So you’re heading to London? Exciting!! I have been through the vibrant, international city more than a few times and everytime I find a new, inticing spot to check out, local pub to try, or fun activity to try. Learning from personal experience, I created this specialty itinerary, to show you exactly how to spend a weekend in London, to get you off the beaten path of tourist sites and discover the more intimate sides of the city!
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What you will find in this “How to Spend a Weekend in London” guide:
Depending on the time of day you arrive, you may not be able to fit all of these activities in. Feel free to pick and choose the bits that sound the most exciting to you & get your walking shoes on!
If you’re ready to hit the ground running (so to speak), the first stop is Burough Market for snacks & treats to take home. Jewlery, phone cases, scarves, as well as edible delights like olive oil & vinegar sets, cheese platters, roasted nuts, and more! This adorable, historic market is a great place to start out your weekend! Talk to the booth & shop owners about their wares & you are sure to feel the passion oozing as everything in the market is handmade!
Once you have gotten your fill of market (and maybe a few pieces of fruit for a snack for later), it’s time to head to The British Museum.
Tip: There is a station just outside of the market, where you can hop on the subway (the tube) for about $4, and ride it about 25 minutes to the museum.
Okay, I know the British Museum might seem like a bold place to start, but it’s a must-see while you’re in London! Once you get inside, I recommend keeping an eye on the time if you want to se anything else today (you could spend days exploring every room & artifact)! But whether you spend a few hours or the rest of the day, take the time to learn about the history of the world. It’s interesting stuff!
If you’re looking for a private, guided tour of the British Museum, click here! (psst..it’s really in-depth & only 2.5 hours!)
Depending on how much time you spend inside the museum, I think you’ve earned yourself a drink! Down nearly every alley, lies an unassuming entrance to a pub (likely from the 1800s). It’s such a fun experience to find your “own” hidden gem of a local pub to stop into. If you’re looking for a specific recommendation, try to find Ship Tavern.
Grab a bite to eat & head back to the hostel for a shower and outfit change. Let’s kick off the first night in London with experiencing the nightlife!
Tip: Drinks at clubs are very expensive in London. I recommend swinging by a liquor store to grab a bottle of your favorite spirit & a mixer to pre-drink before you go out. This will save you quite a bit of money AND will encourage you to drink water while out, saving you from a hangover for our big day tomorrow!
Although there are several pockets all around the city, I recommend sticking to the downtown, Leicester Square. This area is buzzing with party-goers, both local and international. The square is home to several bars, restaurants, clubs and shops, so you don’t have to wander far if you are hopping venues.
Hop on a red, double decker bus for the London experience for just a few pounds. Pay with card when you get on.
This area is also near Picadilly Circus, Chinatown, Trafalger Square, and other London highlights, so it’s a good idea to walk around in the evening, even if you drinking & dancing isn’t your scene!
Traveling solo? Find a group pub crawl here! This way you don’t have to go out alone, you will make some friends, get discounts on drinks & free entry at every location!
No doubt, a full day in London, this one will be the best (and the busiest)!
Rolling out of bed and to the nearest restaurant, where a full English Breakfast will be waiting for you, is the perfect way to start this full day (and probably help after the night you’ve just had)!
The first stop (after the recovery breaky, of course), is, well, depending on where you are in the city…the tube.
Insider tip: Head to “Westminster Station” (in zone 1) on the Jubilee, District or Circle lines. When you walk up the steps from Westminster station to the street, the sight of Big Ben will fill you with awe!
Today will be the perfect opportunity to explore the areas around Big Ben & get those iconic photos to fill your IG feed. Spend some time exploring the parlament buildings, the Churchyard, Westminster Abby, the Palace & all of the other historic & breathtaking buildings around.
If you follow the road along St. James park, you will end up at Buckingham Palace and Hyde park. There are several shops, cafes, and museums along this route. Picnic in the park or stop along the route for lunch if you’re feeling hungry.
