Planning a trip to England and wondering how to spend 2 Days in London…!? Well, look no further, because I’ve put together the ultimate guide for exploring London in two days, and it’s filled with loads of awesome things to do, places to visit, food & drink recommendations, and so much more! While only having 48 hours to explore London might not seem like too long, you’d be surprised how much you can fit in!
What is there to say about London that hasn’t already been said…?
The English capital is always buzzing, always moving, always “on.” And its status as a “world city” and major tourist destination has always topped global lists.
There’s a special magic about London that can’t be summed up in words as much as it can through seeing the city through your own eyes. It’s got such distinct character, is so beautiful and offers up so much to keep you busy, it was difficult for me to wrap up this London guide somewhere. I could have just kept going forever.
Two days in London is a tight squeeze – and I would ALWAYS recommend at least five days in this incredible city. However, if your visit to London is a quick one, my two day London itinerary is an essential read. Pick and choose the sights, smells and sounds that most interest you, and get out there and explore!
So without further ado, let’s journey to merry old England’s cosmopolitan capital together…
Where to Stay for 2 Days in London
London is jam-packed with hotels, hostels, guesthouses and Airbnb’s to suit any budget or travel style. Here are my recommendations for the best three unique accommodation experiences in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities.
- The Z Hotel Soho: Top HOTEL Pick for London. Why? Four-Star digs in the heart of London’s buzzing West End. The Z Hotel Soho is situated minutes walk from landmarks Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Rooms are equipped with all the mod cons you need to make your stay the best possible, and a free continental breakfast is included each morning in the on-site cafe. There’s even a hotel courtyard for enjoying sunny London days.
- Clink78 Hostel: Best HOSTEL in Central London. Why? Fancy staying in a converted Victorian courthouse? Clink78 is just that, retaining many of its original features to ensure a unique London hostel stay. The hostel offers free daily walking tours of London, comfy, quirky rooms (many in converted prison cells), live music, a bar and is minutes walk to major Tube station, King’s Cross St Pancras. Tell Harry Potter we sent ya.
- Airbnb: I’ve become absolutely obsessed with the Airbnb platform recently, and think it’d be a fantastic way to spend a quick weekend trip to London! You can really get a stronger sense of local life, and renting someone’s apartment can make your trip to London more memorable. Plus, if you sign-up for a new account you’ll get $40+ Off Your First Stay (which is always nice because London is already rather expensive). If you’re going to rent an Airbnb, I’d point you in the direction of Shoreditch penthouse. Why? Well, a skyline view in London is hard to come across in a city where real estate is pricey and quarters are often cramped. This beautiful verified penthouse located in the ultra-cool neighborhood of Shoreditch features a rooftop terrace with views of the city, a hip bohemian vibe and is minutes to all that makes London great, including famous Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market.
Getting Around London in 2 Days
By foot: London is one of the world’s best walking cities, and you’ll smash your daily Fitbit step goal without even noticing. Wandering between the many unique central London neighbourhoods is so enjoyable, with famous landmarks around each corner to marvel at.
By train: For when your feet feel run a little ragged, Tube stations are around every corner, and the underground train service is so efficient, on time and clean, you will experience for yourself why it’s been at the heart of London’s distinct identity for so long.
By bike: Don’t want to miss a beat of the action above street level? There’s many bike rental companies across the city, but we careful. London streets are notoriously busy, and if you are from a country that isn’t used to driving on the left side of the road you might want to pass on this option… or stay off major thoroughfares.
By taxi: What visit to London is complete without a ride or two in a famous London Black Cab? These traditional British taxis are spacious, fun and driven by the best in the business. I’m not joking – read up on what it takes to become a Black Cab driver in London and you’ll be astounded.
By bus: Finally, who can forget about the distinct red London double-decker buses? Traveling on these is cheap and provides a great chance to catch some famous sights on the go. Similarly, the city has a Hop On Hop Off bus service that is easy to use and perfect for short term visitors that want to see the major sights. This would actually be a great way to see all the sights in London in two days!
What To Do in London In Two Days…?
