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2 Days in London

I know there is no way this is enough time to spend but we will be in London for 2 days in May at the end of a tour of Ireland and British Isles cruise. I’ve made a list of the things we’d like to see while there:

  • St Pauls Cathedral w/tour
  • Westminster Walk including Big Ben & Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street
  • Westminster Abbey w/tour
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Tower Bridge tour
  • Tower of London tour
  • Thames Cruise
  • London Eye or View from The Shard

It is quite overwhelming to try and put together an itinerary. My best estimate for now is that we will arrive at our hotel (near Millennium Bridge) by 10am on Monday May 9 and have until bedtime on Tuesday May 10 to visit sites.

My questions are:

  1. Is the London Pass worth the cost for this number of sites? I’ve calculated the cost of the pass vs individual tickets and it is less expensive but if it’s not realistic that we have time for the tours that changes the worth of the pass
  2. Would it be smarter to take the full tour on the HOHO bus first before making any stops - then go back to the sites?
  3. Would you recommend the Westminster Walk itinerary for the first or second day?
  4. Which is better for the view of London - the Eye or the Shard?

Thanks for any advice!

Posted by
1236 posts

I'll bite.
Piccadilly Circus is really nothing special. If you go past it that is great, but it's not a must see. Same for Tower Bridge, the best way to see it is a walk along the Thames. And IMO so is Buckingham Palace.

I would recommend Westminster Abbey or St Pauls. I liked the London Eye but haven't been up in the Shard so can't say much.

Of all, I would definitely recommend the Tower of London and to go early Wednesday if possible. It would be a shame not to walk in a Royal Park(St James is a favorite) as they are one of the best things about the city.

For the number of days you have I'd forget about the London Pass. As for the HI-Ho bus, I've always just taken the regular no 6 bus to see the sights.

Posted by
5538 posts

You probably don't have enough time to do all of this, so you will need to prioritize what is most important to you.

Monday, May 9th Due to your hotel's location, I would start with St Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London/Tower Bridge. Finish off with a Thames cruise and you are done for the day
Tuesday, May 10th Head up to Westminster Abbey. Do your walk and your tour. Then enjoy the area around Buckingham Palace. Move on to Piccadilly Circus.
Personally, I would not do the hop on/hop off bus or the London Eye or the Shard. There are better uses of your time. If you have any interest in World War II, I might try to sneak in the Churchill War Rooms which are close to Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you to those who have responded so quickly. I appreciate the recommendation to skip the HOHO bus as well as the London Pass. Those will definitely save us some money. I like the idea of more walking rather than waiting on busses that may not be reliable. A couple in our group may not be up for walking too much - if so we will do the local bus. Thanks also for the other suggestions/advice - it is much appreciated!

I wish we had planned for more days so that we could see more but the taste of London I expect will give us the desire to return again some day!

Posted by
964 posts

If you want a good aerial view of London, I recommend the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street (otherwise more popularly known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’). For starters unlike the Shard and the Eye, it’s free. However, you need to book in advance and there is airline style security on the way in. See the website - search ‘Sky Garden London’.

There is a bar and a restaurant up there but they only accept cashless payments. Views on a clear day are really impressive!

If you are capable, then London rewards exploration on foot. Given London’s traffic, walking may be as quick as any bus!


Posted by
74 posts

Another option for a free view is the rooftop terrace at One New Change. It's very close to St.Paul's too!

Posted by
2761 posts

Rick's books and videos cover this, and so much more

Posted by
4186 posts

One can get a good view of the city from the Sky Garden too. It is free and you can schedule a visit online up to 3 weeks before you visit.

Posted by
647 posts

As an FYI, Big Ben is almost completely free of scaffolding now, and looking good.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the additional replies. I did check the website for the Sky Garden and unfortunately they are closed both evenings that we will be there. One New Change does have some good looking restaurants so that could allow us to go for dinner and also a view.

Great news about the scaffolding being removed from Big Ben!

Posted by
28131 posts

rather than an evening I'd book a daytime Sky Garden, perhaps after you finish the Tower of London. You will be familiar with The City skyline by then, especially if you walk the parapets (and squeamish children in the party might want to skip lightly past the plaque with the details of the WW2 executions of spies just below) you'll have a great view of Tower Bridge and the skyline.

Then when you go up to the Sky Garden in daylight you will be able to look down on the Tower of London and pick out where you just were. Great views up there, and they don't rush you out.

Question about your Tower of London tour. As a member there I greatly appreciate the free, frequent and great fun Beefeaters Tours given by actual Beefeaters - no actors there. Presumably you are talking about a paid tour form an outside company. Do you know what they offer that the Beefeaters don't, and as I said the Beefeater experience is included in your normal ticket.

Another thumbs down on HoHo buses. In addition to infrequent and very expensive, they aren't allowed to use the bus lanes which are so handy for London Transport buses. For less than £2 each on an Oyster or contactless you can go upstairs to the front of the bus and gaze out of the picture windows at what is - slowly - passing. A great deal.

Posted by
870 posts

I agree that a stroll through St. James Park is lovely. If you are visiting Buckingham, it's right there.