It’s no secret that I have a love affair with London. In fact, it was my first choice when deciding to study abroad (before I got rejected, lol). It truly is one of the best cities in the world and this is how you should spend 48 hours in London.
When you walk over the old cobblestones of London, you can just feel the history below your feet. I’ve never felt more connected to a place by simply walking and absorbing my surroundings than I do in London.
If you’re anything like me, then 2 days in London just won’t be enough! If you find yourself in London longer than 48 hours (or you extended your vacation on a whim), check out the other options listed throughout this post!
8:00 am Breakfast at Bel-Air
There are a lot of sights to see in London, which means you’re going to want to make sure you have the energy to see it all. That’s why some delicious eats at the Bel-Air, where trendy meets comfort, is perfect! Start off the day with a vegan, salted date caramel porridge or the ancho chili sweet potato egg sidecar (talk about a mouthful).
Other options: cojean, Beany Green, Bad Egg, Balthazar
9:00 am Explore Westminster’s Landmarks
You’re going to want to wake up early for this one! Take this time to visit the City of Westminster’s several landmarks. It’s not nearly as touristy and the light is phenomenal! Any time after 12 pm will result in a ton of crowds (and pickpockets)!
Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster are all within relative walking distance of one another and are definitely major must-sees. While you’re at it, check out Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and do a little shopping in the heart of London.
Other options: Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral
12:30 pm Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson
It wouldn’t be a trip to London without a little tea. Experience the ritzy and the bizarre at Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson London. You’ll dine on quirky finger foods, like Scottish smoked salmon, quail egg and caviar scotch egg, and finish with the white rabbit’s pocket watch macaroon or red velvet lady bird. Don’t forget to sip on all of the delicious, herbal tea you can!
Other options: Sketch, The Ritz, Scandal Water
2:30 pm Bike Through Hyde Park
Sure you could take the Underground to one of London’s famous Notting Hill, but why not enjoy the view along the way? Rent a city bike for a bit and take a ride through Hyde Park, check out the beautiful Kensington and finally get to your destination in Notting Hill. Just know that this is tourist central and there are pickpockets abound. Don’t be like me (the idiot who left her purse gaping open) and make sure you watch your belongings.
Other options: The Regent’s Park, St. James’s Park, Little Venice
5:30 pm Early Dinner and Dessert
Before heading back to your room for a little R&R, make sure you grab some dinner and dessert. You’re about to experience London’s legendary nightlife, so you’ll want to eat up! This part of town has some of the best dining in the city, including The Thomas Cubitt, Tinello and Bar Boulud.
But whatever you do, just make sure that you head to Dominique Ansel Bakery. London’s newest desert scene come’s all the way from New York where you can nosh on the delicious cronuts, cookie and milk shots and their epic frozen s’more.
Other options: The Orange Public House, Hunan, The Shed
10:00 pm Pre-drinks at The Connaught Bar
Feel like sipping with the upper crust of London? Below the incredibly chic Connaught Hotel is the swanky bar of the same namesake. Enjoy gin the way it’s supposed to be served (up and extra dry) from the martini trolley as you people watch the boujie crowd. At least you can pretend you’re 007 for about an hour.
Other options: Below the Smoke, Dandelyan, The Gibson, Oskar’s Bar
11:30 pm Dance the Night Away at KOKO
If you want to turn up your 48 hour experience, you’re in the right city! London is home to some of the most exciting, exclusive and entertaining clubs in the world. If you’re looking to dance, try the KOKO, a 4-story dance club that is as grand as it’s past performer’s list is impressive.
Other options: Milk & Honey, Fabric, The Church, Nightjar
10:00 am The Black Penny
If you’re not horribly hungover from London’s party scene, try to absorb last night’s debauchery with a “full English” at The Black Penny. This London hotspot takes the traditional English breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and prepares it on their own terms. Along with their legendary hash, you can enjoy the brioche french toast or tasty muesli.
Other options: FARMSTAND, The Ivy, Dickie Fitz, Dean Street Townhouse
11:00 am Get Lost and Shop at Camden Market
If you like shopping for discounts, trinkets and knick-knacks, you’ve got to head to Camden Lock’s indoor/outdoor market. Not only will you find plenty to buy, but plenty to eat! Enjoy some of the best hot chocolate in the world from Chin Chin Labs while you hunt for art, purses, or clothing of your choice and don’t forget to take in the local scene.
Other options: Borough Market, Covent Garden
1:00 pm Go on a Cultural Tour
Before your last night out, make sure you get your fill of culture. London is home to some of the world’s best museums and literary hotspots. Your first stop should definitely be The British Museum as it’s the most famous. The National Gallery and the Charles Dickens’ Museum are perfect for getting a bit of literature, history and art under your belt, too!
Other options: The British Library, Albert and Victoria Museum, Natural History Museum, The Sherlock Holmes’ Museum
6:30 pm Catch a Show and Dinner in West End
Think of London’s West End like Broadway in New York. Here, you’ll find a number of shows (both new and old) at historical theaters like Apollo Theatre, Garrick Theatre and Lyceum Theatre. You’ll also find countless restaurants nearby to get your drink and dinner on. If you’re looking for slightly more upscale, head to Mayfair. If you’re looking for a quick dinner before the show, stick around Covent Garden.
Other options: Royal Festival Hall, Royal Opera House
9:30 pm Take in the Thames
Before heading back to the hotel for the night, talk an evening stroll along the River Thames (pronounced Temz for all of my American readers) and enjoy the lights, sights and sounds of the city around you. Stop in at famous George Inn for a traditional pint or Dean Swift for a craft beer. Afterward, simply take those last minute photos before you’re off to your next destination!
The Underground in London is one of the best subways in the world. It’s also one of the most expensive. Traveling one-way, in Zone 1 is approximately 4.90 Euro!
In an attempt to save money (and stay fit) I suggest walking as often as possible. Although that won’t necessarily help your lungs. But hey, something’s gotta give. You can also take an Uber!
Bet aside from public transportation, you’re really going to spend a lot on accommodation. Unless you’re staying in a hostel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a 4-star hotel for under $125/night. Stick to Airbnb or hostels with a private room if you’re on a budget. (And pray London’s Fashion Week isn’t taking place then).