Lately a lot of people have been asking me how long to spend in London when they’re traveling. It’s a tough question to answer, not least because I’ve been here for over 10 years and I still feel like there’s more to see. But if you don’t have a decade to visit the city, you can still pack a lot in. Today I want to share my thoughts on how much time is a good amount.

How Long to Spend in London

How Long to Spend in London

I’ll start by saying that there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Depending on your interests, itinerary, and agenda you’ll need more or less time in London to feel like you’ve checked all your boxes.

It will also depend on your pace. If you like to go quickly you’ll need less time than if you want to see things at a more relaxed speed.

Ballerina Sculpture in Covent Garden

How Long to Spend in London Based on Your Interests

As such, I recommend starting by having a think about your interests and “must dos”. Are you a museum person who likes spending hours in each gallery? If so, you’ll need at least a week in London. There are so many world-class collections here that it will take you at least that long to see the bulk of them.

V&A

Or are you a bus-tour person who likes experiencing a broad overview of a city without getting bogged down in the details? If that describes you, you can see London in a couple of days.

Vintage Routemaster Bus

Most people are somewhere in between. I find that a lot of the clients I plan trips for stay in London 3 to 4 days, sometimes doing a day trip on an additional day.

Making a list of your priorities and determining how long each will take to see and how spread out they are can help you decide how much time you’ll need here.

How Long to Spend in London Based on Your Speed

The next thing I recommend considering when deciding how long to spend in London is your speed. If you walk fast and do your sightseeing quickly, you’ll need less time in the city.

The same applies if you like taking public transport. The tube can help reduce time between sights, so you’ll be more efficient with your time.

Pretty Cafe in London

On the other hand, if you like slow travel and don’t want to feel rushed, you’ll need to give yourself some breathing room when planning your itinerary.

If you want to walk leisurely, stop for coffees, or leave time to explore places you discover along the route, I recommend building some padding into your agenda so you have as much time as you need.

Considerations: Distance

One thing to keep in mind regardless of your travel style is that London is enormous and the attractions and sights are spread out all over the city center.

Natural History Museum, London

The Tower of London is on the eastern edge, while the Natural History Museum is on the western edge. Walking from one to the other takes well over an hour and a half if you don’t stop, which most people do. And that’s to say nothing of north and south, or all the areas of the city outside of central London (and there are tons of them).

Tower of London

Public transport can be a big help if you’re pressed for time, but it still takes a while to get around. And if you think taxis will be faster than the tube, think again. They’re usually slower, especially during commuting hours (although I’ve been stuck in traffic in taxis at 2 o’clock in the morning).

London Itinerary Planning

If you want some more ideas of what you can do and how much time it might take, have a look at the London itinerary posts I’ve written. My 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, and 1-week itineraries will provide you with an overview of things to do in different amounts of time. They can also help you decide how much you might want to see in the time you’ve allotted.

Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

You can take a look at my Ultimate London Travel Guide to make sure you’re not missing out on anything you might want to see while you’re traveling, too.

Trafalgar Square

In any case, I hope you’ve found this post helpful in deciding how long to spend in London. No matter what length of stay you choose, I have a feeling you’ll wish you had more. I certainly do, and I haven’t even left yet.

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How Long to Spend in London

6 Comments on Lady’s Quick Guide to How Long to Spend in London

  1. How long should I stay? This is a very good question. My answer would also include:
    For first timers, be sure to plan those things you would like to see but leave time for a slower pace so you can relax and take it all in. For example, Tower of London in the morning and St Paul’s Cathedral in the afternoon. That’s enough for one day. In between, you can stroll, have lunch, etc. visit the Tate and the Millenium Bridge, all within walking distance from St Paul’s. I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend who lives near Ealing and I go to London every other year, alone, unsupervised and do exactly what I want. Been doing this for about 30 years now. I’m still finding new things to enjoy. This April, I totally focused back on Kew Gardens and Richmond and the Thames, with a little Liberty of London thrown in- and shopping in the area. Wow! So much fun!

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