Want to spend a couple of days checking out the famous and vibrant city of London? With so much to see and do, it’s hard to see all of the major sights when you’re short on time.
So, I’ve got you covered with the perfect two-day London itinerary!
Whether you’re looking for the best tourist attractions and museums, want to know the best areas to stay, or need to know where to top bakeries are, this guide has it all.
Living in mainland Europe, I actually find it really easy to get across to the UK, and to travel to other major cities across the continent. Affordable short-haul travel means that it’s super convenient to have odd weekends away, like this quick hop across to London.
Of course, there are a ton of things to do in London and the surrounding area. Honestly, you could visit twenty times over and still not even cover half of the attractions in this amazing city.
This is a snapshot of the best and most famous spots in London. It’s perfect for first-timers who are looking to cram a lot of stuff into a short period of time.
So, with that in mind, let’s dive in and find out more about the perfect two-day London itinerary.
London 2-Day Itinerary
Okay, so now we’ve covered getting to London and getting around the city itself, let’s dive into my comprehensive two-day London itinerary. It’s definitely a jam-packed couple of days, so you might want to pick and choose a couple of things in each area unless you’re running around!
Of course, there are plenty of amazing places, museums, landmarks, and areas that aren’t included in this itinerary. You can’t do it all in two days – sorry! I’ve tried to hit a lot of the main sights and keep a bit of variety.
It’s also mostly within central London so you don’t have to spend a ton of time traveling around.
I’ve tried to put together a full itinerary that’s easy to follow. Realistically, a lot of the main sights are in little clusters, so I’ve tried to keep things together as much as I can.
After all, with only two days, you don’t want to be spending all your time traveling back and forth on the Tube, not seeing anything!
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and find out more!
Right, so on day one we’re going to experience amazing shopping, beautiful museums, riverside icons, and even a West End show. Set your alarm and get a giant cup of coffee – it’s going to be a long day!
If you love shopping until you drop, you need to head directly to Oxford Street. Located in the heart of Westminister in central London, it’s actually the busiest shopping street in the whole of Europe. It’s insane.
As it’s pretty much in the center of London, it’s a great place to start your London adventure. You can really get a feel for the hustle and bustle of the city, have a run around some of the flagship stores of the biggest brands, and grab some souvenirs before continuing onwards.
Next up, wander around Leicester Square, home of movie premieres and some of the most famous cinemas in the UK. Even if there aren’t any premieres on while you’re there, you can visit a London legend – the TKTS booth.
Here, you can buy tickets for all of the major West End shows. The best thing about this place is that you’ll find out what tickets are left for that particular night, so you can easily get tickets for a West End show that you might not have thought to visit or wanted to book in advance just in case plans change.
After Leicester Square, journey over to the beautiful Covent Garden area. Here, you’ll find the Royal Opera House, a stunning covered plaza, and a ton of amazing independent shops, buskers, and delicious restaurants. It’s another world compared to the modern hustle and bustle of Oxford Street!
Wander the market, pick up a pastry and a coffee, and enjoy the amazing live music that is always playing. You’re likely to experience some of the best musicians around, due to the amazing classical music venues that are all around the area.
Once you’ve taken a moment to appreciate the music, wander over to Trafalgar Square. This is a super famous area where you’ll find Nelson’s column which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar.
You’ll find a ton of tourists milling around the area, taking photos of the various statues in the square. It’s also the home of our next itinerary item…
National Portrait Gallery
Personally, I love that the majority of London’s museums are completely free to enter. Especially considering London’s weather is a little unpredictable, they’re a great place to get some culture and avoid the rain.
Located directly on Trafalgar Square, you’ll find the amazing National Portrait Gallery. See the paintings of famous people and historical figures through the ages, and learn more about British culture.
Okay, let’s talk about lunch. Jump on the tube and go south of the river to the wonderful Borough Market. This historic market is full of amazing street food vendors and awesome restaurants.
From high-end bakeries to fusion eateries to authentic street food from all over the world, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Once you’re filled up with delicious food, take a walk to the shiny masterpiece that is The Shard. This 87-story skyscraper dominates the London skyline and has an observation deck and bar with panoramic views all across the River Thames.
