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2 Day London Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

2 days in London. Is it do-able? Yes, it is – as long as you plan carefully. Getting there and then travelling around at random won’t get you very far. So if you want to make memories during your couple of days in the UK capital, then you really need to think about where you want to go. 

When considering what to see in London in 2 days, you’re unlikely to tick everything off your list. Longer in London would undoubtedly be better – but 2 days is certainly better than 1 or none!

On the plus side, you can fit some city icons into a London itinerary for 2 days. And while you might not quite have the time to uncover all of the capital’s secrets, you can fit one or two of London’s more interesting corners. 

This article will show you how to do London in two days, so you can plot your own London 2 day itinerary. Listed here are the top sights and experiences to choose from – though please don’t expect to see and do them all!

This itinerary is not meant to be followed to the letter, but rather used to inspire your travels in London. We suggest focusing on the London landmarks you want to see the most as a starting point. 

It’s best to factor in a little extra time for flexibility. Transport delays do happen, and lines can be long – or you could spot the cutest boutique you’ve ever seen en route. 

Here’s how to do 2 days in London – whether you’re on a budget or not!

  1. 🗝 TOWER OF LONDONCeremony of the Keys
  2. 🪄 HARRY POTTER STUDIOS Making of Harry Potter Studio + HP walking tour of central London
  3. ⭐️ PRIVATE TOURDiscover Real London black cab tour of London
  4. 🇬🇧 HOP ON HOP OFF BUSCity Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
  5. 🥟 FOOD TOURUltimate Food Tour of Borough Market
  6. ☀️ LONDON IN 1 DAY TOURSmall group tour of the main sights
  7. 🎟 LONDON PASS – Unlock admission to 90+ attractions for one low price. Pass includes Tower Bridge, London Eye, Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Use code UKTP5 at checkout for 5% discount off the cost of your pass. Buy here.
  8. 🎟 GO CITY EXPLORER PASS – Choose 2 to 7 attractions. Valid for 2 months after activation. Buy here.
  9. 🎟 BIG CITY SAVER – Includes family attractions such as Madame Tussauds & the London Eye. Buy here.

Day 1 of this 2 day itinerary is all about packing in the big sights. These have been listed in a logical order when it comes to logistics, to save you time. Though if you want to visit them all, it’s highly likely you’ll have to save some of these for day 2. 

2 Day London Itinerary for First-Time Visitors including a visit to see Tower of London.
  • Where: London EC3N 4AB
  • When: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5.30pm, Sunday & Monday 10am to 5.30pm
  • Why: Crown jewels, historic buildings & exhibits, Beefeaters, & a famous bridge
  • Closest tube: Tower Hill
  • Minimum time to visit: 3 – 4 hours+

As the Tower of London opens earlier than many other attractions – at 9 am most days – it’s the ideal starting point.  

The Tower is an incredibly popular attraction, so we strongly recommend buying tickets in advance. Allow three to four hours for your visit to the Tower, depending on your other priorities. 

Arrive early if you want to see the Crown Jewels, and even then you can still expect crowds. The Beefeater guards, suits of armour, old buildings and museums also make the tower a London must see. 

We recommend booking this tour with Walks which enables you to see the actual opening ceremony of the Tower of London (and you get in to see the Crown Jewels before everyone else which is a total winner in our books!)

You can also visit Tower Bridge while you are in the area. You can simply view it from the Tower of London – you really cannot miss it. If you want to, you can visit the Victorian engine rooms and walk across the glass walkway which we also recommend!

💂‍♀️ Click here to book Tower of London tickets

💂‍♀️ Click here to buy tickets for Tower Bridge

  • Where: 24 river piers
  • When: Early morning until late night
  • Why: Rela while seeing the city from a unique perspective
  • Closest tube: Varies
  • Minimum time: Varies

Hop onto a Thames cruise at Tower Pier – or indeed any one of the 23 other piers on the river. Kick back and relax while seeing city sights as you cruise along. The Uber boats by Thames Clippers are part of the London Transport network, so they’re cheap, frequent and easy to use.  

