My 4 Day London Itinerary

April 11, 2017

The first time I went to London, I was only there for two days. It was in 2012 during the London Summer Olympics, so most of my time was spent chanting "USA! USA!" and watching sports like beach volleyball. Even though I was only there for a couple of days, I immediately fell in love with the city. Fast forward to 2017 to when I got an email about cheap flights to London (under $500!), I immediately texted Lyndon and asked if he wanted to spend my birthday in London with me... he said yes!

This time around, I wanted to see it all! Two days back in 2012 was definitely not enough, so I decided to double it. We arrived on my birthday, February 16th, and spent 4 days exploring one of my favorite cities in the world. Our last day in England we decided to take a day trip up to Oxford, but I could have spent that day walking around London as well.

If you're Type A like me, you probably make Excel spreadsheets or use Google Sheets to create your itinerary (down to the hour) and then share them with everyone involved. I know I'm not the only one that does that, and I'm also a huge fan of making custom Google Maps.

While we had to tweak a couple of things around due to jet lag, we pretty much stuck to the itinerary. I would love to call myself "spontaneous" (sometimes I am), but for the most part, I love having a plan. I love being efficient while I travel, and I love knowing where I need to go next. Don't let my compulsive personality fool you though; I love to wander and get lost just as much as the next traveler.    

So here is my 4 Day London Itinerary. Only have 4 days to explore London? Don't worry, you can still see it all!

DAY ONE

After arriving at Heathrow and spending some of the morning talking to my aunts, Lyndon and I grabbed our Oyster cards and headed into Central London. We got off at the Westminster tube station and immediately got an eye full of Big Ben. What a great way to start off our London trip! Within walking distance is Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, and the London Eye and the London Aquarium are located across the river (but we did those two attractions on Day 2). We walked along the River Thames and made our way to Trafalgar Square. After grabbing a beer at a nearby pub, we both got hit with major jet lag. Well, Lyndon pretty much got hit right after we landed in London but by the afternoon, I was pretty tired myself. Before our trip, I made reservations at Wright Brothers in Soho for my birthday dinner. Needless to say, we winded up heading to the restaurant to see if they could seat us early since we were both exhausted. Cheers to celebrating my birthday at 3:30 in the afternoon!      


DAY TWO

After going to bed at 6:30 PM the night before, we were both well rested for Day 2. We woke up and headed to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. We then headed to nearby Kensington Palace and took a nice long stroll in the beautiful Kensington Gardens before heading to Notting Hill. Before our trip, I noted a few "Instagram Worthy" places I wanted to see while in London and The Churchill Arms was one of those places. I would love to see this building in the spring time when all the flowers are in bloom. While in Notting Hill, I had to get to Portobello Road to see those beautiful pastel colored buildings for myself, another place on my "Instagram Worthy" list. Day 2 was definitely our longest day of the trip. I guess we were making up for lost time from Day 1. After exploring Notting Hill for a while, we headed back to Central London and headed to the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and the London Eye (they are right next to each other). I pre-bought tickets to both attractions before our trip, but when we walked by on Day 1 even the lines for people who bought their tickets online were extremely long. Side note: When we arrived in London, my aunt informed us that it was half-term (aka Spring Break here in the United States) so all the kids were out of school. Just our luck. When we got to the aquarium and London Eye on Day 2 though, there was barely a line for either attraction. I guess that's the difference between getting there around noon and getting there around 5:00 PM. The aquarium was really fun even though we were kidless, and it was really cool to ride the London Eye at night. The last time I was on the London Eye it was during the day, so it was nice to see London all lit up.             


Enjoy our super touristy picture!


DAY THREE

After a full-to-the-brim Day 2, we took it easy on Day 3. We started our day at the Tower of London before making our way to Borough Market for lunch. After stuffing our faces, we headed to Covent Garden to shop and so I could see Neal's Yard, this colorful little courtyard tucked away nearby. At this point, we were pretty tired of walking around so we took a taxi to St. Paul's Cathedral. What was originally an easy drive turned into us driving around to find an ATM cause the taxi driver's credit machine wasn't installed yet even though he had signs up saying his car took credit cards. After getting cash, we walked around the cathedral and made our way across the Harry Potter Bridge (aka the Millennium Bridge, or is that the other way around). After sightseeing for the day, we headed back to my aunt's house so we could get ready for dinner. My aunts planned a big family dinner for that evening and it was a great time meeting some of my second cousins for the first time and eating some great London style Chinese food.       


DAY FOUR

This was our last full day exploring London. Before our trip, I read up on East London, more specifically, the Sunday Upmarket on Brick Lane. It sounded like something totally up my alley, so I saved Sunday morning just to walk around Shoreditch and to take in the sights and smells of East London. If one market wasn't enough for Sunday Funday, we headed to Camden Market to grab some lunch afterwards. I had some yummy fresh calamari while Lyndon grabbed some fish and chips. Camden Market was pretty packed by the time we got there, but we couldn't leave without grabbing some churros to go! Lyndon and I are both big fans of Sherlock, especially the PBS series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, so we took a cab and headed to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. While it's a not a big museum, it's a great little Victorian time capsule for any Sherlock enthusiast. Afterwards, we made our way to St. John's Wood to check out Abbey Road, made famous by, of course, The Beatles. If you're into people watching like I am, you could spend hours here just watching tourists try to re-enact the iconic 1969 album cover... all while trying not to get hit by a car. There's no light or stop sign to stop oncoming cars so it's a mad dash to the crosswalk any time there's a break in traffic. Luckily for us, a super nice kid from Boston who was studying abroad in Morocco asked if I could take a picture of him on the crosswalk, and he returned the favor for us. The other photograph of us looked too serious and staged (it's hard to act like you're walking) so I opted for the candid shot. By this time, we pretty much saw everything we wanted to see so we headed to Harrods to grab some gifts for our families back home. This was actually our second time at Harrods during the trip, but there's no such thing as going to Harrods too many times.            


So there you have it, London in 4 days. Not mentioned or pictured are: Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. The famous illuminated signs at Piccadilly Circus were all covered up with scaffolding so it wasn't picture worthy at all. It's like going to Time Square and everything was covered up. I'm a huge Lush fan, so pretty much the only reason we went to Oxford Street was for me to buy some bath bombs and shampoo. If you're a "lushy" like I am, then you should definitely check out the Lush on Oxford Street. It's three stories and they carry items that are only sold at that location. 

As you can see, we didn't hit up any of the museums like Tate Modern. While we did walk by after crossing Millennium Bridge, we didn't have time to actually go inside since we had a dinner that evening. Since we were staying with my aunt in Hounslow, we had to factor in the long commute in the mornings and evenings. That meant we had to hit the ground running with pretty much no breaks each day. We couldn't stop back at the house for an hour to rest and freshen up. So even though each day felt pretty full, you can still add in a museum, attraction or market and it would still be very doable. 

Side note: I really wanted to visit Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter but it just didn't feel right without Aiden. So I will definitely be back! 


What's your favorite thing to do or see while in London?

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