London Underground with red buses in the background
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London Calling: How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in the Big Smoke

With its fascinating history, world-class museums and unbeatable culinary scene, there’s something for all ages in the British capital.

Naomi Chadderton
Naomi Chadderton
An experienced editor and journalist specialising in news and lifestyle.

There’s nowhere in the world quite like London. Home to countless galleries and outstanding cultural institutions, the UK's multicultural capital is a place where history feels very much alive in the art, architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re heading in from out of town, or simply want to explore your own city more, our three-day itinerary promises the perfect combination of activity, adventure and relaxation, with something to suit every type of traveller and age group - ideal if you're meeting up with family or friends. Oh, and the food is pretty great too. If you're energetic and enjoy a trek, you can walk your socks off in the capital but, equally, if you prefer to be more relaxed, it's just as easy enough to get around by bus, Tube or London's iconic taxis.

View from the London Eye with pod in the foreground
River Cruise passing London Bridge at night

London: Day One

Morning: London Bus Tour

First things first, you’ll want to get your bearings, so London’s famed 1-Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour is the perfect way to kick off the weekend. Taking you past the likes of the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, you’ll get a taste of the city’s best sites while covering much more ground than if on foot.

Afternoon: Kensington Museums

Spend the afternoon in the leafy Kensington area which is home to three of London’s major museums - Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A. Grab lunch at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie – the menu here is modern British including an epic shepherd’s pie – before wandering over to Kensington Palace. While today it remains a residence for high-ranking royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a large part of Queen Victoria’s childhood home is open to the public including the King's and Queen's State Apartments.

Evening: Dinner at Muse

In keeping with the old-London vibes of the afternoon, book ahead to have a martini at Dukes Hotel before heading for dinner at the Michelin-starred Muse by Tom Aikens, which serves up intricate dishes inspired by the lauded chef’s childhood. There are seats for just 23 diners, so be sure to book in advance.

Tourist on a London Bus taking a photograph
A model on display at the Natural History Museum, London.

London: Day Two

Morning: River Thames Cruise

Fingers crossed for good weather – day two starts with a River Thames Hop-On-Hop-Off Cruise, which will take you past some of London's famous landmarks including Houses of Parliament, the Cutty Sark and Shakespeare's Globe. One of the most relaxing ways to see the sites, you can choose to disembark at key points, or simply sit back and take it all in as you cruise leisurely along the water.

Afternoon: Covent Garden

Heading back into central London for lunch – we highly recommend booking a table at Simpson’s in the Strand in Covent Garden, which was once a favourite haunt of Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens – from here the city is your oyster.

Film buffs could opt to head off on a Brit Movie walking tour, which gives behind the scenes access to sets and the striking landmarks that have featured in some of the biggest British blockbusters and TV shows, including Dr Who or James Bond, while art fans should check out Frameless – Immersive Art Experience. Housing 42 masterpieces from 29 of the world’s most iconic artists, each creatively reimagined through cutting-edge technology, it includes famous works of art from Monet, Dali, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Kandinsky and more.

Next, head to the Shard at London Bridge in time for sunset, where you can enjoy some of the best views in the city from the open-air Skydeck on the 72nd floor.

Evening: Hard Rock Cafe or Claridge's

Visiting the grandkids? Take them for dinner at Hard Rock Café where you can enjoy an all-American two-course meal at the Old Park Lane venue. Alternatively, if you’re on a city break for two, Claridge’s Restaurant in Mayfair is one of the most romantic in the city.

Covent Garden arcade with crowds
Restaurant at Claridges featuring a tree, and people sat at tables

London: Day Three

Morning: Tower of London

While you passed it briefly on day one, we highly recommend dedicating at least a couple of hours to the Tower of London this morning, which takes you back to the London of William the Conqueror. It was around 1078 when he began work on a great stone palace with walls 15 feet thick, and you can learn all about the history from the Yeoman Warders (more commonly known as Beefeaters) who run tours, as well as still live within the walls of the castle. Get there ahead of the 9am opening time and you may be able to enter early.

Afternoon: Borough Market and the Tate Modern

Head for lunch at the nearby Borough Market to fuel up for an afternoon activity. Football fans could head to their favourite stadium including Arsenal and Tottenham, while today is the perfect afternoon to head to Bond Street for a little retail therapy. Alternatively check out the Tate Modern Gallery, London's free national museum of modern and contemporary art, before reconvening for your final evening of the trip.

Evening: Sea Containers Restaurant

Dinner should be enjoyed at Sea Containers which, set within the iconic building – originally designed by American architect Warren Platner – on London’s South Bank, serves modern ingredient-led cuisine with a European twist. Enjoy a nightcap at award-winning experimental cocktail bar spearheaded by acclaimed barman Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan), Lyaness, before calling it a night.

People eating at a cafe in Borough market in the foreground. behind you can see stalls and shops
Lyaness cocktail bar at Sea containers house

Where to Stay in London:

On a Budget: citizenM London Bankside

Boasting prime real estate just behind the South Bank, rooms at this smart hotel may be compact, but they offer all the necessities you need for a good night’s sleep: coloured mood lighting, blackout blinds and king-size beds.

Mid Range: Lime Tree Hotel

Nestled in the heart of the elegant Belgravia neighbourhood, this Georgian house has 26 cosy guest rooms with a good mix of traditional townhouse features and contemporary comforts. Rooms come complete with high thread count cotton linens, bespoke beds and modern ensuite shower rooms, featuring 100% natural British toiletries from Bramley.

Luxury: The Peninsula London

Really looking to blow the budget? One of London’s newest five-star hotels situated alongside Hyde Park Corner and Wellington Arch, rooms here may cost upwards of £1,000 per night, but for that you’ll get impeccably-designed interiors, Rolls Royce transfers and your own private butler.

We have many more travel articles here on Life/Redefined, including ones on Lisbon and Colorado. Visit our Travel section to get more inspirational ideas about where to go next.

Lobby of the CitizenM hotel
Exterior of The Peninsula Hotel, London