Your Essential Itinerary for 2 Days in London
Need to know how to spend 2 days in London? There is an innumerable amount of wonderful things to see so you can easily fill up your London itinerary! Such as getting some Globe Theatre tickets, visiting the Shard, doing a Tower of London tour, or heading over to Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden for a bite. One of the really wonderful things about London I find is that there’s always some little gem just around the corner if you’re willing to look. There are even some amazing free things to do in London! Let me be your London tour guide! I understand you’re short on time, so here are a few sites you could hit while you spend 2 days in London. I’ll even make some recommendations if you only have 1 day in London!
Did you know London’s highest and best view is situated at the top of The Shard? At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London, it offers a 360-degree view for up to 40 miles. I had bought tickets for The Shard to see this fantastic view of London. It was the first destination on my London itinerary! However, on my most recent trip to London, I was hit was a hard dose of jet lag and napped when I arrived at my hostel. By the time I woke up, took a tube, and found my way over there I had missed my scheduled time to go in. Ah well, I have to save something to do for next time, right? Or you can check out the Sky Garden during a weekend in London, which is a free panoramic view experience.
At the time I went, the YHA hostel I was staying at actually had a group going to the visit The Shard. So if you’re a solo female traveler like myself, you may want to look into buying your tickets for The Shard thru your hostel. It would be a great way to meet people as this London tour guide likely can’t come with you…in person I mean. Feel free to give me a shout on social though!
Buckingham Palace boasts 775 rooms, including 188 bedrooms for the staff alone! There are also 78 bathrooms! No wonder it’s fit for a Queen and a must on your London itinerary! Of the three times I’ve visited London, the Queen was always in residence so I wasn’t able to go inside of Buckingham Palace. Still, maybe you’re luckier than I! 10 weeks each summer (July 20 – September 29, 2019) the magnificent State Rooms are open to visitors. If you aren’t visiting during those times, no worries! You can still see the outside as well as the Changing of the Guard.
The Changing of the Guard is the ceremony where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard. An iconic tradition of the guards accompanied by music. Stopping by Buckingham Palace is a must for any London tour guide!
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
I couldn’t leave out Big Ben, right?!? It’s arguably the MOST iconic landmark in London! Every time I see it I get shivers! It’s actually called Elizabeth Tower, but it’s commonly called Big Ben. Back in June of 2012, the House of Commons announced that it was to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. So technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg). You can see what it looks like at night all lit up down below. Getting to see at least one of the two, either day or night view, is a must with this London tour guide!
For non-UK citizens, the tower is not available to visit. UK residents can book a visit by writing to their MP. Applications should be made in writing, in advance, to:
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Non-UK citizens, you can instead join a talk on the Elizabeth Tower or take a tour of the Houses of Parliament next to The Elizabeth Tower. If you’re just stopping by to see Big Ben, then this will take no time out of your 2 days in London or 1 day in London. Since it’s along the Thames, you’ll pass it at some point.
Likely a place you’ve seen on TV during royal weddings or the Queen’s coronation. Westminster Abbey has been around since 960 A.D. and began its life as the coronation church in 1066. From William the Conqueror through to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, all but two monarchs have been crowned in the Abbey. It is also the resting place of more than 3,000 great Britons, including kings, queens, poets, musicians, scientists, and politicians.
Westminster Abbey is open most days, but Sundays are for services. Check what day you’re visiting on your London itinerary before going, especially if you only have 1 day in London. Side note, I did put my cell phone on silent while in the church. However, it magically somehow started playing “More Bounce in California.” Not my proudest moment 😂
Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain. It took place on October 21, 1805, off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. Entry to the main collection is free of charge, special exhibits may charge a fee. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m not a HUGE art museum person so if you’re not either, I’d recommend skipping it during your 2 days in London.
Somerset House on the Strand
If you’re strolling down the Strand, or near Trafalgar square, stop by Somerset House. It’s a charming location previously owned by some wealthy Danish people. Currently, it’s a museum and a prime filming location, The Duchess was filmed in part here. Some of the exhibits are free, yey! Some are not, but it’s worth it to walk into the courtyard. There’s a fountain there so if you’re hot, do like the kids did when I was there and run right through! This is just a quick stop if you’re in a rush so it’s not a must-do on your London itinerary.
The London Eye
Oh London Eye, how I was SO terrified of you! If you’ve taken a moment to check out my Eiffel Tower post, you’ll know I’m no fan of heights. Actually, more specifically falling. I know there’s no way I can fall out of the London Eye, but tell that to my nerves next time. However, even though I was rather scared. I have gone on it twice! And would recommend it to others for their London itinerary!!!
The London Eye is Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually. At 135 meters (443 ft) tall and a diameter of 120 meters (394 ft).
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral, which happens to be just across from Shakespeare’s Globe, is probably also familiar to those who have seen the Capitol building in Washington DC. The DC building was influenced by St Paul’s. Or if you’re a total film nerd like me you start singing “Feed the Birds” like you’re in Mary Poppins.
At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967. The dome is among the highest in the world. Not only is the exterior worthy of praise, but the awe-inspiring interior is also just as noteworthy! You can climb the dome to either try out the Whispering Gallery or see some spectacular views of London. Or go below to the crypt where many national heroes are buried.