I’ve lived in London for almost 3 years of my life and in that time, I’ve eaten in almost one new restaurant a week, seen a dozen or so shows and had far too many Old Fashioneds. Despite my city-specific bucket list containing over 100 items, I’ve uncovered some favourite hidden gems and unmasked the overrated fads, so I feel ready to share with you my ultimate 48 hour guide to seeing London like a local…
TAKE A MORNING STROLL
Like most cities, the best way to ‘see’ London is by putting on those comfy shoes and taking to the streets. A casual stroll is best done in the mornings, before Oxford Street becomes a survival of the fittest and whilst the lions of Trafalgar Square are free from climbing children. Grab a hot drink from any cute cafe and mooch along through your favourite neighbourhood, popping into boutiques, galleries and cake shops. My favourite place to wander is Soho, where every road is crooked and filled with strange objects. Don’t miss the House of MinaLima which sells prints and books from their incredible range of film graphics including Harry Potter.
BINGE ON BRUNCH
There’s one thing that Londoners do best, and that’s brunch. Ignore the rainbow toast and cereal cafes (that’s a fad my friend) and head to anywhere that promises the perfect poached egg or unlimited menu of Asian dishes. Favourites are of course the famous Japanese bottomless feast at Roka (always check Time Out for the £40 voucher), Skylon for riverside dining and Dalloway Terrace for one of London’s most beautiful settings to enjoy a slice of avocado toast.
HEAD TO MARKET
Markets. We’ve got tons of them, in every neighbourhood and on every day of the week. Save some cash for vintage goods, handmade crafts and of course an edible souvenir. My favourites are found in East London… Brick Lane for a true vintage shop, Columbia Road Flower Market for an intense London bustle, Broadway Market for irresistable treats and Spitalfields for when you want everything under one (rainproof) roof.
SEE LONDON FROM ABOVE
London has one of the most beautiful skylines in the world and you can’t go without seeing it from above. For a quick sighting, head to Southbank where you can see the London Eye, Shard, St Paul’s and Westminster from the water’s edge. For cocktails with a view head to City Social in the winter and Radio Rooftop in the summer, and for dinner, drinks or just to walk among the floral, bag yourself a free ticket to Sky Garden.
GET A TASTE OF LONDON
The restaurant scene in London is constantly changing, getting bigger and better with every daily opening. There are quite literally thousands of places to eat, fitting every budget and taste bud. Once you’ve picked your cuisine and what you’re happy to spend, I suggest picking a couple of areas and looking on OpenTable to see what’s available for your dinner booking. A few recommendations include Mommi in Clapham for fantastic food that happens to be gluten free, Gilbert Scott for a more formal affair, Century Club for something for everyone, Darkhorse for an undiscovered gem, Spring for pastel perfection and Flat Iron for an early meat feast.
TRY THE COCKTAIL SCENE
Similarly to its foodie nature, the cocktail culture in London is ever growing, making the city home to some of the best bars in the world. Expect to pay £9-15 for an excellent cocktail, any less and leave, any more and well, check you out baller. After dinner head out for a couple of drinks in a bar unlike anywhere you’ve ever been. For the most creative menus in the city, check out Lounge Bohemia, Nightjar and Cocktail Trading Company. For a lively night head to any of the London Cocktail Clubs or Archer Street and for classic no-fuss or frills head to Dandylan,Duke’s or Artesian.
BUT FIRST COFFEE
Mornings in London always start with caffeine. Especially if you’ve had a few basil and pine nut martinis the night before. For a cuppa in the sunshine, head to Look Mum No Hands, a spot popular with bike enthusiasts and freelancers. For the Instagrammers and healthy eaters than Palm Vaults is a firm favourite, think marble tables and lavender lattes. But if you’re a cat queen then the Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is a must, an early morning appointment is best for solo time with the residents, just make sure to book ahead.
MOOCH IN A MUSEUM
You can’t come to London without stepping into a museum, or gallery for that matter and it’s the perfect way to spend midday. We’re super proud of our world famous collection and there’s nothing ‘touristy’ about queuing for The V&A,Natural History Museum or next door Science Museum. My favourite gallery in London is the Saatchi, perfect for the people who don’t know what they want to see and the open minded artists. If you want something completely different and unlike anywhere in London, than book yourself into the Museum of Curiosities, a tiny basement filled with thousands of bizarre objects at The Last Tuesday Society bar in Hackney.
