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Bucket list trip:

London 9-day Itinerary

  • United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 06 June, 2024

Where to go and what to see in London to get the most from your trip – a 9-day itinerary from destination expert and travel writer Annabelle Thorpe.

Note – London is a big place, and getting around London is both time-consuming and exhausting. Indeed, the secret to enjoying this incredible city is to minimise your travel, especially in cars, buses or trains.

Each of our itinerary days focuses on a different part of London, gathering the city’s bucket list attractions into smaller, more manageable areas that you can mostly navigate on foot. ‘Day 9’ is especially for families.

Editor note – Annabelle has not included specific recommendations of where to stay each day, as it’s best to base yourself in one place. See the ‘Where to stay’ section in our London destination guide.

Day 1 Central London

3

Spend the morning with the Beefeaters seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. If you have time, take in spectacular views from the Tower Bridge Walkway.

After, head to the Sky Garden for lunch with a view, then wander along the road to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

After a few whispers in the whispering gallery, finish up with dinner at the Duck and Waffle or Sushi Samba (pre-book). It’s a short walk – and on the way pop into the magnificent Leadenhall Market.

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

View from afar of the tower during the daytime

Experience

Tower of London

The world’s most notorious medieval fortress, rich in gruesome history dating back to the 11th century. Now home to the Crown Jewels and the enigmatic, colourful Beefeaters.

Adult price: 25

Good for age: 4+

Sky Garden

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Sky Garden

Experience

This atmospheric indoor garden, occupying 3 floors at the top of a skyscraper, offers stunning 360-degree panoramic views of the city. There’s an observation deck and several dining options – a fine dining restaurant, an Italian restaurant and a brasserie – all with views.  A great place to break from sightseeing.

Good for age: 18+

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Day 2 Central London

3

Spend the morning admiring world treasures at the British Museum. There are several good lunch options inside, including a pizzeria.

After lunch, stroll down to soak up the atmosphere of Covent Garden. Shop the boutiques and central market, watch the street performers and, if of interest, pop into the excellent Transport Museum.

For dinner, either book into Rules for British classics, or wander over to Chinatown, via Leicester Square, for Chinese street food. Finish the evening with a West End musical.

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Exterior view of the museum during the daytime

Experience

British Museum

An awe-inspiring collection of more than seven million artefacts spanning two million years, from prehistory to the present day. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles and a granite head of King Rameses II.

Good for age: 13+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Fascinating museum offering an insight into the remarkable transport heritage of the city that pioneered the underground railway. Trains, iconic black cabs, scarlet double-decker buses and more.

Adult price: 20

Good for age: 6+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

See the world’s best theatre and musical theatre, staged in 40 magnificent, history-laden venues known as the ‘West End’.

Adult price: 45

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: Daily

Freq: daily

Day 3 Central London

8

Rise early and head to Westminster Palace to see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.

After, stop into Churchill’s War Rooms, also on Parliament Square, then walk through St James’ Park to Buckingham Palace. If you’re there 10.45am you’ll catch the Changing of the Guard.

Art lovers could stop by the Queen’s Gallery, either way wander through Green Park and stop for lunch (or afternoon tea) at either The Ritz or Fortnum & Mason.

Walk into Soho for dinner (many choices). Shoppers could detour to the uber-expensive streets around Bond Street, or the big flagship brands on Regent Street.

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

A secret subterranean bunker from which Churchill directed operations during WWII – exactly as it was during the blitz of 1945 – offering a fascinating historical insight to the war and Churchill himself.

Adult price: 25

Good for age: 13+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

The world’s most famous royal palace and home of the British monarchy since Queen Victoria, is a fairly bland affair. Go in summer months to see the State Rooms and gardens, and stay to see the Changing of the Guard with enjoyable, entertaining fanfare.

Good for age: 8+

Queen’s Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

A bright red exhibition room with statues and furniture with gold accents

Experience

The main public art gallery of Buckingham Palace, the Queens Gallery exhibits works of art from the Royal collection on a rotating basis – there are usually around 450 works on show.

Adult price: 8.50

Good for age: 18+

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The Ritz

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

close up of a sign entrance to the hotel

Experience

In the palatial surroundings of the Ritz’s white-and-gold Palm Court, this is London’s only afternoon tea to have a certified tea sommelier on hand to help you with your choices.

Adult price: 60

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 1-3 hours

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Fortnum & Mason

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior of the large red brick department store on a sunny day

Experience

Grocer to the queen, this glorious foodie emporium on Piccadilly has been supplying the great and good of London since 1705. A Fortnum’s hamper – perfect for a picnic in Hyde Park – is a thing of beauty.

Good for age: 18+

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Day 4 Central London

7

Start the day feasting on some of the world’s best-loved works of art at the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, both in Trafalgar Square.

Art lovers could then head to the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House for more fine art, and afternoon tea at The Savoy Hotel.

Alternatively, walk across Waterloo Bridge to the ‘South Bank’ for a spin on the London Eye and the London Aquarium. Grab dinner at one of the many restaurants on the South Bank promenade.

