I recently visited London for the FIRST TIME EVER. I know right?! Somehow hard to believe but I got lucky. I had the best tour guide to show me around (which was great after being the one who planned everything all the way up to that point in my trip). I was there for 5 days, honestly the perfect amount. If time is an issue though, as you make your way through the continent and only have a few days to spare for London, Jordan has broken down the Must-do’s on anyone’s first/second/or even twentieth time there:
First off, I hope you have more energy than I do because if you want to do London in 48 hours you have A LOT of ground to cover. I am going to help you hit the main spots and still fit in some of the fun quirky things that make London what it is.
SO, what makes me an expert and why can I tell you how to visit the world’s most amazing city in the world in just 48 hours? Good question. Firstly, I lived outside of London for three years and my boyfriend still lives there so I’m visiting constantly. ALSO, I did an internship in London all by myself, and when you live in London by yourself you learn A LOT.
Back to the important stuff, I’ve compiled the ultimate itinerary to achieve the impossible, exploring all of London in 48 hours. If you’re like me then you’ve already done your own Google, Pinterest, and insta searches trying to find some of the things that suit you that you HAVE to do. So, the beauty of this itinerary is that it’s going to be customizable. I totally get that we all want to see different things so, I’m going to try to get you to see the main tourists hubs, mixed in with my personal recommendations and instaworthy spots.
Buckingham Palace & St. James Park
I added this to Carley and I’s itinerary since it was her first time in London. Honestly you have to do this. If you aren’t interested in the palace you can make it a quick pit stop. Either way it’s gorgeous and fun to take some pictures in front of. Walking in St. James Park is the perfect thing to do after because (if you get lucky with the weather like we did) its gorgeous in the sunlight. The English have to soak up the sun every chance they get so “do as the romans do” amiright?
If you’re super hipster and love graffiti & insta pics, then Shoreditch is your kinda place. Go to Shoreditch High Street and right when you walk out is Boxplace. There’s tons of cute boutiques, coffee shops, and street art and my fav, street food. Honestly, food wise I recommend not planning anything and walking around BoxPlace and find street food or simply wander in to one of the restaurants around!
Soft Serve Society: FREAKSHAKES!! You heard me… with extravagant milkshakes (freakshakes) and unique, INSTAWORTHY options including cotton candy (or as the Brits call it Candy Floss).. it’s an ice cream lover’s heaven and the pictures say it all… it’s a must!
Vintage Thrift Shops: There are sooo many different vintage shops around. They’re worth going through and looking around. I ended up buying something and LOVING it. Even if you don’t buy anything they’re go through and have a looksy or play dress up.. whatever you’re feeling!
Queen of Hoxton Rooftop Bar: If you love rooftop bars you’ll love this quirky place that perfectly sums up the Shoreditch/Hoxton area. They’ve got food (rainbow bagels), drinks and tons of unique art structures etc… basically it’s the perfect spot for a mid-day cocktail or a night out! (Also there’s a club portion of Queen of Hoxton if you’re looking for something to do on a night out)
Tower of London
Honestly, you’re only in London for 48 hours so you have to do some of the touristy stuff and The Tower of London is pretty incredible. If you choose to do the tour it’s not one of those dry, get me out of here as soon as possible kinds of tours. I’ve done the tour multiple times and every time our tour guide (in his fancy jacket and hat) has been so funny and energetic. Anyways, if you’re not in the mood to tour (not gonna lie Carley and I didn’t) then just walk around soak it in and take some good pics!
Off to Embankment! You’re about to experience Carley and I’s fav thing we did. Once you get off at Embankment get off and go out towards the left from the underground and go over the bridge. You can also get there from Waterloo, it’s a prime spot so there’s dozens of ways to go. Once you get there you’ll know you’ve arrived in heaven… or as we call it Southbank. Honestly Southbank is the perfect combination of touristy, local, and everything in between.
- Ping Pong: The absolute best dim sum and cocktails. Do yourself a favor and get the spicy chicken dumplings and the Hibiscus Spritz
- Street Food: If you’re looking for something more casual there’s hotdogs and burgers and street food OH MY!
- Listen to awesome musicians with London Eye and Big Ben in the background: no explanation needed… it’s a fab backdrop and all the singers have angelic voices
- End the night with Pimms and Lemonade: It’s the perfect English summer drink. Carley asked me to describe what Pimms is.. and I honestly couldn’t tell you (see pic below). BUT, they mix it with mint, strawberries, cucumbers, and oranges and its incredibly refreshing. There’s a super cute and quirky stand right next to the bridge form Embankment station. Perfect place to sit and soak it all in.
Notting Hill – Portobello Market:
Start with breakfast at Farm Girl. It’s the cutest little restaurant, which you’ve seen if you follow @thenomadicdreamers on insta… because Carley and I may or may not have gone there twice! It really was that good. They have quirky 100% instaworthy coffee’s and food. Although, disclaimer: the coffee was so cute and looked fab in a picture, it wasn’t quite as yummy as it looked. Their service is fast and the food is quality and it’s a huge bonus that it’s on Portobello road and just a short walk down to the shops.
If you like shopping… then this is the place for you! When you walk out of the Oxford Circus station the first thing you see is a huge and glorious TopShop. Carley and I went mad in here…I mean seriously, it’s 4 stories.
Piccadilly Circus & Leicester Square
Piccadilly Square is the Brit’s version of Time Square and its atmosphere is just as lively. This can be either a quick stop to soak it all in, or you can explore the theater district that’s in that area. There’s nothing like a matinee to kill a few hours or to make yourself feel cultured, so that’s always a fun option!
You can either walk to Leicester Square or take a short tube ride! Leicester Square is also a very fun and lively area. There’s always something going on there whether it’s just street music or another type of event. Also, it wasn’t open when we went but, Vista Bar in Trafalgar Square is still on my rooftop bar bucketlist!
Fourth and FINAL STOP:
Take your pick!!
- Junkyard Golf: fun and quirky thing to do.. great drinks and food and it’s a fun activity if you don’t like typical nights out! As they say, “beats, eats, and booze” what more could you want?
- Barrio Shoreditch: If you want a quirky bar, head back to Shoreditch! Barrio is one of my personal favs. They have extravagant drinks and it’s the most colorful bar you’ll ever see!
- Ours: Ours restaurant in Knightsbridge was one of Carley and I’s favorite nights out. We met up with one of my friends from high school (who we also consider an expert on all things London) and it was the perfect place for a girls night with gorgeous cocktails. AND to make it even better they take amazing care of you there and will make special drinks. For us we wanted dry ice that we saw on another table so they made us shots served on dry ice! ANNNND they have a flower wall. It’s also a restaurant so you can get amazing food too!
- Cirque Le Soir: If clubbing is your thing then London is the right place for you. There are so many clubs it’s hard to choose which ones you want to go to. Cirque Le Soir is very popular among most of my English friends and it’s definitely the one I recommend.
And there you have it, 48 magical hours in London! Hopefully this helps give a little insight into the beautifully diverse city of London and shows you every aspect of it you could want! London will forever and always be my home so I love sharing it with you all! Pick and choose from this itinerary or follow it to a tee, either way now you have an insider’s guide!