We vowed to do some proper sightseeing on a recent whirlwind 48 hour visit to London, and I loved every minute.
Let me tell you that this is one European city break you absolutely need to do.
It sounds ridiculous, but I genuinely don’t think I ever realised there was so much to see in London. Despite several visits, I’m a total London amateur. My trips to the city have always involved wearing out my voice by catching up on gossip with my friends, but I’ve never made the time to wear out my feet by properly exploring the city until now.
For all the London first-timers among you – here’s how we spent our time in this brilliant city:
We saw a show, and stayed in Soho
We stayed at Z Hotels which is right in the heart of Soho and on the doorstep of theatre land. Our room even had a balcony, which was great for people watching – a favourite travel hobby of mine. I don’t believe we could have picked a better location. Zipping round the places we wanted to visit was a cinch from here. And Soho has the perfect buzzy atmosphere for a weekend evening.
We also stayed less than five minutes walk from the Phoenix Theatre where we saw the absolutely outstanding Once The Musical; just perfect for bobbing back to touch up my mascara seeing as I shed more than a few tears during the show!
We maxed out on history in the marvellous British Museum
Being able to walk to the British Museum in ten minutes was perfect. We knew that this was one museum we simply could not miss. We actually spent an hour there on Friday afternoon and went back to immerse ourselves for a couple of hours more on Sunday. A highlight was seeing the Rosetta Stone, but the whole place was just mesmerising on a scale I couldn’t possibly have imagined. And best of all, it’s FREE (though donations are welcomed to help keep it that way).
We talked politics and palaces at Westminster
It’s easy to forget that the home of Parliament is also a palace, but the guided tour allows you to get a feel for this magnificent building in its entirety. And standing right inside the House of Lords and the House of Commons? Fascinating stuff. (Tours cost £16.50 per person.)
We pounded pavements and passed up on taking the tube
Much as I am sure the tube is perfect for flying around London, our weekend itinerary meant exploring on foot was perfectly doable. Our morning walk at 8.30 am on Saturday from Soho to Westminster for our tour of Parliament also let us see a different side of London. Trafalgar Square was so much more peaceful first thing than later on in the afternoon. So I urge you when you visit: save the sleep-in for when you get home. Get up and get out!
We also broke up the walk from Westminster to Buckingham Palace with a hearty pub lunch – just what you need to keep you going!
We didn’t tun up our noses at the open-top tour buses
They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe tour buses have real value for people who want to see as much as they can of a city in a short time. A 24 or 48 hour ticket also gives you the opportunity to use it as your transport. There are a few companies who offer a service in London, and it’s possible to get a free boat ride on a Thames Clipper with your ticket on some – the views from the river are pretty special.
So have I seen enough to say I’ve done London?
Absolutely not. Next on my hit list are the Victoria & Albert Museum, a trip to Greenwich and a posh afternoon tea somewhere fancy (as well as meet-ups with blogger pals Emma and Yishyene who I had such a great time with in Rotterdam earlier this year).
But enough from me – what about you? What would you do with 48 hours in London? Let me know in the comments!
During my stay in London, I was hosted by Z Hotels. All opinions about the hotel are entirely my own. To be honest, the free cheese and wine buffets every evening speak for themselves!