London in 48 Hours
Hi party people. I recently traveled to London for a quick 48-hour trip this past February. It was my first time in this beautiful city and it most definitely won’t be my last. Even though it was a quick 48 hour trip, I was super happy when I left as I hit all the things I wanted to in a short time.
Get on the earliest flight possible in Europe or if youre coming from overseas, try to time it to arrive in London early in the morning.
I flew straight into the London Stansted airport. When you get off the plane and start walking towards baggage claim / the exit there will be a kiosk for you to buy your train ticket into the city. Pro tip: Save money by pre-booking your train ticket into the city and back to the airport. After you get your Stansted express train ticket. You will then walk another 3 minutes to the train station.
Which one airport are you arriving in?
Click below to learn more about airport transportation options into the city.
Accommodation: The Z Hotel Victoria
I would highly recommend staying at this hotel as the location was perfect. Staying in the heart of Victoria was the only way to do such a short trip. The hotel was a 3 minute walk from the underground / train station. As a solo traveler, I try to stay close to public transportation as I know I will be walking to and from it quite often. This also makes it easy.
I had an inside room (the cheapest) which did not come with a window. This was weird but I only sleep there so it really did not bother me. Rooms were clean and comfortable. The staff was extremely friendly. I dropped my bags here as I couldn't check in until later but wanted to start exploring right away!
10am: Head out to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards.
This happens around 10:45am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (weather permitting) and the event lasts around 45 minutes. You will want to get there early to get a good spot to see the ceremony and changing of the guards. I arrived around 10:00am and it was already extremely busy.
If you are anything like me, you are probably starving, so take a stroll to one of the cutest and most delicious cafes in London. E L & N Cafe is a definite winner and the best part is that they have multiple locations. There will probably be a little bit of a wait regardless of the location you choose, but I promise you it’s worth it. Having trouble picking a location? Stalk their instagram @elnlondon !
If you’re into flower walls, check out Maddox Gallery for a killer photo opt. I was there around Valentine’s Day, hence the red heart flower wall.
The outside is always changing so follow them on Instagram to see what their gallery looks like while you visit!
1:00pm: The London Eye
Although you’ll be doing a lot of walking around the city, you’ll most likely need to hop on the London Underground in order to get there AND save time.
The London Eye is by far one of the most touristy spots in London, however, I personally think you can’t miss out on this one. AND if it is a beautiful day, it’s a no brainer. I was lucky enough to hit it on a gorgeous day and the views were amazing. I did not buy my tickets in advance, however, I do recommend you buying yours in advance. February isn’t too busy of a season so I only waited about 20 minutes in line to buy a ticket and then 5 minutes in line waiting to get on the Eye.
Of course they try to upsell you at the ticket counter but for me the deal was a great one. You could choose any two or three attractions and save money buying them together I opted for the London Eye Ride and the London Eye 40 minute River Cruise.
Also if you’re a camera junkie like me and want to take your tripod on the Eye, you will not be able to. They hold it for you and you can pick it up when you get off.
3:00pm - 4:00pm: The London Eye River Cruise
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (Palace of Westminster)
Tower of London
Millennium Bridge (Harry Potter Fans- this is the bridge from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).
7:00pm: Head out for a fun night at a Broadway Show of your choice
I saw Wicked!!! London is next behind, New York City with a huge Broadway presence. There are so many options, but I opted to see Wicked for my third time (Atlanta, Nashville previously) and it did not disappoint. Solo traveling has it perks when a 5th row seat sells for cheap since it’s a single ticket! #MAJORWIN
There were so many good shows to choose from, however, I looked for a show near my hotel. Being a solo traveler, safety is extremely important and I knew I wouldn’t want to deal with public transportation late at night. The Victoria Apollo Theater was a five-minute or less walk to my hotel.
FUN FACT: Did you know most broadway theaters you can have your concessions delivered to your seat? Like room service, except theater service ;)
See the full list of shows with dates and times here:
10:00pm: Go back and catch some ZzZz’s
8:00am: Rise and Shine
I always aim for a reasonable but realistic time to get up and start exploring. If I am ready to go by 8:45am and to my destination by 9:00am I am feeling accomplished and ready to slay the day!
Head to either Peggy Porschen Cakes or Saint Aymes for morning tea/coffee or if you cant decide try both. Both are picturesque cafés with delicious treats. Enjoy a famous cake at Peggy Porschen or a famous pink white hot chocolate at Saint Aymes. Both are fabulous and you cant go wrong.
10:30am – 12:00pm: Explore the Heart of Westminster
There are so many things to do in Victoria but here is a list of things you might want to check out:
Big Ben: The Victoria Tower, also known as Big Ben has been under construction since 2017 and will not be finished until 2020. This is an iconic landmark that you can see, however, I don’t want you to be disappointed when you see that it is still scaffolded.
Palace of Westminster
Churchhill War Rooms
12:30pm: Grab lunch at the Borough Market
Hop on the London Underground and get off at the Waterloo stop for the Borough Market. This is London’s version of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The Borough Market is full of every different type of fresh food. I loved the hustle and bustle of this market.
But don’t stuff yourself for lunch because next up is afternoon tea.
3:00pm: Piccadilly Circus and Afternoon Tea
Piccadilly Circus is London’s version of Times Square. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of this square as you walk to enjoy high tea at the Ham Yard Hotel. Foruntely, being a solo traveler I didnt have trouble getting a table, however it was extremely busy. I highly recommend getting a reservation and you can use the link below to book!
5:00pm: After high tea head to the Covenant Garden for some shopping and exploring.
FYI for rookies like me this is not an actual garden. I repeat NOT AN ACTUAL GARDEN HAHA. I thought this was a garden, like the one you see in What a Girl Wants. But no, it is actually a super cool shopping area with shops, cafes, restaurants, street performers, etc. It’s a fun place to walk around, shop and enjoy the London atmosphere.
7:30pm: Grab a late dinner or late snack
You probably won’t be too hungry after lunch at Borough Market && a delicious afternoon tea at the Hamyard Hotel.
As for your nighttime plans you can either explore the London nightlife or if you’re solo like me and safety/sleep is important, then head back to the room for an early night. My flight was at 7am the next morning so I got some rest since I had an 4:00am wake up call.
Recap of things to do/places to see:
Afternoon Tea at the Hamyard Hotel
See a show on Broadway