A trip to London, Amsterdam, and Paris…sounds nice, right? With 10 days you have just enough time to visit these three cities, although it will be a bit of a whirlwind tour. There is a lot to see and do here, and our London Amsterdam Paris itinerary will help you manage your time so you can have the best experience possible.
About this London Amsterdam Paris Itinerary
There are many different ways you can visit London, Amsterdam, and Paris. All three cities have excellent international connections by plane, so really you can start and end at any of these cities.
On this itinerary, we start in London, simply because it is so easy to get to from the rest of the world. We end in Paris for a very similar reason.
You may find that it’s faster and cheaper to fly to Amsterdam or Paris, so you may want to start your trip here. At the end of this post, I give recommendations on how to change the order of these cities.
Also, in order for this itinerary to work, you will have to fly “open jaw,” which means that you fly into one city and out of another. You can make this a loop, with one of these cities being your arrival and departure city, but I recommend extending the itinerary by one more day if you do this. You are already tight on time, and adding in another leg of travel will cost you precious time from touring one of these cities.
Arrive in London
Depending on your flight, most likely you will arrive in London in the morning. Check into your hotel and get settled. Only take a nap if you desperately need one.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Typically we do not recommend bus tours. However, London seems like the perfect city for a bus tour. The city is sprawling and the list of sites to see is long, so this is the perfect way to get an overview of London. It’s also the perfect activity for jet-lagged travelers.
We recommend taking the red route with Big Bus Tours. Enjoy the views as you watch Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and St. Paul’s Cathedral glide by.
Enjoy the View from the London Eye
A ride on the London Eye is another ultra-touristy thing to do in London, but if this is your first time in the city, it’s thrilling to look down on the River Thames, Parliament, and out at the London skyline.
End the day with dinner and catch up on that much needed sleep.
Where to Stay in London
London is enormous. To maximize your time, either stay in the city center or pick a hotel within walking distance of convenient Tube station.
LUXURY: The Savoy. This world-famous hotel dates back to 1889. It sits on the River Thames and from here it’s just a short walk to Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, and the British Museum. Have a drink in the famous American Bar and dine in Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill.
MIDRANGE: Crowne Plaza Kensington. This is where we stayed. We could easily walk to the Gloucester station, but usually had to change lines at least one time to get to most spots in London. I can’t tell you how many times we heard “You’re on the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters” and “Mind the Gap.” Spend a few days riding the London underground and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
BUDGET: Wombat’s City Hostel. This hostel gets rave reviews. It is located in a neighborhood called Tower Hamlets, which is outside of the heart on London, but with that you get a great place to stay at a budget price. They offer a range of dormitory style rooms as well as double rooms with a private bathroom.
Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Whitehall, Covent Garden
Westminster Abbey is the site of the coronation of the monarchs of England, royal weddings, and the funeral of Princess Diana. Hundreds of people are buried in tombs and in the floor of the Abbey, including Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
From Westminster Abbey, walk through St. James Park to The Mall to Buckingham Palace. Most visits here are quick, with just a view of the Palace through the fence, but if you get your timing right, you can watch the Changing of the Guard.
Churchill War Rooms
After having lunch in the area, walk to the Churchill War Rooms. This museum has two parts to it. At the Churchill Museum you learn about the life and legacy of Winston Churchill. Then you enter the Cabinet War Rooms. This is the underground bunker where Churchill and his staff ran their operations during World War II.
This museum is fascinating and you do not need to be a history buff to appreciate this visit. If you want to learn more about Winston Churchill before your visit to London, consider watching the movie Darkest Hour or reading the book The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm.
Parliament and Big Ben
From the Churchill War Rooms, walk towards the Thames River and cross the Westminster Bridge for an iconic view of Parliament, Big Ben, and the Thames River.
You can take a tour of Parliament or watch a session in the House of Commons or the House of Lords (click here for more information).
Currently, all visits to Big Ben are suspended due to renovation work. Tours are expected to resume in 2021.
#10 Downing Street
Cross back over the Westminster Bridge and walk up Whitehall. It’s just a short walk to #10 Downing Street, the official home of the British Prime Minister.
