How To Spend A Perfect Weekend In London

10 tips to enjoy a perfect weekend in London, United Kingdom

Big Ben - enjoy a perfect weekend in London

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It’s impossible not to love beautiful London. After all, United Kingdom’s capital is filled with everything one could possibly desire in a city, making it the perfect weekend destination. Never been? You should book a trip asap. Already been? Well, then you know what I’m talking about. And I’m confident you’re longing to go back for more.

London has got some of the best museums on the planet, a history that will leave you speechless, stunning architecture, incredible bars and restaurants, great shopping, and fun activities to keep you entertained for months.

Although a weekend trip to London is always a wonderful experience, there definitely are some pitfalls out there. In this post I’ve gathered some of the most useful knowledge I’ve learned from frequently visiting London, which will hopefully help make your trip even more delightful. Keep reading for my 10 best tips to enjoy a perfect weekend in London!

10 Tips To Enjoy A Perfect Weekend In London

After visiting London a dozen times you learn a few tricks. Here are 10 of my best tips on how to spend a perfect weekend in London. First time visitor or loyal re-visitor, I hope you find them useful!

Notting Hill pastel houses, weekend in London

1. Stay Somewhere Central

Picking accommodation in the outer parts of larger cities is both fun and budget friendly, but on weekend trips? Nope, time is too precious. For a weekend in London I recommend choosing a centrally located hotel, preferably in a neighbourhood you’re planning on spending time in anyways. This way you won’t waste too much time going back and forth, nor will you risk spending the money you save on expensive cabs if you miss the last tube. Six great options:

The Hoxton Shoreditch: Unique hotel in the fun and trendy neighbourhood Shoreditch. Their decor is to die for.
ibis Styles London Gloucester Road: Cool hotel in Kensington that won’t break the bank.
The Distillery: Quirky and stylish concept hotel in Notting Hill, one of the most charming parts of London. Adults only.
Hostel One Camden: High quality hostel in Camden, perfect if you’re on a budget and/or into making new friends. 
New Road Hotel: Budget friendly 4 star hotel with fun and stylish decor.
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard: The hotel to stay at if you’re in the mood to splurge. Has the best view of the city.

2. Avoid Planning A Packed Itinerary

Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Hyde Park, London Eye, Tower Bridge.. I’m sure the list of iconic things you want to experience in London is long. But similar to New York City it is physically impossible to see it all in one trip to London, and one of the most stressful things you can do is planning a packed itinerary. London is a city you’ll never wholeheartedly cross of your bucket list, and there will always be more left to explore no matter how many times you visit. Which is a good thing – it means you can revisit the city and have a blast every time. 

What to do instead: Figure out whats most important to you and pick a few favourites you need to see/do on this trip. Leave room in your schedule for the unexpected. Simply walking around exploring and seeing where the day takes you in-between checking out a few London landmarks is so much more enjoyable than stressing from sight to sight. Finding balance between sightseeing and living the life of locals is key.

Bonus tip: Plot any sights of interest into Google Maps on your phone, so that their location is easy to check if you find a spare moment in your day. Besides, many major London landmarks are closer to each other than you might think. 

London sunset

3. Don’t Miss Out On Events

There is always something fun happening in UK’s capital, and honestly, nothing sucks more learn that you missed out on an amazing event after leaving a city. Make sure you don’t miss out by checking whats going on when you’re in London. Who knows, maybe your favorite band is in town or there’s a fun food festival happening the same weekend?

4. Always Book Tickets In Advance

Decided on what London sights and activities you want to prioritize? Book your tickets in advance and choose «skip-the-line» tickets when possible. It will save your precious time and relieve you from the unnecessary stress of waiting in those awful on-site lines. Some popular activities may even sell out, like tickets to the Harry Potter studios tour or the theater.

