Things to do in London in 2 days
Are you looking for the best way to spend 2 days in London? I adore London and have spent many happy days exploring the City. Once upon a time, I lived on the outskirts of London for 10 years but I never became jaded about this amazing City.
Now spending 2 days in London may not seem like a lot of time to explore but here are 11 of the top sites to visit in London. I know the London transit system seems complex and overwhelming but here’s everything you need to know about using the Tube system. It’s one of the best ways to get around London and it can seem daunting but it’s really easy to use.
London has accommodation in a huge range of styles and prices. If you love a boutique hotel you have some of the best in the world to choose from. Depending on the season you are truly best to book ahead and plan where you want to be based in London.
Getting to London has never been easier or more convenient. You can fly into many different airports and take a vast array of tours and sites to see. However, if you are just dropping in for two days in London say as a layover this itinerary may be for you. But take from it what you will, these are just some of the incredible sites that London has to offer and hopefully you can pick and choose your favourites for your 2 days in London.
London is also a foodies paradise and has some of the best and most unique restaurants in the world. On top of that (literally) you will find some of the most awesome rooftop bars in London for fabulous views with your cocktails.
If you are planning on doing London on a budget there are a vast range of places to stay some of the best hostels are seriously budget-friendly and they give you a chance to meet up with other travellers.
I would highly recommend that you purchase your tickets for many of these sites online before you arrive in London. That way you won’t waste your 2 days in London in queues for tickets for the various sites you may want to see.
Can I just mention that if you are lucky enough to get to spend Christmas in London then you will want to check out the glorious Christmas Markets that are held all over the City. There are lots of things to spend your money on that you won’t find anywhere else and there are drinks, rides and lots of food.
London is a shopping mecca and if you have enough time you really must explore the super cheap London shopping spots. These can range from the fabulous markets of London to shops like Primark on Oxford Street. You may need another suitcase to bring home all your amazing buys.
Consider reading these next:
The Ultimate Two Days In London
Day one in London
This is where I would begin my London stay – Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus are two main items that everyone wants to see when they get to London. The name ‘Piccadilly’ was originally a 17th-century collar which was frilled and known as a piccadil. The tailer who became famous for his piccadils lived in the area and so gave it the name. The circus comes from the Latin for circle and at in the 19th century, Piccadilly Circus was created to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly.
Admire the Piccadilly statue of Eros, a beautiful winged archer poised with his bow, located in Piccadilly Circus. Erected at the end of the 19th century to commemorate Lord Shaftesbury’s philanthropic work, the original name of the monument Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.
Surrounded by museums and galleries Trafalgar Square is located in central London. It is a public square built around the area that used to be known as Charing Cross. It commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar a British Naval victory that took place during the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson’s column commemorates the hero of that war Lord Nelson and it stands in the centre of the square.
Don’t miss a chance to head into the National Gallery of the Square and see some outstanding art free of charge. By the way, feeding the pigeons is illegal these days and it makes for a much nicer place to people watch.
The National Gallery
A FREE gallery that has paintings from Constable to Monet and has a daily tour around 11.30am every day which is also free.
The collections are displayed in chronological order and its pretty easy to find some jaw dropped art from Van Gogh’s Sunflowers to Titian’s and Rembrandts.
If you love a great museum as I do and you have kids with you on this 2 days in London you need to read Catherine’s Best Free London Museums with kids.
My two other favourite museums in London are the Natural History Museum and of course the Victorian & Albert. Both are free unless you want to see the special exhibits and both museums you will find take up hours of your time they are just so enthralling. You may just have to return to London to see them.
Fortnum & Mason’s
While Harrods may be the most famous department store in the World Fortnum and Mason’s is the best store in the World. So much so that the Queen shops here and Fortnum & Mason’s have a Royal Warrant. The store is known for its incredible hampers that are taken everywhere with the rich and famous. From shooting in Scotland to the Royal races at Ascot you will undoubtedly see the Fortnum and Masons logo.
Treat yourself to some takeaway food from the gorgeous gourmet food displays you won’t be disappointed and you will love watching the staff in their beautifully tailored vintage morning coats and suits.
If you do get a chance during your 2 days in London go and find Harrods Food Hall you will be blown away by the art nouveau tiling and the expensive designer gear on sale there.
Drury Lane and the Westend Theatre District
The term “Drury Lane” is often used to refer to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which has in different incarnations been located in Drury Lane since the 17th century. By the way, Drury Lane is a short walk from either Piccadilly Station or Trafalgar Square.
The history of the London West End has been inextricably linked to the theatre for hundreds of years. From the opening of the first West End venue in Drury Lane in 1663, locals and visitors to the capital flocked in droves to the West End to be entertained and enthralled by the various shows on offer.
You absolutely can’t miss Covent Garden in the West End. Historically a fruit and veg market these days it has become so much more. Grab some lunch at a fancy restaurant or a simple little local caff. You can buy some great designer fashion, listen to amazing musicians, or watch the street performers on weekends.