Make sure you wake up bright and early, because you’ll want just about every minute of these 48 hours to see everything on this itinerary! It’s jam-packed with some of London’s best tourist hotspots!
Tea with The Queen at Buckingham Palace
Well, not really. But walking up the lengthy historical “Mall” which ends at her primary home, Buckingham Palace, is a bucket list experience you must tick off. You’ll be walking the path of British royalty throughout history, and it’s also right in the center of London, so you may just stumble across it as I did without even realizing it’s so close!
Be sure to catch the historic Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 10:45am sharp.
Relax in Trafalgar Square
The famous pigeons of Trafalgar Square may have been removed, but it’s still a fantastic spot to rest your weary feet, people watch and enjoy a coffee. Sit under the watchful eye of Lord Nelson who sits atop Nelson’s Column, beside the famous fountain lions and in front of the National Gallery.
Meander through Westminster Abbey
You could spend hours in iconic landmark Westminster Abbey, as it has so many areas to pique anyone’s interest. Standing proud alongside Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Thames, Downing Street and a stone’s throw from many other London tourist attractions, this huge church is almost 1000 years old and has seen it all. Royal weddings, coronations, funerals and burials. Being interred in Westminster is reserved for the best of the best, with Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Kings and Queens and many famous artists, writers and actors all resting here. And it’s a hell of a spot to rest.
London Westminster Abbey Entrance Ticket & Audio Guide: “A visit to the iconic Westminster Abbey is an essential addition to any trip to London. Boasting a rich history that spans over one thousand years, the site was originally occupied by Benedictine monks in the middle of the tenth century. Here you can feast your eyes on imperious Gothic architecture and some of the most beautiful stained glass in the UK as you explore this monumental site in British history.”
Ride the London Eye
Take a flight through the Heart of the City
There’s no better birdseye view of London than from the London Eye, the ginormous fixture sitting alongside The Thames river. It’s easily the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, and Europe’s tallest observation wheel. You won’t get views like this anywhere else!
But fair warning, the London Eye tends to be insanely crowded, so be prepared to wait in a LONG line if you don’t pre-book tickets in advance!
Coca-Cola London Eye + FAST TRACK Admission: “Step into your capsule and feel the exhilaration as you rise up over the water and come face to face with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Soar above them, up to 135 meters on the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. There are mesmerizing 360-degree views of the whole city laid out before you. See the most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London and up to 40km out of the city to Windsor Castle on a clear day. Enjoy the gradual rotation and just stand and stare at the hustle and bustle of London life unfolding beneath you, the beautiful sunset over the city, or the thousands of twinkling lights after dark.”
Eye off some impressive art
If you’re a lover of art, then London is the city of your dreams! But with so many galleries, museums, and exhibitions – you’ll definitely need to plan a return to visit just to cram them all in.
All of these offer FREE entry, and would be great for a quick visit!
- The National Gallery: The story of European art, masterpiece by masterpiece!
- The Tate Britain: The home of British art from 1500 to the present day
- The British Museum: Houses a vast collection of world art and artifacts and is FREE to all visitors
- The Tate Modern: International modern and contemporary art
- The National Portrait Gallery: The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.
Take five in London’s parks and gardens
Yes, ticket inspectors will come along and collect money to sit in the many deck chairs dotting the major gardens, and no, it’s not a scam. Few things in London are free, but it’s well worth it on a (rare) London sunny day to join the crowds catching some rays. St James Park, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath and Green Park are popular destinations for some welcome greenery in the concrete jungle.
Bike, Walk & Wander through Hyde Park
Hyde Park isn’t just a park. It’s a sprawling destination for many events, and simply a great place to spend some time while in London. It’s like the Central Park of Britain, full of historical monuments and lush greenery. It’s also the home of many music and sporting events year-round, and at Christmas, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is a magical spot to be. No two day trip to London is complete without walking or biking through it’s scenic pathways. It’s a popular spot for almost all walking and bike tours of the city as well though:
- Love London 3-Hour Bike Tour: “Enjoy an afternoon cycling around central London and see the West End’s sights from the saddle of a comfortable bicycle. Experienced guides will escort you along the riverside of the Thames, downside roads and alleys to discover London’s heart.”