5. Explore Charming Neighbourhoods

Like I mentioned above, central London sure has some iconic and historic sights worth experiencing. But don’t forget to find a balance between experiencing London landmarks and doing things locals do. Enjoy your weekend in London to the fullest while explore the many charming neighbourhoods and lovely parks beyond the biggest attractions. My favorites:

Shoreditch: Great mix of cool street art, unique restaurants and a fun nightlife.
Notting Hill: Beautiful area with pastel houses and a peaceful atmosphere.
Camden Town: Shopping at quirky Camden Market and taking a stroll along the canal is a must.
Mayfair, Soho & Covent Garden: Classic faves that never get old due to amazing shopping, bars and restaurants.
Marylebone: Filled with beautiful buildings, great restaurants and fun experiences including the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Regent’s park.

6. Use Public Transportation

Riding a black cab is somewhat of an iconic experience in London, but you can save time and money by using the city’s fantastic public transportation system instead. Using it is easy and all you need to do is purchase a so-called Oyster card, which is London’s odd choice of name for their transportation card. Get one once you arrive London or get one sent to you before your trip, and let «the tube» or a red double decker get you where you want to be in a matter of minutes.

Tips for the tube:
The tube is what Londoners call the London underground.
It consists of 11 color-coded lines that operate between 5am and 12.30am, and approx. 7.30-10.30 on Sundays.
The Night Tube runs on Fridays and Saturdays on some lines.
Avoid the tube during rush hour if possible.
Stand on the right side when riding the escalator on the tube, as the left side is ‘reserved’ passengers in a hurry.

7. Be Careful When Crossing The Street

Be careful when crossing the street in London. Keep in mind that they drive on the left in the UK, which means cars come from the opposite direction of where many of us expect them to. Please make it a habit to check both left and right before crossing any street from now on, and you’ll be safer whenever you travel.

8. Take Advantage Of The Amazing Places To Eat

You did not travel all the way to amazing London just to eat at a boring chain restaurant you have back home. London has world class restaurants, bars and pubs and you owe it to yourself to take advantage of the opportunity. Not that fancy? London’s still got you covered. The city has got something for every palate out there, I swear. Just don’t forget to make reservations.

Cafés & bakeries: Sketch, Saint Aymes, Elan Café, Dominique Ansel, Peggy Porschen.

Restaurants: Restaurant Story, Hello Darling, Redemption, Circolo Popolare, Epic Pies, Coppa Club, The Chiltern Firehouse, Dishoom, The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club, Sushisamba, Caravan Fitzrovia.

Pubs: Churchill Arms, The Three Greyhounds, Coach and Horses Mayfair, The Bloomsbury Tavern, The Sherlock Holmes, Ye Olde Cock Tavern, The George on the Strand, Ye Olde Mitre.

Unique spots: Cereal Killer (90s themed café with cereal in every menu item), Attendant Fitzrovia (Victorian toilet turned café), Archipelago (exotic dishes you need to try), Bob Bob Ricard (champagne button at each table).

9. See London From Above

You can’t spend a weekend in London without seeing the city from above at some point. Enjoying the view from Europe’s largest ferris wheel, London Eye, is likely the most popular choice. But there are other great options out there too:

Get breathtaking views by visiting SkyGarden, London’s highest public garden. Free tickets available here.
If you’re a little more of the adventurous type you might even enjoy climbing the roof of the O2 Arena.
Dine in the skies and book a table at one of the several restaurants located inside The Shard.

Big Ben - 10 tips to enjoy a perfect weekend in London

10. Shop Beyond Oxford Street

Don’t get me wrong, London’s main shopping street is great in many ways, and I’ve spent quite a few pounds there through the years. But its very crowded and after passing the hundredth chain store it gets kind of.. dull. Luckily for us shopping addicts out there London has a gazillion more shopping streets, shops and markets worth looking into:

Knightsbridge is filled with trendy shops. Walk down Brompton Road for a good mix of shops before popping by world famous department store Harrods. Head over to Sloane Street and Harvey Nichols for exclusive brands.

Mayfair is an upscale neighbourhood that puts the «s» in shopping. Shop designer brands in Bond Street, take a stroll along the charming boutiques of South Molton Street and Avery Row, and don’t forget to visit Burlington Arcade.

