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2 days in London itinerary: a trip you’ll want to copy

2 days in London itinerary: a trip you’ll want to copy

London is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Can you do it in two days? Yes. Here is an amazing 2 days in London itinerary that you will love.

London is one of the most visited cities in the world. London has a unique history and a lot of sites to see. I explored the city and spent a few weeks there through travel hacking.

I condensed most of the great things that were the most memorable into a 2-day experience to ensure you have the best visit possible. When you only have two days in London, you need an awesome itinerary to quickly see as much as possible.

How to get around London

Embankment Station entrance with London Underground logo and greenery
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Transport for London (TSL) offers maps and fares for all forms of public transport. Taxis are usually the most expensive option, and London traffic is not always the fastest or most suitable.

London Underground map

London Pass gives you access to over 80 London attractions. This also offers quick access to the most popular places with long lines.

In order to take a journey at all points on this itinerary, you can use an Oyster card with your train ticket for maximum comfort. The pass combines a few “must-see” places like the Hop-on-Hop-on Hop-off buses and the Thames, making it easy for you to get around.

You must present an Oyster Card or contactless card at the turn-out. The system may seem confusing, but actually, it’s well-designed and simple to use.

An Oyster travel card covers all public transportation throughout central London and there is a daily cap, meaning if you get to that place, your transit is free until the end of the next day.

For now, you can also book Uber but there’s some risk that Uber will shut off.

Boat Along the River Thames

Finally, use the River Thames to get around efficiently and see several iconic tourist attractions like the Westminster, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, London Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

A River Thames sightseeing cruise can be an excellent way to see several landmarks, as most are along the river. Sightseeing cruises are not always the most fun way to enjoy a city, but they’re efficient.

If a Thames River cruise is not your thing, there are plenty of very efficient water taxes, so you can skip the touristy vibe and look at the sites on your way.

Where to stay in London

London is a huge city connected by the “tube” or the Underground subway. You’ll want to stay in a central location near a tube stop to get around London fast.

These are the top three neighborhoods to stay in London.

Shoreditch

The Shoreditch neighborhood is up-and-coming, with trendy restaurants and hipster-style coffee shops. Shoreditch is a great place to stay if you want to live like a local and try out trendy spots.

Book one of these top places to stay in Shoreditch at the lowest price with Booking.com.

Covent Garden

Right in central London, Covent Garden is the ideal spot to stay. You are just a short walk from Covent Garden and most major attractions, excellent restaurants, and theaters. Staying in central London will allow you to see both sides of this expansive city.

It’s also near the Thames River so you can easily walk across a bridge to South Bank London. Like what you are hearing? Check accommodation prices for hotels in Covent Garden.

Kensington

Located in west London, Kensington is the place to stay for families and upscale people. Kensington is one of the wealthiest areas which means clean, quiet streets, steps from Hyde Park, great shopping, and ample cabs.

Kensington is a little harder, but the neighborhood is quaint. If this sounds like your kind of thing, check out these top places to stay in Kensington.

Here is a guide to exploring London’s east end.

South Bank

London’s South Bank is home to a number of renowned sites, including the London Eye.

On nice days, stroll along the South Bank to see beautiful views of barge restaurants and pubs. On weekdays, the popular attractions in London include Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the contemporary Shard Building.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, check out these top-rated hotels in South Bank for the lowest price.

When to visit London, England

The best time to visit London is in late summer and early fall. Of course, London during the holidays is wonderful, but if you only have a few days, it is easier to walk outside when the temperature is warmer.

London weather is testy. In the summer, it can get to be blazing hot. The winter and spring seasons are chilly, with a lot of rain. But don’t let the rain get you down.

London was built for the rain so buy an umbrella, pack a scarf, and get out exploring.

See Related: Ultimate Packing Checklist for London

What to do before you go to London

Before you go to London, make an itinerary and purchase all of your tickets in advance. We like to use the London Pass because it has all the best places for a lower cost.

Also, make sure to get your London Eye tickets in advance. We recommend the champagne toast evening slot for a sunset view and a glass of bubbly.

Day One on the London Itinerary

For the first day, we will hit all the iconic spots. We start west and move east, stopping at sites along the way.

At 9:00 a.m., wake up and grab a quick coffee and pastry. Today, we have much walking to do, so strap up your sneakers and get cruising.

9:30 am Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is THE royal palace of Europe and is home to the British Monarchy. The Queen isn’t always here, however. You can tell if she is home if the Queen’s flag is soaring.

You can purchase tickets in advance (book right here) to tour the palace if you’d like. With so much to see in two days, we will just check out the front gates. You can also watch the changing of the guards.

From Buckingham Palace, you can walk through the parks to get to Westminster and make sure you continue past Big Ben to see Westminster Abbey.

