3-day Itinerary in London
Explore the best things to do in Paris in 3 days based on recommendations from local experts.
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Once the recreational stomping grounds for King Henry VIII, this long swath of green stretching from Kensington Palace in the west to Oxford Street in the east is now open to the public and a must-visit for travelers looking for a relaxing moment away from the city's hustle and bustle. Among Hyde Park's meandering foot and bike paths and flourishing flora and fauna, you'll find a few standout attractions that are worth exploring. Watch the swans and boats glide over the serene Serpentine Lake (or rent a vessel yourself), visit the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain or stop by the Speakers' Corner, a site for public speeches and debates since the 19th century (previously used by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell). If you continue on the memorial walk you'll likely pass through Kensington Gardens where you'll find the ornate Albert Memorial, the Italian Gardens and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
Visitors say the tranquil atmosphere of Kensington Gardens are unparalleled anywhere else in the city – and that they're beautiful no matter the weather. The closest Tube stations to Kensington Gardens include Lancaster Gate and Queensway, Bayswater and High Street Kensington. Hyde Park is free to all visitors and is open year-round from 5 a.m. to midnight, while Kensington Gardens opens at 6 a.m. daily. The Tube stations that surround Hyde Park are Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge. To find out more about seasonal events and other parks around London, visit the Royal Parks website.15-20 minute walk
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Buckingham Palace, the London home of Queen Elizabeth II, is open for tour (except for the queen's private quarters, of course) in the summers and select dates during the winter and spring. On the tour, you'll have access to the 19 State Rooms where the queen and members of the royal family host guests for state, ceremonial and official affairs. Opulently accented with chandeliers, candelabra, paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens, and exquisite English and French furniture, these rooms display some of the most magnificent pieces from the Royal Collection. Along with the grand interiors, the State Rooms are also a witness to history. Those who followed the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton closely will recognize the Throne Room, which served as the backdrop for the official wedding photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
For tours in the summer, recent travelers suggested taking advantage of the audio guide (included with admission), so that you hear a detailed history of each room at your own pace. The palace advises you set aside at least two hours to see the State Rooms (and that you wear comfortable shoes), while recent travelers advised that you use the facilities prior to the start of the tour; there are no public restrooms available until you reach the garden. Tour tickets start at 24 pounds (about $33.50) for adults; 22 pounds (about $30.75) for seniors (older than 60) and students; 13.50 pounds (about $18.90) for kids younger than 17; children younger than 5 enter for free. You can tour the palace from 9:30 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. depending on the month (the palace is open from late July to late September). Visitors can also spring for the Royal Day Out Ticket, which also includes entrance to the Queen's Gallery and Royal Mews, but it will cost you.
If you'd rather skip the admission fees altogether, you can still experience Buckingham Palace by witnessing the storied Changing of the Guard (also referred to as Guard Mounting), which occurs daily at 11 a.m., from April until late July, and on alternate days the rest of the year (except during inclement weather). Make sure to get there early, as many previous visitors say the area gets crowded very quickly, making it hard to see anything if you arrive shortly before the ceremony starts. You'll find Buckingham Palace off Green Park, Hyde Park Corner or St. James Park Tube stops. Bus Nos. 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road. For more information, visit the Royal Collection Trust website.15 minute walk; 5-10 minutes by car
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This medieval church, graced by many royal weddings and coronations, offers a magnificent peek at London's far-reaching history. Westminster Abbey is pretty much always busy – and the staff keeps you moving at a pretty swift pace – so do a little research ahead of time to avoid missing your personal must-sees. For instance, if you're a bibliophile, consider a visit to the Poets' Corner. This is the final resting place of famed authors Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, among others. If you're fascinated by all the intrigue surrounding the British royalty, you might like to visit the shared tomb of enemies and half-sisters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor.
If you prefer to see the abbey at your own pace, but still want a little guidance on the history you're encountering, take advantage of the free audio guides online. Alternatively, you can take a 90-minute Verger-led tour and see the Shrine (containing the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor), the Royal Tombs, Poets' Corner, the Cloisters and the Nave. If you decide to take this tour, there is an extra 5 pound (around $7.30) charge added to your original admission price.
