What To Do in London: A 2 Day Itinerary
London is a wonderful city, full of an array of things to do. It is super easy to get around and the tube (underground system) goes most everywhere and is easy to navigate. You can take the tube from Heathrow right into the center of London, which we recommend.
There is plenty to do, so what you decide to do on your extension really depends on your interests. If you are a history buff, there are a variety of museums and historic sights to visit; if art is your thing, galleries and art museums are abundant; if thrills and entertainment are what you want, London theatre, on stage and on the streets, are exquisite. If you want to get a sense of the whole city, there are ghost tours, open-aired double-decker bus tours, walking tours, boat tours and private tours.
We have put together a two-day itinerary which, of course, could be extended to three days, if you prefer a slower pace. In two or three days you won’t be able to do it all, so we suggest you try to see and do a variety of things.
While planning your itinerary it is best to study the tube map. You may want to explore a certain part of the city on each day. Always take a cab if you are tired of walking. They are reasonable and efficient
DAY ONE: VICTORIA
9:30-Noon: Walk through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard.
If it is a nice day, and the rare chance that the sun is shining, walking in London is superb. The bird life and water fowl in St. James’s Park, the oldest royal park in London, are beautiful. Sit on a bench and watch the swans, ducks, and pelicans who have lived in this park for nearly 400 years. Stop at the St. James Café for a light breakfast or snack, then wind your way towards the Memorial Gardens, the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace. Place yourself at the gate and be patient. The Queen’s Guard ceremony lasts about 45 minutes and generally happens at 11AM. The precise choreography and unison specificity is fascinating and you will get a real sense of the importance of British royalty and pageantry. In winter it is limited to Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Click here for the schedule.
Noon-2pm: Lunch in Victoria
Wind your way towards Victoria Station and stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants in the Westminster and Victoria regions of London. There are many to choose from. Here are just a few suggestions:
The Other Naughty Piglet: (12 Palace St. Victoria) “Seasonal Modern Euro small plates with biodynamic wines in a chic theatre restaurant.”
Bag O Nails: (6 Buckingham Palace Rd., Victoria) "Your classic English Pub fare in an establishment that claims to date back to 1775. Enjoy a variety of classic English specialties including Steak and Ale Pie, Fish and Chips, or Sausage & Mash, with plenty of other options as well."
The English Rose Café and Tea Shop: (4 Lower Grovesenor Place, Westminster) “Shabby-chic tearoom with pavement seats offering snacks, light lunches and lots of homemade cakes.”
Stroll to the Apollo Victoria Theatre (17 Wilton Rd.) to see the acclaimed and award winning musical Wicked. You can read about it at www.londontheatre.co.uk. Matinees run only on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:30 and the show lasts two hours and 45 minutes.
Or, if the sun is still shining, and you have some walking energy, work your way towards Hyde Park to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, a place of tranquility, built to reflect Diana’s life, her generosity and her love of children. The water flows from the highest point and cascades to a calm pool at the bottom. Visitors are encouraged to sit at the edge of the pool and cool their feet.
Also in this area you can also visit: The Royal Albert Memorial, one of London’s most ornate monuments, commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved Albert; take a tour of The Royal Albert Hall, offering the inside story through its unique history, incredible architecture and legendary performances, (including The Beatles); go to the Science Museum to see an IMAX movie or take in one of their interactive exhibits; or head over to the Victoria and Albert Museum housing the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design. HINT: Don’t try to do them all, but pick one or two that interest you.
If you’re in the mood for some shopping, head to Harrods for elaborate shopping. Don’t forget to see the glittering Egyptian Room and acclaimed food hall. No need to buy anything to get a sense of the luxury available in this multidimensional department store.
Depending where you are staying, you may want to go back to your hotel for a rest before dinner. If you are staying in the Victoria area, we recommend The Grosvenor Hotel, a traditional Victorian Hotel built in 1862 located right at Victoria Station. It’s very elegant and grandiose lobby welcomes you into a golden era of past splendor, and its location can’t be beat.
DAY 2: SOUTH BANK
9:30-Noon: Start at Big Ben and walk across Westminster Bridge to the South Bank. Continue left onto The Queen’s Walk, along the River Thames toward The London Eye. If you wish to go up on the eye, you will need to go to the Ticket Office or you can go to Merlin Entertainment Group Ltd. to book ahead of time (recommended). You may still have to wait in line, but it’s worth it. The views at the top of this very slow, safely enclosed, world’s tallest Ferris wheel, will be stunning, especially if it’s a clear day. Coming off the Eye, continue walking alongside the water. You will come across open-air galleries, street musicians, and all sorts of performers. There are cafes to stop at and get a mid-morning cappuccino, and watch the people passing by.
Continue along the Queen’s walk and head to the Southbank Centre Winter Market, where there are many restaurants to choose from, including Las Iguanas with their flame grilled Latin American specialties and exotic cocktails such as “The Caipirinha” made with Las Iguanas Magnifica Cachaca, lime, sugar and vodka.
Or continue to the OXO Tower Restaurant Bar and Brasserie, a “modern choice with a garden terrace and panoramic skyline views serving globally influenced brasserie".
…keep on walking in the same direction along the river to the Tate Modern where you will see some of the world’s most iconic modern and contemporary art. The building itself and the gift shop are worth the visit, if you aren’t into Modern art. Take your time as there is a lot to see. Choose your exhibits wisely. There is a café with river views if you need an afternoon refreshment.
Continue along the river, not too far, to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, which stands a few hundred yards from its original site. It was rebuilt to be a replica of the original, and was a project initiated by the American actor, Sam Wanamaker, after his first visit to London in 1949. This open-aired, round theatre, with standing room only in the orchestra, is what the original theatre was thought to be. The reconstruction is as faithful to the original as modern scholarship and traditional craftsmanship could make it. Real theatre happens here, and, if it’s summer time, we highly recommend it! Check the website for scheduled tours and opening hours. If you are ready to eat again, indulge in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream Afternoon Tea at the Swan Restaurant “which is inspired by Shakespeare’s most magical play; from the pea flower of Oberon’s love potion, the apricots Titania feeds to Bottom, and, of course, mulberries from the lovers’ tree.”
You can walk across Blackfriars bridge to the Blackfriars tube station or take a cab and head back to your hotel for a rest before dinner of your choosing.
We hope these suggestions help!