Travel Leisure

Realistic London 3 Day Itinerary: How To Spend 72 Hours in the City

London, England is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. The city has a population of 8.8 million people and receives around 30 million visitors a year. London is no ghost town, so it is no surprise that travelers need to be strategic with their tourism efforts, especially if they only have a few days to visit.  

Travelers should plan their trip itinerary and the timing of their visit abroad according to the volume of expected visitors and common weather patterns. For those who plan to visit London for a short time (maybe a weekend or even an extended flight layover), there is a way to see and do plenty while also not being stressed about stuffing every free moment with an activity. 

Although time management can be a concern when traveling abroad to a large city, visitors should be able to see both popular tourist destinations and underrated attractions in one trip. Here is the best excursion lineup for a three-day trip to London that considers different types of vacationers. Travelers interested in visiting the big city for the first time will appreciate this three-day London itinerary that includes the most popular attractions in London. 

Planning a Trip to London 

The busy city of London has plenty to do. Check out these tips on visiting the city and how to best enjoy a short trip. Pictured: A British telephone booth in the park on a sunny day

The Best Times To Visit London  

London is known for its consistently rainy and mild temperatures. The best time to visit London is around March through May. During this time, the heavier crowds have yet to storm the city, but the (relatively) warmer weather has begun. The most popular times for tourists to visit London are late spring and summer since it is the prime tourist season. The prices of accommodations and flights surge around this time. But the most affordable time period to visit London is in the winter when the weather tends to be cold and cloudy. January and February are among the most calm months for London travelers since the holiday season is over. 

Transportation Is a Breeze

Travelers have many transportation options while in London. People taking short trips should depend on public transportation for convenient and affordable travel.

Since London has one of the largest public transport networks in the world, travelers should have no problem getting around during their short time in the city. The best way to get around London is the Tube, which is the oldest underground metro network in the world. The train is accessible from multiple points in London and usually, a train arrives at stops every 10 minutes or so. This option is great for travelers who want to avoid the street’s traffic. The train is one of the most efficient types of transportation in London. 

For travelers arriving by plane, there isn’t too much traveling to do before starting their exploration of the city. The four main airports of London (Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Lutron) are all within 40 miles of London. The closest airport to London is, of course, the London City Airport, which is the easiest option for travelers who want to minimize costs and stay in central areas. 

Day One in London 

A short trip to London is an opportunity to explore the local culture and see the best there is to see. Check out this three day itinerary that includes the best sites. 
pictured: the streets of London lined with British flags and people

The first day of the trip to London is an adjustment to the local culture and sights. So, the day one London itinerary starts with a proper English breakfast. The Regency Cafe is a restaurant that is well known for its affordable prices and offers authentic English breakfast. Since 1946, the cafe has served breakfast specials that include traditional English beans and toast. This restaurant is located in central London and is a great start for travelers who want to experience the best of London. 

Visit the Tower of London

The Tower of London is a stunning fortress that attracts many tourists. 
pictured: The Tower of London on a cloudy day, surrounded by trees

The Tower of London attracts millions of visitors every year and is a significant cultural site. In fact, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and hosts traditional ceremonies to this day. Tours are carried out daily in the former royal fortress, palace, and prison. Travelers should allocate around two to three hours for their visit to this site to fully explore the individual buildings, regal architecture, and rich history. 

Museums in the City 

The British Museum is a culturally enlightening experience that tourists should not miss during their three day trip to London. 
pictured: The grant British Museum on a rainy day

There are plenty of museums in London that will help travelers get acquainted with the city. The most popular museums are the Natural History and British Museum. The Natural History Museum offers its guests a look into the discoveries of the natural world through intriguing displays that commonly use animatronics, gardens, and geological collections. The British museum, on the other hand, allows guests to explore diverse human cultures and histories. Both offer free entrance, so they are great opportunities for affordable tourism (especially with family).

Promenade in the Park

Hyde Park in London is one of the best places for tourists to wind down in, even during a short stay. 
pictured: Hyde Park, London on a warm summer day overlooking the serene lake

Hyde Park in London is a large green space that runs from Kensington Palace past Buckingham Palace. It is a refreshing natural oasis at the center of town that travelers commonly visit, which allows them a break from the hustle and bustle of the inner city. Visitors can bike, walk, or run in the park and even visit the horse stables nearby. With 350 acres of land and a serene lake, the park is a great place for families and friends to gather. 

