England / Europe / London

4 day London Itinerary – For First Time Visitors in 2020

view from the shard in central london

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London is an ever-evolving city, it is part of the reason it holds such a large piece of my heart. Alongside the signature tourist attractions, there are streams of new pop-ups and events consistently happening, no two trips will ever be the same.

Like most cities, it would be impossible to see all of London in a weekend but I do believe 4 days in London is a good amount of time to get a real feel for the city.

Being a firm believer of seeing more than just the tourist highlights, this itinerary aims to give a mixture of popular attractions alongside local favourites, allowing you to get a taste for some of the smaller neighbourhoods.

I have also recommended some of my favourite places to eat in London, these are a collection of budget and high-end restaurants as well as some great street food choices.

 millienium bridge in central London

Read before your first visit to London: 9 Things no one tells you about visiting London by a Londoner 

What to see in London in 4 days

How to get around London as a tourist

Whether it’s your first time visiting London, or you’ve been before, the TFL Visitor Pass gives you the freedom to travel as much as you want on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail.

However, you can only get a 1, 2 or 3-day visitor pass, which is obviously not useful if you are seeing London in 4 days.

For ease, I would advise using a contactless debit or credit card, when using this you will just touch in and out on public transport and will not need to worry about purchasing paper tickets. However, it is also worth noting you will need a separate card for each person in your party, you cannot put multiple people on the same card.

If you would like to purchase your tickets in advance buy your tickets from By purchasing your ticket in advance you will be able to skip the queues at the tube and train stations and occasionally save additional money.

For more information on using public transport in London, I recommend checking out Transport For London.

As I always recommend, if you are able to then walk – especially if you are visiting London during summer. I walk everywhere in London as I always end up stumbling on something I haven’t seen before.

–> Wonderful quotes about London to inspire your next trip 

lady standing in London with a marco polo travel guide - the perfect travel guide to help plan your 4 day london itinerary

A 4 day London Itinerary: Day one – Take in the classics

If it is your first time visiting you will not want to miss the iconic landmarks in London, so get these done on day one. Luckily all of these are centrally located and located not too far from each other, so again I would recommend walking if you are able and the weather is good.

Take the tube or train to Waterloo Station

A short walk from Waterloo Station is the London Eye, the most visited tourist attraction in the whole of the United Kingdom. I personally have not been on it in a good 5 years, but that is because I know the city.

For first-timers in London, I think it is a great attraction for getting your bearings in the city and also realising just how big London actually is. On a clear day, a trip of the Eye will showcase everything the city has to offer and beyond. Due to its popularity, advance booking is recommended.

An alternative to the London Eye would be visiting the Shard in London Bridge, I personally prefer the view from the Shard, however, it is not as informative as the Eye.

After coming off the London Eye, look across the river to get your first view of the iconic houses of Parliament and Big Ben (The Elizabeth Tower). Sadly, at present Big Ben is under construction and is covered until 2021, meaning at the moment you can only see it outlines but it is still worth visiting.

After crossing the bridge for a closer looking you can walk down Parliament Street, off Parliament Street you can catch a glimpse of Downing Street as well see the Horse Guards. If you want to catch the changing of the Guards, this happens at 11 am every morning apart from on Sundays when it is 10 am.

Continue to the end of Parliament Street and you will end up at Trafalgar Square where you can see Nelson’s Column and the iconic London lions.

It is also the entrance to the Mall – a tree-lined royal road which leads to Buckingham Palace. It is quite a long walk (0.5mile) but on a sunny day it is a beautiful one with St James Park lining the walk.

Looking to visit more Royal buildings during your trip to London?

12 Castles and Palaces you cannot miss on your visit to London

In the area of Buckingham Palace is Belgravia and one of my favourite Thai restaurants in London – The Mango Tree. It is on the higher end of the scale price-wise but the food is incredible, if you are able to splash out I would recommend visiting here.

The Mango Tree also features in  J.K. Rowling’s novel ‘The Silkworm’.

After lunch catch a tube to London Bridge Station, as soon as you exit you can see the Shard and cross over to Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. 

Here is a great option for lunch if you don’t want to splash out on The Mango Tree as you will find a ton of great street food stalls or my personal favourite Wokit. If you have already eaten still go here, it is a great atmosphere and I always get a real ‘London’ feel when here.

In this area, there is also a German-style beer hall called KatzenJammers which is a great place to head if you are looking for an evening drink. Alternately, you can sample a few of the stops along the Bermondsey Beer Mile.  

After spending some time in Borough Market head back towards the water and take in the view of the iconic Tower Bridge. Find out the best view as well as other Tower Bridge Facts.

