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A 5 day London itinerary to plan the perfect trip

We love London, and will basically use any excuse to visit for whatever period of time. London is one of those places that it doesn’t matter how long you are there for you will always find something incredible to do. We have put together a 5 day London itinerary so that you can plan your own short break to this incredible city. And if 5 days in London isn’t enough have a look at our 1 week London itinerary instead.

Why should I spend 5 days in London?

So before you start planning your trip you might be wondering why you should spend 5 days in London? In our opinion London has a little something for everyone. It is such a historic and famous city that you really do need to visit. Whether you are a history fan, or want to taste some world class food, or even visit quirky neighbourhoods you will find something in London.

5 days in London will give you a great opportunity to explore the city without breaking the bank. It’s also a good amount of time to delve a little deeper into certain neighbourhoods and get to know the real London.

Arriving in London

There are a number of ways to arrive for your 5 days in London. Here are some of the most common ones, and how to get into Central London from each one.

Train

If you are arriving from within the UK chances are your train will arrive at one of the below stations.

  • Paddington
  • King’s Cross
  • St Pancras
  • Euston

Each station is centrally located and within walking distance to a Tube Station, to help you get to your final destination.

Eurostar

If you are arriving from Europe via the Eurostar your arrival station will be London St Pancras International. The station is centrally located or you can get The Tube nearby to your destination.

Heathrow Airport

If you are arriving for your 5 days in London by plane, chances are you will be flying in to Heathrow. Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport with over 80 million passengers transiting through every year. It is also very well connected if you are looking at getting into central London.

The quickest way is to get the Heathrow Express, which operates every 15 minutes between Heathrow and Paddington Station. The train trip takes 15 minutes

You can also get the Tube, which is cheaper than the airport express but it does take quite a bit longer, (under 1 hour). Tubes depart every 10 minutes from any of the airport terminals.

Gatwick Airport

Another popular London airport is Gatwick. The quickest and easiest way to get from Gatwick to London is via the Gatwick Express. Total travel time is in the region of 30 minutes and tickets cost under £20 each way, especially if you purchase your tickets online in advance. The train terminates at Victoria Station and there are several Tube lines you can get from here.

How to get around during your 5 day London itinerary

A 5 day London itinerary is going to involve a lot of travel around the city. Once you are in London the easiest way to get around is via the Tube. You should purchase an Oyster card and top up with the required credit. Alternatively you can download the app, or use your debit/credit card to tap in and out of stations. For more information on this we recommend having a look at the Transport for Greater London website.

Public transport is brilliant in London and most major attractions can be accessed by Tube, but admittedly it can get tricky when signal failures or planned engineering works strike. It can look daunting at first but study the Tube map, and once you know how the stations connect you will be commuting like a pro in no time. Google maps is also a Godsend and you can easily navigate your way around on the Tube and the buses with it. 

We would probably recommend avoiding paying for taxis in London as they can be really expensive, especially if you get stuck in peak hour traffic.

Where to stay during your 5 days in London

London has accommodation to suit every budget. From your hostel dorms, to your high end luxury hotels. We have found some excellent deals at hotels.com over the years so we do recommend starting there.

One thing to keep in mind, the closer to Central London the more expensive your accommodation will be. The rooms will also be a lot smaller with limited space for luggage.

On our last trip we decided to stay at the Assembly Hotel which was located a couple minutes from Leicester Square tube station – so pretty central. The hotel was clean and comfortable, with modern rooms. The only downside was that there was no TV or coffee/tea making facilities in the room. This can be standard in London and to be honest who wants to sit inside and watch TV when you are in London anyway? 

Best time of year to plan your 5 day London itinerary

You might be wondering when is the best time to plan your 5 days in London. Well London really is one of those cities that can be enjoyed year round. Here is our seasonal breakdown on the best time to plan your 5 day London itinerary.

Winter (December – February) 

Winter in London is great because there are way less tourists. So you won’t have the queue for hours to visit the big attractions. It does get cold and rainy in winter, though so you will want to limit your time outdoors. If you want to take advantage of the museums and the galleries then this is a good time to go. In December there are a number of Christmas markets to enjoy as well as ice skating rinks, in preparation for the holidays. 

Spring (March-May)

Spring is probably the best time to plan your 5 day London itinerary in our opinion. The weather is mild, and whilst it is busy with tourists, it isn’t as chaotic as the summer months. Spring is also a nice time to enjoy walking through the parks with the daffodils in bloom. 

