All Articles 7-day London itinerary: How to plan the perfect week in London

7-day London itinerary: How to plan the perfect week in London

People at the Millennium Bridge in London
Image: Jonathan Chng / Unsplash
Joanne Chong
By Joanne Chong27 Jul 2022 8 minutes read

Steeped in history and culture, London is a destination on the bucket list of many. There’s so much to see and do in London—planning your itinerary could be daunting. We’ve come up with this 7-day itinerary that includes all the star attractions and some hidden gems so that you’ll have the perfect week in London.

DAY ONE - Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden

People visiting Westminster Abbey in London during the day
Image: Ian Branch / Unsplash

Start the day at Westminster, the political, cultural and geographical center of London. Head to the grand Houses of Parliament, where you’ll find one of the unmissable landmarks of London, the Big Ben. Nearby is Westminster Abbey, one of the most impressive and historical churches in England. Collectively, the Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’d like to explore the interior of both buildings, skip-the-line tours are available.

A crowd at the Buckingham Palace in London
Image: Jean Carlo Emer / Unsplash

A short stroll along The Mall will lead you to Buckingham Palace. Check out the timings online for the Changing of the Guard ceremony and make sure that you arrive at least 30 minutes beforehand for a decent spot.

Continue strolling up The Mall, and you’ll arrive at Trafalgar Square, dotted with statues and monuments, including the iconic Nelson’s Column in front of the National Gallery. Entrance to the museum is free and it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. Or, rest your legs at Trafalgar Square with a drink, and people watch.

People visiting the shops at the Covent Garden in London during the day
Image: Lorenzo Gerosa / Unsplash

Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening soaking up the lively vibe in and around Covent Garden—it’s always buzzing with regular themed events and street performers. The shopping scene here is also trendy, with a mix of known brands and independent labels. Dining options are aplenty.

DAY TWO - Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, museums

View of Kensington Palace during the day
Image: Paul Legate/ Tripadvisor

Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria, has been home to the royal family for over 300 years. Remember to get a ticket in advance if you’d like to explore the palace, or you can book a private tour with afternoon tea for a complete royal experience.

While you’re there, take a leisurely stroll through Kensington Gardens and stop by the Albert Memorial built by Queen Victoria in honor of her late husband. Continue your walk towards the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. The fountain was built in 2004 as a tribute to the “people’s princess”.

Entrance of Royal Albert Hall in London
Image: Johen Redman / Unsplash

In the afternoon, take a guided tour of the impressive Royal Albert Hall and then head down towards the V&A museum, the world’s largest museum of art and design. Be sure to visit the jewelry collection to see sparkling tiaras and precious gems amassed over 2,000 years. Entrance is free but some exhibitions may be ticketed.

End the day at Harrods where you can do some shopping and pick up dinner. Here’s a guide that might be helpful for you.

DAY THREE - Harry Potter London or day trip to Stonehenge

Entrance of Warners Bros. Studio in London
Flying letters at the Warners Bros. Studio in London
Image: Steffi P (left), VHS (right) / Tripadvisor

For Harry Potter fans, London isn’t London without experiencing the magic of the wizarding world. Start your day by visiting Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station. Join a walking tour or a bus tour that will take you to all the Harry Potter filming locations in London.

For the ultimate experience, book the Warners Bros. Studio Harry Potter Tour. Learn the secrets behind the making of Harry Potter, drink butterbeer and retrace the footsteps of your favorite characters. This tour will take around 6 to 7 hours, so plan your day accordingly.

Tip: Book your tickets in advance as they run out fast.

View of the Stonehenge
Image: K. Mitch Hodge / Unsplash

If you’re not a Potterhead, go on a full-day tour to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath, southern England’s historical attractions. It includes two-way transport, guided commentary and admission tickets.

DAY FOUR - Tower of London, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral

People near The Tower of London during the day
Image: Amy-Leigh Barnard / Unsplash

Start the day with a history lesson at the Tower of London and be dazzled by the world famous Crown Jewels. Gain exclusive access by signing up for a VIP tour and be among the first visitors of the day to explore the landmark’s highlights.

Walk over to Tower Bridge to enjoy magnificent views of the city.

People visiting a shop at the Borough Market in London
Image: Hulki Okan Tabak / Unsplash

For lunch, browse the food stands in one of London’s largest and oldest food markets, the Borough Market. Just a stone’s throw away from The Shard, the Borough Market overflows with the best produce and street food. Wander around and fill your tummies before making your way to Shakespeare’s Globe, on the south bank of the River Thames. You can take a guided tour or catch a performance here.

View of the Tate Modern during the day in London
Image: Paolo L / Tripadvisor

Next door is Tate Modern, Britain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art. It’s one of the many free museums in London, and if you’re an art lover, here’s your chance to lose yourself in the works of many great artists.

From Tate Modern, cross the Millennium Bridge and you’ll arrive at the last stop for the day—St. Paul’s Cathedral.

DAY FIVE - Museums and more

People visiting The British Museum during the day in London
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

London is home to dozens of museums, and one of the best is the British Museum. Discover over two million years of human history and culture here through the expansive range of works, including Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone and the samurai armor. There’s so much to see that you can spend the entire day here, or join a guided tour and see all the highlights in about three hours.

In the afternoon, head to one of London’s best places for afternoon tea to enjoy a quintessentially English experience. If you’ve had enough of museums, consider joining a food tour, do some shopping, or tick off some of these non-touristy things to do in London.

DAY SIX - Camden, Regent’s Park, Baker Street

People at the Camden Town in London
Image: Raoul Croes / Unsplash

Explore North London, one of the most affluent residential districts in the city with a laidback and tranquil vibe.

