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I’m actually shocked that it’s been almost a month since my 3 days in London. And while I want to share we got up to with you all, I also thought what better way to share a London 3 day itinerary with you for when you next get a city break to London!
As I was saying back in my July 2022 post, we had an incredible 3 days in London back in June. Now, while some people question whether 3 days is enough time for seeing and doing everything in London, I personally think it was the perfect amount of time to be away on a city break. If you only have 3 days in London you definitely won’t want or need to leave the city when thinking about what to do. Especially if it’s your first visit, then I highly recommend spending the full 3 days in London as there is so much to see, do, eat, and take in!
We planned our 3 days in London around one main event – we were seeing Queen + Adam Lambert in the O2 on the Wednesday (day 1) night! So with that in mind, we set about planning our travel and agenda from there. Rachel was joining us from Edinburgh directly before travelling back to Northern Ireland with us to spend the weekend. With all the travel involved, that’s when we decided 2 nights and 3 days in London was the perfect amount of time for the three of us.
Travel Plans for 3 Days in London
With the 3 of us meeting in London and travelling from 2 different locations, I did feel like a bit of a travel agent pulling it all together. Dad and I agreed our best option was to fly from Belfast City Airport to London City Airport on the Wednesday morning with British Airways (booked through topcashback). Rachel decided to get the train down from Edinburgh instead of flying. We all reached London around the same time, and made our way to our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express at Limehouse. It was the perfect location – we could easily use DLR and tube, it was close to City Airport for getting home again, and the 1 Double Bed Standard Sofa Bed room was perfect for 2 nights and 3 days in London.
As I say, we stayed outside the main tourist centre of London to keep costs down. As a comparison, we spent approximately £300 for 2 nights bed and breakfast for the 3 of us in the Holiday Inn Express at Limehouse. The walk-in rate when we arrived at the hotel was showing as £350 per night. So planning ahead really is your friend when planning 3 days in London. And even better then you can get cashback through Booking.com!
Travelling Around London
For getting around London, there are so many options. And for years, Dad would’ve used an Oyster Card when he had 3 days in London for work. Wanting to be prepared, I started investigating whether I could buy them online in advance or what our best options would be considering Rachel and I just bought a 3 day ticket last time we were in London. That was when I discovered the “tap and go” option. Instead of renting an Oyster Card and topping it up for 3 days in London, you can simply tap your contactless bank card at each station! The ease of this was that my phone was always in my hand with Apple Pay ready to be used, and there was a maximum charge of £9 for the day for the zones we were travelling in. It just made everything so much quicker and easier for our 3 days in London!
3 Days in London: Day 1
So as we arrived in London City Airport around 12:30pm, we got the DLR out to Limehouse and walked for about 5 minutes to the hotel. Rachel, unfortunately, had a slightly more complicated route with line closures coming from Euston out to Limehouse. But when she arrived and we got everything unpacked, it was time to hit the road on day one of 3 days in London. We got the train to Bank, walked through to Monument, then travelled to Westminster. From there we saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and a crowd of protestors singing a beautiful chorus of “lying bastards” about the Tories and Partygate. We continued our walking tour up along Whitehall, passing The Cenotaph, the Cabinet Office (where people were coming out of with their police escorts), and we got to see the Women of World War II Memorial. There was the usual crowd of people outside Horse Guards, so we kept walking on the lookout for somewhere for a drink and maybe some food. When we reached Trafalgar Square, we took in the sights of Admiralty Arch and Nelson’s Column before heading back towards a pub down a side street. I wish I’d paid more attention to where we were though because it was a nice backstreet pub and not at all expensive. Definitely worth visiting if you have 3 days in London!
While we sat there and dampened our thirst, we decided to head across to the O2 to soak up some pre-concert atmosphere and grab a bite to eat. So back down Whitehall and onto the tube at Westminster where we headed Eastbound towards Stratford and got off at North Greenwich. We ambled around a bit before deciding on having dinner at the Thai restaurant, Busaba Eathai, that Rachel and I had eaten in before Michael Buble back in 2018. The food was good, even if they did get the order slightly wrong (jasmine rice instead of coconut rice and chicken Pad Thai instead of classic), and for the 3 of us to have a main course each, 2 starters between us, a bottle of wine and 3 cocktails the total bill came to just over £110. After our food, we ambled round to the doors to be let into the concert, and… well… I can’t even begin to say how much fun I had. I kept saying to everyone, the main reason I was there was to see Brian May play guitar and he did not disappoint. Adam Lambert was brilliant as expected, and Roger Taylor was amazing. I just… if you can get tickets to see them? Do it. No questions asked. Well worth sending 3 days in London for!
