One Week in London: A Travel Guide & Local Tips

Posted by admin on 2018-08-07

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So much to do, so little time! Though a week might seem like plenty of time to explore all of the exciting attractions, restaurants, and local gems that London has to offer, time always flies when you’re having fun. And, planning a week-long itinerary can be overwhelming. How do you know what’s actually worthwhile and what’s just a silly tourist trap?

Don’t fretwe’ve got you covered.

Our team of travel experts have created a custom guide for your week-long London vacation. We’ve got the scoop on the top things to pencil in during your holiday. Let’s get started!


Prepare For Your Trip

Before you embark on your London adventure, it’s important to prep accordingly. A week-long getaway requires a bit more planning than a simple weekend retreat. Be sure to review our free London packing guide for a full list of things to remember for your trip. Additionally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of local transportation. View our guide to getting around London for tips and tricks.
If you haven’t already, check out our comprehensive selection of London vacation rentals to find your perfect home away from home.


Week-Long London Itinerary

Day One

Welcome to London! You’ll likely spend the first portion of your arrival day traveling into the city and settling into your accommodations.

You’ll likely be famished after a day full of travel, so we’ll start your first excursion with a trip to Borough Market, a vibrant culinary epicenter. The expansive open-air market is home to a diverse array of food vendors that proudly offer their homemade delicacies. Visitors can expect to find everything from cured meats, artisan cheeses, hand-pressed sandwiches and paninis, exquisite chocolates, handmade pastries and cakes, fresh bread, and handmade pasta, to authentic dishes from around the world and unique, one of a kind creations. The market is truly a sight to be seen. Borough is a great place to sample various foods as you peruse the busy alleys or to stock up on a few goodies for your vacation rental. The market is also surrounded by great local restaurants if you’d rather take a break and recoup after your travels.

After you’ve had your fill of British market cuisine, head over to the famous Tower Bridge for a personal guided tour of one of London’s most iconic architectural wonders. The impressive tour will take you inside the bowels of the bridge with behind-the-scenes looks at original walkways, the engine room, and ornate Victorian towers. Tours also include access to interactive displays and high-level glass walkways which provide stunning and unique views of London and the river. The knowledgeable tour guides are enthusiastic and prepared to answer any of your pressing bridge-related questions. As one of the more affordable London attractions, tickets start at only $10 per person.


Day Two

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We’ll dive right into your first full day in London with a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ style tour of the city. There are likely several key landmarks on your London bucket list and this interactive and entertaining self-guided tour of the city is the best way to see several sights in one day.

Many of the ‘hop on, hop off’ tours take place in the iconic double-decker buses and feature engaging hosts that can answer any and all of your pressing London questions. Visitors can expect to see popular landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and much more. Tours also take riders through some of London’s most iconic areas and over several scenic bridges, which makes for a delightful backdrop while you enjoy entertaining narrations of the surroundings.

Tours vary greatly in length, location, and price, so do research and purchase tickets in advance for the best experience. We recommend splurging on a full-day of tours to get the best bang for your buck!


For the full London experience, check out dinner at Poppies Fish & Chips. Though you can certainly find great spots throughout the city to enjoy this UK classic, Poppies is a favorite among visitors and locals alike. Located in the Spitalfields neighborhood on the east side of town, Poppie’s has been serving up award-winning cuisine for over 50 years. The casual, friendly atmosphere and quality, affordable food keep guests coming back time and time again. Visitors can indulge in traditional fish & chips plates made with either cod or haddock for only plates starting at less than $15, in addition to a variety of other British favorites, like savory pies, roast chicken dinners, and homemade puddings.


Day Three

History buffs will appreciate the iconic spots on day three’s agenda.

We’ll start the day with a tour of one of London’s most unique historical attractions, the Tower of London. The tower has royal ties and once served as a working castle, though it also has somewhat of a dark history. Most notably, King Henry VIII had four of his six wives executed at the tower, including his most famous wife, Ann Boleyn, who was imprisoned in the tower prior to her death. Tower tours include walk-throughs of the castle and access to special exhibits that are featured throughout the year. Tickets start at $25 per person with discounts for children and groups.

