As a born and bred Londoner, I’m biased, but I think London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a certain magic and electricity about it that you have to experience to understand. Steeped in millennia of history, there’s a lifetime of adventures waiting to happen in London. However, it is absolutely possible to fit in the iconic sights and get a true feel for London in 2 days. So, if you’re looking to discover what to see and things to do in London in 2 days, then you’ve come to the right place!
It’s easy to understand why London is the third most visited city in the world (behind Bangkok and Paris) with over 19 million international visitors per year. From it’s tranquil, leafy parks, to its gritty history, stunningly eclectic architecture, numerous museums, dynamic West End shows and tantalising food scene – London has it all.
Whether you’re planning for a weekend in London or a midweek 48 hours in London getaway, this local’s guide contains everything you need to know to make the most of your 2 days in London.
Planning for your London 2 Day Itinerary
Before we get into the sights and scenes you will explore, I wanted to provide a few notes on planning and preparing for your London vacation. Browsing this section will, if nothing else, help you familiarize yourself with much of what you will read in-depth later on.
Is 2 days in London enough?
It is possible to see a LOT in London in 2 days. However, you could spend a year in London and still find more to see! Ideally, spend as long as you can in London to really give yourself a chance to explore thoroughly.
You’ll be able to see the highlights and main landmarks of London in 2 days, with time for a cheeky cocktail in one of London’s top rooftop bars. However, it doesn’t give you much opportunity to explore further afield and to discover the non touristy side of London. There are so many things to do all over this vast city! Particularly with so many areas outside of the tourist centre that are also worth a visit.
If you do only have two days in London, don’t fret. With this itinerary, you’ll get a great insight into the city and see all the most iconic places. Hopefully, you’ll love the city as much as I do and come back again to explore more!
Book Before You Go
One of the most important tips for the perfect 2 days in London: book your tickets in advance. With only 2 days to explore London, you’ll be hitting mostly the top tourist attractions. These places can sell out fast or have very long lines so it’s worth booking ahead of time.
Many of the top London attractions offer reduced concession rates. If you have ID, such as a student card, that makes you eligible for these rates, be sure to bring it with you to save some money!
Don’t worry, I’ve tried to link to the cheapest booking option for each attraction within this itinerary already!
Your other option is a London Pass, which you will discover throughout this guide grants you entry to a considerable number of London’s iconic destinations. Those of you who plan on following this 2 days in London itinerary should read the following section and strongly consider buying the pass…
Is a London Pass worth it for 2 days in London?
I have mentioned and will continue to mention the London Pass a lot, so you may be wondering what it is and if it’s worth it.
The London Pass starts at £79 and includes entrance to many of the top London sights, often with “skip the line” access, as well as discounts at many other places. However, you’ll never cover all of the attractions it offers during your trip to London in 2 days.
The London Pass is a great value for people who plan on visiting as many of the sites as possible, but isn’t worth it for those of you who will be more discerning with your time. I’d therefore recommend keeping pen and paper next to you as you read this London travel guide and noting which attractions you’d be interested in visiting, then calculating whether a London Pass will provide enough value for you.
To give you some idea, if you were to visit the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the total for purchasing these three tickets individually would be £69.90. In this instance, the London Pass would not be worth it for you. However, add just one more attraction, such as The View from The Shard and you’re now at a total of £98.80. You can see how quickly you begin saving money by having the London Pass, as well as potentially saving time in lines!
If you do decide to get the London Pass, I would NOT recommend the option with an Oyster Card included. This option will not save you any money as a regular Oyster Card is capped each day and is likely to be less than the cost of adding it to your London Pass.
Go ahead and click the London Pass link now so it is open in a second window of your browser. If you decide it is worth it after completing your list, you can go ahead and purchase it now or bookmark the page for later!
Map of all the Places in this London in 2 Days Guide
I love pinning all the places on a Google Map before visiting a new place in order to find the most efficient routes. As I have already done that, I thought I’d save you the work and put together an interactive map of all the places mentioned in this 2 day London itinerary. You’ll also find all the attractions colour coded for easy reference.
Just click on the image below to open the 2 days in London map in a new tab.
The ULTIMATE London 2 Day Itinerary
You could spend years exploring London and still find more to do. With 2 days in London, you will have just enough time to see only the main highlights. This 2 day itinerary is designed to help you see as many of the iconic London sights as possible. However, as such, it will be a jam-packed itinerary. Be prepared for a busy couple of days of sightseeing!
I have divided the two days up based purely on geography to cover the city in the most time-efficient manner. I’d recommend getting an early start to the days to allow you to make the most of your time in London. Hopefully, this itinerary will provide you with some structure and all the information you need to form your own personalised itinerary based on your unique interests.
London in 2 Days: Day 1
It seems apt to start your 2 days in London at the official residence of the Queen. Originally known as Buckingham House, this building actually almost became the British Museum back in the 17th century. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, it was enlarged and now has 775 rooms and the largest private garden in London.
Everything about this palace is as ostentatious as you’d expect, from its sheer grandeur to its carved intricacies. Even the road leading to it, The Mall, is coloured red to imitate a giant red carpet.
