London is famous for many things. The bustling West-End theatres. Small, winding streets in the city centre full of charm and character. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben which line the bank of the Thames. London is also home to the Royal Family. You can visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Shakespeare, Jane Austin and Charles Dickens were all Londoners. Hundreds of famous musicians, artists and actors call this city home. Then there’s the shopping! Working your way through Oxford Street can easily take up your entire 48 hours.
London is also one of the greenest cities in the world. With 47% of Great London being green space, you’re never far away from a park. Hyde Park in London’s inner-West or Hampstead Heath in the north are just two examples where you feel like you’re in the countryside, despite being in central London. Londoners take full advantage of this each summer when every park spills over with picnics, sun bathers, sports and BBQ’s.
Then, of course, there’s the famous British pub culture. Whether you prefer your cosy, traditional pubs or modern, trendy gastro pubs. London has something in every style and on almost every corner of the city.
So with all these options and just 48 hours to see London, how do you decide where to spend your time? Here’s a guide on how best to spend 2 days in London.
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What you should not miss if you spend two days in London
The Royal Family
The world loves the Royal Family! Buckingham Palace is home to the Queen and the perfect place to experience a dash of Royal culture at the Changing the Guard ceremony every other day. Kensington Palace is home to Prince William and Prince Harry, and visitors can explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the Palace. Westminster Abbey, the Royal Parks and the Princess Diana Memorial are all must-sees.
London’s markets are not only where you’ll find some of the best food in the city, you’ll also get to discover parts of London that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Borough Market is the best when it comes to quality food. Portobello Road Market is famous for its colourful setting in Notting Hill. You can also head east to the trendy Columbia Road which hosts a popular Flower Market every Sunday.
Museums and Galleries
One of the wonderful things about London is that most museums and galleries are free to visit! With so many amazing options to choose from, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Try the Tate Modern which is home to a rotating roster of the world’s best modern artists. Or visit the Impressionist Room at the National Gallery where you’ll find Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers.
Day one in London
Recommended things to do and see on your first day in London
On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays or Sundays – weather permitting – head to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing the Guard. It occurs at 10:45am when the New Guard takes over from the Old Guard outside the Palace. The event lasts about 45 minutes with the actual handover taking place at 11am. It’s free to watch and if you’re a fan of the Royal Family, then it’s not to be missed!
Walk along the South Bank and take in the views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the opposite side of the River Thames. Then make your way towards TATE Modern museum to see some of the free exhibitions. Finish the afternoon strolling to Tower Bridge where you’ll also have views of the Tower of London on the river bank opposite.
Finish the day at Borough Market. While the market is closed at this hour, the area is still home to some of London’s best restaurants. Try the city’s best Italian restaurant Padella. If you’re in the mood for something spicier, try El Pastor for great tacos. If you like sampling as much as possible, head to Brindisa for excellent tapas. Finally, wine lovers can’t go past Bedales wine bar.
Where to stay for your first night in London
What to eat on your first day in London
Recommended tours & activities for your first day in London
Day two in London
Recommended things to do and see on your second day in London
You can’t visit London without some shopping! Real shopping enthusiasts will head straight to Oxford Street and Regents Street. This is where you’ll find every shop you need. If money is no object, nearby Bond Street is famous for its luxury brands. For those who want to avoid some of the crowds, head to Covent Garden and Seven Dials for a slightly calmer and more boutique shopping experience.
Once the shopping spree is over, it’s time for a bit of culture. The National Portrait Gallery and The National Gallery are found at Trafalgar Square. If you’d like something more interactive, try the British Museum or the London Transport Museum, both found in London’s West End. Somerset House on The Strand is also one of the city’s most spectacular venues and home to The Courtauld Gallery.
Before the sun sets, make your way to St Paul’s cathedral. If you love a view then head to the top floor of One New Change, just east of St. Paul’s. The view of St. Paul’s as you take the lift up to the 6th floor is breathtaking. Then pull up a comfy couch at the rooftop bar and soak up the incredible views.
What to eat on your second day in London
Recommended tours & activities for your second day in London