The easiest answer is really that any time is a good time to visit London. However, the weather and the lower tourist numbers, mean that the shoulder season of spring or autumn are often the best time to visit London.
There is so much on offer in each season though in London, with different sights and events to enjoy every month. In this post, we want to tell you about London at different times of the year, so that you can decide when the best time to visit London is for you.
Visit London in Spring (March – May)
Spring in the UK is particularly beautiful. The spring flowers are blooming and from mid March the days are getting longer and there is a fresh brightness to the air. The temperature is crisp, rather than cold, although there can be early spring showers. As we alluded to at the start, spring may be the best time to visit London, if you’re looking for reasonable weather, lower hotel prices and fewer tourists.
Parks and gardens in central London
This is the best time to explore the parks, commons, gardens, city farms and nature reserves of London. Yes, you read that correctly, nature reserves! London is a city blessed with an abundance of green spaces and whilst you can enjoy these spaces all year round, the late spring season is a special time of year.
Of all the gardens in London, Kew Gardens is perhaps the most famous, but we also have a special fondness for Hampton Court Palace Gardens. Better yet, in May the annual Chelsea Flower Show is held, although tickets to this event are much coveted and sell out well in advance.
If you prefer to stick to the city proper, however, then spring is an excellent time of year to enjoy our Panoramic Walking Tour of London. Beginning at Westminster Abbey, the tour takes you through some of the most beautiful sights London has to offer and combines the architectural grandeur of the city with its green spaces. A perfect London day out!
Even in late spring, we can get some rainy days. South Kensington is home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Albert Hall, The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, all perfect spots to shelter from the rain whilst checking out a cultural attraction.
If you plan to visit in spring it’s worth finding out when Easter falls. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both bank holidays, shops and transport are frequently closed or operating limited schedules. May also has some bank holiday dates to be aware of, you can double-check the dates on the UK government website to help you plan your visit.
Key events in spring:
- St Patrick’s day festival – Celebrated with a parade in the West end of London and plenty of Guinness!
- State opening of Parliament – Chance to see the King as he travels to Parliament from Buckingham palace
- Chelsea flower show – Annual flower show popular with the Royal family, Locals and tourists
- Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race – Prestigious Boat race between universities on the River Thames
- London Marathon – One of the world marathon majors, with up to 40,000 club and charity runners
Visit London in Summer (June – August)
Summer is always a popular time to visit London. As the days stretch out and the heat sets in, you’ll find the pace of the city changes, becoming less rushed and more celebratory. The city hosts a multitude of music festivals, the parks are packed with sunbathers and entertainers, food stalls and beer gardens abound; plays are performed in open air theatres like The Globe, and everyone seems to be out and about enjoying the summer months.
Early summer (June) does provide a short window to visit before the school holidays start. Travellers should find pleasant weather and quieter conditions at the main attractions, making it the perfect time to enjoy the view from the London Eye and the Shard.
Whilst obviously summer is a busy time, peak tourist season means you can expect long lines and summer crowds at all the attractions. However, our guides frequently have “skip the line” privileges at tourist attractions, book a private tour to make the most of your holiday time in peak season!
Options to escape the heat in London
You may wish to escape the heat in the middle of the day, and what better way to spend your time than to enjoy the cool air and cultural exhibits of some of London’s finest galleries and museums? If you take our National Gallery Tour you’re sure to see some of Europe’s finest artworks and our British Museum Tour will take you on a journey through world history with an emphasis on Britain’s role in it.
Another great option if the heat is getting too much for you, is to head for the water. The River Thames is your best bet if you fancy doing some sightseeing by boat. If you’d prefer to actually go for a swim, then why not check out the Serpentine Lido. Swimmers can make the most of mild weather and take a dip in the Serpentine lake, in London’s beautiful Hyde Park.
Come evening time, you’ll be ready to get back to the hustle and bustle of the central London streets. Make the most of the light and warm evenings at one of Londons many food markets, or enjoy a movie at an open air cinema.
