How to Spend 48 Hours in London on a Budget?

The weekend’s finally here and it’s time to make the most of those precious days away from your desk. With plenty of excitement and activities — many of which are free — London is a great place to make the most of your 48 hours of freedom!

At London Bites, we know how important it is to enjoy the weekend without breaking the bank. As locals living in the capital city, we’ve compiled our favourite places to visit in a limited amount of time.

We love exploring the city through our stomachs, so we’ve included some tasty food recommendations alongside each place. Our Foodie Tours of London are a wallet-friendly, fun way to sate your hunger for culture and lunch! 

Each of our tours is customisable to suit your walking needs and food tolerances. If you need a little more information about what we do, why not get in touch? We’re happy to share our history and unique way of navigating London’s bustling streets.

Explore the East End’s Criminal Past and Culinary Delights

London’s East End is one of the most famous parts of the city. Beyond the trendy streets of Shoreditch, the East End is a culinary melting pot of South Asian, Jewish, and Vietnamese food. The cuisine reflects the diverse history of this vibrant area and the communities living here.

One of our favourite Sunday morning activities is to head to Columbia Road Flower Market and pick up a new plant pal. After you’ve squeezed your way out of the colourful street, stroll down the road to Brick Lane and grab a bagel from one of the oldest Jewish bakeries in Britain.

Head further into Whitechapel to discover the grizzly past of Jack the Ripper and the Kray Twins. The Kray Twins regularly frequented The Blind Beggar pub, where you can have a pint, chat with the locals, and hear stories of the infamous crime duo. 

If you want to explore this buzzing inner-city through your tastebuds, our London East End Food Tour runs every Saturday. Stopping off at six of our favourite locally-run businesses, our tours pepper history alongside delicious bites, giving you a full flavour profile of the East End.

Brick Lane Bagel Shop window

Marvel at Greenwich’s Maritime History and Food Market

Famous for its naval history and sprawling green spaces, Greenwich is a lovely south London spot to visit if you only have 48 hours. Located along the River Thames, visitors can pay to step aboard the 19th-century clipper, the Cutty Sark, and learn about its role in shipping tea.

There’s also a covered food market where you can sample all kinds of world food. We like to pick up a snack and head to the river to watch the world go by. Sate your need for all things green in Greenwich park, which covers 74 acres and has beautiful panoramas of the whole city.

Busy Greenwich street, London with Cutty Sark in the background

Soak Up Some Free Art at the Tate Modern

If you want a double dose of iconic buildings, we recommend starting at St Paul’s Cathedral and crossing the Millennium Bridge to see the permanent, free collections at the Tate Modern. From the bridge over the Thames, you can turn your head to see both the iconic cathedral dome and the imposing former power station that is now the Tate.

With five floors full of art from sculpture to surrealism, this bastion of modern art is a must-see for any culture vulture. The views from the top floor are also stunning. After you’ve walked around the museum, visit the viewing platform to see the iconic City of London skyline.   

The Tate Modern is round the corner from the delectable Borough Market that’s open almost every day of the year. From tacos and butchers to organic wine and tapas, this London staple has a flavour for everyone.

Tate Modern, London

Breathe In the Fresh Air on Hampstead Heath

This north London spot is one of natural splendour. The ancient heath spans 320 hectares and is one of the highest points in London. The length runs from Hampstead to Highgate – home of the famous cemetery. So if you want to visit Karl Marx’s grave on your London weekend, this is the place to be!

If you want to indulge in a spot of wild swimming, Hampstead is home to three natural bathing ponds and a lido. After a dip, walk up Parliament Hill via the food market for a snack to accompany a stunning view of the city.

Trees in Hampstead Heath, London

Live Your Neon Dream at God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow

While this is no longer one of London’s best-kept secrets, God’s Own Junkyard is well worth the tube ride to the north end of the Victoria line. The proprietor, Chris Bracey, has been collecting and procuring neon signs for over 37 years, with many recognisable highlights in the gallery. 

Film fans can see the signs from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and the 1989 Batman. After you’ve snapped your next profile pic, drop into the Junkyard’s cafe – The Rolling Scones Cafe/Bar for a drink. And best of all, this neon wonderland is free to enter!

God's Own Junkyard, Walthamstow neon signs

We hope our recommendations have inspired you to cram as much into your 48 hours in London as possible. The city is full of fun activities and flavours. From free museums to our London East End Food Tour, we guarantee you’ll have a great weekend whatever you choose. 

If you’re finalising your quick trip to London or need a little more help finessing the details, why not get in touch with us? As local Londoners, we know the city like the back of our hand and are more than happy to provide some delicious recommendations!

Tate Modern, London