Although most travelers agree that Westminster Abbey is indeed a must-see attraction, some lament the high admission price and overwhelming crowds. Keep in mind, photos are not allowed (to many travelers' chagrin). Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., though you should check the abbey's calendar for any scheduled closings before you plan your tour. Admission for adults costs 22 pounds (about $28.75), while children between the ages of 6 and 16 pay 9 pounds (about $11.80). You'll save a few pounds if you purchase your tickets in advance online. If you have a London Pass, your entrance fee is covered. The closest Tube stops are Westminster, on the Jubilee, District and Circle lines, and St. James's Park, on the District and Circle lines. For more information about tour times and admission prices, visit the Westminster Abbey website.15-20 minute walk; 10-15 minutes by car
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Sitting in Trafalgar Square, London's National Gallery features a labyrinth interior so large that it requires a color-coded map to navigate. The museum features paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to 19th centuries, including Italian Renaissance masterpieces and French Impressionist works. Among its 2,300 in-house pieces, visitors will find famed paintings, such as Botticelli's "Venus and Mars" and Van Gogh's "Sunflowers."
Recent visitors loved the variety of paintings at the National Gallery, saying that travelers may need more than a day to get a glimpse at all the masterpieces that grace its never-ending halls. They also commend the gallery's cafe. If reading placard after placard isn't necessarily your thing, you can take a free, hour-long tour, which is offered daily at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. And if you're worried about keeping the kids entertained while you take in the collections, the National Gallery provides audio tours and maps designed especially for children, some of which come with a small extra fee.
The National Gallery welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, and on Friday until 9 p.m. Although permanent collections are always free, the museum oftentimes charges for special exhibitions and they also recommend a 20-pound (about $28) donation. Check the museum's website for special exhibition prices. You'll find the museum off the Charing Cross and Leicester Square Tube stops. A handful of bus routes, including nos. 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 24, 87, 91, 139 and 176 stop at Trafalgar Square.5-10 minute walk
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The portal to London's buzzy West End, Piccadilly Circus lives up to its name. Regularly compared to New York's Times Square, Piccadilly Circus is the meeting place of five busy roads and is the center of London's hustle and bustle. Whether it's businessmen and women on their way to work in the morning, shoppers en route to the department store-clad Oxford Street (just a few streets north) or lively club and bar hoppers passing through at night, Piccadilly is always thrumming with activity.
Recent travelers highly recommend a visit to Piccadilly Circus for its proximity to restaurants, shops and nightlife spots and the energy and excitement it exudes. For the best ambience, some suggest you visit Piccadilly at night, when the neon lights of the billboards reflect off the Edwardian-era buildings and the Eros statue. A quick disclaimer – Piccadilly Circus is not an actual circus, as some travelers have expected; rather, the name refers to the circle (circus), off which a handful of major roads spoke. Access to the area is free.
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The British Museum is both an architectural beauty and a trove of some of the world's most noted antiquities. In fact, many travelers it's the best museum in all of London. What's more, it's free to visit. From the Rosetta Stone to the Elgin Marbles to the Lindow Man, the British Museum is a history buff's dream containing artifacts in the millions. The immense collection can make an initial museum visit seem overwhelming: Pick the exhibits that most interest you, and plan return trips if you feel so inclined.
If you want a little help navigating the museum's 8 million objects, consider tagging along on a guided tour. Several, including the daily eye-opener tours and weekly lunchtime gallery talks and Friday evening spotlight tours are free. You can also book a highlights and special early morning tour for 14 pounds (around $20) and 30 pounds (less than $45), respectively. Audio guides, which cost 7 pounds (less than $10), are also available to rent daily.
Recent travelers were in awe of the museum's vast exhibits, advising future travelers set aside several hours to really do it justice. Even if you don't consider yourself an amateur historian, you'll still want to stop by – the museum truly has something for everyone, according to past visitors.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Saturday till Thursday, but stays open until 8:30 p.m. on Fridays. Though admission is free, access to some exhibitions will cost you. You'll find a gift shop and three eateries on-site, including a quick-service cafe and casual pizzeria, as well as the more formal Great Court Restaurant. The British Museum is accessible from the Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Goodge Street and Russell Square Tube stops. More than a dozen bus routes also stop near the museum. For more information, visit the British Museum's website.20 minutes by Tube; 10-15 minutes by car
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Besides Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral is arguably the second must-see church in London. With its imposing dome, one of the largest in the world, St. Paul's forms a predominant spot along London's skyline. It's also a survivor: Although an older incarnation burnt during the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren's dome (completed in 1711) survived numerous World War II bombings.