It’s got a beautiful interior, but be aware that the drinks can be seriously expensive.
Pretty much next door to The Shard, you’ll find a true London icon – Tower Bridge. Sometimes incorrectly called London Bridge, Tower Bridge is one of those landmarks that are just legendary.
Wander across, take a few photos, and soak up those London vibes.
Tower of London
Once you’re back over Tower Bridge, you’ll be standing in front of the mighty Tower of London. Home to the crown jewels, dozens of ravens, and some of the most historic rooms in British History, it’s a must-visit.
Wander around the halls, spend time stepping through history, and see the spot where some of the bloodiest executions in Britain actually took place.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Head back down the river to a stunning London landmark – St. Paul’s Cathedral. Designed by one of the best architects of all time, Sir Christopher Wren, this cathedral is more of a piece of art than a place of worship.
Wander around this amazing building and take in the incredibly designed dome.
Catch a Show
End this insanely busy first day in London with a West End show. Hopefully, you snagged the tickets while you were in Leicester Square. Go back to your hotel, Airbnb, or hostel.
Get refreshed, get dressed up, and head to the West End theatre district. Here you’ll find some of the finest stage actors and musicals in the world, so it’s a perfect way to spend your evening in London!
Well, I hope you got a good night’s sleep, because day two in London is just as busy as the first. With markets, parks, museums, and historic landmarks, you’ve got another stacked day ahead of you.
Ready? Let’s go!
Start your day at one of the most famous markets in the whole of London – and the UK – Portobello Market. Filled with amazing antiques, curiosities, and just cool vintage items, it’s a relaxing and interesting way to kick off your second day exploring the capital.
Pick up a souvenir or two along the way!
So, Portobello Road is actually in Notting Hill, so you’re there already. This awesome neighborhood is known for its colorful terraced houses, delicious cafes and bakeries, and huge Caribbean carnival held each year at the end of August.
Grab yourself some breakfast to go and wander through these aesthetically pleasing streets.
Now that you have your takeaway breakfast and coffee, head over to Hyde Park. As one of the eight Royal Parks, Hyde Park is a beautifully kept area that spans over 350 acres of greenery and trees.
It’s actually the largest royal park in London so if you’re going to visit just one London park, this is definitely the one that’s going to give you the most for your time.
If you’re in London in the summer, you’ll also be around for the BST Summertime Festival in Hyde Park. This ticketed outdoor concert series has seen huge names including the Rolling Stones, Adele, and Lionel Richie over the years.
Natural History Museum
Once you’ve spent some time outside, you can jump back in time by visiting the amazing Natural History Museum. As one of the most popular museums in the city and one of the three museums that make up Kensington’s Exhibition Row (the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum – or V&A – are the other ones), it’s a staple of the London cultural scene.
Over the years the mighty atrium of the Natural History Museum has been home to Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton and the giant skeleton of a blue whale just hanging above your head. It’s strange and magnificent!
Learn more about the natural history of our entire world and enjoy the stunning Victorian architecture of the building as a whole.
Speaking of Victorian-era Kensington icons, it’s time to explore the wonderful Harrods department store. Founded all the way back in 1849, Harrods is the quintessentially British department store.
Filled with amazing food products, beauty items, toys, handbags, and more, it feels like you’re diving into another world!
No trip to London is complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace. As one of the official royal residences, you might be able to catch a glimpse of King Charles or the Queen Consort Camilla during your Whistlestop tour.
As a pro tip, if the flag is flying on top of Buckingham Palace, the King is in the residence.
Even if you don’t get tickets to go inside the public state rooms of Buckingham Palace, you can still check out the iconic changing of the guard. This is where the royal guards change their shifts and there is a lot of pomp and circumstance around the whole thing. It’s one of the most British things ever.
Wander down the side of St. James Park from Buckingham Palace and you’ll end up at Westminister Abbey. This abbey plays a huge part in English and British history. In fact, it’s played host to every single coronation since 1066. That’s since the Battle of Hastings. It’s insane.
Inside, you can see features and architectural aspects from throughout history. Lovers of literature, you need to check out Poet’s Corner, which is where a ton of famous poets and writers are buried.