Horse Guards Parade
Walk one more block north on Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade. This is a large, gravel area used for parades and a daily changing of the guard (at 11 am).
Continue the walk north to Trafalgar Square. This is one of London’s most popular public squares. It has been the site for anti-war demonstrations, victory parades, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Covent Garden is a district in the West End that is now a popular shopping and dining area. There are numerous restaurants in this area, including a cluster of restaurants and shops in Apple Market. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring this neighborhood.
Make sure you visit Neal’s Yard, a colorful alley in Covent Garden. Just around the corner is Neal’s Yard Dairy, one of the best spots in the city to sample artisanal cheese.
Tower of London, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral
Tower of London
This was our favorite history lesson in London. For nearly 1000 years, the Tower of London has served as a royal palace, prison, place of execution, stronghold for riches, and the symbol of the monarchy in England. The one-hour Yeoman Warder tour is not only educational but also entertaining (even for kids!).
From the Tower of London, walk out to Tower Bridge and enjoy the view down the Thames River.
You can climb the tower to an elevated glass floor for a unique view over the bridge (click here to learn more).
The View from The Shard
The Shard is one of the newest additions to the London skyline. At the View from The Shard, you will have the highest view over London. It’s expensive but it may be worth it on a clear day.
Lunch at Borough Market
From The Shard, it’s just a short walk to Borough Market. Food stands in the market specialize in different cuisines from around the world, so this is a great place to sample some new foods or assemble a picnic lunch to enjoy back on the banks of the Thames River.
Note: Borough Market is closed on Sundays but there are plenty of restaurants in the area for lunch.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theater
Continue your walk along the River Thames to the Globe Theater. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and hosted plays written by Shakespeare. A modern version of the Globe Theatre was built in 1997 on the site of the original theatre. Visitors can take a tour of the theatre or watch a performance.
Sitting next door to the Globe Theatre is Tate Modern, a museum that is home to modern art. Either you will think the art is rubbish or you’ll think that it’s brilliant. Personally, we found it to be bizarre, which is exactly why we liked it. In about an hour you can see the main exhibits in the museum.
Built in 2000, Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Thames River. It has been featured in several movies, including Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter. Walk across Millennium Bridge and continue on to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral dates back to the 17th century. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London of 1666. Recent historical events that have taken place here include the funeral of Winston Churchill, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
For another amazing view over London, climb the steps to the rooftop and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
The Sky Garden
This just may be the best view of London. What’s even better is that a visit here is free! From the large observation deck, you can look out over the River Thames and see many of the places you walked to today.
You need to book your visit online in advance (do so on the Sky Garden website). This is a great spot to enjoy dinner with a view or you can find a nearby restaurant or pub.
British Museum and Greenwich
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of the world’s greatest museums. This museum contains a massive collection of historical artifacts that were amassed while Great Britain was a major world super power. See the Rosetta Stone, a portion of the Parthenon, Egyptian mummies, and hieroglyphics. It’s amazing to see how much stuff the British Empire amassed during their world rule.
Spend the afternoon in Greenwich. There are a handful of different activities so take your pick and do what interests you the most.
Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian
Here is your chance to stand over 0° longitude, placing one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one foot in the western hemisphere. You can also visit the planetarium museum. Since this observatory sits on top of a hill, you have a great view over Greenwich and the River Thames from here.
Old Royal Navy College
This UNESCO World Heritage Site once served as a naval hospital and later as a naval college. Now, this site has been used as a filming location for many famous movies such as The King’s Speech, The Avengers, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Currently (until 2019), the Painted Hall is undergoing major restoration work. Visitors have a chance to see the ceiling up close on a tour. Click here to learn more.
The Cutty Sark was the fastest ship of her time, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper ship. Tours are available daily.
Up at the O2
The O2 is an entertainment district with an arena, music club, cinema, and restaurants. Up at the O2 is a 90-minute experience where you get to climb onto the O2 roof. The views over London from the top are spectacular.
Visit the Up at the O2 website for full details, hours, cost, and how to schedule your visit.