Tours of Buckingham Palace
During the summer months, it is possible to visit the inside of the palace and explore the lavish staterooms. You’d need to allow 2.5-3.5 hours for a tour of Buckingham Palace, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
Changing of the Guard
If you wish to see the changing of the guard, you’ll need to check the times and days for this as it only occurs on certain days. I’d also recommend checking the changing guard website for the best spots to observe this ceremony as it takes place over a few locations. If you prefer, you can book a tour that will show you the best locations to view the parade, as well as provide more information about its history.
Be prepared that it is an incredibly popular thing to witness. You should expect huge crowds and to be stuck there for some time. Personally, I’d skip it (particularly with just 2 days in London). I think it’s overrated, horridly overcrowded and a bit of a waste of time, but I appreciate it’s a bucket list thing to do in London for many visitors.
St James’s Park
Take a stroll through St James’s Park. One of 8 royal parks in London, St James’s Park covers an area of nearly 57 acres. Enjoy a moment of tranquillity, take in the views and spot the 6 resident pelicans. Yes, pelicans in London – and they all have names! There have been pelicans at St James’s Park for nearly 400 years. They were originally a gift to King Charles II from a Russian Ambassador in 1664. If you decide to visit in the afternoon instead, you can see the pelicans being fed from 2:30-3pm daily.
The wildlife in the park are mostly very tame, accustomed to being handfed by hordes of tourists. Arriving early on a winter morning, the pigeons clearly thought I had something for them and soon landed on me. While they left shortly thereafter, surely disappointed that I didn’t have anything for them, they hung around long enough for a quick selfie! If wildlife landing on your head isn’t your thing, don’t worry – this really isn’t that normal and usually they just fly away.
Churchill War Rooms
If you are interested in history, then you may wish to consider adding a stop at the Churchill War Rooms.
During World War 2, these basement offices served as the centre of the British war efforts. Today, this bunker beneath the streets of Westminster serves as a museum about Winston Churchill and the war.
Find out opening times and book your tickets online in advance through the Churchill War Rooms website. Adult tickets cost £23 or are included within the London Pass which provides access to 80+ London attractions.
For those with a fervent interest in World War 2, check out this WW2 walking tour with entrance to the Churchill War Rooms.
Downing Street is one of the most famous streets in London. It is the political hub of the UK, being the official residence of the Prime Minister at No. 10 and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at No. 11.
There are large black gates at the end of Downing Street preventing access to the public. To access this iconic street, you must be a scheduled visitor, Parliamentary pass holder or member of the accredited press. These restrictions have been put in place due to security risks over the years.
Fortunately for me, I have a friend who works there and was able to visit for a photo! Although honestly, it’s not the most exciting tourist attraction in London. However, it’s not much of a detour from your next stop so it’s worth a peek if you have any interest in politics or history!
One of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in London, Westminster Abbey is a must-see while visiting London in 2 days. This London icon has over 1000 years of history. While the construction of the present church began in 1245, Westminster Abbey was founded in 960. It has been the coronation church, where the monarch is officially crowned, since 1066.
The interior of this Gothic-style church is perhaps even more spectacular than the outside. However, to gain access you have to purchase a ticket. Entrance to Westminster Abbey is £22 for an adult if you book online or £24 at the entrance. If you decide to buy a London Pass, entrance to Westminster Abbey is included.
House of Parliament and Big Ben
Once you’ve seen Westminster Abbey, continue through Parliament Square to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. No landmarks are as representative of London as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
The Houses of Parliament, formally the Palace of Westminster, is the meeting place of the British government. Constructed between 1840 and 1870, it is the New Palace that we can see proudly sat on the bank of the River Thames. Tucked away within these walls, the Great Hall is all that remains of the medieval Old Palace.
Perched to the north of the Houses of Parliament, you’ll see Big Ben. While the nickname Big Ben is often used to refer to the bell, the clock, and the tower, it was first given to the Great Bell. In 2012, The 96-metre tower within which Big Ben is housed was renamed from Clock Tower to the Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Anyway, whatever you call both these icons, you cannot exclude them from your London 2 day itinerary.
Want to visit the inside of these icons? While tours of Big Ben are reserved to UK residents, visits to the Houses of Parliament are offered through their official website.
Important note: Although Big Ben is usually one of the most Instagrammable places in London, it is currently undergoing renovations until 2021. As a result, it is covered in scaffolding and all tours have been suspended during renovations.
Your next stop will be the London Eye. From the Houses of Parliament, cross over Westminster Bridge to Southbank. You’ll be treated with two great views: one back towards Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and another of the London Eye and Southbank.
I’ve got to be honest, while the London Eye has become an iconic part of the UK skyline and is great for photos, I don’t think it’s worth going on. I’ve been on it twice and while you will get some nice views, it’s expensive and overrated, plus it usually requires a ridiculous wait in line. Personally, I recommend admiring it from the outside and saving your time and money for a rooftop cocktail with a view!
If the London Eye is firmly on your bucket list of things to do in London, then I recommend booking tickets online in advance. Tickets start from £28 online and entrance is not included in a London Pass.
READ MORE: Most Instagrammable Places in London
From Southbank, continue over Hungerford Bridge towards Trafalgar Square. Take a minute to enjoy the views from the bridge back towards the London Eye and Houses of Parliament.
