If you’ve come here from Day 1, welcome! If you’re just getting here, that’s cool too.
Day 2 is much more about slowing down to appreciate British culture with activities the English actually do.
Again, I have not been sponsored or paid to recommend any of these places or things… they’re just great in their own rites.
Let’s get into it:
Day 2 of a two-day itinerary for London
London travel tickets
Commuters in London clog the transport system between 6 – 10 a.m. and 4 – 7 p.m. To encourage non-commuters to travel at less busy times, two price brackets exist: peak and off-peak. Peak tickets allow you to travel any time, while off-peak only lets you travel outside of the commuter times listed above.
With only two days in London, you’ll need to maximise your time and go for a peak Travelcard. This secures your travel on all trains, tubes, and buses in all zones of London at any time of the day.
If you’ve opted to use an Oyster Card instead, you will have the same access to all transport. Make sure you’ve topped it up with enough money, and that you tap in and out at each station.
Time allowance: 30 minutes
Getting there: Starting from Euston, take the Northern Line to Warren Street (one stop) before switching to the Victoria line headed south. Your stop is Green Park; from there, walk through the park following the signs for Buckingham Palace.
This is the Queen of England’s formal residence in London. If the flag is flying the royal standard, she’s currently in.
Buckingham Palace advice:
While most people visit the palace for the over-hyped changing of the guard, I think it’s best appreciated in the morning before hundreds of tourists descend.
You’ll get unobstructed pictures and can still see the on-duty guards with their fluffy black hats and red coats.
Harrods Department Store
Time allowance: 1 hour
Getting there: Head back to the Green Park tube station, and hop on the Piccadilly line headed west. Two stops later, get off at Knightsbridge station and follow signs to Harrods.
Harrods is one of the biggest department stores in the world. It has floors upon floors of products and has long been associated with luxury shopping – in 1967, an elephant was bought at Harrods and given to Ronald Reagan.
While you won’t find elephants, alligators, or cobras there anymore, you can probably find something worth taking home – Harrods has 330 departments brimming with goodies. If you’re peckish, a food hall spans an entire floor, and if you’re lost, just ask one of the men in green to assist you; they’re peppered around every floor and man each door to help the 100,000 daily customers find their way.
Imperial War Museum
While you’re in the south of London, it’s a good time to pop over to the only war museum (besides the Tower of London) I’ve ever recommended.
Time allowance: 1.5 hours
Getting there: From Knightsbridge Tube station, get back on the Piccadilly line and ride eastbound toward Cockfosters, getting off at Piccadilly Circus Station. There, make a change to the Bakerloo line toward Elephant & Castle, getting off at Lambeth North station. Then, it’s a quick walk to the museum entrance.
This free and interactive museum walks visitors through World Wars I and II, following the real stories of people involved and captivating you with how it felt to live through those years – you’ll even get to walk through a life-sized replica of a trench.
Afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel
For some reason, afternoon tea never seems to make it onto visitors’ itineraries, but it should. Of all the ‘British’ things you can do, afternoon tea ranks up there with complaining about the rain, and using self-deprecating humour (so really, really high).
It’s also a brilliant way to relax after loads of walking and to have a lovely chat with your travel companions.
Time allowance: 3 hours
Getting there: From the Lambeth North station, get back on the Bakerloo line and ride it back to Piccadilly Circus Station. Walk from there, and keep in mind the main entrance is tucked into a small courtyard, so it can be a bit tricky to find.
Afternoon tea in London is notoriously expensive – at most hotels, it can be upward of £50 per person or more.
After tons of digging online, I found the Ham Yard Hotel and haven’t looked back. The boutique hotel has a modern-yet-inviting interior, delicious tea and treats, and excellent service. And, it’s only £22 per person as of this writing.
I take everyone who visits me to the Ham Yard, and if I could afford to go every week, I would.
Afternoon tea tip:
Do not eat lunch before tea. You will be absolutely bursting by the end as it is.
Piccadilly Circus & Leicester Square
Time allowance: 45 minutes
Getting there: Heading back toward the Piccadilly Circus Tube station, you’ll walk right into its namesake – Piccadilly Circus. To reach Leicester Square, follow the signs and take the 5-minute walk via Coventry Street to reach it.
