To quote the great Dr Johnson “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” and I can see why he came up with the quote. I have lived in London on and off for the past decade and still to this day I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of everything London has on offer. So let’s be honest seeing London in 4 days is going to be a push for most tourists. But you don’t need to worry about what to do in London in 4 days as here I have put together the best London 4 day itinerary with info on what to do, what to eat and how to get there to help you make the most of your 4 days in London. So whether you want to do this London 4 day itinerary with family or without, I am sure it will delight.
In this London 4 day itinerary guide we will cover over the course of the itinerary
- Central London, Covent Garden and the South Bank
- Best London Museums (including the British Museum) and South Kensington
- Best London Attractions such as Buckingham Palace, museums, Tower of London, ST Pauls Cathedral and London eye to name but a few!
Day one of the perfect London 4 day itinerary
Note: This itinerary is designed with the idea that you have a whole four days in London however if you need to factor in transport time then choose which half day you are least interested in. For advice for getting from Heathrow Airport to London via public transport or for more London travel tips click on the links.
The first day of your London 4 days itinerary is all about exploring the central part of London. Start your morning at
Borough market This is an iconic London market. Peruse the stalls that offer some of the finest produce in London. Borough Market is actually the oldest market in London having existed on this site since the 13th century in one form or another. Today the stalls at Borough Market represent the comospolitanism of London with the diversity of stalls and food it has on offer. The market can get exceptionally busy especially at Lunch times which is why I always recommend starting this day of your itinerary at Borough Market.
If you are a film buff or a rom com fan you will notice the door to Bridget Jone’s flat is in Borough Markets.
As you are starting your day at Borough I would recommend grabbing a coffee and a bite to eat on the go. You are going to need the fuel for the day’s itinerary.
For foodies with a bit more time on their hands you could try booking on a food tour of Borough Market!
From Borough you are going to take a walk along the south bank on route to your next destination. The walk without stops should take roughly 30 minutes but leave yourself plenty of time as there are lots of photo opps along the way.
Some of the best Photo ops and sights that you will see on your walk are:
The Golden Hinde
Although only a reconstruction, not the original 0 the ship is still a sight to behold. The Golden Hinde once belonged to Sir Francis Drake and if you would like to you can climb aboard. On the scale of London attraction business this is actually one of the quietest. It is sure to be a hit if you are travelling with children to London.
The next site you will see is the famous
Old Clink prison
There is no way you can miss the Clink on your walk along the South Bank. Outside of this quasi- museum there is a large skeleton hanging in a cage to represent some of the criminal punishments of old. I wouldn’t recommend this for sensitive tourists or young children but if you are into dark tourism destinations you might enjoy it.
Just along from the Clink Museum is one of my favourite places in all of London –
The Globe Theatre
The original globe theatre as Shakespeare would have used was actually very short lived having been burnt down by fire just 14 years after its first use. In 1997 the Globe Theatre was reconstructed to the match the original as much as possible and in my opinion is a must visit in London.
The Globe Theatre used to only be a summertime event however with the addition of a new indoor candlelit theatre you can attend the Globe Theatre even if you are visiting London in Winter. However, if I am honest summer is still my favourite. There is nothing like sitting in the traditional recreation theatre from Shakespeare’s time seeing the plays performed as they were in Shakespeare’s time.
It is definitely worth booking your tickets well in advance as they do sell.
Top Tip: if you are buying seated rather than standing tickets I definitely recommend reserving a cushion with your seat. Shakespeare’s plays can be long and the traditional wooden seats are very uncomfortable.
If you do opt for standing tickets please remember that the roof is open on the standing area (seating is covered) so if it rains you are going to get wet.
If it does rain while you are in London then check out this post.
Also along this stretch of the walk you will also get great views of both the Millennium Bridge and also St Pauls Cathedral. In my opinion this is one of the most photogenic spots in the whole of London. If you want to walk over the bridge and check out St Pauls Cathedral now is the time to do it. The Cathedral was designed by Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren and was completed in 1708 and since then has survived fire and the London Blitz.
Once you are back on the Globe side of the river you will go past the best contemporary art gallery in the UK – the Tate Modern. If you love modern art then this is going to be a must for you but even if you aren’t interested in art it is worth heading in simply for the beautiful view. It might not be the highest view in London (The Shard takes this honour) but it is the cheapest.
The Tate Modern is free to enter but donations are encouraged.
