London attracts around 30 million tourists each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. However, London is also big. It is jam-packed with things to do and sights to see, all across a 16 square mile area. So how do you plan a London city break which will enable you to see everything you want to, whilst also having a great time?
The Clue is in the Planning
Some trips away are ideal for spontaneity. A weekend trip to London isn’t one of them! Due to its popularity, London is busy and gets booked up. Therefore, to ensure you secure the accommodation you want, and can fit in the sights which suit you best, you’ll need to plan.
Start with Being Realistic
There is an overwhelming number of tourist attractions in London from the iconic Big Ben and Tower Bridge through to the infamous London Eye and Buckingham Palace. The reality is, you cannot fit it all into a single weekend. Don’t panic though, but do make a plan for this city break knowing you’ll be coming back again in the future.
Therefore, start by doing some research about where you want to go and what you definitely want to see. We recommend you split this into:
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This will include the top London sights which really matter to you. The top London tourist attractions include:
- Big Ben
- The London Eye
- Tower of London
- Harry Potter Studio Tour (note that this is outside central London)
- Buckingham Palace (and the Changing of the Guard)
- London Aquarium
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- Tower of London
- View from the Shard
- Madame Tussauds
Choose a handful of these to include. Bear in mind that you may do well to choose a London hop-on-hop-off bus tour if you wish to see the maximum number of sights.
Think about which London experiences would really make your stay special. Are you desperate for a selfie with an iconic red phone box? Do you fancy yourself as James Bond jet-boating down the Thames? Perhaps a trip to London for you wouldn’t be complete without browsing in Harrods or enjoying afternoon tea? Don’t forget that a city break to London wouldn’t be complete without seeing a musical or play in the West End.
Add your ideal experiences to your list too.
Food and Drink:
It’s not just attractions and experiences which will be vying for your time, London is rich with foodie treats. Think about the food and drink experiences you’d like to indulge in whilst visiting. Perhaps you’d like to dine on a Thames river cruise or indulge in street food in Covent Garden? Maybe you’re desperate to try out a London pop-up or treat yourself to Michelin-starred wonder at Le Gavroche?
Again, add these different ideas to your list.
Once you’ve got a rough list of places to go, plot them on a map. Google Maps can really help with this. The idea of this is to start seeing how far apart these different places are. You can then choose which to focus on during this trip, and which you’ll save for the future.
Pick your Location
You’ll now have a good idea of where your accommodation should be. You’ll want to choose somewhere central with exceptional public transport links, most likely near to a tube station.
By choosing a serviced apartment, you can stay in central London and get a great place to call your own after a day of pavement pounding. Use our search feature to find the right accommodation in the right place for you.
The benefits of a serviced apartment for your London city break are multiple. You can all stay together whilst having your own bedrooms and shared living space. You can get central London accommodation which is more spacious and offers better value than typical London hotel rooms. You’ll also be able to be more flexible with your time, without compromising in terms of amenities and comfort.
For city breaks, we particular recommend staying in the following areas:
- South Kensington: Best for museum lovers.
- Knightsbridge: Ideal for visiting Harrods.
- Covent Garden: Perfect for the West End for theatre shows and many dining experiences.
- Westminster: Suitable for visiting Big Ben, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
When to visit London
You’ll also need to consider when is the best time to visit London. Of course, London and indeed the UK are synonymous with rain. However, don’t let this put you off. Many of the London attractions are under cover.
Summer is particularly popular. However, do watch out for the English school summer holidays which run from late July until early September. Expect more crowds at these times, especially at attractions such as the museums. We recommend you visit these sights earlier in the morning to avoid excessive queuing.
Whilst winter can be cold, it brings the added benefit of slightly smaller crowds and plenty of winter and festive London pop-ups. Winter city breaks to London will also be more affordable with lower accommodation costs in many areas.
In spring and autumn, the weather can be relatively mild and dry. Many of the London parks look their finest in spring when the flowers are blooming and in autumn when they become a riot of colour. These are perhaps the most ideal times to visit London if you wish to pack a great deal in.
Top tips for a city break in London
- Book the attractions you can: Many London attractions can be booked in advance. Take advantage of this.
- Go early: For the most popular attractions, go early in the day. Queues will be less and you can then spend later in the day relaxing in a park, or on a river cruise.
- Build in breaks: Touring London can be exhausting. Factor in breaks, simply to absorb the London vibe and recharge.
- Stay in central London: Avoid excess time spent travelling by choosing a serviced apartment in central London.
- Take in some free attractions: London is awash with free opportunities from the Changing of the Guard to many museums.
Book a city break in London
As soon as you are ready, make your booking. Our serviced apartments get booked up quickly. To secure your preferred place, book as far in advance as you can. You can then finalise the details of your itinerary once your accommodation is settled. Get in touch to find out more about booking your London city break.