Three days in London is guaranteed to be a busy adventure! There are so many things to do and sights to see. Here’s how we did it.
Day 1 in London
Transportation & accommodations
We flew to London Stansted from Frankfurt Hahn via RyanAir for about $60 roundtrip. We rode the Stansted Express into London and got out at Liverpool Station. From there, we hopped on the Underground (AKA the ‘Tube’) to the area we were staying.
Tip: Book Stansted Express tickets online in advance for a discounted fare.
We stayed at an Airbnb called Ely Cottages — great place! It’s a little bit outside of London (10-15 minutes on the Tube or bus), which means a lower price per night. The room was large and cozy, and every morning the host prepared a delicious breakfast. We felt very welcome here and would return. You can check out the room we stayed in here.
We came in on an early morning flight, but were able to drop off our bags at the Airbnb while the host prepared our bedroom. From there, we walked to a nearby cafe and enjoyed a traditional English breakfast. After a quick freshening up post-breakfast, we ventured out for the day.
Tower Bridge and river bus
Our first stop was Tower Bridge. We started on the Shard side and walked across to the Tower of London. We decided to tour the Tower of London the following day, so this was just a quick glimpse of the outside. From this area, we hopped on the river bus to Westminster.
The river bus is fun! Though it is a bit pricier than taking the Tube, you are rewarded with lovely sights along the way and can purchase a beverage from the bar onboard. It’s a nice way to sightsee while staying dry in rainy weather.
We got off at Westminster and took our mandatory photos of Big Ben, Westminster Palace and the London Eye (which we decided to ride on Day 3). We wanted to get out of the rain and dry off for a little bit, so we went into the arcade next to the London Eye and spent about 30 minutes playing games in there. Who doesn’t love arcade games once in a while?
Churchill War Rooms
From the arcade, we hopped on a bus to the Churchill War Rooms.
Tip: Use your 2-for-1 ticket voucher here (valid if you take a train into London — must pick up voucher booklet at the train station and present your train ticket as proof upon using the voucher at the attraction).
A visit to the Churchill War Rooms takes you through a bunker used in WWII by former Prime Minister Winston Churchill along with other government officials and military strategists.
It’s interesting to walk through these rooms and imagine what took place in them several years prior. Lifelike mannequins in each room demonstrate what a normal scene would’ve looked like in the 1940s. Admission includes an audio guide, which I highly recommend listening to. There is a lot of information you can only get via the audio guide.
From the Churchill War Rooms, we walked directly over to Downing Street. Number 10 Downing Street is essentially the White House of England — it is the residence and office of the British Prime Minister. As you can imagine, the building, and street itself, is gated and heavily guarded. You can’t see much from the street. Still, tourists gather around the main gate to take photos.
By dinner time, we were exhausted — after all, our day did begin at 3 a.m. with the drive to the airport. We decided to eat at a pub near our Airbnb and settled in early for the night.
Day 2 in London
Changing of the Guards
Day 2 began with a lovely breakfast spread prepared by our host. After breakfast, we rode the Tube to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards.
Tip: There is a helpful Facebook page (Changing-Guard) that gives updates about whether or not the changing will take place that day, so be sure to check before heading over.
Arrive early if you want a good spot. We arrived close to 11 a.m., so as we expected, the crowd was insane. There was no way to get close enough to see. Instead, we watched the street parade from a comfortable seat a little ways back and still enjoyed it.
We rode over to Kings Cross next, because I had to show Ben the iconic Platform 9 3/4 trolley and gift shop. This is quite a tourist trap, but it’s still fun to see.
We visited a farmer’s market outside of Kings Cross and enjoyed several different small bites.
Tower of London
After lunch, we headed to the Tower of London where we used our 2-for-1 voucher to gain entry at the price of one adult.
We walked around the Tower of London for a couple hours, looked at the different exhibits and saw the Crown Jewels (no photos allowed). I read online there is sometimes a one- or two-hour long line to see these; we were lucky enough to have the room to ourselves!
After the Tower of London, it was the perfect dusk setting for a beautiful boat ride on the River Thames. Tower Bridge provided a beautiful backdrop as we sailed away enjoying a beer on the back of the boat.
We spent the rest of the evening in Piccadilly Circus. We wandered around enjoying the hustle and bustle, and ate a late dinner at a delicious small-plate diner called Spuntino.
Day 3 in London
National History Museum
Our day began at the Natural History Museum. Tip: Arrive near opening time! We waited for about 30 minutes to get in; by the time we left, the line had tripled in length.
The museum was interesting. We enjoyed the exhibits on animals and dinosaurs.
There was a lovely skating rink set up outside of the museum with Glühwein stands, so naturally we enjoyed a cup before moving on to the next stop, the Science Museum.
I can’t say much about this stop — this one was all for Ben! I moseyed around while he ooh’ed and aah’ed at model planes, spaceships and more. We thought about catching a movie at the iMAX theater there, but decided we didn’t want to take up too much of our day there.
We grabbed a late lunch at Tortilla (a delicious, Chipotle-esque Mexican joint) and sat in Trafalgar Square to people-watch for a little bit.
Around sunset, we took a lovely walk through Hyde Park. I loved the many birds and squirrels in the park! I wished I could feed them, but signs reminded me this is not allowed.
From Hyde Park, we headed toward Westminster for dinner. Much to our surprise, we were greeted by fireworks! Our trip to London coincided with Remembrance Day weekend, which concludes with a beautiful fireworks display over the London Eye. It was magical.
A floating dinner
After fireworks, we walked to the Tattershall Castle floating restaurant. This place is stunning. We stayed on the deck level outdoor (covered and heated) seating, but we peeked inside as well. The inside is fancy and was decorated so beautifully for the upcoming holidays.
After dinner, it was time to do what all the tourists do — ride the London Eye. This attraction is overpriced, but with the 2-for-1 voucher it isn’t too bad. We went around 8:30 p.m. (almost closing time) so there were no lines. That was a major bonus! Also, we were only one of two couples in the pod, which was a huge difference from the last time I rode it on a summer day with about 20 other people.
The views at night from the London Eye are beautiful. It was the perfect way to say good-bye to London before we headed back to our Airbnb to catch some sleep before our early morning flight.
It was a short three days in London, but I’m sure we will be back.