Are you organizing your first weekend in London and want to visit the monuments and essential places of the capital? Here is an itinerary to discover the great classics of London during 2 days with also my favorites to eat and go out. Finally, I will give you advice on choosing your transport card and your tourist pass.
Day 1: The essentials not to be missed in London!
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Starting the weekend with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is a must-see classic! It takes place 4 times a week from August to May and 6 times in June and July at 11:00 a.m. It can be canceled in case of bad weather, it is therefore recommended to consult the website of the British Army which gives all the information on this subject.
Find practical information about the changing of the guard by consulting thearticle about it.
If you come to London in summer, know that Buckingham Palace is open to the public, the unique opportunity to discover the Queen's apartments. Considering the popularity of this event, it is imperative to book.
Discover the interior of the palace, through the article: Buckingham Palace, visit the Queen's apartments
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Stroll in St Jame's Park
Once the changing of the guard is over, take the opportunity to explore St Jame's Park, the oldest of London's eight royal parks. Covering an area of 23 hectares, this elegant park has a large lake where ducks, geese and swans have made their home. If you have children, bring some nuts to give to the squirrels.
If you wish, you can have a picnic or rent a deckchair to enjoy the surroundings.
The Westminster Abbey
THEWestminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in London where royal weddings are celebrated and where many famous people rest. A place of worship and a necropolis, Westminster Abbey is a masterpiece of Gothic style that has witnessed great events in British history.
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Big Ben and the Westminster Houses of Parliament
A few steps from Westminster Abbey, is the most famous landmark of Great Britain: Big Ben! This large clock is an integral part of the Palace of Westminster symbol of the British parliamentary monarchy, where 650 MPs sit in the House of Commons and 780 Lords in the House of Lords.
Note that it is possible to visit the parliament which is open to the public on Saturdays, and most weekdays during the school holidays at Easter, August and September.
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Go up Whitehall and pass the barracks of Horse Guards where there are two guards mounted standing in their boxes.
Two ceremonies are also performed daily. The first, the Queen's Life Guard, which is held daily at 10:00 a.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. on Sundays, during which the new mounted guard starting from Hyde Park Barrack relieves the old guard on the grounds of the Horse Guards plaza.
The second, The Four O 'Clock Parade which is held every day at 16 p.m. in the small courtyard behind the horse boxes and during which the guards are inspected by a senior officer.
Designed by architect John Nash around 1820, this vast square was named Trafalgar to commemorate the naval battle won by Admiral Nelson over Napoleon I in 1805. It is on this square that the famous National Gallery is located, which exhibits works of art. paintings dating from 1250 to 1900.
Piccadilly Circus, now a tourist hotspot, is known for its huge illuminated advertisements.
Fortnum & Mason
After a photo break in Piccadilly, a little detour to Fortnum & Mason, a typical British store. If you are sensitive to English refinement and appreciate English products such as tea, lemon card, scones or even cheeses, the Fortnun & Mason delicatessen should make your mouth water!
Shopping at Regent Street
Regent Street is one of the most important shopping streets in London where there are many boutiques of major international brands.
There are absolutely two shops to do and which are my favorites namely Hamleys and Liberty!
Hamleys is the largest toy store in London where tens of thousands of references are concentrated on 7 floors! If you are looking for a paddington bear, a lego bus or a playmobil guard, you have come to the right place.
Liberty is undoubtedly my favorite store in London that I go to every time I visit. Its magnificent Tudor-style half-timbered facade is already worth a visit. This typically English store is above all known for its famous floral and colorful fabric, called Liberty! You will find a wide choice of patterns and products such as shirts, potholders, towels or fabric by the meter.
The store has a beautiful interior decoration area with English porcelain and decorative objects from English designers.
With its brick facades and original and colorful decorations, Carnaby Street is a charming pedestrianized street where you can find both small specialist fashion shops and large retailers.
Also discover the side streets such as Foubert's Place and Newburgh with a quirky and trendy atmosphere.
Soho is one of the capital's liveliest areas and the heart of London's nightlife and gay community.
Let yourself be carried away by the exotic atmosphere of Chinatown through its decoration, its Asian restaurants and its typical fruit and vegetable market.
At both ends of Gerrard Street are red and gold paifang arches, which are the gateways that were offered by the Republic of China to Taiwan.