If you can make it work, our favorite path is through St. James’s Park and Green Park. The trees are huge, the animals are friendly, and the views are gorgeous.

St. James’s Park is surprisingly pretty quiet, a nice change from the busy streets we are about to encounter.

Bridge at St. James Park
Bridge at St. James Park (Alex Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

Stop at this bridge and snap a few photos. If it’s nice out, take a seat and people-watch. Then, keep heading towards the river.

See Related: 11 Top Nicknames for London

10:30 Westminster, Westminster Abbey & Big Ben.

All three of these landmarks are right next to each other, making it easy to see them. Start with Westminster Abbey. You can attend a service or walk inside and enjoy the views.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey from across the street

Cross the street and go to Westminster. Westminster is home to the British Parliament. This building is stunning.

Westminster was built in 1016 and has been vigorously restored over the years. If you want to go inside, we recommend getting tickets before your trip to tour it.

SECRET TIP: this tour is only 2 hours, and it will take you through Westminster and Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards.

For under $50, this is the best deal you can get! Book here to reserve your spot.

Attached to Westminster is Big Ben. Probably the most iconic structure in all of London, Big Ben was built in the mid-1800s and recently renamed “Elizabeth Tower” to commemorate the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Check out these other fun facts about London to learn more.

Big Ben Clock Tower
Sunny day to see the Big Ben clock tower

Take some photos and enjoy the scenery. If you have a little time, walk down the river for a moment. You can still see Big Ben, but there are fewer people around.

Big Ben Drawing

Across the river, you can take some great photos of Westminster and Big Ben. Walk across the bridge if you’d like some great Instagram-worthy shots.

Don’t worry about the London Eye yet. We’ll stop there later.

11:30 Downing Street & Trafalgar Square

The British Prime Minister lives at the iconic #10 Downing Street. This simple street is lined with stark-white buildings and high security.

You can only spend a minute or two here to say you saw it, but it’s on the way to lunch, so pop by to say hello to the PM.

Keep walking on this road, and you’ll pass through Trafalgar Square and see the National Gallery. The gallery is free to visit if you want to pop in quickly and then continue walking to get lunch.

12:00pm Lunch in Neil’s Yard

Colorful Neals Yard in Covent Garden
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Continue walking north for lunch. Neil’s Yard is a hidden pocket of London with brightly colored buildings, greenery, and great food. Pop into Homeslice for some excellent pizza.

Pizza at Homeslice in Neils Yard

Pizza at Homeslice in Neil’s Yard

Want something a bit more exotic? Check out these spots on where to get bao in London.

See Related: Best Castles in London

1:00pm Tube ride to St. Paul’s

St. Paul's Cathedral dome amidst London's skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Our next stop is St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can walk there, but the tube is probably faster. Hop on over and check out the enormous cathedral in the heart of London.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is impressive – it is one of the world’s largest.

St. Paul Cathedral London
Walking towards St. Paul Cathedral

2:00 pm Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern & Shakespeare’s Globe

Head down to the river from St. Paul’s to walk across the Millennium Bridge. This bridge became famous in the Harry Potter films and is walked by thousands daily.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, here are the best Harry Potter things to do in London where you’ll get all the lowdown on Harry Potter filming locations.

On the other side of the river is a rebuilt version of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. You can still see shows here today.

3:00 p.m. Riverwalk to the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, and Tower of London

Autumn colors at London's Tower Bridge with sun rays and clear blue sky
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Tower Bridge is probably the second-most iconic site in London after Big Ben. The Tower Bridge is far east from everything except the Tower of London and the City of London so, while we normally like to take our time to stroll along the river and take in the sights, you’ll want to be efficient so consider a Thames River cruise.

Check to see if the London Pass is available to get access to iconic landmark attractions like these.

Or, grab the underground to get there fast. If you take a Thames River Cruise, you’ll cross under the historic London Bridge. There isn’t much to see regarding the bridge architecture but the history is great to learn about.

If you plan to walk, there are a number of pubs along the river. Stop in for a London Pride or a local pint to feel refreshed.

Our favorite stopover spot is Boro Bistro. This French restaurant is cozy and quaint with a modern vibe. The tables are mismatched and lined with funky cushions and blankets.

Boro Bistro London

Looking down into Boro Bistro

Check the weekly schedule for Tower Bridge and see the bridge rise. The city posts the times that the bridge will rise up to let in large boats.

Alternatively, buy tickets for the Tower Bridge exhibition to learn about the history of the bridge and walk along the top portion of the bridge to get some crazy views.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge from a water taxi

At Tower Bridge, you can walk across and head back over to the north side of the river. The Tower of London is on the north side of the river, next to the bridge. Here, you can view the crown jewels.