Getting home again was easy enough, and it only took 20 minutes from leaving the O2 to getting on the tube again. It was straightforward for getting home, and we all collapsed into bed with tired feet and music running through our heads.
3 Days in London: Day 2
We were up early on Thursday for breakfast as Rachel was going to meet a friend from university. They were meeting at Tower Hill, and so Dad and I decided to do our exploring from there. Except… well it didn’t really go to plan. I had wanted to go see St Paul’s Cathedral. Not to actually go inside, but to see it from the outside. I’d seen enough of it during the coverage of the Jubilee the weekend before. So we got on the tube at Tower Hill, and got off at Monument. And I’m not entirely sure how, but we got lost trying to walk through to Bank. So after wasting about 10 minutes walking in circles, we decided to just go above ground and explore where we were. And that, my friends, is how Dad and I found and admired The Monument to The Great Fire of London!
Next up we took a bit of a walk and came across a beautiful building housing a T K Maxx, before we came across the Bank of England building. Another sight ticked off my list of “not seen in London before” things, so that was a success! Looking at the time, and finding an easier route, we decided to head round to St Paul’s Cathedral at this point. Once there, we took a walk around the outside, and I got this photo of the statue of Queen Anne outside the cathedral. I was quite pleased with it! Dad and I then grabbed a coffee in the SOHO Coffee Co across the road (they have incredible blueberry muffins if you’re ever in the area) before getting back to Tower Hill to meet Rachel.
Next up, around 10:45am-ish we started to walk over to the Tower of London. I’d booked tickets through AttractionTickets.com for us to walk around the Tower of London and see the crown jewels. I was really excited because it’s something I’d wanted to do the last twice I’d been in London, but never had time to. Now, I had read online from several people that you could expect to spend about 3 hours in the Tower of London and I wasn’t too sure how true that as. But I can now confirm, if you want to do it properly, you need to be prepared to spend the best part of your day exploring the Tower of London. If you’re doing 3 days in London, then this is definitely something you need to pre-plan and not waste time. There were a lot of school groups going through too, so my advice would be to may go in the afternoon or early evening if you can to avoid lots of little kids running around and getting under your feet. We spent just under 2 hours at the tower, viewing the crown jewels, in and out of buildings, and just soaking up all the information we could. Eventually, the time, the kids, and hunger got the better of us and so we left.
We made our way to Leicester Square and the discount ticket stalls. My main piece of advice for anyone looking to see a show in London head to these ticket stands. They buy a certain number of tickets each day to the shows on in the West End and sell them on at sometimes nearly 50% discounted prices. And that is how we ended up getting tickets to see Les Miserables on stage at the Sondheim Theatre for just £50 each. We explored the area a bit, walking through Chinatown, and then headed back towards the square for lunch in All Bar One where we had their sandwich and drink offer. Because we wanted to get changed for the theatre that night, and we were all a bit tired, we chose to head back to the hotel to freshen up at this point.
And once again we headed back towards Leicester Square. This time, we got off the tube at Tottenham Court Road and stumbled across to The Flying Horse for a drink before dinner. The Flying Horse is the last remaining pub on Oxford Street (and I didn’t even get into Lush while I was there) and it can be dated back to at least 1790. We ordered a couple of ciders and a beer before moving downstairs to a seat. At this point, the three of us began to feel a little woozy – like we were on a boat or something. Dad decided to buy some waters to help if we were dehydrated or something, but we still haven’t figured out what caused it. We sat under this sign telling us that the pub was built on wasteland where the Great Plague started in 1665. Maybe it was something to do with that? I joke, but who knows! Anyway, we had the one drink then headed into Chinatown to find a nice restaurant for dinner. After pacing backwards and forwards, Rachel eventually picked where we would eat, and it was a good decision. We thought “none of us are overly hungry, so we’ll order the starter sharing platter for 3 and share the half an aromatic duck with pancakes and plum sauce between us”. And the usual bottle of wine. Needless to say, we were completely overfaced with the most incredible food I remember having at any stage. And it’s driving me insane that I can’t remember what the restaurant was called. All I know is it was on Gerrard Street, had outdoor seating, and offered Karaoke on the top floor. I think it was Ruyi, but Rachel paid that bill and the name would be on her bank statement. However I highly recommend it if you are looking for somewhere good to eat! But then… it was time to go to the theatre!