Covent Garden it is above all its charming covered market which houses many boutiques, restaurants and souvenir shops. Both touristy and trendy, the district attracts shopaholics by day and theater and musical lovers in the evening.
This charming colorful cul-de-sac has retained its hidden autan charm, where there are massage parlor, beauty shops and organic restaurants.
My good addresses for lunch on the 1st day
Eat a good fish n 'chips at Poppie's
Impossible to spend the weekend in London without tasting fish n 'chips, but not just any! Poppie's is one of my favorite places because the fish n 'chips are hearty, tasty and of high quality, prepared with fresh fish delivered every morning. The restaurant is pleasantly decorated with a 50s theme and the service is friendly.
Address Poppie's Soho : 55 Old Compton Street
Indian food at Dishoom
With a large Indian community, London is the European capital to enjoy a curry! Dishoom offers classics of Indian cuisine in a modern and elegant setting.
Personally I tested the Dishoom the Shoreditch which I enjoyed, no doubt that the one in Covent Garden is as good.
Address : 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane
Eat Chinese at Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is an authentic Taiwanese restaurant known for its Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumplings) - but also for its many Chinese street food dishes.
Address : 5-6 Henrietta Street
Where to have a drink?
Lamb & Flag
Lamb & Flag is a more than 250 year old historic pub in the heart of Covent Garden. Friendly atmosphere in this old tavern all in copper and wood once frequented by Dickens.
Cahoots: an unusual bar with incredible cocktails!
So that your weekend is complete, here is an unusual and original address. Cahoots is a cocktail bar hidden in an old disused metro station where the population took refuge during air raids during WWII.
Today Cahoots is a friendly bar located not far from Carnaby Street where people come for its decoration and the quality of its cocktails. With an old subway car to sit on, old posters and leftover sandbags from the Blitz, step back into the 40s.
Address : 13 Kingly Court
Where to go out at night in London on weekends?
You're not tired ?! Good thing I still have a few addresses to advise you.
See a musical
If you want to see a musical in Europe, London is the place to go! Incredible staging, spectacular show and festive atmosphere here is the program that awaits you!
Do not hesitate to consult my articles to know the best musicals in London et how to get tickets at the best price.
Listen to music in the legendary room of Jazz Cafe
This small room in the heart of Camden Town every evening welcomes talented artists who make the London public dance. The Jazz Cafe hosted big names like Archie Shepp, Amy Winehouse, Jamiroquai or Her. Come and discover this mythical place for a drink or a meal!
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Dine at the Duck & Waffle and enjoy the panoramic view
Are you looking for a good table and a romantic setting for your weekend in London? Discover the Duck & Waffle a trendy restaurant offering panoramic views of London with modern and original cuisine. Do you dare to taste their specialty? Crispy duck between a waffle and a fried egg; all served with maple syrup. Surprising and delicious recipe!
Address : Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate
To end this weekend, head for the City, the oldest district in London, then visit Southwark, an unusual and authentic district, and finally finish with Southbank.
St. Paul's Cathedral
La st paul's cathedral is considered one of the most emblematic monuments of London offering an incredible view of London from its top. Its visit has many surprises in store, such as the impressive acoustics of the Galerie des Murmures or the pantheon, considered the largest crypt in Europe.
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This magnificent XNUMXth century Victorian hall, in shades of red, gold and silver served as a backdrop for a Harry Potter. Admire its metal arches topped with high glass roofs and its central dome.
Khu Vuon Tren May
Located atop the 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper, the Khu Vuon Tren May is a roof garden where there is a shady forest and sun-loving plants such as ferns and palm trees. Much more than a green space, the Sygarden also has a panoramic terrace offering a breathtaking view of Tower Bridge, City Hall or the Gherkin.
Access to this rooftop is free but reservation is essential.
Tower of London
La Tower of London is a military fortress built on the initiative of William the Conqueror in the XNUMXth century. It is here that you can also admire the crown jewels and more particularly the largest diamond in the world and the imperial state crown worn by the Queen.
Listed as World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, the Tower of London is one of the most iconic and popular monuments in London.
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Victorian Gothic style, Tower Bridge is the most famous of London's bridges. If you wish, it is possible to visit the interior of this monument where you can discover the impressive engine room of the Victorian era and a museum retracing the history of the bridge. In addition, do not miss the view from the footbridge, built 42m above the Thames and one section of which has a glass floor.
