My main present for Julian's birthday on November 2nd was a weekend in London. He has never been to London and it's my favorite city ever that I just needed to show him, so it was basically the best present ever. I love to give and receive time together and if it's spend traveling it's even more amazing. I chose to book the second weekend in January and not the Christmas time, since on Christmas there are already so many great activities at home and I thought that after New Year in January it would be lovely to have something to look forward to.
Even though two days in London will always be too short, we actually saw a lot and could get a great picture of the city in this short amount of time. I obviously already knew most of the touristy places, but we also had the time to discover some hidden gems. We flew in on Saturday very early in the morning and out Sunday evening just staying one night, so it haven't really been 48 hours in the city (I just liked the sound of it for the title). But from Berlin it's a very short flight so that the trip is not very time consuming at all.
Since a weekend in London would be something a lot of people from Europe would like to do or even from more far away as one quick stage of a longer journey, I thought it would be great to share what we packed into the two days. We knew before that we wouldn't have enough time to do everything so we actually looked at the map and wrote in all the places that were on top of our list. That included breakfast spots, restaurants for dinner, touristy attractions, shops and places we liked to visit. Afterwards we could see the best way to walk or drive on both days and we knew where we needed to make reservations and where to eat. Nothing worse than being in a new city getting veeeeery hangry and don't know were to go. Making yourself a small itinerary is always useful when traveling and that doesn't mean you can't get spontaneous and lost in the streets, it's just to have an idea and some foolproof emergency solutions and will save you a lot of time.
Breakfast at Farm Girl Café - Portobello
We started our Saturday with a good second breakfast at a very on trend café on Portobello Road, which is actually lovely to visit as well. All of the colored houses (especially the pink ones) won my heart right away. Since you can't make a reservation at Farm Girl Café you need to plan about 20-30 minutes waiting time, but it's worth it. The food was delicious!
Walk through Notting Hill & Kensington
After our delicious breakfast we were in the perfect area for a long walk. First we made a quick stopover to Portobello market and afterwards we walked South through the gorgeous streets of Notting Hill, past the Kensington Palace and into Kensington. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of this trip since I was astonished by all the pretty house and couldn’t stop photographing all the doors. The British definitely know the good design of an entrance.
Next up we decided it was time for some touristy sights and the closest thing on our map was Buckingham Palace. Since I finished the second season of The Crown over Christmas I was overly excited to see it again. It’s such a majestic building and I love to imagine all of the bygone times. If you’re a little bit obsessed with the English history and the royal family, like I am, it’s a must visit.
Westminster Abbey & Big Ben
From Buckingham Palace you can take a stroll through St. James’s Park to the next point on the agenda: Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. While walking there you will pass the perfect typical red phone boxes for a great photo opportunity. The area around Westminster Abbey is stunningly beautiful and you’ll get an even better view of Big Ben when walking over the Westminster Bridge looking back. Sadly the were construction works while we stayed, so we chose the other side with the London Eye in the background as our couple holiday picture (haha). I definitely would have loved to have the historical building in the background much more.
Soho & Piccadilly Circus
Afterwards you can take the tube to Piccadilly Circus and wander through the streets of Soho stopping for a little snack or beer. We couldn’t pass a pub named John Snow and the atmosphere was so cozy inside. You definitely feel shifted into another era and while we drank our beer we talked to some lovely people. That’s something I experienced in the whole city – everyone is so nice, helpful and open.
Shopping at Carnaby St. & Regent St.
After the beer at Jon Snow you can walk right into Carnaby Street up to the department store Liberty’s, which is the most adorable one you’ll ever see. Up next the shops at Regent Street are a must for every shopaholic. You can find some of my favorite stores, like Ted Baker, Reiss, Kate Spade, J.Crew, Anthropologie and Tory Burch. I definitely left some money here!
Dinner near King’s Cross
At that point your feet will probably kill you and it’s time for dinner. Since it’s Saturday evening you should make a reservation a few days before. We got a restaurant called German Gymnasium near King’s Cross recommended. I was sceptic first since I don’t like German food and thought, why go to a German restaurant in London? But it isn’t typical German food at all. More of a fusion kitchen and the interior and service is immaculate. Afterwards we wanted to make a quick trip to platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross, but I was whacked and just wanted to sleep. So our day ended here. If you’re blessed with much more energy than I was, you could definitely take some drinks at a bar in the evening.
Breakfast at Coppa
Since the Tower of London area was on our agenda for Sunday we decided to have breakfast at Coppa, which is right nearby. If you’re a bigger group, you should try to reserve one of the “bubbles” outside, where you’ll have a lovely view over the Thames and Tower Bridge.
Tower of London & Tower Bridge
If you’re only staying for a weekend, there won’t be enough time to go into the Tower of London (also on my list), but it’s lovely to walk down the riverside. I always imagine Anne Boleyn and all of the other poor people passing the river gate of the Tower before they were beheaded inside. It was a cruel time and you can’t even think of what have happened inside. Next stop is the Tower Bridge right next to it and also a perfect photo opportunity.
When you walk over the Tower Bridge you can head right and walk up the Thames in the other direction again. That’s the best way to get to the Tate museum. We just wanted to have a quick look inside and you can only choose a few rooms and exhibitions to look at since it’s huge. If you really want to take your time to visit some museums, you should stay longer than a weekend.
Since the Tate Museum is right next to the Millennium Bridge (aka the Harry Potter Bridge) we walked to the other side again and took a red double decker bus to Mayfair next.
Also a charming little neighborhood that we had a quick stop at before heading to the airport. Again full of cute doors, charming buildings and little shops. I would have loved to experience it more, but sadly our London weekend ended here.
What we missed and need to do next time
I can’t believe it, since it was on top of my list, but we walked so much and wanted to see so many things, that we actually missed having a typical British afternoon tea. That’s the only thing I really really would have loved to fit into the weekend. But if you’re faster at one point or able to skip something, you could definitely do this on one of the two days.
I would have loved to go into more museums, especially about the history of England. On top of my list are the Tower of London and the National Portrait Gallery.
More shopping time
The stores and brands you can find in London are right up my alley. We just had a little window on Saturday for shopping and I could have gone on and on discovering the stores for a lot longer.