I only took a few photos while we were at the theatre, and certainly didn’t take any of during the performance unlike the people around us. We had really good seats to see everything that was going on on the stage, and no one sitting beside us. Plus the seats were really comfy! I hadn’t realised that neither Dad nor Rachel had even watched the film of Les Mis before and so weren’t sure of what the story was, but they both appeared to thoroughly enjoy it and I almost managed to not cry at the end. And with that we headed back to the hotel, ready for a night cap and a good sleep after our second of 3 days in London.
3 Days in London: Day 3
We woke early again on Friday morning, allowing time to pack up, have breakfast at a leisurely pace, and head back into London for our last morning of being tourists in the big city. We headed to Covent Garden, which was still being set up, before deciding we would go see Buckingham Palace. We got the tube across to Green Park. We walked through the park before reaching The Mall only to find it still closed off after the Jubilee. There were barriers everywhere and huge crowds at the barriers taking photos and blocking walkways. Making it across the road and onto Birdcage Walk, Dad was ready to walk us through to Victoria station to get back to Covent Garden when we realised there was a crowd gathering outside Wellington Barracks – it was almost time for Changing The Guard! I persuaded Rachel and Dad to wait around, and we got to see them march past us on their way to Buckingham Palace, before we left and went back to Covent Garden via Victoria. There, we had a coffee and a bit of a walk around the stalls, and then we decided on an early lunch at Bow Street Tavern. It was alright, and a much longer wait for simple food than we had expected due to issues in the kitchen, but then it was time to collect our luggage from the hotel and head to the airport. Our 3 days in London were at an end, and we were ready to get home and rest our weary feet.
Except the airlines had a different idea. We had a nice drink in London City Airport waiting for our gate to be called, having dropped our luggage and passed through security without too much of a wait. As the gate was called, we ambled across and let the crowds pile down the stairs to the doors – we had our seats at the front of the plane and didn’t care about being last on. Eventually we ambled down the stairs and stood waiting at the back of the room. I’d signed up to the flight notifications from Belfast City Airport so |I could see where our luggage was when we landed. Only, I instead got a whatsapp notification telling me the flight was cancelled. Rachel took my phone up to the ground crew who were a little dismissive, asking “how would they know before us?” and we stood watching our luggage being loaded into the plane sitting just outside the door – it must’ve been fake news, right? Wrong. A minute later it was announced out flight was cancelled. That was 6:40pm. At 9pm, we were in a hotel for the night with seats on a flight leaving Heathrow the next day. It felt a lot longer, and to be honest the staff while we waited to get sorted were very unhelpful. Thankfully the member of staff on the desk was a lot more helpful and willing to get us sorted as quickly as possible. But needless to say, I have a post about flight cancellations and your rights coming soon!
London Day 4: The Unexpected Extra Day
Needless to say, I was very grateful we managed to find a hotel at the last minute for the 3 of us within the compensation limits set by British Airways. We stayed in another Holiday Inn Express (this time in Canning Town) for £189 for the 3 of us bed and breakfast for the night – again thank you Booking.com! Shame I didn’t use TopCashback during the stress of booking the last available room at that price. But we had our breakfast and left the hotel shortly after 9am, not entirely sure where we were headed. Making it to Paddington Station for shortly after 10am, we headed out for a coffee and a chance to kill time. And then it was time to try the new Elizabeth Line to get us out to Heathrow. So for this day, our tap-and-go payments for transport were about £13.50 which still was not at all expensive considering the cost of the Heathrow Express. We got to Heathrow for lunchtime, and had zero problems at all. Bag drop was quick and easy with no queues to speak of. Security we timed well and were sent straight to the front of a new queue that had just opened. Once through, we took a walk through the airport briefly before lunch, and then did a little shopping before finally boarding a plane (only 40 minutes late) to go home. I think the cabin crew were a little surprised by how busy the flight was, given half of our original flight appeared to be on this one! And for the first time in my life I wanted to cheer when the plane touched down in Belfast City Airport after what was meant to be 3 days in London.
Overall, I had a fantastic 3 days in London. Did I resent the 3rd night and fourth day? A little. Mainly because we crammed so much in to our first 3 days that the idea of doing anything on day 4 was just exhausting. There are so many more attractions and things to see and do though, so we certainly will be back again sometime in the near future. Maybe even see another West End show! What would you have done differently during your 3 days in London?
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