End the day with dinner and drinks.
Travel to Amsterdam
As of April 2018, you can take a direct train with Eurostar from London to Amsterdam. The journey lasts just under 4 hours and prices start at £35 for economy class. On this itinerary, your best option is to take the earliest train from London-St. Pancras, which arrives at Amsterdam Central Station just after 1 pm. On Sundays, there is no morning train from London to Amsterdam. You will have to take the 5 pm train (consider doing this at the end of day 4 of this itinerary) or take a train with a connection in Brussels (this takes 4 to 5 hours total) or consider flying.
In June 2019, more trains are going to be added to this route. On weekdays, there will be three trains. On weekends, there will be two trains per day with the addition of an 11 am train on Sundays.
Once in Amsterdam, check into your hotel.
Anne Frank House
Without a doubt, a visit to Amsterdam would not be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank House.
For two years and one month, Anne Frank and her family lived in a secret annex, hidden away from the Nazi’s. During this time, she wrote in her diary, which became a memoir and an important piece of history.
Tour the hidden rooms and see the movable bookcase that covered the entrance into the rooms.
The Nine Little Streets and Jordaan
Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring the Nine Little Streets and the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. This is one of the most scenic parts of Amsterdam. Go shopping, stop in a café for a drink, and explore.
You also have the option to take a canal cruise, which is a very popular thing to do in Amsterdam. However, I recommend skipping the larger boats with the big tour companies. These giant boats are enclosed in glass and the people packed on board never look like they are having much fun.
Instead, pick a smaller, open boat. You’ll be with less people and have a more intimate experience. Some of these companies even serve wine while you cruise through the city. We recommend Those Dam Boat Guys since they get rave reviews on Trip Advisor.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
The best area to stay is Jordaan and the Nine Little Streets. This is our favorite area of Amsterdam and being on the canals at night is magical.
LUXURY: The Dylan. Modern, trendy, luxurious, this hotel is located on Keizersgracht, within walking distance of the Anne Frank House. This hotel is also home to Vinkeles, the upscale dining experience we recommended for dinner.
MID-RANGE: The ‘t Hotel. This is where we stayed on our first visit to Amsterdam. The ‘t Hotel has a perfect location, right on a quiet canal and within walking distance of the main sites in Amsterdam. Since our visit in 2008, the hotel has been renovated (and prices have gone up). The family room is the penthouse of the hotel with a loft for the kids.
MID-RANGE: Crowne Plaza South. If you are looking for a clean, comfortable and quiet place to stay and don’t want to spend a fortune (or most places are already reserved when you start your hotel search) consider staying a bit outside of the city. On our most recent visit to Amsterdam, we stayed here at the Crowne Plaza. It’s a great hotel and we had a great stay, without any complaints. It took us 15 minutes by metro to get into town but we saved a lot of money by staying outside of the heart of Amsterdam.
BUDGET: Jordaan Suite Bed and Bubbles. This budget hotel has a prime location on Hazenstraat near the Jordaan neighborhood. It gets rave reviews and can be hard to get, so make your reservation as soon as you can.
Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum
The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are Amsterdam’s most popular museums. Even if you are not an art fan they are still worth your time (although you can keep your visit quick).
The Rijksmuseum is enormous. On display are 8,000 objects of art and history, most of it Dutch, with masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Frans Hals. Most people spend 2 to 3 hours in the museum.
The Van Gogh Museum is the most visited museum in the Netherlands. Inside of this modern building are the works of art by Vincent Van Gogh. This museum is smaller than the Rijksmuseum and most visits here last about one hour.
If you’re speedy, you’ll finish visiting both museums around lunchtime. If you take your time, it will be early afternoon when you are finished.
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park. It’s just a short walk from the museum quarter and it’s a great spot to visit after spending the morning inside of art museums.
From Vondelpark and the museum quarter, take the tram to Dam Square. It can be crowded and touristy, but it is the main square of Amsterdam, so I think it is still worth a very quick visit.
Pick Your Perfect Ending to Amsterdam
For the rest of the day you are free to explore more of Amsterdam. Wander the canals in the Jordaan area, rent bikes and explore the city, or consider one of these cool things to do in and around Amsterdam.