Discover what’s hiding beneath the bustling London streets at the famed Churchill War Rooms. This hidden gem is a literal underground bunker that was used during World War II to plot strategies among top leaders. The exhibit includes a tour of the labyrinth of hallways and private rooms that are located beneath the streets of Westminster and access to a historic museum about Winston Churchill’s life and legacy. Tickets start at $22 per person with discounts for groups.

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These are just a few of the historical options – check out our full post on London’s top historical attractions for more inspiration.

We’ll round out your historic London experience with a classic British tradition – afternoon tea. Originally a routine exclusive to royalty and socialites, afternoon tea is now a common part of British life. This daily ritual entails sipping hot tea and snacking on gourmet finger foods while enjoying time with family and friends. Afternoon tea typically takes place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and is widely available at various spots throughout the city. Visitors can enjoy a classic English tea experience or opt for a more modern and eclectic experience. Check out a few of our favorite afternoon tea spots to find the perfect venue.


Day Four

Day four is a royal affair, with several options for touring some of London’s most iconic royal landmarks.

If royal weddings are on your radar, head over to the famous Westminster Abbey. Situated in the heart of London near the winding River Thames, Westminster Abbey offers a rich history with close ties to the royal family. The stunning, expansive church was established in 1066 and now serves as the final resting place for many notable royal subjects and as a house for an impressive collection of religious art and artifacts. The church remains active to this day, with several events and worship services that are open to the public throughout the week. Tours are also available with tickets starting at $23.50 (discounts available for students and seniors).

Fans of modern royal history will definitely want to pencil in a trip to Kensington Palace. Though the charming residence has been in the royal family since the 1600’s, the palace gained notoriety when Prince Charles and Princess Diana moved in after their wedding. Today, the palace is occupied by several popular royal couples, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, and Prince Harry and his recent bride Meghan. As a ‘working palace’, the Kensington Palace tour is limited to a few of the state rooms, gardens, and special exhibits but is certainly well worth the trip. Tickets start at $22 per person and tours are available each day of the week.

Buckingham Palace, the literal crown jewel destination for many royal history buffs, is open for several weeks during the summer and select dates in the winter and spring for tours. As the Queen’s official residence and one of London’s few ‘working palaces’, tours are limited to the state rooms, the royal mews, and The Queen’s Gallery. A few notable highlights of the tour include the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery, and the Grand Staircase. Visitors are also invited to watch the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony, which takes place at 11:00 am daily during the summer (more limited schedule during the rest of the year). Tickets start at $28 with discounts available for families, students, and tour packages.

Pick one destination for a full day of exploration of mix and match your royal experience. Each destination offers on-site dining and gift shops, so take advantage of your surroundings and enjoy a true royal meal! And, you’ll definitely find some great souvenirs to take home.

One Week in London A Travel Guide & Local Tips

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While you’re in the area, venture over to Hyde Park, one of the largest parks in all of London and one of eight official royal parks. Ideally situated in the heart of London, Hyde Park offers over 350 acres of wide-open space for exploring. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the picturesque gardens or enjoy a lively bike ride, a rousing game of tennis, or a scenic boat ride across the lake. The park presents a peaceful and serene break from the typical hustle and bustle of London.

Finish your evening by grabbing dinner and drinks at Serpentine Bar and Kitchen. This scenic Hyde Park eatery offers a simple menu of fresh takes on tasty classics. Choose between a variety of wood-fired pizzas, crisp salads, sandwiches, burgers, and signature entrees. Selections are fast, fresh, and affordable, and pair nicely with the refreshing wine list. Serpentine is the perfect spot to take in a London sunset and toast another successful day of touring London.


Day Five

It’s time to take a break from the touring with a relaxing day of sipping and shopping.

