2 Days in London for First Timers

2 days in London for first timers

London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, filled with history, architectural wonders and many places where you can do some sightseeing, eat and shop. If you just have 2 days in London, that’s plenty of time to get to know the most popular landmarks and even a little more.

Many people take day trips to London, but if you can stay overnight, it means you can get a taste of the famous London nightlife, and you’ll have somewhere to store your bags too!

 

How to Get to London

Of course, being the capital of England, London is well linked to the rest of the country, and to the world. You can fly into Heathrow and use the Heathrow Express to be in Paddington in just 20 minutes.

You can travel by coach from elsewhere in England, or Paris, into Victoria. You can come by boat on the Thames, or by car, but watch out for the congestion zone. The Eurostar comes from France or the Netherlands, right into St Pancras in the heart of the city.

I’m sure you can arrange a helicopter somehow too.

Or, what most people would consider the usual way to get to London, you can travel by train into Kings Cross, Euston, or Waterloo.

It’s easy to get to London from all over the world.

 

How to Get Around London

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London’s famous Underground is one of the highlights for tourists. I’d strongly recommend avoiding it at peak time though – it gets so busy! It’s a great way to get round London, but if you can, walk or get a bus, you’ll see so much more. You can just check google maps for the best way to get about London, as it may change depending on the day. Citymapper is a great app to have as well when you are using the public transport in London.

Ubers and taxis are expensive, but convenient.

Right transport in London done, let’s look dive into our itinerary shall we?

 

Two Days in London:

Day 1

It’s a fresh morning to start your weekend in London. Day 1 is the perfect opportunity to check all those popular must-see places from your list. Find a comfortable transportation method and get directly to Hyde Park to start your tour.

Hyde Park

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Hyde Park is one of the 9 London’s Royal Parks, and probably the most popular one. Start early in the morning so you enjoy a quiet and nice walk with outstanding views from the gardens and the Serpentine Lake. It doesn’t matter which season it is; nature will show you some majestic colours all year long.

 

Buckingham Palace

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Walking through Hyde Park you’ll get to Buckingham Palace, the first must-see in your 2 days in London. This Palace, as you might now, is home to Her Majesty, the Queen of England. What’s most notorious here (asides from the breathtaking building) is the Guard Change, which happens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – depending on the weather – at 10:45am.

 

St. James Park

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Head over to St. James Park right after the Guard changing ceremony ends. You’ll get a glimpse of more green wonders and you’ll have a great view of both the Buckingham Palace on one side and the London Eye on the other one.

 

Westminster Abbey

One of the most representative buildings in England, Westminster Abbey is a remarkable landmark to see on any weekend in London. This has been the Coronation Church since 1066, and you can also visit the graves of thousands of noticeable personalities including Monarchs and literary figures.

 

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

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A little further past Westminster Abbey you’ll find the Houses of Parliament, an impressive Gothic building that holds the seat of the British Government. I strongly recommend you only check it out from outside, since you’ll also notice a more popular attraction for tourists: The Big Ben. Actually named the Elizabeth Tower, the Big Ben (which is the bell) is currently under renovations but you can still check out one of its faces.

 

Natural History Museum

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Since you might be approaching lunchtime, you might want to pay a quick visit to the Natural History Museum. Located in Kensington, this museum holds anything from fossils to space exhibitions. If you don’t feel like having lunch in the museum you can grab a bite in eateries, such as the T.Rex Grill, the Troubadour London, the Benugo or the Apero.

 

Trafalgar Square

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At the end of Whitehall, you’ll find a large public square that holds another can’t miss for your 2 days in London, we’re talking about Trafalgar Square. This great column was erected in memory of Admiral Horatio, Lord Nelson. If you’re quick enough you can also head straight to the National Gallery and check out some impressive works of art from Van Gogh and Velazquez.

 

London Eye

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On your weekend in London, don’t forget to take a look at the London Eye. It’s expensive and time consuming to go up, but it is a great view over London – up to you.

 

Oxford Street & Regent Street

The sun is starting to set, and you feel like your 2 days in London aren’t complete without a little shopping? No problem!

Head over to Oxford Street for some of fashion’s major brands or walk through Regent Street if haute couture is what you’re looking for (even to do some window shopping!). The vibe here is extra special and you’ll see all sorts of people.

 

Piccadilly Circus

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Another important pinpoint in your itinerary is this busy street with flashing and exciting billboards and stores. It’s just the perfect spot to take a picture. You can also take a short detour to Covent Garden. You’ll find the Royal Opera House here, which has a great restaurant overlooking the market. You’re welcome to go up! If you have time, get a ticket to one of the famous West End theater shows, you won’t regret it!

 

Dinner and cocktails at SOHO

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Opium, in Soho

Yes, our day 1 is getting to an end but you’re not just going to head straight to bed. London has some of the best nightlife experiences for tourists. Get your feet all the way to SOHO and get some fine dining in 10 Greek Street, Berenjak or Blanchette. You’ll find a good range of some of the best food in England there. To experience more, consider joining a food & cocktails tour of Soho.

Once you’ve lined your stomach you can enjoy some drinks and dancing at 68 and Boston or The Pink Chihuahua at El Camion.