If you do not feel like walking all of this route, there are plenty of hop-on tourist buses that will cover this route or I also recommend City Cruises for a different way of seeing this part of London.

tower bridge in london is a must visit when spending 4 days in london

Day two – Make the most of the free attractions

London can be expensive but we also have a ton of free attractions as well if you are looking to see London on a budget. I recommend spending a day seeing the free attractions in London as then you can save money for the great food that is on offer across the city.

Start your day by catching the tube to South Kensington Tube Station.

In South Kensington you will find the Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum and National History Museum, entry is free to all of these (some exhibitions may require payment). If you are short on time and cannot do them all my favourite by far is the Natural History Museum, the building is stunning the Hope the Whale is a must-see when visiting London.

In general, this area of South Kensington is really pretty and you will find a lot of boutique stores and independent coffee shops (there is also an amazing cookie shop called Ben’s cookies!) therefore I also recommend walking around this area after the museums before catching the Piccadilly line to Leicester Square.

Leicester Square has recently had a major revamp making it a great part of the city to be again, it is also home to one of my favourite views of the London Skyline which you will find in the bar of Indigo Hotel – be sure not to miss this view during your 4 days in London! If you want to spend a bit more time in this area check out my guide of things to do in Leicester Square.

If you are looking for budget lunch in Leicester Square I recommend Mod Pizza but if you are looking for something a bit more special walk towards Soho and visit Cutter and Squidge.

Here you can book into one of their immersive afternoon teas, I visited for The Potion Room, a wizard themed afternoon tea and it was 100% worth the high price tag. Their afternoon teas do get booked up quite far in advance therefore if you cannot get in there

I also have a post on my favourite themed afternoon teas in London.

Cutter and squidge wizard tea - an afternoon tea is the perfect addition to a 4 day london itinerary

From here you can wander around the most famous shopping streets in London – Oxford Street and Regent Street, however, my favourite in this area is Carnaby Street and Berwick Street. 

In this area of London, you will also find Covent Garden, which again is another shopping area but also just a really pretty area for a walk around. You will also find some really great cocktail bars in Covent garden.

If you are a fan of travel, be sure to head to Stanford’s book store – the biggest travel bookshop in the world and of course they have a huge collection of Marco Polo travel books.

For dinner on your second day in London head over to China Town, where you will find amazing authentic tasting Asian food for budget prices.

Then after dinner go to the theatre in London’s Westend, there are tons of theatre shows on in the Westend. My favourites are Wicked, The Lion King and  Hamilton.

Advanced booking is generally advised with all London Theatre Shows to avoid disappointment, however, last-minute tickets can often be purchased at one of the many discount theatre stores dotted throughout Leicester Square.

Hamilton is currently booked months in advance, therefore, if you set on seeing it in London book tickets as soon you know your visiting dates. 
two ladies eating doughnuts from doughnut time while standing in China Town London

Sweet tooth?  –  7 London Desserts you have to try 

Day three in London – Discover outdoor London

If you are spending your 4 days in London during the summer on day 3 you are going to start your day on the outskirts of London at the Mayfield Lavender Fields. The London lavender fields are open in bloom between June and September, the sea of purple creates beautiful photo opportunities.

For further information and to find out how to get there check out my guide on where to find the London Lavender Fields. In this area, you will find various pubs as well, as a great option if you are keen on having a proper English pub lunch on your long weekend in London.

Another great option would be to combine a trip to the Lavender fields with a brunch in Wimbledon

If you do not feel like heading out of Central London, other great summer options including buying a picnic (Head to M & S for this, you will not regret it – their food is divine) and heading to Hyde Park.

If it is particularly hot you can even take your swimwear and cool down with a swim in the Serpentine (£4.80 per person).

If you are looking for more adventurous things to do how about Kayaking down the Thames. This truly unique experience will give you a whole new view of the city and will make for some great photo opportunities.

If your 4 days in London is in winter then for today I will suggest spending the day at the Christmas Markets. During winter in London, there are plenty of Christmas Markets and alongside this, there are plenty of decorations to see as well.

My personal favourites are the Christmas Markets on the Southbank (Near Waterloo Station) or Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Admission is free for both but you will need to pay if you want to go any of the rides.

Alongside the rides, you will find traditional gift stalls as well as plenty of stands where you can get street food, mulled wine and hot chocolate. 

A great outdoor option for all seasons is Kew Gardens, a huge botanical garden in Southwest London which houses one of the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world. Kew Gardens is also home to one of five Japanese Gardens in London. 

For dinner tonight head to Pizza Pilgrims for traditional Italian style pizza and craft beer. They are a chain restaurant so there are various different branches dotted throughout central London.