TIME FOR TEA
A must have for any London agenda is afternoon tea, obviously. Like everything in the capital, there are hundreds to choose from featuring every theme imaginable… Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Sanderson, fashionable treats at The Berkeley, even a ‘not afternoon tea’ at OXO Brasserie. Some of my all time favourites include the classically British Claridges, Tale as Old as Time at the Kensington Hotel and of course, the one at Egerton Hotel where you can take your dog… or you know, just play with other peoples’.
LET THEM DRINK WINE
London loves wine. Red, white, pink, sparkling. WE LOVE IT. After you’ve overdosed on cake find yourself a cosy wine bar to recover from your food coma. For a 4pm arrival head to Gordon’s, the oldest wine bar in London. For enthusiastic wine lovers than little Antidote in Soho is a great pick and for those of you who have room for one more bite, head to Champagne+Fromage for a platter of perfect French cheese.
END ON A SONG
How to end a weekend in London? With an all singing, all dancing extravaganza of course! The second biggest city for musicals is home to the world’s best shows from Book of Mormon to the longest running show Mousetrap. If you want a deal head to the Leicester Square ticket booth or download deal on the day apps such as TodayTix.
If you’re looking to spend a weekend in London, you can’t really go wrong with any agenda, but follow the above and you’ll be sure to see the best of what the city has to offer. What would you show a tourist in your city? This month GoEuro are running a #livelikealocal competition where you could win one of three incredible prizes including £300! To enter, write a blog post about how you’d show a tourist around your city in 48 hours before midnight on Wednesday 4th October. Head here for more details. Make sure to send me your posts! This post was written in collaboration with GoEuro. All suggestions are completely my own.
I love London! I can’t wait to go back and try some of these suggestions. 🙂
I love everything about this post! Absolutely love brunch, coffee, wine etc. I’ve been to London a few times but I haven’t even gotten close to doing everything there is yet! Would love to go try the cocktails and go up the London Eye. Thanks for this! More things to add to my list 🙂
I love coffee, tea and wandering so this sounds lovely! I love London and hope to make it back soon.
Ah! I spent only 7 or 8 hours in London back in 2015. Haha. I wish I had had this guide! Next time, I’ll have to spend much longer there.
Oh wow that is a short time! Yes you need a good long weekend here 🙂
This sounds like a wonderful itinerary! You just can’t beat London…
Great itinerary – packs a lot in but is relaxed too, so there’s no chance of the tourist lag at 4.00 in the afternoon! Living in London often means you forget the amount of culture and history that’s actually around you and begin taking it for granted – often it’s only when people come to stay that you actually venture out and explore your own city! A few more tourist weekends will definitely be on the cards!
I love having a tourist weekend in the city! So much I still haven’t seen like the Tower of London!
Love this! I spent just over 48 hours in London a few years ago, but of course, I did the super touristy stuff! I did venture outside of the main areas of London a bit in search of Sylvia Plath’s old home. (Yeah, I’m a fangirl.) Wish I had done some more research on places to eat, though! I sort of wandered into random spots since I wasn’t familiar with anything. I did enjoy a delicious poached egg for brunch near Buckingham Palace my first morning though and it was HEAVEN. Thanks for sharing this! If I go back in the future, I’ll definitely check out a few of your suggestions!
Thanks Amanda! Hope you get to come back and use the guide. I find it’s always good to research restaurants etc wherever you are as you might as well spend your money on the best food you can! 🙂
I’ve lived here for so long but am stumped when it comes to advising visiting friends on things to do! It’s nice to get a roundup of the highlights, just as a reminder of what’s great about this city 🙂
Thanks Fiona! Yes it can be hard as there is an overwhelming amount but I just picked my favourites that give a good variation 🙂
Girl, you are making me want to go home, pack a back and buy the first ticket out of here… to London that is. LOL
Haha! Where are you now? London is where its at 😉
I just came back from a few days on London…but hopefully I can check out some of these places next time.
Ah for next time!
This sounds like a great two days! I really do need to visit the Museum of Curiosities – I keep seeing pictures of it around but have still not yet made it! It looks really cool. I also reeeaally want afternoon tea & a cocktail now! xx
Laura // Middle of Adventure
It’s honestly one of my favourite places, so much in one little bar! x
What a great itinerary!!