A Locals Guide to 4 Days in London with Secret Tips

Looking to spend 4 days in London? Then here’s the perfect itinerary from a local. Sure, we will cover the highlights here like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben but let’s also add a bit of hidden gems into the mix and see what all London truly has to offer. I moved to London from America 6 years ago and have explored every corner. I really love to find the nontouristy things to do in London or any city, small or big! Now let’s get into the details!

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My favorite book that helped me when I first came to London was Pretty City London. I highly recommend buying it as it’s also a pretty book to have at home. It tells you all the beautiful cafes and neighborhoods to visit and was founded by the Instagram page @prettycitylondon.

In this Article show

Getting Around London

Public transportation is super simple. The Tube is the transit system in London and it is so fast and easy to get from one place to another. You won’t wait more than 2 minutes for the next tube (typically!) The bus is also simple to use.

You can get directions from Google Maps by clicking the train symbol after you search for your destination or by downloading the City Mappers app.

💡 Pro-tip: Don’t buy an Oyster Card. Instead, tap your contactless credit card on the entry barriers to the underground. Use the same card to tap in and out so you won’t get charged more than the daily cap fee of around £8.

If you decide to do many of the attractions in London, you might find that the London Pass will save you money! It gives you unlimited access to 90+ attractions.

Where to Stay in London

Stay anywhere next to an underground station. You don’t necessarily have to stay in the heart of the city as you can get anywhere fast with the tube!

Here are my top hotel picks:

Luxury: The Savoy | Claridge’s | Hotel Cafe Royal
Mid-range: Marriott County Hall | The Tower Hotel | The Hoxton | Treehouse | Mamma Shelter
Budget: Hostel One Notting Hill | Wombat’s City Hostel

Summary of your 4 Days in London

You can copy-paste this London itinerary for ease!

  • Day 1: Watch the Changing of the Guard, 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Afternoon Tea at the Library, Big Ben, London Eye, Covent Garden, West End Theatre Show
  • Day 2: Tower of London, Lunch at Borough Market. St Paul’s Cathedral, Sky Garden, Brick Lane Market, Dinner at Pizza East or the Smoking Goat, Drinks at the NightJar
  • Day 3: Explore Notting Hill, Lunch at The Churchill Arms, Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, Peggy Porschen, Shopping on King’s Road, Dinner at Bluebird
  • Day 4: Explore a local neighborhood like Hampstead or take a day trip to Bath or the Cotswolds. If you choose Hampstead: Gail’s Bakery, Flask Walk, Perrin’s Court, Lunch at the Buttery Cafe, Browse all the pretty homes, Hampstead Heath, Beers at the Holly Bush, Dinner at Well’s Tavern

Day 1: The Tourist Day

I know I mentioned this guide would have a bit of a local flair but you can’t visit London without seeing the top attractions. I will still let you in on some local secrets though! So, spend your first day of your 4 days in London seeing the main attractions.

Most of the major tourist attractions can be visited by walking as they are all clustered together in the City of London. There are many free walking tours you can take by searching free walking tour online or you can hit these spots on your own.

11 am – Watch the Changing of the Guard

Arrive around 11 am and watch the Changing of the Guard which only takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (Be sure to check the official schedule here).

However, my local tip is to not watch it where everyone else does in front of Buckingham Palace as it is extremely busy and you won’t see much. Instead, watch it at St. James Palace 15 minutes after the scheduled ceremony. You can see the view from St. James Palace in the photo above.

12 pm – 10 Downing Street

walking time: 19 minutes

From Trafalgar Square, make your way to 10 Downing Street. While you can’t get too close to the official residence of the Prime Minister, you can still take a look at the black door and the exterior.

12:30 pm – Visit Westminster Abbey

Walking time: 9 minutes

Westminster Abbey is a Gothic cathedral not too far away and should be your next stop. It is where Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service was held in 2022. It’s a very important landmark in London.

1:30 – Have afternoon tea with a view of Big Ben

Walking time: 10 minutes

Having afternoon tea is a must visit during your 4 days in London. Afternoon tea was invented when the Queen became hungry in the afternoon. The tea is served with some finger sandwiches and scones.

This is my favorite afternoon tea in London located at the Library which is part of the Marriott County Hall Hotel. It is a great place to admire the views of Big Ben.

After or on the way you’ll come across the Houses of Parliament and London Eye too.

3:30 pm – Take in the Sights of Big Ben & London Eye

Walking time: 1 minute to London Eye & 8 minutes to Big Ben View

Big Ben might just be the main attraction in London! My favorite viewpoint of Big Ben is next to the red phone booth located at Parliament Square.

However, the ultimate best photo point of Big Ben is the “secret viewpoint” located at the underground pedestrian tunnel (Google Maps Location here). You can cross Westminster Bridge opposite Big Ben to find it.

You’ll also be tempted to ride the London Eye, but it’s super expensive and the line is very long unless you opt for skip-the-line tickets. I must admit, the views are very beautiful from the London Eye (as seen in the second picture below). It’s possibly the highest place you can see Big Ben so close up. However, if you opt for a free view of London, you can make a reservation at Sky Garden. It requires advanced booking though.

