Spanning 1,572 km², across nine travel zones, there’s a lot of ground to cover. However, our London itinerary 4 days long, features some of the most popular spots, alongside hidden gems not to be missed. There’s also a cultural day trip out of the city, to the Royal Borough of Windsor.

Split into easy-to-navigate neighbourhoods, here’s how to spend 4 days in London to maximise your time in the city:

Day One - Stay Central

  • Trafalgar Square
  • The Mall
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Leicester Square
  • Soho and Chinatown
  • The British Museum
  • Theatreland (The West End)

Central London is made for tourists. It’s easy to discover by foot, but there’s also plenty of buses, taxis, trains and even bikes for hire.

Start your 4 days in London in Trafalgar Square, coming face-to-face with the historic Nelson’s Column, dating back to 1843. The lesser known fourth plinth is a homage to modern art, with ever-changing sculptures. From here take a brisk walk down the Mall, as Buckingham Palace greets you head on. Home to Her Majesty the Queen, it’s the perfect spot for a royal selfie. Proceed to Hyde Park corner, instantly recognisable with the grand Wellington Arch.

A journey on a London bus is all part of the fun, hop on towards Leicester Square, a quick 10-minute ride away. An assault on your senses, this is the main tourist hub, where giant stores and bright lights greet you at every turn. A walk-through Soho and Chinatown’s backstreets is the best way to explore these parts, with plenty of options for lunch. Alternatively, a bit further down, the uber-famous Carnaby Street is a buzzing place for a bite to eat. Try Kingly Court for a selection of great restaurants at affordable prices.

Refreshed and refuelled, get back on your feet to nearby Oxford Street and Regent Street. This is the perfect time for a bit of shopping with giant flagship stores, including Topshop, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Apple, Liberty of London, Hamleys and Selfridges, to name a few.

Give yourself enough time to head down towards Russell Square, on the bus to The British Museum. This magnificent collection of artefacts and ancient pieces ranges from Egyptian mummies to Greek sculptures. Open daily until 17:30, it’s also free to enter.

As day turns to night, a visit to nearby Theatreland is the perfect way to round off your evening. There’s plenty of restaurants in Covent Garden offering pre-theatre menus, followed by a West End performance for dessert. As your first day draws to a close, you may wonder if 4 days in London is enough.

Day Two – East is East

  • Brick Lane and Old Street
  • Westfield Shopping Centre
  • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • Tower Bridge and the Tower of London
  • The Sky Garden

East London has seen great transformation and rejuvenation in recent years. Yet it still remains gritty and authentic in many parts, making it a thriving hub for start-ups and creatives. Brick Lane is the perfect example of this edgy community, with no shortage of bars, restaurants and boutique shops to amble around. As you negotiate its curious streets, expect to see street art, market stalls and pop-up shops, offering all kinds of quirky delights. If you happen to come at the weekend, be sure to stop by the Columbia flower market – open on Sundays.

Head back to the tube at Old Street towards Bank, changing here for Stratford Station. In less than 30-minutes, you’ll arrive at Westfield shopping centre. It’s hard not to be wowed by the shops – you could easily spend 4 days in London here alone. Stop for a bite to eat at the many different restaurants, with every kind of cuisine on offer, and at reasonable prices too.

The good news is that you’re on the doorstep of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place. Enter over the bridge from Westfield and take in the sheer scale of this green space. As part of its lasting legacy, there’s family areas, playgrounds and a stadium, as well as the Arcelor Mittal Orbit and giant Olympic-size pool at the London Aquatic Centre which can be booked online in advance if you fancy a dip. If that’s not enough, then the pink flamingo pedalos for hire on the river might take your fancy.

When you’re ready to head back to town, take the Overground train to West Ham, changing to the district line for Tower Hill – the nearest station to Tower Bridge. A stroll towards the river will take you past the Tower of London and other sights, before reaching London’s most famous bridge. Time it right and you might see it open up for passing ships.

