England Itinerary 7-8 Days : Perfect for First Time Visitors

After several visits, this is my suggested England itinerary for 7 days (or 8 days!), perfect for first time visitors.

Jolly old London has been a place of fascination for me since I was a little girl. Its epic history filled with royals, intrigue, and power struggles drew me in.

Visiting England was the first international trip I ever took, and it set the stage for my lifelong love of travel

Here are my top tips on how to divide up your time for 7-8 days, especially perfect for a first-time visitor!

Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!).

Day 1: Arrive into London

Arrive into the city, settle in your London hotel, and explore the surrounding neighborhood on foot. I suggest to stay near Kensington High Street, as it’s a safe and easily navigable area.
Dive right in to the local London fare, and opt for some fish and chips for dinner! Read on for ideas of hostels in London! 🐟🍟
🛥️ A fun first day activity could be a cruise on the River Thames 
London, England
Welcome to your Adventure!

Day 2: The London Icons

Start early with some classic English tea, then you’re off to explore! Hop on London’s user-friendly subway system (known as “the tube“). 🚇
Pop out at the “Westminster” stop, and emerge to see the famous Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben. 🕰️ Contrary to popular belief, the bell is named “Big Ben”, not the tower that houses it! Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London, England
Next, head inside the adjacent Westminster Abbey. Originally built in 1045, this insanely historic religious building is something you cannot miss! An audio tour is included in admission, and takes around one hour.
⇒  Buy your Westminster tickets in advance!🎫
Westminster, Abbey, London, England, 8 day England itinerary
Afterwards, walk 15 minutes towards Buckingham Palace. It is the administrative headquarters for the monarchy, and boasts 775 rooms. This is a bucket-list item for a London first-timer!
Get a ticket to tour Buckingham Palace and more!🎫
While touristy, watching the iconic beef-eater soldiers do the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony is worthwhile. It gets crowded, so give yourself plenty of time to find a viewing spot.
buckingham palace, london, england
Next, stroll about 7 minutes towards Saint James’s Palace. If you love the Elizabethan era of British history, and anything to do with the Tudor family, you have to stop here!
This is the palace where King Henry VIII lived, and it’s rumored to be haunted. The palace is not open to the public, but is worth viewing from outside.
Nearby, take note of all the “Dickensian” era buildings on the Pall Mall.
pall mall, london, england
Photo via Curtis Cronn
From there, take the tube to Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It’s known as the spot where Charles and Diana were married, but it’s also mentioned in “Mary Poppins” and other pieces of British literature. You need a ticket to enter.🎫
Next, head to the eerie Tower of London. A guided tour from the tower’s guards (Yeoman Warders) is included with entry. It is worth it to do the tour, as you’ll learn its history in a way a self-guided tour never could.
Get your Tower of London ticket in advance!🎫
Tower of London, England, Thames, Tudors
Photo via Hornbeam Arts
You will learn about the tower’s gruesome tales of torture, execution and royal sagas- and finish by seeing the Crown Jewels. 👑
Out in the courtyard, see the spot where they executed Anne Boleyn. Rumor has it her forlorn spirit haunts the Tower grounds to this day! 👻
If you have a strong stomach, check out their medieval torture exhibition. After seeing the “Traitor’s Gate” and the tower’s huge resident ravens, 🐦‍⬛ step outside towards Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge. England itinerary 7 days. First timers guide to London.
The Tower Bridge is London’s most iconic bridge. Many mistakenly think this is “London Bridge”, but that is actually a less ornate bridge nearby.
Walk across Tower Bridge, then stroll along the river Thames passing the Borough Market, until you arrive at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. If the timing works out, seeing a play here would be amazing! 🎭


DAY 3- London: Kensington & Knightsbridge

Today, start at the idyllic Kensington Gardens and meander its 265 acres. At some point, tour Kensington Palace, which is inside the park.👑Queen Victoria was born and lived here until 1837. It was also the residence of Princess Diana for 16 years.
Book your Kensington Palace tickets in advance! 🎫
Next, find the “Peter Pan” statue commissioned by its author Sir J.M. Barrie. Then head to Hyde Park and rent a paddle boat out on the lake! 🚣‍♀️Kensington Palace, London, England, Hyde Park
Now, hop on a red double-decker bus to Kensington High Street for some upscale shopping.
Get lunch, then head towards Knightsbridge. This is a posh area of the city, full of grand Victorian homes, and resident of British department store Harrod’s. 🛍️
At night, try out a fun and eerie London ghost walk! 👻 👻
Harrods, Knightsbridge, London, England
The famous Harrod’s Dept. Store


DAY 4- The Cotswolds & Stratford-Upon-Avon

Leave early in the morning, and travel to a picturesque region known as The Cotswolds. Filled with stone cottages, this is what you imagine as the epitome of the English countryside! 🐑
With its small hills, grazing sheep, and lovely hedgerows, it is so charming! You could easily spend a full week here.
Logistics: Arrive by rental car, or as part of a Cotswolds day tour 
The image below is us visiting the Cotswolds town of Castle Combe! 
Next up is the town of Shottery. Here, see the cottage of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. Constructed in the 1500’s, this home gives insight as to what life may have been like in that era.

