How to Spend 2 Days in London

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Itinerary by: Dan Hill
a month ago
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Culture-Abbey Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Bridge Culture-Castle Culture-Cathedral Culture-Church Culture-Cinema Culture-Government Building Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Monument Culture-Museum Culture-Palace Culture-Stately Home Culture-Statue Culture-Theatre Culture-Tower Diverse-Market Diverse-Shopping Exercise-Cycling Exercise-Horse Riding Exercise-Rowing Exercise-Running/Athletics Exercise-Tennis Nature-Lake Nature-Park Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Cocktail Bar Eat & Drink-Night Club Eat & Drink-Pub Eat & Drink-Restaurant Eat & Drink-Take Away Eat & Drink-Wine Bar Settlement-Community
Start location: Tower Bridge - Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, UK
Duration: 2 days
London - capital city of the United Kingdom - with a population of nearly 9 million people. Festivals, Museums, Theatre, Art, Night Life & Sport - London has it all! Would you like to see many of the highlights on a 2 day trip - mainly on foot? Read on! On this tour, we'll visit 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Tower of London & The Palace of Westminster / Westminster Abbey. We'll see Buckingham Palace and 2 Royal Parks. And we'll experience the wonders of the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Churchill War Rooms and the Natural History Museum. We'll view the city from the highest building in London - The Shard. And we'll get up close with Tower Bridge. Want entertainment? We'll be dropping by the West End including Leicester Square, Soho and Covent Garden. This is a tried and tested tour that I've done with friends & family - bring your best walking shoes :) You'll likely be tired from all the combined walking and culture at the end of Day 2 - however you'll definitely have made the most of your trip to London. I'm making the assumption that you're travelling to London on a Friday evening. If this is the case - I'd recommend heading to your accommodation, and dropping off your bags before heading out to a local eatery for refreshments. Make sure you're fresh for an early start the next day! I recommend booking a theatre performance in the West End for the end of Day 1. There are loads of theatres showing fabulous plays and musicals. Photo Credits: Marcin Nowak - unsplash.com

Day 1

Towers, Squares & The West End

It's day 1 of the tour - and we're starting out leisurely. Make your way to Tower Bridge for a stroll by this iconic landmark. Then, walk to The Tower of London to experience the prison that's held royalty and many famous Britons. We'll head south of the river for a birds-eye view of London from the Shard, check out Borough Market, then head to The West End - London's bustling entertainment district.
09:30 - 10:00
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, UK
Tower Bridge is arguably London's definitive landmark. Arching over the River Thames, it connects the north with the south. On the north side, the Tower of London looks on. There are 5 areas to explore within the bridge: 1. The North Tower - which highlights the architects, thinkers, engineers & technicians who built the bridge. 2. The Walkways - with panoramic views and a glass floor 42 meters up. 3. The South Tower 4. The Blue Line 5. The Engine Rooms - where you'll find the original steam engines which powered the bridge If you buy tickets on the website (see link on this page), you can get discounted prices. Photo credits: Raul Varzar, unsplash.com Charles Postiaux, unsplash.com Jean Carlo Emer, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Bridge Culture-Landmark Culture-Museum Culture-Tower

Notes

I'm not recommending a trip into the Tower Bridge on this tour - due to time constraints. Rather, enjoy the view of this icon of London, before walking next-door to The Tower of London.

Getting there

Take the London Underground to the Tower Hill stop, then walk toward the River Thames. You won't be able to miss Tower Bridge.

Travel time
0 hours 7 minutes
10:00 - 11:30
Tower of London
St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, or, more commonly, The Tower of London, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom. Located on the north bank of the Thames in London, the castle was founded in 1066, following the Norman conquest of England. Here, you can find the Crown Jewels (all 23,578 of them), which have been on display since 1669. Even back in the 19th century, half a million visitors flocked to see them. An ancient belief states that at least 6 ravens must be kept in the tower at all times - otherwise the kingdom will fall - and so they are kept there to this day. A tour to see the ravens is included in the ticket price. The castle has had a number of uses over the years, including as a grim prison, and as a site of execution - including of that of Anne Boleyn - wife of Henry VIII. Enjoy the many characters dressed in period clothing, who wander the castle and grounds. Check out the Yeoman Warder tours - which begin every hour. Photo credits: Jospeh Gilby, unsplash.com Amy-Leigh Bernard, unsplash.com Devin Kleu, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Castle Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum

Getting there

The Tower of London is right next to Tower Bridge (our previous stop) - you can very easily walk there.

