How to spend 48 hours in London

London is one of the world’s most famous cities and it’s right on our doorstep. It is home to a wealth of famous sites including recognisable buildings, royal palaces, esteemed museums, and world-class entertainment. With so much to do, it’s not surprising that British people usually make more than one trip to London within their lifetime in order to see it all. If it’s your first time visiting – or first visit in a while – here’s how to make the most of 48 hours in London.

Arriving in London

There are a few ways to reach London from other parts of the UK. By plane you can arrive in any of the following five airports: Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Luton or London City. While if you are travelling by train you can arrive at any of the following stations:

  • Waterloo
  • Paddington
  • King’s Cross
  • St Pancras
  • Euston
  • Charing Cross
  • Victoria
  • London Bridge
  • Fenchurch Street
  • Liverpool Street

Which airport or train station you arrive at will be affected by where in the UK you are travelling from. It is also worth considering which area of London you would like to explore/stay in, and consider arriving somewhere close by. All the airports have transport links to London’s city centre, but not all to the same location.

Day 1 in London

The Natural History Museum in London.

Start your day by exploring one of London’s many free museums. There are dozens to choose from, but the well-respected Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum are all together in Kensington. We recommend starting here if there aren’t any other museums that you feel you must visit.

Then afterwards you’ll be in a prime location to explore either Hyde Park (along with Kensington Palace) or Buckingham Palace. Alternatively, you’re in an ideal location to switch something out for some Oxford Street shopping.

After spending your morning and afternoon learning about the world and exploring some of London’s most iconic locations, we recommend heading north-east into Leicester and Convent Garden for a delicious meal. Around Leicester Square you’ll find some of your favourite chain restaurants but you’ll also stumble upon some locals (we recommend MOD Pizza where you can build your own). Just further north in Soho you’ll find even more places.

In the evening, we’re intentionally staying in the West End and attending a world-famous West End Show – because you can’t come to London and not see a show, even if you’re not usually a theatre person. There are dozens of shows to choose from any night of the week. Whether it’s a Broadway-style production at the Prince of Wales Theatre or a comedy night at 99 club Leicester Square. Remember though to book any tickets in advance as they do sell out.

Day 2 in London

Camden Market in London

To start your second day, we’re heading north to Camden Town (if you’re not staying in the area, Camden Town is served by the Camden Town Underground Station). We’ll start at Camden Lock Market where you will find numerous food stalls where you can fill your stomach before a day of exploring London. You might also find a locally-made souvenir to take home.

After exploring Camden Lock, we recommend walking south (or taking the Underground to King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground Station) to King’s Cross Railway Station for a look at the Harry Potter Platform 9¾. Remember to get a professional photo taken with a scarf that belongs to your Hogwarts House.

In the evening we recommend heading to Shoreditch, where you’ll find a generous selection of trendy bars and restaurants. Alternatively, you can jump over to Brick Lane in the East End for one of their famous curries.

If you’re craving some evening entertainment, Shoreditch isn’t short of that either. There are two independent cinemas in Shoreditch: Rich Mix and Electric Cinema, the latter of which is considered one of London’s most indulgent cinema experiences. For something different, head to Bounce Ping Pong which is a bar full of ping pong tables. And of course, there is always Shoreditch’s favourite clubs: Cargo and XOYO. Perfect places to let your hair down after a busy weekend in London.

What are your favourite things to do in London when you’re only there for a weekend?

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Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.