You can easily wander around and spot famous historical figures’ final resting places in this amazing abbey.
Houses of Parliament
So, you might not know that the Houses of Parliament is also called the Palace of Westminister. It’s also right next door to Westminister Abbey, so you can easily hit up both sights in one fell swoop. The Houses of Parliament are where the UK central government sits and debates different policies back and forth.
It has a long and bloody history, originally built in the 11th century, and has been home to duels, mass bombing plots, civil wars, and much more. You can jump on a guided tour and learn more about the role of the Houses of Parliament now and in years gone by.
Is there a more iconic symbol of London around the world than Big Ben? This giant clock tower can be seen up and down the river Thames and is part of the trinity of the Palace of Westminister and Westminster Abbey.
As any particular local will tell you, Big Ben is technically the nickname for the giant bell on the inside of the tower, not the clock tower itself. Walk on by, snap a photo or two, and carry on to our final London landmark.
Finally, head across the Westminister Bridge and wander along the beautiful and vibrant Southbank in the evening until you hit the London Eye. Offering some of the best views of the river, the London Eye is essentially a giant Ferris Wheel that’s probably at its best during sunset. Here you can see the whole city as it’s all lit up.
After you’ve taken in these spectacular views, grab a bite to eat around the Southbank area before heading back home after a jam-packed and incredible couple of days in the beautiful city of London
Best Places to Stay in London
When you’re doing such a quick tour of London, location is massively important when you’re choosing where to stay. There are also a ton of different kinds of accommodation all across the city.
From hostels to hotels to holiday homes to houseboats, the world is your oyster.
There are a lot of great neighborhoods in London, all with their own distinct personality and vibes, so let’s find out more. Choosing where you’re going to base yourself is massively contingent on your itinerary.
You want to be near a Tube station if at all possible as well as being on the right side of the river for the main attractions that you’re visiting.
If you love being surrounded by artsy vibes, you’re going to be right at home in Shoreditch. Known for being a creative’s playground, Shoreditch is full of trendy coffee shops, innovative restaurants, and a ton of fun clubs.
In the daytime, you can find plenty of vintage and independent stores to get lost in and find one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Located in the northeast of London, you’re close to a lot of great breweries and places to eat as well as not being too far from the Liverpool Street mainline station if you need to travel further afield.
Situated to the northwest of Shoreditch, you’ll find the borough of Islington. It’s a little bit further out than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, but you’ll probably get a little bit more for your money.
There are also a ton of amazing restaurants, pubs, and independent shops right on your doorstep. If you’re looking for a quiet, more residential place to stay in London, Islington is a great place to base yourself.
As one of the most luxurious and fancy neighborhoods in London, Kensington is an expensive place to stay, but you will be close to a ton of major sights. Filled with Victorian architecture and buildings, it feels like you’re stepping back in time.
Kensington is where you’ll find a lot of the Royal Parks, the V&A Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, and many, many more. So, you can easily walk everywhere which is a massive plus point, but accommodation is going to come at a premium.
Camden is one of the biggest boroughs in the whole of London and encompasses as far down as the British Museum to the south and the entirety of Hampstead Heath to the north. It’s an area that’s probably best known for its unique and quirky vibe.
The titular Camden Market is a place that’s been beloved for being a haven for subcultures and punk attitudes over the past few decades. Here you can find plenty of market stalls and independent shops that are full of vintage items, unique clothing, and wacky and bizarre souvenirs.
One of the best things about London is the multicultural nature of the city. That’s definitely on display in the vibrant and beautiful neighborhood of Brixton. You’ll find some of the best Caribbean food in the city in this area, which is perfect at any time of day or night.
If you love live music, there are quite a few amazing venues across Brixton where you can catch small bands and up-and-coming artists that are probably going to be huge over the next couple of years.
Type of Accommodations
So, now you’ve had a quick rundown of some of the most popular neighborhoods in London, let’s dive into the type of accommodations across the city.
Depending on whether you’re traveling solo, coming as a group, want to cook for yourself, or if you want to treat yourself, there’s going to be a type of London accommodation to suit your needs.
It’s definitely no secret that I love Airbnbs. You get way more for your money a lot of the time, you can spread out, and you feel like you’re living like a local while you’re away.