Our Lord in the Attic
If you want to learn more about the history of Amsterdam, visit Our Lord in the Attic, also called Museum Ons’Lieve Heer Op Solder in Dutch.
This canal house, built in 1630, looks normal on the outside. But inside, on the top level, sits a secret Catholic Church. Catholicism was banned in Amsterdam during the 17th century, so people built small churches in their houses, hidden away from public view. This museum houses one of the largest and the best preserved of these churches.
Spend the Evening in Haarlem
Haarlem is a small Dutch city that is just 15 minutes from Amsterdam by train. You won’t have enough time to really explore Haarlem, but you can sit in the main square in town, have a drink at a café, and have dinner.
Getting to Haarlem: From Central Station in Amsterdam, you can take a 15-minute train to Haarlem. Trains leave approximately every 10 minutes and cost €5.60 one-way.
In April and May, Keukenhof is a wonderland of flowering daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. It is gorgeous and well worth the visit if you plan to be in Amsterdam during these two months.
See our Amsterdam Itinerary post for full details on how to visit Keukenhof.
Travel to Paris
The easiest way to travel between Amsterdam and Paris is by train. The Thalys high-speed train connects Amsterdam to Paris in 3 hours and 20 minutes, with fares starting at €35. In order to get the cheapest fare, book your tickets as far in advance as possible (you can book your tickets up to 120 days in advance).
The Thalys train travels from Central Station in Amsterdam to Gare du Nord in Paris, traveling through Brussels (but you will not have to change trains).
Book your train as early in the day as you feel comfortable doing so, in order to maximize how much time you have in Paris. I would recommend arriving in Paris no later than noon so that you have the full afternoon to see the city.
From Gare du Nord, take the metro or a taxi to your hotel and get settled. Have lunch near your hotel.
What better place to start in Paris than at the Eiffel Tower?
There are two ways up the Eiffel Tower. You can take an elevator or you can walk up the stairs. The queues for the elevators are very long and the queue for the stairs is much shorter. The choice is yours. If you take the stairs, you get to eat more chocolate and crepes later!
If you plan to take the elevator, I highly recommend that you book your tickets in advance.
Go for a Stroll on the Champs-Elysees
Starting at Place de la Concorde, stroll up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. This is one of the most recognizable streets in the world. It is famous as being the finish of the Tour de France and the location of the Bastille Day military parade. Restaurants, shops, the theaters line the Champs-Elysees. It has a touristy feel but it’s still worth the stroll.
Along the way, if you want another French treat, consider stopping into Laduree for macarons.
Arc de Triomphe
This is my favorite view of Paris. There’s just something about looking down the Champs-Elysees to the Louvre, out to La Defense, and of course, having the wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.
End the day with dinner and drinks
Where to Stay in Paris
We have visited Paris three times and this is where we stayed.
Hotel Brighton. This is the most expensive hotel on this list but it’s worth it if you want an awesome view over Paris. Located on Rue de Rivoli right across from Tuileries Garden, you will be able to see the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe from your room. Request a high floor, preferably one with a balcony, for the best experience.
Hotel de La Bourdonnais. This hotel is located near the Eiffel Tower. From our room, if we hung our head out of the window, we could see the top of the Eiffel Tower. This hotel is under new management since our visit and it looks like things have changed for the better. We liked here, but not as much as the other two hotels in this list.
Le Relais Saint Honore. On our most recent visit to Paris we stayed at Hotel Le Relais Saint Honore. Our favorite thing about this small, boutique hotel is its excellent location. The Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, and Palais-Garnier are all within a 10-minute walk. The Tuileries and Pyramides metro stations are less than 5 minutes away. The rooms are small but tastefully decorated and the staff is friendly and speaks English. You don’t get the awesome view in this hotel but we loved the friendly staff and the location.
