Day One

  • The West End

First stop, Westminster Abbey for an easy intro to the city's (and nation's) history and then to Buckingham Palace for the Changing the Guard. Walk up the Mall to Trafalgar Sq for its architectural grandeur and photo-op views of Big Ben down Whitehall. Art lovers will make a beeline for the National Gallery and its outstanding collection of European paintings.

  • Lunch Portrait for excellent set lunches and unparalleled views.
  • The South Bank

With your pre-booked ticket for the London Eye, walk across pedestrian Hungerford Bridge to the South Bank and enjoy a 30-minute revolution in the city skies and superb views, notably of the Houses of Parliament. Afterwards stroll along the river and head into the bowels of the Tate Modern for some grade-A art. Aim your camera at St Paul’s Cathedral on the far side of the elegant Millennium Bridge.

  • Dinner Grills or more complex dishes at Skylon.
  • The South Bank

Depending on what mood you're in, you might catch a performance at Shakespeare's Globe. 'Groundling' (standing) tickets can be bought last minute but book ahead for seats. Otherwise, join the post-work crowds in the pubs around London Bridge for real ales and historical surrounds.

Day Two

  • The City

London’s finance-driven Square Mile is home to the sprawling and ancient Tower of London. Spend the morning watching the Beefeaters and resident ravens preen and strut, and then marvel at the Crown Jewels. When you're finished, admire the iconic Tower Bridge from the banks of the Thames or through the glass floors of the walkways connecting the two towers.

  • Lunch The cellar of Wine Library at Tower Hill has tempting set-price lunches and fermented grape juice.
  • The West End

Hop on a double-decker bus for city views and head to the British Museum for a shot of world culture. Choose one of the excellent introductory tours or rent an audio guide so as not to feel overwhelmed. Round off the afternoon with a recuperative pint at a local such as the Museum Tavern.

  • Dinner Head to Asadal next to Holborn tube for excellent Korean barbecue, kimchi and bibimbap.
  • The West End

If you fancy soaking up the atmosphere, stroll through Chinatown and Soho and make your way to Leicester Sq for some people-watching. There are literally dozens of pubs, bars and cocktail bars along the way from which to choose.

Day Three

  • Greenwich & South London

Hop on a boat from any central London pier and make your way down to Greenwich with its world-renowned architecture and links to time, the stars and space. Start your visit at the legendary Cutty Sark, a star clipper during the tea-trade years, and have a look into the National Maritime Museum.

Stroll up through Greenwich Park all the way to the Royal Observatory. The views of Canary Wharf, the business district across the river, are stunning. Inside the observatory, straddle the Greenwich Meridian and find out about the incredible quest to solve the longitude problem. At the planetarium, join another quest: finding extra-terrestrial life. Walk back down to Greenwich and settle down for a pint at the Trafalgar Tavern.

  • Dinner Polpo for tasty Italian-style tapas in a picturesque street.
  • Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields

Head back to central London on the DLR from Greenwich and treat yourself to dinner in one of the fine restaurants dotting this part of town. There are plenty of clubs if you fancy a boogie after dinner, otherwise opt for a beautifully crafted cocktail at Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge.

Day Four

  • Richmond, Kew & Hampton Court

Head to Kew Gardens bright and early to make the most of the morning: this is so much more than a botanical garden that it warrants extra time! Families shouldn't miss the treetop walkway, while plant lovers will go weak at the knees in the Victorian Palm House and Princess of Wales Conservatory.

  • Lunch Glasshouse for fine gastronomy.
  • Kensington & Hyde Park

Hop on the tube to Knightsbridge. Keen shoppers will want to stroll down Old Brompton Rd and pop into Harrods, the famous department store. Culture vultures should save their energy for the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum.

  • Dinner Zuma for robata (Japanese chargrilled) dishes and sushi.
  • West London

If the pubs around Knightsbridge and South Kensington tube stations are too staid for you, hop over to Notting Hill where the crowds are livelier and the nightlife more eclectic. If you just fancy sitting down with a good film, you're in luck: Notting Hill has some of the coolest independent cinemas in London, including the iconic Electric Cinema.