Pre-book a cruise if you want to, or you could hop onto one at any pier during the day. The South Bank for the London Eye and Westminster Pier are among the most popular stops. 

Visiting the London Eye for views of the London skyline and Thames.
  • Where: London SE1 7PB
  • When: Seasonal hours
  • Why: Panoramic river and city views while you ride the big wheel
  • Closest tube: Waterloo
  • Minimum time to visit: 30 minute ride + waiting in line

To savour the best views in the city, take a trip on the London Eye. Riding on Europe’s biggest cantilevered observation wheel also gives you a welcome break from walking around! Pre booking will save you time waiting around, as well as guaranteeing your slot. 

As the UK’s number one paid attraction, this is a must. Unless you really cannot cope with heights, that is. It’s worth cruising or walking by, at least, while wandering around the South Bank, if you want to do this instead of taking a ride.  

Click here to book London Eye tickets

  • Where: Dean’s Yard, London SW1P 3PA (Westminster Abbey)
  • When: Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, Saturday 9 am to 3 pm
  • Why: The venue for royal coronations, weddings, and funerals
  • Closest tube: Westminster
  • Minimum time to visit: 1 – 2 hours

After riding on the London Eye, you could stroll Westminster Bridge to reach Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and lots of London’s most Instagrammable red telephone boxes!

Westminster Abbey is close by, too. It’s the final resting place of notable people like Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, and Issac Newton. It’s also where almost every royal wedding and funeral is held – and where the coronation of King Charles III took place. Book tickets ahead of time if you want to discover the interior, and allow an hour or two to do so. 

Click here to book Westminster Abbey tickets

  • Where: London SW1A 1AA (Buckingham Palace)
  • When: See the outside at any time
  • Why: A magnificent royal palace that’s home to King Charles III 
  • Closest tube: St James Park
  • Minimum time to visit: 15 – 30 minutes

From Westminster, wander along Parliament Street to take a peek at Downing Street en route to the Mall and Buckingham Palace. You cannot enter the street, but you can see where the British Prime Minister lives. 

Next, a walk along The Mall is the best way to approach Buckingham Palace. Every televised royal event you’ve ever caught a glimpse of involves a procession here. 

You cannot actually enter Buckingham Palace during most of the year, so just give yourself sufficient time to gaze at it. Snap some shots from the Victoria Memorial, right out front, for the best perspective. 

  • Where: London SW1A 2AX
  • When: Any time
  • Why: Walk through a London park while seeing the famous Horse Guards
  • Closest tube: St James Park
  • Minimum time to visit: 15 – 30 minutes+

Next, wander through the green lung that is St James Park to get to Horse Guards Parade on the eastern edge. 

Look out for the Horse Guards as you go. You could also stop for a picnic, if the weather’s dry. It’s simple to pick up supplies, including good ready-made sandwiches, at the express supermarkets you’ll find all over the city. 

  • Where: London WC2N 5DS
  • When: Any time
  • Why: London’s iconic central square with lion statues, Nelson’s Column, and fountains
  • Closest tube: Charing Cross
  • Minimum time to visit: 15 – 30 minutes

You walk to Trafalgar Square from Horse Guards Parade in around ten minutes. It’s always packed with locals and visitors – plus plenty of the ubiquitous pigeons. Nelson’s Column, flanked by four lion guards, stands proudly in the centre.

Trafalgar Square isn’t just a busy plaza, it’s also a major crossroads. The entrance to the National Gallery can be found here (& National Portrait Gallery too), and these fine art museums are well worth your time if you have even the most passing interest in art. It’s also free to enter. 

Alternatively, or next, stroll up Charing Cross Road to reach Leicester Square, Theatreland, and neighbouring Covent Garden – aka London’s West End. 

🎡 London Eye – Ride with fantastic views over London. (Skip-the-line tickets available)

🏙 The ShardThe tallest building in the UK with commanding views over London.

⛪️ Westminster Abbey Gothic abbey where coronations and royal weddings are held.