Though some reviewers are put off by the pricey admission, most recent travelers agreed that a peek inside is well worth the extra coin. To make the most of your visit, reviewers highly recommended climbing to the top of the dome to the Golden Gallery. You'll have to hike up 528 steps, but after catching your breath you'll enjoy far-reaching views of the River Thames, the Tate Modern, and Shakespeare's Globe theater. And once you've seen the top, head below ground to the crypt (the largest in Europe), which now houses a restaurant and cafe.
Similar to Westminster Abbey, you can bypass a fairly steep entry fee by attending a service. Various types of services take place throughout the week daily; check the website for hours. Sightseers can tour the cathedral Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although tickets are last issued at 4 p.m. Adult tickets cost 18 pounds (about $25), students and seniors pay 16 pounds (about $23), while children (ages 6 to 17) pay 8 pounds (approximately $11). If you book online, however, you save 2 pounds and enjoy fast-track entry. If you have a London Pass, your entry is covered. The cost of admission grants visitors entry to the cathedral floor, crypt and the three galleries in the dome. You can find the cathedral off the St. Paul's Tube stop.15-20 minutes by Tube; 20 minute walk
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Although its exterior might be grim and even unimpressive (especially when compared to stately Buckingham Palace), the Tower of London's interior is always bustling with activity. The tower, which actually comprises multiple towers – 12 of which can be explored by the public – offers something for everyone. If you're enchanted with the history of the monarch, don't miss the famous crown jewels exhibition. Among the items you'll see is the Imperial State Crown – which is still worn by the queen for each State Opening of Parliament – and the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. If you have more than an hour to spend here, take an entertaining tour led by the Yeoman Warders (tower guards). During the hour-long excursion (included in your admission ticket), the guards will regale you with tales of the tower's bloody past. Lastly, don't forget to visit the White Tower, an iconic symbol of London's heritage and one of the world's most famous castles. Inside, you'll find the 350-year-old exhibition, "Line of Kings," along with artifacts from Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.
The majority of travelers say the Tower of London's high admission price and long lines are worth every pence. And some recent visitors strongly recommend attending the free tour put on by the Yeoman Warders.
The Tower of London is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., though it closes an hour earlier November through February. Tickets for adults cost 26.80 pounds (about $38); entrance for children between the ages of 5 and 15 costs 12.70 pounds (about $18). Children younger than 5 get in for free. If you want to save some quid on admission, buy your tickets in advance on the Tower of London's website. If you have a London Pass, your entry is covered. Along with bathroom facilities and Wi-Fi access, the Tower of London also offers four eateries and several gift shops on-site. You'll find the Tower of London off the Tower Hill Tube stop.5 minute walk
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Along with Parliament and Big Ben, Tower Bridge is London's next must-see architectural marvel, not to mention the most famous bridge that crosses the Thames. Construction on the bridge started in 1886, which means it's practically modern by London standards, but Tower Bridge stands out for its stunning detail and moveable roadways that lift up when large ships need to pass through. The views from the bridge are an added bonus. From the elevated sidewalks visitors get a prime view of the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral's iconic dome and one of the newest additions to London's skyline, The Shard.
If you're interested in viewing the city from a higher vantage point (about 137 feet), consider a tour of the Tower Bridge Exhibition. This exhibit will take you to the top of the bridge, equipped with a glass floor, as well as to the bottom to the bridge's engine rooms. However, recent visitors say that those who are afraid of heights might want to forgo the tour because of the glass floor. Adults pay 9.80 pounds (about $13.75), youths ages 5 to 15 pay 4.20 pounds (about $6), while children younger than 5 get in for free. If you have a London Pass, entry to the exhibition is included. Check the website for opening times. Keep in mind, most recent travelers recommend only doing this if you have time to kill or are extremely interested; a walk across the bridge is free and nearly as impressive. Hop off the Tube at Tower Hill to stroll across the Tower Bridge. You can also take bus routes nos. 15, 42, 78,100 and RV1.
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Located on the South Bank along the Thames, the Tate Modern is part of a group of four museums (all named Tate) that house the 70,000 artworks that comprise the national collection of British art. As its name suggest, this Tate holds the more contemporary-style pieces than its three other counterparts, making it more of a hit or miss among travelers. Dalí and Picasso, among many British artists, are represented inside this repurposed power plant – but you'll find the works are scattered. Art is grouped by theme rather than by artist.
