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Many people don’t realize how vast London is and how much there is to do. While in college, I got lucky and studied abroad for a London summer and have been back many times. Each time, I get to experience something entirely new.
This last time, I took a different role and got to show Jack (my bf) some of the best sites the city has to offer. I have broken down our 4-day London summer itinerary for you in case you’re planning a trip to London yourself! Yes, we were busy, but it was a fantastic way for us to see the city without being too tired at the end of the day.
You can see more of my London adventures on my Instagram, where I have a story highlight photos and videos of the different things to do in London in the summer.
Psst..looking for more posts to help you prepare for London? Check these out:
The Perfect 4-Day London Summer Itinerary
Where to Stay in London
Before we get to the itinerary piece, I wanted to point out some of the best areas to stay in London. While I’ve stayed in multiple locations, I strongly suggest staying in the city’s central area and close to a tube station. I personally would avoid Oxford Circus (too crowded) and Paddington (too far). You may find cheaper hotels in Paddington, but I felt it was a little out of the way for places I wanted to visit. My favorite areas in London to stay in would be Covent Garden, City of London, Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, or Shoreditch if you want more of the artsy scene. I’ve put together a small list of places to stay near the center of London while on your summer vacation.
Higher and Mid-Range Hotels
- The Hoxton, Holborn – The Hoxton, Holborn transformed a former telephone exchange into a 5-star, world-class hotel. The design here looks incredible and while I haven’t stayed here personally, I’ve heard wonderful things from a friend I trust! See current prices.
- Leman Locke – This is a unique boutique hotel that also serves as an apartment. If you’re a design lover, this is a must-stay! Just look at the interior! See current prices.
- Club Quarters in Gracechurch – This hotel isn’t super fancy and is somewhat of a business-style hotel, but the time I stayed here, it was a great location and is walkable to the tube. See current prices.
- Palmer’s Lodge Hostel is a vibrant hostel with soft beds and a warm staff. It is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Freud Museum and landmarks like Hyde Park, London Eye, and Big Ben. See current prices.
- Z Hotels – There are quite a few Z Hotels all around London and most of them are central. The rooms are smallish and more compact, but they really try to make the most out of the space they offer. I think this is a great option if you know you won’t be spending too much time in your room and want something great for a cheaper price. See current prices.
London Summer Weather
Depending on what summer month you visit London it should be pretty pleasant weather. However, in recent years, they’ve seen heatwaves and the city can get really hot! June, July, and August all have an average temperature of 70°F – 75°F which I think is awesome! However, you could hit a heatwave week which can get up to 90°F. Make sure to prepare for the occasional rain showers and summer lows as well, which can get down to 60°F at night. While you can go ahead and pack your summer clothes, I definitely recommend bringing a light jacket, sweater and pants just in case it’s chillier the days you are there. For reference, we went in early July and it was scorching hot in the high 80’s. So, I recommend doing your research before you go just to be sure.
Getting to London From the Airport
The easiest way to get from Gatwick or Heathrow airports into the city is by taking the express trains (all have accessible signage at the airports). Gatwick has the Gatwick Express and Heathrow has the Heathrow Express. While you’re at the stations, I recommend grabbing an Oyster card. We bought the card and put around 30 pounds on it and then “topped up” whenever we needed it.
Getting Around London in Summer
If you’re going to London, be prepared to walk a lot! That’s one of the best parts about the city is that it’s very walkable if you break it up! So make sure to pack some of your best walking shoes and plan on hitting the pavement. Walking Tours like Sandamans are my favorite and are a great way to get a lay of the land in any big city so you know where you want to return.
This is my favorite way to get around London! I love getting an Oyster card for the tube for the time I’m there. It costs 5 pounds to buy the card and then you can add any amount you want to the card for the remainder of your trip. The London tube system is world-famous for its ease of use. Trust me when I say, it’s so much easier to maneuver than NYC or any other large city I’ve been to. You can either get your card ahead of time or just buy it in any tube station near your hotel or at the airport!
Double Decker Bus
It’s so fun to take a double-decker bus in London, especially if you haven’t taken one before! I find them to be less efficient than the tube, but they are a great option if the tube can’t get you to where you want to go! Plus, your Oyster card will work for the bus system as it does on the tube.
Uber, Taxi or Lyft
Ubers and taxis are more expensive, but a great option if you’re over public transportation. The traffic can be intense in London so just make sure you plan a bit of time spent in traffic if you need to be somewhere at a certain time.
4-Day London Summer Itinerary
So you’re heading to London? You’re so excited to see all the sites, but what are you going to do? There’s so much to see! Will you see the queen? Or maybe visit the British Museum? Below you’ll find my suggestions for your 4-day stay in London. London is HUGE. I mean, huge and super spread out. Many people think that only two days will cut it, but I strongly recommend longer. You’re reading this, after all, so chances are you’re looking at a 4-day itinerary which is just the amount of time I recommend to get a feel for the city without wearing yourself out!