Trafalgar Square is a public square, surrounded by some of London’s top attractions, including museums, galleries, historic building, statues and monuments. Formerly home to flocks of pigeons, it still remains a space for regular public, family-friendly events throughout the year, ranging from Chinese New Year to Pride in London.
Officially given its name in 1830, Trafalgar Square square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar fought in 1805. It was during this victorious battle against the Spanish and French that Admiral Lord Nelson lost his life. Towering over the square, you’ll find Nelson’s Column paying tribute to him.
Next to Nelson’s Column are the 4 famous bronze lions. When they were created in 1867, not much was known about lions. Therefore, the designer, Edward Landseer, used the body of a dead lion from London Zoo to help with the details. Be careful if you decide to climb onto the back of one for a photo – it’s harder than it looks! At times you’ll find wardens there that will discourage people from climbing them, but to the best of my knowledge, an official ban has never been put in place.
Art lovers may wish to visit the National Gallery. It is free to enter (excluding special exhibitions) and home to over 2300 works of art, including many famous pieces from the 13th-20th centuries. If like me, you’re not massively into art galleries, I’d recommend skipping this with only 2 days in London.
A short stroll from Trafalgar Square will bring you to Covent Garden. Filled with street entertainers, this area always has a buzzing atmosphere. At the centre of Covent Garden, you’ll find the covered Apple Market. It was once a produce market, but today you’ll find handcrafted, albeit touristy, crafts, as well as an array of shops and restaurants. This can be a great place to hide out on a typical rainy day in London too!
Also, be sure to grab some Ben’s Cookies while there. They are hands down the best cookies EVER and one of the things that I crave the most when away from home!
Take some time to wander around the area (ideally with a Ben’s Cookie in hand). Floral Street and Floral Court, in particular, are really pretty streets.
If you’ve not already had lunch, then Covent Garden is a great place to stop and grab something to eat. Wander to Neal’s Yard for a colourful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with some great food options.
If you only visit one museum while exploring London in 2 days, then make it the British Museum. It is one of the many free museums in London, making it a fun thing to do in London at no cost, as well as a great rainy day activity.
I’ve included the British Museum rather than some of the other museums on this 2 day London itinerary for a few reasons. Firstly, it is the world’s oldest public national museum, dating back to 1753. Secondly, the architecture is phenomenal. Even if you just peek in to get a look at the spectacular Great Court, it’ll be worth it! Thirdly, it is the UK’s most visited attraction – so that’s got to count for something!
And finally, with just two days in London, it is the easiest museum to fit in along a natural route in this 2-day itinerary.
Oxford Street and Regent Street
If you’re wanting to get some serious shopping done in London, then these are the streets for you. However, even it that’s not your scene, it’s still worth walking down these famous London streets.
Over half a million people visit the 300+ shops on Oxford Street every day; it’s also possibly the most popular street in London! All this noise and crowds create a unique vibe. However, if you’re not a fan of crowds, then wander down the pedestrianised Carnaby Street and some of the roads just off of these.
Either way, be sure to admire the Tudor-revival beauty of department store Liberty and let out your inner child at Hamleys, where you’ll find 7 floors of toys!
Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square
From Regent Street, you should arrive at Piccadilly Circus. No matter what time of day, Piccadilly Circus is always buzzing. It is the London equivalent of New York’s Time Square and is a huge tourist attraction.
Continue through Piccadilly Circus and you’ll naturally arrive at Leicester Square (pronounced Lester as I have to constantly remind Adam!). Here you’ll find the imposing M&M world, conveniently located next to the major cinemas. This is also where London movie premieres are held.
This part of London is possibly even better at night when it both literally and figuratively shines! It’s also the heart of Theatreland, so there are many theatres nearby to watch a show.
While there are also plenty of food options in Leicester Square, I’d recommend you avoid eating here as it’s generally overpriced and poor quality.
I’m probably in the minority of Londoners when it comes to my feelings about Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, but I just LOVE them. There’s something about the electric atmosphere here that conjures up excitement.
READ MORE: Most Famous London Streets
Just north of Leicester Square, you will find yourself immersed in streets decorated with Chinese symbols such as dragons and lanterns, and even Chinese street signs. You’ve found yourself in Chinatown!
Centred around Gerrard Street, you’ll find many Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and small businesses.
Make sure you check out the most recent Chinese gate, added in 2016, on Wardour Street. This vibrant, ornamental gate was built in Beijing in the Qing dynasty style and is the largest Chinese gate in the country.
Each year, Chinatown hosts London’s colourful Chinese New Year celebrations between mid-January and February. The dates for which vary from year to year according to the Chinese lunar calendar. If you visit during this time then it’s well worth checking the Chinatown website to see when events are taking place.
It’s almost the end of day 1 of your 2 day London itinerary and it’s likely dinner time for you now. Well, you’re in a good place for it! If you like Chinese food, then this is a great place to grab some dinner. There are also many other Asian cuisines within this area.
Soho is the final stop on this 2 day London itinerary. This diverse, vibrant area is popular with Londoners and tourists alike. It is the perfect place to end your day with a variety of entertainment, food and nightlife options.