Your final destination from your walk along the South Bank will be the London Eye. This London landmark is a must for any visitor to London offering unrivalled views of the London skyline.
Now this is a bit of a marmite attraction (you love it or you hate it). It is quite expensive however it is definitely one of the biggest icons on the London skyline and does offer great views. If you want to ride the London Eye I definitely recommend booking your tickets in advance as this is one of the busiest attractions in the city – and definitely has one of the longest queues especially if you are visiting in the summer or at a weekend.
For lunch head back towards the BFI. One of our favourite lunch time stops is ping pong for dim sum but there are loads go great eateries in this stretch of the South Bank such as Wahaca and Giraffe – this place is particularly great if you are travelling to London with toddlers or young kids but all offer great lunch time meals.
After lunch your next stop is the Houses of Parliament. Walk across Westminster bridge To get there. It should take no more than 15 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time here to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster.
Fun Fact: Big Ben is not the name of the tower. The Tower is actually called the Elizabeth Tower. The name Big Ben actually refers to the Bell inside the Tower.
Please Note: Big Ben is currently under refurbishment and will be under scaffolding until 2021. The only time you will be able to hear the Bells during this period is on New Years Eve.
I definitely think taking a tour of Westminster Abbey is worthwhile. It was most recently used as the site of William and Kates wedding back in 2012 but the abbey has over a thousand years of history and has been the site of most of the coronations of British royalty. The Abbey is home to the graves of many of England’s Kings and Queens (17 in total) and its most famous figures. Inside the Abbey you can see the tombs of Charles Darwin, Elizabeth I, Edward the Confessor and John Keats to name just a few.
And if there is only one thing you should see while in the abbey it has to be the historic Coronation Chair.
The queues can get long here so get your tickets in advance HERE!
Once you have taken enough selfies and marvelled enough at the British political institution, head down towards embankment pier. The walk should take you ten minutes.
At embankment pier pick up a rib boat. I love nothing more than reenacting some of my favourite movie scenes while on holiday and taking a rib boat ride down the Thames will make you feel like James Bond. Advance booking essential – you can book your tickets online here.
After the days excitement you are probably feeling hungry so head to Covent Garden for dinner. Covent Garden is one of my favourite areas of London and must be on your 4 day itinerary in London.
Visiting the Covent Garden area is a must because it is brimming with great restaurants for all budgets. For cheap eats I recommend the Mexican Wahaca and the steak place – Flat Iron. The great thing about both of these are that they don’t require reservations.
If you have a bit more to do then try our high class steak place Hawksmoor or head to classic English eateries Browns or the Ivy.
If you are doing this day on a Thursday or Friday then I would recommend visiting the London Transport Museum for one of their lates. The museum is a must for transport enthusiasts and tells you the history of transport in London. It also has an amazing poster collection and the lates offer you a chance to see the all of the collections swell as enjoy some drinks and special events.
After dinner take a stroll around the piazza and watch the street entertainers before heading home.
Note about itinerary – if you want to do this 4 day itinerary with family in tow just allow yourself a bit more time to complete. The itinerary mainly relies on walking and public transport to get between places. This itinerary is ideal for the first time visitor to London but if you have a bit longer in London or would like to experience some neighbours outside of the centre then why not check out our 7 day London itinerary here.
Day two of the perfect four day London itinerary
Day 2 of your 4 days London itinerary starts with a big breakfast, a proper full English. Some of my favourite places to go for breakfast are plum and split milk at the Great Northern Hotel.
Or why it try out the aptly named The breakfast club.
Once you are fully fuelled head to the British museum for a morning of culture. With all of the world’s treasures to admire in the British museum it is impossible to see all in once go. In fact you could spend four days in the British Museum and still not see everything.
Having been to the British Museum countless number of times I would personally prioritise the Egyptian and Greek galleries to see the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles (otherwise known as the Parthenon Marbles which are longingly subject to repatriation calls).
Other must sees in other galleries include the Benin Bronzes and the bog body known as the Lindow Man. To get the most out your tour, you could book onto a tour of the museum galleries to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
To continue your high brow day head for a fancy afternoon tea – a true English staple. There are lots of fancy afternoon teas and some quirky ones too. If you want to spend more time at the British Museum it is possible to have an afternoon tea there but if you want a British tradition head to the Ritz. Out of all the places in London that I have tried afternoon tea at (and believe me I’ve tried a few) none hold a candle to the Ritz for me. Held in the beautiful Palm Court of the Ritz the food is incredible and topped off by a pianist taking requests at the piano.
