A first-timer’s three days: a 72-hour itinerary for newcomers to London


Let’s face it; everyone has their wish-list when they visit the UK capital for the first time (for many, for instance, tucking into an afternoon tea London is an absolute must!). Yet, should you only be staying in the city for, say, 72 hours, your time’ll be limited, which means your itinerary needs to be sensibly tailored. Here’s a good example of one to get you planning…

Trafalgar Square

Day 1

Morning – Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery

First up (and an ideal, easy to start from centrally-located accommodation like the Park Grand Lancaster Gate hotel), it has to be the most famous piazza in all of London Town – Trafalgar Square, with its quartet of awesome bronze lions guarding the base of the even more awesome Nelson’s Column. Next up, you must take advantage of the free admission at both the National Gallery, one of the greatest art museums on the planet (comprising masterpieces ranging from the 13th right up to the 19th Century) and its sister venue, The National Portrait Gallery, which tells the eventful tale of British history from medieval times to the present via houses 200,000 portraits of figures from the worlds of monarchy, politics, warfare, literature, art and more.

Afternoon – St Paul’s Cathedral

Simply, one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in not just London, but arguably any city anywhere in the world, St Paul’s likes to think of itself as the ‘church of London’s people’ and has been, since its very origins, been at the heart of the everyman Londoner’s life in the ‘Square Mile’. Via free admission, you’ll get to check out the Cathedral floor, the crypt containing the tombs of British greats like the Duke of Wellington and the three galleries in the extraordinary dome, in which are housed famous works of art and from which espying a fantastic panorama of the entire city is possible.

Day 2 – Wembley Stadium Tour

London’s awash with culture (both, admittedly, high and low), but it’s also a town that loves sport which means, to get a full spread and thorough tourist experience first time out in the place, a fine idea is to get out of the centre of the city and give the impressive Wembley Stadium Tour a go. Equally impressive as its tour, Wembley is the 90,000-seater national football stadium (primarily then, it’s used to host home matches played by the men’s senior international football team) – one of the two eldest in the world and, for that reason, the history and aura of sport and football import pervades the tour, even though the stadium’s a highly impressive 21st Century arena. The tour enables you to take in features such as the players’ tunnel, the Royal box, the changing rooms, press conference rooms and more besides.

Day 3

Morning – Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament

  • Westminster Abbey – the giant, stunning Gothic church that’s served as the coronation venue for monarchs from William the onwards, as well as the resting place of many of Britain’s greatest luminaries
  • Houses of Parliament – also referred to as Westminster Palace, this is the meeting place for both the Members of Parliament (elected MPs) and (unelected) Lords; the two ‘houses’ of lawmakers for the entire UK.

Morning/ afternoon – Buckingham Palace

The magnificent grey-brick abode that’s the official London residence of the UK monarch; note that public entry is only possible (and then only certain sections of the Palace) in the summer months and via booked tickets.

Afternoon – Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain

Finally, complete your short break with a stroll beyond Buckingham Palace (perhaps via the green expanse that’s Green Park) towards the globally famous Hyde Park; the biggest and grandest of Central London’s Royal Parks, where events take place throughout the year, as well as horse-riding and more. Beyond this lies the charming Kensington Palace, home to both the iconic Peter Pan statue and the moving Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.