Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Spend 5 Days in London

We recently spent Labor Day weekend in London, and had an amazing time. London has so much history, and I loved having an excuse to go back.

Before leaving, I did some research on current exhibitions and events going on, and from that I created an agenda for us. Although my itinerary may seem a bit daunting, we were able to do it all, and didn't feel overwhelmed or pressured on time. When I travel I love to have a plan, but I also like to make sure things are leisurely, and leave room for spontaneity.

Below you'll find an overview of what we did, as well as a closer look at each day. Five days is just the right amount of time to immerse yourself in the city and see everything you want to!

5-Day London Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Arrive in London, Covent Garden, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus  

Day 2: Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, Parliament & Big Ben, Thames River Cruise, London Eye sunset experience  

Day 3: Day trip to Bath, Roman Baths, Fashion Museum Bath 

Day 4: Kensington Palace, Albert Memorial, Hyde Park, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrod's

Day 5: Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern


Day One
After a quick nine hour flight, we arrived in London at 10:30am. Due to the fact that we got in early, we weren't sure whether or not we were going to be able to check into our hotel, so we went to the Arrivals Lounge. The Arrivals Lounge is exclusive for United Polaris First or Business class passengers, and is shared with two other airlines. One massive amenity that the arrivals lounge has is showers. Nothing feels better than a shower after traveling, and it was so great to clean up and change before we started our day.

When we arrived at our hotel, The Haymarket, we were able to check in, much to my surprise. After we dropped our bags off in our beautiful room, we were ready to start our day. After walking and acquainting ourselves with where our hotel was, we stumbled upon an amazing restaurant, Bocca Di Lupo, and had a late lunch. After we finished indulging in homemade pasta and some vino,we went and explored the stores and eateries at Covent Garden. followed by St. Martin-in-the-Field church and Trafalgar Square. We then roamed through the National Gallery taking in all the beautiful works of art before calling it a day.

**Note: I based our first day on what was located closest to our hotel. I would recommend when planning your agenda that you do the same, as it's always nice to walk and move around after flying.

Day Two
We started the day by visiting the Churchill War Rooms. I had purchased tickets in advance because my mother was there recently, and said lines can get long/tickets can sell out on the weekend. The War Rooms give you a glimpse at the underground bunker where Churchill and his inner circle made influential decisions during WW2.

After we finished we visited Westminster Abbey, followed by a walk past Parliament and Big Ben. All three of these are currently under construction and covered in scaffolding. After a stop for lunch, we did a river cruise on the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge. I had never done a cruise on the river before, and absolutely loved it (the break from walking was a nice reprieve, as well). When we got off the cruise, we walked around the Tower of London.

We then ended the day visiting the London Eye and enjoying their "champagne experience." We timed the Eye perfectly so we would be on it while the sun was setting. Although it was a bit overcast, the vantage point high above the city was breathtaking. Whether you're a novice or visited London countless times, I would highly recommend a ride on the Eye.

Day Three
When we planned our trip, we both knew we wanted to take a day trip somewhere. We had heard wonderful things about Bath, so decided that we would spend the day there. It only took an hour an a half by train to get there, and gave us time to enjoy the picturesque English countryside. When traveling on the train, purchase a normal ticket, and then once you're on the train you can upgrade to first class for only £20. It's well worth it - quieter, less people, and spacious, not to mention it's a fraction of the price than if you just purchased the ticket outright.

Once we arrived we visited the Fashion Museum, which was phenomenal. It had a great exhibit featuring pieces from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as well as the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret. Visiting the museum was one of the highlights of the trip for me. After we were done, we did a little shopping, and then visited the Roman Baths. The baths were built in 60-70AD, and is a World Heritage Site.

Day Four
We toured Kensington Palace before visiting the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibit. The exhibit showcases how Diana's style evolved over the years. The pieces on display were absolutely amazing, many of which I recognized. One of the most iconic outfits there was the gown she wore to the White House when she danced with John Travolta. Sketches of outfits were also on display, many of which she had written on. After we finished the exhibit, we roamed through the gardens and took in the gorgeous weather.

Next we stopped for a photo op at the Albert Memorial before we rented bikes. We road the bikes around Hyde Park to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. We then visited the Victoria Albert Museum before shopping at Harrod's, and ended the day shopping at Carnaby Street and ate dinner at Flat Iron. We went to several restaurants in this area during our trip, and it was by far our favorite place for food & drinks. It was also close to the hotel, which made it really convenient.

Day Five
On our last day we slept in and started the day by watching the Changing of Guard at Buckingham Palace. After, we strolled through St. James Park, before hopping on the Big Bus Tour. I normally like to do the bus my first day of the trip to get my "bearings" and get a birds eye view, but we ended up not having time for it (nor did we want to sit after the plane ride).

We took the bus to St Paul's Cathedral where we climbed over 300 stairs to the top of the dome. The view was phenomenal and worth the trek. Once we we finished exploring the cathedral and the crypts, we crossed Millennium Bridge and went to the Tate Modern. I had read that there was a special Picasso exhibit at the museum, and we were lucky to catch it before it ended September 9th. The exhibit did not disappoint, and included 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, mixed with family photographs and rare glimpses into his personal life.

We ended the day, and our vacation, by finally getting into Dishoom, one of the most talked about Indian restaurants in the city. After being met with massive waits four times, it definitely was the icing on the cake to end a perfect trip.


When I was planning, I made sure to schedule each day so that we were in a certain area to avoid backtracking, or a lot of running around. We definitely did a lot of walking each day, but that's one of the things we love to do when we travel, so it was perfect for us!

I hope this post inspired you to take a trip over the pound and will help you decide what to see and do when you visit. If you have any questions, let me know! 

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