Get your tickets in advance here if you want to see this exhibit.

5:00 p.m. pre-dinner sightseeing at the London Eye

Now it is time to head back over to the London Eye. Take a taxi or a tube to get there. Book your tickets in advance here to secure your spot. You already have your tickets, so join the line and get ready for some views!

Westminster from the London Eye
View of Westminster from the London Eye

The crazy part about the London Eye is seeing the other pods going around.

London Eye Pod View
Another pod going around the London Eye

7:30pm dinner time!

London has some of the best restaurants in the world if you know where to look. Skip the pub food and try one of the trendy spots. Here are our top suggestions:

Dishoom: a modern Indian kitchen with the best okra fries and paneer in town. Make a reservation or go at an odd time.

The wait can be very long. If you wait, just grab a drink at the bar.

Dishoom Okra Fries
Dishoom Okra Fries

St. John Bread & Wine: my favorite restaurant in London, St. John makes a limited amount of what their local farmers bring in each day.

They pride themselves on using every part of the animal to make exquisite dishes. Get a big bottle of wine, some good friends, and settle in for a remarkable meal.

St. John Bread and Wine Restaurant
St. John Bread and Wine Shoreditch

Polpo: fresh Italian food with a modern twist. Polpo has fantastic pasta and seafood that could impress an Italian in-law.

Gnocchi at Polpo London

Gnocchi at Polpo London

Sketch: a Michelin-star restaurant with all the Instagram vibes. This restaurant is top on our list to visit.

Hotbox: great rotisserie chicken, bone marrow, and comfort food. Hotbox is great for dinner and brunch.

Rotisserie Chicken at Hotbox

Rotisserie Chicken at Hotbox

Night Life in London

London has a big nightlife. Around Piccadilly Circus, you can find many pubs, clubs, and everything in between.

Just pick a neighborhood, find a pub, and post up. The locals are friendly, and the beer is fantastic.

Day Two on the London Itinerary

Day one was packed with sightseeing. For day two, we will focus on what London is like as a local.

Morning: Head over to Shoreditch and Spitalfields market. These neighborhoods are very local and have excellent spots to pop in for a flat white and quiche before continuing your day.

Spitalfields Market had dozens of shops, from upscale Chanel to local merchants selling discount scarves.

Spend a bit of your morning sampling from the shops and finding hidden treasures. Here is a guide on what you need to know about Old Spitalfields Market.

Head north to Shoreditch to check out all the new hipster spots. It’s definitely one of the most Instagrammable places in London.

Next, wander back to the city’s center by Covent Garden and Leicester Square (pronounced LESTER). Check out the last-minute theater tickets so you can watch a show for cheap.

Mid-day: Stop by Harrods. A London staple, Harrods has everything you require. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask. Their staff will scour the globe to find even the rarest item – just for a price.

Afternoon: before you go, you must have afternoon tea at The Ivy, Chelsea Garden (reservation required). Just look at this spread:

Tea at The Ivy
Tea at The Ivy, Chelsea Garden.

There are multiple Ivy’s across London, so make sure you go to the right one. The Ivy Covent Garden is more for dinner, whereas Chelsea Garden has the most wonderful patio to enjoy your afternoon tea.

Evening: We suggest a rooftop bar that overlooks the city for your last night. These are our favorite rooftops and restaurants with city views.

The Culpeper, Spitalfields: excellent bar bites, great cocktails, excellent music, and a quaint patio. The views? Excellent. All the newest skyscrapers and high rises glisten during sunset and into the nighttime.

Aqua Kyoto: right off Oxford Street with views of Regent Street, Aqua Kyoto boasts great cocktails and an upbeat vibe. With more of a “clubbing” vibe at night, this is a great spot to go with a group.

Sushi Samba: a bit fancy, Sushi Samba has excellent sushi and cocktails. This is an excellent place for a small group of friends or a date. Sushi Samba definitely has one of the best views you could ask for.

Coq d’Argent: a giant green rooftop with drinks and apps and a fantastic view.

Duck & Waffle: not a rooftop, but on the top floor. Duck & Waffle is a great dinner spot for cold, rainy nights or nights that you’d rather spend inside. The view is unbelievable, a full view of all of London. You can’t go wrong. We’ve never had the food here, but we hear great things.

If you have time, consider a quick day trip to Stonehenge, Richmond or Notting Hill. London is a massive city with a lot to see, but it also has a lot to offer outside of the central downtown.

See Related: Scott’s Cheap Flights Review

Best Free Things to Do in London: Fun Neighborhoods, Parks & Amazing Museums

Historically, London has been considered one of the most expensive places to live and travel in the world. From food to lodging, you can expect to stretch your travel budget throughout visiting London.