As the sun sets over the city, finish your day at the nearby Sky Garden. This incredible skyscraper is affectionately known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building due to its shape. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail with a view and some high-class dining.

Day Three - Way Out West

  • ZSL London Zoo
  • Abbey Road
  • The Natural History Museum
  • Notting Hill and Portobello Road
  • The Electric

As you reach the half-way point of your 4 days in London, it’s time to have some fun! ZSL London Zoo will exceed your expectations, with animals from all over the kingdom to marvel at – from lemurs to lions. Be sure to have lunch at The Terrace restaurant before leaving. A few minutes walk away is the historic Abbey Road, made famous by The Beatles. Stop for a selfie as you (and the many other tourists) attempt to recreate the iconic shot from their album cover. You simply can’t visit without doing so.

Get on the underground at St. John’s Wood Station to South Kensington, changing at Green Park. This half-hour journey is worth it for the magic that greets you at The Natural History Museum. Expect long queues, but it’s entirely worth it for the free entry and prehistoric animals brought to life. Come face-to-face with a 25-metre blue whale skeleton, and the bones of dinosaurs, including the fearsome T-rex.

When you’re ready for the final adventure of the day, take a short 15-minute taxi ride to nearby Notting Hill – by far the easiest way to get here. The rainbow coloured houses of Lancaster Road capture British eccentricity at its best. However, many come for the world’s largest antique market at Portobello Road. While here, the fictional bookshop (actually a gift shop) at 142 Portobello Road, was made famous in the rom-com movie ‘Notting Hill’. Just a few doors down at 133, you will not regret a visit to The Hummingbird Bakery, known for its legendary red velvet cupcakes, delicious!

Stick around for the evening. This is, after all, a bustling area with plenty of boutique shops (including Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop), bars and restaurants to dine in.  A popular dining place for a casual burger is The Electric – and if you book in advance, you can time it with a screening at The Electric Cinema on site.

Day Four – South of the River

  • The London Eye
  • Southbank and The River Thames
  • Windsor and Eton Riverside
  • Windsor Castle
  • The Shard

As your 4 days in London come to a close, we’ve saved the best till last.

Book tickets online in advance for The London Eye and bypass the queues. On the bank of the River Thames, it’s one of the few tourist attractions that even Londoners can be found enjoying! It overlooks Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, allowing you to tick a number of boxes in one quick swoop.

As you walk back, with the River Thames on your left, you’ll see the BFI and Millennium Bridge in the distance. Beyond here lies the Tate and Shakespeare’s Globe – all giving you plenty of reasons to return to the city, since 4 days in London is never enough.

For now, it’s time for a quick trip out of town.

Walk to Waterloo Station, where the direct train to Windsor and Eton Central takes 1h 10m. This is the perfect country escape, offering a different contrast to the bustle of London.

If it looks familiar, it’s because it was the setting for the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex – and their current choice of residence.

Easy to navigate by foot, this quaint town has plenty of hills to tackle. On the walk up you’ll see chain restaurants and gastropubs – take your pick for a quick lunch. After this, head towards Windsor Castle – a formidable construction with 900 years of Royal history. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, the Queen often resides here during private weekends. Even if you don’t go in, the soldiers on duty always make for a photo opportunity. Once inside the royal residence, it’s possible to view the State rooms in all their regal glory, with its rich history wonderfully preserved.

On the walk back down, the streets are lined with tourist shops, although the river isn’t too far for a stroll or a quiet riverside drink.

It’s best to avoid peak commuting hours (16:30-19:00 during the week), for your journey back to London Waterloo.

For your final night in the capital, treat yourself to a table at The Shard. This gigantic 95-story tower stands 1,016 ft proud, as the tallest building in the country and fifth tallest in Europe. As well as first-class dining, the views across the city are breath-taking. Stay here for a sophisticated cocktail, or head over the river for after-hours fun. Hoxton Square has plenty of hip bars and late-night clubs to party the night away… come back soon (4 days in London is not enough)!