Key events in Summer:
- Trooping the Colour – The King’s birthday parade performed by the military
- Buckingham Palace State Rooms – are open to the public, your chance to see how the Royal’s live
- The Notting hill carnival – The biggest street festival in Europe
- Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace – Open to the public
- Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships – Famous tennis competition on Wimbledon’s grass courts
Autumn in London (September – November)
As the summer break comes to an end, London settles into the cosiness of early evenings, autumn colours, and cooler weather. Whilst not cold, it’s nice to bundle up in a scarf and explore the city, so if you can’t make it to London in spring, this is another great season to plan your visit to London. Generally, it will be quieter than Summer, there are no public holidays to worry about and you should still have fairly settled weather.
Haloween and Bonfire Night
With Halloween on the horizon, it is also the perfect season to visit the Tower of London (perhaps on our Tower of London Tour), with its bloody tower, torture chamber, and mystical ravens guarding both the tower and Britain herself! And if you aren’t interested in the darker side of the tower, there’s plenty more here to explore from the crown jewels to the armoury and interactive exhibits.
If Halloween is your favourite time of year, then London is a great place to spend it. There are ghost tours aplenty and the London Dungeon usually puts on a special Halloween show. You can visit some of London’s gorgeous cemeteries and enjoy the pumpkin displays in Covent Garden.
And if you are looking for something a little less spooky to enjoy, then look out for the Totally Thames festival in September – an event that sees art installations, free exhibits, and live performances all along the great London river.
Key events in Autumn:
- The Lord Mayors Show – Annual parade honouring the entry of a new Lord Mayor
- London Open House Festival – In Mid September many buildings normally closed to the public are opened to celebrate architecture, landscapes and infrastructure
- Last Night of the Proms – Finale of classical music concert season hosted at the Royal Albert Hall
- Bonfire Night – Fireworks display to commemorate the failed attempt to blow up Parliament by Guy Fawkes
- BFI London Film Festival – Celebration of cinema with many screenings taking place across central London
Winter in London (December – February)
London never gets truly cold weather, it can still be a bit nippy in the winter, so if you visit in the winter holidays be sure to bring some warm clothes!
Christmas and New Year
Winter shows yet another beautiful side to London as the Christmas lights and decorations go up and festivities begin. There are plenty of holiday markets to visit, so grab a mulled wine and wander down the fairy-lit streets of this magical city. From mid December, the churches usually have special seasonal displays and services, it’s a lovely time to enjoy the nightly evensong service at Westminster Abbey you can combine this nicely with an afternoon Westminster Abby Private Tour.
If you come over for New Year, then don’t miss the London fireworks display and, come January, you can enjoy the excellent January sales. Oxford Street, Knightsbridge, Bond Steet and Carnaby Street are packed with shops, to satisfy all tastes and budgets.
London weather in Winter
We aren’t going to lie, the weather in winter does get fairly wet and obviously, it can be chilly too. If you don’t want to spend all your time outside there are plenty of indoor options to see. Some of our favourites are the Churchill War Rooms, St Pauls Cathedral, the Imperial War Museum
The added benefit of visiting London in the winter season is that it’s generally less busy. If you’re looking to avoid crowds then the winter months may be perfect, so if there are particular things you want to check out and you want to make sure you can get a ticket, winter might be the perfect season for you.
It’s not just low season for attractions, hotel prices will be lower in January and February. There are also bargains to be had in theatreland, with cheaper tickets on offer for many of the major west end shows.
Do be aware that during the festive holiday season, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are public holidays, so double-check what’s open when planning your visit.
Key events in Winter:
- Christmas light – check out the fantastic display all throughout London
- Winter Wonderland – Large annual Christmas festival in Westminster
- Ice Skating at Somerset House
- New Years Eve fireworks
- Chinese New Year – celebrate in style in Soho and Chinatown
So there you have it, London in all its glory, year round! There really isn’t an “off season” as such and there’s certainly no bad time to visit London.
If you still have questions about the best time to visit, or if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s time for you to explore London!