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
12:30 - 13:00
The View From The Shard
32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, UK
The View From The Shard gives visitors arguably one of the best views of London. At 68 floors into the air, visitors are whisked upward at 6 metres per second - reaching the top in under a minute. The view really is spectacular - especially as London has very few truly high-rise buildings. Get ready for a winning Instagram selfie-moment! The Shard visit also includes a virtual reality experience. 'The Slide' takes 'passengers' on a 100mph ride over the city's skyline. The open air Skydeck (found on level 72) is also available to visit - but must be booked separately. Other offerings include a lesson in cocktail making - including a gin masterclass. Photo Credits: Genevieve Perron-Migneron, unsplash.com Fred Moon, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Landmark Culture-Tower

Notes

I have given 1 hour in duration between The Tower of London and The Shard - this is for walking and also to give time to grab a bite & refreshments at any of the many take-aways and cafes you'll pass on the way.

Getting there

It's an 18 minute walk from The Tower of London to The Shard. Walk west to the next bridge - London Bridge (not a spectacular bridge like Tower Bridge). Cross over and you won't be able to miss The Shard.

Travel time
0 hours 18 minutes
13:00 - 13:30
Borough Market
8 Southwark St, London SE1 9AH, UK
Borough Market is no museum - it's a living, breathing, dynamic market-place. Many of the stallholders are actual producers - farmers, fishermen, bakers. As well as food, there are small-scale artisan producers and restaurants. Prepare for an experience of tastes, smells, colours and human interactivity. Look out for cookery demonstrations, public debates and educational activities. Photo Credits: Hulki Okan Tobak, unsplash.com Frank Albrecht, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Diverse-Market

Getting there

It's only a 6 minute walk west from The Shard to Borough Market.

Travel time
0 hours 6 minutes
14:00 - 14:30
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Churchyard, London, UK
One of the quintessential images associated with London is the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. A cathedral has stood on this site (Ludgate Hill - the highest point in the City of London) for more than 1,400 years. The present cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren - to replace the previous cathedral which burnt down in the Great Fire of London. Work commenced in 1675, and the cathedral was completed in 1710. An Anglican cathedral - this is the main place of work for the Bishop of London. There are guided tours available, at no extra charge above admission - Monday to Saturday - 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm. Private group tours are also available. There is an entry charge for tourists - but worshippers can enter for free. Sightseeing is not permitted on Sundays. Photo credits: Alex Tai, unsplash.com Robert Bye, unsplash.com Nick Fewings, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
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Getting there

Head north west back to the River Thames and keep walking west until you pass Shakespere's Globe theatre, and finally reach the Millennium Bridge - right next to The Tate Modern gallery. Cross this spectacular bridge over the river, and you won't be able to avoid arriving at St. Paul's cathedral.

Travel time
0 hours 16 minutes
15:00 - 15:30
Covent Garden
Covent Garden, London, UK
Towards the east of London's vibrant West End lies the district of Covent Garden. In days-gone-by, Covent Garden housed a fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square, but nowadays this is a popular tourist and entertainment site with shops, restaurants, bars, theatres and historical buildings. Lookout for and enjoy the regular street performances which surround the main square. The Royal Opera House is also found at the site. Photo Credits Nick Page, unsplash.com Rudy Isa, unsplash.com David Sury, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Theatre Diverse-Market Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Restaurant

Notes

Enjoy the many street performances, wander around the shops, or grab a coffee.

Getting there

Walking to Covent Garden from St. Paul's cathedral is nearly a half an hour walk. Too long? Then you could either take a bus, or hop on the tube from Blackfriars to Temple, then walk north west the rest of the way to Covent Garden. Or you could always grab a cab...

Travel time
0 hours 29 minutes
15:30 - 15:45
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN, UK
The site of Trafalgar Square was officially named in 1830. In 1832, work began on the National Gallery - located right on the Square. The famous landmark Nelson's Column was erected here in 1843 - to celebrate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Today Trafalgar square includes fountains and statues - and it is surrounded by museums, galleries and historical buildings. It is also famous for its pigeons! It is a popular place for protests, cultural celebrations, rallies and demonstrations. Photo Credits: Paul Sivan, unsplash.com Anthony Ingham, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Landmark Culture-Monument Culture-Statue Culture-Tower

Notes

Enjoy the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square and check out the statues including the famous Nelson's column - before heading into The National Gallery.

