Ahh… London. My love for this city has grown with every visit and while I’m by no means a Londoner just yet, I’ve spent a solid year exploring this exciting capital of the United Kingdom.
There are so many new things to do all the time that it’s just impossible to cover everything in one visit. If you’re planning your first-ever trip to London, I’m here to help you cover the basics with this 5D4N itinerary for gung-ho travellers.
And even if you’re already a serial repeat-visitor like me, you might still find something you haven’t ticked off the list yet. Either way, pack some comfy shoes and a seize-the-day attitude.
I crafted this itinerary with a Wednesday-to-Sunday trip in mind to make full use of the weekend, but you can customise it however you please. You ready?
Once you land at the airport (I’m guessing Heathrow), you can easily find your way to central London by either taking the normal Tube a.k.a MRT (longer journey time but only approx. £3.10 each way), or by getting a Heathrow express train (very fast, One-way ticket; £22 – £25, Return ticket; £37).
Whatever you decide, it’s pretty straightforward to find out how to get tickets when you’re at the airport. If you’re taking the Tube, get an Oyster Card (which is essentially an EZ-Link card) and top it up since you’ll need it to ride the London Underground, or see what Tube travel passes are available.
If you plan on having access to mobile data, download an app called Citymapper (this isn’t an ad, it’s just really useful!) which will make your life super easy. It also works in Singapore and basically gives you detailed routes, live bus timings, train timings etc. in getting from point A to point B.
— Day 1 (Shopping) —
1. Oxford Street/ Regent Street/ Marble Arch
Now that that’s out of the way… SHOPPING! Taking into account jet-lag, time spent finding your accommodation and general travel lethargy, you’ll probably want to take it easy on the first day, so go about some own-time-own-target shopping.
Hit up Oxford Circus, Regent Street and the Marble Arch area for pretty much every brand under the sun, and don’t forget a stop at Primark.
Primark: 499 – 517 Oxford St, Mayfair, London W1K 7DA | Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm (Mon – Sat), 11.30am – 6pm (Sun) | Website
2. Afternoon Tea at Sketch (Mayfair)
Afternoon tea is a must when you visit London (scones!) and while you’ll be spoilt for choice, I recommend treating yourself to the one at Sketch because the restaurant is just so beautiful. Reservations are very important, so check out the website before your trip.
The Gallery in Sketch where afternoon tea is served is decked out with quirky artwork by David Shrigley and makes for a very Instagrammable experience. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the toilets before you leave (trust me).
Prices: Afternoon tea sets start from £59 per person
Sketch (The Gallery): 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG | Tel: +44 20 7659 4500 | Opening Hours (Afternoon Tea): 11.30am – 4.30pm (Daily) | Reservations | Website
Harrods is a classic stop on any London itinerary and a shopper’s paradise. The upscale department store is known for its variety and home brand offerings, with an elegant interior and store design.
Wander the food halls and sample quality ingredients or splurge on that designer handbag you’ve wanted for the past five years.
Harrods: 87 – 135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL | Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 | Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm (Mon – Sat), 11.30am – 6pm (Sun) | Website
4. Dinner at Burger & Lobster (Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge)
Once you’ve had your fill of Harrods, it’s time to tick off another London staple. Head next door to Harvey Nichols (another department store) but go straight to the fifth floor and get ready for some lobster at Burger & Lobster.
Prices have increased over the years so it’s not that value-for-money anymore, but the Original Lobster (Steamed) (£31) still hits the spot with the delicious lemon garlic butter sauce.
Burger & Lobster (Harvey Nichols): 109 – 125 Knightsbridge, Level 5 Harvey Nichols, London, SW1X 7RJ | Opening Hours: 12noon – 10.30pm (Mon – Sat), 12noon – 10pm (Sun) | Website
5. Cocktails at Mr Fogg’s Residence
Your eyes will probably be heavy by now, but if you can keep yourself going past dinner, squeeze in a stop at Mr Fogg’s Residence for a nightcap. Themed after Jules Verne’s ‘Around The World In 80 Days’, the bar itself will transport you into a different world altogether.