 

Day 2

We’ve reached day 2 of our weekend in London. There are still plenty of exciting places to visit, but this leg of the trip will focus more on culture and a bit of sightseeing through the city.

 

Tower of London & Tower Bridge

Tower of London

The first thing you’d want to do is head to the Tower of London before it gets too crowded. The Tower of London was the capital’s castle many ages ago and it’s seen countless executions, but don’t worry, none of them happened in modern times. Then you want to head straight to the Tower Bridge through the pedestrian access and cross the Thames.

 

Borough Market

Me at Borough Market

This famous market holds some of the best eateries in the city, with countless options for any type of taste. If you skipped breakfast to get early to the first stop, this is the perfect opportunity to get an early lunch and move on with this busy day.

 

The Tate Modern

The Tate compiles an outstanding collection of modern art that includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Rothko. This museum can be seen in a brisk walk if you don’t mind not stopping to reward intently each piece, but it’s definitely a must in your 2 days in London.

 

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Pauls Cathedral

Stepping out of the Tate and walking across the Millennium Bridge you’ll find St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral has been rebuilt 5 times but still stands tall and impressive to make the city a little more breathtaking. Take advantage of the free entry and step inside to check it out.

 

Kensington Gardens

To take a little rest between the museum tours, head to Kensington Gardens and sit to admire the other side of Serpentine Lake and even check out Kate and William’s house from afar.

 

Farewell at Shoreditch

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Dishroom, in Shoreditch

Staying in for a second night? You have to say goodbye to your weekend in London in the best way. Shoreditch has some of the best street art in London,  hipster cafes and pubs so you can sit back, enjoy a drink and scroll through all the photos you took in your trip.

We’ve reached the end of our 2 days in London! I hope you have the time to check all of these places since they’re all a can’t miss. I assure you whatever you get a chance to see will leave you feeling like coming back for a little more. London is such a cool city, and popular for a reason.

 

Where to stay in London

If you’re looking for a cheap option for London, then the standard of the YHAs are great. These hostels are all over London and offer a warm and safe place to stay for the night, usually with a bar attached too. I’ve stayed at a few of them and would totally recommend.

If you’re looking for somewhere mid range then I can totally recommend the East London hotel in Shoreditch. I had a great night there, and breakfast too. It’s compact, but cool and has everything you need.

And if you’re thinking higher than that, then the Artist Residence in Victoria is a wonderful hotel. I stayed in the best room there once, with a four poster bed, and a free standing bath. Lush!

 

Author:


Victoria Philpott, from DayOutinEngland.com. The essential resource for guides and itineraries to England’s best days out. Searchable by interests, counties, cities and areas – they’re definitely not just for the kids!

 

 

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

30 Comments

  1. Always wanted to visit London. You offer great tips not on just what to see, but when. It pays to make the most of your time, especially if you only have a day or two.

  2. I’ve been to London three times from the states and still haven’t seen some of these places including Westminster Abbey. I’m hoping to go back in 2024.

  3. There are some great sights to see in London. The parks are pretty and you’ll be able to see plenty of historical landmarks. It’s best to plan so you don’t waste time working out how to get to places. I agree, avoid rush hours, it’s a nightmare!

  4. As a London native, there are some things on here that I’ve not yet seen! The London Eye and Kensington Gardens are two such places. If we come back from Italy they’ll be at the top of my list 🙂

  5. I just LOVE the history of London. I hope to get there and go on a Henry VIII tour. I’ve always been intrigued by The Tudors. We hope to make it to London in March.

  6. Due to your post, it made me think of saving more $ for a London trip with family, thanks for sharing. I will save this link now.

  7. London definitely is on my bucket list! Thank you so much for introducing this London-newbie to all the aspects of the cities!

  8. London is really an amazing and very fascinating place to visit…These places seems very interesting and adorable to visit and explore..Thanks for sharing these tips and ideas too..Great work..

  9. I have been to London so many times and I have not even visited most of the places you mentioned possibly because I went there on business trips most of the time. One day I should go as a tourist.

  10. I have been wanting to go to London. It looks like there is so much to do there and it would be suck a lovely place to visit!

    1. London is indeed a gorgeous city, and my dream destination. We are planning to have a vacation there and visit my boyfriend’s extended family 🙂

  11. Buckingham Palace is one of the places that I want to visit in London because I want to see the living of the Majesty, the Queen of England and the structures look incredible.

  12. London is great even just for a day or two or more. there are different ways to enjoy having whatever time you have.

  13. London has always been on my bucket list and you shared many places I plan on visiting, I am intrigued by the other places I have not heard of. This makes me want to go even more!

    a latte of blessings & sparkles, Jeanie

  14. London is huge, fast-paced and packed with crazy things to do, see and experience. With so many options it can be hard for a first-time newbie to know where to start – thanks for sharing your itinerary 🙂

  15. I want to go to London so badly!! I’ve never been! I feel like I would love it. Thank you for this resource!!

  16. I have a feeling you truly enjoyed your stay over there. London has always been a remarkable place to visit and full of great history has well including awesome places to visit.

  17. London is definitely on my bucket lists. I can’t miss this amazing place. Hopefully, everything gets back to normal.

  18. Never been to London and not sure if I’ll ever be but this is so great. Lovely to explore new places through blogs and the internet. Surely a boon to this generation.

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