Centuries of history, modern art, a diverse cultural scene, with just the right amount of nature sprinkled in – all of it makes London a traveller's paradise
A fast-paced metropolis laden with centuries of history, London melds the old and new. A traveller's dream, the English capital is packed with world-class things to see, do and experience. And summertime in the city is one of the best seasons to explore the best of London.
Conquering the city in 48 hours is almost insurmountable, but if you're looking to unlock the city's diverse character in a span of two days, our handy guide will help you make the most of your time.
The Tower of London is one of the best places to begin your visit. Ticking this item off your list earlier in the day is a great way to beat the crowds and queues that line up to see the priceless collections of jewellery, tiaras and sceptres that make up the Crown Jewels (many of which are used even today by the British Royal Family). Steeped in history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been a royal residence, fortress, treasury, prison and zoo over the years. For insight into its past, join a Yeoman Warder's tour, which takes place every 30 minutes.
From here, take the London Tube to Westminster, which will leave you right by Big Ben, the clock tower that is now officially known as Elizabeth Tower. Stay until the top of the hour to hear the famous bells chime. Continue walking to get to Westminster Abbey, which is at the heart of the country's royal and religious life. The structure dates back to the 13th century, and every corner tells a story, as it has served as the venue for 16 royal weddings and the final resting place for 17 monarchs.
If you're on foot, a quick walk through St. James Park will bring you to Buckingham Palace. No trip to the English capital is complete without viewing the majestic home of the British Royals. The Changing of the Guard – an age-old ritual of the regiment swapping shifts outside the palace – takes place at 10:45am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Tours of the palace are available on select dates, so be sure to check the schedule before planning.
If you continue walking from Buckingham Palace, you can easily make your way to Hyde Park. It is here where the locals can be found in their element, taking in the expansive 142 hectares, idling away the hours. Set right in the heart of London, the park offers plenty to do. Here, you will find boating activities, horse riding lessons and an opportunity to brave an open water swim in the Serpentine Lake. There is also a memorial to Princess Diana as well as a memorial to Prince Albert. The park also hosts a regular roster of events and concerts. And with plenty of spots to unwind, it is a great place to usher in the evening.
After sunset, head to one of the city's busiest hubs – the famous Piccadilly Circus, which is known for its iconic advertising screens. London's equivalent to New York's Times Square, this unique location has appeared in several British films, including Harry Potter. An evening walking tour is a great way to take in the vibe of the area. Don't miss the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, which is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the centre of the district, as well as the two giant fountains that light up Trafalgar Square.
Escape the buzz of the city and head to one of Europe's largest urban wetland nature reserves. A favourite among Londoners looking for a quick getaway, Walthamstow Wetlands has all the feels of the English countryside, although it's only a short tube ride from Zone 1. The peaceful oasis is home to more than 50 different species of birds, from kingfishers to peregrine falcons, wildfowl and more.
Head back to the city and make your way to London's Natural History Museum – which is a great option if you're travelling with little ones. Adults will be equally mesmerised by the display as the exhibits take you back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. It is packed with all kinds of specimens of creatures both big and small, as well as an animatronic T-rex that is the highlight of the showcase.
From the past through to the present, the much-loved Tate Modern museum is a shrine to contemporary art. Set right on the River Thames, the space itself is artistically designed, and it houses a free-to-view permanent collection of 60,000 masterpieces created by the likes of Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock.
After soaking up the artistic inspiration, spend the afternoon looking for the best finds at one of the city's most beloved shopping destinations. Located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, the world renowned department store Harrods houses over 3,000 brands encompassing clothing, accessories, luxury goods, beauty picks, fine jewellery, watches, furniture and more.
For souvenirs, Covent Garden boasts everything from market stalls run by talented artisans selling handicrafts and counters selling local produce to boutique stores. Jubilee Market in Covent Garden is one of the best places to look for unique trinkets to take home with you.
End the day with London's favourite tourist activity – 30 minutes on the London Eye. It's a must, especially for first-time visitors to the city. The observation wheel, which stands 135 metres above London, provides spectacular views of iconic landmarks from its glass capsules, including the Tower Bridge, Thames River, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and, weather permitting, Windsor Castle.
Room for more
If you're travelling to London in July, don't miss the chance to see the world's top tennis players in action at Wimbledon, which runs from July 3 to 16 this year.
For a memorable evening unlike any other, head to West End to catch one of its world-class theatre productions. It is the home of the classics, including Matilda, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, The Lion King and Wicked.
London's hospitality scene will soon welcome two new Rotana properties. Launching under the group's Centro brand, the new hotels, Centro New Malden and Centro Kingston, will open in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
Centro New Malden, situated right across from the New Malden Railway Station, will offer 70 distinctly designed apartments furnished to a four-star hotel standard, with fully equipped kitchens and separate living and bedroom areas. Centro Kingston is located along the north edge of Coombe Road in Kingston upon Thames and will feature 31 highly distinctive apartments.