One very important thing that visitors will never complain about is that London has a lot of free things to see, including some of the most important museums in Europe. As a result, ensure you build your itinerary around these museums.

Trafalgar Square & The National Gallery

Trafalgar Square at Sunrise

Trafalgar Square is a must-see landmark in London. Take a metro to Charing Cross and go to bed early. If you need more peace and calm, then stop by the National Gallery.

It’s typically open daily from 10 am, and it’s free to visit, making it one of the best places to visit in and around London.

The museum will allow you to spend hours walking along despite the distance you travel to the city, so you must choose the way to visit.

As an option, stay within half an hour even if you look at some interesting architecture or truly understand how incredible this place is.

British Museum

The Front of The British Museum

British Museum is known for some of the finest museums. On the outside, the monumental stone columns of this museum mimic the Parthenon.

There are 60 epic galleries in this monumental space with exhibitions on the world, from Ancient Greece to Africa to the Americas. Also, admission is free here (although some exhibitions require payment). And remember Egyptian mummies?

For more information, click the museum’s web page. And here, you could also spend days and maybe weeks without seeing anything. It’s worth it even though you have half an hour.

See Related: London vs Paris: What’s the Difference [City Comparison]

Regent’s Park

Autumn in Regents Park

Regent Park is a fantastic location to unwind during the day. Madame Tussauds and ZSL London Zoo may be found on the park’s southern side.

If you need to get away from it all in this area of London, venture to Little Venice.

Camden Town

Camden Town Lock and Dam in London

The final stop on your journey is Camden Town, which you can reach by bus or the underground.

You may either go across the canal and up to Primrose Hill for spectacular views of London or follow the park canal to Camden Town.

In Camden Town, there are plenty of great street food options from a variety of cultures, so if you’re traveling as a group, you will have no trouble finding something that will suit your entire group’s fancy.

Covent Garden

Colorful Neals Yard in Covent Garden
Colorful Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden

Located right in Central London, Covent Garden is one of London’s most exciting areas, and as we outlined above, it’s a great location for all other tourist attractions. It has great theatrical shows but there are also exciting street performers to watch.

It’s also a truly great area to go for lunches with dozens of nice dining and cafes. See the colorful square, Neal Yard, just a 10-minute walk from free museums like the British Museum.

Leicester Square, Chinatown, & Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus at Dusk

It’s a shame Leicester Square is so congested and pricey, but it’s still worth seeing. Explore the crowded tourist area to get a feel for the hustle and bustle of London.

Afterward, head to Piccadilly Circus, sometimes compared with Times Square in New York, near there. It has a Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, also known as Eros Fountain, in the middle.

The enormous Chinatown Gateway near Piccadilly Circus is one you should not miss. If you don’t want to stay too long, you may spend as little as 20-30 minutes exploring these areas or a few hours.

Do you need travel insurance for 2 days in London?

SafetyWing is tailored to your needs, providing the best value for money on your trip. As a ViaTravelers reader, you may get a special discount on SafetyWing insurance.

Aside from basic cancellations, medical expenses, luggage coverage, and a minimal travel policy, they provide phone support 24 hours a day.

This itinerary will get you to all the best spots in London. And to some of the best restaurants. When walking around London, walk down random alleys, pop into local pubs, and chat with the locals. We hope you enjoy your London trip and find some good gems in this London itinerary.

FAQ

What can you do in 2 days in London?

You can plan 2 days in London with these activities by day:

Day 1: London Museum; London Eye; Westminster Abbey (includes an audio guide). Grosvenor Square Mile Tours – Start your day by visiting the busy Trafalgar Square and passing through Oakley Gardens. From there, walk towards, Buckingham Palace. Then, have a nice walk through Hyde Park and Bayswater Road. Plan on finishing your day at the Kensington Gardens.

Day 2: London City Tour; St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London (includes audio guide), the iconic London landmark of the Tower Bridge, and London Bridge. The second day in your London itinerary should include visiting everything in East London or the City of London. Each one of the landmarks mentioned herein is located on this side of London.

With two days in London, you will have enough time to see the main tourist attractions without being overwhelmed.

Where should I stay in London for 2 days?

London is an amazing city and to spend 2 days, you must be efficient with your time. Stay in the most convenient underground areas that are centrally located for walking or bus rides, which would include SoHo, Covent Garden, or Holborn.

How many days is enough in London?

London is an enormous city with lots to see and do. With an organized London Itinerary, you can visit only the most famous attractions in about two to three days. However, London is a city filled with a tremendous amount of activities. If you truly want to see the whole city, you may want to spend 4-7 days in London to see and experience all aspects of this historic capital city.

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