If You Only Have Three Days in London

Trying to plan a perfect three days in London? Although three days is never enough time, here’s what we suggest. Spend two days in the city’s heart; peruse Picassos and borrowed treasures at London’s best museums. Row through a royal park. Dig through kitchy Portobello Market. Spend a day taking in iconic London sights from Southbank before heading to East London for a taste of urban hip. End your three days with a sky-high cocktail and fabulous view over London.

183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE, UK
Completely unique and always fascinating, the Wellcome Trust, not far from the British Library, is a free museum devoted to the marvels of the human body. It has regular exhibitions, taking sideways scientific looks at everything from the the anatomy of the brain to the secrets of sleep (and their exhibition on death was not remotely as morbid as it sounds). But it’s worth a visit any time for its permanent collection, which combines clever hands-on exhibits that teach you about your own body with thoughtful artworks that reflect on the human condition—who knew your pancreas is halfway up your back? Plus it has a great cafe and bookshop.
32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, United Kingdom
Renzo Piano’s Shard has divided opinion with its 309 meters (1,000 feet) of spiky glass construction and jagged top. But there’s no denying its sensational views. Access them by booking a meal at contemporary-British restaurant Aqua on the 41st floor, or head up to the viewing platform on the 68th floor for a fascinating bird’s-eye glimpse over the train lines threading out from London Bridge station across the river and into the city beyond.
Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, UK
Museum cafes are often depressing affairs, white formica boxes where you grab a curling sandwich on your way to the next piece of tourism. But the main cafe’s trio of rooms are nothing like that. Designed, respectively, by William Morris, Henry Cole, and Edward Poynter in glorious Victorian excess, were the first museum cafe in the world, and they are today a rare example of a museum restaurant where you would be happy to spend time, revelling in the gorgeous details and stained glass windows. And the food’s pretty good too; you can get all sorts of hot and cold meals, and it’s a great stop for lunch or cakes, if you’re doing the museum trail at South Kensington.
Thames Embankment, London SE1 9JE, UK
Completed in 2000, London‘s Millennium Bridge is the first pedestrian-only crossing built over the Thames in central London in over 100 years. The steel structure connects the City of London at St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Tate Modern Gallery at Bankside. The suspension bridge is a feat of engineering, art, and architecture that provides far-reaching views in both directions over the river. For a leisurely afternoon and a parade of Londoners and tourists, stroll the banks of the Thames on either or both sides before you cross the bridge. (P.S. The bridge was featured in the dramatic opening scene of 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.)
London, UK
What was once a private hunting ground for Henry VIII is now a favorite destination for London locals and visitors alike. One of the eight Royal Parks, Hyde simultaneously serves as a natural oasis and civic hub. A day on the green has endless possibilities: unpack a picnic at Serpentine Lake; take a stand at Speakers’ Corner; reflect at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain; ride horseback or attend a rock concert. However you choose to watch the world go by here is guaranteed time well spent.
288 Portobello Road
Don’t be deceived by its West London locale. Notting Hill may be one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods but all that is forgotten when it comes to its outdoor flea market. Portobello Market is mainly known for its impressive collection of antiques but you can also shop for fresh food and score some unbeatable deals on clothing. I walked away with £5 dresses on more than one occasion. To get here, take the Tube to Notting Hill Gate, which is on the District, Circle, and Central lines.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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