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Things to do in London on a Rainy Day

Yes, it’s true we do get rainy days in London. But there’s no need to worry; we’ve got you covered with our guide to the best rainy day activities in London! Anyone who has visited before, or anyone who’s met British people, will know that we love to talk about the weather. So zip up your coat, grab that umbrella and get ready, the forecast for today is rain with a definite chance of shelter in our great city. 

Peruse Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market/Image Source

Leadenhall Market has real heritage, where else can you shelter from a rainy London day in a market built on the site of a Roman Basilica? We can thank the Victorians for the beautiful structure you see today. However, the original market was a trading ground for meat, fish, leather, and wool as far back as 1445. In fact, the market walls helped to stop the spread of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Packed with shops and restaurants, it’s an ideal spot to go on a rainy day in London to browse or grab some food until the clouds clear from the city. 

Harry Potter Fans should look along Bulls Head Passage to see if they can spot the opticians shop that was used as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron in “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”.

Discover other Covered Markets

You’ve seen one market you’ve seen to them all right? No way! London has plenty of markets to fill all every grey day. All the markets on our list are just a short walk from the underground so the inclement weather doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying some delicious street food at these London attractions.

Borough Market

The Borough Market in London’s Southwark district is one of the most popular and oldest markets in England, with roots dating back to 12th century. The market is absolutely packed full of good stuff, but take care it’s only open Monday- Saturday.

Covent Garden

Found in the West End of London, Covent Garden is recognized for its luxury fashion and beauty stores as well as award-winning restaurants. With so many things to do there’s no wonder it has been called “the heart of London”. The perfect place to grab a Hot Chocolate and wander around escaping the rain

Spitalfields Market

There’s so much on offer at Spitalfields Market from the many market stalls. Artisanal foods, unique artwork, handmade goods, contemporary fashion, flea market, street food, art market, cafes, bars, restaurants, stores, events and more.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane is a mecca for tourists and locals alike. The history of this street can be seen in its cobbled pavement, which was once among the poorest slums during London’s Elizabethan era. Now home more than 20 restaurants, alongside vintage shopping boutiques, lively bars and galleries and street food.

When it Rains in London, Go Shopping at Harrods

Harrods London
Harrods London/Image Source

This city is a mecca for shoppers and there’s no better place to shop in London when it rains than at Harrods! Several floors await your attention, where you can find anything from a keychain to a car. But what if a real storm has set in, so you went a bit wild and now you can’t carry all your newly-purchased items home? Not a problem, Harrods delivers worldwide.

The motto of this stylish department store is “Omnia Omnibus Ubique” – all things for all people, everywhere. When you’re feeling peckish, definitely explore the food courts or head to one of the restaurants located on the upper floors. Yes, there are options!

Harrods has been proudly offering their products since 1849 and can be found in Knightsbridge. Allow several hours for this experience, more if you are planning to splash out.

If you’re willing to get a little wet while ducking in and out of shops, Oxford Street and Regent Street are home to some more world-famous shops to extend your retail therapy!

Go for Afternoon Tea When it Rains

Afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea/ Image Source

Nothing beats the idea of afternoon tea. Go sit in a fancy hotel and enjoy this English speciality whilst it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Afternoon Tea is something of a tradition and should be on your London bucket list.

You won’t just be drinking tea; very often, the food and drinks offered will more than substitute for a full meal. Once presented with your tower of treats, start from the bottom and make your way up. 

Savoury nibbles and sandwiches are followed by all kinds of cake, and then comes the finale: scones with clotted cream and jam, perfect for your sweet tooth! All this, whilst sipping a hot cup of tea, or if the weather is still nasty, perhaps a glass of champagne. 

Most of the major hotels (the Ritz, Claridges, etc) in London offer Afternoon Tea on their menu, booking in advance is recommended. If the rain catches you off guard, many smaller venues and restaurants will have a table free between 12:00 and 6:00pm.

Brunch in the sky garden

If sandwiches and cakes arent your idea of a filling meal, how about bottomless brunch? The sky garden is right in the heart of the City of London and you’ll struggle to find a more picturesque setting for brunch than the 37th floor. Combine a few favourite indoor activities, happy hour and sightseeing!

Wander the Victoria and Albert Museum “The V&A”

An exhibit at the V&A Museum in London
V&A Exhibit / Image Source

Museums are definitely one of the best places to hide from a rainy day in London, but they can get busy when the clouds start to gather. The Victoria and Albert Museum provides a vast space split into numerous galleries. So, even if it’s raining outside, you will usually find fewer people here.

The museum is located in South Kensington, in an area once referred to as “Albertopolis”. Prince Albert organised The Great Exhibition in 1851, which was a huge hit, and some items from the exhibit became the core collection for the museum. Today’s eclectic collection ranges from medieval art to Da Vinci’s notebook and onto dresses from the swinging sixties; there really is something for everyone. If you don’t know where to start or feel a bit overwhelmed by the large inventory, check out our Private Tour of The V&A.

So Museums and Galleries are your thing?

Don’t be shy, we love London’s museums and galleries too, especially when it’s raining outside. The best part is London has plenty of popular museums and many of these indoor activities are absolutely free!

Natural History Museum

The Natural Museum of History is a place where you can find all sorts of creatures and specimens. From dinosaurs to a giant blue whale, this museum has it covered! One single rainy day isn’t enough time to explore every inch here, so pace yourself.