The whimsical cocktails here were inspired by fictional adventurer Phileas J. Fogg’s travels around the world. Rep’ Singapore by ordering the Jungle Flora (£14) which was created as a nod to our little red dot.
Mr Fogg’s Residence: 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, London W1J 6JD | Tel: +44 20 7036 0608 | Opening Hours: 4pm – 2am (Mon – Fri), 1.30pm – 2am (Sat), 3pm – 12midnight (Sun) | Website
— Day 2 (Sightseeing) —
6. Breakfast Picnic in Hyde Park
Given your inevitable jet-lag, you’ll probably be up bright and early the next day. Make the most of your British morning by getting breakfast and chilling in Hyde Park. I recommend getting takeaway from Pret a Manger (a cafe chain that you’ll pretty much see everywhere).
Even if you’re there in the colder months, just wrap up warm and you can still slowly stroll through the park with a hot cuppa and a bagel.
Pret a Manger: Outlets
7. Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour from Hyde Park Corner
Day Two is all about sightseeing, so once you get your breakfast and some chill-time in, prepare for a busy day. London is home to sooo many iconic sights, and unless you’re visiting for 10 days, you’ve got to be strategic about what you actually want to see.
Your best bet would be to get a day ticket for a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus tour. There are many companies offering tours, but I recommend Big Bus Tours because they offer a ‘RED Tour’ that gets you around most of the main sights for a first-timer.
The first bus leaves from Hyde Park Corner at 8.30am, and you can just buy tickets from the guide at the bus or online in advance (save 10%). Try to score a seat at the top!
Prices: 1 Day (Bus-only) tour starts from £34 (online price)
Big Bus Tours: Website
8. Trafalgar Square
You’re on a hop-on/hop-off bus so you can get on and get off as many times as you like from the official bus stops (look at the map given to you) for however long your ticket lasts.
Like I said, have a think about what’s worth getting off to explore further, or what you’re happy to just see from the bus. Trafalgar Square is a good example of a stop you can see from the bus and then decide to return to if you have time over the next few days.
Trafalgar Square: London WC2N 5DN
9. Coca-Cola London Eye
The famous London Eye (now known as the Coca-Cola London Eye), is an iconic part of the London skyline and worth a visit if you fancy paying for a bird’s eye view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
It’s right next to the River Thames and if you know in advance that you want to ride this Ferris wheel, get tickets online.
Prices: Standard ticket online starts from £27
Coca-Cola London Eye: Lambeth, London SE1 7PB | Opening Hours | Website
10. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is a beautiful structure that’s worth a visit if you’re the kind of person who likes marvelling at church architecture and history.
It’s been around for more than 1,400 years and has been built and rebuilt five times! Visitors are welcome but it’s still a church, so be mindful of visiting hours and decorum.
Prices: Online admission rates start from £17
St Paul’s Cathedral: London EC4M 8AD | Opening Hours: 8.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Sat, Last entry at 4pm), Open on Sundays for worship only | Website
11. Tower Bridge & Tower of London
Loads of people mistake Tower Bridge for London Bridge (the latter is much less impressive) and it’s worth getting off here to get a good picture or explore the bridge itself (yes you can go in and up for a fee).
The Big Bus stops at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge is right next to it. The Tower of London is a historic castle, former prison and former grand palace that used to be surrounded by a moat. It’s now open to the public and also houses the Crown Jewels.
Prices: Online ticket for Tower Bridge is £8.70; Tickets for Tower Of London start from £22.70
Tower Bridge: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP | Opening Hours & Website
Tower of London: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB | Opening Hours: 9am – 4.30pm (Tue – Sat), 10am – 4.30pm (Sun & Mon) | Website
12. Lunch at Coppa Club (Tower Bridge)
If you’ve gotten off the bus to explore the Tower of London/Tower Bridge area, stop by the Insta-worthy Coppa Club for lunch. The restaurant has become known for its Paradise Pods (Summer)/ Igloos (Winter), and bookings for a seat in those sell out months in advance.