You’ll find many great restaurants along Wardour Street and the surrounding area – try Princi if you like Italian food. Then after, treat yourself to a cocktail at one of the many bars or clubs in the area.
Soho is also renowned for being the hub of gay and lesbian bars in London. Parts of the area have a very risqué vibe with not-so-subtle sex shops and burlesque.
For something more low-key, you’ll find many theatres within the area to enjoy a West End show.
London in 2 Days: Day 2
Tower of London
To see as much of London in 2 days as possible, I’d recommend getting another early start. The second day of your itinerary will begin at the Tower of London, which opens at 9am Tues-Sat and 10am Sun-Mon.
Dating back to the 1070s as an imposing river fortress, this iconic historical site has served many purposes throughout its existence. Over the years, it has been a fortress, prison, royal mint and even a zoo, and today a tourist attraction.
Since the 1800s, it has been considered one of the most secure places in the country. During this time it was appointed as the Tower Mint, being the site for the production of the nation’s money. Not long after, the royal family began to use the Tower of London to store its most precious possessions. These were put under the careful watch of the Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters, considered the most powerful soldiers. Today, the Tower is still home for the Queen’s Crown Jewels and the Beefeaters are still tasked with guarding them. However, they now also act as tour guides for this top London attraction.
You’ll want to set aside at least a couple of hours to explore the Tower of London. If you’re not interested in going inside, then at least walk around its perimeter, from which you can get some great views and an impression of the scale of it.
Entrance to the Tower of London is included in the London Pass. Otherwise, tickets cost £28.90 and you can buy your tickets online to save time on the day. You may also want to consider booking an early-access tour to beat the crowds.
READ MORE: Best Castles near London
Once you’ve seen the Crown Jewels, head over to Tower Bridge. As one of London’s defining landmarks, Tower Bridge is easily one of my favourite places to visit in London.
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world, yet is often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge. However, London Bridge is actually the next bridge along the River Thames to the West and is nowhere near as breathtaking. In fact, London Bridge is rather dull. So makes sure you set your GPS to Tower Bridge, not London Bridge!!
Built between 1886 and 1894, it has become an iconic part of London. If you’re interested in photography, it’s the perfect place to get some epic London photos. There’s even a hidden little sandy beach by the river near Tower Bridge for the perfect Insta-worthy shot. Check out our most Instagrammable places in London post for details on how to find it!
However, if you want to learn more about the history of Tower Bridge and take in some stunning panoramic views, then you should visit the Tower Bridge Experience. Entrance is £9.80 if you book online or is included in the London Pass if you choose to buy one. With this experience, you will get to walk along the high-level walkway and, if you’re brave enough, over the glass walkway suspended above the bridge.
The bridge opens fairly regularly to allow tall vessels to pass. It’s an impressive sight so it’s worth checking the Tower Bridge website to see if it is scheduled to be opened during your 2 days in London.
The HMS Belfast is one of the most significant World War 2 Navy warships and is one of only 3 surviving bombardment vessels from D-Day. During her 33 days in Normandy, she fired over 5000 shells.
I have to admit, I’ve only been on the HMS Belfast once, and that was just briefly at night (in the non-ticketed area) to photograph Tower Bridge from it! I’ve never actually explored it. However, it is included in the London Pass and you will naturally walk past it. Therefore, if you have any interest in World War 2 or Navy warships, then it may be worth a visit for you. If you don’t have the London Pass, tickets cost £17.10 online from the HMS Belfast website.
At 95 storeys high, London’s tallest skyscraper provides breathtaking views over the city. Towering a huge 310m (1020ft) above the ground, the Shard is a prominent feature of the London skyline and the tallest structure in Western Europe.
Visit the View from The Shard to experience unparalleled 360° panoramic views on floors 68, 69 and 72, at almost double the height of any other viewpoints in London. If you have the London Pass, you can head up to London’s highest view included in your pass. Otherwise, book your tickets online in advance for £35.
For a similar free, albeit not quite as impressive, view you can head up to one of the bars on the 31st or 32nd floors. All of the bars and restaurants in the Shard boast ceiling to floor windows and impressive views. It is entirely possible to sneak a peek and head back down without buying a drink. However, personally I always justify saving money on the entrance ticket and buy a cocktail instead. This way you can take a well-deserved break and truly enjoy the view.
Your route on this London 2 day itinerary will naturally take you past Golden Hinde, hence I’m mentioning it briefly! It is a full-scale reconstruction of the first English ship to circumnavigate the world, captained by Sir Francis Drake. You can go aboard with your London Pass. It is an impressive structure and worth glancing at as you pass by. However, while exploring London in 2 days, I would honestly skip it unless it’s something that really interests you.
By now you should be pretty hungry! Stop by Borough Market, one of the best locations for street food in London. You’ll find a tantalising array of global foods here. The delightful aromas instantly permeate your senses and if you’re not hungry when you arrive, your tummy will soon be rumbling!
The market is typically open daily, except Sundays. Check the Borough Market website for current opening times.
As you continue your walk along the south bank of the river, the next London tourist attraction you’ll encounter will be Shakespeare’s Globe. This world-renowned open-air performing arts centre is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, for which William Shakespeare penned his greatest works.