Getting there

It's a 7 minute walk from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square.

Travel time
0 hours 7 minutes
15:40 - 16:30
National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN, UK
The National Gallery in London houses one of the greatest painting collections in the world - including paintings from Cezanne, Monet, Seurat, Gainsborough, van Gogh, Rembrandt and da Vinci - to name but a few. There are over 2,600 paintings on display - so there is something for everyone. The gallery is open 361 days per year. There are virtual tours available on the gallery's website (see website link on this page). Entrance is free - since the artwork belongs to the public. The cloakroom charge is 2 GBP (free for members). Photo credits: Anas Miah, Unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Historical Building

Getting there

The National Gallery is right on Trafalgar Square - on the north side.

Travel time
0 hours 1 minute
16:45 - 17:00
Leicester Square
Leicester Square, West End, London, UK
Leicester square is famous as the location for many film premiers that open with red-carpet in London. Located in London's West End district, it's a pedestrianised square surrounded by bars and eateries. The 2 big cinemas on the square are the Odeon Leicester Square and the Empire Leicester Square - and nearby you can find the Prince Charles cinema which often screens cult movies. The London Film Festival is hosted in Leicester Square every year. Chinese New Year is celebrated in Leicester Square - with London's chinatown connecting to the square. The world's largest Lego Store can be found in Leicester Square. The square has a small park in the centre. Photo Credits: Hulku Okan Tabak, unsplash.com Luca Vavassori, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Cinema Nature-Park Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Restaurant Eat & Drink-Take Away

Notes

While you are in Leicester Square, wander around - and check out the cinemas where films get the red-carpet treatment when they premier in London.

Getting there

It's a very short 3-4 minute walk to hop between Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.

Travel time
0 hours 4 minutes
17:00 - 21:00
Soho
Soho, London, UK
Soho is a 1-square-mile bustling and lively entertainment district in the West End of London. It's bursting with up-market restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres and media industry headquarters. Soho also borders Chinatown, although the Soho Society believes Chinatown is also part of Soho. London's gay community is based around Old Compton Street in Soho. Theatres in the area include the Soho Theatre and Windmill Theatre. Walking around the streets of Soho, you'll be among tourists and locals alike - enjoying the atmosphere day and night. The name Soho was possibly derived from a hunting cry in the 17th century. Photo Credits: Moujib Aghrout, unsplash.com Laura Chouette, unsplash.com Mark Hayward, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Theatre Diverse-Shopping Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Cocktail Bar Eat & Drink-Night Club Eat & Drink-Pub Eat & Drink-Restaurant Eat & Drink-Take Away Eat & Drink-Wine Bar Settlement-Community

Notes

By now you are likely hungry and ready for refreshments! I recommend to take the rest of the day to wander around London's West End - soak up the atmosphere, grab some food and see a show. Chinatown is also here - and if you're a fan of Chinese food - you're in for a treat. Booking a theatre performance or show is a great idea - although there are stands near Leicester Square where you can buy cheap tickets for shows on the day - if you're lucky.

Getting there

Walking to Soho from Leicester Square is easy - just walk to the west side of the square, and it all starts.

Travel time
0 hours 5 minutes
Day 2

Palaces, Parks and Museums

Welcome to Day 2! We'll be visiting 2 palaces - The Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace, 2 Royal Parks and 3 great museums.
09:30 - 09:45
Houses of Paliament
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
Covering an area of some 112,476 square metres, The Palace of Westminster houses the two Houses of Parliament to the UK: The House of Commons (lower house) and The House of Lords (upper house). The "Houses of Parliament" is the informal name for The Palace of Westminster. The Palace, along with Westminster Abbey and the borough of Westminster, has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. A free 75 minute tour is available - but only to UK residents - who must book the tour through their local Member of Parliament, or Member of House of Lords. Paid for tours are available to anyone - but only on Saturdays, or during the summer recess of the parliament. Located along the River Thames in central London, the Palace of Westminster got its original name from Westminster Abbey, which lies next-door. There are 3 towers that accompany the palace, the most famous of which is Elizabeth tower - which houses the bell known as Big Ben. This iconic clock tower is famous around the world as a symbol of London. The palace as 1,100 rooms, nearly 5 km of passageways and 100 staircases. Tours and tickets may be purchased from the official website - see the link on this page. Photo Credits: Marcin Nowak, unsplash.com Adi Ulici, unsplash.com Heidi Fin, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Government Building Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Tower

Notes

You can take a tour around The Houses of Parliament - in which case allow for more time. Alternatively, wander around Parliament square, soak up the atmosphere, then walk over to Westminster Abbey.