Summer (June – August)

Summer is peak tourist season. The weather is at its best, and there are a number of summer events that take place in the city. A lot of schools are finished for summer holidays so there are a lot of families around, and a lot of activities for kids and adults alike. If you visit in summer make sure that you book things like accommodation and attractions well in advance. It can get really warm in London over summer, so remember this particularly as travelling on the tube squashed up against other commuters in 30 degree heat is not fun. 

Autumn (September – November)

Autumn is another good time to book your 5 days in London. The weather starts to cool, but hasn’t quite reached the cold temperatures of winter. It also isn’t as busy as the summer months with tourists. 

Top things to do during your 5 days in London

London is one of those incredible cities where there is so much to see and do. Here are some of our top recommendations of things to add to your 5 day London itinerary. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are the highlights.

Westminster

Westminster is one of my favourite parts of London. You have the Houses of Parliament to admire, along with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Bridge. And that is only the start. It is perfect for first time visitors to London and gives you a real taste of the city.

The London Eye

For one of the best views over London, you should head to the London Eye. It costs about £25 although if you get advance tickets this can be cheaper. You can visit their website for further information. It takes about 30 minutes to do a full rotation and you really do get an amazing view of London.

Museums and galleries of London

If you are spending 5 days in London you should try and visit at least one of the many museums or galleries in the city. From the Natural History Museum filled with dinosaur bones, to the National Gallery that houses over 2000 paintings there really is something for everyone.

Buckingham Palace

The Palace is the official headquarters and residence of the British Royal Family. If you are a fan of royalty then make sure you add this to your 5 day London itinerary, even though it does get really busy with tourists. One of the most amazing things to witness is the changing of the guards. 

Trafalgar Square

Another must for your 7 days in London has to be a visit to one of the most photographed public squares in the city. Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar that took place in 1805. These days it is swarming with tourists all trying to get those iconic shots of the fountains and the lions.

Enjoy the parks

One of the things London is famous for has to the the green spaces.

Hyde Park is probably London’s most famous park, spanning 350 acres, there is a lot to see and do in the grounds.Some of the more popular areas have to be speakers corner, a place where to this day people gather to debate and speak to the masses. Famous speakers are George Orwell and Karl Marx.There is also a large lake where in the summer months you can swim, or rent a paddle boat in the London sun.

St Pauls Cathedral

The cathedral is one of the most famous sights in London and has been the location for a number of Royal weddings and funerals, much like Westminster Abbey. The interior is worth a look, and if you are brave enough you can actually climb to the viewing platform for some incredible sights over London.

Enjoy the neighbourhoods

There are a number of neighbourhoods that you have to explore during your 5 days in London. If you are into music then Camden is a must, whilst Instagrammers will enjoy the streets of Notting Hill or Chelsea.

Tower Bridge and Tower of London

Another of London’s most famous monuments that often gets confused with London Bridge, is Tower Bridge. The bridge was completed in 1894 which makes it nearly 123 years old. You can pay for entry into the Tower Bridge Exhibition, and more information can be found here.

Located next to Tower Bridge is the Tower of London a historic castle founded in 1066. If you are into history this is a fascinating place to visit as you get a full understanding of the history of the castle. This includes its time as a Royal residence and even a prison.

Sample 5 day London itinerary for the first timer

Here is a sample 5 day London itinerary to give you a chance to explore London’s top sights as well as some of its incredible neighbourhoods.

Day 1

Spend the morning exploring Westminster and the South Bank and take a ride on the London Eye.

Afterwards head to Westminster Abbey before grabbing lunch at a nearby pub.

Then make your way to Trafalgar Square and get some photos with the lions. When you are done make sure you spend some time at the National Gallery.

For dinner there is a great pub called the Admiralty that serves the most amazing selection of pies.

Day 2

Start the morning with a visit to the Tower of London. You will probably spend a good few hours here taking you to the afternoon. Afterwards walk towards Tower Bridge to see it up close. Explore the surrounding area and see if you can find the girl with the dolphin statue. Grab some lunch here and some drinks with a view. 

In the afternoon do a Thames river cruise (these depart around Tower Bridge or near Westminster), and in the evening try and catch a show in London’s West End.

Day 3

On day 3 of your 5 day London itinerary we recommend a visit to Buckingham Palace. Afterwards check out St James’ Park before making your way to the Natural History Museum in the afternoon. 

In the evening head to Covent Garden for dinner and do visit Neals Yard which is one of the hidden gems of London. 

Covent Garden

Day 4

Head to St Pauls Cathedral, and if you are both brave and fit enough you can climb to the top and enjoy the views of London. Afterwards cross the Millennium Bridge and make your way to the Tate Modern. 

