A 2 day London itinerary allows sufficient time to explore the prominent historical attractions, parks, and neighbourhoods of the UK’s largest city. But it’s important to plan your schedule carefully in order to see as much as possible.
This post contains advice on what to see as well as how to plan your time in the electrifying English capital.
Read on for advice on how to see the best of London in 2 days.
Spending more time in the UK? Be sure to check out some of our favourite nearby spots.
How to get to London
As one of the best UK weekend getaways, London is easily accessible by road, rail, and plane.
London Heathrow and London Gatwick are the two largest airports with the vast majority of connections to non-European destinations. Regular trains connect the airports with Central London while Heathrow is also served by the London Underground (Piccadilly Line).
London Luton and London Stansted are your best option for budget flights from Europe.
London City Airport is the most central airport and connects the capital with domestic and European cities. Although flights into City Airport generally cost more, you will save time in transit due to the location and fewer crowds at the terminal.
Mainline train stations are spread across the city, with major routes connecting to London Kings Cross, London Waterloo, London Paddington, and London Bridge. You can view times and fares on thetrainline. If you are visiting other locations in the UK – such as Edinburgh, the Lake District, or the Peak District – consider buying a railcard to save money on train fares.
Getting around London
This 2 day London itinerary is devised to encourage you to walk as much as possible. However, you will need to use London’s public transport system at times.
This comprises the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Rail (DLR), buses, and river boats.
Purchase a rechargeable Oyster card or use your contactless credit or debit card for the lowest fares and capped prices on these services.
You can hire bicycles from Santander Cycles. Docking stations are scattered across the city centre and you can rent at the booth or via the app.
Black cabs off the street are plentiful and safe to hail, with most accepting payment via credit and debit card. Of course, you will find cheaper rides with Uber and other ride-share apps.
Download the free app Citymapper before visiting as this is the best way to plan getting around London.
You can check the Transport for London (TfL) website for disruptions on the Tube.
Best time to visit London
London is busiest over the British school holidays; six weeks over July and August and two weeks at Easter and Christmas.
The best time to visit in terms of weather and fewer crowds is spring, early summer, and autumn. Try to schedule your 2 days in London for May, June, or September if possible.
December is a special time to visit as you can experience the festivities and Christmas markets. January and February are the coldest months.
Ultimate 2 Day London Itinerary
This London 2 day itinerary assumes that you are visiting the city for the first time. Therefore, the selected activities focus on how to see the major attractions.
But what about if this is not your first time and you’ve already seen these famous landmarks?
In that case, check out our guide to the most unusual things to do in London. You can swap out any spots you’ve already seen to suit your tastes.
Day 1 of your London 2 day itinerary – Morning
If you didn’t get breakfast at your hotel then you can start your day near Victoria Station.
Black Sheep Coffee opens daily at 6 am (7 am on Sundays) and serves zingy coffee that will leave you buzzing for hours. Breakfast items include pastries, toasties, and smoothie bowls.
As an alternative, check out the unassuming “caf” Crumpets, named for the traditional spongy bread. This small cafe serves the buttery morning snack as well as full English breakfasts and lighter options.
Buckingham Palace, the home and office of Queen Elizabeth II, is an icon of the city. Whatever your thoughts on the Royal Family, you’ll get a thrill from visiting the palace and peering through the gates at the facade.
Now, if your two days in London fall during the summer months, you do have the option to go inside the palace. Tours run for 10 weeks over the summer months and grant access to the State Rooms and Palace Garden.
You will need to book your tickets online and factor in around 2 hours for the experience. Otherwise, you can check out the exterior, wave at the guards, and continue with your whistle-stop tour.
St James’s Park
Leaving Buckingham Palace, you can walk through St James’s Park. This is one of the prettiest parks in London and features a large lake that provides habitat to birds including pelicans.
Yes, you heard that right! The original pelicans were gifted by a Russian ambassador in 1664 under the rule of Charles II.
As you head towards the Horse Guards Parade exit, pass over the bridge. From here you get an incredible view of Buckingham Palace across the water.
Upon arrival in Parliament Square, you’ll get an eyeful of Westminster Abbey.
This Gothic church was constructed in the 13th century. It’s the site of royal weddings, coronations, and memorial services.
As with Buckingham Palace, you can enjoy the building exterior from the outside or snap up a ticket and explore the hall too.