There are so many great Airbnbs in London, from full apartments to rooms in people’s houses to even guesthouses in the bottom of somebody’s garden.
Normally, you do end up living a little bit further out from the main sights, but as long as you’re near a Tube stop, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get in and out of central London.
If you’re traveling solo or want to be in the heart of the action on a budget, hostels are a great shout. You can stay in a dorm, head out on complimentary walking tours or bar crawls, meet like-minded travelers, and save money while you’re there.
There are quite a lot of hostels to choose from, some are a bit older and more rough and ready, whereas some are brand new and done with unique design features in mind, so whatever your vibe and budget you should be able to find a London hostel that works for you.
The other thing that you can do is that if you’re traveling in a group or with another person, you can always buy out a full dorm or book a private room in a hostel which will definitely help you keep costs down without having to share with strangers.
Of course, London is home to some of the most famous hotels on the planet. From The Ritz to the Mandarin Oriental, and more, some of the most luxurious hotels in the world are right here in the UK capital. So, you can definitely treat yourself to something special in the city.
If you don’t have a huge budget, there are a lot of affordable hotels all around the city. This way you can get closer to the action and the center of London than if you’re staying in an Airbnb.
If you want a full apartment but want hotel-quality service, check out the serviced apartment scene in London. This accommodation option combined the best of both worlds, giving you plenty of room but allowing you to have hotel-style service and cleaning along the way.
You can find a ton of these all over the city, which is pretty cool, and means that you can have a high-end home away from home.
Best Places to Eat in London
Okay, so now onto the important stuff – where to eat while you’re in London. This city is absolutely jam-packed with amazing bakeries, markets, restaurants, bistros, and pubs.
Honestly, you could eat somewhere different every single day for a year and never even scratch the surface.
So, here are a couple of favorites that I think you should check out while you’re next in London. I’ve included eateries to suit all budgets and different kinds of places, so there should be something to suit just about everyone!
Street Food Markets
We’re going to kick things off with some of London’s best street food markets. These are great places if you’re on a budget or traveling with a group of people, as everyone can kind of get the kind of cuisine that they want.
You can also see up-and-coming chefs working super creatively which is amazing to experience too!
Located in the heart of historic Greenwich in the southeast of London, Greenwich Market is a super beautiful place to explore and eat at.
In the market itself, you can check out amazing cafes, like Fowlds Cafe, which is actually situated in front of an upholstery shop. It’s so weird but has amazing cakes and coffee if you need a quick pick-me-up.
If you’re looking for something warm and filling, but still want to walk around the market while you eat, go to The Sausage. This place has a really simple aim – to make the best hot dogs in London, and they absolutely deliver.
For bigger meals, there are a ton of full restaurants that you can check out. One of the best value places in Greenwich Market has got to be Teriyaki-Ya. Serving up Korean and Japanese food in the Greenwich Market food court, this awesome restaurant is super affordable, tasty, and amazing!
The area around the market is actually where a lot of Bridgerton and Thor 2 were filmed, so TV and movie fans will love being in this area.
Seven Dials Market
If you’re near Covent Garden and you’re feeling hungry, head over to the amazing Seven Dials Market. This huge marketplace has a couple of different levels and is full of diverse eateries, restaurants, and bars, and even has a few bookstores inside!
From dim sum to pizza to Thai food to Mexican food to waffles to crepes and more, there’s definitely a little something for everyone. There’s even a cheese carousel. Yep, you read that right.
It’s a cheese restaurant that’s set up like a sushi conveyor belt where you can try different cheeses, wine, and accompaniments. It’s honestly a cheesy kind of heaven.
I’ve already mentioned Borough Market in the itinerary above, but let’s dive a little deeper into this major food hub of London. With over 100 stalls and restaurants to choose from you’re really spoiled for choice.
Borough Market is really cool because there are three types of stalls, deli and produce styles, more market-style non-food stores, and then a whole host of restaurants and bars. So, you can either buy up a ton of ingredients for a picnic or for your own dinner or choose a restaurant to sit down at.