Recent visitors said if you're a fan of contemporary and modern art, you'll enjoy the Tate Modern. If you're partial to antiquities or the more traditional works of art, you'll probably be better served at the British Museum or the National Gallery. Other visitors suggested downloading the Tate App for your smartphone to get a deeper understanding of the works. Art aside, the eateries located within the museum may be enough of a reason for travelers to visit. Both the level 1 Cafe and level 6 Restaurant at Tate Modern afford stunning views of St. Paul's Cathedral, which is situated on the other side of the river.
Whether you're visiting for the art, architecture or vistas, the Tate Modern is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The museum welcomes visitors free of charge (not including special exhibits), and is accessible off the Blackfriars and Southwark Tube stops. For more information about special exhibitions, visit the museum's website.20 minute walk; 10 minutes by car
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The London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel found in many London panoramas) located on the River Thames is meant to deliver great views – not a thrilling ride. It circles around slowly, offering an unbeatable bird's-eye perspective of London's South Bank. However, those with a fear of heights should beware: When you're more than 400 feet high, the 360-degree views can be a bit disconcerting.
While some travelers say the London Eye is an absolute must-do, others found the experience to be overrated. Some recent travelers said the lines were too long (upward of a couple hours) and the ticket prices too high. However, many others were amazed by the views, especially Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Visitors were keen to note that this ride is not a fast one, with the average rotation of the wheel at least 30 minutes long.
Ticket prices range depending on the type of package desired, but the standard admission for adults starts at 27 pounds (around $38). Keep in mind that if you book your ticket in advance online, you'll save a few pounds. To see a complete list of ticket options, or to book your ticket online, head to the London Eye website. Also, check the website for opening times, which vary by season. You'll find the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel) off the Waterloo Tube stop.20 minute walk; 5-10 minutes by car
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The Houses of Parliament, composed of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, fill the massive Palace of Westminster. Guided and self-guided tours (which come highly recommended by recent travelers) take visitors through multiple areas of the building, including Westminster Hall (the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate), the House of Commons Chamber and the Royal Gallery, to name a few. If you're not interested in perusing the halls that make up the U.K.'s governing body, many travelers say that simply admiring the iconic structure's impressive exterior is enough, and an absolute must-do for anyone visiting London.
If you're one of many looking to snap your own photo of one of the most photographed buildings in the world, the best vantage point is from Westminster Bridge. But if you want a truly smashing shot, head on over to Lambeth Bridge or the Golden Jubilee Bridges on the South Bank for a view of Parliament and the London Eye together. Keep in mind that Westminster Bridge connects the city's two biggest attractions (London Eye to Parliament) together, and as a result is almost always very crowded. It's also important to know that merchants and (rather shady) gamblers set up along the bridge, so keep your personal belongings close and walk along the left side, as a higher number tend to concentrate on the right.
Guided, self-guided and tours that include afternoon tea are all available Saturdays year-round as well as most weekdays during Parliamentary recess. Self-guided tours, which include an audio guide, take about 60 to 75 minutes and are 20.50 pounds (about $29) for adults and free for one child ages 5 to 15 years with a paying adult, then 8.50 pounds (about $12) for each additional child. Guided tours cost 28 pounds (around $39) for adults and 12 pounds (about $17) for children ages 5 to 15 years. All children younger than 5 enter for free. You can save a few pounds by purchasing your tickets in advance. Consult Parliament's website for up-to-date information on tour dates and hours, as they are subject to change. To get to the Houses of Parliament, hop off at the Westminster Tube station.5-10 minutes by car; 20 minute walk
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Catching a show in London's West End theater district is just as necessary as watching a play on Broadway during a trip to New York City. The quality is some of the best in the U.K., and the constant mix of new and classic productions with local and world-renowned (think Andrew Lloyd Webber, Benedict Cumberbatch) talent excites both visitors and locals alike. Even if you don't consider yourself much of a theater devotee, recent travelers said the atmosphere, specifically near the lively Leicester Square, where many of the theaters are concentrated, is worth a late-night wander.
To find ticket deals, head to the official discount booth (TKTS) in Leicester Square. Keep in mind that you'll need to visit the booth the day of the performance. But if you're not picky about what to see or have a more relaxed schedule, the TKTS booths run different deals every day, meaning you could land a great price for a wonderful performance. Booths are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Access to the area is free. You can reach the area via a variety of Tube stations, including Leicester Square and Charing Cross.
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