For fans of Shakespeare or theatre, then it is worth visiting. It is also included in the London Pass or tickets cost £17 and it’s worth booking online in advance through the Shakespeare’s Globe website.
If you are a huge Shakespeare fan, you may want to consider a specialised Shakespeare London walking tour or take in a show at the Globe.
Another 5 minutes stroll along bankside and you’ll arrive at the Tate Modern. As with most museums and art galleries in London, entry to the Tate Modern is free. This art gallery houses the largest collection of modern art in the UK. As previously mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of art galleries so would choose to skip it while exploring London in 2 days. However, if you enjoy them then it’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
Check for opening times and any special exhibitions on the Tate Modern website.
Opened in 2000, Millennium Bride was the first bridge to be built over the River Thames in 100 years. This impressive steel suspension footbridge connects the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe on the south bank of the Thames with St Pauls on the north.
For all the Harry Potter fans, you may recognise Millennium Bridge from the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is one of many locations for Harry Potter in London. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any, then book a Harry Potter Walking Tour.
Nicknamed the “wobbly bridge”, Millennium Bridge was famously closed for almost 2 years only 2 days after its opening. This was due to a huge and alarming swaying motion felt by pedestrians on the bridge. Don’t panic though, it has since been resolved and although a little wobbly at times, it is perfectly safe! It also makes for some incredible London photo opportunities.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
As you cross over Millennium Bridge, you cannot miss St. Paul’s Cathedral! Its beauty is breathtaking and I recommend walking all around the outer perimeter to marvel at the intricacies and grandeur of the building.
St Pauls should be on everyone’s London 2 day itinerary. Once the tallest building in London, this imposing cathedral has been a prominent and significant icon of the London skyline for over 300 years. It is such an important London feature in fact, that views of it from many areas are protected. These views include King Henry VIII’s Mount in Richmond, Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill.
I’d recommend further exploring the depths of this grand building by visiting inside. Again, if you have a London Pass, entrance to St Paul’s is included. However, you can buy fast track passes online which are cheaper at £17 than buying them on the day.
If visiting inside St Pauls, then you’ll likely need to set aside a couple of hours to fully explore. Once inside this massive cathedral, you can climb up the 560 steps to the top of the Dome and the Whispering Gallery. You can also venture into the crypt, where you’ll find the resting places of several notable people, including Christopher Wren, Admiral Nelson and The Duke of Wellington
One New Change
If you want to do a bit of shopping, then you’ll find plenty of options here. However, that is not why it is on this 2-day London itinerary. Just minutes from St. Paul’s, One New Change will provide you with some of the best views and photo opportunities of the cathedral.
The reflective glass at the west entrance of the shopping centre provides a beautiful mirrored tunnel with St Paul’s perfectly centred, creating an incredible scene. You can also access the rooftop of the One New Change shopping mall, providing stunning, sweeping views of London. There is a rooftop bar here called Madisons, should you require a cocktail with a view (we don’t judge)! However, the best views are from the public areas.
Our final stop for this London in 2 days guide is Sky Garden. One of the best things about Sky Garden is that it is free!
Located in the heart of the city atop 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie Talkie building), it is the highest public garden in London. Amidst a lush urban jungle, it offers stunning 360° panoramic views of the city. The themed, landscaped gardens are set over three levels. Here you’ll discover a prehistoric forest comprised of fig trees and tree ferns, as well as flowering plants from the Mediterranean and South Africa.
Sky Garden also features observation decks, two restaurants, a bar and an open-air terrace. With the exception of the restaurants, Sky Garden is naturally ventilated. Therefore, it will likely be a similar temperature to outside, so dress appropriately!
While Sky Garden is free to visit, you should book tickets in advance via the Sky Garden website. Tickets are available 3 weeks in advance and are often “sold-out” during peak times. If tickets aren’t available for the time and day you want, don’t panic yet! It is possible to visit without a ticket at certain times, check the Sky Garden website for hours.
Things to Do in London at Night
Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean that the day is done! Some of the best things to do with 2 days in London occur at night! So, save a little energy for the evenings to really make the most of your time in London.
London has many night tours on offer, from sightseeing bus tours to cruises and walking tours.
If you’re looking to squeeze even more sightseeing in but want to give your feet a rest, a London by night open-top bus tour is a great option. Experience London come alive at night and witness its iconic landmarks lit up against the night sky.
Prefer something a bit spookier? Take a spine-tingling, Ghastly Ghosts walking tour from the Tower of London to St. Paul’s. Hear creepy stories about the ghosts that lurk in this historic city’s back alleys after dusk.
Or, if you enjoy spooky but still want to rest your feet, check out this Ghost Bus Tour. It will drive you through the heart of the city while the conductor and onboard actors provide you with an insight into some of the more gruesome tales of London’s most popular attractions.
One of my favourite walking tours in London is a Jack the Ripper night tour. Discover the city’s grisly history and one of it’s greatest unsolved mysteries. You will feel like you’ve been transported in time as you explore the streets of the Victorian East End while visiting the sites of the murders that took place in 1888 and learn about the victims. It is a dark but fascinating experience.
