London is a beautiful city and there is so much to do and see! But if you only have a couple days in England, here are ten attractions not to be missed, and my suggestions for how to fit them all in…
— DAY 1 —
1. HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
After breakfast (I love Muriel’s Kitchen in South Ken, or the Kensington Creperie), take the tube, a black cab, or an Uber to Westminster. From Westminster Bridge you can get great photos of Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.
2. WESTMINSTER ABBEY
Westminster Abbey is a spectacular Gothic church in the City of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of coronation and the burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. If you are very pressed for time, or don’t want to fork over the £30 entrance fee, at least take a few minutes to stroll around the outside and through the Dean’s Yard.
3. TOWER OF LONDON
From Westminster Bridge, I recommend hopping on a City Cruises Boat Tour down the River Thames and getting off at the Tower of London. Alternatively, you can take a black cab and stop at St Paul’s Cathedral on your way. You must get a Beefeater guided tour of the Tower of London, her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. This historic castle is located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Inside you will see the Crown Jewels and hear stories of the years when the castle was used as a prison!
By this point you will probably be hungry for lunch. The Liberty Bounds is a large pub just up the street from the Tower of London. Grab a quick fish and chips and a cider and be sure to be back at the Tower before 3:30pm, as that is when the last Beefeater Tour leaves.
4. THE SHARD
The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London. Standing at 1,016 ft, it is the tallest building in Western Europe. The tower’s privately owned observation deck, View From The Shard, is the perfect place to take in breathtaking views of London, especially after a long day of sightseeing.
5. BOMBAY BRASSERIE
Bombay Brasserie is by far the best Indian food I have had in London and the best Indian food I have ever had. Period. I haven’t been to India yet so I can’t say it is the best in the world, but I am going to venture a guess that it is darn close. London is known for its fantastic Indian cuisine, and Bombay Brasserie offers the best in town, with a gorgeous upscale ambiance. If you like Indian food, do not miss this! (See Things To Know About London for additional restaurant suggestions).
— DAY 2 —
6. PORTOBELLO ROAD
Portobello Road is a charming shopping street in the Notting Hill district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London. On Saturdays, it is home to Portobello Road Market, one of London’s notable street markets, known for its colorful buildings, second-hand clothes, and antiques. The antiques market usually gets into full swing around 9:00am, on Saturday though some dealers may set up earlier. If you want to avoid the busiest crowds, it’s best to arrive before 11:30am.
7. BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837, and today it is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. She is the world’s oldest reigning Monarch (Feb 1952 – Present), as well as Britain’s longest lived. (If you would like to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, it starts promptly at 11:30am so arrive early.)
Harrods is the world’s most famous luxury department store with the latest men’s and women’s designer fashion, luxury gifts, food and accessories. Harrods is located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and occupies a 5-acre site, with over 1 million square feet of selling space. The upscale food court inside Harrods is a fabulous place to have lunch.
9. NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM + V&A MUSEUM
You need not worry if you’re sightseeing on a budget as plenty of London’s top museums are free to explore. From Harrods just walk up Brompton Road and head to the Natural History Museum to see amazing artifacts. This is also one of the prettiest buildings in London (at least in my opinion). And the V&A (right next door) houses one of the world’s greatest collections of decorative arts, in varied fields such as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photography. Among the highlights are the British Galleries 1500-1900, which are arranged chronologically to trace the history of British design from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Queen Victoria. If you are not into museums I suggest at least walking by and taking photos on your way to Hyde Park.
10. HYDE PARK + KENSINGTON GARDEN
Hyde Park, along with Kensington Gardens, makes up my favorite place in all of London! I go running through these beautiful, adjoining parks almost every day, and during the summer, we often have picnics there. Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London, covering over 350 acres and is home to famous landmarks such as Speakers’ Corner, Serpentine Lake, and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Kensington Gardens, lying immediately to the west of Hyde Park, was once the private garden of Kensington Palace. It is one of the capitals eight royal parks and is home to the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial and Kensington Palace (which I recommend taking a tour of if you have time).
Have you explored London? Do you have a must see suggestion?