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Three Days in London-A First Timer’s Guide

Three Days in London-A First Timer’s Guide

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So, you’re checking London off of your bucket list?  London consistently makes the list of Best Places to Visit in Europe, so it’s no wonder that people flock there!  We had the opportunity to do the same recently, and believe me, friend, when I tell you, you need a plan for your 3 days in London!   

Honestly, even if you are just here on a London layover, you still need a plan!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed London, but you really need to know that this is a big city where you can quickly get overwhelmed.  Creating a good plan for your time here is essential on your first trip.  Don’t fret, you’re in the right place. 

We are going to outline where to stay in London, give you a London itinerary, and help you know what to see while you’re here, including a visit to Westminster Abbey!  All of these make up some of the best things to do in London.

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    3 Days in London

    Where to Stay in London

    After researching the best areas to stay in London, we realized that London is separated into different neighborhoods, each with its own unique personality.  If you can afford it, staying in the West End will give you the ideal London experience. 

    Surrounded by world-class theatres, excellent restaurants, and great shopping, the West End definitely comes at a price.

    For those of us who are more budget conscious, but still want a safe neighborhood, consider Marylebone, Bloomsbury, or Paddington, or Knightsbridge.

    After checking out the area on Tripadvisor, consider booking your hotel on Hotels.com.  We love booking with Hotels.com because for every night you stay, you are earning towards a free night in the future!

    Getting Acquainted with London

    For day 1 of our 3 days in London, we chose to get acquainted with our surroundings.  A great way to do this is to take a Hop-on, hop-off tour.  We chose to do the hop-on, hop-off offered by Big Bus Tours

    There was a pick-up right across the street from our hotel, so this was a super convenient way to start our tour of London.

    We had so much fun riding the open top bus, snapping photos, listening to the commentary, and watching city life unfold below us.  We did one complete loop to get a feel for the city, and then chose the places we wanted to get off and begin touring.

    Marty loves the vantage point of the photos he can get from the top of the bus!  LOL!

    If you really want to save some money, then you should consider getting the London Pass

    Of course, you’re probably wondering, is the London pass worth it?  Well, that is up to your travel preferences and the things you want to see while visiting.  It’s definitely worth investigating!

    London

    Visit Westminster Abbey

    Of course, You can’t spend 3 days in London and not visit the famous Westminster Abbey.  Westminster Abbey is probably the greatest church in the world. 

    I mean, we have seen a lot of historic churches during our travels, but nothing prepared us for the beauty and history contained inside this amazing building.

    Westminster Abbey is where England’s kings and queens have been crowned and buried for centuries.  Although it was pretty pricey to get in, Marty and I felt it was well worth the fee. 

     Your fee, 20 pounds at the time of this posting, includes your entry and a free audio guide.

    Westminster Abbey

    Inside, you can view the resting place of poets, writers, statesmen, and of course, kings and queens.  You will also see the coronation chair, gorgeous stain glass, religious artifacts, and incredible sculptures. 

    Having just watched the hit show, Reign, Marty and I were humbled to see the resting place of Queen Mary and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.

    Photos were prohibited, so you just have to go inside and see it for yourself.

    For an extra treat, consider treating yourself to a great tour that includes Westminster Abbey and the House of Parliament, or afternoon tea!!

    Insider Tip:  Visit early, during lunch, or late to avoid the crowds.  Also, you can skip the line by booking your tickets in advance online via the Abbey’s website.  

    London’s Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge and Big Ben

    The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge, and Big Ben need no introduction.  These London landmarks are spectacular in person and have to be on your itinerary for 3 days in London.

    We recommend taking the Half Day London House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey Walking Tour.  This tour really opened our eyes to the history associated with these important landmarks. 

    Of course, you can also just admire the gorgeous architecture from the outside if you want.

    Big Ben_London

    Buckingham Palace

    Your 3 days in London would not be complete without visiting the home of the Queen.  Buckingham Palace is one of the few royal palaces still operational today.  While here, be sure to take plenty of selfies around the gorgeous grounds before heading inside for a tour. 

    You can tour the State Rooms which the Royal Family uses to entertain important guests.

    You can tell if the Queen is home by looking at the flags.  If the Royal Standard flag is flying, then the Queen is in residence.  If the Union flag is flying, then she is away. 

    You can buy tickets online here, or better yet, schedule this Buckingham Palace tour with afternoon tea

    I mean seriously, tea at Buckingham Palace, need I say more?!  Of course, if you’re not up for the expense of tea at Buckingham Palace, you can always visit one of the cute cafes in London.

