple hours.
If you’re ready for lunch, head south of the river to Borough Market. I love Padella or Tua Pasta for delicious fresh pasta.
With full bellies, head to St. Paul’s Cathedral – step inside to marvel at it. At this point, you could take a tour. Just consider which of the following activities you may want to cut short to fit everything else in today.
Head west to Parliament to get a glimpse of the famous buildings. If you’re more interested in government, consider a tour of one of those places with a tour of Parliament. The tours run mostly on Saturdays and occasionally during the week.
If you have the stamina, continue on to Churchill War Rooms (closes at 6pm). If you want something lighter, check out the National Gallery which closes at 6pm or 9pm on Fridays. Or, take a walk around St. James park and past Buckingham Palace to try to catch the Queen!
Check out Mother Mash, The Barbary or Hoppers for Dinner. Cahoots or The Lamb and Flag would be fun for post-dinner drinks. Or, if an ice cream is more your thing, check out Milk Train for some seriously cool Japanese inspired ice cream.
Ready for day 2 of your complete London itinerary?!
Day Two: West London
Have a lie-in (as the Brits call sleeping in) if tired from yesterday. For breakfast, go to Granger and Co. If you’re into celeb sightings, David Beckham is known to swing by here for pancakes!
Stoll from here to the Portobello Road Market – fun to see various antiques and snacks for sale. The mews from Love Actually is nearby too if you want to check it out!
- Stop at Ottolenghi for a delicious and healthy lunch.
- Catch a movie at Electric Cinema – a gorgeous 100+ year old movie theatre with posh seating and feet rests
- Take a stroll through Hyde Park to stretch your legs after the movie.
Have a pub dinner at Churchill Arms and post dinner drinks at Mr. Foggs. This is one of my favorite places in this complete London itinerary – the food/drinks are delicious and the atmospheres are so fun!
Day Three: Northwest London
Day 3 in this complete London itinerary is based around the beautiful green spaces in the NW1 region of London. Start your day at Daylesford in Marylebone for a nice breakfast (and learn about their farm in the Cotswolds where a lot of the food is sourced from!). You could also check out Chiltern Firehouse.
From there, walk to Daunt Bookstore – the most gorgeous, travel-inspiring book store in London. Grab one of their £5 totes for a practical and sustainable souvenir.
Next, head to the Espresso Bar at Regents Park – I’d recommend a tea and scone. Stroll around the park and don’t miss St. John’s Lodge Garden – it feels like a secret garden within the park!
Walk a little more along Regents Canal to Camden Market for lunch. Whatever you get for your main, you have to try the halloumi fries from Oli Baba’s for a side – they’re the best. For dessert, check out Crosstown Donuts.
Walk back along the canal westward towards Abbey Road. En route, take a brief detour north to walk to the top of Primrose Hill for beautiful views of the city. Perhaps a good spot to enjoy your doughnuts.
Continue on to Abbey Road. Enjoy watching tourists stroll the famous crosswalk (aka zebra crossing) andpartake yourself for some Beatles fun.
A couple options:
If it’s summertime, check out the plays on at Regents Park Open Air Theatre – it’s one of my favorite outdoor experiences noted in this complete London itinerary. Check out Opso Greek restaurant in Marylebone for dinner beforehand.
If there are no shows on, take a train or bus to Hampstead Heath to watch the sunset over the gorgeous city line. Dinner recommendation is The Spaniard – a great pub full of history. Their Sunday roasts (only available on Sundays) are great – just don’t get there too late! If it’s wintertime, and a Friday or Saturday, take the tube to Tate Modern to enjoy one of the coolest art museums in London for a “Late at Tate” evening viewing of the exhibits. Try Padella if you didn’t eat there during the Borough Market visit earlier for dinner.
Day Four: Museum and Central London Day
London is full of amazing (and free!) museums. I’d recommend seeing the highlights at a couple. First, start your day with breakfast at The Creperie for some delicious sweet or savory crepes. From there, walk north to the Natural History Museum to spend a few hours.
Take a break for lunch at Franco Mancas or Nandos (popular chains). Muriel’s Kitchen, another great option, offers a fun afternoon tea served on a mini picnic bench. Check out the Science Museum or the V&A Museum.