Party the Night Away
If you’re looking for something less macabre, London has an incredible bar and club scene. Whether you prefer to sip cocktails at a rooftop bar with a view or dance the night away in the trendiest club, London has it all.
Some of the best areas for nightlife include Camden and Soho. Here you’ll find an array of different venues with varying music, from grungy dive bars to high-class clubs.
Looking for something different? Perhaps a night out with a twist? There’s plenty of more unusual things to do in London. You could go on a Monopoly Pub Crawl, take part in some Junkyard Golf, enjoy an immersive experience or go on a silent disco boat party!
If you’re looking for some retail therapy and didn’t have time during the day, fear not! The shops on Oxford Street, Covent Garden and the surrounding areas are open in the evenings until 8pm most days, so you can shop ’til you drop. If you’re feeling really fancy, Harrods, one of the most luxurious shopping destinations in London, is open until 9pm Mondays to Saturdays.
Watch a West End Show
There are many incredible shows at the West End in London. For some of the newer or more popular shows, you will need to book tickets months in advance. However, there are plenty of shows that you can get tickets for on the day.
It is also possible to get cheaper tickets to some shows through lottery systems. A few theatres offer lottery tickets, but their methods for selecting winners and conducting the event varies for each. One of my favourite shows that offers a lottery system is The Book of Mormon. It is absolutely hilarious and each day they reserve a number of tickets for the lottery system that are sold at £20 per ticket. We’ve managed to get tickets twice this way! Check out the Book of Mormon website for more information on their tickets.
TKTS in Leicester Square also offers official last minute theatre tickets. I’ve bought tickets from them many times on the day, choosing by whatever is available or cheapest. They often offer standing tickets or slightly restricted views at a hugely discounted rate if you’re looking to see a show on a budget.
Summary of London in 2 Days Itinerary
I hope you’ve found this London in 2 Days guide helpful in planning your perfect city break. There are so many things to do in London that it would be impossible to include them all, even for a longer trip. I have, therefore, tried to select the key highlights to give a taste of London. It will be a bit of a whirlwind tour, but I promise that in the end you will only remember what you saw, not how tired you were!
Below, I will include some of my other favourite things to do in London that didn’t quite make it onto the 2 day itinerary. In addition, you will also find helpful tips on making the most of your budget and time in London.
Other Things to Do in London
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s impossible to see everything in London in 2 days! These are some of my other favourite things to do in London that didn’t quite make it onto the 2 day itinerary, mainly due to geography.
There are 170 museums in London, including some of the best in the world, so you could spend a REALLY long time exploring just the museums. One of the great things about museums in London is that general admission is normally free.
Museums can be a great rainy day activity or a great option if you’re visiting London with kids. Some of my favourites not included in this itinerary are:
- National History Museum
- Science Museum
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Imperial War Musem
Royal Parks and Palaces
I’ve only included St James’s Park on this London 2 day itinerary, however, the other royal parks, particularly Hyde Park are also deserving of a visit.
As the largest of the 8 royal parks, Hyde Park covers an area of 350 acres and host many events throughout the year. To the west, it is connected to Kensington Gardens where Kensington Palace is located. To the east, it forms a chain via Hyde Park Corner with Green Park past the entrance to Buckingham Palace. St James’s Palace can also be found just east of Green Park.
If you have the time, a stroll through any of the parks and gardens provides a beautiful, tranquil escape from the city.
I’ve left some great neighbourhoods out of this London in 2 days guide. Principally because they are a little further afield. However, they’re worth a mention and can be substituted in if they interest you more, or you can save them for another trip to London!
One of my favourite areas of London is Notting Hill. It is a charming, quintessentially English neighborhood in West London. Now famed for its colourful houses, world’s largest antique market and quirky stores. It’s particularly busy on Saturdays when Portobello Market is open.
For a more hipster vibe, where you can easily spend £5 on an artisan, organic coffee head to Shoreditch. But it’ll also probably be the best coffee you’ve ever had! This trendy area is home to boutiques and vintage stores, as well as a vibrant food scene and nightlife. Check out Spitalfields Market
Even further east is Greenwich, famed for giving its name to Greenwich Mean Time. Within Greenwich Park, you’ll find the Royal Observatory, part of an ensemble of buildings that are UNESCO World Heritage-listed. The Royal Observatory is home to the Prime Meridian Line where the eastern hemisphere meets the western hemisphere, set at Longitude 0°. There’s plenty of things to do in Greenwich. Some of Greenwich’s top attractions include:
- London’s only cable car
- O2 Arena
- National Maritime Museum
- Cutty Sark
- Queen’s House
- Old Royal Navy College
If you decide to visit Greenwich, it’s worth taking the Thames Clipper either too or from it to explore some of London from the river. If you have a London Pass then a hop-on-hop-off river cruise is included with it.
Camden is one of the most eclectic areas in London. It is famous in London for its music venues, alternative shops and its market. Camden Market, at the northern end of Camden High Street, is the largest market in London. Here you’ll find a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to handicrafts, unique gifts, second-hand records and everything in between. If you’re looking for a different experience, you’ll even find the first (and only!) Vagina Museum in London within Camden Market!