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, Shottery, England

Finally, arrive to the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon to tour the Bard’s birthplace! The town is a bit of a tourist trap, but interesting to see.
Go inside Shakespeare’s home, which is now a museum. Also walk along the river Avon to the Church of the Holy Trinity and his grave-site.
Buy tickets to Shakespeare’s home in advance! 🎫
Once you make the 2 hour ride back to central London, get ready for a night out on the town!🍻Covent Garden is a fun, hip neighborhood perfect for experiencing London’s vibrant pub culture.
Shakespeare's Home, Stratford Upon Avon, England
Shakespeare’s Home
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DAY 5- Bath & Stonehenge

Depart from London early, and drive about 2 hours to the town of Bath. Originally founded by the Romans, Bath became famous for its thermal waters and bath complexes. These provided health benefits for a variety of ailments over the centuries. 🛁
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Spend time roaming its ancient temples and Roman baths, and enjoy that omnipresent sulfur stench!
Take a guided tour of the Roman baths and Bath city
Roman Baths. Bath, England. England itinerary 7 days.
An ancient Roman bath
Leave Bath, and drive 50 minutes towards the ancient site of Stonehenge. This gigantic stone arrangement is around 5,000 years old!
These monoliths are equal parts eerie, mysterious, and awe-inspiring. Marvel at how these ancient people did what they did.
Get your Stonehenge ticket in advance! 🎫
Stonehenge, England, 8 day england itinerary
After a 2 hour drive back to central London, head to Piccadilly Circus. One of London’s busiest squares, this is a great place to find a traditional red phone booth!

For more ancient standing stones, read about my road-trip through Scotland!

DAY 6- London: Harry Potter, Theater, and the West End

If you’re a Harry Potter lover like me, you have to take the tube to King’s Cross Station. 🚂
Line up, and take your picture going through the wall at Platform 9 ¾! The line can easily be up to a one hour wait, just to warn you. There is also a HP gift shop nearby now too. 🦉
Head back now towards central London for the Churchill War Rooms experience. It offers a memorable experience of what London was like during the Blitz. King's Cross, London, England
A day-trip to Leavesden Studios is another option. This is where they filmed much of the Harry Potter films! You can tour the sets, and have a fun insight behind the filming process. 🎥
🦉It’s easiest to go with an organized Leavesden tour – get your tickets!
Harry Potter Tour, Leavesden Studios. England itinerary 7 days.
In the evening, it is a GREAT experience to see a play in London’s West End. 🎭
Another option is to take a “Jack the Ripper Walking Tour”. I have done this twice, and find it incredibly intriguing! 🗡️ They provide great historical insights, and help you draw your own conclusions as to who this evil figure may have been.


DAY 7 – London & Windsor Castle

Start with a very early tour of Windsor Castle, which is 900 years old! While there, walk the grounds, and take a cliché photo with one of the beef-eater soldiers. 🏰
Get your Windsor Castle tickets in advance 🎫
Or, go with a guided Windsor tour out of London 🎫
Windsor Castle, England, 8 day england itinerary
After the 45 minute drive back into London, head to Westminster Bridge and walk across the river Thames towards the London Eye. The eye is a huge Ferris wheel that can hold 25 people in each capsule. 🎡
Get your London Eye ticket in advance! 🎫
Take the tube towards South Kensington to see the British Natural History Museum. Full of fossils and amazing oddities, this museum is worth a visit- and has free admission! British Natural History Museum. England Itinerary 7 days.
Spend your final evening heading to a happy hour, grabbing some pub food, or just walking around this classic city!
Read on for a great roundup of free things to do in London, even with children. 🚸

More helpful links:

Get yourself travel insurance– honestly, don’t go abroad without it!
Book your hotels with bookings.com
Find organized London day trips or tours all over the UK
Browse my Amazon storefront to see my favorite travel products
Follow me on Instagram, and send me a DM with any questions!

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itinerary ideas for a first-timers visit to England. England itinerary 7-8 days

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  • Reply Carole Bagley-Hartman July 7, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Hi there!
    As an English gal, can I correct a statement you made. You called the Cotswolds a town… The Cotswolds is actually an area not a town, covering three counties (Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire). The area is very quintessentially English for sure.
    I have enjoyed reading your travel tips of my country, and as an passionate traveller myself, the blog is very interesting.

    • Reply Michelle W. July 10, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      You’re so right! I will update it in my post- thank you 🙂

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