Top tip: advance booking essential.
Alternative to make this a London Family Itinerary: If you are travelling for 4 days in London with kids and want to make this a more London Family Itinerary then I would recommend looking at a themed afternoon tea. There are several Disney themed afternoon teas (including Mary Poppins at Aqua Shard and the Mad Hatters Tea Party at Sanderson Hotel), a Harry Potter Themed one in the Potion Room at Cutter and Squidge in Soho and a Charlie and the chocolate factory one at one of my favourite London hotels – One Aldwych.
If you would like to find a London itinerary designed specifically for kids then check this post out.
There is also an afternoon tea bus which combines afternoon tea and a bus tour. I have not done this and it does lack some of the fanciness of the traditional afternoon tea but for those that want a bus tour too it might be a nice compromise. For more information click here.
Next Read: kid friendly London Guide
After such a cultured day, you’ve earned a bit of a break so why not head to Oxford Street, Carnaby Street or Saville Row for a bit of retail therapy. Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe (and it feels it especially if you are in London for Christmas), The most famous shop on Oxford Street is Selfridges and is definitely one of the best shops in London for those that enjoy a bit of retail therapy.
Carnaby Street is a little quieter and offers some great boutique stores. There is also the famous cake shop Choccywoccydoodah which is perfect for the traveller with a sweet tooth. And men will love Saville Row, home to London’s best and most famous tailors (it is where Kingsmen is set in the film Kingsmen). Also, one of my favourite no reservations restaurants – Flat Iron is in Carnaby. This is a great place for affordable steak in London.
Family friendly alternative: Head to the toy store Hamley’s for a treat.
If you don’t think 4 days in London with family is enough check out our 5-7 day itineraries. These London itineraries are aimed at travelling with children!
End your day with a trip to the theatre. There is so much to see on the west end stage but I recommend the british tradition – Mousetrap just don’t spoiled he ending for others. You can book your tickets in advance here!
Otherwise why not head back to the Globe for a truly English experience.
If you are still hungry head for a post theatre dinner.
Day three of the perfect London in four days itinerary
A note about day 3 of this four days in London itinerary – the order of the days is not arbitrary. We recommend actually checking which day changing of the guard is on during your stay. It is a common myth that the changing of the guard occurs daily. Once you have this information you can modify your itinerary accordingly.
Start day 3 of your 4 day itinerary, London with breakfast at your hotel. After breakfast head our go visit the beautiful St James park. Our favourite thing to see in St James park is all the pelicans in the park. These white pelicans have been a fixture in St James Park since 1664 when a Russian Ambassador gifted them.
Your walk from the park will take you to your next destination – Buckingham Palace. Time is definitely of the essence for this part of the itinerary as you need to be here before 10:45am (10:30 if you are visiting during the summer.) to get a good spot to watch the Changing of the Guard. An iconic thing to see on any London trip. The process starts at 10:45, and the actual change over happens at 11 and lasts around 45 minutes.
For some tips on the best places to watch the changing of the guard check out this post.
Depending on your dates of travel will depend whether or not you can actually go inside and tour Buckingham Palace. The dates that the Palace Staterooms are open are very limited only happening between July and September and then periodically over December. If you are a fan of royal history and palaces then this is an absolute must on your itinerary.
And for those traveling with small children, you don’t need to worry that this isn’t family friendly. The tour ends in the Garden and there is a lovely soft play area to let your smalls loose in.
After this, you are having a bit of a walk. Alternatively you could take the tube.
Your ultimate destination is the museums of South Kensington. On the way you walk past Harrods which is worth a stop in for a browse around this London icon. It is one of THE shopping destinations in London. You could also stop for lunch for here but be warned it is a pricey place to stop. For those that love afternoon tea, Harrods also have their own afternoon tea which is pretty good. Be sure to check out the food hall if you aren’t stopping here for lunch as they have lots of nice foods to take away and again great for souvenir shopping to take home.
Alternatively keep walking ready to have lunch at South Kensington. Favourites of ours include carluccios, comptoir libanais and the v&a cafe. However my favourite place is to head to the pub the queens arms in queens gate news. It is a truly stunning pub and also offers some of the best food in the Kensington area in my opinion.
Spend the afternoon walking around one of the National museums in South Kensington. There is a museum here for every taste. This is great especially if you have a rainy day during your stay. The museums in South Kensington are
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- Victoria and Albert Museum
The great thing about these museums is that they are some of the best FREE things to do in London (although a small donation is encouraged).
