The ultimate budget travel itinerary for 3 days in London.
London is one of the greatest cities in the world. Because of that, it can be quite expensive.
However, being a budget traveler who lived in London for about a year, I’ve discovered ways to enjoy the city cheaply.
So if you’re a first-time traveler to London who doesn’t want to spend a fortune, this article is for you.
In this 3 days in London itinerary, I’ll include the best London attractions as well as some hidden gems.
And all of it can be done on a backpacker budget!
How To Spend 3 Days In London On A Budget
In this article, I’ll outline a logical way to explore the city. London is huge, so it can feel overwhelming trying to see everything.
I’ve separated the itinerary into different sections of the city so you aren’t running all over the place trying to see the London highlights.
Day 1 will be spent in the eastern side of central London. Day 2 will be in Westminster and more of central London.
And on day 3, you’ll see more of the west and the north.
Most of the itinerary can be done on foot. Walking is the best way to experience London, and you’ll save money on transport.
There is honestly so much to do in London and I’d recommend more time there. But 3 days is enough for an exciting introduction to the city.
After the itinerary, I’ll include some quick budget travel tips for London.
3 Days In London Itinerary
Day 1: East and Central London
Morning: Markets and Street Art
Start your day exploring the colorful and multicultural neighborhoods of East Central London.
The most convenient starting point is Liverpool Street Station. This tube, bus, and train station has connecting lines to most of London, so it’s easy to get here no matter where you’re staying.
From the station, you can walk to the following attractions:
Spitalfields Market is filled with art, clothes, food, and other handicrafts. There are also lots of nice shops and cafes around the market.
It opens at 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends.
As one of the street art capitals of London, Brick Lane is a roller coaster for the senses. Admire the street murals, check out the trendy art and vintage shops, and smell the spices of the international eateries.
Every weekend there is a massive street market on Brick Lane from 10am-5pm.
Just south of Liverpool Street Station is this gorgeous indoor market hall. It doesn’t have stalls, just shops and cafes. But the architecture is stunning and it looks like something out of Harry Potter.
The stuff here is on the expensive side, so I prefer to just browse. But it’s a great spot to treat yourself if you want!
Afternoon: Iconic Sights and London’s Best Food Market
From Leadenhall Market, it’s a 10-minute walk south until you reach the Thames River. The rest of the day’s attractions are set along the river, making it easy to navigate.
Tower of London:
On the northern banks of the Thames lies the magnificent Tower of London. This 11th Century fortress is one of the oldest and most incredible historical sites in London.
A tour costs 30 pounds, so if you’re on a tight budget just admire it from the outside.
Right next to the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge, another famous London monument. Take some photos from ground level, then walk across to the south side of the Thames and continue heading west along the river.
Walking west from Tower Bridge will bring you to The Shard, the tallest building in the UK. It costs 25 pounds to visit the top, but there is another free viewpoint over London that we’ll visit later on Day 1.
Just minutes away from the Shard is my favorite place to eat in London: Borough Market.
This indoor and outdoor market is packed with artisan food stalls offering free samples. Taste fresh fruits, pastries, and cheeses, drink tea and wine, and grab something unique, delicious, and cheap for lunch.
Evening: Magical Views
After eating your way through Borough Market, continue walking along the South Bank of the Thames.
You’ll pass Shakespeare’s Globe, a reconstruction of the original theater for Shakespeare. Chances are you won’t have time to catch a show if you only have 3 days in London. But it’s cool to see from the outside!
Here are the highlights you’ll have to see before the day ends.
Tate Modern Art Museum:
This massive, brown brick building looks a bit odd from the outside, but it’s home to my favorite free viewpoint in London.
If you’re a fan of modern art, browse through the museum for free. Then take the elevator to the highest level and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
Just next to the Tate Modern is one of the coolest bridges in London. The Millennium Bridge is pedestrian-only, and you can enjoy amazing views while walking across. This modern-looking bridge also appeared in the 7th Harry Potter movie.
