Discover what to do in London for two days that will make you fall in love with the city, culture, and people.
As one of the top-ranking cities visited by tourists, there are thousands of things to do in London, England. Experiencing them all would probably take years. The typical traveler needs a more compact agenda. Tourists don’t know what to do in London in two days or less. With hundreds of years of history, it’s impossible not to appreciate the grandeur and excitement London offers. But what if you’re pressed for time or only have a weekend in London before heading out? If you’re wondering about what to do in London for two days, here are my top suggestions.
Big Ben, House of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey
As the top places to visit in London, England, these landmarks reside almost side by side. Visiting them is convenient without being time consuming. Of all the things to do in London, these three iconic landmarks are the most visited because they’re easy to find and in the heart of the city.
We’re all familiar with Big Ben, the giant clock on the top of Elizabeth Tower next door to the House of Parliament. Originally named The Great Bell (referring to the giant bell inside the clock tower), the nickname of Big Ben was given based on its makers: Sir Benjamin Hall and Ben Caunt. Nowadays, we refer to the entire tower and clock as Big Ben.
Taking a tour of the House of Parliament involves climbing 334 steps to the top of Big Ben where you get a behind-the-scenes look at the clock mechanism. While there, you’ll hear this massive clock strike the hour. Since Big Ben is the third largest clock in the entire world, it’s quite the experience.
If you have an agenda of what to do in London for two days, add this to the top of the list. It’s a quick stop and a perfect photo opportunity.
Weddings and Funerals at Westminster Abbey
West Minster Abbey is around the corner from the House of Parliament and Big Ben. Steeped in more than a thousand years of history and intrigue, it’s considered one of the most beautiful churches in the world. This was one of my favorite places to visit in London because I adore Queen Mary of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth I (daughter of Henry VIII).
Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen) is buried here. So is her cousin and rival, Queen Mary of Scotland, and Queen Victoria. Princess Diana’s funeral service was held here in 1997.
Since the year 1066, every royal of England has had their coronation here including William the Conqueror, Anne Boleyn, and the current Queen Elizabeth II.
Sixteen royal weddings have taken place here including the current Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and Prince William and Kate Middleton.
I was fortunate enough to attend mass here while I was on vacation. I only had one weekend in London, but I made visiting Westminster Abbey a priority. Unable to get there before closing time, I was able to attend the last mass of the day. It was free admission, and I soaked up everything that I saw.
Out of all the touristy things to do in London, this was my favorite. Not just because it was free, but because it was steeped in hundreds of years of history. And I was able – for a short while – to be part of it.
Across the bridge from Big Ben is the London Eye. On the South Bank of the River Thames sits this gigantic ferris wheel. The tallest in Europe, passengers enjoy the 360-degree views of the city from a comfy air-conditioned capsule. Get your camera and a selfie stick ready.
Take a seat and enjoy the view through the crystal clear walls, or feel free to walk around. It moves 26cm every 10 seconds. The entire trip will last about 30 minutes and pricing starts off at $50 per person. If you only have a weekend in London, it’s an ideal way to see the entire city in less than an hour. It doesn’t stop and go like regular ferris wheels. Once boarded, it makes a smooth continuous rotation.
Night rides offer a stunning view. Seeing the city lit up at night from 443 feet in the air is a view you can’t get anywhere else. Getting a bird’s eye view of all the wonderful places to visit in London is a great way to go sightseeing while standing still.
The childhood home of Queen Victoria is a short distance away from Big Ben and West Minster Abbey. Buy a ticket and live like a royal for an hour or two. Buckingham Palace is a sight to behold with its beauty and grandeur which is why it’s one of the highly rated things to do in London, England.
Tour the State Rooms that glitter with gold, pick up a souvenir at the Palace Gift Shop, and have tea and crumpets at the Garden Café. The history of this magnificent palace is illuminated by a professional guide. You can also get up close and personal with the treasures in the Royal Collection.
If you’re there on the right day, be sure to watch the Changing of the Guard. I was flabbergasted during these 45 minutes of orchestrated British pageantry. Five infantry regiments have the sole purpose of protecting the Sovereign, and they are truly a sight to see. The ceremony runs all year, so be sure to work it into your weekend in London.
Dedicated to the apostle Paul, this church has seen its share of history. It has hosted a slew of services including the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Queen Victoria’s jubilee, funerals for Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
This was on my list of things to do in London because I am a die-hard fan of Princess Diana. It’s an amazing experience to walk down the same aisle that she did when she was a bride. The intricate details and incredible architectural design is nothing like I’ve seen before. It’s still an operating church, holding mass, so it’s free to enter. After service, walk around and see the stunning artwork and statues. Photos can be taken but only after the service.
Tours, Tours, and More Walking Tours of London!