General admission is £25 and includes a multimedia guide. Avoid queuing while exploring London in 2 days by reserving your ticket in advance.
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) is the seat of the UK Parliament. This vast palace is where you’ll find the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and Westminster Hall.
Tours are available at select times with the option to join a guided tour or explore with a multimedia guide.
Take a short detour to Victoria Tower Gardens and you’ll get an excellent view of the building and clear photos. Then, walk back to Parliament Square and toward Westminster Bridge for a view of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben).
Big Ben recently underwent a major refurbishment and now features a celestial blue clock face.
You can then cross Westminster Bridge and weave your way toward the London Eye.
Day 1 in London – Afternoon
Once you’ve done some touring, you’ll want to slow down a bit, eat, rest. That’s what the afternoon of your first day in London should be for! Of course, there will still be plenty of walking and sightseeing.
Advance booking is highly advisable if so; particularly for the London Eye.
Otherwise, the Southbank is a cool place to clock views of the city and get a sense of the energy.
At weekends, there is usually a huge secondhand book market where you can browse all categories of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. If you miss out, pop into Foyles. This is an independent chain of bookshops with an amazing choice.
Summer usually sees pop-ups such as the Southbank “beach” meanwhile the winter months bring the German-style Christmas market. Depending on when you plan your 2 day London itinerary, you’ll encounter a different experience.
Where to eat at London Southbank
In terms of where to eat at London Southbank, you have several options.
The Southbank Centre Food Market is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Street eats from around the globe are represented here and there is a huge variety. You can grab something to go and then eat it with a view of the Thames.
You’ll also find a mix of small kiosks where you can pick up a quick and easy takeaway.
Once you’ve got your fill of food and sights, walk across the Hungerford Bridge – the white one with all the pylons – and head toward The Strand.
This brings you to Trafalgar Square, with its fountains, lions, and Nelson’s Column.
Have a look at the Fourth Plinth. This stone block hosts a piece of modern art that changes once a year. At present, the installation shows Heather Phillipson’s swirl of soft-serve ice cream topped with a cherry, a fly, and a drone. However, it’s slated to change in autumn 2022.
While in Trafalgar Square, you have the option to visit the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery (re-opening spring 2023). Both of these art galleries are free to enter unless you want to pay to see the current temporary exhibition.
The National Gallery houses masterpieces from Western Europe and includes works by van Gogh, da Vinci, and Botticelli.
On the other hand, the National Portrait Gallery displays portraits of principal politicians, entertainment figures, the royal family, cultural icons, activists, and beyond.
You might want to try to squeeze both into your London 2 day itinerary or just pick the one that appeals the most.
You can walk from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden.
Covent Garden is the site of one of the oldest fruit and vegetable markets in London. Now, the piazza is lined with contemporary shops and the market hall is a blend of luxury boutiques, artisan market stalls, and places to eat and drink.
This neighbourhood is prone to crowds as it’s popular with tourists and London workers once they clock off for the day. However, the atmosphere is wonderful and there are usually street performances to enjoy.
If your two days in London coincide with Christmas then you’ll get to see the piazza dressed up for the holidays.
Consider an afternoon treat of macarons at Ladurée or a scoop of sorbet at Morelli’s Gelato.
Day 1 in London – Evening
Hopefully, you still have some energy for a fun evening in London. With only two days in London, you won’t want to miss out on enjoying some of the absolute best of UK nightlife.
Catch a West End show
Seeing a West End show is a rite of passage so you might want to splurge on a show while in London.
If you know exactly what you want to see, you should book tickets online in advance. Tickets are available from the theatre box offices (online and over the phone) or from third-party agents such as West End Theatre, London Theatre, and LastMinute.com.
Or, you can swing by the booths in Leicester Square and pick up a deal on the spot. Tickets often sell cheaper on the day in order to fill the house. Restricted viewing tickets are worth considering if you’re eager to experience the theatre without the high price tag.
Day 2 of your 2 day London itinerary – Morning
Hopefully, you had a good sleep at your hotel and are ready for a fantastic second day in London. It’s another action-packed day of sightseeing, walking, and eating well!
Leadenhall Market is one of the most beautiful structures in London. A market has operated in this spot since the 14th century but the building you see today was constructed in 1881.