More Travel Tips for the Perfect 2 Days in London
Getting to London
London is extremely well connected with the rest of the UK, Europe and the world. It is possible to arrive in London by plane, train or bus.
London has six major airports; London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, London Stansted, London Luton and London Southend.
Heathrow is London’s largest airport and most international flights will arrive here or at London Gatwick, the second largest airport. If you’re arriving from Europe, you are more likely to arrive at London Gatwick or one of London’s other smaller airports.
Each of the London airports is connected to central London by train. Some airports offer express services, but it is cheaper and sometimes quicker to take normal public train services. Public train services will have more stops but are likely to drop you closer to your accommodation.
For example, the Heathrow Express will take you from Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus via Paddington Station in 34 minutes and cost £27.40. Whereas you can take the tube on the Piccadilly Line directly from Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus in 47 minutes for £5.10 at peak times (and even cheaper off-peak). It takes an extra 13 minutes, but you don’t have to change train and you save £22.30! Check on the Train Line or Transport for London for the best routes.
I would also avoid using taxi services as they are expensive and your first experience in London is likely going to be sat in a lot of traffic! With only 2 days in London, the last thing you want to do is waste time stuck in traffic.
Another option for getting to London from Europe and other parts of the UK is by train. The Eurostar runs high-speed trains to and from London St. Pancras, connecting with many other major European cities. It is then easy to travel to your final London destination via public transport.
It is also possible to arrive in London from Europe and other parts of the UK by bus. In this instance, you will most likely arrive at Victoria Coach Station. From here you are well connected by train, tube and bus to other parts of London.
How to get around London in 2 days
Once you’ve made it into the city, it’s time to figure out how to get around London! Honestly, the best way to explore London in 2 days is on foot. In fact, it is possible to walk the entirety of this 2 day London itinerary! Most of the main London attractions are within a short walking distance.
The map below by Transport for London shows the walking times between tube stations. Particularly in zone 1, some walk times are as little as 3 minutes! It would, therefore, take longer to actually take the tube than it would to walk in some places!
Make sure you have Google Maps downloaded on your phone to use its maps offline. It is by far one of the most essential apps for your trip to London!
While you can walk a lot of London, the city also has excellent public transport options. So if you want to get a little further outside of the centre or if your legs just need a break, I’d recommend taking public transport.
To use public transport in London you can use a contactless card to pay. If you don’t have one, you will want to purchase an Oyster Card. It is possible to order an Oyster card in advance and have it delivered to your hotel. However, you may want to use public transport to get to your hotel. I’d, therefore, recommend buying one at the station when you arrive in London. Many of the ticket machines will issue Oyster cards and there’s always staff around to ask for assistance.
An Oyster Card will work out cheaper than buying paper travelcards. There is a daily cap on your journeys. In zones 1-2 this is limited to £7.20 per day, making it a very affordable way to travel. Single tube journeys within zone 1 cost £2.40, so within a few journeys you’ll reach the daily cap. Remember to touch on and off for all train and tube journeys. For bus journeys, you need only to touch on.
Hop On Hop Off Bus
If you buy a London Pass you will have the hop on hop off bus included with your ticket. While this itinerary doesn’t include it, the London hop on hop off bus can be a really fun way to explore the city as you will have an audio guide as you drive around. Tickets for the Big Bus Hop On Hop Off Tour cost £35.10 and you can book them online here.
Again, included in the London Pass is a hop on hop off boat cruise. Similarly to the bus, this isn’t included in this itinerary. However, I would recommend exploring London by water as it provides a unique way of viewing the city. A hop on hop off ticket for the day will cost £19.90 and can be booked online.
Black taxis are the only vehicles in London licensed to pick passengers up curbside. They are extremely knowledgable of the London streets, having had to pass exams to become a black cab drive (or cabby as we call them!). They can be a fun way to explore London, however, they are also very expensive.
It is also possible to order a black cab using the app Gett. (If you do sign up for it, please use my code GTRWQZW to receive a discount on your first ride. Yep, it’s a ridiculous code and I can’t change it. I will also receive a discount on my next ride if you use it!)
Where to stay in London
As you have only 2 days in London, I’d recommend staying somewhere fairly central so you’re not wasting any time commuting. If you have longer, then it can be worth looking for accommodation a little further outside central London as you’ll likely find much cheaper accommodation.
London is more expensive than most cities, so expect to pay a little more on accommodation. However, if you book online in advance and compare prices, you will be able to find something to suit any budget.
You’ll find a huge variety of hostels all over London. For the best combination of location, price and excellent reviews, check out Wombats Hostel or Astor Museum Hostel. Prices for a dorm bed start at around £25.
The cheapest hotels you’ll find with a double room in central London start at around £60-70 per night. Mornington Hotel, Marylebone Inn and Ibis Blackfriars both offer good options with double rooms starting at under £100 per night in a central location.
London has a number of mid-range chain hotels, starting at roughly £200 per night for a double room. Some of these include Hilton Bankside, Mercure London Bridge and Z Hotel Holborn. For a more unique stay check out Sea Containers London.
London is home to some incredibly luxurious 5-star hotels, including some world-famous icons such as The Ritz, The Savoy and The Lanesborough. These high-end hotels start at around £600 per night for a double room and their most prestigious suites are rumoured to go for a £10,000-£25,000 per night.
