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Things to do in London in 5 days

It's quite difficult to see everything London has to offer in just five days, but a stay of five days will allow you to see the main attractions and do some interesting activities.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

13 min read

Things to do in London in 5 days

The Shard at sunset | ©Fred Moon

All travellers know that there is a huge amount to see and do in London, which makes it necessary to spend several days in London to see as much as possible. Although not enough to see everything, a five-day stay is starting to be long enough to get to know the city in some depth.

The best way to make the most of your visit is to divide the city into zones in order to waste as little time as possible getting around. It is also advisable to be flexible with your itinerary in case you come across unexpected attractions along the way. The truth is that, with its museums, parks, historic streets and shows, London never disappoints.

Day 1: see some of London's most atmospheric streets and visit the British Museum

British Museum by Night| ©Jey han
British Museum by Night| ©Jey han

When you arrive in a city for the first time, it's essential to adapt to it. From knowing how to get on the London Underground to finding out about London's best sights, the first few hours are more about discovery than sightseeing. That's why the first day of sightseeing is a good time to get a feel for the city and, by the way, to see one of its museums.

Take the opportunity to take a guided tour

To start your stay in London, there is nothing better than taking one of the many guided tours available in London.

Not only will you be able to discover some of its most interesting attractions, but it will also help you to understand what you are going to visit in the following days thanks to the information you will receive.

The range of tours on offer is truly impressive. You can choose between walking, cycling, bus or boat tours, by day or night and with the theme of your choice.

Book your guided tour of London

British Museum

After the tour it's time to head to the British Museum, undoubtedly one of the best museums in London,

The visit to the British Museum, whose entrance is free, will never take less than two hours, although it would take several days to see the whole museum.

In this museum you will find more than seven million objects from all over the world. I recommend that you study in advance what you want to see so that you can go directly to the corresponding rooms. It is also advisable to pick up the audio guide they offer so that you can be better informed about what you are seeing.

Book a guided tour of the British Museum

Start the evening at Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is perhaps London's most famous intersection and an essential stopping point for any of the many London sightseeing buses that run through the city and which you can hire to visit the city if you prefer.

From this intersection you are just minutes away from some of the must-see places when visiting London and for that reason it is the perfect place to start your tour of its shopping streets and Soho...

Book the Big Bus London sightseeing bus

Soak up the atmosphere of Oxford Street

Walking the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders
Walking the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders

This shopping street is considered to be the busiest in Europe. There are almost two and a half kilometres of shops of all kinds, restaurants and other venues that attract a large number of Londoners and visitors.

Following the street towards Marble Arch you will see some of the most popular department stores in the city, such as Selfridges, located in a building with an important architectural relevance.

If you are lucky enough to be in London at Christmas time, you cannot miss a walk along this street to see its Christmas lights, as its decoration is one of the best in the whole city. You can enjoy them from mid-November onwards.

At the end of the street you come out at Marble Arch, a triumphal arch located until a few years ago at the entrance to Buckingham Palace and which today, now moved, is one of the best-known images of the city. .

Book your guided tour of London

Lose yourself in the streets of Soho

The best thing to do in Soho is to wander aimlessly through its streets. The area is home to several theatres and a number of cult bars.

One of the spots you shouldn't miss is Carnaby, Soho's most famous street. As well as its atmosphere, it's known for its extravagant Christmas decorations, making it a must-see if you're in London at this time of year.

When you walk down this street you should look on the right hand side until you find a beautiful gallery called Kingly Court. I advise you to enter it to contemplate its open courtyard and its two floors full of restaurants and terraces.

Grab a bite to eat at the Mother Mash

If you're feeling a bit peckish, this area is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. One of the most popular places is the Mother Mash at 26 Ganton Street. Here you'll find British food at reasonable prices for the capital.

Go to a musical

Finally, if you love musicals, head to London' s West End for some of the best musicals in London at the moment.

Buy tickets for London musicals

Day 2: Visit some of the city's most iconic sights, such as St Paul's Cathedral, Tate Modern and the Tower of London

St Paul's Cathedral| ©Loco Steve
St Paul's Cathedral| ©Loco Steve

The second day of the itinerary will be spent visiting some of the city's most iconic sights, as well as some of its finest monuments. The first site, after some breakfast, will be St Paul's Cathedral.

St Paul's Cathedral

Buying tickets to St. Paul's Cathedral is a great idea, as the cathedral is the second largest in the world, second only to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in terms of height and size.

The marvellous decoration of the cathedral immediately catches the attention of all visitors. The frescoes that decorate its ceilings stand out above all.

If you have entered the cathedral you should not miss the climb to its exceptional dome, as well as a visit to its crypt.