Still, normal seating is available right next to the pods where you’ll be able to get a great picture and a view of The Shard. Walk-ins can sometimes also score a seat in the pods/igloos so try your luck!
Coppa Club (Tower Bridge): 3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6AH | Tel: +44 20 8016 9227 | Opening Hours: 7.30am – 11pm (Mon – Thu), 7.30am – 12midnight (Fri), 9am – 12midnight (Sat), 9am – 10.30pm (Sun) | Website
13. Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminister Abbey
Interested in British politics? Then a stop at the Houses of Parliament is a must. Visits are allowed but remember to check the opening hours. You’ll also be able to see Big Ben, the famous clocktower, which is currently undergoing refurbishment* so it’s sadly surrounded by scaffolding.
Still, the Westminister area and pier is worth exploring and you’ll get a great view of the London Eye from this side.
*Note: Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower tours are suspended due to refurbishment. They are scheduled to resume in 2021.
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben: Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA | Opening Hours & Website
Westminister Abbey: 20 Dean’s Yard, London, SW1P 3PA | Opening Hours & Website
14. Buckingham Palace & The Royal Mews
Everyone wants to go to London to meet the Queen and while that’s probably not going to happen, you can see where she lives (in a non-creepy way). Buckingham Palace tops the list of very-touristy-things-to-do-in-London and is worthy of a hop off the bus.
You can even enter certain parts of it and watch the changing of the guard. Or you can visit The Royal Mews beside the palace where the royal carriages are kept, and where one of the finest working stables in existence operates.
Buckingham Palace: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA | Visit – The State Rooms | Visit – The Queen’s Gallery | Visit – The Royal Mews
15. Dinner & Drinks at Duck & Waffle (Heron Tower)
After a super long day of sightseeing, you’ve earned yourself a good meal with a view to remember. Head back to your hotel to freshen up and don’t worry about taking your time, because Duck & Waffle is open 24-hours every day.
Situated on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, the restaurant offers sweeping views of the city, and you can take it all in because of the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Book a visit at sunset and order the Duck & Waffle (£18) which is a delicious medley of crispy duck leg confit, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup over waffles. Stay on for drinks because the cocktails are equally yummy.
Duck & Waffle: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY | Tel: +44 20 3640 7310 | Opening Hours: 24 Hours (Daily) | Website
— Day 3 (Museum & Musical) —
16. Brunch/Nibbles at Borough Market
If you go to London for the first time and you don’t go to Borough Market… you’re missing out. One of the oldest and largest markets in London, I recommend getting there early to sample some really fresh produce.
The oysters from Richard Haward’s Oysters are to-die-for as well as the coffee from Monmouth Coffee.
Borough Market: 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL | Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Mon – Thu), 10am – 6pm (Fri), 8am – 5pm (Sat), Closed on Sun | Website
17. Lunch at Padella (Borough Market)
The key word at Borough Market is to “sample”, because you’ll want to leave room for some pasta from Padella. It’s a small restaurant located at the edge of Borough Market, serving up affordable and delicious handmade pasta.
There’s always a queue, but it moves pretty quickly so just hang in there. When ordering, don’t miss out on the Pappardelle with 8 Hours Dexter Beef Shin Ragu (£10) and the Pici Cacio & Pepe (£6.50).
Padella: 6 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TQ | Opening Hours: 12noon – 3.45pm & 5pm – 10pm (Mon – Sat), 12noon – 3.45pm & 5pm – 9pm (Sun) | Website
18. View Of The Shard From Sky Garden (Walkie Talkie Building, Free Entry With Booking)
This next stop is still pretty unknown to Singaporeans – did you know that you can get an awesome view of The Shard (the tallest building in London) FOR FREE from a “Gardens by the Bay”-type setting?