Getting there

Take the London Underground from wherever you are staying to the Westminster stop. Alternatively, check out with Google Maps on your best transport options to start the day. It's a short walk from the Westminster stop to Parliament Square.

Travel time
0 hours 3 minutes
09:45 - 10:00
Westminster Abbey
20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK
Westminster Abbey (more formally Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster) has been used as the place of coronation for monarchs since 1066 (starting with William the Conqueror). It is the resting place of more that 3,000 famous Britains - including monarchs, scientists, politicians and poets. The abbey is a place for celebration, worship and ceremony. The last Royal Wedding at the abbey was the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, in 2011. The Abbey was completed in 960AD - and today it has over 1 million annual visitors. It is located right next to the Houses of Parliament. Of note to see: 1. The Lady Chapel 2. The Coronation Chair 3. Poet's Corner 4. The Queen's Window 5. Pyx Chamber 6. Royal Tombs 7. The Quire 8. The Cloisters 9. Chapel House 10. Abbey Gardens 11. Modern Martyrs Children under 5 get free entrance. Purchasing tickets online (see the website link on this page) - gets you a discount. Photo credits: Amy-Leigh Barnard, unsplash.com Jenny Marvin, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Abbey Culture-Church Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum

Notes

I'm not recommending a visit into Westminster Abbey on this trip - purely due to time constraints. Rather, take the time to marvel at this incredible building & grab some photos.

Getting there

It's a short walk across the square to Westminster Abbey from The Houses of Parliament.

Travel time
0 hours 5 minutes
10:00 - 11:30
Churchill War Rooms
King Charles Street & Clive Steps, Westminster, London SW1A 2HQ, UK
Beneath the streets of Westminster in London lies the bunker used by Prime Minister Churchill and his staff during the Second World War. Protected from the German air-raids above, it is in these rooms that the allied victory was planned. The 3 main exhibits are the Life Underground exhibit - with historical images, interviews and an insight into life in the war, the Churchill Museum - housing personal items and artefacts, and the Cabinet War Rooms that housed the staff and state secrets. Give yourself around 90 minutes to explore, plus any additional time at the cafe and shop. Buying tickets in advance and online gets you priority entry. See the website link on this page.
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum

Getting there

It's a 6 minutes walk north to the Churchill War Rooms from Westminster Abbey.

Travel time
0 hours 6 minutes
11:30 - 12:00
St. James's Park
St James's Park, London SW1A 2BJ, UK
St. James's Park adjoins Buckingham Palace - residence of the British Royal Family. The Park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade. Don't miss the Pelicans in the park - which have been resident for almost 400 years - and were originally a gift from Russia. You can see the Pelicans being fed daily. At St. James's Cafe, you can enjoy views of the fountain and lake and laze the afternoon away in a deckchair. In front of Buckingham Palace, you'll find immaculately tendered flower beds. St. James's Park covers 57 acres and is 1 of 8 Royal Parks in London. Photo Credits: Sapan Patel, unsplash.com Semina Psichogiopoulou, unsplash.com Mike Benna, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Nature-Lake Nature-Park

Notes

Enjoy the relative peacefulness of St. James's Park. Grab a coffee and a bite at St James's cafe, then wander east to our next stop: Buckingham Palace - which adjoins the park.