We’ll start your shopping adventure on Carnaby Street. This eclectic area of town is considered the birthplace of the fashion and cultural revolution of the 1960’s and has maintained the hip, happening vibe. Today, Carnaby Street is home to more than 100 retail brands, both well-known vendors and local boutiques, and more than 60 local restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Carnaby Street is the ideal spot to scout out a few unique London finds and grab a quick lunch at a streetside cafe.

In the afternoon, we’ll shift the shopping party west to King’s Road. Nestled in the heart of London’s posh Chelsea neighborhood, Carnaby Street is a light warm up compared to the shopping experience offered along King’s Road. This nearly two-mile stretch offers a wide assortment of vendors to indulge in retail therapy. Though King’s Road is home to several brands that Americans will likely recognize, they are also well known for offering several notable local brands, like Penhaligdon’s, a high-end perfume retailer, Ash, a unique shoe retailer, and Sheridan, your one stop shop for contemporary houseware and gifts.

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A quick run back to your vacation rental to drop off your fun finds and then it’s time to enjoy a little fun and games (literally!) with a night out on the town. Though London offers a great selection of pubs and bars with live entertainment options, we recommend exploring a trend that hasn’t quite hit the US yet – board game cafes. As the name suggests, these local gathering spots encourage visitors to partake in board games. Reconnect with your inner child and explore hundreds of games as you kick back, relax, and enjoy a tasty adult beverage (or two). Many cafes are also full-service restaurants with impressive menus and drink lists. Options vary from quaint, niche spots to expansive game bars with 500+ games. View our post on London’s best board game cafes for more info on our favorite spots.


Day Six

It’s time to enjoy the beauty of one of London’s most prized natural resources, the River Thames. This winding body of water is best enjoyed by spending time along London’s ‘South Bank’, a popular nook that hugs the heart of the city. This charming neighborhood is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll and even squeeze in a visit to another attraction or two. South Bank offers a wide array of entertainment options, including the famous London Eye, several museums and art galleries, the London Aquarium, swanky boutiques, and plenty of restaurants. Enjoy a morning of perusing the sights and sounds of this lively districts and stop at a local restaurant for a bite to eat before your next stop. A few local favorites include Cote Brasserie, a classic French cafe, Wagamama, a fast-paced ramen bar, Ichi Sushi, a trendy spot for sushi and Japanese cuisine.

We’ll finish your last afternoon and evening in London with a trip to Trafalgar Square. This historic landmark is an epicenter of entertainment with a variety of famous statues and fountains, museums, shops, restaurants, attractions, and more – not to mention the stunning Victorian architecture. A few popular square attractions include Nelson’s Column, Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery, and the Benjamin Franklin House.

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After you’ve explored the square and a few of the nearby attractions, switch gears and enjoy dinner and a few drinks at one of the nearby restaurants. The area is highly walkable, and you won’t have to venture far find a variety of options, from formal, high-end eateries to casual pubs – and everything in between. A few hot spots include The Admiralty, The Harp, Cahoots, The Temple Bar, American Bar, and Radio Rooftop Bar.

If you’re up for another night out on the town, check out one of Trafalgar Square’s local pubs for live music and tasty brews. It’s your last chance to toast your great London holiday!


Day Seven

Alas, your final day in London has arrived. You’ll likely be busy scrambling to pack your belongings (and all of your fun new souvenirs) and checking-out of your accommodations, but you’ll also want to be well fed before your travels.

Before you leave, make plans to grab brunch at The Black Penny, an iconic London coffee house and kitchen. Known for their remarkable brunch, the simple menu is filled with classic and creative concoctions. A few famous favorites include the ‘Brioche French Toast’, which is topped with whipped lemon ricotta, blueberry compote, and toasted almonds, and the ‘Cristy Duck Hash’, which comes with sweet potato, spinach, spring onion chili, and a poached egg. We promise that brunch at The Black Penny is the perfect cherry to top off a grand London adventure!


Well, that’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed our week-long London travel guide. If nothing else, we hope this has given you a little travel inspiration and a few ideas of great things to do and places to see during your London getaway.


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