From bao buns to Middle-Eastern cuisine to seafood to fresh pasta to Singaporean food, you can really have your pick of the bunch. In fact, several of these stalls including Padella and Mei Mei are commonly on lists discussing the best restaurants in the whole of London.
Cafes and Coffee Shops
When you only have two days to explore the best sights in London, you’re going to need a ton of coffee to keep your energy levels up. While there are plenty of chain coffee shops like Caffe Nero all around the city, London is also home to outstanding independent cafes and coffee shops that are well worth a visit.
Located in the bustling and beautiful Greenwich Market, Ideal Espresso is a pretty unassuming coffee stall that offers super reasonably priced cups of java to take away. There are a couple of tables, but honestly, they’re pretty much always full.
It’s one of those small places that have a cult local following – and for good reason!
So, this technically is a chain coffee place, but this is the only branch that’s in Europe. With its roots firmly in Asia, Omotesando Koffee combines delicious coffee and Asian sweet treats with a beautiful pared-back Japanese design.
It’s a really chilled-out place to sit and have a coffee before heading back out into the hustle and bustle of the city.
Monmouth Coffee Company
There are three Monmouth Coffee Company branches across London; one near Covent Garden, one in Borough Market, and one in Bermondsey. The best thing about this place is that it started off as a coffee bean roastery, so the whole place smells fantastic.
Everything is done on-site, so you have the whole process and can even buy some beans to take home at the end of your visit.
If you consider yourself a coffee aficionado then you have to make your way to Prufrock Coffee. Created and run by amazing expert baristas, you’ll find some of the best coffee in the whole of London.
Literally, people travel all over London to Leather Lane for a cup of coffee. Although you might think it’s going to be pretentious or hipstery, it’s surprisingly chilled out and relaxed.
Do you want to experience a traditional, heartwarming English cafe, then visit Nora Cafe in East London, near Liverpool Street Station. The staff and owners are super friendly, the food is unpretentious and you can get affordable breakfasts and cakes that perfectly start off your day in London.
I love sweet treats and pastries. They’re the perfect on-the-go food that is amazing satisfying, skillful, and beautiful. As a culinary hub, there are a ton of amazing bakeries across London, and here are just a couple to whet your appetite.
Aux Pains de Papy
Located near Kings Cross Station, you’ll find a beautiful French bakery that is full of delicious treats, pastries, bread, and more. Surprisingly for being in central London, Aux Pains de Papy is actually pretty affordable.
It’s also beloved by so many people, locals and tourists alike!
If you find yourself in the Fitzrovia neighborhood and are in need of a sugar rush, journey over to Miel Bakery. This is another French-style bakery, but it also has a distinct patisserie edge to it that is delicious and amazingly artistic.
Everything is made from scratch on-site so it’s all super fresh!
So, this place started off with one small bakery and now has sites all over the city. It’s run by a husband and wife team and serves up some of the best Scandinavian bakes in London.
Whether you love cinnamon buns, want a big loaf of rye bread, or just want to sit down with a delicious cup of coffee, there’s bound to be a Fabrique Bakery branch near you.
In addition to having an amazing name, Bread Ahead is an amazing bakery with a couple of branches across London. One of the things that sets it apart from the rest is the fact that they also offer baking classes.
So, you can taste their amazing bakes and then learn how to make them yourself – it’s a win-win!
Moving onto the main event, London is home to some amazing restaurants with pretty much every cuisine you can imagine. Let’s dive in.
This Covent Garden icon has been running continuously since 1940 and is actually the UK’s oldest-running North Indian restaurant. It’s an institution and has stood the test of time for a reason.
Specializing in Punjabi cuisine and traditional tandoori cooking styles, you can get delicious, filling meals that are full of flavor.
Located in the heart of Islington, Tofu Vegan is an entirely plant-based joint that specializes in Chinese food. It’s affordable, it’s delicious, and it ticks all the boxes.
There are actually a few branches of Tofu Vegan across London now which shows how popular it has really become!
This place is truly special, especially in the summer months. Rochelle Canteen is located in an old bike shed. Yep, you read that right.
It’s got a small menu that’s massively seasonal, and due to its surroundings, it feels like you’re in an artistic greenhouse. It’s a great spot that provides beautifully-fresh plates each and every day.