If you are having a tough time deciding between which museum to visit I personally would recommend visiting the Natural History Museum or Science Museum for those travelling with kids. The Science Museum has interactive exhibitions for toddlers and older children which makes this a family favourite in our house while the Natural History Museum being full of dinosaurs is always a crowd pleaser.
Next read: Best museums for toddlers!
The Victoria and Albert Museum, locally known as the V&A, is the best museum in the world for art and design in my opinion. Whenever I am in South Kensington I always stop in to look at the costume collections and be sure to check out what temporary exhibitions they have on as they have a very active programme.
After an afternoon of culture wander or tube back towards Soho for a trendy dinner. Or perhaps have another night of theatre. This would be the perfect time for you to head to the Globe to see some Shakespeare.
Day four of the perfect London itinerary 4 days itinerary
The final day of our perfect 4 days in London guide and there is so much left to explore.
Today the starts at St Paul’s Cathedral. A London landmark and full of exciting history. Spend the morning inside this marvellous church. To make the most of your morning be sure to book your tickets in advance here!
Then head towards the impressive Tower of London. The Tower of London has a history dating back to 1066 and since then has been a military fortification and prison. I definitely recommend going inside the Tower of London as you don’t get a true feel for the place looking from outside the thick fortified walls.
This is a great place to learn about some of the more gruesome history of London. For instance the Richard III kept his nephews, known today as The Princes in the Tower, locked up in the tower when he seized the crown and were never seen again. It was also the site of some of the most famous beheadings in British history for instance Anne Boleyn was executed here as was Lady Jane Grey and Katherine Howard to name but a few.
It is definitely worth taking the tour (included in the ticket price), with one of the Yeoman Warder who can reveal fascinating insights on the Tower and its history. These tours last an hour and leave every 30 minutes.
Once you have had enough at the more gruesome gruesome history be sure to go and check out the Crown Jewels Exhibit where you can see the crown and other jewels belong to the British monarchy.
If time allows, head to see the exhibition at the top of Tower bridge (often mistakenly called London Bridge) a true engineering marvel in central London. Now you could just look at the bridge but for a small admission you can actually climb to the top of the bridge where you can learn more about the engineering feat (be warned there is a glass floor) and you can also see the engine room.
An alternative to visiting Tower Bridge would be to visit the Sky Garden (depending on how long you plan to spend at the Tower.) The great thing about the Sky Garden is that it offers some of the best views of London but most importantly it is free. However tickets must be reserved in advance as this does get fully booked quickly.
For dinner today, head to Brick Lane for another British institution – a Curry. Brick Lane is a really vibrant part of London and I don’t think I have ever eaten a bad curry on Brick Lane. Our favourite place is Aladdin’s but everyone has there own favourite. Before dinner be sure to check out the street art that this area has become famed for and has included a piece by the elusive graffiti artist Banksy.
After an early dinner head towards Aldgate East Station and pick up the famous Jack the Ripper Tour! This was one of the first things I did when I moved to London and it is still up there as one of my favourite things to do at night in London. On the tour you will discover all about the infamous and uncaught serial killer that terrorised London in the summer of 1888.
Getting Around During Your London itinerary
London is a really easy to city to get around and I would say public transport is the best way to get around the city after walking.
One of the confusing things for international visitors to London is that there are many airports that you could fly into. Depending what airport you are flying into you can get one of the many public transport options to get into the city such as the Heathrow Express. Depending on the time of day this is probably your quickest way to get into the centre of the city.
However if you are arriving late you can either pick up a taxi outside or arrange a private transfer.
Although we recommend walking for most part of this itinerary, if you prefer you can take public transport either bus or the Tube. To use the public transport in London you can not use cash but instead can either buy an Oyster Ticket (the London transport card), a contactless debit card or Apple Pay.
Note about Oyster Cards: This requires a 5GBP refundable deposit and works on buses, the underground, ferries, the overground and the Docklands Light Railway.
Where to Stay in for this London in 4 days itinerary
Covent Garden is a great place to stay during your London in 4 days itinerary as it is centrally located, with great tube options and also is the place where you have ended your first day. Below are options for each price bracket in Covent Garden
Where to Stay in Covent Garden
Budget Option: Fielding Hotel
MidRange Option: Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street
Located in a the beautiful Seven Dials area. A chic and trendy area close to some amazing shops and great for those wanting great eats or to be close to theaters.