The Sky Garden is on the 43rd floor of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building and offers 360-degree views of London.
It’s free to enter but you’ll need to book a visit online in advance. There are several eateries housed in the garden as well so you can always have a meal or coffee while admiring the view and the indoor greenery.
Sky Garden: 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 8AF | Opening Hours (Public Ticketed Visits): 10am – 6pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 9pm (Sat & Sun) | Book free visit | Website
19. National History Museum/ Tate Modern/ British Museum (All Free Entry)
Another thing that London is known for is its museums. There are quite a few to choose from, so I recommend just picking the one that will interest you most and save the others for your next visit.
The Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and British Museum have all stood out to me, and are also all free to enter (for general exhibits).
National History Museum: Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD | Opening Hours & Website
Tate Modern: Bankside, London SE1 9TG | Opening Hours & Website
British Museum: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG | Opening Hours & Website
20. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is always bustling with activity and tourists and it’s no surprise since there’s quite a bit to do here.
From a variety of shops, to markets, restaurants and random opera singing in the basement… it’s worth spending a bit of time taking it all in. Oh, and there’s also a Shake Shack.
Covent Garden: The Market Bldg, 41, London WC2E 8RF | Website
21. Dinner at Flat Iron (Covent Garden)
If you can tear yourself away from Shake Shack and save some space for dinner, head to the nearby Flat Iron for an affordable meal – by London standards anyway.
Flat Iron serves up £11 steaks that are grilled to perfection and has become a successful chain in London. Only the Covent Garden outlet gives out free salted caramel ice cream after your meal though, so… you know what to do.
Flat Iron (Covent Garden): 17 – 18 Henrietta Street, London, United Kingdom WC2E 8QH | Opening Hours: 12noon – 12midnight (Mon – Sat), 12noon – 11.30pm (Sun) | Website
22. Musical & Drinks
No virgin London trip is complete without a musical and you’re in the best place to watch one. There are so many to choose from, but my recommendations would have to be: The Book Of Mormon, Wicked, The Lion King and Kinky Boots.
Try to get cheaper tickets in Leicester Square (you’ll see many shops offering discounts) but just make sure you don’t end up with an obstructed view. Every theatre has a bar so get there early for a bevvy.
London Musicals: Schedules & Tickets
— Day 4 (Markets & Central London) —
23. Portobello Road Market (Notting Hill)
Start your weekend bright and early by travelling to Notting Hill to check out Portobello Road Market. It’s the world’s largest antiques market and you’ll find loads of the stalls literally by the road.
The main market day here is Saturday, so that’s when you’ll find the most variety of stuff. There are also a few quaint cafes where you can have breakfast (GAIL’s Bakery, Lowry & Baker) or if you fancy a cupcake, stop by The Hummingbird Bakery.
Portobello Road Market: 306 Portobello Road, London W10 5TA | Opening Hours: 9am – 7pm (Sat), Other Days | Website
24. Pretty Pastel/Colourful Houses (Notting Hill)
Since you’re in the area, Notting Hill is also known for its beautiful pastel and colourful houses. In fact, a scene from the movie ‘Love Actually’ was actually filmed here.
Try to look for it (*hint St Luke’s Mews hint*) and get a photo for the ‘gram!
25. Camden Town & Market
Camden Town is like a whole different world in London; the streets are lined with shops selling everything from souvenirs to punk-rock and gothic outfits.
There are a few markets in the area and the main one (Camden Market) is home to many stalls selling food from all over the globe. If you’re up for a crazy shopping experience when you’re there, stop by Cyberdog (fair warning).
Camden Market: Camden Lock Place, London, Nw1 8AF | Opening Hours: 10am – Late (Daily) | Website
26. Lunch at The Cheese Bar (Camden)
If you can’t decide what to have and love everything cheese-related, have lunch at The Cheese Bar. The super-melty Mozzarella Sticks (£7) make for a great Boomerang and if you visit in winter, you won’t want to miss the fondue.