St. Paul’s Cathedral:
After walking north across the Millennium Bridge, you’ll see the towering white dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is one of London’s most famous churches, and it’s certainly one of the most beautiful.
Again, it costs around 20 pounds for a full tour of the inside (Or 17 pounds with Get Your Guide). But as a budget traveler, I’ve always been content just observing the building from outside.
Take the bus or tube from St. Paul’s back to your accommodation when you’ve finished exploring. That concludes Day 1 of this 3 Days in London itinerary!
Day 2: Westminster and more of Central London
Day 2 of your 3 days in London itinerary will consist of the famous sights in Westminster, as well as some lovely parks, markets, and viewpoints.
Morning: Parks and Palaces
Take the tube or bus to any of the following stations: Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park Corner, or Knightsbridge. From there, walk to the biggest park in central London.
London is a very busy city, so escaping the crowds to enjoy a bit of greenery is essential. Hyde Park is central London’s most famous park.
It is home to a large pond, an art gallery, many monuments, fountains, and statues, and lots of lush green space. Start your day with a nice refreshing stroll here.
From the southeast corner of Hyde Park, it’s a 15-minute walk to Buckingham Palace. You’ll pass through Green Park on the way, another lovely green space.
Of course you know what Buckingham Palace is: the home of the British Royal Family since the 1800s. The palace is open to the public during summer, and during December and January.
St. James Park:
Located just east of the Palace is St. James Park, another beautiful, relaxing place for a walk. Check out all the local birds that hang out in the pond as you meander on your way.
Afternoon: More Iconic Sights and Fun Shopping
From St. James Park, continue walking towards the Thames River for a couple minutes. Stop by the Westminster Abbey, a magnificent Gothic church that has stood tall in London since the year 960 AD.
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament:
Any 3 days in London itinerary must include a visit to this famous sight. Big Ben, more formally known as the Elizabethan Tower, is the giant golden clock tower that stands beside the Houses of Parliament.
Big Ben is under construction until 2022, but when it’s finished they will resume tours and visits.
Trafalgar Square and National Gallery:
After getting plenty of photos of Big Ben, walk 10 minutes to Trafalgar Square. This massive public square is a central hub of London, and many historic events have taken place here.
At the northern end of the square lies the National Gallery, a museum full of art and portraits. All London museums are free, so be sure to check out at least one. I’ll list a few of my other favorite London museums later on in the itinerary.
Covent Garden and Neals Yard:
This is one of my favorite places to visit in London on a budget. Covent Garden is full of entertainment, shops, and eateries. The streets are narrow, cobble-stoned, and full of life. Covent Garden Piazza is a covered market hall where there is often live music.
Neals Yard is a hidden courtyard just off of Short’s Gardens Street. It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, with bright colors slathered all over the buildings and flowers and plants spilling over the balconies. The cafes in Neals Yard are all health-conscious, so this is a great spot to grab a healthy lunch.
Evening: Beautiful Lights by the River
Waterloo Bridge at night:
My favorite nighttime view in London is on the Waterloo Bridge. After leaving Covent Garden, head down towards the bridge and soak in the views. When the sun sets, all of London is ignited in different colored lights and the Waterloo Bridge is an ideal, central spot to see them all.
Once you cross the bridge to the South Side, continue strolling along the South Bank. There are some great pubs and restaurants along the river and around Waterloo Station. You can get public transport back to your accommodation from Waterloo Station.
Day 3: West and North Central London
Take advantage of London’s amazing free museums in the morning. Ride the tube or bus to South Kensington Station. From there, there is a hub of museums all right next to each other.
My favorite is the Victoria and Albert Museum, a gorgeous building that showcases art, culture, and history from all over the world. The Science Museum is also fascinating, and the Museum of Natural History is cool for animal lovers.
Afternoon: Colorful Neighborhoods
Holland Park and Kyoto Garden:
From the museums, walk about 25 minutes to Holland Park.
