48 Hours in London: A Perfect 2 Day Itinerary

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!

visit london with kids

48 Hours in London: Day 1 

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.

visit buckingham palace

Stop 1: Buckingham Palace

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.

visit trafalgar square with 48 hours in london

Stop 2: Trafalgar Square

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 fun to visit with 48 hours in London

Stop 3: Camden Market

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.

Stop 4: Covent Garden

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.

Neal's Yard in Covent Garden is incredible when you visit London
Neal’s Yard

Stop 5: Take in a West End Show

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.

Stop 6: Chinatown

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.

Out and about in London - the colorful houses of Notting Hill
The colorful homes of Notting Hill

2 Days in London: Day 2 

Stop 1: Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market

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.

Portobello Market and notting hill vintage shopping

Stop 2: The British Museum

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!

Visit the British Museum in London to enjoy treasures from around the world

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.

With onoly 48 hours in London you must visit the Tower Bridge (no, that's not London Bridge)

Stop 4: Tower of London and Tower Bridge

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.

Stop 5: London Eye

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.

The London Eye is visible over Pall Mall

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.

Maximizing a short trip to the UK’s vibrant capital can be a challenge, but with a strategic itinerary, spending 2 days in London can still offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the city’s endless charm. For those planning a quick visit, it’s essential to prioritize the experiences that best capture the essence of London’s rich history, diverse culture, and dynamic atmosphere, and spend time seeing some new things.

More than 2 Days in London?

Sometimes travel delays can be lucky. If you’re in London, consider yourself fortunate! If you have more than 2 days, consider:

  • The Art of Banksy Exhibition – London
    The Art of Banksy, is the world’s largest exhibition of privately owned Banksy artwork being showcased in a huge warehouse space in Covent Garden, London.
  • 10 Best Museums in London
    If museums and culture are your jam, you’re in luck. With over 170 museums in London, there’s something for everybody, and the best part is the majority of them are free.
  • Visit Buckingham Palace in London
    Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in the world and very much worth a visit the next time you are in London. It’s advisable to book ahead since spaces are limited
  • Greenwich London: 7 Reasons to Visit!
    When you’re in London, trying to choose from the staggering list of places to visit, you definitely won’t regret spending a few hours in Greenwich to escape the hectic pace of London City center.
  • Afternoon Tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel, London
    London is a city steeped in history and tradition and afternoon tea is quintessentially British because it embodies the essence of elegance and tradition that defines British culture.

Whether it’s exploring iconic landmarks, indulging in culinary delights, or soaking in the arts and entertainment, London promises every visitor a whirlwind of activities and sights. Use this as your guide to making the most out of 2 days in London. With its blend of history, culture, and tradition, London leaves a mark on all who visit and you leave with a promise to return for more exciting adventures.

Where would you head to first with 48 hours in London?

Let me know by leaving a comment below and or messaging me on Instagram or Twitter!

About The Author

Samantha

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.

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