In the afternoon take a trip to Chelsea and explore the neighbourhood and get some photos of those incredible pastel houses. Checkout Piccadilly Circus, and Oxford Street in the evening. 

Day 5

In the morning explore one of London’s neighbourhoods like Soho or Camden (or both) and grab some lunch here.

In the evening head to Harrods to see it all lit up and explore the food hall. If you are feeling flashy grab some dinner here, otherwise grab something cheaper in the area.

5 days in London for the history buff

Day 1

Explore some the incredible museums the city has to offer in the morning such as the Natural History Museum or the National Gallery.

Grab some lunch and head over to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park to make the most of the outdoors.

In the evening do a Jack the Ripper Tour and the learn the history of the famous murders that happened in the East End of London in the late 19th Century.

Day 2

Start the day with a visit to Buckingham Palace and watch the Changing of the Guard. You can then take a stroll in the beautiful St James’ Park before heading towards Trafalgar Square.

After some lunch make your way to St Paul’s Cathedral and climb to the top for sensational views over the city. Explore one of the London neighbourhoods such as Covent Garden in the evening.

St Pauls Cathedral

Day 3

Start the day with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, to see where the Government ran the country during WW2.

Then make your way towards Westminster Abbey to do a tour. Once you are finished make sure you walk past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben before hopping on the Tube towards the HMS Belfast. This is the last remaining warship of its kind and gives you the opportunity to see what life was like for sailors aboard.

Day 4

On day 4 of your 5 days in London for the history buff, start the day at the Tower of London. Once you have spent the morning exploring head over to Tower Bridge to the exhibition. There are several places to eat around here as well so make sure you grab some lunch in the area.

In the afternoon hop on a Thames cruise to learn about the history of the city from the water.

Day 5

In the morning visit one of London’s historical cemeteries such as Nunhead or Highgate (or both!). Take some time to explore the neighbourhood and then head to the Imperial War Museum in the afternoon.

5 days in London for the Instagrammer

If you are wanting to spend your 5 days in London hunting down some of the most photogenic places in the city, this sample itinerary is for you.

Day 1

Start the day with your classic London pictures around Westminster and South Bank. Take a ride on the London Eye for optimal views of the city.

In the afternoon explore Camden and get some quirky shots of the area. Don’t forget to stop off at Warren Mews before arriving in Camden, to get some classic Mews House pictures.

Day 2

Spend the morning in Chelsea to see the colourful terrace houses and enjoy the neighbourhood, and then head to Notting Hill in the afternoon. Don’t forget to visit Peggy Porschen cakes for some beautiful pictures.

In the evening visit the Churchill Arms for photos and a few drinks.

Day 3

In the morning head to Leadenhall Market and grab some breakfast in the area. Afterwards visit St Dunstan in the East for some reflection and photos. Visit Hyde Park in the afternoon before heading to Covent Garden in the late afternoon.

Day 4

Start the morning at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and get some photos around this area. Make sure you look for the Girl with the Dolphin statue.

In the afternoon head over to the Natural History Museum, and then St Paul’s Cathedral.

Girl with the Dolphin at Tower Bridge

Day 5

On the final of your 5 day London itinerary we recommend starting the morning at Piccadilly Circus to capture the hustle and bustle of London. In the afternoon head to one of London’s historical cemeteries like Nunhead or Highgate. Spend the evening in Shoreditch for food and drinks.

5 days in London for the shopper

If you fancy yourself a bit of a shopper here is the perfect 5 day London itinerary for you.

Day 1

Start your 5 day London itinerary by exploring Oxford Street, one of London’s most famous streets. You will find a lot of high street stores here including Primark and Lush. There are also a number of department stores like House of Fraser to spend your money.

In the afternoon devote some time to Regent Street, which includes mid range stores. A personal favourite and iconic London institution has to be Hamley’s so make sure you visit.

Day 2

For your second day have a look at some of the luxury stores on Bond Street, and in Mayfair. Typical stores include Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Take some time to go to the nearby Selfridges, and grab some lunch.

In the afternoon head to Carnaby to explore some of the more boutique stores make sure you pop into Dr. Martens and Fred Perry for some classic British brands.

Day 3

Spend the morning in Covent Garden, particularly St Martins Courtyard for all your shopping needs. Try and find the hidden Neals Yard for shopping, coffee, and photos.

In the afternoon stop off at Peggy Porschen cakes, before making your way to Chelsea. Make some tine to see the colourful houses as well as Kings Road for shopping.

Peggy Porschen

Day 4

Start the day in Camden and take a look around some of the quirky shops and market stalls in the area. Grab some lunch in the area and make sure you also have some drinks at one of the alternative pubs like the World’s End.