With tourists comes the need for guided tours. I took several while I was in this wonderful city because I was pressed for time and didn’t want to bother trying to find things myself. Not knowing what to do in London for two days is frustrating, but a well-versed tour guide makes enjoying yourself much easier.
Jack the Ripper terrorized Whitechapel district in 1888. The town has changed since then but not much. The Jack the Ripper tour takes you on a two-hour walking journey to investigate the crime scenes as you follow an expert guide. Wear comfortable shoes, grab a hot drink, and enjoy playing detective in London’s East End. I took this tour with my mom. It was interesting, fun, and we all had a drink at a local pub afterward to share our theories of Jack’s true identity. This book is a great way to prep for your adventure.
Can the world get enough of Harry Potter and his magic? If not, you may enjoy this walking tour of London from Harry’s point of view. It’s geared towards muggles and their obsession with the books, movie sites, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of England’s greatest wizard. The Tour of Muggles is 2.5 hours and includes a ride on the subway (tube). Grab your wand (this one is awesome!) and practice your spells as you head out to discover a hidden world of enchantment. Lots of photo opps along the way so get your phone or camera ready.
With so many places to visit in London, England, a walking tour is sometimes the best way to go. They last an hour or two and take you to places you probably couldn’t find on your own. For more walking tours of London, try www.walks.com for an array of city, ghost, food, royal, pub, castle, and photo walks. There’s even a Beatles walk for music lovers.
See a Show in London’s West End
The West End is to London what Broadway is to Manhattan. All the best musicals and plays are held here. Top names in Hollywood perform here including Daniel Radcliffe, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Matthew Perry, and Kenneth Branagn. Dinner and show packages make for a perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing.
If you want to see a show in London, visit one of these theatres:
- Adelphi Theatre
- Playhouse Theatre
- Trafalgar Studios
- Cambridge Theatre
- Apollo Theatre
- Noel Coward Theatre
- Dominion Theatre
- Kings Cross Theatre
London Bridge Is Falling Down, So Go See the Tower Bridge
Completed in 1894, it connects the north and south banks of the river Thames. Its name is derived from its proximity to the Tower of London. If walking across it seems boring, take a guided tour to explore one of the Victorian era’s magnificent creations.
It lights up at night and becomes a spectacular image over the evening river waters. Use the high level walkways to see fascinating panoramic views of the city. Glass floor panels allow pedestrians to see London life below them from 137 feet (42 meters) above the Thames.
See a Play in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Of all the things to do in London, going to the Globe should be one of them. While the West End has modern entertainment, the Globe transports you back to the days of wooden playhouses and open seating. Across from the Tower Bridge, it’s too close to pass up the opportunity to see Shakespeare in action.
If your weekend in London is getting too full and catching a show at the Globe can’t happen, discovery tours are available. Tour the theatre and see where the magic happens. You can still discover the history of the world’s most famous playwright without staying for the show.
No trip is complete without taking a photo of yourself with these iconic bronze lions at Trafalgar Square. Everyone loves their picture taken with these immense statues. Climb aboard and smile! Whitehall (and its Jack the Ripper Tours) is not far from here and can be seen in the distance.
Similar to Times Square in NYC, you’ll find galleries, museums, cafes, and more. The National Gallery museum, Nelson’s Column (protected by the lions), and the Café on the Square are nestled in the folds of this beautiful pedestrian-friendly area. There are even public restrooms.
Memorial statues date back to the early 1800s to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Several fountains house mermaids, dolphins, and King Triton. An enormous Christmas tree is lit in the center of the Square, similar to that in Rockefeller Center.
Best Way to Travel in London is the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Buses, taxis, and the tube are great ways to travel in London. London sightseeing bus tours are even better. They offer a 24- and 48-hour unlimited hop-on and hop-off options. It takes you to all the important places to visit in London as you enjoy the ride.
With 80 stops and several walking tours of London included in the ticket price, you can’t run out of things to do in London. Cheaper than a taxi. Easier than the subway.
Even if you don’t have a plan, taking a bus tour means you won’t run out of ideas of what to do in London for two days.
Thinking of what to do in London for two days can be mind boggling. With so many things to do in London, they can’t all be done in one visit. Having a good plan in place makes seeing your top interests doable.
I highly recommend purchasing a ticket for the London Tour Bus. It makes enjoying the city sights much easier. Experience the culture and see a show in London. Better yet, grab a seat at the Globe for a night of true Shakespearean entertainment.
If you only have a weekend in London, make the most of it. Purchase tickets online as early as possible. Take advantage of the walking tours of London to give you a more personalized and intimate encounter with one of the most beautiful and historical cities in Great Britain.
Do you have any suggestions on what to do in London for two days or less? What are your favorite things to do in London? Leave a comment below!
Want to know more about London vacation? Read 5 Strange and Unusual Things To Do in London.
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