Unmissable things to do on your first trip to London

Have a fun-packed first trip to London with our three-day guide.

Create lasting memories with our itinerary filled with the best things to do in London, including spotting iconic landmarks, seeing West End theatre shows and visiting top attractions

Day one

Morning: discover South Bank

The London Eye at sunset reflected on the river Thames 

Spend the morning exploring vibrant South Bank at the heart of London's cultural scene, where you can immerse yourself in exhibitions, theatre and free events.

Pick up the Merlin London Attractions Pass orthe London Pass or during your stay, so you can sightsee and save at London's top attractions, including family favourite Shrek's Adventure! London, underwater world SEA LIFE London Aquarium and the scary London Dungeon.

Create memorable moments as you soak up sweeping views of the city from the London Eye, before making a pit stop for a quick a bite to eat at Borough Market.

Afternoon: enjoy scenic sightseeing

A view of the front of Buckingham Palace taken through the closed front gates. 

After a delicious meal, jump on the hop-on hop-off bus which is included as part of The London Pass ticket (or book the bus tour separately).

Enjoy a scenic tour of the capital's most iconic sights, including royal attractions such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, plus historic landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Snap selfies from the top deck as you marvel at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, spot the lions in Trafalgar Square and soak up the vibes at Piccadilly Circus.  

Evening: watch a top West End show 

The cast of Phantom of the opera on stage wearing colourful costumes and masks 

Make it an evening to remember as you take your seat at one of London's top musicals or comedy shows. Be thrilled by world-class performances at spectacular shows such as The Lion King, Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera.

Most shows start at 7.30pm and end at 10pm. Book your tickets in advance to secure the best seats in the house.

Day two

Morning: explore further afield 

The Diagon Alley set from the Harry Potter film series, set in a nigh time atmosphere.  

Kick-start the day with a breakfast worth getting out of bed for at Dalloway Terrace – feast on berry bowls, eggs and turmeric lattes under a canopy of Instagrammable foliage. Or pick from more breakfast spots.

After fuelling up for the day, discover the magic of the wizarding world at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. Go behind the scenes of the iconic film series and experience Hogwarts Castle, magical sets, special effects and more. Expect plenty of spellbinding surprises that capture the imagination.

Or if you would like to explore a real castle, head to Windsor Castle, a royal palace steeped in history and the favoured residence of the Queen.

Afternoon: choose between the West End and the East End 

People sitting in the square at Covent Garden with women strolling past in the sun

Pick the West End for an afternoon of shopping. Find a bargain on Oxford Street, discover independent boutiques in Carnaby, admire high-end fashion around Bond Street or explore Covent Garden for a mixture of all three. 

Alternatively, head to east London for foodie treats and colourful art. Take a street-art tour to discover vibrant murals and works by famous graffiti artists including Banksy. Then grab a bite at one of the curry houses along Brick Lane.

Evening: see London at night

A view of illuminated Tower Bridge after dark.

Having fun is hard work; as dusk falls, sit back and watch the world go by with a memorable London by Night Open Top Bus Tour. Or opt for a relaxing dinner cruise, where you'll enjoy a meal with a side helping of riverside views.

See the capital sparkle after dark, as the city switches on its lights and London's famous landmarks and top attractions are illuminated against the night sky.

After your tour, head to Chinatown, a vibrant hub of late-night shops and restaurants. Choose from more than 80 eateries to feast on delicious Asian cuisine, from sushi and Szechuan to satay, stir fry and Instagram-worthy desserts.

Day three

Morning: get adventurous in Greenwich 

A smiling family is taking a selfie with the city in the background on top the Up at the O2.

Enjoy the river breeze as you cruise along the river Thames on an Uber Boat by Thames Clippers from Bankside pier to North Greenwich.

Reach new heights with an epic climb Up at The O2 and take to the skies for spectacular views of London in an Emirates Airline cable car.

Calm down with a trip to historic Greenwich, and explore the Queen’s House where you’ll find soothing maritime art, a famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth I and the photogenic spiral Tulip Stairs.  

Afternoon: savour a delicious afternoon tea

Seven small, colourful cakes on a green-and-white-striped plate.

Tuck into a tantalising afternoon tea, a quintessentially British tradition and one of London's most iconic dining experiences.

Choose from a traditional afternoon tea, a quirky themed afternoon tea or a scenic afternoon tea cruise along the river Thames. 

Make sure to book in advance to secure your spot, and check the dress code, as sophisticated attire is often part of the afternoon tea tradition.

Evening: enjoy dinner and cocktails with a view

London and the Shard at dusk as the sun sets. 

As evening approaches, make your way to The View from The Shard for sunset cocktails and panoramic views of London.

Complete your trip with a classic: roast dinner. While it's best enjoyed by a roaring fire in a cosy pub on Sundays, there are plenty of places that serve a delicious plate with all the trimmings of Yorkshire puddings and potatoes throughout the week. Or choose another must-eat, fish and chips from a trendy restaurant or classic "chippy".

Or celebrate your time in London and enjoy dinner with a view at sky-high restaurants Aqua Shard, quirky Duck & Waffle and Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden.

Find more ideas for a brilliant first trip to London with our guides to the top attractions and coolest hotels, and with more itineraries for perfect days out in London.