Great Court at the British Museum

British Museum

If you’re looking for an educational and captivating museum in London, the British Museum is a great place. With many different exhibits that will be sure to capture any visitor’s attention no matter their age or interest level – it’ll take more than rain clouds outside! There’s plenty to see we’ve put together a guide to the British museum highlights to help you out and we can also show you around on our British Museum Highlights Tour

Imperial War Museum

The perfect place to shelter on a rainy afternoon for history buffs of all ages. Whether you’re looking to learn more about your famous battles or to see aeroplanes, rockets and tanks up close, there’s something here for everyone. The museum has many different zones with varying themes: from family friendly areas where there are plenty of fun things for kids to play and interact digitally with while learning facts through interactive displays; To adult-focused sections covering the holocaust and world war 2.

Science Museum

London’s popular Science Museum is a must for families with children. With collections that cover science and technology from the oldest surviving steam locomotive to model DNA, this museum is a great way to spend a rainy day. We particularly enjoy the space galleries as well as flight history, The Garden or Pattern Pod are great if you have younger kids in your group.

National Gallery

Home to some of the best examples of European Art, dating back to the 13th Century. Where else can you compare da Vinci or Botticelli to see how art evolved over time. Paintings by Raphael, Titian, or Holbein are on display as well as work from the Dutch master Rembrandt. Two of his self-portraits are on display, showing his appearance over 3 decades. If you’re planning what to do in London when it rains be sure to check out our National Gallery Guided Tour

Tate Modern

Tate Modern is a wonderful place for anyone who loves modern and contemporary art. It’s another one of London’s free museums, and this gallery in a former power station makes an ideal refuge on wet days.

Saatchi Gallery

The London gallery for contemporary art and an independent charity, opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985. For over 30 years, it has been helping to present art exhibitions from some of the most prominent young artists around, all while maintaining its role as one of London’s top attractions.

Traditional Activities for a rainy day in London

There are plenty of London attractions you can visit when it rains, without it dampening your experience. We’ve picked a few classics that are popular come rain or shine.

Churchill War Rooms

The War Rooms kept Churchill and many staff safe during turbulent times of WW2, so we’re fairly sure they’ll keep you dry on a damp London day!

Buried under the treasury below street level, this unique bunker was home to the British War Department. It tells the story of how the Allied war effort was managed from underground, also as the name suggests it includes a section dedicated to the great wartime leader Winston Churchill. Why not pack your umbrella and book our WW2 London & Churchill War Rooms Tour.

Let Me Show You London

The London Eye

A London classic, and in our opinion, even better than the view from the Shard! The London Eye benefits from being slightly lower, so chances are you’ll stay clear of the clouds even on a rainy day. Also, you’re much closer to famous sites such as Trafalgar Square and Big Ben.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey has played an integral role in British history. Many important events took place here, including royal weddings and coronations among other things- it’s no wonder why so many people want to visit!

The long-standing abbey has functioned as a religious site as well historic one for nearly 1000 years, starting as a Benedictine Monastery, growing into the masterpiece that you see today. There are few more impressive sites to visit in London, whilst hiding from the rain.

The White Tower at the Tower of London

The Tower of London

One of London’s most spectacular attractions might leave you a little damp during wet weather, but where else are you going to see a Medieval castle in the heart of the City? The Tower has played many roles throughout history: Royal Residence, Zoo, Prison and Royal Vault. Today it’s home to the famous Crown Jewels, Ravens and Beefeaters making for a fantastic experience even on the wettest of days. We offer a Tower of London Tour to make sure

Spot the famous London Bridge from a River Thames Cruise

Maybe you’re familiar with the “London Bridge is falling down” nursery rhyme? Well, it’s not fallen down in 600 years so you should be safe and dry as you pass underneath on a Thames River cruise!

The River provides a unique perspective of many famous London sites, Big Ben, The Houses Of Parliament, The Tower Of London and Tower Bridge are all scattered along the river. You can hop on a cruise from many spots along the Thames and it’s a great way to avoid city centre traffic. You can even go from the West end right out towards East London and see the Thames flood barrier. More details here for your trip on the River Thames.

View from London Bridge towards Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge viewed from London Bridge, which still isn’t falling down!

Theatres

If you’ve got an evening in London when it rains, why not book some last-minute tickets to the theatre. Few places in the world can match the allure of London’s theatres. From centuries-old venues like The Globe to more modern spaces such as The National.

London is home to many famous shows such as Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King and Wicked. There’s normally tickets on offer on the day, have a look around Leicester square to see what’s available.

If you’re able to book in advance then you could experience a show at the Albert Hall. One of the most beautiful venues in London, situated in Kensington, this lavish performance space has been wowing audiences since 1871. From classical music concerts to rock gigs, the Royal Albert Hall has something for everyone

Spend Rainy Days in Traditional Pubs in London

A pint of beer with a fireplace in the background - a traditional pub is the perfect thing to do in London on a rainy day!
Image Source

Finally where better to go, dry off, and warm up in London when it rains than the traditional English pub. The selection of pubs in London is endless. Some offer just drinks and nibbles, whereas others offer gourmet dining.

Don’t be surprised if, after you sit down, no one comes to take your order. Jump up and order at the bar, both your food and drinks, and also expect to settle your bill straight away. The menu isn’t always elaborate in a traditional pub, but you’ll definitely find pub classics such as meat pies or fish and chips. 

Ale, lager, cider…what should I drink? It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the selection of beer on tap but simply ask for a recommendation or a little taster.

If you have children in your group, most pubs in central London are welcoming during the day, just double check if in doubt.

Final thoughts

So there we have it, plenty of places to hide and things to do in London when it rains. There’s one final option though: embrace the rain and go with it! As the great comedian, Billy Connolly said, “I hate all those weathermen, too, who tell you that rain is bad weather. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little!”

If any of our ideas interest you and you’d like to chat about a tour, or even the weather, contact us!. If you’ve got tips for other things to do on a rainy day in London then drop it in the comments.

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