Finally, still in operation, the bridge rises several times a day for the passage of boats.
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This gallery fills an old basin dug in the 19th century which housed the old warehouses of tea and spices. Today we come to Hay's Galleria to admire its elegant glass barrel vault and to enjoy the shops, cafes and restaurants.
With its 310 m, the shard is the tallest skyscraper in the UK offering 360 ° views of London for up to 60 km on a clear day. Reservation essential.
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Located in the district of Southwark on the south bank of the Thames, Borough Market is London's most famous and oldest food market. Composed exclusively of fresh and quality products, the market is a festival of colors and flavors.
A good plan, come at lunchtime to enjoy free tastings of cheese, olives, cold meats… 😉
Queen's Walk a walk between Southwark and South Bank
Queen's Walk or Queen's Walk is a pedestrian walkway that runs along the River Thames from Tower Bridge to Westminster Pier, located in the borough of South bank.
Installed in a former electrical plant in 2000, Tate Modern is London's premier museum of modern and contemporary art. Its rich collection, access to which is free, consists of painting, photography, sculpture, video or installation.
Do not miss the museum rooftop which offers a beautiful view of the City and St Paul's Cathedral.
The work of Sir Norman Foster, Millenium bridge was created to celebrate the transition to the year 2000. An architectural and technical success, this 320m footbridge with a slender profile links Southbank to the City. Every day, thousands of pedestrians, tourists and residents, cross this magnificent bridge to cross the Thames and reach St Paul's or Tate Modern.
135 m high, London Eye is the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe. Climb aboard one of the 32 capsules that offer an exceptional view of London.
Book absolutely to avoid a long queue, especially at weekends!
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The program of these 2 days in London ends at the London Eye from where you can see Big Ben in front of which you passed the day before. The circle is complete !
My good addresses for lunch on the 2nd day
Street food à Borough Market
Enjoy your visit to Borough Market to take a culinary journey among the many street-food stands. It's good, tasty and inexpensive!
Eat a good fish n 'chips at Fish!
In the heart of Borough Market, Fish ! is a fish restaurant known and recognized for the quality of its gourmet and tasty fish n 'chips.
A good plan to save, order a fish n 'chips to take away, it is the same quality and almost twice the price!
Practical advice for your weekend in London
How to get around London?
Even if you are going to be walking a lot during your weekend, you will need to take a transport card. The most economical and practical will be the Oyster Card which will allow you to take the metro, train, catamaran and even the cable car.
More information on the Visitor Oyster Card
Which tourist pass to buy for a weekend in London?
To avoid queues and save money, it may be worth buying a tourist card. For a weekend, the London Pass and London Pass Explorer will be the most advantageous.
Compare their offers and the visits available for each of them, taking into account your program.
More information about the London Pass More information about the London Explorer Pass
Weekend in London: where to sleep inexpensively?
The most economical will be to stay in a youth hostel either in a dormitory where the prices are the lowest or in a private room.
The youth hostels for which I have had the best feedback regarding their services (cleanliness and services) and geographical location are:
- clink 78 : Not far from St Pancras station, its location is ideal if you arrive in London by Eurostar.
clink 261 : Also in the same neighborhood.
- Generator London : A designer youth hostel in the British Museum district.
Premier Inn Hotels
The Premier Inn chain of hotels offers modern and comfortable rooms in the most touristic areas of London. If you are looking for good value for money, I recommend these hotels. To benefit from the best price and to ensure availability, consider book as soon as possible.
Among those which are in the districts proposed to visit London in a weekend, there are:
Premier Inn Leicester Square : Hyper central between Piccadilly and Covent Garden. Ideal if you want to see a musical in the evening in the neighborhood.
Premier Inn Holborn : 15 min walk from Covent Garden and 5 min from Holborn underground.
Premier Inn London City - Aldgate : 10 min walk from Leadenhall Market and Gherking.
Premier Inn London City Tower Hill : A few steps from the Tower of London, its location is ideal to start the program of the 2nd day!
Premier Inn London Bank - Tower : Also next to the Tower of London and close to the Thames.
Premier Inn Tower Bridge : On the bank of the Thames, not far from the Shard and the banks of the Thames.
Premier Inn Southwark Borough High Street : A few steps from Borough Market, an ideal area for going out at night.
Premier Inn London Southwark - Tate Modern : In the heart of Southwark, not far from Tate Modern and Borough Market.