Because you’re near these two major squares, pop over after tea to see them.
Piccadilly Circus – aptly named as it’s always mayhem – bursts with souvenir shops, restaurants, big name stores, street performers, and people. You can always find goodies to take home or simply appreciate the whirlwind.
Leicester (pronounced LESS-ter) Square is near the heart of the theatre district, making it a good spot to score tickets for a West End show.
Escape room or mini golf
Time allowance: 1.5 hours
Getting there: Depending your plans, it’s best to Google your route beforehand or use one of the Tube maps to find your next stop. Luckily, both Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are major Tube stations, so you can reach most places easily.
London is great for more than the iconic sights – new and trendy activities are always popping up. Escape rooms fall into this category, and make for a great bit of intellectual fun amidst standard sightseeing.
I’ve personally done two different escape rooms in London, and I highly recommend Enigma Quests’ Harry Potter Escape Room (again, I haven’t been paid to say that, it’s just bloody good).
If you’re unfamiliar with escape rooms, I’ll explain:
Basically, your group is locked in a room filled with hidden clues and puzzles. You must piece them together to find codes, keys, gadgets, etc. that help you ‘escape’ the room and thus complete the game.
Because this one is Harry Potter themed, it also adds a layer of British-ness to the fun.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider Junk Yard Golf Club’s mini golfing courses. The company transforms junk yards around the city into mini golf courses, so you’ll be putting through piles of interesting rubbish (with a beer in hand, if you’re not too stuffed from afternoon tea).
This covered marketplace rests in the heart of London’s theatre district.
Time allowance: 45 minutes
Getting there: Depending where you start in the city, you’ll need to get to Covent Garden tube station.
Vendors sell goods from stalls and shops line the walkways. Street performers and music groups tend to play here, and if you wander in any direction, you’re also likely to see a West End theatre, making it a good base before a show.
The Punch & Judy pub in the basement of Covent Garden pulls mid-priced pints and is fairly traditional for its touristy location… if you need a beverage after the mental challenge of the escape room, this is a good spot to grab it.
Optional evening activities
West End musical: Going to the theatre is as ‘authentic London’ as riding a doubledecker bus. For a classic, long-running option, you could go for The Lion King, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, or Wicked (shown above) – of which I highly recommend the last one, though they are all great. For something spunkier, The Book of Mormon and Kinky Boots (my favourite show in London) will keep you laughing.
Primrose Hill city views: Climb (or ride) to the grassy park of Primrose Hill for free views over the city at night.
Find a local: Pub, that is. If you decide against a pub quiz, you should at least stop in a pub for a pint or two. They’re pretty easy to spot (usually called something like ‘The Lamb’, ‘The Swan’ or ‘The Red Lion’), and every neighbourhood should have at least one.
Jack the Ripper tour: If you’re into scary stories, several companies run Jack the Ripper tours, which follow the path and prey of Victorian-era serial killer ‘Jack.’ His killings were gruesome and the actual killer was never caught, so mystery exists around who he was and how the murders were connected.
That’s a wrap, folks.
If you have another day in London, you can read up on more things to do here.
Otherwise, you’re set for two fabulous days in this iconic British city.
As a final wrap up, below are some of the main things to remember:
- If you can, travel on Sunday and Monday to take advantage of off-peak tickets prices on Sunday and fewer crowds on Monday.
- Book Madame Tussauds and the London Eye combo ticket, and choose an entry time in advance online. Remember to do this for the Eye before you arrive at the queue for the attraction.
- The time you have ‘reserved’ for the London Eye is for queuing, not actually getting on the wheel, so allocate plenty of time for standing in line.
- The Tower of London is best in the afternoon, when fewer crowds means shorter lines to the crown jewels and a smaller guided tour group.
- Buckingham Palace is best appreciated in the morning, not during the changing of the guard.
- Afternoon tea is an absolute must – just don’t eat lunch beforehand.
And with that, you’re ready to visit one of the most iconic cities in the world.
Hopefully, this itinerary will help you start planning your adventure. If it has (or if you think I’ve missed anything that is a must-visit), please let me know in a comment below. I love hearing from other travellers!
Cheers and happy travels!