London, the world-famous capital of England and the United Kingdom. This vibrant, ever-changing city has sooo many things to do that trying to explore and enjoy all its attractions in a single weekend is an impossible mission. With every visit, we have discovered new places and things to do!
However, don’t panic! In this post we will cover some of the most iconic places, so you won’t miss a thing!
Before starting, we want to highlight that moving around the city by public transport is really easy, so if you feel tired, don’t hesitate to get on the bus or tube (underground)!
London has many areas to stay, affordable for all budgets. For this trip, we choose our hotel nearby Soho and the British Museum.
Early morning and English breakfast
This step will be a must for two reasons:
- You will make most of the time in the city.
- You will need a huge amount of energy.
Soho and Picadilly Circus
Walk through the streets of Soho to discover its colourful shop windows while you make your way to Picadilly Circus to take a picture in the famous landmark along with the neon displays.
Chinatown and Trafalgar Square
Not too far from Picadilly Circus, you will find Chinatown; in this area you will travel again without getting out of London! This colourful neighbourghood is decorated with Chinese symbols and lanterns. It is not a big area and the streets are pedestrianised, so it is worth walking around for a while.
Make your way to Trafalgar Square, another iconic landmark. Check out the Lord Nelson’s column and the views of the National Gallery.
Fun fact: this square is named after the Battle of Trafalgar that took place off the coast of Cape Trafalgar in 1805.
Westminster and the Big Ben
It is time to head to Westminster, where you will find what is probably the most iconic symbol of London: the Big Ben. Walk around the area, enjoy the majestic views of the Parliament building, visit the Westminster Abbey or take some pictures of the London Eye, located on the opposite riverbank. It is a good moment to simply relax.
Fun fact: Contrary to popular belief, “Big Ben” is not the name of the clock tower itself, but instead it is the name of the huge bell inside.
The City, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millenium Bridge
After this well-deserved break, find the nearest tube station and head out to Bank station, in the heart of the City, the financial district of London. In this area you will find cool and modern buildings, some fancy coffee shops and restaurants and some major financial institutions such as the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange.
Make your way to St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the oldest landmarks in London. Its massive dome is one of the most recognisable features on the London skyline. You can access for free during service hours, or just take a look around the beautifully designed building.
Walking down Peter’s Hill, the Millenium Bridge will be right in front of you. This unique bridge was designed by the famous architect Norman Foster, connecting the City and Bankside.
Fun fact: Londoners nicknamed it “The Wobbly Bridge”. The reason? Yes, the bridge experienced a dangerous swaying motion on its opening day!
Bankside and Borough Market
After crossing the Millenium Bridge, you will be in the district of Bankside, probably our favourite area of London. Walk along the Thames and enjoy the multiple attractions around. Tate Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe, the famous The Anchor pub… Admire the views of the City skyline from this riverbank’s perspective.
That being said, it will be a good moment to relax again and go for a nice snack. After all this effort, you deserve it! If you are as much of a foodie as we are, we recommend you to discover the traditional Borough Market: the wide variety of food and drink, the appetissing smells, the lively ambience… And of course, don’t miss the Shard’s views! (Is that even possible?)
Fun fact: This 96-storey building is currently the tallest building in the UK (309.6 m)
Hay’s Galleria and Tower Bridge
On our way to the iconic Tower Bridge, we discovered by chance a little gem: Hay’s Galleria. This beautiful shopping centre was previously a wharf with an enclosed dock, but today it hosts a mix of shops and restaurants. Check it out!
Right next to the galleria, you will see the famous Tower Bridge and the City Hall. Get your photo and cross the bridge on foot.
Tower of London
Fortress, palace and prison. All-in-one. This famous historical building is really worth a visit, a nice dip in history! However, we wanted to discover a new area this time, so we skipped it.
Canary Wharf is London’s most modern area. This financial centre is located in London’s Docklands, on the north bank of the Thames. It is home of imposing skyscrappers, fancy restaurants and cafés, beautiful parks and a nice marina. Walk around and discover all that Canary Wharf can offer!
Fun fact: Canary Wharf got its name from the marine trade with the Canary Islands.
You can rather finish your day here with a nice dinner, or return to Soho and enjoy its lively nightlife (or both if you still have some energy!)
Since our flight back home was scheduled for the afternoon, we decided to plan a much more relaxed itinerary for the second day. An active rest day!
St Pancras and Harry Potter
If you have ever watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, this red brick building will seem familiar: this station made a short cameo after Harry and Ron missed their train from Platform 9 3/4 and tried to catch up the Hogwarts Express in a flying Ford Anglia.
Even if you are not a big fan of the Boy Who Lived, this Victorian Gothic building is worth seeing.
Marble Arch and Hyde Park
Take the tube to Marble Arch station. You will see the famous arch just right after coming out of the station. Okay, we have to say that it is not as impressive as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but it is a nice monument as well. From now on, you can relax wandering in the famous Hyde Park: check out Speaker’s Corner, the symbol of free speech for decades; boat around the Serpentine, a man-made lake in the middle of the park; visit the Princess Diana Memorial fountain, etc. And of course, meet the lovely squirrels here and there!
Fun fact: The squirrel most commonly spotted is an American species, first released in 1876. The native red squirrels are really rare to spot!
Taking Hyde Park as a starting point, you can decide whether you prefer to visit Kensington Palace to the west, Buckingham Palace to the east, or maybe the museums and the Royal Albert Hall on the south. In our case, we decided to make a quick visit to the Science Museum, since we had already seen the other attractions in previous trips. If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace!
The perfect place for every science geek…like we are! It is free to enter (though a donation is suggested) and it counts with many interesting exhibitions. Totally recommended, however you would need a full day here to explore everything!
We didn’t have much more time, so we finished our visit having a nice lunch nearby the museum and picking our luggage before making our way to the airport. If you have more time, there are a lot more things we love in London! Camden Town, Notting Hill, the British Museum, Covent Garden…the list goes on and on!
We hope this post was helpful for you. Let us know if you have any suggestion of places we shouldn’t miss next time! And overall, enjoy your trip.
Check this post about “Where and what to eat in London“