How to Spend 3 Days in London
London is absolutely massive, so there’s no way we were able to see all of it during our short stay. But, if you have a few days to spend exploring this city, make sure you check out our favorite parts!
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We came across an incredible round-trip flight deal to London through The Thrifty Traveler (under $400 per person on Iceland Air), so we literally couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit! Here’s how we structured our trip: one night in London, England, three nights in Edinburgh, Scotland, two nights back in London, and two nights in Reyjavik, Iceland with the convenient stopover option. We wanted to experience different areas of London during our trip, so we opted to split our time between two different neighborhoods.
Our trip started with an overnight flight from Chicago O’Hare that stopped for a brief layover in Reykjavik and ended up at London Heathrow around lunchtime. Customs was easy to navigate, and we opted to book the Heathrow Express train from Heathrow to the Picadilly station. This was easily done at one of the kiosks available after customs, and we saved money by presenting our Two-Together Railcards, which I had purchased for our trip to Scotland. We had just had a LONG travel day (err, night?), so we didn’t feel like immediately walking, and took a quick UBER ride to our Airbnb in Camden Town. We LOVED the location of our condo, it was very clean and very modern, and our host met us in person to make sure everything was to our standards. I would highly recommend this spot for your visit!
We showered and spent a few minutes collecting ourselves, and then set out to explore the area! Our condo was literally one block away from Camden High Street (which is the start of the main drag through Camden Town), so it only took us a couple minutes to start discovering the vibe of this London neighborhood.
Camden Town is VERY eclectic – in a fun way! The building and shops lining Camden High Street have large, colorful sculptures hanging from them, there is art everywhere, and people are completely and utterly themselves! There are lots of spots for shopping, food, and drink, and music was always floating in the air. We walked up a few blocks to Camden Market, and found a ton of outdoor food trucks and kiosks serving pretty much anything you’d like! We stopped and got fish + chips, well, because London.
After we ate, we really felt like we deserved a cold beer, so we headed over to The Hawley Arms. The interior was everything I pictured a London pub to look like, and we had a blast listening to all of the banter between the bartenders and the locals. Again, I loved how everyone here was completely themselves - they wore what they felt like, they said what they wanted to say, and drank what they wanted to drink. No apologies. We need more of that in the U.S.!
While we were enjoying our drinks, we began to notice tributes to Amy Winehouse all over the decor, and even R.I.P. Amy messages written on the back of the bathroom stalls. It turns out that Amy lived in this area and frequented this pub all the time. I can’t say that I listen to a ton of her music, but it was cool to see the impact she had on the area and how much people loved her.
After a few drinks we were hungry again, so we set out to find some dinner options. Most of the food spots in the Camden Market were closing, so we walked a couple of blocks over to Byron Proper Hamburgers. Our burgers were SO good and we finished every last bite on our plates. I’m actually craving one of their burgers as I write this - that good. We discovered later on that this is a chain, so if you see a spot in another part of London, be sure to visit!
After dinner we found another pub called The Elephant’s Head that served up their drinks with a side of live music, so we stayed here for a couple of rounds and listened to a few different artists showcase their talents for open mic night. PRO TIP: We learned that the traditional liquor and wine pour is a bit smaller in the UK, so you may want to order a double (or large glass when it comes to wine) while you’re at the bar.
The next morning was another travel day for us, so we showered, packed up, and ventured out to grab a quick breakfast before we headed to the train station. We discovered an intimate spot near our condo called Music + Beans that we loved! They had a large menu that served healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and had one of the best chai tea lattes I’ve ever had.
After spending three nights in Scotland, we arrived back to London King’s Cross station around 2:45PM. Our hotel was walking distance from the station, so we opted to stroll through some of the side streets on the way there. We were starving, so after we checked in we walked into Covent Garden to the Apple Market. We found a cute little wine bar called the Crusting Pipe and enjoyed live performances as we sipped on wine and fresh tomato salads. The gentleman standing in the corner near the staircase in the photo above was an exceptional opera singer, and the performers swapped out every half hour or so.