- The Essentials! 3-Hour London Bike Tour: “See some of the world’s most famous places and iconic buildings on a 3-hour bike tour of London!
Get spooky at Highgate Cemetery
One of England’s greatest treasures
“Highgate Cemetery has some of the finest funerary architecture in the country. It is a place of peace and contemplation where a romantic profusion of trees, memorials and wildlife flourish.”
A lesser-known famous London landmark, Highgate Cemetery is the resting place of over 170,000 people – many of whom are household names. Karl Marx, George Eliot, Bob Hoskins and George Michael are just a few of the famous names that reside here. If dead people don’t interest you, it’s worth a visit just to escape the hustle and bustle of London and enjoy the cemetery’s status as a nature reserve.
Take in a West End show
London is known across the world for its stage productions, many of which started here and have spread in popularity across the globe. The West End of Central London is a hotbed of historic theatres, including the Apollo, The Lyceum, The Sondheim, the Lyric, The Playhouse, The Theatre Royal and Her Majesty’s Theatre. And that’s just a few.
Recommended shows that reside long-term in London include Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, The Lion King, Wicked and Oliver! and Cats. If you are willing to travel a little further afield, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Bankside still stages productions even today, and is easily accessible via the Tube network. Just jump off at either Blackfriars or London Bridge Station.
- Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theater: “Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked” tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between 2 sorcery students.”
- Phantom of the Opera Tickets at Her Majesty’s Theatre: “Join the millions that have watched the famous “Phantom of the Opera” show all around the world at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the Haymarket, one of London’s classic Victorian theaters. Phantom continues to excite audiences across the globe, thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unforgettable score, some jaw-dropping scenery, and breathtaking special effects. Combined, they help the magic and bring the legendary love story to life.”
- Thriller Live Tickets at the Lyric West End: “Celebrate the life and career of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 at the spectacular “Thriller Live” show on the stage of London’s Lyric Theatre. The blockbuster musical takes you on a journey that spans 40 years of Michael Jackson’s musical life. So far, he has sold an unparalleled 750 million records worldwide, with the “Thriller” album still the world’s best-selling record of all time.”
Oxford Street. Carnaby Street. Bond Street. Covent Garden. Sloane Street. Notting Hill Gate. Piccadilly. Tottenham Court Road. I bet you know many of these names no matter where you’re from – even if it’s just from Monopoly.
London is renowned for its world-class shopping destinations and “high streets”, and year-round you will see throngs of locals and tourists spending their hard-earned pounds on these streets. If you want to visit some historic London institutions, Harrods, Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges are iconic stores worth checking out.
Explore Harry Potter’s world
If you’re a Potterhead, you’re probably willing to give up a day of your fleeting visit to London to Harry and friends. Officially part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, you’ll explore film sets, props, costumes and so much more from the film series.
This award-winning destination is super popular, and a magical trip here is worth extending your trip for. The studios are located about 20 miles from Central London but are easily accessible by road or by rail! While I think this is better if you’ve got longer than 48 hours in the city, it’s a really fantastic day for Potter fans, and felt I needed to mention it in my London itinerary!
See a “Football” match
Football (or soccer to the American readers) is basically a religion across the United Kingdom, and London is the home of many of the premier league teams. It isn’t cheap to see a game, but it is a travel story you can tell for years to come. There are games quite often, so just do a quick search when you’re in London, and see if you can squeeze in a match into your jam-packed itinerary!
Hunt for Jack the Ripper by night
He eluded capture for his murders in 1888, and people are still fascinated by notorious killer Jack the Ripper today.
Who was he? Who were his victims? Where did it all happen? You’ll hear the thrilling tale of Gentleman Jack on one of the popular Jack the Ripper tours in the East End of London. Step back in time with this unmissable 2+ hour night tour that runs every night of the week.
- Jack the Ripper Tour with ‘Ripper-Vision’ in London: “Dare to discover the legend of London’s notorious Jack the Ripper on a tour like no other! Using state-of-the-art RIPPER-VISION™, innovative hand-held projectors help to recreate the atmosphere of Victorian London using spooky images, film clips and moving images. Follow your guide on a walking tour to explore the dimly lit backstreets of Whitechapel and hear the harrowing tales and conspiracy theories of London’s most notorious serial killer.”