PAUSE: This is a great time to appreciate that YOU’RE IN LONDON! Such an exciting feeling. Remember to soak in every minute. Appreciate the accents around you, feel small among the feats of architecture, soak in the history & imagine living through the centuries in this city.
One of the most iconic parts of London is the Thames River, flowing through the city. It’s amazing to see & if you cross the bridge from Big Ben, you will find the “queue” for the London Eye (& its Champagne Experience), Jubilee Park & The London Dungeon (which we’ll come back to later tonight.)
Arguably the best way to see the River is BY BOAT! Check out this amazing Thames River Sightseeing Cruise with Afternoon Tea.
Okay! So after a full morning and afternoon of exploring, it’s time to take a break & get ready for the evening activity. This is a good time to head back to your accommodation to rest and grab a drink or snack before you head out to the London Dungeon! This incredibly well put-together attraction takes you back in time and teaches you more than you might want to know about the history of London. A fun, interesting and spooky way to end the long day of wandering the buildings of the city. Learn more or book a tour!
It’s your final day in London. A bittersweet day where you will find yourself getting on a plane (or train or bus) out of the city. If you’re planning to explore more of the country, check out my England guide post here. If you’re heading home, take some time today to let yourself JUST BE in London. Embrace the last moments in the city, breathe in the experience and maybe have one last sausage roll before you go.
Assuming you will be in the city for the majority of the day, here are my top recommendations:
Yesterday started with a classic full English breakfast, but I think today calls for something a little lighter. Yet another traditional English start to the day: scone with jam & cream and a coffee. (Okay, maybe “English breakfast tea” is more traditional, but I think the taste of coffee goes better with scones.)
The destination today is Camden town. This is an adorable and fun area of the city that has succesfully created its own vibe and subculture. Funky shops, fun souvenirs, bright colors and vibrant locals make this suburb well worth adding to the list when figuring out how to spend a weekend in London!
If even just to see the market (its been in continuous operation since 1970!) or grab lunch at the tower of food stalls, you won’t be dissapointed you encountered this part of the city!
When figuring out how to spend a weekend in London, we can’t forget about HARRY POTTER!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this would be the perfect time to check out some of the filming locations! Click a tour below to learn more:
If you have a bit more time in England & want to dive deeper into the Harry Potter Universe, check out these day tours from London:
Best eats in London:
This city boasts nearly infinite options for meals of all kinds. Eat your way through the budget food stalls in Camden town, fine dine in one of the MANY Michelin Star restaurants in the city, or get a local and historic feel from any of the traditional pubs hidden about the side streets.
My favorite spots: Munch on cheese & bread w/oil samples at Burough Market, search the city for the “Coffee-Bike” and step back in time at the George Inn.
Where to stay:
Of course, the type of accommodation you choose will be based on your overall budget. Personally, I prefer to stay in more affordable hostels in order to save money for activities and excursions. That being said, just because hostels are budget options, doesn’t mean they are lacking, by any means. What you might give up in luxury, will be made up for in the connections you make with other travelers, chill commons areas, and drink & food deals!
My recommended hostels: One of the several St. Christopher’s Inn locations scattered about London. The have in-house bars or restaurants, are very affordable & offer deals on activites!
If you’re looking for a little more privacy, the Airbnb game in London is strong!
Top tours for how to spend a weekend in London:
Click the button below to learn more about each hand-selected experience:
Pro tip: Set some time aside (even if this means skipping something in my recommended itinerary) to make this weekend special and unique to you.
Summary (TLDR) of this “How to Spend a Weekend in London” guide:
I get it, life can be too busy to read every blog post (all the more reason to book that flight!). I’ll break down the highlights here!
- Best place to stay: St. Christopher’s Inn
- Most delicious food: Bag O’ Nails Local Pub
- Top High Tea tour: Thames River cruise with tea time
- Coolest suburb: Camden Town
- Nightlife experience: Central London Pub Crawl
- Top attraction: London Dungeon