Stroll along Regent Street, the famous shopping street. Check out:
- Fortnum and Mason (my favorite grocery store in the world)
- Liberty (known for its beautiful print patterns)
- Paxton and Whitefield Cheese Shop – an historical cheese monger’s shop.
- Postcard Teas – this place is the best spot to try delicious, sustainable, organic tea from all over the world. The prices are very reasonable. Take some home and mail someone special a postcard from the shop!
Have dinner at Tibits (great vegetarian buffet style restaurant), Mother Mash or Honey and Co. After dinner, visit an art house auction, such as Christies or Philips. It’s fun to observe an auction live and see some beautiful private pieces of artwork up close. Unless you end up participating, it also won’t cost you anything!
If you can’t find one to attend, see if the BBC is hosting any live recordings and apply for (free) tickets. This is one of the more unique, local activities to do from this complete London itinerary.
Day Five: South London
Today you’re heading south of the river! Start your day with breakfast in Clapham Common – Brickwood is a great option. Then head to Richmond Park for a stroll. This area is known to have deer and is a beautiful park.
If you’re up for dessert first, check out Petersham Nurseries at the NW corner of the park for a delicious slice of cake in a gorgeous nursery setting. Fun to do some shopping here too.
You’ll backtrack a bit but I highly recommend Takahashi in Richmond park for lunch. It has amazing Japanese food and is well worth the trip.
Head back to central London to get ready for a night out.
The West End is known for its reasonably priced musicals. You can get tickets online in advance or in person for a discount at TKTs. Pick a show for this evening (I can recommend Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera – which is in the theatre it debuted in 30+ years ago, The Lion King, Wicked, Hamilton and The Book of Mormon). If you can’t find a show in the West End, you could also look into tickets at The Globe theatre south of the Thames.
The cheapest way to experience the Globe theatre is with £5 Groundling tickets. you’ll have to stand the whole time but it’s fun to experience it like how some of the citizens did back in Shakespeare’s day. You can see theatre was priced for everyone even way back in the day. This is a highlight experience from this complete London itinerary!
Enjoy one of these amazing restaurants for dinner: Clos Maggiore (voted the Most Romantic restaurant in the world – book WAY in advance so you can sit in the atrium), Yauatcha for dim Sum, Dishoom, or Ciao Bella (rumored to be Meghan Markle’s favorite Italian restaurant in the city).
Day Six: East London
Start your morning at Violet cakes (the CA-native owner was selected to make Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake) for a pastry, tea/coffee and even a cheeky piece of cake for breakfast.
Travel south to explore the beautiful Columbia Road Flower Market (held on Saturdays). Start early to avoid the crowds. You can’t bring flowers home with you but you could at least buy lavender to take back home with you!
For lunch, go to Spitalfields Market. No matter your choice, grab a Yi Fang Fruit tea as you walk around. Shop around the market too as there are many fun shops.
Nearby is Box Park with lots of fun specialty shops to explore (e.g. Duke of Uke). If you’re hungry for a snack, check out Beigel Bake (super cheap bagels with a long history). Definitely a favorite of locals and one of my favorite casual recommendations in this complete London itinerary.
Ottlenghi Spitalfields or Hawksmoor (for a nice steak meal) are great dinner options.
Shoreditch is a popular area to go out at night. You’ll have tons of options for post-dinner drinks. If you’re interested in a fancy spot, check out Duck and Waffle which is open 24 hours and has fabulous views of the city
Day Seven: Central, Classic London
Start your day at The Dalloway Terrace for a beautiful brunch on the terrace. Afterwards, go to the British Museum. Highlights incude the Rosetta Stone and (controversial) Greek Parthenon artefacts. Plan to spend a few hours.
This would be a perfect time to check out a famous London High Tea. Some options:
- The Ritz (may be touristy but it is for a reason)
- Claridges (more local I think and just as glamorous as the Ritz)
- The Wolseley (best value, as you will receive refills on all the food like the more expensive places but at half the price)
- Sketch (quirky, fun and a really unique experience).
Neal’s Yard is a fun spot to walk around and has a few great restaurants if you’re hungry. Alternatively (and probably what I’d do) is stroll through the vibrant Chinatown. Food options: Tonkatsu for ramen, Shibuya for delicious shaved ice and Chinatown Bakery for some sweets to takeaway.
Are you ready to plan a trip after reading this complete London itinerary?! For more Global Destinations, read my guides here.