If it’s your first time visiting London, you’ll likely be thinking about following a pre-planned itinerary for your first few days here. I highly recommend doing so, for the following reasons.
1. It saves you days of research time
When I was going to Vietnam a couple of years ago, I can’t even tell you how much time I spent planning my itinerary… DAYS is not an exaggeration, and I only ended up planning one thing to do for each day of my two week trip!
If you don’t have that kind of time (or that just sounds like your worst nightmare) getting a pre-made itinerary like my 3-Day London Itinerary is an option for you, and will eliminate all of that time you would have had to spend researching attractions and food spots, finding ones you think you’d like, and then figuring out how to piece them together based on how close together they are.
2. Allows you some flexibility
Having a pre-planned itinerary might sounds quite restricting, but if you’re following a detailed one like my 3-Day London Itinerary, you’ll actually have quite a bit of flexibility built in. Because you’ll have multiple options for sights to see and where to eat, you can choose which suits your fancy at the moment, and can accommodate for unplanned closures and the like.
3. Provides you with local knowledge
I definitely can’t say this for the majority of “London Itineraries” that you find online because they’re often written by people who visited London for, like, a week, and then put together an “itinerary” on their blog.
If you can follow an itinerary that’s based off of knowledge from someone who actually lives in London and knows it well, you’ll be better off, as you’ll have access to “on the ground” information that will be really helpful as you’re exploring. My 3-Day London Itinerary even has public toilets marked off on the digital map… I consider myself a public toilet expert, gross but true 😉
Also, only locals will know things like that just around the corner from Leicester Square, London’s most touristy (and yeck) square, is a hidden rooftop restaurant and bar with amazing views of the London Eye and the London skyline, and it’s not even that pricy of a spot.
If you’re keen to find little hidden gems like that for your London trip, have a watch of the below guide…
4. Reduces time wasted on transportation
London is a huuuuuuuuuge city and especially if you’re looking to go off the beaten path, you could end up spending a couple of hours a day on public transportation if you aren’t familiar with the distance between each of London’s neighbourhoods.
By following an itinerary that has been designed to limit the need for public transportation, or even not need it at all, you’ll spend less time being squashed on the tube and more time exploring above-ground.
Also if you need help with public transportation, here are the top things you need to know before you hop on the underground or a bus…
5. Prevents you from getting lost
If you’re following an itinerary with a digital map on your phone, it will be hard to get super lost. Even if you veer off the general track of the itinerary, you can whip out your phone and get walking directions back to the spot you want to be in.
My 3-Day London Itinerary includes a digital map for your phone.
6. Reduces clashing when traveling as a group
If there’s a few of you traveling together, you’re bound to have different tastes, possibly be different ages, and have a bucket-full of recommendations that you’ve all brought to the table and want to check out. It’s quite time consuming, and possibly stressful, to sift through everyone’s ideas of what they’d like to do, and put together a cohesive itinerary that everyone will agree on.
Instead, with a little flexibility from everyone in the group, it’s easier to just say “let’s follow this itinerary” and stick to it. You’ll find that less choice is more, and that choosing what to do from a very curated list that’s already taken into account travel time will be a lifesaver.
7. Ensures you’ll make the most of your time
Even the type of travelers who like to go with the flow and not overplan usually worry about not making the most out of their trip. It makes sense– you’ve likely spent a lot of money to get to London, so you want to make sure you experience as many of the best bits as possible.
Following a pre-planned itinerary can help you do that, but also in the most efficient way (if it was made with efficiency in mind.)
Read this next: How to prepare for your first three days in London
8. Reduces overwhelm
London has hundreds of tourist attractions, thousands of restaurants, and covers 1,572 sq.km, or 606 sq. miles…WOAH. If you’ve not planned out what you want to do and see before you arrive, you might hop off the plane and immediately be incredibly overwhelmed.
Less choice is always easier to handle, and will reduce that overwhelm, and a detailed itinerary like my 3-day one will do that just that.
9. Helps you get acquainted with the city
The first few days of being in London has a bit of a learning curve to it. You’ll be figuring out how to use the transportation system, and picking up cultural differences to your home country, in the least. Following a pre-planned itinerary will take out the guesswork out of “where do I go? What do I see?” as you’re getting to know how everything in London works. It’s kind of like learning on the job!
10. It’s like getting the answers to the test ahead of time
Any good, locally-made, detailed London itinerary will essentially be like getting handed the answers to a big test you’re about to take. There’s no extra work to be done, you just read through it, add a guidance map to your phone, and get going. Simple.
My 3-Day London Itinerary does everything I talked about in this article, and includes a 60+ page PDF guide detailing your options for the itinerary, as well as local knowledge like where to find free public toilets and what dish to order at a certain restaurant. It also includes an interactive digital map that you add to your phone that you can follow each day, step by step, making it super simple to follow.
More tips for your London trip: