London Itineraries: The Best Way to spend Four or Five Days
Whether you’re coming for a longer stay and looking to get things kick-started, or you’re a seasoned visitor on a short break, our itinerary of what to do in London is here to help you make the most of your time
Samuel Johnson said that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, and here at Plum we’re definitely of that opinion. Check out our dream itinerary for four (or five!) days in London.
DAY 1. Wake Up In Westminster
To quote Julie Andrews, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
WAKE UP: The Artillery
Much of London’s history began in the neighbourhood of Westminster. Super central, it has the highest concentration of the famous landmarks and attractions that the city has become synonymous with.
You’ve seen these icons on tote bags throughout your whole life, but seeing them in person is something else entirely.
EAT: Full English breakfast at the Regency Café
First things first—the most important meal of the day. As implied by its nickname—the fry-up—the full English breakfast isn’t for the faint of heart. The only fruit or vegetable included is a tomato, and even that\s fried.
Luckily, falling into a food coma is one of a Londoner’s favourite pastimes, so you’ll fit right in. The offering at the Regency Café is some of the best in the city.
Stepping inside, you’ll notice how dated the restaurant feels, and that’s exactly the point. Everything from the menu to the décor has hardly changed since it first opened in 1946. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
SEE: The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials, and the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s third child, the Royal family has dominated current news.
But regardless of how you feel about the monarchy, the pageantry of the changing of the guard is truly a sight to behold. It’s an old tradition, but one that never loses its brilliance.
Watching the guards, all dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, marching along to a live band will make you feel patriotic, even if you’re not from here. The ceremony begins promptly at 11am, so be sure to arrive early.
DO: Browse for books at Hatchards
The United Kingdom is home to many of history’s literary geniuses. From Charles Dickens and Jane Austen to JK Rowling and E.L. James (just kidding on the last one, unless haphazard erotica is your thing), it’s only fitting that the city memorializes these icons with countless bookshops that are filled with their life’s work.
The oldest of these bookshops is Hatchards, a place where many of these legendary authors have actually visited during its 200+ year history. Spend an afternoon perusing its extensive stock of stories. As e-books and smartphones take over, Hatchards is on the front lines, keeping the printed word alive.
SLEEP: The Wilfred
DAY 2. Spend A Day On The South Bank
Crossing the Thames River into the South Bank is a must, no matter how often you visit London. Any city looks good against water, but London, particularly so.
Looking across the river will give you postcard perspectives on iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the London Bridge as they were always meant to be seen.
EAT: Afternoon Tea at Aqua Shard
Treat yourself to an afternoon tea on the 31st floor of the Shard. You might not be a Count or a Lady, but you sure can act like one.
The views of the London skyline are some of the best from this height. The contemporary take on this upper-class tradition includes a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and homemade jams and jellies.
It’ll have you looking down on your subjects walking the streets as you declare, “Let them eat cake.”
SEE: Art at the Tate Modern
Take the Millennium Bridge (the younger, millennial sister of the London Bridge) to the Tate Modern (the younger, millennial sister of the Tate Britain).
Housing the largest collection of modern and contemporary British art in a converted power station is almost a performance piece in itself. The contrast of having some of the most avant-garde work in such an industrial architectural space is a perfectly modern combination.
Be sure to check out the website for upcoming shows. Its temporary exhibitions are known to bring forth some of the biggest names in art working today.
DO: Gin cocktails at Dandelyan
Nobody does gin like the Brits. And no one does cocktails like Mr. Lyan.
Spearheaded by Ryan Chetiuawardana, an innovator in the London bartending scene, the Dandelyan bar offers innovative drinks and sophisticated takes on the classics.
He must be doing something right, Dandelyan was voted World’s Best Cocktail bar in 2017. Bottoms up.
Sleep: The Aquinas
Notting Hill is more than just the second-best Hugh Grant movie. (The best, of course, is Four Weddings and a Funeral).
It’s a charming neighbourhood where you can spend the day walking the streets, marveling at the colourful and striking townhouses.