- Jack the Ripper Walking Tour of London’s East End: “Descend into London’s dark history with an evening Jack the Ripper walking tour. Spend two hours exploring London’s East End with your informed guide. As you wind through the dark alleys of Whitechapel, learn the horrifying details of the 1888 killing-spree at the hand of this still unknown serial killer. Hear about the victims and theories on the suspects, then warm your chilled blood with a drink at Ten Bells pub, a key setting in the Jack the Ripper mystery.”
Join the crowd at Wimbledon
Are you visiting London during June or July…?
Whether you love tennis or just want to celebrity spot, Wimbledon is absolutely a must-visit!
The weather is warm, the sun is (mostly) out and you’ll see some of the best in the grand slam biz smashing it out for the Wimbledon championship.
Wax on, wax off at Madame Tussaud’s
The royal family, Sherlock Holmes, sports stars, film icons, world leaders and great artists – just to name a few – all live in this building in London. Okay, maybe not the actual people, but their wax sculptures do.
A visit to the original and the best of the Madame Tussauds chain is a must, and hundreds of figures (and counting) are on show here in their Marylebone home.
Brave the Tower of London
Heads have been removed here, many have been imprisoned and the lore of the Tower of London lingers on even today. This fortress is still standing in Central London 1000 years on, and millions of tourists a year roll through its doors, eager to see this spooky historical landmark.
See the Crown Jewels and hear some spooktacular tales from the best storytellers and tour guides in the business. After your visit, wander over to Tower Bridge and check out its recognizable design.
- Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-17:30
- Sunday-Monday: 10:00-17:30
Walk with the animals at London Zoo
Regardless of whether you’re traveling with kids or are just a big kid yourself, no visit to London would be complete without checking out their incredible zoo located right in the city! With lots of animals and shows in a beautiful park setting, London Zoo comes highly recommended, especially if the kids don’t have much interest in art, history, shopping or the royal family.
London Zoo: Entry Ticket + Skip-the-Line: “With over 720 animal species, exciting and innovative new exhibits and heritage buildings almost as famous as their inhabitants, it’s a great day out in London for visitors of all ages. Gorillas, penguins and more await!”
Stroll through London’s many markets
The market is an important part of everyday life in many English cities and villages, and Londoner’s can put one on like few other major cities. Wherever you are staying, the odds are there’s a great market not far from you, selling all kinds of wares and food and offering up a terrific way to while away a morning – or a day.
The most well-known markets include Portobello Road Market in affluent Notting Hill, The alternative Camden Markets, Borough Market, Victoria Park Market, Greenwich Market and Brixton Market. Just check opening times, as some only operate on weekends.
London Food and Drink recommendations
Whether you’re an amateur foodie or an experienced culinary aficionado, you can bet London has a dining (and drinking) experience to “wet your whistle”.
London really is a melting pot of cultural influences, and that culture naturally flows over into their massive food scene. If you know exactly what you fancy, here’s just a few of my top-shelf recommendations to get you in the British mood.
An authentic pub meal
If you can’t find a great local pub meal in London, there’s something wrong with you. The city is packed with pubs, both old and new, that serve up an affordable feed in a cozy location. For a taste of England, you can’t pass up a plate of fish and chips, a Sunday roast, bangers and mash, pie and chips or a “full English”, a huge breakfast that will fill you up before a busy day.
A Brick Lane curry
For one street in such a massive city, Brick Lane has done well to achieve such a cult status as a global food destination. Located in London’s East End, Brick Lane is a fun and vibrant neighbourhood that is most well known for its incredible Asian eats, particularly Bangladeshi food. If you mention being hungry to any local, you can guarantee an authentic curry on Brick Lane will be one of their top recommendations.
A traditional High Tea
There are few things more British than an afternoon High Tea, and it’s a fantastic way to break up your busy itinerary. Tea houses can be found throughout London at all price points, but to me, you can’t go past Afternoon Tea at The Savoy or Claridge’s for the best of the best high tea experience in London. Most elite hotels have a specific high tea package, but if you are reigning in the spending a bit, I love Beas of Bloomsbury and The Modern Pantry for a budget-friendly offering.