Finish off with a play at the Brutalist National Theatre or a film at the IMAX.

Courtauld Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Courtauld Gallery

Experience

Located in the elegant surroundings of Somerset House, the Courtauld combines temporary exhibitions with a permanent collection including works by Manet and Van Gogh.

Adult price: 13

Good for age: 18+

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Sea Life London

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior view of front facade with people walking in front

Experience

London’s impressive aquarium, set on the South Bank, is home to hundreds of species of fish and a selection of sharks. Great for families and nature lovers, but nothing especially unique.

Adult price: 27

Website >
  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

From classic drama to musical comedy, the National’s three stages (the Olivier, Lyttleton and Dorfman) epitomise the best of British theatre. Boundary-pushing, and world-class quality.

Adult price: 45

Min age 5

Good for age: 13+

Duration: -

Day 5 Central London

5

Start with an early morning stroll along the Thames Path alongside the river, then cross the Thames at the Millennium Bridge for entry into the Tate Modern.

Have lunch in their café, or wander over to Borough Market, London’s foodie central.

After lunch, either head to The Globe for an authentic Shakespeare Play (next door to the Tate Modern, but a short walk back from Borough Market). Book in for dinner at Oxo.

Or brave the original London Dungeons and the View the Shard. Book in for dinner at Oblix, in the Shard Tower.

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

External view of the art gallery - a big oblong brick building with glass roof and a single large square chimney

Experience

Tate Modern

This iconic, renovated power station on London’s South Bank showcases headline-grabbing Modern and contemporary art.

Good for age: 18+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Close up of a stall selling artisanal breads

Experience

Borough Market

London’s premier gastro hub, with over 100 stalls in a historic covered market, offering everything from artisan breads and cheeses to street food, hand-made chocolates and vegan cakes.

Good for age: 13+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

A gallows humour romp through London’s most gruesome periods of history, encountering its shadiest characters, via live action, rides and special effects.

Adult price: 27

Min age 12

Good for age: 12+

Day 6 Kensington

5

Take the tube to South Kensington, then it’s a few minutes’ walk to three world-class museums: the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum – take your pick.

Jump in a cab and head up the road to Harrods for lunch in their excellent (but pricey) food court. Then head back for another of the museums, or spend the afternoon shopping with billionaires in Harrods or nearby Harvey Nichols.

Book in for a delicious home-cooked Italian dinner at Signor Sassi.

Harrods

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Night time view of the department all lit up with lights

Experience

The world’s most famous department store – touristy, yes, but also glamorous, glitzy, and unmissable.

Good for age: 18+

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Harvey Nichols

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Street view of a popular store on a sunny winter's day

Experience

The original, flagship store in Britain’s upscale department store chain, still a destination for the best in international luxury brands.

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Day 7 Richmond

4

Take a cab or train to Kew Gardens and spend the morning enjoying the world’s first and largest botanical gardens.

Take a cab to the Richmond Harbour Hotel or Bingham River House for lunch, then catch a cab down the road to Hampton Court, for an afternoon touring the former home of Henry VIII.

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Official star rating:

A colourful and stylish ‘countryside retreat’ atop leafy Richmond Hill, overlooking the Thames and just 20 minutes from the city centre. Kew Gardens and Hampton Court are virtually next door.

Average £150

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Official star rating:

Bingham Riverhouse

Place to Stay

Bingham Riverhouse

A lovely, tranquil retreat for those who want to dip in and out of central London. Richmond Park, Hampton Court and The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are on your doorstep.

Average £190

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Day 8 Greenwich

3

Take the Thames Clipper along the river to Greenwich, to visit the Royal Maritime Museums, the Greenwich Observatory and the Cutty Sark (all in close proximity). Have lunch at Greenwich Market.

Greenwich Park

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Many people enjoying the sun at the park

Experience

Right on the Thames where the Cutty Sark museum ship is moored, you’ll find this grand royal park, home to 17th-century landscaping, the Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and one of London’s oldest deer enclosures.

Website >
  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Daytime aerial view of the ship

Experience

Cutty Sark

Britain’s last surviving tea clipper, this beautifully-preserved vessel was the fastest and greatest ship of the late 1800s.

Adult price: 15

Good for age: 8+

Day 9 Family (young kids)

2

Hop on the train from Euston to Watford to visit the Harry Potter Experience.

On your return, fill young bellies as needed with a quick lunch at Nandos at Euston station, then hop on the tube (Victoria Line) a few stops to Oxford Circus. Walk down Regent’s Street to Hamley’s, the world’s most famous toy store.

Book in for dinner at the jungly-themed Rainforest Cafe, just further down the hill on Shaftesbury Avenue.

  • WatfordLondon, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Tour the studios and see the real sets where it was filmed. Also now a Gringotts-worthy treasure trove of thousands of intricate artefacts, props, costumes, and sets used in the eight movies.

Adult price: 47

Good for age: 4+

Hamleys

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

A street view with colourful awnings

Experience

One of the oldest and best toy shops in the world, complete with costumed staff and huge-scale, techy toys, this is heaven for kids (grown-up ones too).

Good for age: 4+

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