When you leave the cathedral you should walk towards the Millennium Bridge, the most modern bridge in the city.

Buy your ticket for St. Paul's Cathedral

Enjoy the best of contemporary art at the Tate Modern

A visit to Tate Modern is an absolute must for art lovers. It is also located in the former Bankside Power Station, a building that is worth seeing in itself.

As in many London museums, admission to the Tate Modern is free. Inside you can enjoy works by some of the most famous representatives of contemporary art, such as Picasso, Warhol, Salvador Dalí and Monet, among others.

Grab a bite to eat in Borough Market and see The Shard

Once you've finished seeing the works at the Tate Modern, it's time to continue the itinerary. On the way to Borough Market you'll pass by some of the places worth seeing, such as Shakespeare's Globe or the ruins of Winchester Palace.

If, like me, you like to stroll around markets, Borough Market is an essential stop. It is London's largest food market and wandering around inside you can still breathe in some of its old charm and history.

The oldest part of the market is covered, but you can also find interesting stalls in the open air.

Borough Market has an area dedicated to street food stalls where you can grab a bite to eat before continuing your tour.

Book tickets for The Shard

Enter the Tower of London and discover the legend of its crows

Touring the Tower of London| ©Doug Kerr
Touring the Tower of London| ©Doug Kerr

Leaving the market, walk towards the Tower of London, a fortress with a very interesting and, at the same time, rather macabre history.

For over 900 years, the tower was used as a prison. It held many whose only crime had been to offend the Crown. Torture caused the death of a large number of prisoners, while the unsanitary conditions of the cells contributed to the deaths of many others. Finally, others were executed before being tortured as well.

The Tower of London became famous for the many famous people who ended their days there, such as Anne Boleyn, Thomas More and Queen Jane Grey.

It is worth booking tickets to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, its chapel or the White Tower.

The Tower is also famous for the legend of the ravens, the Tower's most famous inhabitants. This legend states that if the ravens disappear from the tower, the tower and the kingdom itself will collapse. To prevent that from happening, a worker named Ravenmaster is dedicated solely to guarding the birds and preventing them from escaping.

Buy your ticket for the Tower of London

See the best views of the city from The Shard

The last visit of the day is after crossing Tower Bridge towards City Hall. This is The Shard, a splendid skyscraper with an impressive observation deck inside.

There is also a restaurant inside The Shard. You can dine here or find somewhere to eat near The Shard.

Buy your ticket to The Shard observation deck

Day 3: From the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to the best market in town, via Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes.

Buckingham Palace| ©Hellotickets
Buckingham Palace| ©Hellotickets

The third day of the trip can be dedicated to an interesting mix: some well known places, such as Buckingham Palace or Hyde Park, and others less visited but equally interesting. Like any great city, London hides some secrets within and it is always a good idea to go off the beaten track and seek out those nooks and crannies.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

The first visit of the day is one of those must-see sights in London: Buckingham Palace. Although the palace is worth a visit in itself, many come simply to watch the famous Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard, which takes place every day between 10:30 - 11:00 (depending on the time of year).

Book a Buckingham Palace Tour

Camden Market

After watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony, find the tube stop leading to Camden Town to visit London's most famous street market. You can estimate that it will take you about two hours to see it in its entirety.

Camden Market is located between the two beautiful canals in Camden Town. Here you'll find stalls selling everything from crafts and antiques to food of all kinds.

Picnic in Regent's Park

Although Camden has some good food options, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere you can head to Regent's Park, a well-known park in the city. If you've bought some food, it's the perfect place for a little picnic.

Another option is to do the same at Primrose Hill, where you'll also get great views of the city. Finally, if the weather is bad (which is never out of the question in London), you can always go for a drink in a pub, such as The Volunteer.

Follow the Sherlock Holmes trail along Baker Street

Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard
Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard

If you like the Sherlock Holmes stories, like millions of people all over the world, you have the opportunity to visit the house where Arthur Conan Doyle located the residence of the most famous detective in history.

This is located, as you no doubt know, at 221B Baker Street and today it has been converted into a museum dedicated to the character. On the same street, there is also a statue depicting him.

Stroll through Hyde Park

One of London 's finest parks will be the perfect place to get some fresh air and get out of the city traffic. Hyde Park, within easy walking distance of Baker Street, is the oldest park in the city and is well worth a stroll.

If you're visiting London in the summer, look out for the Peter Pan statue, Kensington Palace or take a boat out on the park's central lake.

If, on the other hand, you are visiting London in winter, there is a Christmas market there that you will love.