💎 Tower of LondonInfamous prison and mighty fortress. The Crown Jewels are on display too.

Madame Tussauds Get up close and personal with over 250 waxworks of famous people.

London DungeonEnjoy a recreation of some of London’s goriest and macabre historical events.

🐧 London ZooWorld’s oldest scientific zoo and a popular attraction for families.

👑 Hampton Court PalaceKing Henry VIII’s favourite palace.

  • Where: London WC2H 7LU
  • When: Any time
  • Why: Two famous central London spots, plus the UK’s answer to Broadway
  • Closest tube: Leicester Square or Covent Garden
  • Minimum time to visit: 15 – 30 minutes+

Via Charing Cross Road, head from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square. This well-known plaza is where all the hottest film premieres are held, so the red carpet is often rolled out here. Arrive here in the evening if you can. Firstly, you might catch a film premiere taking place, and secondly, one of the best places to eat in London is close by. 

Chinatown, with its impressive gate, is just by Leicester Square, and there’s a plethora of tempting and affordable restaurants to pick from in this part of the city. You’ll also see lots of leading London theatres while walking around the Theatreland district. 

While you’re in the West End, wander over to Covent Garden for market and high street shopping, a selection of pubs and restaurants, and a constant stream of street performers. 

  • Where: London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG
  • When: 10am to 8pm in winter and 10am to 10pm in summer
  • Why: One of Europe’s highest skyscrapers offers stunning river and city views
  • Closest tube: London Bridge
  • Minimum time to visit: 30 minutes to 1 hour+

If you save The View from the Shard for the evening, you can max out your time, as it’s open later than other London attractions. Timed entry tickets are advised, though walk-ins are sometimes possible. 

The sweeping, 360 degree views from the Skydeck on the 72nd floor are worth waiting for – whether you visit in daylight or darkness. If you want to dine out in style – and with a view – you could book a table at one of the bars or restaurants here, which are spread out over three floors. You can even stay over at the posh five-star Shangri-La Hotel if you want to – and have the cash to splash. 

Click here to book View from The Shard tickets

  • Where: All over London
  • When: Varies, but typically 11am to 11pm
  • Why: Pub menus typically feature both British and international favourites 
  • Closest tube: Varies
  • Minimum time to visit: 1 hour+

Whether it’s your evening meal or a lunch stop during the day, visiting a traditional British pub is an absolute must. For a local’s recommendation close to your accommodation, try asking at your hotel. 

If you want to sample British fare, dishes to order include the pie of the day, fish and chips, or bangers (sausage) and mash. You’ll also find decent pasta, burgers, roasts, curries, and grills on many menus, plus all sorts of international favourites. 

Day 2 is to do with as you please. You can play catch-up by heading to what you didn’t have time for on the first day. Or head to some of the following to see a different side to the city. Perhaps both, depending on your preferences and schedule. 

  • Where: All over London
  • When: Varies
  • Why: London has some of the world’s best museums, and most are free to enter
  • Closest tube: Varies
  • Minimum time to visit: 1 hour+

If you have two days or more in London, then it would be a crime not to dip into at least one museum. The UK capital boasts some of the best in the world, so the only problem is choosing where to go.

The British Museum is probably the top pick, and is located in leafy Bloomsbury. Or head to equally elegant South Kensington and you can choose from three of the city’s leading lights – the Natural History Museum, the V&A (Victoria and Albert), or the Science Museum. They’re all conveniently close to one another, and all have good cafes for taking a break. 

  • Where: London W2 2UH
  • When: 5am to midnight
  • Why: London’s iconic park is home to the Serpentine, Speaker’s Corner, and more
  • Closest tube: Hyde Park Corner 
  • Minimum time to visit: 30 minutes+

Just up the road from South Kensington is Hyde Park. Head there via Knightsbridge to see some of the most prestigious shops in London, including Harrods. You could pop into the food here for a picnic to eat at the park. 