What to pack for two days in London
I personally don’t go anywhere without my camera and you’re certainly going to want one for London. This city is beautiful and you’ll want to capture all those great memories. Check out our blog about our travel camera gear to see what we use.
Raincoat and Umbrella
It may be considered a stereotype but it’s true, London does rain a lot! We get an average of 106 rainy days per year. And these days are fairly evenly spread over the year. Therefore, even though you’re only in London for 2 days, you should be prepared for the possibility of rain. The good news is, we rarely get days of torrential rain all day. Instead, we tend to get only scattered showers.
As London is so busy, I prefer a rainjacket to an umbrella as it’s just easier! However, a bright red or rainbow umbrella makes for a great photo prop against the grey!
While exploring London in 2 days, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. I suggest bringing a very comfortable pair of shoes! If you happen to have something that is both comfortable AND waterproof, all the better!
Reusable Water Bottle
The tap water in London is perfectly safe to drink and tastes fine. Legally, any water that is not potable has to be labelled appropriately. In other words, if a tap doesn’t have a label then it’s safe to drink from! Furthermore, public drinking water actually undergoes more rigorous testing than bottled water. Carry a reusable water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated while saving money and helping the planet!
There are more and more water refill stations popping up all over London, particularly at train stations. You’ll also find taps in many of the chain coffee stores where you can fill your own bottle. In fact, most places you visit will be happy to do it for you.
It’s likely you’ll be using your phone to navigate around the city (and hopefully have this guide saved to refer to *wink wink*). Bring a power pack with you to keep your phone charged on the go.
Where to eat in London
England has a somewhat undeserved reputation for having pretty poor food. However, the food scene in London is incredible. While traditional British food might not be all that exciting (although there are some things you should try), in London you can find cuisine from all over the globe. Whether you’re looking for cheap eats or a Michelin rated meal, you’ll easily find it here.
Traditional British Food
You can’t leave London without having traditional pub grub, ideally a Sunday roast or pie and mash. You’ll find plenty of pubs serving British fare all over the city so take your pick!
Believe it or not, another British staple is curry. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “curry is not from the UK.” Curry made its way to England through its colonial ties with India. Since its arrival decades ago, it has absolutely become a British staple, and you will find some of the best curries in the UK in Brick Lane. With its large Bangladeshi community, it is often referred to as the curry capital of the UK.
Is there anything more quintessentially British than afternoon tea? It’s pretty much a British institution. Do not leave London without having an afternoon tea somewhere!
There are so many great options, from the lavish high-end eateries and hotels to the more unusual themed teas. No matter where you chose to go, you’ll find your afternoon tea will consist of a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats. The presentation and quality, however, may differ.
The street food scene in London has grown in popularity over the last few years. As well as being delicious, street food is also considerably cheaper than a sit-down meal in a restaurant. Plus, you can try lots of different foods!
The best and most well-known street food market in London is Borough Market, which appears on this 2-day itinerary. But there are many other markets around London to grab a cheap bite, including Southbank and Camden.
You will find all manner of fine dining and fancy restaurants in London, including 67 Michelin star restaurants. The only one I’ve been to is The Ritz, but that was just for afternoon tea so I’m not sure it even counts!
To tick off the traditional British food and fancy at the same time, check out Simpson’s in the Strand. Again, this was another birthday meal for my family! They have been serving traditional British fare since 1828 when they began as a chess club. Here, you are guaranteed an incredibly luxurious culinary experience shrouded in history.
Quirky Dining Experiences
London has a huge variety of fun, quirky dining experiences as well. Whether you want to eat on a double-decker bus, a river cruise, have your food cooked in front of you, attend a themed dinner with actors or eat in the pitch dark; London has it all!
One of my favourites is Dans le Noir in Clerkenwell. Here you will eat your meal entirely in the dark. The concept is that by removing the visual element, other senses are enhanced and gastronomic pleasure increased. Furthermore, you will be guided and served by a blind or visually impaired person. This unusual dining experience challenges preconceived notions about disability and celebrates the richness of diversity. The menu is also a surprise and after your meal, the staff will take you through the menu as you try to work out what you ate!
For a fun pre or post-show meal, try Sarastros in Covent Garden for a whirlwind of colour, opulence and reclaimed props. The emphasis here is on fun with nightly musical performances. Inside, you’ll find the main floor of the restaurant is surrounded by ten distinctive opera boxes. Despite all the grandeur, they’ve not neglected the food and I’ve yet to be disappointed by their Mediterranean menu.
Final thoughts on London in 2 Days
That was a lot of information, right? The good news is that this guide should provide everything you need to know for the perfect trip to London in 2 days. London is truly an incredible city and I do hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this 2-day itinerary. Feel free to ask any questions too… I could happily talk about London all day long! If you follow this itinerary or have visited London before, let me know your thoughts.
We have a few other blog posts about London that I’d recommend reading before your visit too, if you plan on spending more time here:
- Most Famous Streets in London
- Most Instagrammable Places in London
- Notting Hill Colorful Houses
- Best Castles near London
But most importantly, I hope you have the most amazing two days in London!