With so much to explore, 48 hours in London is barely enough time to scratch the surface. However with some careful planning, it’s possible to catch a taste of what this marvelous city has to offer. London is definitely having a moment right now after being named the best city in the world for 2023, and after living in London during Covid, I definitely understand why. The blend of rich history, diverse culture, iconic landmarks, and its vibrant atmosphere all make an unforgettable and magical city. (If you’re more interested in traveling to London with kids, here are some great kid-friendly things to do.)
So pull out your walking shoes, embrace the hustle, and let’s dive into a whirlwind 48 hours in London!
Start your Day 1 in London by putting on some comfy walking shoes and fueling up with a traditional “full English” breakfast at a local café. Eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, and toast (or fried bread) will give you all the energy you need for a day of exploration.
Head straight to Buckingham Palace to witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony at 11:00 AM (make sure to double-check the schedule beforehand). Swoon over the grandeur of the palace, snap some selfies with the guards, and take a leisurely stroll down Pall Mall towards Trafalgar Square. You’ll need a lot more time (and reservations) to take the official tour of Buckingham Palace – that’s an adventure in itself.
Trafalgar Square is cool because it feels like the beating heart of London, where history, culture, and people come together. Aside from the impressive architecture framing the square, Nelson’s column regally stands in the center of the square, overlooking the various cultural events and festivals. Trafalgar Square is walking distance to many other famous attractions, including The National Gallery and Covent Garden.
Camden Market is a vibrant and eclectic spot in London, offering a unique shopping experience. It’s filled with vintage treasures, handmade crafts, and quirky London finds. The cool bohemian atmosphere is appealing to both locals and tourists as it’s filled with diverse food stalls, live music, and street art. It’s also famous for being the place where Amy Winehouse lived and passed, and there’s a bronze statue dedicated to her located inside the market.
Covent Garden is undeniably cool and is on everyone’s list to visit for the unique shops, fun street performers, delicious restaurants, proximity to the theater, and endless festivals. My personal favorite part of Covent Garden is Neal’s Yard, a colorful and vibrant courtyard tucked away from the bustling streets. Grab a quick bite from one of the trendy restaurants here, or enjoy an afternoon tea in a quaint cafe.
London’s West End is filled with world-class theatre and you can catch everything from the big iconic musicals to thought-provoking dramas. Whether you’re a theater buff or a newbie wanting to see what all the fuss is about, the West End has it all. Enjoy an unforgettable evening of glitz, glamor, entertainment and cultural enrichment.
After your show, head to the vibrant neighborhood of Chinatown (look for the red lanterns), famous for the bustling nightlife and diverse restaurant scene. In addition to traditional Chinese food, Chinatown offers an eclectic mix of restaurants that stay open late into the night, making it a perfect spot for a post-show meal.
Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market offer a cool and vibrant atmosphere with picturesque streets, eclectic vintage treasures, and trendy boutiques. Stroll through the colorful streets, grab fresh pastries and juice at one of the many trendy cafes, and soak in the live street performers. Don’t miss the famous Portobello Road Market if you like to dig for antiques, vintage fashion, and unique trinkets.
Explore the grand halls of human history at The British Museum, an impressive building that is filled with artifacts from around the world. You can check out things like the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, Moai statues from Easter Island, and other ancient pieces that the Brits “acquired” from other countries. But hey, at least admission is free when you book online through their website, so you can check out these “borrowed” treasures guilt-free!
Stop 3: Enjoy a Pub Lunch
London pubs are a way to enjoy traditional food and beer, and soak in the banter and atmosphere that makes them a beloved part of London’s unique social scene. I strongly recommend trying traditional British fish and chips washed down with a delish Marston’s Pedigree.
Walk off your pub lunch by strolling along the Thames River Embankment, taking in the sight of famous landmarks like The Shard, Westminster Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
The Tower of London and Tower Bridge are two iconic landmarks that have the undeniable cool factor. Tower Bridge is an engineering marvel that will amaze you if you’re lucky enough to catch it open to let a tall ship pass underneath. These two landmarks epitomize London’s rich history and are must-visit destinations for anyone with 48 hours in London.
As the sun starts to set and you begin to feel weary, end your whirlwind 48 hours in London with a ride on the iconic London Eye. The London Eye offers a bird’s-eye view of the entire city and you’ll be able to point out the places you’ve visited. As you slowly rotate above the city lights, reflect on the incredible 48 hours in London you’ve spent in this magical city.
Although there is still SO much more to see after 48 hours in London, hopefully, you’ll have created your list of places you’d like to explore on your next visit.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.
London was named the best city in the world for 2023, and after living in…