Look out for the Serpentine, where hardy swimmers take a dip on Christmas Day. Speaker’s Corner, meanwhile, is where people wax lyrical about anything and everything. You’ll see local office workers sunning themselves at lunchtime on a sunny day here – this park really is at the heart of city life. 

  • Where: St Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
  • When: Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 4pm, opens 10am Wednesdays
  • Why: One of the city’s key landmarks, the Dome galleries, and city views
  • Closest tube: St Paul’s
  • Minimum time to visit: 2 hours+

Whether history or art are more your thing, you can explore both at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London. It was also built at the highest point in the city, meaning you can savour sweeping views. 

Ascend hundreds of stairs to access the majestic dome, via the Whispering Gallery. (It really does work, by the way.) Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece is where the man himself is buried, along with other notables such as nurse Florence Nightingale and poets William Blake and John Donne.

The cathedral is a church, home to art installations, a gallery and even a movie star. Not to be missed by anyone who’s into architecture, art, or history. 

Click here to book St Paul’s Cathedral tickets

  • Where: London NW1 4NR (Regent’s Park)
  • When: Daily 5am – 9:30pm 
  • Why: A lovely London park, panoramic Primrose Hill views, plus Camden and a canal
  • Closest tube: Regents Park or Camden Town
  • Minimum time to visit: 1 hour+

Head north to see London from a different perspective – including panoramic views from celebrity favourite Primrose Hill. If you’re travelling with kids, London Zoo might also be a must, and is also located here. 

You can wander along the canal of the same name towards Camden Town – or vice versa. Camden has an offbeat vibe, and offers its famous – and fabulous – market for unique finds. There’s also lots of shops, cafes, street food venues and stalls in this vibrant neighbourhood. 

  • Where: London E1 6PU
  • When: Always open
  • Why: Colourful street art and the best Indian food outside of Asia
  • Closest tube: Aldgate East
  • Minimum time to visit: 1 hour+

Satisfy several senses in one hit by heading east. Brick Lane – and the surrounding streets – is famous for having more Indian restaurants than any other part of London. The scent and taste of spices is a real feast for your nose and mouth. 

As for the eyes, this is also one of the more aesthetically pleasing parts of the city. Street art abounds, so you can have your fill of colour before loosening your waistband. This area makes a good evening destination for dinner, and the East End also offers a vibrant nightlife scene.

Guided tours can be the best way to make sense of it all. Find links to a couple of our recommended choices below.

Click here to book a Brick Lane street art tour

Click here to book a Brick Lane Indian food tour

When in London, you will spend almost all day walking, and when you’re not you’ll probably be standing. So do pack comfortable shoes, and if you choose hiking footwear do make sure it’s worn in. Sneakers or trainers are a good-rounder, too. 

Planning ahead is the secret to seeing London in only two days. Pre booking entry tickets for all attractions can save you so much time – and can also help you budget to boot!

The tube – or London Underground –  is the most efficient way to get around London when you’re in a hurry. The Victorian network is also a local icon. We’ve included the nearest tube station for all spots listed here, though it’s often possible to walk between central London sites. 

If you’re not already wearing a waterproof outer layer, carry a packable rain jacket or poncho. It rains a lot here, and often unexpectedly! Bring along a refillable water bottle, too. 

Always book a centrally located hotel in London, as doing so will save you so much time. If you’re only staying for a couple of nights, then it really is so worth it!

If you have just a couple of days in London, then you must plan ahead so you can make the most of this time! Prioritise what you want to do the most, pre book your tickets, start off early – and ensure you’ll remain dry and comfortable throughout the day. 

However long you spend, it will never be enough. 2 days in this city is likely to whet your appetite for more, fuelling rather than quenching your London-lust!

Discover more about London, including when to visit, what to eat, where to stay, and the answers to the most common questions, by checking out this 5 day itinerary for London, this 3 day itinerary and this 1 day London itinerary.

Been to London before? Check out our favourite London hidden gems!

London Travel Guide & Itinerary Planner Ebook (+ 4 BONUS ebooks)