Only have two days in London? Check out our Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in London for insider tips to maximize your time.
London is the land of royalty, history, afternoon tea, and fish and chips. It’s also my favorite city in the world. Since I first visited as a 16-year-old, I felt at home here. If we lived past lives, I was lucky enough to live one in London. Even though he grew up in Europe, my husband never visited this amazing city.
On a recent whirlwind two-day trip, I enjoyed introducing him to my London. From historical sights and everyday neighborhoods to amazing architecture and world-class museums and theater, I was excited to share why I love London with him (and you). Read on for our ultimate guide to 2 days in London.
Historical Sights in London
Many iconic sights in London are must-sees for any first-time visitor like my husband. Our first order of business was walking through the city, seeing The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abby.
I hadn’t been inside the Abby, which was recently the site of the coronation of King Charles III (and 39 before it), so we decided to visit. Inside the church that dates to 960, we marveled at the architectural genius and the over 3,000 famous Britons buried in the Abby. It’s no wonder my mom’s friend Gladys used to always talk about the ghosts she met each time she visited here.
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Iconic sights of London. Photo courtesy of VisitBritain/Nicole Hines
Museums in London
With only two days in London, deciding which of its world-class museums to visit is difficult. One of the best things about the museums here is that many are free to enjoy. I decided to take him to the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery. Closed from 2020 to June 2023, this is my favorite of the city’s museums, thanks to its extensive photography collection. This time, the image that spoke to me was Nadav Kander’s 2013 photo of King Charles III. Something about the eyes gives a different perspective on the new king.
Since it was also around Trafalgar Square, we decided to also see the National Gallery. This museum is for art lovers who appreciate anything from old European masters to Impressionism. With over 2,300 works in the collection, we decided to concentrate on the rooms focused on impressionists like Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh.
The Bathers at AsniËres, by Georges Seurat, in the National Gallery. Photo courtesy VisitBritain/Eric Nathan
Markets in London
With over 160 markets in London, from street markets to specialty food markets, I think it’s one of the things that makes the city so vibrant. In the past, I’ve enjoyed strolling Portobello Market, Camden Lock Market, and Old Spitalfields Market, but this time, we decided to check out Borough Market, London’s oldest market, dating to 1014.
Located near London Bridge, it’s a fantastic market for foodies. Here, you can grab a snack, meal, or the ingredients to make an impressive dinner if you can access a kitchen. Walking through, we sampled a divine mushroom and truffle paella, and some Swiss cheese. As I nibbled on a pain au chocolat, I lamented the lack of anything like this in Phoenix, where I live.
A taste of London at its many markets. Photo courtesy of City of London Corporation/Antoine Buchet
Afternoon Tea in London
Afternoon tea is a must when in London, and in my mind, there’s no better place for it than at Ting on the 35th level of The Shard. Book table 22, and you’ll have the best view in the restaurant.
This tea is substantial, and even though it’s not traditional, I opt to do it as lunch rather than an afternoon snack. You’ll get a dizzying array of finger sandwiches (the truffle egg and cress is swoon-worthy), pastries, and, of course, scones with clotted cream and jam.
If your idea of tea is an Earl Grey or Lipton, be prepared to take your tastebuds on an adventure. From the Tie Guan Yin Tea, which our server Alex describes as the Bordeaux of tea, to a Milky Oolong that he waxes poetic about how it reminds him of his childhood in Romania, it’s like a wine tasting for tea. Speaking of wine, if you want to toast your time in London, don’t hesitate to add a glass of Veuve Cliquot to the experience.
Who can resist the afternoon tea or view at Ting? Photo courtesy of Ting
Theater in London
Only Broadway can rival London’s West End. With over 240 theaters in London, it’s not hard to find a play or musical to fit your tastes. I’ve seen everything from Phantom of the Opera to Avenue Q in London and have yet to see a stinker of a show. I wanted something with a well-known plot and musical score this time, so we chose the classic Grease at the Dominion Theatre. Discount tickets for many shows are easy to get online, so don’t waste time queuing at the traditional discount ticket booths in the city.
Kick it up in London’s West End. Photo courtesy Mark Senior
Good Eats in London
London used to get a bad rap for its cuisine, but these days, its global gastronomic approach makes it one of the best towns for foodies in the world. One of the best new restaurants in the city is Neesa Soho. Executive Chef Tom Cenci’s bistro gives classic dishes like Italian carbonara and French moules marinieres interesting British twists.
A British spin on an Italian favorite at Neesa Soho. Photo courtesy Neesa Soho
Where to Sleep in London
The art’otel is one of London’s newest hotels in its newest neighborhood, Battersea Park. Just across the Chelsea Bridge from the fashionable Sloane Square and Chelsea neighborhoods, Battersea Park is a new city area anchored by a former power plant turned major shopping center. The art’otel is fun and funky and, not surprisingly, brimming with eye-catching art.
In the hotel, you’ll find sculptures, paintings, photography, and furniture created for the art’otel by its signature artist, Jaime Hayon. Time Magazine and Wallpaper recognized Hayon as one of the past decade’s most influential and visionary artists. The hotel uses local artists featured as artists-in-residence to host workshops for guests.
If the weather is good, and that’s a big if in London, don’t miss swimming in the hotel’s rooftop pool.
Boutique chic at the art’otel Battersea Park. Photo courtesy of Ben Broomfield Photography
Insider Tip for Exploring During Your 2 Days in London
London is a big city, but it’s easy to get around thanks to what I think has to be the best public transportation system of any city. The underground Tube is usually the fastest way to navigate the city, so you avoid getting stuck in traffic. When you get to London, buy an Oyster Card immediately and reload as necessary. When you leave the city, keep the card as you’re charged for the initial card, and you can reload it. After all, I know you’ll fall in love with London and will be back.
Take the tube to easily get around London. Photo courtesy VisitBritain/Hazel Parreno
Other Places to Check Out in London
I’ve been to London 10 times and still have a list of things I haven’t done and want to do. So there is no way you can see all this dynamic city has to offer in two days. Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip.
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Exploring 2 Days in London
London is the most accessible city across the pond from the United States, with direct flights from many major American cities to London Heathrow or London Gatwick.
If you can avoid London when the summer tourists are out in force, you’ll be able to enjoy the city more. April and May or September and October are my favorite times to visit my favorite city in the world. We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more of our favorite things to do when you visit Great Britain. We also have a series of Ultimate Guides to 2 Days to help you plan long weekend getaways or fun layover excursions.
Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in London