4:30 pm – Trafalgar Square

Walking time: 15 minutes

Here you can see Nelson’s Column and admire the iconic architecture.

5 pm – Covent Garden

Walking time: 8 minutes

Covent Garden is a lively area in London with shopping and many restaurants. There is always something going on in the main square whether it be street performers or a musician entertaining a crowd of observers. Don’t miss the hidden colorful alley, Neal’s Yard.

6 pm – Have a Quick Dinner in Covent Garden

Enjoy a delicious pizza at Homeslice in Neal’s Yard or head over to Seven Dials for many food stalls to choose from.

7:30 pm – See a West End Theatre Show

London’s West End is famous for its world-class musicals. Classics like “Mamma Mia,” “Wicked,” and “The Lion King” are among favorites, but there are always new productions to explore.

London Itinerary: Map of Day 1

Click the map below which will open in Google Maps and guide you for Day 1 of your 4 days in London.

Day 2: Exploring Some of East London

On day 2 of your 4 days in London, you can explore a bit of South London and end with East London!

10:30 am – Visit the Tower of London

The Tower Bridge, not to be confused with the London Bridge, this iconic bridge has a Victorian Gothic design with twin towers. It can open to allow river traffic to pass, It is a very iconic landmark to see on your 4 days in London.

12 pm – Have Lunch at Borough Market

Walking time: 14 minutes

Borough Market is one of London’s oldest and most renowned food markets, a foodie lovers paradise. Located in the Southwark district near London Bridge and the River Thames, the market has a history dating back over 1,000 years. Opening hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, 10-5 pm.

Local tip: If Borough Market is too busy for you, head over to the nearby Maltby St Market (open on weekends only).

1:30 pm – Walk to St Paul’s Cathedral

Walking time: 20 minutes

From Borough Market, walk towards St. Paul’s Cathedral passing the Tate Modern Museum and the Millennium Bridge. Don’t forget to look down as you walk the bridge to see all the bubble gum art! You may even see the artist,  Ben Wilson, in person if you’re lucky! He transforms discarded chewing gum into meaningful works of art.

Once you arrive at St. Paul’s Cathedral, take in the beauty of this impressive church. You can climb to the top of the Cathedral for a view or alternatively, head over to the lift in One New Change to see impeccable views of the Cathedral for free.

3:30 pm – See Panoramic Views of London

Walking Time: 20 minutes

Most people know to visit Sky Garden for free views of London and it’s become so popular that you need to book it weeks in advance to go. If you didn’t plan ahead, don’t worry, I have 2 other views you can see which are less known. The first is London’s newest viewing platform, the Lookout and the second is The Post Building.

If you decide to go to Sky Garden or the Lookout, don’t miss a secret park right nearby called St Dunstan in the East.

5:00 pm – Shop for Vintage Goods at the Brick Lane Market

Walking tIme: 30 minutes (or hop on public transportation like the bus or tube)

Located in Shoreditch in East London, this edgy neighborhood is home to exciting nightlife (more of a younger crowd though) and is full of hipster vibes. Head to the Brick Lane Market to shop for the best vintage items in London.

There are also many food stalls in the area if you want a snack before dinner.

In the area, you’ll also come across a ton of street art and if you have some extra time you can even do a guided tour of the street art.

7:30 pm – Dinner at Pizza East or the Smoking Goat

Pizza East is a popular spot in Shoreditch for dinner with a nice vibe and great pizza. Below they have a hidden bar that opens up later at night and you can go dancing here.

Alternatively, you can get dinner at Smoking Goat which serves up Thai food.

9 pm – Have a Drink at the NightJar

The NightJar is a great speakeasy with the craftiest cocktails and sometimes Jazz music. I highly recommend an evening here! It is also an escape from the super young crowd that Shoreditch attracts.

London Itinerary: Map of Day 2

Click the map below which will open in Google Maps and guide you for Day 2 of your 4 days in London.

Day 3: Exploring West London

On day 3 of your 4 days in London, you can explore West London!

9:30 AM – Explore Notting Hill

Travel to Notting Hill and wander through its charming streets. Admire the colorful houses (along Lancaster Road, Elgin Crescent, Hillgate Place, and Westbourne Grove) and explore independent shops.

Don’t miss the Portobello Road Market which is open til 7 pm in the summertime (but 6 pm in the wintertime). The Notting Hill bookstore is another famous landmark as featured in “Notting Hill”, the movie.

Also, one of my favorite things to do in London is visit mews streets. Mews streets are picturesque hidden streets that used to be horse stables. The prettiest one in Notting Hill is St. Luke’s Mews which was featured in the film “Love Actually”.

12 PM – Have Lunch at The Churchill Arms

Walking time: 15 minutes

Enjoy lunch at The Churchill Arms in Kensington. This historic pub invests a lot of money in its exterior facades. In the summertime, it is covered in flowers, and in wintertime, it’s covered in 100s of Christmas trees. It is the only pub in London that serves Thai food. Pub culture in London is huge so it’s worth visiting one and enjoying a pint.