In the afternoon explore Central London, including One New Change just across from St Pauls Cathedral. Afterwards take a visit to Harrods for dinner, drinks, and more shopping.

Day 5

Start the day getting on the Tube to White City, and explore the Westfield Shopping Centre. In the afternoon make your way to Greenwich to shop at an Outlet Store and the local markets.

5 days in London for the Budget traveller

London can be really expensive so if you are wanting to see the sights but cheaply here are our suggestions of free or cheap things to do.

Day 1

Start your 5 day London itinerary in South Bank, and sit an enjoy the views. Take a walk past the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square, and spend the rest of the morning in the National Gallery.

In the afternoon head over to Buckingham Palace and then enjoy some time in St James’ Park. Afterwards visit Hyde Park for an afternoon stroll in the outdoors.

Day 2

This is a good day to explore Camden. Enjoy the markets, and grab some street food for lunch. Make sure you sit and enjoy one of the pubs and soak in the atmosphere.

Day 3

On day 3 of your 5 day London itinerary, we recommend making your way to the Sky Garden. You do need to make sure that you book in advance, but it is free, and you get some incredible views over London.

In the afternoon take a walk over Tower Bridge and admire the sights along the way. In the evening head to Notting Hill and explore the multicultural neighbourhood.

Day 4

Visit Leadenhall Market and then take a walk down to St Dunstan in the East for some quiet reflection. Then head over to St Paul’s Cathedral before making your way to the Tate Modern to admire the art.

In the late afternoon explore Covent Garden and grab some food at one of the cafes.

St Dunstan in the East

Day 5

On your last day in London why not spend the day at some of the cities best museums. We highly recommend the Natural History Museum, and the British Museum to name a few.

5 days in London for the neighbourhood explorer

If you just like exploring and immersing yourself in neighbourhoods here is a 5 day London itinerary that will give you a taste of some of our favourite areas to explore.

Day 1

Spend the day exploring Westminster and Southbank. There are a number of touristy things to do like the London Eye, or a Thames Cruise.

In the afternoon why not explore the multi cultural neighbourhood of Notting Hill. Also make sure you visit the Churchill Arms.

Day 2

We highly recommend making time to explore Shoreditch, one of the hippest neighbourhoods in London. There are some great shopping opportunities as well as food and drink places.

In the afternoon head over to Covent Garden for some exploring. You can visit the nearby Transport Museum or do some shopping. Make sure you visit Neals Yard for some colourful photo opportunities. Covent Garden is a great place for an evening of food and drink.

Day 3

On day 3 we recommend soaking in the atmosphere of the very quirky and alternative Camden. Visit the markets, or do a spot of shopping at some of the alternative fashion shops. There are also a number of pubs in the area that we highly recommend like the World’s End.

Camden

Day 4

Spend the day exploring South Kensington and the museums in the area. It is also a stone’s throw from Hyde Park which is perfect for a picnic or an afternoon stroll.

Day 5

Explore Leicester Square and Soho in the heart of the West End. Try and catch an afternoon matinee as well.

Tips for visiting London in 5 days

Here are some of our top tips for planning your 5 days in London.

  • If you are spending 5 days in London try to book your trip so that you aren’t paying accommodation on a Friday and Sunday night as these are the most expensive.
  • Check that there aren’t any major festivals on during your 5 days in London as this will mean that accommodation will be more expensive.
  • Book restaurants and cocktail bars in advance, particularly if you really want to visit.
  • When catching the Tube sometimes it is quicker to walk between certain stations than the ride the Tube particularly during peak hour.
  • Tubes get pretty hot in the summer, so carry a bottle of water with you at all times.

What to pack for your 5 days in London

Apart from your usual items here are some things that you definitely need for your trip to London.

  • Sunglasses
  • A good pair of walking shoes
  • A jacket (even in the summer bring a light coat as evenings can get chilly)
  • Umbrella
  • Moisturiser and Lip Balm

How much money do I need for 5 days in London

For a 5 day London itinerary I would probably budget between £50 – £100 per day (not including accommodation). You can spend less by planning appropriately and avoiding eating out at restaurants. You can also easily spend a whole lot more. Obviously costs will also depend on what you want to see and do so our estimate is very much an average on what you could get by per day in London.

London is notorious for being expensive. On average a standard hotel room can cost upwards of £100 per night. If you plan to stay out of the centre of London, you need to factor transport costs in as well.

In terms of other essentials like transport, with an Oyster Card the Tube is capped at £7.70 per day as long as you stick to Zones 1 & 2. In fairness most of the tourist attractions are within this area anyway.

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