    While here, check out the Changing of the Guard as well.

    Buckingham Palace_London

    Borough Market

    Found under the railway lines, Borough Market is a bustling, crowded, awesome foodie paradise. The minute we stepped into the market, my senses went crazy. 

    The smell of freshly grilled meat filled the air while people shouted out orders and chatted with their friends all around me.

    To be honest, I was a little on sensory overload, but I loved it!  Continuing our journey around the market, we found people selling any and everything related to food: cheese, honey, baked goods, fresh produce, meat and even mead!

    True foodies will love the Borough Market Food Tour.  This three-hour tour, lead by a former chef, will have you tasting chocolate, drinking wine, and learning all of the culinary secrets of this yummy market and is a great addition to your 3 days in London.

    Borough Market_London

    Tower Bridge

    Lots of people mistake this beautiful bridge for the London Bridge, but don’t do that.  The Tower Bridge is an amazing London landmark and is actually a working drawbridge!

    Take tons of photos of course, and then head inside to witness amazing views through the Glass Floor. 

    Check out the Victorian Engine Rooms and learn all about the history of this famous bridge.

    Tower Bridge_London

    The Tower of London

    I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about visiting the Tower of London because I thought the price was a little steep.  After visiting, I would have agreed to pay double and could not imagine 3 days in London without the Tower of London.

    The Tower of London was hands down my favorite part of our visit to London.  I have an entire blog post, What to See at the Tower of London, that outlines everything you need to know about visiting the Tower. 

    This is an absolute must-see while in London-trust me!

    Tower of London

    Fish and Chips

    Well, of course, you have to eat fish and chips while spending 3 days in London.  There are so many options, it’s unreal.

    We wound up at Golden Union in Soho and loved every last bite of our meal.  Be warned that the portions are huge. 

    Marty and I shared and were stuffed.  We were also super excited to see a hometown favorite being served, Dr. Pepper!  YUM!

    Harrods

    A shopping mecca, Harrods should be on everyone’s list.  Harrods is so much more than a department store, so don’t be fooled.  Harrods is a never-ending maze of luxury clothing, jewelry, food, wine, art, and more. 

    Marty and I spent hours wandering around dreaming of things we couldn’t afford.  We did buy one thing from Harrods though, a snack!  LOL!

    The British Museum

    It’s more than likely going to rain at least once during your 3 days in London.  Don’t fret, there are so many things to do in London when it rains

    One of our choices was to head to the British Museum.  The best part, the museum is free!  I really could not believe this!  Now, we did make a small donation simply because this museum was amazing.

    Marty and I spent hours touring the Roman and Egyptian portions of this museum.  There are so many must-see masterpieces at the British Museum that you are sure to find something that interests you too!

    British Museum_London

    Hyde Park

    Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and stroll through Hyde Park.  The park, originally a hunting ground for King Henry VIII, is now the largest Royal Park in London. 

    While visiting Hyde Park, we had the pleasure of stumbling upon the Royal Horse Guards making their way through the park.

    Queen's Guard_London

    Please don’t underestimate this park, it is huge.  Marty and I walked a large portion and probably didn’t even see half of it.  We had a great time seeing all of the beautiful foliage and the wildlife.

    I did almost get attacked by a squirrel though.  Marty was busy taking pictures, so I sat down on a bench by a tree. 

    The next thing I know this crazy squirrel is coming right at me.  I screamed and got up, and he followed me for like five minutes! 

    Marty was too busy laughing to save me!

    Hyde Park_London

    Final Thoughts on 3 Days in London

    We did so much during our short time in London.  Marty and I were so pleased that we took our time and truly enjoyed our experience in this great city.  Honestly, there were several more things on our list, but we decided to save them for next time. 

    I feel as if London is just one of those cities that we will visit more than once, thus making our 3 days in London a fun, yet relaxing time.

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    Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

    Book Your Flight:

    We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.

    Book Your Vacation Package:

    If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.

    Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!

    For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.

    Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”

    Book Your Accommodations:

    We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!

    There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.

    Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!

    HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all of the top travel sites with one search to ensure you are finding the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.

    If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.

    Tour Companies We Trust:

    We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!

    For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.

    CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.

    Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.

    Looking to Save Time and Money?

    Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!

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    Michelle Snell-Founder That Texas Couple

    About the Author

    Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures.  While she is a professional educator by day, her passion for travel has her jet-setting all over the world during her free time. 

    Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blog, That Texas Couple.  Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

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