The Cheese Bar (Camden): Unit 93 – 94 Camden Stables, Camden Town, Chalk Farm Road, London, United Kingdom NW1 8AP | Opening Hours: 12noon – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat), 11am – 8pm (Sun) | Website
27. Piccadilly Circus
From Camden, make your way back to central London and experience the crowds at Piccadilly Circus. Sit on the steps of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and watch a nearby busker while soaking in all the magical city vibes.
Just remember to watch your stuff as this capital isn’t immune to pickpockets (same goes for any busy area).
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain: Piccadilly Circus, London W1J 9HS
28. Leicester Square
If you only stopped by Leicester Square to get discounted musical tickets, head back to explore the many shops. There’s a four-storey M&M’s World store that’ll make any chocolate-lover go crazy!
Leicester Square: London, WC2H 7LU | Website
Yes, you just came from an Asian country but trust me, wandering the streets of London’s Chinatown is still pretty enjoyable. It’s right next to Leicester Square and naturally, you’ll find lots of amazing Chinese food to be had.
Save space for dinner though and just grab a small snack if you’re hungry – Bubblewrap does delicious Hong Kong waffles that you’ll want to share so you don’t spoil your appetite.
Bubblewrap: 24 Wardour Street Chinatown London, W1D 6QJ | Opening Hours & Website
30. Dinner at Dishoom (Carnaby)
Why save space for dinner? Because you need to squeeze Dishoom into your itinerary. The Bombay-inspired chain has become a hit amongst Londoners, serving up palatable Indian-Irani food that’s great to share.
All the outlets are beautifully designed and decorated, but you should head to the one in Carnaby so you can check out the area after. Reservations are highly recommended (but only allowed if you’re >6 pax), so go early unless you don’t mind waiting.
Whatever you do, order the House Black Daal (£6.20) with some Roomali Roti (£2.90).
Dishoom (Carnaby): 22 Kingly Street, Soho, London W1B 5QB | Tel: +44 20 7420 9322 | Opening Hours: 8am – 11pm (Mon – Thu), 8am – 12midnight (Fri), 9am – 12midnight (Sat), 9am – 11pm (Sun) | Website
31. Drinks in Carnaby/ Soho/ Fitzrovia
Carnaby Street is a popular shopping street in Soho, but you need to visit purely because of the street decorations and how pretty everything is when lit up at night.
You’ll find many places in Soho as well to get a cocktail after dinner, or you can head to Berners Tavern in The London Edition hotel (Fitzrovia) for a fancy drink in a fancy setting.
Berners Tavern: London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3NP | Tel: +44 20 7908 7979 | Opening Hours & Website
— Day 5 (Sunday Roast & Shoreditch) —
32. Columbia Road Flower Market
Want to feel like a London local? Wake up early on a Sunday and find your way to Columbia Road Flower Market (Citymapper to the rescue!).
The market is only open on Sundays and is a sight to behold, filled with rows and rows of plants and flowers looking for a home.
While you probably shouldn’t buy anything green to bring back, you can still soak in the atmosphere and pop into one of the many neighbouring shops selling quaint knick-knacks and vintage clothes.
Columbia Road Flower Market: Columbia Road, London E2 7RG | Opening Hours: 8am – 3pm (Only open on Sundays) | Website
33. Sunday Roast Lunch at Marksman Public House
Bet you were wondering when I was going to get to the Sunday Roast. If you go to Columbia Road Flower Market, it’s a short walk to Marksman Public House, a Victorian pub selling one of the best Sunday Roasts in the city.
The menu changes occasionally, but the Sunday Roast Lunch is always featured and you can get that and a starter for £29 (two-course) or throw in dessert as well for £33 (three-course). Reservations are highly recommended.
