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If you know anything about England then you’ll almost certainly know that, unfortunately, it’s a country which gets more than its fair share of rain, which can be a bit of a downer if you were planning a holiday or even a day out in its exciting capital city of London.
But don’t let a little bit of rain ruin your trip completely. There are plenty of great things to do in London even when it’s raining and miserable outside.
So escape the dreary British weather with 16 of the best rainy day activities London has to offer…
The best things to do in London when it rains
Wondering what to do in London in the rain? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.
Head to one of London’s world-class museums
Without a doubt one of the best things to do in London on a rainy day is to hit up one of the capital’s many incredible museums. There are plenty of options to choose from all across the city, so whether you’re interested in art, history, science or even more niche and obscure topics, there’s a museum in London that is guaranteed to tickle your fancy.
To fill an entire day with minimal time spent outside, my personal recommendation would be heading to South Kensington’s Museum Mile where you can visit three of London’s top museums all in one area; the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A gallery.
Plus, most of London’s best museums are completely free, making a trip to the museum one of the most budget-friendly things to do in London in the rain.
Go shopping for vintage clothes at Spitalfields Market
There are a few indoor markets in London you could visit when it rains, but Spitalfields is definitely among the best.
The large Spitalfields Market is comprised of two main sections; Old Spitalfields Market, a quirky covered market with plenty of fashion and food traders housed inside one of the best surviving Victorian Market Halls in the city, and Spitalfield’s Traders Market, which homes a range of independent traders selling unique, artisan and hand-crafted goods.
There are also a few permanent restaurants and bars in the market to sit and enjoy some food while you wait for the bad weather to pass.
Eat your way around Borough Market
Borough Market, located close to London Bridge on the south bank of the River Thames, is one of the largest and oldest food markets in the capital and definitely one of the best places to visit in London on a rainy day.
With a large portion of the market covered by a glass roof, you can easily spend hours wandering around enjoying the sights and smells of the many traders, with everything from locally produced fruit and veg to delicious international products including French pastries, cheeses from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, South Tyrolian charcuterie and Grenadian jams. Don’t miss the samples!
Then once you’re done exploring the bustling market, head to one of the hot food traders and pick up some Middle Eastern meze, Taiwanese bao or Mexican tacos for lunch, finished with a glass of wine or two at Bedales of Borough wine bar and shop.
You could also opt for a Borough Market guided tour combined with a distillery tour and gin tasting at the near-by Beefeater Gin Distillery.
Visit Europe’s largest shopping center
If you enjoy a bit of shopping, ditch rainy Oxford Street and head indoors to Europe’s biggest shopping center; Westfield Stratford City. Located in East London, Westfield is an impressive 2.6 million sq ft in size and has over 330 shops, 50 restaurants and an 11 screen cinema to keep you entertained.
Or if you’re staying in West London, you could also pop by Westfield Stratford City’s slightly smaller (yet still huge!) little brother in White City.
Or take a browse around the capital’s most luxury department store
Harrods is a large department store located in the high-end neighbourhood of Knightsbridge and is the most popular shopping destination of London’s extremely wealthy residents.
However, even if you’re not looking to fork out £2,000 on a new Gucci bag, Harrods is a great place for a spot of window shopping. Wander through the floors of gorgeous designer clothes, play with the latest tech on the technology floor (my favourite area) and grab a pastry at the luxurious food court.
Cosy up with a coffee and cake in one of London’s cutest cafes
When you quickly need to escape a little bit of drizzle outside, there’s nothing quite like diving into one of London’s many cute and cosy cafes for a warming coffee and delicious dessert.
Check out my other post for London’s prettiest pink cafes you should definitely visit.
Or stop for a proper British afternoon tea
Go one step further than the simple coffee and cake with a proper British afternoon tea.
If you’re not sure what that consists of, afternoon tea is an old British tradition which involves sitting down to a selection of quaint finger sandwiches, small savoury bites, scones with cream and jam, mini cakes and a pot of tea (and maybe even a glass of bubbles if you’re feeling fancy) mid-afternoon.
While afternoon tea is no longer an everyday occurrence for most people in the UK anymore, it is somewhat of a novelty reserved for the wealthy, special occasions and of course curious tourists.
Some of the best London afternoon teas include:
- Afternoon tea at the Ritz – expensive but worth it for the most luxury and quintessentially British afternoon experience in London.
- An afternoon tea bus tour of London on a classic red London bus.
- An afternoon tea cruise down the River Thames.
Skate, Dine and Bowl at Queens
Tucked away in the area of Bayswater in West London, spending an afternoon at Queens is like reliving all of your childhood birthday parties at once.
Start with bowling in one of the neon-clad bowling alleys, enjoy a game of air hockey in the retro arcade, go ice-skating (or give ice-karting a try) in London’s only year-round ice rink, then feast on one of London’s best burgers at MEATliquor Queensway.