Getting there

It's about a 3 minute walk from the Churchill War Rooms to the entrance of St. James's Park

Travel time
0 hours 3 minutes
12:00 - 12:15
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA, UK
Since 1837, Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence to the UK Monarch. At a height of 24 metres, its front is 108 metres long, and depth is 120 metres. There are 775 rooms, including 188 bedrooms for staff, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices and 52 bedrooms for royalty and guests. Official guests annually number some 50,000 people - for garden parties, lunches, dinners and state banquets. Perhaps the most famous balcony in the world, the balcony at the Palace was first used in 1851 by Queen Victoria - for the Great Exhibition. Today it's used on occasions such as Royal Weddings, the annual official birthday celebrations of The Queen and other grand occasions. During the summer months, the Palace is open to the public. A limited number of tours are available during Easter, December and January. Check the website link on this page for more information. Many tourists come to stand at the gates of the Palace where Changing the Guard takes place. Photo credits: Jean Carlo Emer, unsplash.com Luke Ow, unsplash.com Romeo A, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Palace Culture-Stately Home

Notes

I recommend walking up to the gates to get some photos. On this trip, I'm not recommending that you take a tour of Buckingham Palace - due to time constraints. Check out the stunning Victoria Memorial in-front of the Palace.

Getting there

Buckingham palace adjoins St. James's Park to the east of the lake.

Travel time
0 hours 5 minutes
12:30 - 13:15
Hyde Park
Hyde Park, London, UK
Located in the heart of London, Hyde Park offers a little peace and a place to relax and rest. The Park is a venue for concerts, from time to time. Covering 350 acres, Hyde Park is one of 8 Royal Parks to be found in London. The park is popular with joggers & cyclists. You can also go boating, play tennis, or try horse-riding in the park. A popular place for rallies, marches and protests over history, you can still attend Speaker's Corner on Sundays - to hear people vent and express their share of views. Photo Credits: Rishabh Agarwal, unsplash.com Alla Art, unsplash.com Marco Chilese, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Exercise-Cycling Exercise-Horse Riding Exercise-Rowing Exercise-Running/Athletics Exercise-Tennis Nature-Park

Notes

Enjoy a walk through Hyde Park. Wander around, and visit the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. Finally walk south out of the Park on West Carriage Drive and take the 10 minute walk to the V&A Museum - our next stop.

Getting there

Getting to Hyde Park from Buckingham Palace is about a 12 minute walk. Walk along Constitution Hill to Hyde Park corner, then cross the busy road to Hyde Park.

Travel time
0 hours 12 minutes
13:15 - 14:30
V&A - Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2RL, UK
The V&A Museum houses a world-leading collection of performance, art & design - and over 2.3 million objects spanning over 5,000 years. Many of the UK's national collections are held here - as well as study resources for the fields of theatre, performance, furniture, fashions, textiles, photography, sculpture, glass and other arts. Beginning as a Museum of Manufactures back in 1852, it was renamed in 1899 when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone. The building is also considered one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in Great Britain. Admission is free. The museum has 3 cafes: The Main Cafe, The Garden Cafe and The Courtyard Cafe. Cloakrooms are available: £1 coats, £3 cabin bags, £5 large bags. Photo credits: Amy-Leigh Barnard, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Museum Eat & Drink-Cafe

Getting there

To get to the V&A Museum from Hyde Park, find West Carriage Drive - in the centre of the park. Head south to the main entrance and take the 10 minute walk to the V&A Museum - our next stop.

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
14:00 - 16:00
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD, UK
The Natural History Museum in London is found on Cromwell Road in South Kensington - close to the V&A Museum and the Science Museum. Focusing on life and earth science, the museum houses over 80 Million specimens - although only a small proportion are on display. The museum's displays are numerous, but include: 1. Space 2. Dinosaurs 3. British Wildlife 4. Human Evolution 5. Treasures 6. The Works of Charles Darwin 7. Oceans 8. Geology The museum is divided into 4 coloured zones - grab a free map to ensure you don't miss anything! Admission is free. Photo Credits: Kevin Mueller, unsplash.com Russel Meller, unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum

Getting there

The Natural History Museum is only a 2 minute walk - literally across the street - from the V&A Museum

Travel time
0 hours 2 minutes
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About the author

I’ve lived in 5 different countries so far: the UK, France, USA, Canada and Denmark. I’ve also visited 33 countries in 5 continents for vacations. Presently, my outlook on travel is changing. These days I’m very happy to explore closer to home and avoid air travel. You can zoom in on details in your home country that can give you as much pleasure as traveling to countries far from home. We're building MapADay to help people get the most out of their free time - via building a directory of great travel articles combined with local events - and algorithms that can serve users with relevant content. As we all face a new reality with the climate & virus challenges ahead, I also hope that MapADay will enable users to discover exciting experiences closer to home. I hope that you enjoy MapADay as much as we are enjoying building it. Dan

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