Travel Guide: London in 48 hours
The city has countless things to do and you could spend endless days visiting its cultural and not-so-cultural attractions. London travel tips can be found all around, but we gathered our personal favourite attractions to spend 48 hours in the city to the fullest!
- Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP)
- Language: English
- Airports: London Heathrow (largest, Heathrow Express brings you to the city centre in 15 minutes), Gatwick, Stansted, London City, Luton (smaller airports, all with decent bus or train connections)
- Train: We travelled by Eurostar from Brussels, however Paris is also an option
Start with the obvious
Begin your day with exploring the city and its most famous architectural buildings. Start your walk at Piccadilly Circus and find your way to Trafalgar Square, then via Whitehall to Parliament Square.
Along your way on Whitehall, you will find the Horse Guards, your first must-have selfie. The Horse Guards Parade takes places at 11 AM (10 AM on Sunday) on Whitehall’s courtyard. Once arriving at Parliament Square you will find the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
Walk past the impressive Churchill War Rooms and spot the squirrels in St James’s Park to arrive at Buckingham Palace. Continue your walk to the famous Hyde Park Corner and then take Brompton Road to visit the famous Harrods store.
In the same street you will find the impressive Victoria & Albert Museum (free admission). The enormous collection that spans two thousands years of history results in a wide variety of exhibits and artefacts. We love wandering around the massive building, discovering new things every time we visit.
Oxford Street & Regent Street
Don’t spend all your time in the Victoria & Albert Museum but instead take the tube or one of the famous red busses to Oxford Street. The world’s best known shopping street houses many top brands and exclusive designers and the buildings are amazing!
Crossing Oxford Street, you can find the very similar Regent Street, where you can find a good range of famous fashion stores alongside some of the oldest and most famous shops, like the recently renewed Apple Store.
If you are looking for the smaller independent boutiques, Carnaby Street and its surrounding streets might be more to your liking. This neighbourhood used to be the centre of London’s fashion world in the 60’s and is one of our favourite shopping area’s.
Covent Garden is one of those awesome places where you can just hang out for hours. With all the shops, theatres and street artists there is always something interesting going on. Seen the many restaurants, bars and clubs, it is also an excellent place to spend your evening – and night.
We like the Honest Burgers restaurant not far from St Paul’s Church. No nonsense burgers with one of the best chips in town. You can’t pass on their onion rings.
If we could stay in London for only 1 hour, we would spend it at Camden Town. The alternative setting is one you should definitely experience. On top of that, the area is packed with great inexpensive food stands for lunch, vintage and second hand shops of all sorts and all the gothic and punk stores you can imagine!
There is a lot to discover in Camden Town, but make sure you don’t miss the Cyberdog store as it is one of a kind. A DJ pounding trance beats through the speakers, dancers on high stages and the weirdest items to sell. If I ever need some space suit or bright, fluorescent dance clothes, I know where to go to!
Tower of London
Take your favourite transportation method to the Tower of London. The iconic landmark cannot be missed and provides a great story on London’s history. Seeing the iconic Crown Jewels is something special.
Make sure to buy your ticket in advance though as the queues might be long.
Once back outside, walk aside the Thames to the Tower Bridge, the most famous of all London bridges. The unique design of this beautiful man-made structure is definitely an eyecatcher!
The Tower Bridge has a cool exhibition where you can ascend one tower and walk over a glass floor to the second one. The view you get is definitely interesting, but we prefer to spend our time on the other side of the bridge.
Across the bridge, walking away from the city centre you will find a hidden historical gem. The Shad Thames and Butler’s Wharf area was once the largest warehouse complex on the Thames. Today the warehouses and wharfs are redeveloped into wonderful apartments, offices, shops, bars and restaurants.
When you have some extra time left, take a look at the STAMP website (Shad Thames Area Management Partnership). Their website contains a lot of information as well as a free PDF with a great walk around the area.
All our London travel tips gathered on the map:
What we liked
- London is so alive. There is always something going on and despite the many tourists, there are many area’s where you can just mingle with some locals, absorbing the true London vibe.
- There are so many incredible places to eat! From the famous fish & chips to the finest dining, London has it all. Its versatile world cuisine allows you to explore new tastes from all around the world.
What we disliked
- However the famous Tube – London’s underground railway system – is really useful when trying to save time, it is also quite expensive, mostly crowded and never really seems to be fully operational. In each of our London trips, we were confronted at least once with closed stations or interrupted lines.
More tips to share? Questions to ask?