Believe it or not, it can be done! I’d encourage my fellow travelers to allow an extra day or two if time allows, but if not, put on your running shoes 🙂 For me, traveling to Europe has to include multiple stops. In planning an Ireland vacation, we decided to add an extra 2 days to stop off in London. I think we had a total of 40 hours or so in London … it was a whirlwind, but we hit a lot of the major destinations and had a blast!
After landing in the afternoon, checking in and freshening up – we hit the town! My partner had friends in London – so we met somewhere near the Westminster Tube, strolled around and grabbed a bite, and got to see River Thames, Big Ben & the House of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) and the London Eye as evening set in. We strolled around and stumbled upon the Sherlock Holmes Pub which was exactly what I pictured a London pub to be like – young drunks stumbling out, the interior smelling of sweet old beer, and a charming exterior!
I too have a friend in England – about an hour and a half outside of London, whom I haven’t seen in 15 years. When I told him I would be in London for 2 days, he insisted on spending some time with us. I figured we would hang out for a few hours … but his agenda was a bit different. We met around 8:30am and didn’t stop touring until 7:30ish… I was exhausted, but glad we got to see so many hotspots!
We started the day with the 8:00am Holy Communion Service at Westminster Abbey. It was really neat to sit in this amazing historical site and participate in such a special ceremony. It was a quick service – and this is a free opportunity to get into the Abbey!
After the service we strolled to Whitehall to watch the Horse Guards Parade, and then to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards. Though both spots were packed with tourists – it was really neat to experience this tradition. And yes, we took the obligatory photo with the guard. Poor guy…
We then hit Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. We just peeked in so I could see an original Van Gogh – but I wish we would have spent more time there. We grabbed a quick bite (fish & chips of course…) and were on our way.
Next we went to the Tate Modern museum – but just the inside’s outside…. We had to walk through the museum to get to this amazing outdoor space – with people picnicking, kids playing in the water and people sunbathing. (I’m going off memory but I think this is behind the Tate Modern…)
Next we strolled along the River Thames, attempted to get a beverage at an overly packed bar – failed. Enjoyed some seasoned street nuts… whatever they were, they’re delicious, and ended up at Tower Bridge. Crossed over and saw the Tower of London (not much of a tower…), St. Paul’s Cathedral, and wrapped up our last evening with a delicious meal of Guinness stew and sausage with colcannon. We walked over 7 miles and were completely exhausted!
For our final day we didn’t have to head out until noonish – so we decided to head back to Trafalgar Square, and to our joy, stumbled upon Covent Gardens. You must go here! We strolled through the little shops, and ended up getting some coffee & pastries and just hanging out. Loved this spot!
It was a whirlwind but we had an incredible time in London!