British chefs are some of the best in the world, and the world has had a taste of their skills thanks to celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal and Nigella Lawson. If you’ve got pounds to splurge, there’s tons of exclusive London restaurants to make a fancy reservation at. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Hakkasan Mayfair and Veeraswamy on Regent Street all boast Michelin Star food and service.
Nightlife for 2 Days in London
A night out in London is always amazing, and no matter what your partying style is, you’ll find it in this sprawling city. From a cozy night slamming pints in pubs, an all-out rager at a great nightclub (the flagship Ministry of Sound club is located in Central London) or tagging along on one of the many tourist pub crawls – London is an incredible night out.
For a kitschy event you won’t forget, the Monopoly Board Pub Crawl is so fun and entertaining and will take you to all the hotspots featured on the famous board game. It covers all 26 locations mentioned in the game, so rest up and line your stomach beforehand. Trust me.
Or you could check out the popular SHOREDITCH Pub Crawl as well! It’s a fantastic area to explore the local bars, and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike!
London travel tips…
- The London Explorer Pass is a fantastic bundled package that includes entry to many of the city’s major attractions. Recommended to save some serious pounds.
- London is a relatively safe city, but being aware of your surroundings and keeping an eye on your belongings is recommended – as with anywhere.
- Student, youth or seniors cards can get you a hefty discount on entry to many major landmarks, public transport and even savings in many stores. If you have a valid concession, use it with abandon in pricey London.
- London has SO MANY free attractions, which is great considering it’s one of the world’s most expensive cities. Some of the free museums and galleries in London include The British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum and the Museum of London.
- If you are staying in London for more than a few days, pick up an Oyster Card to use on their public transport system – it will save you a lot of time and money! The card itself is free for a small refundable deposit, so you’ve got nothing to lose and only cash to gain.
- Staying outside of the busy centre of London will keep costs down a little, and the Tube is so great you won’t even notice.
- Speaking of the Tube, it’s an unwritten rule that people are generally very quiet on the Tube, so keep the loud talking or rowdiness to a minimum – or at least until you disembark. Those English are a dignified lot!
- Wear sensible walking shoes – this is one of the best walking cities in the world.
- Queueing is a mandatory custom in Britain, so don’t be impatient as others won’t take well to it. Again, dignified.
- Many Tube lines run all night on Friday and Saturday nights, which makes London ideal for a big weekend night out!
- Like many European cities, London has its fair share of scammers trawling the streets for their next target. Don’t stop – keep walking.
- It rains in London – a lot. And the brilliant sunshine can disappear at a moments notice, giving way to frigid cold. Always, always take a jacket – and an umbrella.
- Allow for lots of time at Heathrow! This major international airport is HUGE. So huge, in fact, that there’s a board in departures that estimates how long it will take you to walk to your gate, and the airport itself has THREE Tube stations beneath it and FIVE terminals in total. When flying in or out, don’t think you can leave it until the last minute. Not only are lines extremely lengthy and customs very thorough, but you may get distracted by the vastness of the duty free shopping on offer…
- Tipping in London isn’t mandatory or expected like in the U.S, but hospitality wages are on the lower end of the scale here, so a small tip is greatly appreciated.
- The British drive on the left side of the road and have right hand drive cars. Good to remember when crossing roads (or getting in cabs!)
- Surprisingly, London isn’t great for free wifi, so it’s recommended you pick up a cheap sim card on your arrival. It’ll save you the burden of roaming charges.
- Don’t forget to pack a U.K travel adaptor or two!
Am I Missing Anything from my 2 Days in London Itinerary…?
London really is one of the best cities in the world, and there’s simply no shortage of incredible things to do while you’re visiting. This two-day itinerary is actually more of destination travel guide, and I hope it’s given you tons of fun ideas on how to spend your time in London!
If you’ve been to London recently and think I need any specific tour, restaurant, landmark, or whatever else to this list – please do reach out to me and let me know! I’d love to keep this London travel blog as up-to-date as possible!
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