Day four – Visit the local’s favourites

For your final day in London, I am going to suggest you had to the East. Catch the London Overground to Shoreditch Station to start your day with brunch at The Breakfast Club – even if you don’t make it for Brunch, make sure visit here for lunch or dinner instead as the food is incredible especially the Salted Caramel Banoffee Pancakes.

Spend the rest of your day wandering around the area of Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Hoxton. This part of London is known as the ‘hipster’ part of the city however I just find it to be a really fun, colourful and independent part of London.

I especially love the street art in this area and if you enjoy street art as well I recommend booking onto a walking tour or if you prefer to learn more about London’s darker history book onto Jack the Ripper tour in nearby Whitechapel.

lady standing in front of tiger street art in shoreditch, London. Shoreditch is a great place to visit on a long weekend in london

Aside from browsing the independent stores and sampling many of the various coffee shops, in Shoreditch, you will find other fun things to like Junkyard Golf and The London Shuffle Club.

I have a whole guide on how to spend a fun day in Shoreditch so be sure to check that our as well when planning your 4 day London itinerary.

For dinner this evening, I apologise but I am going to suggest another Asian restaurant (Can you tell I LOVE Asian food yet?) Dishoom serves some of the best Indian food you will find in London. However, Brick Lane is also known as the Indian food capital of London so you may prefer to head one of the independent restaurants there. In the east of London, you will also find many of my favourite Vegan restaurants in London.

If Shoreditch and the East of London does not sound like you are style then head North for the day to Hampstead. Hampstead is pretty, quaint and has a village feel despite still being in the city. Alight at Hampstead Underground Station and start your day on a walk viewing the beautiful houses, you may even see a celebrity (Ricky Gervais, Harry Styles and Helena Bonham Carter are just a few of the celebrities who own property in Hampstead).

Grab a coffee and fresh pastries from one of the many bakeries before heading up to Parliament Hill, where you will be surrounded by greenery and also have another opportunity to take in the view of the iconic London Skyline.

If bargain hunting is your thing head to one of the many antique stores in Hampstead before browsing through the charity shops – Hampstead is known for being a wealthy area so you have good chances of picking up a steal!

End your day in London with a truly British dining experience – a traditional British roast and a pint at The Holly Bush Pub. The Holly Bush is part of the Fuller’s chain who are known for their superior standards in pub dining.

How much spending money do I need for 4 days in London?

Sadly, London is not a cheap city to visit and I would compare it alongside the likes of New York and Paris. 

If you are planning to really experience the most of London, I would allocate £60-£80 per day. This is taking into consideration food, attractions and travel. 

Following this itinerary, you may find some days more expensive than others. For example, the average theatre show ticket is priced at around £60, therefore on that day you may go over budget but will then recuperate on the day where you visit the free attractions. 

If you are looking to see London on a budget, I personally would recommend a spring or summer visit. This way you can take advantage of outdoor eating in street food markets or picnics in some of our beautiful royal parks. 

Budget accommodation in Central London

Tower Bridge Hub Hotel is a stone throw away from London Bridge and the Tower of London, the perfect location for historic sightseeing. The idea of this hotel to me is convenience – convenient location, convenient pricing (rooms start from £69) and minimal hassle due to being able to control everything through an app on your phone. The app allows you not only to check in but control the in-room lighting, TV and even order your next morning breakfast.

The rooms are compact,  I would personally say it is better suited to a weekend break for a couple rather than a family, as I think you would be pushed for space. All rooms as standard come with a flat-screen TV, free high-speed Wifi, air-con and a Monsoon shower, my favourite feature of the room? They all come with the trademark Premier Inn Hypnos bed aka the bed of dreams – seriously you will be pushed to find a comfier mattress.

You can see find all other London posts here: 
How to spend a fun day in Kings Cross
A Londoner’s London bucket list 
Unique things to do in London
Guide to spending the day at the Hampton Pools
A day trip to Brighton from London by train 

It is not possible to see all of London in 4 days but I hope this itinerary will give you a good start in seeing the wonderful city I call home and will leave you wanting to come back for more.

London can be expensive but I hope this guide has also given you options to help make your visit more budget-friendly. Depending on which other attractions you may be planning on visiting you may want to consider purchasing The London Pass to save on admission fees.

Remember to check out train times as well as book your tickets around London in advance through in order to get the best price. Trains and tubes run frequently but try to travel after 9 am to avoid higher prices during commuting hours.

This post is in collaboration with Marco Polo, a brand who I have worked with on multiple occasions and fully support, therefore all opinions are my own. 

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