Don’t miss Neal’s Yard a totally instagrammable location adjacent to Covent Garden. Lots of colour, flowers and ivy abound in this iconic little yard. Originally named after a 17th-century developer, Thomas Neale. In 1976 the derelict warehouse was bought by a radical activist and entrepreneur who started the Whole Food Warehouse.
Neal’s Yard Remedies shop was opened in 1981 by Romy Fraser. The shop was the first of its kind to offer dried herbs, homoeopathic products, essential oils, Bach flower remedies, and a range of toiletries based on herbs and essential oils. If you aren’t careful you could spend your whole 2 days in London right here at Covent Garden market.
Day two London
The Tower Of London
It’s an expensive tour that’s for sure so my top tip is to use the London Pass. For the 2 days in London Pass you are looking at £99 but it includes entry to over 80 attractions and includes the Hop on Hop Off bus, The Tower which is £30 alone, the Shard brilliant views and much more.
Located on the North Bank of the Thames right beside the iconic Tower Bridge the best way to see the Tower is via a guided tour.
Tickets Here: Tower of London Ticket with Crown Jewels Exhibition
Tickets Here: Tower of London Early Access with Beefeater Keys Ceremony
The Houses Of Parliament and Big Ben
One of the most iconic of London sites everyone has to get photos of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. You must take a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament which can be a little tricky if only visiting and spending 2 days in London. Security is very tight after the terrorist activities and awful deaths and of course the historic Guy Fawkes trying to blow up the building.
You can simply tour the area by yourself and wander the squares checking out the statues of the famous and infamous. There’s also usually some kind of protest taking place which can be very interesting.
You also can get a glimpse behind the scenes at the House of Lords on an organised tour of the Houses of Parliament. The visitor route will take you through highlights such as the Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Peers’ Lobby and the chamber.
The main types of tours are:
Member tours: These are free and take place on weekdays. You can book in advance by contacting a member of the Lords. Available to UK residents only.
Tours on Saturdays and during Easter, Summer and Christmas: A choice of guided or audio tours is available to visitors from the UK and overseas on Saturdays throughout the year and on most weekdays during Easter, Summer and Christmas. There is a charge for these tours.
There are tours for the visually impaired, tours celebrating Pride at Westminster, Family Tours, Victorian art and decorative arts
The vertical tower that houses the huge bell otherwise known as Big Ben is really named Elizabeth Tower. It chimes on the hour and has rarely ever stopped. There are Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower tours but they are now suspended due to refurbishment and are scheduled to resume in 2021.
Visit Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a stunning historic gothic abbey church near Big Ben. Famous the world over, Westminster Abbey has seen over 16 royal weddings, including Will and Kate’s, and is the burial location of 17 monarchs.
Additionally, it has held globally watched events, such as the funeral of Lady Diana Spencer, and is also home to the United Kingdom’s Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
I am an absolute fiend for wanting to visit Cathedrals and ruined abbeys the European history of these sacred buildings is riveting. England is a phenomenal place to visit if you love these kinds of sites and this article by Talek of the Great Cathedrals of England and Ireland is a fantastic read to figure out which ones you want to see.
The London Eye
The London Eye is officially known as the “Coca Cola London Eye” is the most amazing way to get views of London to die for. The London Eye lineups appear to be absolutely immense and you think you may be in the queue for the rest of your life or at least a good portion of the day. However, they move very quickly and within 10 minutes we had our boarding tickets and we headed to Line A. This is an absolute must-do when visiting for 2 days in London.
We were lucky we had rail passes when we stayed just outside London these were great as they meant we could get lots of deals including a 2 for 1 on the London Eye. Meaning that we actually saved £25. We did see the VIP experience but that line really moved no faster than ours. The cool thing is that the London Eye is also wheelchair accessible, and if you are mobility challenged its pretty easy to get on the capsules as well.
Buckingham Palace – Tours and the Changing of the Guard
Well, you can’t go to London and not visit the Palace. Watching the changing of the Guard is on a lot of bucket lists. Don’t forget to check though if the Guard is going to change when you visit.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
If as a child you watching Mary Poppins and saw the old women “Feed the Birds” you will know that this was filmed on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. An adult ticket to tour St. Paul’s costs £17.00 St Paul’s is open for sightseeing from Monday to Saturday, 8.30am to 4 pm.
Located on Ludgate Hill St. Paul’s was designed by Christopher Wren. It is dedicated to the Apostle Paul on this site which was a Christian church dating back to AD 604. The Cathedral as it stands now has been destroyed by the Great Fire of London and suffered at the hand of bombs dropped during WWII.
Leadenhall Market for Harry Potter Fans
Leadenhall Market is a covered market in the City of London, designed in 1881, with cheesemongers, butchers, florists, and some commercial retailers.
Potterheads will recognize Leadenhall Market as the area that Harry Potter and Rubeus Hagrid passed through Leadenhall Market on their way to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley was of course inspired by The Shambles the oldest medieval street in the World in York. You can also indulge is some adventurous High Teas from Harry Potter to Drag Queens or Shakespearean.
I can’t say I was all that impressed with Leadenhall Market, architecturally stunning it is beautiful but there is virtually nothing in the market area – not even a market. A couple of overpriced restaurants a few shops and a pub or two. The place is practically empty.
