London is huge. There are litereally hundreds of things to see and do in the city, and there really is something for everyone. From night ghost walks, to historical sites, to museums, plays, and shopping, there is something to tickle anyone's fancy in this city. It could easily take a week or more to do everything you want to in London, but sadly, Aaron and I only had 48 hours to do it all (or as much as we could). We researched things to do and see, prioritized them, and then planned. Sadly, there were some things we missed out on (Westminster and your ridiculously long line - I'm looking at you!), and I kind of felt like we were back and forth across the city. In retrospect, we could have timed things out a little better, but hindsight is 20/20. In an effort to save you from making the same mistakes that we did, below is a sample itinerary for you to use.
Arrive in London and take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Buy an Oyster card and then take the underground to your hotel. Check in and head back out to see London at night. Take a stroll along the Thames to admire the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament all lit up, walk in front of Buckingham Palace, enjoy the streets when there are fewer people out and about. However, one piece of advice, the lights on Big Ben turn off promptly as the clock strikes midnight, so if you want pictures, get there before then.
- 8:00 Start with breakfast at the hotel or in a nearby cafe.
- 9:00 Make your way to Westminster Abbey. TIP: buy tickets online ahead of time or else the line will just be too long to wait in.
- 11:00 Walk to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guards
- 12:30 Grab some lunch and take the underground to St. Paul's Cathedral. TIP: you can buy tickets ahead of time here. Also note that the churches are not open on Sunday for visitors, only for worship, which would be another viable way to visit if you're so inclined.
- 3:00 Tour the Tower of London (hint, buy tickets here) by taking part in a Yeoman Warder guided tour included with your admission. Then head over to see the world famous Crown Jewels. Check out this website for ideas of other things to see and do in one of the world's most famous prisons. Note that the Tower closes at 5:30 in the summer months (4:30 in the winter), which leaves you enough time for a quick snack before your next stop.
- 6:30 Go on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour of the East End of London given by one of the Yeoman from the Tower. Tours start at the small park across the street from the Tower, just outside the entrance to the underground station.
- 9:30 If you're lucky (and early!) enough to have booked tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys (the ceremony in which the Tower is locked up each night), it starts now. Go here to book! Tickets are free, but you have to be really really early.....as of right now (middle of October), they are completely booked up through March of 2016.
- 8:00 Eat breakfast at a local cafe and grab a picture in an iconic red phone booth (they still have functioning phones!)
- 9:30 Go on a double decker bus tour of London, or a walking tour, either self-guided or with a guide, to see some of the main highlights (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, 7 Downing Street, Covent Garden) before the city gets too crowded. Take a morning stroll along the Thames, admire the London Eye, sip on a hot English tea.
- 12:00 If you're in to Harry Potter, or just want a cool picture, take the underground to King's Cross Station and head to Platform 9 3/4. There is a luggage cart there where you can take your picture and there is even a Harry Potter store in the station.
- 3:00 Go for a traditional English afternoon tea. If you want to splurge, head to the Ritz for their take on it. Or head to the Thames for an afternoon tea boat cruise. There are literally hundreds of places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, so there are lots of options.
- 5:00 Head to Paddington Station to take the Heathrow Express back to the airport.
One weekend in London will go back entirely too fast. You really needs at least 4 days to see everything at a somewhat leisurely pace, but hopefully, this sample itinerary gives you an idea of timing and some things to do if you only have a weekend. If you have any suggestions for a weekend in London, put them in the comments!