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There are so many wonderful sights and attractions to see throughout London that it is almost impossible to be able fit them all to a short stay or a weekend break. If you are not quite sure where to begin your travels, this itinerary recommends a practical and enjoyable way of exploring, taking in some of the best places to see. Or, you could always jump on one of the many organised tours of London, either by bus or boat, that enable to you to see a number of sights in comfort.
This schedule directs you to each of the main places to visit and provides ideas for eating and evening entertainment, but they are only a guide. Whatever you decide to plan during your stay, London is a city that is bound to leave you wanting more.
Read more on this destination in the AA Key Guide to London.
Suggested Itinerary for a trip to London
Start at Buckingham Palace (see sight seeing), either ogle the grand façade through the railings or, if you are in London at the right time of year, visit the magnificent State Rooms. Stroll along St. James's Park, a tranquil oasis, towards Westminster Bridge to admire the Houses of Parliament, with Big Ben (see sight seeing). Off to Horse Guards Parade to see the Changing of the Guard (see whats on), and then walk through to Trafalgar Square (see sight seeing).
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, adjacent to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, has an inexpensive café in its Crypt and the gallery itself has a bar and brasserie.
While away the afternoon viewing the gems of the superlative art collection at the National Gallery (see sight seeing). You could then drop into the National Portrait Gallery for a quick look at the appealing collection, but if you fancy a change from galleries, you can make your way to Piccadilly, just a short stroll to some of Mayfairs's squares and back lanes, all littered with exclusive shops.
There is a vibrant enclave around pedestrianized Gerrard Street, Chinatown, crammed with dozens of Asian shops and eateries. Since the 1950's chinese immigrants have made this area their own.Ornate gateways stand at either end of the walkway and invite you to enter the chinese community within. Take a wander up and down, picking one of the many delicious restaurants to have dinner.
Why not try one of the many live music venues in London. Whatever your taste in music there is bound to be a venue that suits you or perhaps you fancy trying something out of the ordinary. The 100 club (see entertainment) provides a great mix of genres, while Ronnie Scotts (see entertainment) is a famous jazz venue.
Try to be at the Tower of London (see signt seeing) as it opens to beat the crowds. The rewards are the Crown Jewels, ravens, Beefeaters and an insight into the long and often bloody history of London from the perspective of its famous fortress. Walk on up to nearby Tower Bridge (see sight seeing)and visit the exhibition, and climb to the top for the stunning views, including a look at HMS Belfast.
Take a break for lunch. For top-quality fair head across the bridge to the south bank of the river to Cantina del Ponte (see eating out) Reservations are recommended.
After lunch make you way along the riverside to the Tate Modern (see sight seeing). London's striking modern art gallery, set in the former Bankside Power Station. Choose a couple of galleries and take an audio tour rather than trying to see the whole collection. From here, you can take a walk across the infamous Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral. Climb up to the galleries on the top of the dome for magnificent views across the city. If possible, stay for the evensong - times of services are posted in and outside the cathedral. If there is not a service, why not head back across the river and down to the London Eye (see sight seeing), you can line up for a ride on the day but it is always better to book in advance.
Stroll along the river to the Oxo Tower restaurant (see eating out). Take a lft to the top for a wonderful view over the Thames.
Depending what takes your fancy, you could head for a quiet evening at the cinemas of the National Film Theatre (see Entertainment), or you could aim for the Ministry of Sound (see Entertainment) to just party.
Harrods (see shopping) is essential viewing even if you don't want to spend any money. Don't miss the food halls or the Egyptian escalators. Wander along Brompton Road, lined with exclusive shops to the Big Three Museums in South Kensington (see sight seeing). You will never manage all three in one morning, so the best thing to do is to choose one and give it a nice relaxed few hours.
You are bound to be ready for lunch a fulfilling morning looking around the museums. Close to hand is The Collection (see eating out), a contemporary restaurant serving delicious food.
Take the underground to Baker Street and visit Madame Tussauds (see sight seeing). The waxworks are popular year-round. Now take a bus or walk to the British Museum. Spend time admiring the splendid new concourse before exploring the museum itself. When you are finished head to Covent Garden. The market, shops, bars and street entertainers make this a lively place to spend early evening.
For a real treat, why not enjoy dinner at the infamous Ivy Restaurant (see eating out), said to be frequented by the stars.
It’s a short walk from here to the many West End Theatres, so end your short stay on a fabulous high and enjoy one of the many spendid productions that are on in the capital.