However, if you are a total foodie like me you need to take time in your 2 days in London to take a food tour. Now it can be a struggle to figure out which one you want but I suggest reading 10 of the best London Food Tours by Lucy. The article describes tours from Billingsgate Fish Market to fancy afternoon teas a must for any foodie.
Looking for the best places to stay in London, then you need to read Sydney’s article on her blog A World in Reach.
What to pack for London
Personal experience tells me that I need a carryon bag with those twisty wheels that go in all directions and has both carrying handles and a pull-out drag bar thingy. I want sturdy fabric, preferably in a day-glow colour so I can see the damn thing if I do have to check it. I also want soft sides that give a little – just in case. My recommended one? Well, I pick the azure blue Travelpro Maxlite 5 19″ Expandable International Carry-On Spinner. I know it’s a mouthful but it is a great case and so far so good it’s lasted me 5 years of repeated airport bashing.
Now this one may seem a little odd but I see a lot of N. Americans complaining that most hotels and B&B’s in Europe and the UK don’t have washcloths. Well, that’s true I mean after all who wants to use a used washcloth. Take your own these are great quick-drying washcloths that are reusable and environmentally friendly.
Now if you are really concerned about the whole liquid issue why not take solid shampoo bars and body wash bars. These products are paraben and SLS free, TSA approved (so to speak) perfume-free and chemical-free. That makes them very environmentally friendly and they are so easy to use.
I love a multipurpose jacket Craghoppers 3 in 1 jacket. It’s windproof, waterproof and breathable and has a drawcord at the waist which helps me look like I have one. It’s not bulky and looks good even when not hiking.
Now you are going to need a 110v to 220v voltage converter so you can plug in hairdryers, phones, laptops or tablets and so on. My personal favourite and one that has lasted me 4 years is the Bestek Universal Travel Adapter.
Trust me on this one you will have more photos than you can store on either your phone or your camera and you don’t want to be deleting any to take more before you get home.
This Ultra Scandisk chip will work under adverse weather conditions (we get a lot of those here) and keep your photos or drone footage totally safe. A flash drive for your Smart Phone or Android will also come in very handy.
I’m not going to recommend cameras or other types of photographic equipment such as a drone because – well because I am a crap photographer who uses a good cell phone for most of my photos. Now I want a drone but I have to admit I haven’t bought one yet. So I was reading all kinds of reviews and know which one I want this a Holystone 1080P Drone….sigh if only. This has a huge flying time of 26 minutes.
This little beauty is a Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, which is an absolute, must-have when travelling. I keep mine charged and then bring it with me just in case. There is nothing worse than running out of juice when you are snapping some of the best views ever. You will never be out of power with this charger.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you on your trip to Ireland. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colours. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.
If you have a pouch already you may not want to or need to invest in a new one, like me. If it does not come with the RFID protection, these RFID sleeves would be handy to prevent identity theft. This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your wallet.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I use. It can be used on a variety of phones.
I hate selfies but if you have to have one or if like me you have shaky hands the FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use. It is made of long-lasting aluminium and is very lightweight and easy to carry.
Don’t forget to bring along a universal power adapter on your trip to Ireland. This worldwide power plug is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days. And this world traveller adapter kit can charge several devices at the same time.
If you want to travel light and in Europe with paying extra for luggage you need packing cubes. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel.
This foldable water-resistant backpack is brilliant for making sure your things are protected and secure. I don’t bother to carry a purse this is what I find works for me mainly because its “hands-free” and I can easily carry everything in it.
I love this antitheft backpack it looks good and doesn’t look scruffy it has a grey finish and it fits my 15″ laptop perfectly.
I adore a scarf – when travelling light scarves can make or break your wardrobe. I always take around 5 with me to change up my outfits. I’m not exactly an “outfit” kind of person but when I want to cheer up my basic black, white and grey wardrobe a scarf fits the bill perfectly.
This lightweight cotton scarf comes in a huge variety of checks, plaids and stripes perfect for adding that little personal style to your travel wardrobe.
I do love a fancy embroidered scarf as well, it can be used as a shawl and I have this type of scarf in a few colours and I can use it as a shawl, scarf or headwrap with its beautiful embroidered flowers I feel a little more dressed up.
If you have an aversion to mixed fibre scarves and wraps why not go for an environmentally friendly hemp version? This type of scarf will last virtually forever and the colours it comes it will brighten every wardrobe.
Now I’ve had my eyes “done” – no it’s not what you think I had cataracts quite bad ones in each eye. So it took 2 years on a waiting list to get them removed. Now I can actually see without glasses and I’ve worn them since I was 8 years old.
What I have noticed is that I react quite strongly to sunlight and my eye doctor recommended that I wear sunglasses whenever I’m out and in particular to make sure they are polarized. What a difference I got my Oakley’s and haven’t looked back and I can see stuff I never thought possible, when the glare of the sun reflects on the ocean or any kind of water I can actually see it’s like a miracle.
So there you have it a brilliant 2 days in London seeing all the major sites. There is so much more to see than you could possibly take in in 2 days in London but guaranteed you will come back – you won’t be able to help yourself London is addictive.