This quiet green space is a nice stop on your Day 3 walking tour. There are often peacocks in this park, and the Kyoto Garden is a beautiful, Japanese-themed space.
It’s a 15-minute walk from the park to Notting Hill. This adorable neighborhood became famous in the movie Notting Hill, and it’s just as picturesque in real life. Wander through the quiet, colorful streets and snap some cool photos.
Portobello Road Market:
Just north of Notting Hill is another colorful spot: Portobello Road. The rainbow-hued buildings are a treat for the eyes, and the Portobello Road street market is fascinating for the senses. Browse local produce, antiques, and cool art.
Evening: Regent’s Park and Camden Town
From Portobello Road, take the tube from Ladbroke Grove Station to Baker Street Station.
Then walk to Regent’s Park, one of London’s most beautiful green spaces. If you’re visiting in the spring, there is an amazing rose garden here.
Walking north through Regent’s Park will bring you to Primrose Hill, a grassy hill with a nice view overlooking the city. This is a great spot for a picnic or to watch the sunset.
From Primrose Hill, it’s a 15-minute walk to Camden Town. This bustling neighborhood in north London is filled with indoor and outdoor markets. Eat, drink, shop, people-watch, and just take it all in. Camden Markets are open from 10am until late, so spend your evening enjoying all Camden Town has to offer.
Kings Cross Station:
After enjoying Camden Town, you can take public transport home or make one more stop before you call it a night.
The Northern Tube Line runs straight from Camden Station to Kings Cross Station. Kings Cross is one of the coolest buildings in London in my opinion, so it’s worth checking out. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can take a photo at Platform 9 3/4 for free.
So that concludes my 3 days in London budget travel itinerary!
If I were to bring a friend to London for 3 days, this is how I would show them around.
You get to see lots of the famous sights, eat amazing and cheap street food at the exciting street markets, visit a few free museums, and enjoy some incredible views.
Budget Travel Tips for 3 Days In London
Now that we’ve mapped out a plan for 3 days in London, here are some more budget travel tips.
Accommodation in London
Hostels in London aren’t cheap, but they are still much cheaper than a hotel.
I’ll recommend a few highly-rated hostels in 3 different areas of the city. So for the itinerary, you’ll have to take a bit of public transport depending on where you stay.
Luckily, public transport is very straightforward in London. I’ll touch on that next.
East/central London hostels, convenient for Day 1:
- St. Christopher’s Inn, near Liverpool Street, from 27 GBP per night
- Wombat’s The City Hostel, near Tower of London, from 20 GBP per night
Central London hostels, convenient for Day 2:
- Strand Continental, near Covent Garden, from 22 GBP per night
- SoHostel, near Covent Garden, from 21 GBP per night
West/central London hostels, convenient for Day 3:
- Saint James Backpackers, near the museums, from 20 GBP per night
- Safestay London Kensington Hostel, near Holland Park, from 18 GBP per night
To further save money in London, consider a work exchange. Check out this article to learn more!
Public Transport In London
There are 2 main forms of public transport in London for budget travelers. I don’t recommend taxis, as they are super expensive.
So take buses or the tube (metro, subway, etc.). Use the TFL website or app to plan your journey ahead of time.
Before you travel, get an Oyster card at a convenience store so you can tap on and off the trains or buses. You can add money to the card on the top-up machines in the tube stations.
Bus stops don’t have the top-up machines, so if you need to add money to your card you can do so in a convenience store.
London buses are amazing. Each bus stop has a detailed map of that route so you can figure out your journey.
While on the bus, every stop is announced so you always know where you are.
Also, riding on the top level of the London’s iconic, red double-decker buses is actually very fun.
The London metro system is efficient and straightforward. Every tube station has a map of the entire metro system, and each tube line is a different color.
If you have to travel long distances around London, the tube is the fastest way to get there.
Because London is so busy, buses are slower due to the traffic. So take the tube if you’re in a hurry or have to travel far.
For detailed information about transport to and from London airports, check out my London Budget Travel Guide!
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