London... in 48 Hours (Day One)
London has it all: stunning architecture, fascinating history, superb museums, theatres and restaurants, and diverse culture. This bounty of riches means that it can be quite hard to know where to start, particularly if you’re taking a whistle-stop tour. Our 48-hour guide is an ideal introduction to this vibrant capital city; and whilst you might not see everything there is to see on this short vacation, you’ll certainly want to come back!
Our Sensational St Paul’s Home is one of many UnderTheDoormat London homestays – centrally-located and perfect for a short city break!
Where to Stay
London is bursting with gorgeous places to stay – but if you’ve only got two days, you need to find somewhere in the thick of the action. A central homestay would be the perfect place to take a breather amidst all the hustle and bustle: offering all the comforts of home and the chance to really live like a Londoner. Browse some of our finest homes and plan your stay now, or contact us to discuss your needs and we’ll help you find the perfect base!
Once you've dropped off your bags, you'll probably want to turn around and head straight out - not a moment to lose, after all! Here's our step-by-step-guide to your first 24 hours in the city...
Morning (Day One)
Immerse yourself in culture and history with a visit to London’s historic Tower of London, which is located on the north bank of the River Thames (closest underground station: Tower Hill).
Founded in 1066 during the Norman Conquest of England, the grounds were expanded over the next few hundred years, and now encompass several impressive buildings within two concentric circles of defensive walls, as well as a moat. Enjoy a trip through the Tower’s history by taking a tour with the famous Beefeaters (officially known as Yeoman Warders), and feast your eyes on the Crown Jewels, the White Tower (built by William the Conqueror in 1078), the ravens, the Armoury and more.
When you’ve had your fill of British monarchical history, take a leisurely walk over the stunning Tower Bridge, a fantastic example of a 19th-century combined bascule and suspension bridge - and one of the most iconic sights in London. Bask in the views as you stroll along the river to Southwark or, if you have some time, pop over to the HMS Belfast, a famous war ship that is now permanently docked on the River Thames.
You’re now just a stone’s throw from the many gourmet delights of Borough – perfect for lunch on the go. Borough Market, a world-famous foodie destination, is the capital’s oldest market (rumour has it that vendors have been trading on the site for over 1000 years). Open 52 weeks a year, six days a week, it houses almost every kind of product you could think of under one roof: from charcuterie to artisan cheeses, to street food, to freshly-made breads, cakes, and even ice cream. Even if you don’t want to sample any of Borough Market’s wares, a wander around this vibrant trading hub is an absolute must.
However, if you’d prefer to sit down and take a load off whilst you eat, there are a number of fantastic restaurants in the area, too. Padella Pasta, one of the most popular pasta bars in London, is well worth a visit. Specialising in super-fresh, home made pasta for an affordable price, this is the perfect place for a quick, delicious bite. The queue can be offputting – reservations aren’t taken – but service is fast, so it moves quickly. If you’re in the mood for top-notch tapas, head to Brindisa (where you’ll find everything from garlic prawns to patatas bravas); or, for a more leisurely lunch, try Hawksmoor, a London staple for great steak, cocktails, and excellent service.
Once you’ve eaten your fill, stretch your legs and wander along the Southbank. On the way, you’ll pass the historic Shakespeare’s Globe. This world-renowned performing arts venue is a clever reconstruction of the Elizabethan theatre that once existed on the exact same site, and is worth popping into: either for one of their theatre tours, which will give you unique insight into the workings of a real Tudor theatre, or to catch a matinee (some of which are performed in authentic costume).
If you’re in the mood for something a little more contemporary, the Tate Modern is a five-minute stroll along the river – and, as you walk, don’t forget to look to your right and take in the view (the famous Millennium Bridge, and beyond it, St Paul’s Cathedral, can be seen in between the Globe and the Tate!). A former power station, the Tate is almost as impressive from the outside as it is on the inside: this world-class modern and international art venue boasts an array of free displays, as well as special, seasonal exhibitions. There’s also a lovely café at the top of the building, with fabulous river views, if you wish to stop for a drink.
As day turns to dusk, you may find you’re in no hurry to move indoors - walking under the twinkling lights of the Southbank is a magical experience in its own right. However, if your tummy starts to rumble, never fear: there are a plethora of exciting eateries along the river or in nearby Waterloo.
For atmospheric dining with delicious cocktails and spectacular views, try the Oxo Tower, Sea Containers London, or Skylon. Or, for more rustic fare, hunker down for the evening in a cosy English pub: we recommend the Duke of Sussex or the Waterloo Tap (the latter of which is particularly famous for its craft beers).