Soho is where you can find pretty much anything. Hit Carnaby Street and Regent Street for a good mix of shops, including the wonderful toy store Hamleys. Find high-end items at Liberty department store, or head straight to Berwick Street if vintage shops and record stores are more your thing. 

Markets: London is known for its many wonderful markets, including Portobello Road Market, Borough Market, Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard, Brick Lane Market, Camden Market, Old Spitalfields MarketLeadenhall Market.

Fun shops: The Notting Hill Book Shop, Daunt Books Marylebone, The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4 , House of Minalima, To Home From London, Cyberdog, Rough Trade East.

Girls walking down the South Bank, London

Got More Time To Explore?

If you have time, I highly recommend experiencing more of the United Kingdom before or after a weekend in London. Getting around the UK by bus or train is very easy and convenient, and a ton of incredible destinations are located just a few hours from London. My favorites are Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

There are also several amazing half-day and day tours available from London, including to the mysterious Stonehenge, the Roman baths, charming Cotswolds, Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, the castle from Downton Abbey, South Downs National Park, Oxford and Isle of Wight.

Like It? Pin It.

I hope you found my tips useful and I wish you an amazing weekend in London! Feel free to pin & save this post if you liked it. I appreciate every share.

Tina
Tina

Hi, I’m Tina! The chubby fingers behind this travel blog are attached to my body, so I guess that makes me a travel blogger? I enjoy exploring the corners of the world as often as I can, including my own ‘backyard’ in arctic Norway. And I hope you’ll join me on my adventures.

14 Comments

  1. May 11, 2020 / 9:48 am

    This was so useful Tina! I haven’t been to London yet but it’s actually on my list for long-weekend city trips. I love your “London from above”-tip! We always try to go up a big tower, building, hill etc. in a new place we visit, which is funny because I’m actually afraid of heights. However, I’m sure I could be persuaded to go for a ride in the London Eye 😉

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 9:56 am

      I’m the same way! I don’t love heights at all, but I have to see a destination from above every time I travel 😂 Thanks for reading 😄

  2. May 11, 2020 / 10:07 am

    Love this post! I haven’t been to London in several years, but this post is making me relive my memories 🙂 I loved Covent Garden and Notting Hill – those are definitely two must-sees on any London trip.

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 10:21 am

      Thanks Olivia! Ohh I agree, two lovely must-sees 😍

  3. May 11, 2020 / 10:47 am

    Some great tips in here! I haven’t visited London in a while, but there are plenty of things I want to do when I can eventually get back. I definitely echo your thoughts on not trying to pack in too much, moving around London can be exhausting!

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 10:53 am

      Thanks, Sarah ☺️ Oh for sure, it’s such a big city!

  4. May 11, 2020 / 1:13 pm

    This is such a great guide to London, and what beautiful photos! I have been to London many times but I always find it overwhelming choosing where to eat. When it’s safe to visit again I will be definitely taking a trip and coming here for inspiration. Thank you !

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 1:22 pm

      Thank you, Elle 🥰 Overwhelming is the perfect word – I always find it overwhelming to find places to eat when visiting big cities 😅 I always seek info from travel blogs 😄

  5. May 11, 2020 / 5:31 pm

    This is a great guide! I’m hoping to re-visit in August and needed this!
    Thank you!

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 6:12 pm

      Thank you! Glad you found it helpful 🥰😄 I hope you have an amazing trip!

  6. Melissa
    May 11, 2020 / 7:31 pm

    This is the PERFECT guide! All the information you need for a short trip! I can’t wait to travel again, and go to London!

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 10:02 pm

      Awee thank you so much Melissa ✨ SAME HERE!

  7. May 11, 2020 / 8:23 pm

    Great stuff! I lived in London for six months and these are all great tips. It’s such a wonderful city.

    • Tina
      Author
      May 11, 2020 / 10:03 pm

      How fun! I hope you had a great time. Thanks for reading 😄

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