London becomes alive in the summertime, no more dreary weather and the sun comes back like an old friend. The city is vibrant with concerts and tours; tourists flock here from all over the world to spend their days in museums or tasting some of the most delicious food the city has to offer.
Day 1: Arrival in London & Self-Guided Walking Tour
Depending on when you get into London, you may not have a ton of time in the day. We got in at 9:30 am and decided to take a 2-hour nap and then get up to seize the rest of the day! Some people don’t believe in naps while traveling internationally, but I am a huge fan and it helps give me the energy to power through the day. So, if you get into London in the morning, try napping for a few hours, showering, and getting ready for a half-day of exploring.
Depending on where you are located in London I recommend the following self-guided walking tour that I created for your first day! It will wake you up and is flexible if you get tired and need to end the day early. I have a map of the walk, here. If this map just shows up as blue, then zoom out on it and you’ll see the walking tour over England.
I always tag spots I want to go on my google map before leaving my wifi at my hotel. When I leave the hotel, I make sure to have my map pulled up so that I can view where I am for the rest of my day without wifi. That way, if I’m walking around and look at the map and notice something cool is near me, I can easily walk to it.
My Self-Guided Walking Tour of London for Day 1
We happened to start at Leadenhall Market because it was close to our hotel, but you can start from anywhere on the map. I love Leadenhall market during happy hour on a weekday! It’s usually pretty lively with people getting off work enjoying a beverage. It was a bit quiet during the day when we arrived, but still a beautiful covered market that is one of the oldest markets in London (14th century). Fun fact, it was the entryway to the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter movies!
The Monument and London Bridge
I then recommend walking over to The Monument (about 6 mins away) and across the London Bridge (2 minutes away). Despite what some people think, the London Bridge isn’t very cool, but Tower Bridge is. However, you will get a great view of Tower Bridge from the London Bridge like I have below.
Borough Market and the River Thames
Now you’ll have a great view of the River Thames! I recommend walking along the river to Borough Market which is about a 5-minute walk from the bridge. Here you can walk around, grab some food, or just check out the local food stalls. It’s one of my favorite markets and is a surefire way to wake yourself up from jet-lag. Visiting London markets is definitely one of my favorite things to do in London in the summer.
Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe
After Borough Market, you’ll be about a 12-minute walk to Tate Modern, one of my favorite museums in London for modern art. It’s a free museum, with some exhibits requiring a charge, and they also have a great view from their top deck. If you ever do go back to London in the winter, they have a great little Christmas Market right outside of Tate Modern. Right next to the Tate Modern is the famous Shakespeare Globe! You can actually go to shows inside which is also a fun activity if you’re not jet-lagged.
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral
Next, I recommend walking back across the Thames via the Millenium Bridge! This is a steel suspension bridge made for foot-traffic only and is only about a 4-minute walk from Tate Modern. Once again you’ll get great views of the city as you walk across! After you’ve ventured to the other side, you’ll see the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral 5-minutes away where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married.
This ended my walking tour and we were pretty hungry for dinner by then! If you’re also hungry, I highly, highly recommend trying Dishoom! It’s a wonderful Indian restaurant with a few locations in London. We took the tube over and got to the restaurant right at 5:15pm and they were able to get us right in. Any later and there might have been a wait. We went to the one in Carnaby near Oxford Circus.
Another great option if Dishoom is too busy is to try Mother Mash another great spot. The Carnaby area is really fun to walk around. Each street seems to have a different theme and there are shops everywhere! Liberty London is also a great department store and known for their sticky toffee pudding. After all the walking, we were tired so we headed to a random pub near our hotel and had a gin and tonic nightcap before another big day exploring London in summer!
Day 2: Another Day of Exploring in the London Summer
Today is another great day of exploring! You’ll be crossing a lot more land, so you’ll probably want to have your Oyster card at the ready to take the tube. Here’s the map for the day!
British Museum, National Gallery, and Trafalgar Square
Start your day at the National Gallery (if you’re a museum fan, this is a great one)! The British Museum is actually one of my favorites and is also nearby. Check out Trafalgar Square while you’re at it.
Brunch at Sketch London
I highly recommend going to brunch at Sketch London if you want to treat yourself. However, you have to make reservations well in advance. It’s pretty freaking amazing and I had wanted to go here for years! The first time I came I just asked them if I could walk through and look at the inside and they let me. So, if you don’t get a reservation, just go inside anyway!