We walked through Covent Garden a bit more, then headed to Bill’s for dinner. The restaurant sits on a cute little courtyard, and the first floor of the restaurant feels like as though you are dining in a modern library. We ate on the second floor, where large chandeliers mixed with industrial and English vibes made for a cool setting. The food and drink were great, too! We ordered Bill’s Sharing Plate, Pan Fried Chicken, and Sea Bass.
After dinner, we walked to the absolutely stunning Rosewood Hotel to visit Scarfes Bar, a classy library bar with live piano and jazz music. Fair warning, this spot is expensive - which is why we only stayed for one cocktail. BUT, it’s a very unique place to visit and they offer a very high-end experience from the moment you step inside. We were tired from our long day, so afterwards we retired for a good night’s rest.
Our hotel, unfortunately, didn’t have a fitness center, but the next morning we found a nearby Pure Gym that allowed us a guest pass and we fit in a quick workout. Afterwards, we showered, grabbed some caffeine, and set out to explore more of the area! One of our first stops was Neal’s Yard - something I had put on my list to see. It is a very small alley and courtyard in Covent Garden that houses colorful buildings, cafes, and shops with lots of greenery. It was so quaint and cool to see in person!
Next, we stopped at another spot on my list - Mr. Fogg’s Tavern. I would absolutely recommend stopping here during your visit! The exterior is covered in blooming flowers, and the interior is covered in dark, old wood, hanging birdcages, and British flags. The bartender wore a vest and top hat, and the cocktails were SO good!
Afterwards we stopped at The White Swan for a cocktail (felt appropriate) and roamed around Trafalgar Square. The square was full of people, statues, fountains, artists, live music, and is linked to the National Gallery. We then walked down to the River Thames before heading to Cicchetti London for dinner (near Picadilly Circus).
Our meal at Cicchetti London (a San Carlo restaurant) was absolutely phenomenal. The interior was gorgeous, and the extensive menu is served as shareable small plates. We ordered a bottle of wine and enjoyed the Insalata Caprese, Mixed Salad, Sea Bass, Polpette, and Paccheri. I would love to visit here again and try some of the other items on the menu - everything sounded amazing and it was hard to decide what to order!
Next up was a performance of the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre nearby. I am so happy that we were able to experience a theater performance during our stay! The building was erected in 1897, though a total of four theaters have existed on the site since 1705. The interior was so ornate and romantic and I felt as if we had traveled back in time.
We were nervous about choosing the right seats, but they ended up being perfect! If it helps you, we sat in Balcony seats A16 and A17. If you’re exceptionally tall, they might not be the seats for you as they have limited leg room due to being the front row of the balcony, but we were able to see everything and had easy access to the bathrooms and in and out of the building. And, you can pre-order your drinks for intermission when you arrive and they’ll be waiting for you - how cool is that?
The performance was INCREDIBLE! They were very strict about no photography or video of any kind, so I don’t have anything to share from the performance (I wish I did), but it was a very technical show with amazing costumes, great actors, and lots of special effects. Shows obviously change from time to time, so you may not be able to see this exact performance, but I’m sure any show at Her Majesty’s Theatre is one worth seeing during your visit!
After dinner we stopped for a drink at The Salisbury Pub in Covent Garden, which was filled with mahogany, etched glass, and a ton of famous history. We spent the rest of the evening chatting about all of the cool experiences we had thus far during our trip before retiring back to our hotel.
The next morning we opted to take an UBER to Heathrow Airport, which ended up being a similar price (within $5 - $10 USD) to the train and was easier than navigating the train station. Next up, Iceland!
There are lots of sightseeing tours to take, museums and monuments to visit, and other attractions to experience in London that are readily available should that be of interest to you! For us, exploring the nooks and crannies are where the treasure is, and I hope you find something in our travels that you’d like to experience as well. Cheers!