London may be England’s largest city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t conquer it in under two days.
There’s no need to be overwhelmed if you have a limited amount of time. Thanks to the underground system, or the “Tube,” you can easily zip to all corners of the city.
So whether you have a quick stopover, a long layover, or just a day trip to London planned, we have got you covered with the perfect itinerary below.
Get the 'tourist' out of your system with a walk along the Thames. Start at Westminster Abbey and stroll by Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before heading across the Westminster Bridge. Once across, you'll probably want to head toward the London Eye and follow the path along the water. Over the course of an hour's walk, you'll pass a reconstructed version of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the London Bridge, and a picture-worthy scene at Tower Bridge.
If it's the weekend and you're hungry (or just fancy a wander for your eyes and nose), swing by the Maltby Street Market at the LASSCO Ropewalk where a collection of food vendors serve up local bites. There are also plenty of places to pop in for a drink, but we recommend holding out until you reach The Mayflower, a 16th-century pub overlooking the water, and (as history would have it) the original mooring dock for the Mayflower. Raise a pint to the oldest riverfront pub in London.
Since Central London is home to the stellar theatre productions of London's West End (equivalent to Broadway in New York City), this is a must for theatre lovers. Popular shows often sell out far in advance, but you can sometimes get last-minute discounted tickets on the day-of through venders, like TKTS off Leicester Square. Plays or other productions often star famous, well-known actors and actresses, so it's worth a gamble if you haven't heard of the production, but recognise a name.
Central London is a restaurant mecca; Mayfair is home to more Michelin-starred spots than anywhere else in London, and great pre-theatre menu options can be found all over Covent Garden. It's also the city's hub for authentic Asian food, and since you're in a hurry to make your show, we suggest heading over to the multi-story Wong Kei on Wardour Street in Leicester Square (a five-minute walk from the TKTS counter), where the bristly staff is just as much part of the experience as the tasty bang-for-your-buck dishes.
Congratulations! You're already in one of the city's best nightlife spots thanks to your theatre stop, so you don't have to go far. You can find your choice of dive bars, English pubs (beware, some still close before midnight), dance clubs, LGBT clubs, and cocktail bars throughout Central London.
Dance off those dumplings at Tiger Tiger, be seen with a fancy cocktail at the trendy Dirty Martini, and grab a nightcap at the 24-hour, 40-story-high Duck and Waffle before jumping in a traditional black cab back to your hotel.
Head toward Marylebone's Pantry 108 for a tipple of afternoon tea. You'll get a refillable, triple-tiered selection of tea sandwiches, baked goods, and desserts, plus a personal pot of brew. Hosted in the upscale Marylebone Hotel, this spot calls for 'smart-casual' attire as you participate in the traditional English activity.
Next, walk off some of the scones by talking a stroll through the nearby Regent's Park, up to Primrose Hill. Take a breather (and maybe some pics) while you look out over the city skyline before heading over to the craziness of Camden Lock's indoor/outdoor market. We doubt you'll be hungry, but if you are, there are plenty of food stalls to grab a snack at while you weave through the zigzagging paths of the market stalls, selling everything from spices to handbags to art.
If you can find your way out of Camden Lock Market, we suggest heading to the water and jumping on a London Water Bus boat tour to Little Venice. You'll float past the backend of the London Zoo and along Regent's Canal before you get dropped off among the many narrow boats docked in Little Venice.
Once you're there, grab a coffee from the Canal Cafe and take a short, picturesque walk along the water. If you've got time, learn more about the canals at the quirky London Canal Museum or just scope out some canal-side places to snag dinner.
Once you've tucked away your last meal in London, it's about time for a goodbye pint. There are tons of bars and pubs within a 15-minute walk of Little Venice, so pick one with the best farewell vibe, order a pint (or two), and savour the moment.
Don't stray too far in your search because you'll need to head back to Paddington Station in order to catch a train to the airport. Luckily, the Heathrow Express only takes about 15 minutes, so you'll be able to maximise your last few hours in London. Just be sure to grab a seat -- the last train leaves at 11:23 p.m.
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