After high tea, take the tube over to Camden Town! It will be a stark contrast from proper high tea to a little more hipster and grunge, but that’s what’s so amazing about London! I actually lived in Camden Town so it has a special place in my heart. Once in Camden, go check out the Camden Locks Market and Horse Stable markets! These go on and on and on and you can literally get lost inside. You’ll know you’re in the horse stable markets when it’s a covered market and all of the vendors are in horse stables. I just love this market so much. Sunday’s are when this market is the craziest!
Primrose Hill and Abbey Road
After the markets, take a walk over to Primrose Hill (about 10 minutes walk). The homes in this area are beautiful! You can also hike up the hill for a nice view of the surrounding area. You’re also not that far from Abbey Road if that’s something you feel like checking out!
This is a bit of a backtrack, but the tube makes getting everywhere so easy! I recommend at some point in your trip, even if it isn’t this day, exploring Shoreditch! It’s such a cool part of London and very up-and-coming. While in Shoreditch, check out the Old Spitalfields Market, incredible street art, the Brick Lane, and BOXPARK! Clearly, I’m a fan of London Markets, but they are such a fun activity to do in London in the summer. Nearby you’ll find a cute coffee shop, The Attendant, and you can check out all of the wonderful street art in the area! There are also Shoreditch art tours if that’s more your thing.
Dinner and Beyond
To end our exploration for the day, we decided to hop over to Kingly Court, located near Carnaby, and went to Mother Mash restaurant. It was so good! Jack had bangers, and I had a pie, and we both drank Camden beer. Then we stopped at Cahoots, which is an underground speakeasy, and had cocktails. You might have to ask someone for directions, but it’s so worth it and a great cocktail bar!
Day 3: London Summer Tourist Day
Today is a day to see a lot of the main tourist sites! We did a hop-on-hop off bus tour (you can book it here), but it became a bit of a drag due to time waiting on the bus and navigating our way through bodies of people. If you’re crunched for time, I would recommend something like a bike tour, a city walking tour, or a free walking tour. These three options provide you with a more intimate experience through the city, and you can visit the places that caught your eye. Or you can just follow my recommendations and take the tube and hit up these spots on your own! Here’s the map for the day!
Head to Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guards, if you can. If you’re there in June, try and go to the Queen’s Jubilee because you might see the entire royal family like I did while studying abroad in London!
You can then walk through Green Park to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus where all of the famous West End Theatre shows are. These are equivalent to Broadway in the USA! If you can go to a show, I highly recommend it. I’ve been to tons of shows on the West End and have loved them all.
Kensington Palace, Churchill Arms and Notting Hill
Next, I recommend heading over to Kensington Palace and exploring the gardens for a few hours. You can then grab a drink at the famous pub, Churchill Arms. I love this pub and every time of the year it’s got different plants outside. You’ll also be very close to Notting Hill if you’d like to grab lunch or dinner in this area. Farm Girl comes very highly recommended for lunch! If you time it right, you can also get to Notting Hill during the Portobello Road Market, a 6-day street market in the area. It’s so awesome!
Try checking out The Ivy Chelsea Garden and Coppa Club for a bit more upscale dinner options!
Day 4: Last Day of London Summer Exploration
Get up and head to breakfast at the Breakfast Club for a Full English Breakfast! We thought it was so delicious! Today I recommend checking out a few more tourist sights! Here’s your map for the day!
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Start at the Tower Bridge! It’s a fun one to walk across and then you can hop over to the Tower of London! I recommend getting your tour early and going inside as it’s such a fun self-guided tour and you can also see the crown jewels!
Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye
You can then tube over to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and Downing Street and then walk across the Westminster Bridge to the London Eye!
If you still have energy in the tank, I recommend heading to Covent Garden to stop at Neal’s Yard. It’s a hidden gem and you’ll be glad you went! Then you can walk around and make a stop at Mr. Fogg’s Tavern to get a gin drink in the Gin Parlour. Be sure to go to the upstairs portion of Mr. Fogg’s. It’s the cocktail portion and so fun inside. The street next door, Cecil Court, was actually the inspiration for Diagon Alley, so be sure to check it out!
After you’ve had a drink, it’s time to end your London summer itinerary with a sunset view at the top of the Sky Garden! You’ll be able to see the entire city from the top and the views are spectacular! You don’t need a reservation if you just want to go up to the top for a drink. Go around 6-ish and get in line and you’ll most likely be able to head right up. Another great place for views is The Shard, although it’s a little fancier and pricier.
That’s all for my London summer itinerary! I hope you have the best trip.
Have more time in England? Tack on a day trip! Here are some of my favorite London day-trips:
London Day Trips:
I’m hoping to go back to London in the summer, so if you have any more recommendations, please let me know in the comments.
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