London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its center stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
It’s pretty tough to pick the best things to do in London, let alone trying to do it in two days. Here’s our itinerary for our 2 days exploring London.
Changing of the Guard in Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the most famous palace in the UK and serves as the primary London residence for the reigning sovereign of the United Kingdom. The royal palace dates back to 1703 and was originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham, but was later acquired by King George III. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to officially reside in the palace.
After breakfast in our Hotel in Victoria area, we walked to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guard. There is always a large crowd waiting for this so we need to be there early before 11am. The Changing of the Guard Ceremony takes place, weather permitting, at 11.00 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily in the summer at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and lasts about 45 minutes. The detailed schedule is in the British Army Website. We are going to watch it from the Guard house which would be the starting point and also has less crowds.
Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square
From Buckingham Palace we strolled thru St James Park which was just across. St James Park is the oldest Royal Park in London and is surrounded by three palaces. The most ancient is Westminster, which has now become the Houses of Parliament, St James’s Palace and of course, the best known, Buckingham Palace. The park is also a tranquil place to simply relax in a deckchair and watch the world go by. The flower beds and shrubberies are enjoyed by visitors all the year round.
Parliament Square is located across St James Park, opposite end of Buckingham Palance. It is a well known public square in Westminster that is easy to get to via public transport and is a stop on all the main sightseeing buses as well. Around the square you could find the statues of a number of famous people, including Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Peel, and Gandhi.
This popular square is surrounded by famous buildings, such as Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, the UK Supreme Court, and the Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament, is probably best know for its famous Big Ben bell which sits within the iconic golden Elizabeth Tower.
The South Bank and London Eye
The London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, is a cantilevered observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. It is Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, and is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3 million visitors annually.
Beside the River Thames, the South Bank is a dynamic area at the heart of London’s cultural scene. The Southbank Centre, National Theatre, and BFI film theatre are all world-class arts venues. The riverside walkway is lined with trees, restaurants and historic pubs, and is the site of frequent fairs and events.
South Bank at Dust
Museum Day – Sherlock Holmes and Madame Tussaud
Sari and I were both big fans of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s Sherlock Holmes in BBC. So going to Sherlock Holmes museum at Baker street and taking picture at the Baker Street Tube Station is a must to do list.
Madame Tussaud museum
London was running a promotion of Pay 1 for 2 for many attractions if you have train tickets traveling to/from London. As we were taking a train from Ascot to London we were eligible for the promotion. I have printed the vouchers before coming in to London so we only paid 1 for 2 to enter the Madame Tussaud museum.
Take a picture at Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross stations
If you are Harry Potter’s fan this is a must do activity! You would find the Platform 9 3/4 at the Train Station at Kings Cross. They have set up a specific photo spot and props for all the tourist to take pictures. They also offer photographed service for a fee.