Le Relais Saint Honore
The Historic Center of Paris, Musee D’Orsay & Montmartre
Sainte-Chapelle is home to one of the world’s best displays of stained glass. It is gorgeous inside, much prettier than the inside of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Notre Dame Cathedral
From Sainte-Chapelle it is a short walk to Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the oldest and grandest cathedrals in the world. Step inside to see the nave and enormous stained glass windows, but the highlight of a visit here is the gargoyle’s view over Paris from the top of the cathedral.
Before leaving Ile de la Cite, it’s a quick walk to one of the prettiest storefronts in Paris, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole. This is a small café so you can eat lunch here. You can also walk over to Ile Saint-Louis and have lunch at Pom’Canelle and try the decadent ice cream at Berthillon Glacier.
Walk along the Seine River
Cross Pont de la Tournelle to the Left Bank and then walk along the Seine. Pont de l’Archeveche makes a great photo spot of Notre Dome.
Continue the stroll along the Seine until you reach Musee d’Orsay.
Musee d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. It is here that you can see Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaugin and more. It’s literally a collection of the who’s who in the Impressionist art world.
Montmartre and Sacre Coeur
Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring Montmartre. This maze of hilly streets is one of Paris’ prettiest neighborhoods to visit.
The Sacre-Coeur Basilica sits atop the highest hill in Paris. The steps in front of the Basilica are a popular spot to watch the sunset. You also have the option to climb to the top of the Dome for an even better view.
For dinner, take your pick from restaurants in the area. We ate at Le Relais Gascon, a wonderful little place that prepares French food.
Versailles and the Louvre
The Palace of Versailles
Versailles is a royal chateau located on the outskirts of Paris. In 1682, King Louis XIV moved the Royal Court from the Louvre to the Palace of Versailles. For a little more than 100 years, this was the seat of government for France. That ended in 1789 with the French Revolution. The monarchy moved back to Paris and since then, the city of Paris has remained the seat of government for France.
During your visit to Versailles you will tour the palace and stroll through the gardens.
How long does a visit last? If you’re fast, it takes 3 to 4 hours to zip through the palace and walk a part of the gardens. You can spend all day here, however, if you want to have enough time to visit the Louvre, you should plan on leaving Versailles in the early afternoon.
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. This building was once the home to French Kings, including Louis XIV. During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the Louvre was converted to a museum.
If you are an art lover, take several hours and enjoy this spectacular place. However, if you just want to visit the highlights, you can do so in about an hour.
The main sites to visit in the Louvre are the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory.
This evening, you have several options. Have dinner in a French restaurant, take a dinner cruise on the Seine, stroll through Le Marais, enjoy the view from Montparnasse Tower, or go shopping at Place de la Madeleine or at the luxurious department stores Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.
Fly home or continue your journey.
How to Modify this Itinerary
What if you want to do Amsterdam – Paris – London or Paris – London – Amsterdam? Maybe you found a really cheap flight to Amsterdam or it’s more convenient for you to fly home from London. You can put these cities together in any order you like, you just have to factor in travel times between the cities.
London is the largest of these cities so it deserves the most time. I recommend spending a minimum of three days here. Amsterdam is the smallest city with the fewest sites, so a day and a half works perfectly, in order to give you more time in London and Paris.
Let’s say you want to do Amsterdam – Paris – London. What would your itinerary look like?
- Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam
- Day 2: Amsterdam
- Day 3: Morning train to Paris
- Day 4: Paris
- Day 5: Paris
- Day 6: Morning train to London
- Day 7: London
- Day 8: London
- Day 9: London
- Day 10: Fly home
If you have further questions on how to further modify this itinerary, ask us in the comment section below.
By the way, we also have a 10 day Paris Brussels Amsterdam itinerary that you may want to check out.
Important Links to Help You Plan Your Trip
- Two Days in Amsterdam: The Perfect Itinerary
- Netherlands Train Travel: How to Book Your Tickets and Use the Trains
- One Perfect Day in Utrecht
- One Perfect Day in The Hague
- 3 Days in Paris: The Ultimate Paris Itinerary
- The Paris Bucket List: 45 Must-Have Experiences
- Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Photos
- Easter in Paris: How to Have the Best Experience
- Ten Fun Things to do in Paris with Kids
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