I have a bit of a complicated history with London, and at one point swore I would never go back, (more on that another day) but I am SO glad that I let Kenny convince me to add in some time there at the end of our big Euro trip. I fell in love with the city, all it’s elegance and history, and was so sad that we couldn’t stay for longer. Kenny and his sister had never been to London, so we made a point to squeeze in all the touristy things possible in one short weekend, making it a perfect itinerary for anyone looking to make a few days stop in the city!
I created a two day walking guide, with maps pictures and interactive maps linked, as well as details on the places you will see and suggestions on how to spend your down time.
Upon getting into the city, follow signs to The Underground from whichever airport you are at and purchase an Oyster card. You can also now just use your phone with Apple Pay to scan in, which to me is both a time and life saver. You will use this card (or your phone) throughout the weekend to get around! Google Maps is your best friend, and if you previously download the map for the city, you will be able to use it to get around while there without data or WiFi. If you do have data, look up tube directions on here to get you wherever your are staying from the train station.
The maps below show the exact walking route to see everything you need in just a few days. Theoretically, if you wanted to combine all the walking to one day, you would have enough time, we did it! I would, however, suggest spacing it out over two and doing some more relaxing activities in the afternoon. We were completely beat by the end of the day and couldn’t go out like we had planned.
For day one, start by grabbing coffee and a pastry at a cafe near to where you are staying! We were in Marlybone staying at a friend’s flat, and wandering around her area was one of my favorite things about the trip. Then get started by taking the tube to Tower Bridge. You can walk across the bridge and start by going into London Tower, where the Crown Jewels are held, but we chose to just walk the grounds as opposed to paying to go inside. You can then walk up the river and cross the London Bridge to Borough Market, where we had so much fun exploring and grabbing a few different bites to eat (we had some divine empanadas I definitely suggest trying). From there you walk to the original site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and then to the newly built one not to far away. Next, cross back over the Thames to see the breathtaking St. Paul’s Cathedral. Following this, make a stop somewhere for a traditional afternoon English tea! This evening can be spent pub hopping, seeing a show, or exploring the neighborhood you are staying in.
A link to the Google Maps for Day 1.
The second day is quite the regal one, and if you are wishing to see the Changing of the Guards, it takes place at 11 and gets crowded quickly, therefore you should begin the day bright and early! This day starts with a tube trip to The London Eye! If wanting to go on top, which I do suggest, get tickets ahead of time. Then, walk on over to Big Ben. Be warned, if you aren’t already aware, Big Ben has been under construction for quite some time and is currently covered in scaffolding. Next, you can head around the corner to see the Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster. As you turn around, you will see Westminster Abby in all it’s glory! From here, you can walk a short distance to St. James Park, which we were so blessed to visit in the spring while everything was in full blossom. You can wander through the park which will lead you to Buckingham Palace! Tours here also need to be bought well ahead of time. From here, you can find a place to grab lunch before walking down The Mall on the opposite side of the park (or hopping on a double decker bus!!!) to the National Gallery. I loved every second inside the gallery and was completely blown away by getting the privilege to see such famous and historic pieces of art. Following the gallery, I would suggest grabbing a coffee and heading toward Hyde Park to spend some time relaxing. You can see Marble Arch as you enter, and after you are reguivinated, you can head over to Kennsington on the opposite end of the park to explore all it’s beauty and grab some dinner!
A link to the Google Maps for Day 2.
Hope this helps you plan, or helps to inspire, a quick trip to London!