All within one building. What could be better than spending a miserable day in the city at Central London’s ‘biggest one-stop fun shop’?
Test your problem-solving skills with an Escape Room
An escape room is one of the most fun and unique ways to spend a rainy day in London, and there are plenty of cool escape rooms around the capital to test your problem-solving skills.
Here are a few of the best escape rooms in London:
- The capital’s new Sherlock Holmes escape room will have you feeling like a real-life detective as you solve mysteries inside immersive sets from the hit British show.
- Lady Chastity’s Reserve is an unusual 18+ rated escape room in the hidden back room of a pub and described as “The Crystal Maze on Crystal Meth”… I’ll let you experience the rest yourself!
- For a cool London twist, check out Mission Breakout, a fully immersive escape room located in the ghost tube station South Kentish Town.
Have some competitive fun with indoor crazy golf
A night at one of the capital’s several indoor crazy golf venues is one of my favourite evening activities in London when it rains.
Junkyard Golf Club in Shoreditch is a mismatched collection of, well, random junk turned into four fun indoor crazy golf courses with a few entertaining puns thrown in for good measure. There’s also a bar that serves beer, wine and crazy retro cocktails which you can take with you around the holes.
Another fun option is Swingers Golf Club which has two venues in the City and West End and takes its inspiration from the 1920’s British seaside. Swingers also has the best food options out of the crazy golf venues in London, with delicious burgers from Patty&Bun, tasty pizzas and top-notch tacos.
Watch a new release at one of London’s most unique cinemas
Another one of the best indoor activities in London is a trip to the capitals quirkiest cinema; Electric Cinema Portobello.
Sat on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, home to the famous Portobello antique market, Electric Cinema sits inside of an old Victorian playhouse and features lush red velvet sofas and beds rather than traditional chairs. The perfect place to cosy up with a movie and escape the weather outside.
After your film, you can also run just across the road to the Electric Diner where you’ll receive 50% off their tasty comfort food menu of cheeseburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and milkshakes.
Spend the day at London Aquarium
The always popular London Zoo may not the most rain friendly attraction in London, however, fortunately for animal lovers, the indoor London Aquarium is.
Located on London’s Southbank close to the London Eye, the Sea Life London Aquarium will take you on a journey through the amazing underwater world of its many inhabitants, from Gentoo Penguins to tropical sharks and plenty of other fascinating creatures.
A trip to the aquarium is a fun rainy day London activity for both children and adults alike.
Buy a London Pass and hit up some other indoor London attractions
If you’re set for a few rainy days in London, you could also upgrade your aquarium ticket to a London Pass which includes entry to 5 top London attractions; Madame Tussauds London, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, The London Dungeon, DreamWorks Tours: Shrek’s Adventure, and the London Eye.
For just £70 per person, the London Pass is the best value way of enjoying all 5 fun indoor London attractions without breaking the bank.
Grab last minute theatre tickets
Why not treat yourself to a last-minute night out at the theatre, definitely one of the best indoor things to do in London when it rains.
Head to the TXTs booth in the middle of Leicester Square and you’ll find discounted theatre tickets for many shows taking place that same evening. Just pick a show, grab your bargain tickets and enjoy a night out at one of the West End’s world-class plays or musicals.
Check out some of the other coolest things to do in London at night.
Enjoy an unusual immersive dinner experience
There are plenty of quirky and unique places to eat in London, but some of the most unusual dining experiences have to be the immersive ones that don’t just entertain you with a dinner show but allow you to play an active part in them.
From a chaotic dinner with Basil and Sybil Faulty or a night in the Nags Head with Del Boy and Rodney, to being thrown back in time to a medieval banquet or having cocktails with Jay Gatsby himself, check out some of the coolest immersive dining experiences in London to escape the weather outside.
Take a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio: Making of Harry Potter
Any Harry Potter fans shouldn’t miss a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, one of the best indoor day trips you can take from London.
The Studio is located in Watford to the north of London, however, you can easily book a combo ticket which includes your same-day bus transfer from Victoria Station to Warner Bros. Studio.
At the Studio, you’ll be able to visit real film sets from the franchise, including Hogwarts Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express, as well as seeing many of the authentic movie props and original outfits worn by the cast. You’ll also learn all about the special and visual effects which went into bringing the magic alive as well as how the costumes and sets were designed.
Don’t miss these other Harry Potter attractions and filming locations in London.
Grab an umbrella and head outside anyway!
Sorry that this last point isn’t the most productive, but at the end of the day London is a place which gets a lot of rain, especially during the autumn and winter months. There’s no point spending your entire time in the capital hiding away indoors just because of a spot of rain. So do what we Londoners do instead and grab your brolly and coat, and head out to explore the city anyway.
Also read: when is the best time to visit London?
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