Perfect weekend in London travel itinerary

london tower bridge

See the best of London in two days with a customized tour of London’s top neighborhoods.

London is one of the great cities in the world. What’s not to love about it? You’ll find a variety of neighborhoods with their own unique charm, whether you like the quieter side of Kensington, the nightlife near Whitechapel, or the quirky Borough with its markets and specialty shops. And free entry is standard in most museums across the city, with extensive collections from across the world.

One of the first things you’ll notice is how well planned and easy to navigate the city is. Modern and classic buildings co-mingle along every street, with towering glass skyscrapers butting up against cathedrals hundreds of years old. It’s a big sprawling city to be sure, but it’s not scruffy or frantic but polished and playful, with a cheerful British energy.

This guide gives you the best of London in two days, with several options to customize it based on what you want to get out of your trip to the capital of the UK.

London itinerary highlights

  • Visit
    • British National Museum
    • Big Ben
    • Westminster Abbey
    • Chinatown
    • Borough Market
    • Kensington Gardens
    • River Thames
  • Eat – Chinatown and Borough Market
  • Buy – whiskey, shortbread, tea

London Day 1: Sightseeing in city center

london pub guide

Westminster sightseeing

Westminster has everything you could hope for within a 30-minute walk. Grab breakfast at one of the any cafes or stop in for a full English breakfast with the works – sausage, tomatoes, toast, beans, etc. Snap your photos of Big Ben and consider a tour of Westminster Abbey or just take a peek at the outside.

Covent Garden restaurants and museums

Make your way towards Trafalgar Square. Check out the National Galleries for your art and culture fix or if the weather’s not behaving your way. Ready for a lunch break? With plenty of options near Trafalgar, take your pick of the many British and Indian restaurants on the way. Another option is to grab some sushi and have a picnic in the square for some quality people watching.

london national museumWhen you’ve had your fill, head north towards Covent Garden. Let’s find a pub for a pint before dinner. Wander down side streets to find the more authentic pubs or hole-in-the-wall joints. BrewDog or The Ship on Wardour Street are both great choices if you can’t decide.

The British National Museum is next. Though you could spend all day here, we recommend focusing your tour on the most interesting exhibits or you risk ruining your feet on the first day. The museum’s Egyptian collection is by far the most extensive and well preserved of any museum you’ll ever find.

  • Pro tip: Since most museums in London are free, you can save on your vacation and still see world class art and exhibits by skipping any paid for attractions. And some of the higher price sites like the Royal Mews just aren’t worth it.

Dinner in Chinatown

london chinatown restaurant guideChinatown is a great last stop on your tour, and you’re probably ready to recharge by now. Take your pick of any Asian cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Korean barbecue or Chinese hot pot. Ninniku is a great choice if you’re in the mood for authentic Japanese food.

You can also find some fun souvenirs at a few shops here, so pick up a fan or pair of chopsticks while you’re here.

The nightlife in Chinatown is a bit different from the pub culture in the rest of London, but it’s still a great place to have a drink and hang out before you head back to your hotel.

London Day 2: Kensington parks and Borough Market

london hyde park guide

Explore the Kensington neighborhood, one of the quieter, residential areas of London away from the city center. The Borough Market offers travelers food, shopping and nightlife, the perfect end to your day. Both feature spots for culture and sightseeing

These neighborhoods are on opposite ends of the city, and the best way to make the trip is by boat. Double decker tour buses are iconic, but you can enjoy a smoother ride and better views of the city from the River Thames with a hop on hop off boat tour for a similar price.

If this seems like too much in one day, pick one or the other, or go back and explore another part of the city with the rest of your time here. It’s all up to you.

Kensington gardens and Natural History Museum

london natural history museum guideGet to the Natural History Museum early enough to beat the crowds. The dinosaur exhibits are always packed, and for good reason. You can even enjoy ice skating in the winter months.

Let’s take a break at the Kensington Palace, a luxurious castle with expansive gardens. Tour the palace for a taste of how royalty lives, or skip it to save on your trip expenses.

A walk through Hyde Park is a great way to spend an hour. Top it off with a treat at the café next to the pond. Tea and sandwiches anyone?

Optional: Tower of London tour

This is also a good time for a detour to the Tower of London at the Tower Bridge if you’d like to add another tour to your day. Explore the castle grounds including the chapel, battlements and prison cells as you learn about events from London’s darker past. Rotating royal collections display everything from crown jewels and armor to exotic animal recreations. Ice skating begins in November.

The tower closes around 4, so plan ahead to make sure you have enough time for a full tour. It’s also one of the pricier exhibits at over £22.

Borough Market food stalls and local market

london borough market street foodBorough Market was made for foodies. Explore the food shops and artisan shops, from flower shops to local cheeses. Pick up some souvenirs or treats to enjoy yourself, like chocolates, jams, and truffles. If you prefer to cook for yourself on vacation, the Borough is also a great place to pick up the freshest ingredients for dinner.

Get some dinner at the street food stalls, or grab a few meals for everyone to share. Make sure you’re here before 5 pm, when everyone starts to pack up. Bring your choices to the bleacher seats just around the corner. Free bathrooms are right next door.

  • Pro tip: Southwark Cathedral is just a block away. This 800-year-old church is free to enter and features some ancient relics of old London, but the best reason to visit is self-published, resident celebrity Doorkins Magnificat, the Grumpy Cat of London.

Time for a break? Walk down a cozy alley to find The George, one of England’s oldest pubs. This adorable 17th century inn was visited by famous figures including Shakespeare, Churchill and Chaucer, and it’s also a lovely beer garden and pub. You

Final thoughts on your trip

You can explore the best of London’s museums, culture, food, shopping, and more with a visit to these key neighborhoods. Get a taste of everything London has to offer from local pubs and food stalls to some of the best Asian and Indian food in the UK.

This itinerary offers the best of London in a weekend or a couple days. If you have more time to explore England and Scotland, explore other itineraries across the UK.

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