Marksman Public House: 254 Hackney Road, London E2 7SJ | Tel: +44 20 7739 7393 | Opening Hours: 12noon – 4pm (Sun) | Reservations | Website
34. Old Spitalfields Market
Since you’re already in Hackney, walk off your roast lunch and pop by the Old Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch.
I’m guessing you’ll be full by this point but you could always get an artisanal brownie or shop vintage at one of the many stalls set up.
Old Spitalfields Market: 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW | Opening Hours: 9am – 5.30pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 5pm (Sat), 9am – 5pm (Sun) | Website
35. Afternoon Snack at Poppie’s Fish & Chips (Spitalfields)
If all that walking and browsing has made you a bit peckish (#yolobecauseholiday), stop by Poppie’s Fish & Chips for the best of a British classic.
Popular amongst tourists, the Fish & Chips here is pretty consistent and while not exactly cheap (£12.20 for Cod/Haddock), the portion is huge and can easily feed two not-so-hungry people.
Poppie’s Fish & Chips (Spitalfields): 6 – 8 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR | Tel: +44 20 7247 0892 | Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Thu), 11am – 11.30pm (Fri & Sat), 11am – 10.30pm (Sun) | Website
36. Vintage Shopping at Brick Lane
If you’ve heard of London, you’ve probably heard of Brick Lane. Located a short walk from the Old Spitalfields Market, this area is worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for more of a cool-London-street-vibe.
Lined with vintage shops, quaint cafes, bookshops and curry houses, Brick Lane will make for a chill Sunday stroll as you wind down your holiday.
Brick Lane Sunday Market: 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QR | Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm | Website
37. Hot Chocolate from Dark Sugars
As you walk along Brick Lane, you’ll probably spot a shop called Dark Sugars selling wooden bowls of artisanal chocolate. This chocolate heaven has also been hailed for whipping up what’s apparently “the best hot chocolate in London”.
I guess you’ll only know if you try it for yourself, and at £4 – £5.50 a cup, you’ll get your money’s worth because it’s topped with an abundance of chocolate shavings. Hello, diabetes.
Dark Sugars Cocoa House: 124 – 126 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU | Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily) | Website
38. Take Away Dinner at Beigel Bake
Okay, I think we can establish that your Sunday is basically going to be spent eating. If you’re in Brick Lane, it would be such a waste not to drop by Beigel Bake for an affordable Salt Beef Bagel (£4.50).
The Jewish bakery serves up this hearty “sandwich” 24/7, and I’d get one to go if I were you.
Beigel Bake: 159 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB | Tel: +44 20 7729 0616 | Opening Hours: Open 24/7 | Website
39. Drinks at Queen of Hoxton Rooftop Bar
It’s sad whenever a holiday comes to an end, but you can go out with a bang and knock back a few at a cool rooftop bar.
The Queen of Hoxton is in the area and beckons with fun, themed decor and a buzzing atmosphere amidst some London skyscrapers.
Queen of Hoxton: 1 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX | Opening Hours: 4pm – 12midnight (Mon – Wed), 4pm – 2am (Thu – Sat), 2pm – 10pm (Sun) | Website
40. Sunset Stroll along Southbank
If you have time, race to catch the sunset from Southbank where the city is extra pretty when bathed in an orange glow. Take one last look at the skyline and say goodbye till next time, because you’ve only just scratched the surface.
Southbank Centre: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
— Bonus Recommendation —
41. Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
AND YOU THOUGHT IT WAS OVER. No friends and fellow wizards, I did not forget the wonderful world of Harry Potter.
The Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter just would not fit into a 5D4N itinerary (and let’s face it, some muggles may not be keen), but if you have another day to spare, you must go!
Hop on a train (not Tube) to Watford Junction and follow the signs to the tour where you can visit the Great Hall, walk through Diagon Alley and drink Butterbeer. The latest addition, Gringotts Wizarding Bank, is opening 6 April 2019, so brooms at the ready everyone?
Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter: Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LR | Opening Hours: 9.30am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 8.30am – 10pm (Sat & Sun) | Website