Popping over for a weekend break on limited time? Here is my guide to the greatest bits the city has to offer.
London is, without doubt, a must-see at some point in your life. The city is bustling with food, fashion, and culture. As an avid fan of the city, I have made numerous trips overall on a limited time frame. My most recent trip was last week where I did some shopping, some sightseeing, ate my body weight in food (of course) and even took in a show… all within 48 hours.
London, as vast as it is, is actually a seriously easy city to get around with a lot to offer but equally a lot that can be seen in a short space of time if you plan your trip well. So without further adieu, here is my guide to London in 48 hours taking in my favourite things to see and do from a well-seasoned visitor… if I do say so myself.
Getting to London has literally never been easier and my trip over last week was probably the most stress-free one I’ve ever experienced. I flew the route between Dublin and Southend, London. The flight takes 50 minutes direct and then once you touch down, it’s a 53-minute train ride from Southend to the city centre. The airport is small and the train to the city centre goes from right outside the airport door, meaning no hassle lugging bags around trying to find where the hell you’re going while navigating your group of pals. The layout of the entire airport is seriously convenient and we flew through it like a breeze. Ideal.
We flew with Flybe operated by Stobart Air, the flight was relaxing and with flights from €8 even on the weekend, it is literally a steal and most certainly a route I’ll be taking again. Nothing like saving a bit of money to splash on the more important things on holidays like shoes, clothes and makeup… you know yourself.
Staying in London can be expensive, sometimes it’s an utter rip-off and hotel prices fluctuate ridiculously. My advice would be to book early. I know it sounds like a common piece of advice but you would be surprised by how many people get fixated on finding the right flights and then forget about the hotel until last minute. Personally, I would recommend you look at hotel prices on the dates you want to fly before you ever look at flights, the chances are the hotel will be more expensive than the flights, so you’re better off giving a good root around hotel sites first and foremost.
I’ve stayed in a variety of places from the city centre to the suburbs. The suburbs tend to often be cheaper than in the middle of town plus the rooms are a little larger. Don’t feel you need to be bang smack in the city centre when traveling over, transport is so good between the trains and the buses, no matter where you’re staying you’ll find it all accessible, I assure you.
Ah yes… my favourite part is always and I mean ALWAYS the food. I spend hours googling and eyeing up food before I ever travel anywhere. Ticking off places I need to eat and see. My best recommendations for a flying visit to the city include The Borough Markets, located on Southwark Street, they are open six days a week (not Sunday) and have the most amazing array of food stalls from sweet to savoury, it’s honestly a foodie’s paradise and something you will not regret. All the stalls are covered too meaning perfect no matter what the elements AND the food is cheap. Success.
Another must on your trip if you, like myself own a ridiculous sweet tooth, is a trip to Peggy Porschen Cakes. Located in Belgravia, London, this cake spot is frequented by many celebs and the cakes are almost too good to eat… almost.
Lastly, on your quick trip, Ours and The Ivy Garden in Chelsea for dinner are my faves for when I’m feeling like treating myself and splashing a little extra cash than usual, you deserve it… it’s your holiday after all.
If your planning on hitting the shops, Oxford Street is always reliable. Almost two kilometres in length, this street consists of every high street store you need and more. What’s even better, if you fly into London Southend like I did, the airport is seriously close to Westfield shopping centre in Stratford City, an ideal stop off on your train back to the airport.
Another gem for shopping is, of course, the Camden markets. Over 1,000 shops and stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to one-of-a-kind jewellery. This place is a must-see for any shopaholic, however, if you are on a limited time frame in London, allocate yourself a specific time window here or you will spend all day wandering around without knowing.
Lastly, no trip to London is complete without a trip to Harrods, pencil in a visit to the luxury department store, grab a coffee in their food hall and simply wander. It is well worth the visit and located in Knightsbridge.
Another reason that keeps bring me back to London is the West-End. I have to admit, I’m fairly obsessed with musicals but even my non-obsessed musical friends love the West-End because there is no denying a spectacular show. I’ve seen Miss Saigon, Wicked, Les Miserables, The Book of Mormon (MUST SEE) and most recently a play instead of a musical. I saw Oscar Wilde’s A Lady of No Importance and although it was lovely, I would most definitely recommend you chose a musical over a play if you’re heading there for your first time.
All shows cost roughly between €30 – €70 a ticket and can be purchased online or from many of the box offices dotted around the city.
Lastly, getting in a little sightseeing accumulates to a well-rounded trip to London. Taking a tour on the London Eye, visiting Trafalgar Square, walking across the London Bridge, seeing Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and of course walking around Westminster Abbey are my favourite must-sees in terms of sightseeing on a short time scale.
There is obviously a more extensive list of places you could see in the city but on a short weekend break, you’re better off seeing a few places properly rather than rushing through hundreds and not really taking them in.
If you are an art fan, I would suggest making time to visit the National Gallery too. It was my first time there last week and it really is simply stunning.
Aside from all that, my final bits of advice are pack comfortable shoes, you’re going to walk a lot. Bring hand sanitizer for the tube, you touch a lot of railings and bars and lastly enjoy yourself. London is such a beautiful city, bustling with life and culture.
You will leave the city planning your next trip back there. Bon voyage.