On average London has over 106 rainy days every year, so there’s a decent chance you’ll experience some rain if you’re visiting, especially in the winter months.
However there’s no need to stay cooped up indoors if the weather is grey and miserable. There’s plenty to see and do in the city, whatever the weather, so pick up your umbrella and get outside!
Here are our picks of the best things to do in London when it rains so you can stay dry, have fun, and save the parks and outdoor attractions for when the sun comes out.
1. Shop at the Westfield London
Shopping is of course one of the most popular activities for Londoners whether the sun’s shining or not, but on those particularly grey and miserable days head to the Westfield shopping centre in Shepard’s Bush to enjoy over 450 shops and restaurants without a single drop of rain.
The 150,000 m² fully enclosed retail space is the largest in the UK and Europe and there’s plenty to keep you occupied here for the whole day. Retail stores include high street favourites Primark, Marks & Spencer, Next, Debenhams, and House of Fraser, alongside designer boutiques in The Village such as Burberry, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.
When you’re all shopped out, stop for refreshment at one of the dozens of cafes and restaurants. There’s even a cinema and a kids entertainment “city”.
Open 10am – 10pm Monday to Saturday and 12-6pm Sunday. Extended opening hours on major sale days and over the festive period.
Ariel Way, White City, London W12 7GF
2. Pamper Yourself in a Spa
If you need a break from city life, there’s no better place to relax and unwind than one of London’s day spas. Treat yourself with a massage or a facial, or just spend the day lounging around in the sauna or steam room – an extra special indulgence when it’s cold and wet outside.
Most of London’s 5-star hotels have their own spa, and there are several standalone spas dotted around the city ranging from cheap and cheerful to high-end luxurious spas frequented by celebrities – there’s something to suit everyone.
3. Taste London’s Café Culture
London may not be as famous for its café culture as other European cities, but the coffee scene in London is booming and every district boasts its own independent cafes, each with a distinct personality and atmosphere.
If you’re caught in a rain shower, you’re sure not to be far from a cute café where you can pop in and spend a couple of hours with a coffee and cake, watching the pouring rain through the window.
Whether you’re looking for a hipster-style instagrammable café, sophisticated and elegant tea rooms, or a vegan, organic community hub, there’s a London café to suit you.
4. Enjoy a Beer or Two
London’s pubs are world-famous and there’s nothing better on a grey and drizzly afternoon than enjoying lunch and pint by a roaring fire in one of London’s traditional pubs.
London is home to around 3,500 pubs and are as popular with tourists as they are with locals. For a true taste of London, try out one of the pubs with a craft brewery attached, or accompany your pint with a traditional Sunday roast.
5. Visit a Museum
London boasts some of the world’s best museums, many of which offer free entry. In fact for many tourists and local families, a rainy day = museum day, and it’s certainly a great way to keep the kids occupied when you need to stay indoors.
The British Museum is one of the biggest and most popular, with a wide range of exhibits, and the National History Museum should also be on your list. The V&A Museum is a must for anyone interested in fashion or design, and kids and adults alike will have a fun day out at the Science Museum.
6. Catch a Movie
London has dozens of cinemas, many of them offering unique and unusual film-watching experiences that aren’t on offer in other towns around the UK.
For an all-immersive experience try out one of the 5 IMAX cinemas with massive screens showing films in 3D, or try out the independent Prince Charles Cinema close to Leicester Square, which shows singalong performances of family-friendly musicals.
If you really feel like treating yourself, try out one of the luxury cinemas like the vintage Electric Cinema on Portobello Road, which has leather armchairs and cashmere blankets – perfect for snuggling under on a rainy day.
7. See Some of the World’s Best Art
Museums aren’t the only cultural attraction London has to offer – it also has many art galleries worth visiting with a variety of exhibits from artists representing every style and time period.
The Tate Modern is always a popular choice and has free entry, and the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is also free and houses artworks from some of history’s most famous artists including Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt. Or try out the National Portrait Gallery, which frequently shows special exhibitions.
8. Browse one of London’s Covered Markets
If you’re up for a shopping trip but want to browse somewhere with a bit more personality than one of the indoor shopping centres and malls, London’s covered markets are great places to explore.
Borough market is foodie heaven with lots of free samples on offer and unusual ingredients you won’t find elsewhere. Covent Garden Market offers unique gifts and accessories, and Leadenhall Market has a variety of shops and food stalls, as well as being one of the most beautiful markets in the city.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL
Open 10am – 5pm Monday to Thursday, 10am – 6pm Friday, and 8am – 5pm Saturday
The Apple Market, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RF
Open 10am – 6pm daily
Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch St, London EC3V 1LT
Open 24 hours
9. Try out the London Eye
It may not be the first rainy day activity that springs to mind, but the London skyline is just as beautiful in wet weather as it is when the sun’s out (albeit a little moodier!) and the London Eye with its fully-enclosed pods is one of the best places to see it.
It takes about half an hour to go around the wheel so it won’t take up the whole day, but you can also buy a combination ticket that gives you access to another attraction including Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeon, and Sea Life London with up to 40% paying for both tickets separately – a great opportunity for a fun day out for families and visitors to London!
The London Eye, Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
Open 11am – 6pm – Tickets from £25
10. Explore St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most iconic landmarks, but most people see it only from the outside. A rainy day provides the perfect opportunity to see inside the Cathedral (it’s just as spectacular as the exterior!) and learn more about its history.
As well as having a guided tour under the Cathedral dome, you can see views of the city from the Stone and Golden Galleries, experience the unusual Whispering Gallery, and see the final resting place of some of the nation’s heroes in the crypt.
St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Open for sightseeing from 8.30am – 4pm
Tickets from £16