19 fun things to do in London when it rains

Rainy day in London

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Wondering what to do in London in the rain? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered (excuse the pun!).

If you know anything about the UK, then you’ll almost certainly know that, unfortunately, it’s a country that gets more than its fair share of rain. And this 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 when it’s raining and miserable outside.

So escape the dreary British weather with 19 of the best rainy-day activities London has to offer…

1. Head to one of London’s world-class museums

Free Museums in London - Central Hall with Whale skeleton in Natural History Museum London

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 and galleries.

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 to head 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.

2. Go shopping for vintage clothes at Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market London

There are quite a few indoor markets in London to visit when it rains, but Spitalfields is definitely one of the best.

The sprawling 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’s plenty to do in the market while you wait for the bad weather to pass, such as exploring the countless shops and traders, stopping for a bite to eat, or enjoying one of the many free events that take place at the market throughout the year.

3. Eat your way around Borough Market

Borough Market London

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.

You’ll find 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 free 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.

Check out my guide to the best things to eat in Borough Market. Or head on a Borough and Borough Market guided tour with a local.

4. Visit Europe’s largest shopping centre

If you enjoy a bit of shopping, ditch rainy Oxford Street and head indoors to Europe’s biggest shopping centre; Westfield Stratford City. Located in East London, Westfield is an impressive 2.6 million sq ft in size and has over 330 shops of all kinds to keep you occupied – plus it’s entirely inside!

Or if you’re staying in West London and don’t want to travel across the entire capital, pop by Westfield Stratford City’s slightly smaller (yet still huge!) little sibling in White City.

As well as the hundreds of shops, both shopping centres also have plenty of restaurants, large food courts, multi-screen cinemas, and kids’ play facilities, so you won’t be short on things to do to fill a whole day out.

5. Go window-shopping in the capital’s most luxury department store

Harrods in Knightsbridge London

Harrods is a large department store located in the high-end neighbourhood of Knightsbridge and is the most popular shopping destination for 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. You can 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.

6. Explore Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station

Once an important coal-fired power station on the south bank of the River Thames, Battersea Power Station recently underwent a huge renovation and is now one of South London’s most exciting indoor shopping and entertainment destinations.

The lavish Art Deco building is now home to countless shops, restaurants, bars, coworking spaces, a VR arcade, crazy golf, two cinemas, a theater, and even a free exhibition on the history of the building. There’s more than enough to fill a rainy afternoon in London.

Plus don’t miss the chance to jump in the brand-new glass elevator and head up into one of the building’s iconic chimneys for amazing panoramic views over the city. The rain just makes the views even more dramatic!

7. Cosy up with a coffee in one of London’s cutest cafes

Pink cafes in London

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 cafes.

Find a cosy corner, grab your friends or a good book, and enjoy a nice warming coffee and maybe even a delicious dessert.

Check out my post on London’s prettiest pink cafes.

8. Treat yourself to a proper British afternoon tea

Bottomless Afternoon Tea in London, Petrichor at The Cavendish

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 that 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, 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:

9. Get an adrenalin kick at an underground theme park

Rollercoaster at Babylon Park Amusement Park in Camden Town, London

Did you know that London is home to a huge two-story underground amusement park?

Located underneath Camden Town‘s Hawley Wharf Market, Babylon Park is a futuristic space-themed amusement park with a huge variety of family-friendly rides and games to choose from, including an actual two-story rollercoaster!

The coaster and theme park-style rides are better suited for younger visitors (there are obvious size restraints underground). However, teens and adults can still enjoy the many VR simulators, classic fairground games, and exciting arcade games, making it a great rainy-day destination for all ages.

10. 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’?

11. Test your problem-solving skills with an Escape Room

Sherlock Escape Room London

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 of South Kentish Town.

12. 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 1920s British seaside. Swingers also have the best food options out of the crazy golf venues in London, with delicious burgers from Patty&Bun, tasty pizzas, and top-notch tacos.

13. 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 capital’s 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.

14. Spend the day at London Aquarium

The always-popular London Zoo may not be 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.

15. Buy a London Pass and hit up some other iconic indoor London attractions

London Eye

If you’re set for a few rainy days in London, you could also upgrade your aquarium ticket to a London Pass. The tourist pass 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.

16. Grab last-minute London theatre tickets

London West End Theatre, signs for MouseTrap and Harry Potter

Why not treat yourself to a last-minute night out at the theatre; 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. Or grab your tickets online at London Box Office.

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.

17. Enjoy an unusual immersive dinner experience

Medieval Banquet London

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.

18. Take a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio: Making of Harry Potter

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio, diagon alley and the great hall at Hogwarts

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. You can also see many of the authentic movie props and original outfits worn by the cast.

Plus, you’ll get to learn all about the special and visual effects that 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.

19. Grab an umbrella and head outside anyway!

People with umbrellas in London England

At the end of the day, London is a place which gets a lot of rain. Especially during the colder 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; grab your brolly and coat and head out into the city anyway.

Also read: when is the best time to visit London?

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London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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