Day Two in London 

The inner city of London is home to the most popular attractions. Check out the attractions on the outskirts of the city that are just as important to see.
pictured: Millennium Bridge in London near sunset with locals leisurely walking around

Taking a day trip to surrounding areas outside of London is recommended for the second day of a trip to London. After appreciating the central attractions, travelers have a chance to explore nearby landmarks. Many iconic attractions are easily accessible from London’s central location via train, local buses, or ride-sharing apps. Guided tours and public transportation are recommended for travelers. By choosing these options that provide ease, travelers can avoid city traffic, congested tourism areas, and extra fees. 

Unique Windsor Castle 

Windsor Castle is a regal property that has a deep history. Tourists should visit the spacious grounds during their time in the city of London.

This castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe since its construction in the 11th century. Windsor Castle has plenty to offer visitors, like its history, nature, regal architecture, and unique quirks. One of the interesting things about the castle is the nearly 400 historical clocks that are on the property. The clocks even have a horological conservator that maintains them. Travelers can walk the halls of the castle and witness the former family home of kings and queens (which technically is still an official royal residence). 

Oxford University’s Famous Campus

Oxford University is one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. Learn more about why it should not be missed by travelers in London. 
pictured: The Oxford University building and green space on a cloudy spring day

This university is the oldest in England’s history (and the second oldest known university in the world) and is commonly referred to as one of the best universities in the world. If travelers are interested in learning about the school’s long history, a quick train trip is the only thing between them and the scenic campus. From London by train, Oxford University is about an hour away. The trip is well worth it, as travelers will see when they step foot on the sprawling campus which has nearby pubs, gardens, and beautiful buildings. Harry Potter fans will even be able to spot film locations around the area. 

Museums in Oxford

The Oxford Museum of Natural History is an incredible attraction for tourists to visit. Due to its closeness to Oxford University, it is a great last stop for those coming from London.
pictured: the interior of the Museum of Natural History in Oxford, with dinosaur skeletons on display

Visiting Oxford’s Museum of Natural History is the perfect way to conclude time in the city of Oxford. Guests can peruse the museum that is home to earth, science, and nature exhibits for free. The museum showcases natural history specimens and is home to natural sciences research and educational programs. For travelers with a taste for art and architecture, the Ashmolean Museum may be a better fit. Visitors can explore the Ashmolean Museum for free as well and observe world-famous collections, including contemporary art and even Egyptian mummies. Free admission, flexible time commitment and proximity to Oxford University (a five-minute walk to Ashmolean Museum and a nine-minute walk to the Museum of Natural History) make these museums the most ideal attractions for travelers heading back to their accommodations in London.

Day Three in London 

Experience three thrilling days in London with a line up of exciting excursions. 
pictured: An overhead view of London's inner city at night, with twinkling lights aglow

Travelers should ensure that they visit any attractions they will regret missing on their final day in London. This includes any shamelessly touristy or time-consuming activities that they can check off their bucket list. Check out these picks for the third day in London. 

The Spacious Buckingham Palace 

Buckingham Palace is a large royal residence that hosts tours for visitors. Learn more about the expansive palace for the next London trip. 
pictured: Buckingham Palace on a sunny day with British Guards lined at the front of its walls

The palace is seen as an administrative hub for the monarchy but it is also a royal residence. Buckingham Palace is the 14th largest palace in the world, with 775 rooms (including 52 bedrooms, 19 staterooms, 92 offices, 188 staff bedrooms and 78 bathrooms). There is plenty of room for visitors who want to roam its halls or see the royal collection in the property’s art gallery. Depending on the day, you can also check out the change of guard ceremony. “The current schedules are August – May: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. June – July: Daily.

Big Ben’s Big Steps

Big Ben is a significant English symbol that is located in central London. Checkout the intricate tower that travelers should not miss.
pictured: Big Ben tower on a cloudy English day

The architectural detail of this famous tower is no secret. Big Ben is a historically significant and quite popular landmark in London. It is one of the most recognizable buildings in the English capital and signifies the British institution itself. As a world-famous symbol for British culture since 1859, it is a sight to behold. The tours of Big Ben are great for those who like staying active since the tower has 334 steps. With tours lasting around an hour and a half, visitors can expect an intellectually stimulating adventure they will never forget. 

Thames River Cruise

Thames River cruises provide the ultimate relaxation activity for visiting tourists that want to sit back and see all London has to offer. 
pictured: A river cruise boat riding along the Thames River in London

For adventurous travelers, a boat cruise will be just what the doctor ordered. Sightseeing on a river cruise is an affordable way to explore as much of London as possible. These tours typically last around 40 minutes. Cruisers can enjoy open-air views and onboard concessions during their tour (including a bar for an additional charge for those who like to indulge and want a booze cruise experience). 

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