As a quieter, more residential area, it’s one of the easier places to imagine life as a local.
EAT: Fish and chips at the Chipping Forecast
If you’re going to live like a local, you have to eat like one. And even though fish and chips is as tired an English stereotype as screaming bloody hell with a cockney accent, Londoners very much still partake in it.
But knowing which place to go will separate you from the tourists. So, look out for two things: fresh fish and light batter.
The Chipping Forecast accomplishes both and their chips, usually an afterthought, are lovely in their own right.
SEE: Watch a football match at the pub
Football fan? It doesn’t matter. Once you enter the Famous 3 Kings pub, you’re automatically reborn.
The local lads will be more than happy to show you the way. Just make sure you’re cheering for the right team.
With 13 TV screens, you’ll never miss the action, even if you’re not entirely sure what the action is. Order another pint and you’ll eventually get there.
DO: Breeze through town on a rental bike
There are many well-known ways to travel through London: the famous double decker buses, the cheeky underground tube, even the notorious black cabs.
But one of the best, underrated ways to see the smaller, quieter streets of London is on a bicycle.
And the best part? You won’t get stuck in brutal traffic.
SLEEP: Puerto Bello
DAY 4. Things to do in the West End
What better way to draw the final curtain on your trip than in the cultural hub of the city?
The West End is many things: lovely, picturesque, commercial, entertaining, but there is one thing it will never be, and that’s boring.
EAT: Indian food at Calcutta Street
Indian food has become a British staple, and while London has many, many tasty options to choose from, finding an interesting take on the category is hard to come by.
Calcutta Street takes on that challenge by offering authentic Bengali street cuisine. The décor, the music, and the staff all add to the authentic vibes for some of the best Indian food you’ll ever eat outside the real Calcutta city.
SEE: Blossom views at The Regent’s Park
The end of a trip always instills moments of nostalgia. What better place to reflect on the trip at hand than sitting on the grass at the historical Regent’s Park.
Walk around the inner circle and marvel at the gardens or contemplate life as you watch the canal go by. If you want some company without the talking, drop by the London Zoo, which is located just nearby.
DO: Souvenir shopping at Brick Lane Market
You can’t leave London without doing a little bit of shopping.
The city has many markets filled with unique treasures and antique finds, but one of the most comprehensive is Brick Lane Market. From household goods and quirky crafts to second-hand clothes and artisan foods, you’ll find tons of souvenir opportunities to bring home.
Take your time, there’s no rush here. Stall-owners are as willing to strike up a conversation as they are a sale.
SLEEP: Sharing is Caring
DAY 5. What to do with your extra 24 hours
Of course, four days isn’t nearly enough time to see everything London has to offer.
But if you can squeeze in even just one more day, here are some bonus attractions to check out.
EAT: Kebabs at Tayyabs
Usually kebabs are associated with a night of complete debauchery. And while we fully recommend indulgent behavior, we also want to demystify the fact that you have to be drunk to enjoy a kebab.
A local institution since 1972, all the North Indian offerings at Tayyabs are worth trying, especially the fiery grilled lamb chops, rich dahls, and of course, the magnificent kebab.
SEE: Watch a movie at the Electric Cinema.
Film buffs will never experience movie-watching like they will at Electric Cinema. You might be watching a movie, but you’ll feel like you’re in a movie yourself.
One of London’s oldest cinemas, the Soho House group restored the space to include glamorous armchairs, footstools, cashmere blankets and cocktail service. The one downside? You’ll never want to watch a movie any other way.
DO: Smell the flowers at the Columbia Road flower market.
The one silver lining behind the comically large amounts of rain the city gets are the abundance of flowers. It’s the best consolation prize.
On Columbia Road there’s a market for these fresh flowers and one of the most popular Sunday activities for tourists and locals alike. Even if you’re not going to buy anything, it’s a good time just taking your nose for a stroll down the colourful street.
SLEEP: The Calavera