Fancy or Michelin-Starred Restaurants
Ivy Victoria London
The Ivy is a super popular restaurant with sites all across the UK, but the Ivy Victoria London is one of the best branches. It features beautiful, Instagram-friendly decor and modern menus that include delicious cocktails.
It looks fancier than it is, so while it’s definitely a treat in terms of price, it’s not unattainable.
If you’re looking to treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal, you can head to Barrafina, an upscale Spanish tapas restaurant. Although there are five Barrafina branches across London, the Dean Street restaurant in Soho is the one that’s secured the coveted Michelin star.
Want a Michelin-star meal with a dramatic flair? Head to Amaya in the exclusive Belgravia district.
Serving upscale-style Indian food, the drama comes from the open kitchen set-up, complete with flaming grills and masterful cheffing techniques. Truly an experience like no other.
There is a huge West African population in London and that means that there are some seriously good West African restaurants. One of the best of the best is Ikoyi Restaurant located at 180 Strand.
It’s been featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022 and is one of the few fine-dining West African restaurants in Europe.
Do You Need a Visa for a Trip to London?
Okay, before we go any further, let’s quickly run through the legal allowances and visa policies for the UK. Unlike a lot of Europe, there is no freedom of movement into the UK (thanks a lot, Brexit).
It’s also not part of the Schengen Zone, which is what allows a lot of tourists to travel around the area without having to get individual visas.
Instead, you need to check the rules for your specific country. If you’re from a Commonwealth country, it might be easier for you to get a tourist visa. Americans can spend up to 6 months in the UK without a visa, as long as they don’t work while they’re there.
So, for a two-day visit to London, you should definitely be covered. Just make sure you have proof of your onward journey just in case.
Getting to London
So, getting across to London massively depends on where you’re coming from. London is a hugely international city, so you can get flights into London from pretty much everywhere most of the year.
If you’re in Europe, you’ve got a few other awesome options for getting to London on a budget.
First up we have the Eurostar which is an extension of the European interrailing experience. It’s a train that goes between London St. Pancras station out either Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
It’s a speedy way to get between different European capitals and runs a few times a day. In fact, if you’re in Paris, you can easily get up early and have a day trip to London.
It can be a bit expensive compared to the low-cost airlines, but you can bring as much luggage as you want and don’t have to deal with airport security. Weigh up those pros and cons depending on how light you like to travel!
If I told you that you could drive a car onto a train that goes underwater in a tunnel? Well, that’s the Channel Tunnel that runs between France and the UK. If you’re based on the European mainland and want to drive across to London and the wider UK, you can.
It’s worth mentioning that actually driving around London can be a bit of a nightmare, but if the city is just a stop as part of a longer UK-wide road trip, it can be a good option. If you have a full car, it can be an affordable option split three or four ways.
Probably the most popular way to have a couple of days away in London is to jump on a budget flight. There are so many low-cost airlines including EasyJet and Ryanair.
They’re ridiculous prices. Seriously, you can get one way for flights for as low as £9.99.
With these budget airlines, you’re normally paying for the seat and a tiny carry-on bag. Literally, only a small handbag is included, and no other baggage.
That’s really how Ryanair and Easyjet make the majority of their money – by upselling bigger carry-on bags or hold luggage. The sizes of allowed luggage change all the time so make sure you check before you travel.
London’s Different Airports
So, London has a ton of different airports that you might end up flying into, and they’re all over the place. Some are definitely more convenient than others and, as a rule of thumb, the cheaper the airline, the further away the airport is from the city center.
The different London airports are:
- London Gatwick
- London Heathrow
- London City Airport
- London Stansted
- London Luton
- London Southend
The last three airports on this list – Stansted, Luton, and Southend – are all further away from the city center and are only really served by European flights and routes. Stansted is the major Ryanair airport and Luton is mostly served by Easyjet flights.
So if you’re on a low-cost airline, then chances are good that you’ll be flying into one of these airports.
As Stansted is further out, you can either take two or three trains or hop on the Airport Bus Express that’ll transport you into the city without having to change a couple of times. Especially if you’re new to the city, this is a great option.
