When traveling overseas, sometimes it’s more of a sprint than a marathon. It’s fun to do what you want sometimes, but other times you want to make sure you do all you can in the amount of time you are there. London is one of those cities, because there is so much history. Traveling there for the first time, we only had three days, but in that time, we spent hours wandering, and also saw at least 15 historical landmarks. Here is how to see London in 3 days.
London is an amazing place any time of year. It is beautiful in the fall, summer, and winter, and one of our favorite Winter breaks in Europe. We ended up in London in March, and we had perfect weather the entire time.
Day 1 can always be tough when flying across the world. Whether you have an overnight flight or not, you likely will arrive a day after you left your home. We had taken an overnight flight that left at 10 p.m. Thursday night and arrived at 11 a.m. Friday morning — which also happened to be our Day 1.
You should plan was to sleep on the flight, but that may not always happen. We got to our hotel and decided to sleep a few hours. By the time we finally started our day, it was nearly 4 p.m.
That didn’t stop us from doing everything we wanted to do that day. I wouldn’t suggest this plan, but sometimes when you know you only have a few days, your body can manage on two hours of sleep.
Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, & London Bridge
Our hotel was near the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the London Bridge, so we made sure to see those sites (both which were on my list), and then took off walking. Book a tour of the Tower of London and Crown Jewels here.
We explored the city for hours, without really having a destination, which included neighborhoods on the south side of the River Thames through Southwark, Southwark Park, down the Tower Trail, Surrey Docks, South Bermondsey where we saw King Edward III’s manor house, and a historic English pub on the south bank for dinner. Book a sightseeing tour of the River Thames here.
During our walk, we ended up at the Globe Theatre. Although this has been largely redone, it was amazing to see they were still performing plays there. On our way back to our hotel, we walked across the Millennium Bridge, saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, and then back to our hotel.
Day 2 was where we fit most of the tourist activities in. I would suggest renting bikes. This can help you save a lot of walking time, while also being able to see things you wouldn’t necessarily see if you took public transportation.
We made our way to Buckingham Palace, where (even though we didn’t know it until we got there), we arrived right before the Changing of the Guards. Even though the crowds were horrendous, it was great seeing such a historic event.
On our way, we stumbled into a palace I’d never heard of called Somerset House. This used to be the king’s home and is the site of many films.
Once we arrived at Buckingham Palace, there were thousands of people lining the streets just for a chance to get a glimpse of the event. Book a London Walking Tour that includes the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.
Hyde Park & Kensington Palace
We then made our way through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace. Although I knew this was the place where Princes William and Harry and Kate Middleton, live, I never really knew the significance.
The palace took up a large part of this area of the park, and was an obvious attraction for many to visit. Plus, the Kensington Gardens were beautiful and worth the visit. From there, we stopped to have a beer at a pub called Goat (because you can’t walk by a place called the Goat without having a drink). Book a tour of Kensington Palace here.
Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, & Westminster Abbey
We ended our day biking to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey before walking/biking back to our hotel.
Renting a Car
On Day 3, we decided to rent a car and see some sites outside of the city. Renting a car was a difficult experience out of country, and, as mentioned above, stressful to drive. However, once we (finally) got out of the city, it was worth it to see some of the sites.
Castle of Dover
Our first trip was to Dover — and both the Castle of Dover and the White Cliffs of Dover. After we left London, it took a little more than an hour to get to Dover. The castle was amazing. not just because of its medieval history but because it was a significant part of the fight in World War II. There were still bunkers,
canons, and other artillery used to fight off the enemy in the war. The castle overlooks the English Channel and you can see why it was an important factor in many battles.
White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover weren’t exactly a tourist location, but a can’t-miss for anyone traveling the country. The cliffs have been mentioned in important literature — including Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre — and are really an amazing sight to see. The cliffs were difficult to find, and were located down miles of single-lane dirt roads and no parking once you get there. But once you are there, all that is worth it and it would be easy to sit on the overlooks for hours.
From Dover, we went the opposite direction to see both Stonehenge and Windsor. By this time, it was 3 p.m. and Stonehenge closes at 7 p.m. — and it is nearly 2.5 hours. However, this was important to us so we decided to make the drive. We arrived around 6:10 p.m. but were disappointed when we arrived — the sign said closed and they sold their last ticket at 5 p.m. It was disappointing they would not warn anyone that this is the case.
We took photos from the road, and took off to Windsor.
The significance of Windsor was an amazing sight to see. The town is small (and obviously made for tourists), and encompasses mostly the castle. Knowing that the queen lives here on a regular basis made the place feel special. We stopped for coffee, and then took off back to London. Book a tour of Windsor here.
We decided to stop by Wembley Stadium on the way back to the car rental location. Even though it was closed, it was lit up at night and was something you could never imagine unless you are there.
Even though we were there for only three days, there were very few things I wanted to do that we didn’t do. It takes some planning, but it is so worth it. traveling can give you a completely different outlook on life, and shows you this world is not as big as it may seem. If you are waiting until you get older or make slightly more money, DON’T. The time is now, and it will open your eyes to other things in the world.