It is more than likely that by the time you leave the park it will be dark. At that time you have the option of having dinner and going back to your hotel to rest or you can book one of the interesting night tours of London that will allow you to see **London'**s monuments from a different perspective.

Book tickets for Kensington Palace

Day 4: Visit four key London landmarks (Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral and the London Eye) and relax by the Thames

Thames River Cruise| ©Hellotickets
Thames River Cruise| ©Hellotickets

On the fourth day of the trip, it's time again to take in some of the iconic sights of the British capital. For a good start to the day, head to Covent Garden for a hearty breakfast at one of the market stalls.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

London's most famous square, Trafalgar Square, welcomes visitors with its statue of Admiral Nelson and its four lions.

As well as strolling around the square itself, art lovers should not miss a visit to the National Gallery, which is free to enter. This art gallery exhibits paintings by European artists from the 13th to the 20th century. You'll be able to see works by Rembrandt, Titian, Velázquez and Van Gogh, to name but a few.

Book a visit to the National Gallery in London

Relax on a boat on the Thames

When you've finished admiring the works of the greatest classical painters, the next destination is the Thames. There is a wide range of small river cruises on offer, so here is an article on the best Thames cruises for you to choose the one you like best.

Prices for a Thames cruise also vary and you can find some Thames cruises that include dinner. Finally, some people prefer to combine a Thames cruise with a visit to the London Eye.

Regardless of your choice, the Thames cruise will allow you to relax and see some of the sights from the river.

Book your Thames cruise

Enter Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey| ©Justin Horton
Westminster Abbey| ©Justin Horton

To visit Westminster Abbey you should allow around 2 hours. You can get in with a London Pass or buy your Westminster Abbey tickets in advance, as there are often long queues.

Westminster Abbey is the oldest church in the British capital and is the site of the coronations and funerals of the country's kings. Historical figures such as Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin are also buried here, as well as the kings of England


Book your visit to Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

Near Westminster Abbey is one of the main icons of the city, Big Ben. The name actually refers only to the bell on the clock tower, but nowadays it is used for the whole tower. At 106 metres high, it is one of the most photographed monuments in the whole country.

London Eye

Once you've seen Big Ben, cross Westminster Bridge to the London Eye, a spectacular 135-metre high Ferris wheel.

It's best to get your tickets for the London Eye in advance so you can get on without any problems and enjoy the best views of London.

The ride takes about 30 minutes to complete and when you're done you can find several restaurants around the London Eye for dinner.

Buy your ticket to the London Eye

Day 5: Take your last day to see the Natural History Museum and some of London's historic neighbourhoods.

Visiting the Jack the Ripper Museum on the Tour| ©Matt Brown
Visiting the Jack the Ripper Museum on the Tour| ©Matt Brown

For this last day I've included a few lesser-visited places that will allow you to experience London in a different way. As a final point, Harry Potter fans can visit the studios dedicated to the character.

Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper

For a number of years now, the Whitechapel area, where Jack the Ripper once lived, has hosted some of London' s most successful sightseeing tours. If you prefer a walking tour, my advice is to check out the highlights beforehand.

Today, this neighbourhood is home to a neighbourhood that bears no resemblance to the Ripper's era. However, his mark can still be seen in places such as 29 Hanbury Street, where the Ripper's second victim was found, and Durward Street, where he murdered his first victim.

Nature in the middle of the city: the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of the most spectacular museums in London and is not to be missed if you are travelling with children. To get there from Whitechapel, take the tube lines to South Kesington.

Although it has millions of exhibits, it's the area dedicated to dinosaurs that usually attracts the most attention, including the impressive life-size reconstruction of a T-Rex with movement and sound. There are also games along the way for the little ones to enjoy their visit.

Notting Hill Quarter

Enjoying the carnivals of Nothing Hill| ©David Sedlecký
Enjoying the carnivals of Nothing Hill| ©David Sedlecký

Although Notting Hill became world famous after the Hugh Grant movie, the truth is that it was already known in London for its famous carnivals and for the beauty of its houses.

Its most famous street is Portobello Road, which crosses the neighbourhood almost completely. The best day to visit is Saturday, when one of the most complete street markets in the city is held.

Harry Potter Tour

The last part of the tour is dedicated especially for fans of the Harry Potter saga. London offers some of the best Harry Potter tours, as well as the chance to visit the Harry Potter exhibition at Warner Studios.

Among all of them, the one that shows the most famous locations of the Harry Potter films, from the famous platform 9 and ¾ of King's Cross Station to the Leaky Cauldron (located in Borough Market), can be very interesting.

With this tour, you'll not only get to enjoy those locations, but you'll also get to see some of London's most important attractions again.

Book your Harry Potter tour