If you’re coming from further afield, Gatwick and Heathrow are massive airports with a ton of international flights from all around the world. There are five terminals in Heathrow alone.
It’s huge. Both Heathrow and Gatwick are accessible by trains from central London which take around 40 minutes depending on whereabouts you’re staying.
If you’re already in the UK and want to head to the capital for a couple of days, there are a few train stations across the city. You can get direct trains to London from pretty much every major city in the UK.
The downside is that they’re famously expensive and unreliable. Honestly, you’re better off sticking to a National Express coach. It takes longer but it’s a fraction of the cost and is way more likely to actually run on time.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Flixbus. When I heard that they had expanded into the UK, I was so excited. You can get a super affordable coach, complete with baggage from stops all over Europe.
Yes it might take a lot longer than flying or jumping on the train, but it’s so cheap and if you manage to get an overnight bus and are an easier sleeper, you can save a ton of money on pricey London accommodation – it’s a win-win!
Getting Around London
So, once you’re actually in the city, getting around is really easy. London is a big city, so using public transport is largely unavoidable.
Luckily, there are a ton of options for getting around, whether you need to go south of the river, head out to the airports, or fancy a trip up to Wembley Stadium.
Honestly, the best way to get around London is on the Tube, London’s subway system. It’s affordable, fast, and different lines run all over the city and out into the suburbs.
You’ll find Tube stops and stations pretty much around every corner. The great thing is that you can just tap in and out with your contactless card instead of buying a physical ticket.
You’ll find card scanners at the barriers of every station so just tap once on the way in and once on the way out. Make sure you tap out again or you’ll be charged for the maximum day ticket and no one wants that!
There are a lot of unwritten rules around taking the Tube, especially at busy times and in central London where queues can get pretty insane. So, have your card or ticket out ready before you get to the barrier, otherwise, you hold up a ton of people.
Also, when you’re on the escalators heading down to the platform, stand on the right if you’re standing still because people will run or move down the left if they’re running late.
Essentially, all Tube etiquette revolves around not holding up locals or other people. So, just be prepared and enjoy the fast and affordable way to get around London!
If traveling underground isn’t your thing, London buses are probably the next most popular way to get around the capital city. These iconic red buses are a stereotypical London sight so you can get around the city and experience a London landmark.
The other bus that you’re likely to see is the open-top sightseeing bus. There are quite a few of these driving around the city, some with specific themes, like Harry Potter or British History.
You can pay for the day and hop on and hop off around the city, and enjoy commentary from a local along the way. Tickets for these buses do come at a premium and they’re not as convenient if you’re on a bit of a time crunch.
If you’re trying to keep costs down, a lot of people opt to explore London on foot. You’ll normally find a couple of major sights really close to each other, like Westminister Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben are literally right next door to each other.
Walking in between these clusters of different popular attractions can be pretty far apart though. Especially if you’re trying to hit all the major sights in two days, walking might not be the best option, but if you have a few days, it’s a great way to see the city.
I love walking around cities – you end up seeing so much more!
One of the most popular ways for locals to get around above ground is by bike. You’ll see cycle lanes all around the city, and they’re always expanding. Now, the traffic around London can get pretty scary, so if you’re not used to riding bikes on the road in major cities, it might be a bit terrifying.
You can hire bikes by the hour in the major tourist areas if you don’t want to bring your own bike or commit to a full day. If you’re looking to get out to the suburbs and don’t want to jump in a car or go underground on the Tube, cycling is a great option.
Taxis and Ubers
Sometimes you don’t want to learn a new transport system if you’re only visiting a city for a couple of days. Luckily there are a ton of taxis and Ubers in London. Whether you jump in a traditional black cab in central London or use your Uber app to get somewhere quickly, it’s super easy to get around via car.
You can get an estimate of how much the ride is going to be in a black cab before you get in the car so that you’re not surprised.
As a warning, some taxi drivers aren’t a fan of going to the opposite side of the river (north to south and vice versa), because it takes so long to get back across again to the popular areas. Make sure you’re clear about your destination before you get in the car!
Honestly, I would not recommend driving in London. With the heavy congestion charges per day and the nightmare of trying to park in the city, you’re better off with literally any other form of transport.
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.