I have been lucky enough to have a few of my friends come visit all the way from the USA in the past few months. Seriously, how amazing are they?!
Some of them were in London for the first time, while others know their way around town. Regardless, everyone needs to make the most of their time in this fabulous city! I want my friends to leave LOVING London… so they come back of course 😀
Whether you’re hosting or visiting for a few days, hopefully this top line list will make your London itinerary (depending on how go-with-the-flow you are) a little bit easier.
*Note: There’s WAY TOO MUCH to see in London in 48 hours, so these are just a few mandatory pitstops. I’ve lived here for three years and I still haven’t even seen a fraction of it!
Indulge in afternoon tea
I mean, obviously! What’s more English than afternoon tea, am I right? Whether you’re looking for a traditional setting or trendy hot spot, tea gives you a little dose of elegant English culture.
Growing up with an English father, my sisters and I never left the house without a cup of tea in the morning. While in London, I want everyone to get the experience.
For a traditional tea, I turn to The Orangery, which has an elegant and simplistic ambiance setting amid the stunning Kensington Palace Gardens. You’ll find an array of teas, scones, sandwiches and cakes. Top it off with some bubbles if you’re feeling crazy!
If I’m feeling more of a quirky and upbeat tea setting, I opt for Sketch – think Alice in Wonderland meets Zenon Girl of the 21st Century meets a man in a pink tux serving caviar. The man really is there in pink serving caviar though. Yes, really.
This tea is a bit pricier, but hey, it sure is an experience! Plus, it’s absolutely dreamy.
Stroll through wonderful parks
Fresh air, foliage, pretty blooms and sunshine (if you’re lucky!) – what more could you want?
Every park has its own vibe so check out as many as you can!
My personal favourites are Green Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park and Primrose Hill. From Primrose, you’ll be able to see the entire London skyline…
Peruse the markets
Foodies, this is for you. London’s markets are the go-to place for anything and everything delicious.
Camden Market has a special place in my heart. You’ll find amazing street food – everything from steamed buns to quesadillas to smoothies. The market is in a fab setting as well – just along the canal.
Beyond the nomz, the market has quirky clothing, collectibles and antiques. Honestly, you can find anything there! It’s a must on the to do list!
Columbia Road Flower Market is also a must. Only open on Sunday mornings, the market features florists and farmers from the area to showcase their gorgeous blossoms.
Also, mix and match? Yes, please! You’ll get more bang for your buck.
Borough Market is another one of my favorites. Located near London Bridge, the food market will blow your mind.
I mean, just look at all that cheese?!
Portobello Road Market is great for antiques – and also looks super pretty in pastels!
Take in the sights + how to do it
London’s beautiful attractions make it one of a kind.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important! Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral…they’re all gorgeous. So, here’s how to do it.
When I go sightseeing with my friends, I usually start at Buckingham Palace, walk through St James’s Park (where you can see the London Eye in the distance), where we then end up at Parliament Square.
From the base of Big Ben, you can cross Westminster Bridge to go south of the river.
If you walk along the water, you’ll pass the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern and Tower Bridge (among others). It takes about 45-60 minutes to walk from one end to the other – depending on if you’re a power walker.
Not only will you be able to take in the sights, you’ll enjoy street performers and riverside restaurants.
Embrace the street art
It’s… everywhere. And fantastic. From Camden to Shoreditch, this is one way to view London’s creativity.
Also, makes for a colourful Insta (come on, you know you’re looking out for a great snapshot!)
Embark on a day trip if you can swing it
You can get to the lovely Brighton on the coast of England in less than two hours by train – from St Pancras or Victoria stations.
It’s a completely different feel from the hustle and bustle of London – and so reachable!
Not only do you get the beach, pier and seaside, you can weave in and out of vintage shops and delicious restaurants in the North Laine area. Honestly, it is so quaint and picturesque.
If you’re visiting the UK anyway, why not venture out and see what outside the capital has to offer as well.
Go for a wander (yes!!!)
So this is the part where I encourage you to drop the guide book for a second – and just wander!
There are hidden gems around every corner. Central London is a relatively safe place – so there’s no need to worry about running into rough areas.
I seem to find my favorite places when I don’t have a plan – here are a few of the many!
There really is something for everyone 🙂 And this is just the icing on the cake – there is so much more! But you might just need more than 48 hours 😀
Need more ideas? I post some on my favorite spots on Instagram