Luxury Option: One Aldywch Hotel
The place we choose to stay when we are looking for a bit of luxury in London. It has a fab pool which is great for relaxing after a busy day exploring. Be sure to dive under water when there for a musical surprise.
Best Places to Stay Near Borough Market
Budget Option: Premier Inn County Hall
This chain hotel offers comfortable rooms in an ideal setting for exploration. If we are looking for a more budget friendly stay while in London then this is the place we book.
MidRange Option: Hilton London Tower Bridge
This mid range hotel is situated perfectly to explore some of London’s greatest icons.
Luxury Option: Shangri La at the Shard
If you want to stay in a bucket list worthy hotel in London then this is the one for you.
For a more complete guide on where to stay in London click here!
Essentials to Pack For Your London itinerary 4 days in the Capital
We will address your essential London Clothing Packing List in another post as this varies so much by seasons but things you should never travel to London without and are essential for this London itinerary 4 days in the Capital I recommend packing:
- A Travel Adaptor
- Small Umbrella
- Rain Coat or Poncho
FAQs About our 4 days in London itinerary
Is 4 days in London enough time?
As Samuel Johnson said “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life” and I like to interrupt that there is never enough time to see and do London. I’m a Londoner myself and I don’t think I have seen everything that I want to in London. My bucket list for the city seems to be never ending. However, with 4 days in London you can definitely start ticking off some of the major bucket list items and see many of London’s main tourist attractions.
What is the best time to visit London?
In my opinion there is no bad time to visit London and there is no one best time to visit London. Christmas is a magical time in London – so magical we have written a whole Winter Itinerary because we love it so much. There are also loads of great places you can do day trips too in London in the Winter.
If you don’t like rain then you probably won’t like November – February is probably not the time for you but the great thing about this period is there are less tourists.
Spring is lovely because London is a great floral city. In Spring places comes alive with cherry blossoms such as one of my favourite outdoor places in London – Kew Gardens! Also London is beautiful when it gets Wisteria Hysteria and of course there is the great Chelsea Flower Show in Spring.
Summer is the best weather (well theoretically is the best weather though this is never guaranteed in the UK) but is also the time that has the most tourists and therefore queues at attractions.
Can I do this 4 day London itinerary with family? Is this the best family trip to London itinerary?
You can totally do this 4 day London itinerary with family in tow. Depending on how good of a walker your littles are you may want to take a stroller with you for some of the heavier walking days. To do this 4 days in London with family itinerary be sure to check out our family friendly London hints that are in the post to be make this the best family trip to London itinerary.
What are the best day trips to take from London?
If you are staying in London longer or want to replace one of these days or even half days then you could check out our longer 7 day London itinerary or replace one of these days or half days with a day trip.
We have seasonal London day trips for summer and winter posts here or otherwise consider heading to one of these no matter what time of year of
- Harry Potter Studio Tours
One of, if not the most popular day trip from London at the moment. It is a must for any Potterhead. But we warned advance booking is absolutely essential and I would book this as soon as you book your trip to London as this can sell out months in advance. Book your tickets online in advance HERE
- Hampton court Palace
Getting to Hampton Court Palace is really easy on the train. You take the train from Waterloo station in central London and the journey takes only 35 minutes and trains run every half hour. The train station is a short walk to the palace. This is especially good for those that love royal history and Henry VIII in particular. The palace also has loads of things for children to do
Another one for the Royal History fans. Windsor is home to Queen Elizabeth II and is great for history lovers. You can also explore Eton or Legoland if you have a whole day.
One of my favourite day trips from London, Oxford is a very quaint town and one of my favourite things is to explore the colleges of the University. This is also great for any Harry Potter lover in your life as here you will see many of the filming locations for Hogwarts.
This is definitely a full rather than a half day trip as it takes just under two hours on the train to get to York. But with London this is my favourite city in the UK. It isn’t as crowded as London and has a beautiful Minster, River and tons of great museums and shops.
We hope you like our suggested 4 days in London itinerary and would love to hear if you follow it or tell us how you spend a London 4 day trip by sharing your London travel itinerary. 4 days is it enough do you think?
Other London Reading on Wandermust Family
- 50 + things to do in London with kids
- 4 Day London Itinerary
- 5-7 Day London Itinerary with Kids
- London Bucket List
- UK Bucket List
- 50 Things to do on a Rainy Day in London
- Hampton Court Day Trip
- Guide to Visiting London with a Baby or Toddler
- Children’s Books set in London