Music lovers will love Camden Town for its connection to the city’s punk scene. The Camden Market also takes the spotlight for visitors looking for quirky and unique gifts. In the evening, this area is known for its vibrant nightlife.

People at the Regent’s Park in London during the day
Image: stephanietrip / Tripadvisor

After that, make your way to Regent’s Park, one of London’s royal parks designed in 1811 to serve as one of the royal hunting grounds. Today, the park is open to the public and has the largest grass area for sports in Central London, as well as a wide variety of activities such as the open air theater. The London Zoo is also located at the park’s northern edge.

Next up: Baker Street—best known as the home to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, said to live at 221B. If you’re a big fan, there are a Sherlock Holmes Museum and gift shop for you to pick up some souvenirs.

DAY SEVEN - Sunday roast

To mark your final day, partake in one of the most popular British traditions–eating a Sunday roast. As the name suggests, Sunday roasts are usually eaten on Sundays, and finding it on other days may prove challenging. However, if a Sunday roast is not on the menu, just snag a table at one of London’s celebrity chef restaurants for a memorable end to your London trip.

Know Before You Go

London is bright and bustling June through August, with weather in the mid-70s (though heat waves are getting a bit more common). While May and September are a bit cooler, their budding flowers or falling leaves are a bonus, plus there are fewer crowds. November through February are cool, dark, and even rainier than usual, but travel and hotel rates can be at their cheapest. Dark days are a bit cheerier from mid-November through December, when the city is dotted with Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and epic holiday lights.

As a global capital, London tends to keep open hours the whole week long. Most museums are open regular hours seven days a week, though church-related sights are often closed on Sundays. Shops tend to open a little later Sundays, around noon, and some restaurants are closed Sundays and/or Mondays.

Museums and shops in London open around 10 a.m., with museums typically closing at 5 or 6 p.m. and shops at 7 or 8 p.m. Restaurants tend to be open from noon to 9 p.m., though some close between 3 and 5 p.m. to make the transition from lunch to dinner. Despite the fact that most Londoners aim for afternoon tea between 2 to 4 p.m., high-end venues will take reservations for teatime anywhere from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to max out reservations. Pubs tend to open around noon. And don’t expect to do a pub crawl into the late hours—they actually close “early” compared to cocktail bars, usually around 11 p.m.

Covent Garden: Smack-dab in the middle of the action and featured at the end of our Day One itinerary, Covent Garden is one of the most central locations in London. The Clermont, Charing Cross is an elegant 1865 hotel with chandeliers, marble columns, and a chic cocktail bar, just a few minutes’ walk from tube stops and Trafalgar Square and a 15- to 20-minute walk from both The British Museum and Westminster Abbey.

Westminster: You might not realize how close you are to London hotspots when you’re lounging in St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel’s classy courtyard with its own fountain, but it’s located right between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. With both the District Line and Circle Line a few minutes’ walk away at St. James Park, even the sights not right outside the front door will feel pretty close.

East End: OK, it’s not as central or scenic but hotels in the East End are cheaper and closer to Day Two attractions like The Tower of London. Travelodge London City Hotel isn’t fancy, but it gets high ratings for covering the basics for a cheap price. Plus, it’s just a four-minute walk to the Circle Line, which means most of London is easily within reach.

Public transportation: The tube, aka London’s underground transit system, is wide-reaching, relatively simple, and always running, with 24/7 service on major lines. That said, trips can add up. A Day Travelcard includes unlimited trips on the tube, trams, and buses within most of central London, and it’s worth it for travelers making three or more trips a day. If you like to linger over your hotel buffet breakfast, an Off-Peak Travel card, which can be used after 9:30 a.m., is an even better deal. The Oyster card is also an option, but requires a deposit fee so many not be worth it for shorter visits.

By bike: London is not as bike friendly as other European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, though there are designated bike lanes in some areas, like the three-mile cycle route running along the river from the Tower of London to Big Ben. If you’re looking to pedal your way around the city, guided bike tours are a good option, such as one that covers London’s Royal Parks or another to see major attractions with stops for art-making and beer.

By taxi: London’s iconic black cabs are super cute, but a word of warning: They tend to be pricey, with fluctuating rates that depend on traffic. And that traffic can also inch along. As of this writing, the ride-share app Uber was running in London, but Lyft was not. London taxis also have their own app: Gett.

Airport transfers: London has six international airports, including City, Luton, Stansted, Southend, and, the two largest, Heathrow and Gatwick.

From Heathrow, the Piccadilly Line on the tube runs directly to Piccadilly Circus in 50 minutes. The faster option is the Heathrow Express rail line, which runs to Paddington Station in just 20 minutes. It’s more expensive than the tube, but it still beats taking a taxi, the priciest option by far and—thanks to traffic—often the slowest. Some hotels also offer hotel bus service—the Heathrow Hotel Hoppa, for example, makes trips to 25 hotels around the city and is as cheap as public transit.

From Gatwick Airport, the 30-minute Gatwick Express is by far the fastest option, running direct to Victoria Station. The Thameslink train costs half as much but takes twice as long, though it runs to more stations, including Blackfriars, St. Pancras International, and London Bridge. Both depart every fifteen minutes during the day. Buses are the most time-consuming choice, departing hourly and taking at least 90 minutes depending on the stop and time of day. Through easyBus, the National Express runs a bus from Gatwick to Victoria Station for as little as two pounds, but be sure to book ahead online or it could cost as much the train.

Joanne Chong
Self-diagnosed with the wanderlust gene, Joanne Chong loves going to new places, exploring unchartered territories, and immersing herself in the local culture. She also loves bread and a good cuppa—coffee flows through her veins and she eats her weight in bread.