Visit first thing in the morning for the opportunity to admire the architecture and take photos. The market gets busy around lunchtime when City workers trickle in for lunch and post-work drinks.
Pick up a breakfast brioche and coffee at Aux Merveilleux de Fred, a French bakery with seating outside.
If you fancy getting a bird’s eye perspective of the city then you have a couple of options, including the Shard and the London Eye.
However, if you’re spending 2 days in London on a budget, the Sky Garden is free! This botanical garden is located at the summit of the “Walkie Talkie” at 20 Fenchurch Street.
With a height of 160 metres, this tower features a covered botanical garden and an outdoor viewing terrace.
There is a cafe where you can pick up soft or alcoholic drinks as well as light snacks. For those looking to splurge, you might want to make a reservation for dinner at one of the restaurants.
Admission is free but you must reserve your place and time slot well in advance.
Upon arrival, you might have to queue for a while as admittance requires airport-style security and a passport check.
The earliest tickets to the Sky Garden are usually around 10 am and this is when you’ll experience the quietest conditions. But if you’d rather visit around sunset, you can flip this itinerary.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Walk to St Paul’s Cathedral for a closer inspection at the seat of the Bishop of London. The church was constructed in the late 17th century under the acclaimed British architect Christopher Wren.
If you want to go inside and clamber to the viewing galleries in the basilica, you’ll need to purchase a ticket. Admission is £18.
As with the previous landmarks on this 2 day London itinerary, you will get as much from surveying the exterior.
London Bridge and Bankside
Cross over the river via the Millennium Bridge. Turn around for an epic view of the cathedral!
Wander along the narrow Clink Street and you’ll pass by medieval ruins and a couple of wall murals. Check out the psychedelic painting of Shakespeare outside of Nando’s!
Where to eat near London Bridge
As with Southbank, the London Bridge and Bankside neighbourhood is bursting at the seams with places to eat.
Tuck into a typical pub lunch of pie and mash, fish and chips, or toad in the hole at either the Anchor Bankside or the Old Thameside Inn Riverside. Both of these pubs have a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. And, you need to experience a proper British pub during your two days in London!
You could head to Borough Market, which is a cornucopia of international food to go as well as restaurants and bars.
Day 2 in London – Afternoon
The second afternoon of this 2 day London itinerary allows you to choose from several of the country’s (and perhaps the world’s?) best museums.
If you want to see the best of London in 2 days then you’ll want to check out at least one of the countless museums in the city.
London is home to around 200 museums and art galleries, many of which are free to visit. Topics are diverse and everyone has their favourite so below is a couple of suggestions that are free to visit.
These three museums are all close to one another. Depending on the shape your 2 day London itinerary takes, you could possibly visit two.
You can take the London Underground to South Kensington or Gloucester Road from London Bridge and walk from there.
Natural History Museum
London’s number one museum houses an incredible exhibition on dinosaurs complete with an animatronic T-rex. Dippy the dinosaur has made a welcome return to the atrium this year. Beyond the dinosaurs, the museum exhibits creepy crawlies, volcanoes and earthquakes, minerals, and conversation initiatives. Temporary exhibitions carry a cost but they are wonderfully curated with interesting topics.
This interactive and immersive institution explores advancements in technology across motoring, space travel, robots, and more. You’ll see real rockets and spacecraft objects as well as replicas. Special exhibitions (paid) dive deep into the most innovative achievements in STEM.
Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A is dedicated to the decorative arts. Items on display include ceramics, sculptures, paintings, fabrics, home furnishings, fashion, and gemstones. Almost every country on the planet is represented and the collection has a gallery to appeal to most tastes. Again, temporary exhibitions carry a fee but they are beautifully curated.
Day 2 in London – Evening
You have a couple of options for the final evening of your 2 day London itinerary.
Option A, you can book tickets to a comedy act. Check out the Top Secret Comedy Club in Covent Garden. This laid-back venue hosts nightly events with tickets available for as little as £1.
The Boat Show on the Tattershall Castle – a docked boat – is an alternative. They also sell cheap tickets for established acts trialling new material.
Option B, head to the Shoreditch and Hoxton neighbourhood for a night of experimental cocktails. London’s East End has some of the coolest nightlife spots in town such as Found, Callooh Callay, and Nightjar. There’s no better way to conclude your 2 days in London.