1:30 PM – Stroll Through Hyde Park

Walking Time: 10 minutes

Start your day with a stroll through Hyde Park, one of London’s most iconic green spaces, spanning 350 acres. You’d be surprised such a large green space is in the heart of the city. In fact, London has many famous parks all around the city including Hampstead Heath, and Regent’s Park, among others.

The Kensington Palace and Gardens is along the way so be sure to stop there.

In Hyde Park, you can rent a pedal boat on the Serpentine Lake for £12/per person for up to 60 minutes while enjoying the picturesque surroundings. It’s a perfect way to soak up the sunshine and appreciate the beauty of the park from a different perspective. However, if you opt to do this, then you’ll need to skip one of the activities below since you may have little time to enjoy this fully with the current itinerary.

3 PM – Visit the Natural History Museum

Walking time: 10 minutes

Head to South Kensington and explore the Natural History Museum. There are so many fascinating exhibits, including the dinosaur collection and the iconic blue whale skeleton. It is free to visit! The V&A museum is also really nice and just around the corner.

5 PM – Coffee Break at Peggy Porschen

Walking Time: 19 minutes

Take a coffee break at Peggy Porschen, a beautiful cafe with a pink facade. It is London’s most instagrammable cafe after all! The original location is in Belgravia but the Chelsea location is just as good and will be on your route if you follow this itinerary. Be sure to grab one of their decadent cupcakes as they are known for them!

5:30 PM – Shopping on King’s Road, Chelsea

Walking time: A short walk as it’s near Peggy Porschen

Chelsea is an affluent neighborhood in West London. Here you can explore the many trendy shops along King’s Road. I prefer it compared to Oxford Street which is extremely busy and touristic. However, if you have time in your itinerary, do recommend seeing Oxford Street and Regent Street as well as stopping through Piccadilly Circus so you hit all the famous streets in London.

While you’re in Chelsea, you should take a stroll through the neighborhood as you’ll see some of the most beautiful homes. Including one of my favorites which features a pink door with the words “Love” above. You can find this home at the end of Oakley Street.

8 PM – Dinner at Bluebird

End your day with dinner at Bluebird in Chelsea. It’s a neighborhood restaurant with Modern European dishes. They have great cocktails and a lovely atmosphere.

London Itinerary: Map of Day 3

Click the map below which will open in Google Maps and guide you for Day 3 of your 4 days in London.

Day 4: The Non Tourist Day

On the last day of your 4 days in London, take a moment to break away from all the things tourists do when they come to London. Instead, visit a lesser-known neighborhood like my absolute favorite, Hampstead. It feels like a village tucked far away from London, but it’s only moments away. You might even spot famous people here too (like Harry Styles!)

You can read my full guide on Hamsptead here.

Here’s how to spend the perfect day in Hampstead:

10 AM – Have a coffee and pastry at Gail’s Bakery

This is the original Gail’s of the small local chain. I don’t really advise supporting chains like Starbucks but Gail’s is small enough and super iconic to London.

11 AM Stroll through Flask Walk and Perrin’s Court

Flask Walk and Perrin’s Court are picturesque streets with cafes and vintage shopping.

12 PM – Have Lunch at the Buttery Cafe

They have a beautiful outdoor garden and it’s part of a museum called the Burgh House.

1:30 pm – Browse all the pretty homes in the neighborhood

Many of the beautiful homes are just past Flask Walk towards Hampstead Heath. They all have pretty doorways and flowers adorning the exteriors of the homes in summer time.

2 pm – See the views at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath

Check out the view of London at Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath. You can even take a swim if you fancy in this park.

4 PM – Have a drink at the Holly Bush

Hampstead is the best neighborhood for pubs! They have many pubs in the area like the iconic Holly Bush. All are super cozy too.

🍺 Read my full guide on The Best Pubs in Hampstead

6 PM – Have Dinner at Well’s Tavern

This pub has some mighty good food. It’s a gastropub with sit-down dining and don’t be fooled as it’s not your typical pub food. They have a full menu where you can enjoy duck or something else nice. But if you did want to try classic British food, the Well’s Tavern has got you.

London Itinerary: Map of Day 4

Click the map below which will open in Google Maps and guide you for Day 4 of your 4 days in London.

Alternative Day 4

If you don’t choose Hampstead for your non-tourist day in London, then I’d recommend exploring one of the many other beautiful neighborhoods. That would include, Richmond (with a visit to Kew Gardens too!), Primrose Hill, or Greenwich.

You can also take a day trip from London. There are so many amazing places within one hour from London. The train system makes it super easy to see them! Some of my favorites include Bath, Cotswolds, and Canterbury. I recommend booking a tour through Viator or Get Your Guide.

That’s the end of my 4 days in London itinerary. I hope you enjoyed it and loved the local tips I’ve added so you can go beyond the tourist spots to see the real beauty of London! If you want more non-touristy things to do in London, be sure to read my full guide here.

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