Discover the best things to do on a 48-hour break in London with SWR

48 hours in London

28 January 2022

If you’re looking for ideas for a weekend away with your partner, your family or your friends, then where better than our very own capital city? London is a haven of glorious galleries, magnificent museums, picturesque palaces and iconic landmarks, not to mention picturesque parks and gardens, a fabulous food scene and so much more! There really is something for everybody to enjoy, no matter your age, your interests or your budget. 

While it’ll be hard to squeeze all of London’s highlights into just two days, our 48-hour itinerary is jam-packed full of some of the very best things to do in London and features the perfect balance of history, culture, food and sightseeing – with a bit of shopping thrown in for good measure. Catch the train to London Waterloo to begin your adventure!

Day 1: Your first day in London

Spend the morning at the Tate Modern

View of the Tate Modern from the north bank of the Thames

There’s no better way to begin your weekend in London than with a spot of culture. From Waterloo, stroll along Southbank and take in the sights of Big Ben, the London Eye and St Paul’s (to name just a few), and in 20 minutes’ time you’ll be stood outside the wonder that is the Tate Modern. Marvel at its magnificent architecture before heading inside to explore its contemporary art displays from around the world. Book tickets to any special exhibitions ahead of your visit, and don’t miss the panoramic views from the viewing platform.

Discover Borough Market

Entrance to Borough Market

Once you’ve finished exploring the awe-inspiring Tate Modern, wander a little further along the Thames to Borough Market. Dating back to the thirteenth century, London’s oldest food market is the perfect spot to grab some lunch. Spend some time meandering through the market halls, checking out the variety of food and drink on offer. Take your pick from the scrumptious street food and artisanal produce and find a spot along the river to sit and enjoy your chosen treats.

Visit the Tower of London

The Tower of London at night, seen from the south bank of the Thames

After a morning of modern art, take yourself back in time and explore the 900-year-old Tower of London - one of London’s most popular attractions. Cross over London Bridge and you’ll be there in just 15 minutes. See the world-famous Crown Jewels up close, meet the legendary Yeoman Warders (also known as Beefeaters) and ravens and learn all about the Tower’s past life as the keeping place of some of history’s most infamous prisoners.

Walk over Tower Bridge

View of Tower Bridge

Right on the doorstep of the Tower of London is Tower Bridge – one of London’s most recognisable landmarks. Fortunately it’s just as impressive in real life as it is in photos, and if you’re feeling daring you can even walk along the 42-metre-high walkway for incredible views along the river! If you’re really lucky and time it right, you might get to experience the suspension bridge lifting up to allow a ship to pass through.

Dinner at Padella

Interior of Padella's restaurant

Head back along the river to London Bridge (it’s a 15-minute walk or you can jump on the number 47, 381 or 343 bus for 5 minutes if your legs are getting tired) and finish your first day in London with dinner at Padella. This carb lover’s paradise has become somewhat of an institution in the last few years, so prepare to queue. Thanks to their virtual queuing system, you won’t have to stand and wait on the street – instead you can pass the time with a pre-dinner drink at one of the numerous bars or pubs in the area. This pasta is worth the wait – trust us!

Day 2: Your second day in London

Take a walk in St James’s Park

St James's Park

With roughly 3,000 parks to choose from in London, you have more than enough in the way of options for your morning stroll! Our pick of the bunch for your second day in London is St James’s Park, which is at the heart of the city and is surrounded by some of London’s top landmarks. Grab a coffee from one of the park’s cafés, spot scurrying squirrels and the resident pelicans and admire Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Horse Guard’s Parade and The Mall as you complete a lap of the park.  

Brunch in Feya, Knightsbridge

Front of Feya's Cafe in Knightsbridge

After your morning excursions waving at royals, you deserve a wholesome brunch to keep you going for the rest of the day. Check out this glamorous café for the ultimate Instagrammable experience – try Feya’s Rose Avo Toast or their pancakes for the money shot! And if you’re in the mood to celebrate, why not make it bottomless? To get here, it’s a 30-minute walk, or alternatively you can hop on the tube to Knightsbridge or South Kensington.

Visit the Natural History Museum

Hintz Hall, Natural History Museum

All fuelled up? Take an eight-minute stroll to the Natural History Museum and brush up on your knowledge of all things natural and historic. This museum is absolutely jam-packed full of wonders., so say hello to Hope (the giant whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall), come face to face with dinosaurs and delve into the museum’s impressive fossil collection. While you’re in the area – known as the Museum Quarter – consider popping into the V&A and the Science Museum too!

Shop ‘til you drop on Oxford Street

Oxford Circus pedestrian crossing

The city is brimming with amazing shopping spots, but when you’re visiting for a weekend, there’s no better place to go in London than Oxford Street. Hop on the tube to Oxford Circus and find all your high street (and high end) favourites on this famous road and on Regent Street. Wander into Soho for hipster haunts on Carnaby Street, and nip into Liberty or Selfridges if the weather takes a turn. Get stocked up on souvenirs, presents and all the latest fashion.

Dinner at Harry’s Bar

Interior of Harry's Bar, Bond Street

Give your weekend in London the finale it deserves with a delectable dinner at Harry’s Bar. This famous Italian restaurant, right by Bond Street station, offers Italian food in an upscale, Mediterranean-style space. It’s a favourite amongst Londoners, and it’s not hard to see why. Tuck into Italian classics as you rest your weary legs and reminisce about your wonderful weekend. Then all that’s left to do is catch the train home.

We hope we’ve inspired you with our guide of things to do in London over the course of a weekend! If you’re ready to get planning, then explore our flexible range of ticket types to find the right one for your journey and book your train tickets today. And remember that if you have a Railcard, you could save even more on your fare.