Five Day London Itinerary – Just Enough Time For It All
Day 1 – Galleries and Museums
With five days to enjoy in London there is time to really immerse yourself in the city’s culture and what better way to start than with a day of galleries and museums. Kick off at the Tate Modern, which has the best collection of contemporary art in the whole of the country and then make your way east along the river until you get to the Design Museum where there are exhibitions that range from fashion to furniture. Turn off along Southwark street when you are walking between the Tate and the Design Museum and pick up coffee and breakfast from the Monmouth coffee shop at Borough Market. After the Design Museum walk over Tower Bridge and be sure to stop in the middle and take in the spectacular view of the Thames. As you cross the bridge you will see the Tower of London on the left – stop here to see the famous crown jewels, visit the Fusilier Museum and learn about the terrifying ‘tower torture.’
Jump on the tube at Tower Hill and take the circle line up to the Barbican where you can explore the Barbican Art Gallery, which hosts a whole range of exhibitions from pop art to digital design. Cross Aldersgate Street and into Smithfield Market, the largest wholesale meat market in the UK, and find somewhere to stop for lunch – Polpo is a renowned Venetian restaurant or if you’re looking for more of a snack there are plenty of sandwich shops and take-out venues. If you’re the kind of visitor who might be looking for an evening clubbing venue during your stay then Fabric nightclub is also located here. In the afternoon, take the tube up to South Kensington where you have a vast choice of museums to select from, including the Science Museum and the V&A. To end the day, enjoy an evening at the Albert Hall with dinner at Berry Bros. & Rudd No.3 Bar and a performance.
Day 2 – The West End
Start your day in the West End with breakfast at a London institution – Fortnum and Mason’s Gallery restaurant serves a Highland Scramble that will set you on the right road for the rest of the day. Once you’re sufficiently stuffed make for the Royal Academy of Arts just across the road, one of London’s major art institutions founded by George III in 1768 and showing a regular rotation of fascinating exhibitions and collections. Take a walk from here up to Piccadilly Circus, where you can take Regents Street up to Oxford Circus, with all of the shopping opportunities that there are along the way. When you start to get hungry there are plenty of fantastic restaurants, including BBQ at the Pitt Cue co and burgers, cocktails and beer at Meat Liquor.
After lunch, wind your way southeast through Soho until you come to Leicester Square – if there’s a film premiere taking place then stop off and take some celeb snaps. Take the Charing Cross Road south to Trafalgar Square to see the famous St Martin-in-the-Fields church – maybe take a look at the concert programme for the evening – and when you enter Trafalgar Square, make for Nelson’s Column and the famous fountains. Here, you will also find the National Portrait Gallery and the famous Fourth Plinth, one of the world’s most innovative artworks. Head for the famous St Martins Lane for dinner at Asia de Cuba at the St Martin’s Lane Hotel and then take a walk to the Noel Coward Theatre and enjoy an evening performance.
Day 3 – The City
Whilst you might think that all the City has to offer is gleaming tower blocks and busy city workers there is actually a great deal of history to explore here too, as well as some fantastic shopping and some great food. Start the day at the Duck and Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower and try the signature Duck n Waffle with crispy leg confit, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup. After breakfast walk along London Wall and stop off at the Museum of London and then walk south to Cheapside where you will find St Paul’s Cathedral, one of London’s major landmarks. If the weather is fine then grab a sandwich from one of the shops in the area and sit in the Festival Gardens or if you prefer to eat in a restaurant then head for adjacent Paternoster Square.
Take Newgate Street west and walk over the Holborn Viaduct, which was the first ever flyover in central London, until you reach Chancery Lane station. Here, walk up Gray’s Inn Road – take Theobalds Road if you want to enjoy Gray’s Inn Gardens or walk up the King’s Mews until you get to the Charles Dickens Museum, which is located at 48 Doughty Street (where Charles Dickens lived from 1837 until 1839). Gray’s Inn is also home to the majority of London’s barristers so look out for figures in wigs and gowns moving from chambers to court. In the evening, throw off the stuffiness of the City and treat yourself to a few laughs at one of London’s finest comedy venues, such as the Soho Theatre or the Soho Comedy Club and enjoy a few late night drinks at one of the cocktail bars in the area.
Day 4 – The Southbank and the Riverside
Head to the Southbank Centre to begin your fourth day in London – buy a coffee and breakfast and enjoy overlooking the Thames. If you face the river and then turn to the left you will see the London Eye, which is a perfect way to get a real bird’s eye view out over the city. The Sealife Aquarium is also located here, with more than two million litres of water holding a huge array of fascinating sealife creatures, including 40 sharks originating from more than 12 different species. When you leave the aquarium no doubt you’re likely to be ready for lunch so walk back to the Southbank Centre and make for the Real Food Market on Belvedere Road (open Friday, Saturday, Sunday). You will have the choice of expertly prepared brisket, tasty gnocchi, fresh curry and sweet churros – among many other things.
When you’re ready to move on again keep walking by the river to Blackfriars Bridge and walk down to London Bridge or alternatively by a pass for the City Cruises – River Red Rover, a hop on hop off service that you can use to explore the banks of the Thames via the various piers in the afternoon. If you’re walking to London Bridge then look out for the world famous Shakespeare’s Globe, where there are special exhibitions about the Bard and you can also purchase tickets for current performances. In the evening, make for the bars and restaurants of London Bridge – 40 Maltby Street is particularly well known for its incredible selection of wines.
Day 5 – A Day of Entertainment
Use your final day in the city to round up all those attractions that you haven’t yet managed to visit on your trip so far. Start your day down in Greenwich at one of the breakfast locations near North Greenwich Station, such as Café Rouge and then take a walk to the famous O2 Centre, where you will find the British Music Experience, celebrating British music in all its glory. Take one of the TFL riverboats from Greenwich and jump off at the Savoy Pier. Walk up to the Strand and then take any of the roads that lead up north to Covent Garden and spend a couple of hours browsing the shops in the market and enjoy the buzz of the piazza. When it’s time for lunch try some Mexican street food at Wahacca or make your way to Mishkins Deli for the best salt beef in London.
After lunch, walk back to The Strand and follow the road down to Charing Cross. Then take a long, leisurely walk down The Mall to the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the monarch since 1837. Stop off at the Queen’s Gallery, which regularly hosts world renowned exhibitions and fascinating lectures and talks. Walk down Birdcage Walk to the river and pay a visit to one of London’s most iconic buildings – Westminster Abbey – before finishing your day by the river once more with dinner at the Blue Boar Smokehouse & Bar, London’s best loved smokehouse.
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