There’s no denying that London is famous for its rain so knowing what to do in London when it’s raining, is something you’ve probably considered when planning your trip to the British capital. We should point out that it certainly doesn’t rain every day of the year and it tends to be intermittently when it does, however, it’s not a bad idea to have a plan up your sleeve for things to do in London when it rains, especially if you’re visiting London with kids.
What to do in London when it rains
Here are some ideas to keep in mind for rainy days in London:
1. Visit a top London attraction
We start off with great news! Many of London’s top attractions are indoors or undercover, so there’s still plenty of opportunities to make the most of your day. Here are some of the best London attractions for when it’s raining.
1. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
You can easily spend a couple of hours getting up close and personal with more than 250 lifelike figures of your favourite celebrities. Visiting this famous wax museum in London is one of the easiest options to escape the London rain.
⇒ Buy tickets: Madame Tussauds London
2. London Dungeons
If you think being scared is a better option than getting wet, visit this underground house of horrors. With its blood-curdling interactive shows and thrilling rides, you might just be glad to get back to the open air, even if it’s still drizzling.
⇒ Buy tickets: London Dungeon
3. The Tower of London
Take shelter from the rain and be dazzled by the Crown Jewels, there’s plenty to explore inside London’s historic castle. And as long as you behave yourself, you should be allowed to leave… unlike many of its former guests.
⇒ Buy tickets: Tower of London
4. London Aquarium
Surround yourself with water without getting wet! Located next to the London Eye the London Aquarium is one of the most famous and fascinating attractions in the city.
⇒ Buy tickets: Sea Life London Aquarium
2. Discover at least one of London’s most famous museums
Visiting one of London’s famous museums is probably the most obvious thing to do in London when it rains. With so many wonderful museums to explore, waking up to rain, really isn’t the end of the world.
Most of the museums in London are spectacular, so we guarantee that a visit won’t leave you disappointed. And the best thing is that most of London’s museums are free to visit, so if you’ve had enough or it’s stopped raining and you want to go somewhere else, you can simply move on. However, many of the museums have cafes and restaurants, so you can easily spend a whole day there should you wish to.
Our top recommendations would be the Natural History Museum as it’s fascinating. You can easily spend the entire day there and not get bored. The Science Museum is a great interactive museum for children and we also love the London Transport Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum.
⇒ Find out more: Top Museums in London
3. Visit one the lesser known museums of London
If you’re already familiar with the larger London museums, why not check out some of the lesser-known museums such as the Old Operating Theatre or Sir John Soane’s Museum? As these museums are smaller, you don’t need as long to visit them, so they offer a wonderful way to escape a London rain shower here and there.
4. Go shopping at the famous luxury department stores
Why not indulge in a spot of shopping and see iconic sights at the same time? Probably the most expensive thing to do in London when it rains is to visit the famous shops and department stores. After all, who hasn’t heard of Harrods?
If you’re a fan of luxury shops, make sure you include a trip to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Street next to the Ritz Hotel and Liberty on Carnaby Street. Although, you’ll find some great boutique and high street shops on pretty much every corner of the city.
5. Explore an indoor market
Although many of London’s best-known flea markets are outside, Spitalfields Market next to Liverpool Street Station, is an indoor market. It’s also good to know that parts of Camden Market and Borough Market are covered as well. So, if it’s one of those drizzly days in London, an indoor market is the perfect way to pass a couple of hours, enjoy tasty food and take shelter when needed!
⇒ Find out more: Top Markets in London
6. Go shopping!
If you want to do some serious shopping, we recommend visiting one of the Westfield Shopping Centres in London. These American-style shopping malls are home to hundreds of shops and eateries all under one roof. The largest one that we can find in London is located in Stratford in East London, the same area as the London Olympic Park. Another option is the Canary Wharf Shopping Centre which is also covered, so perfect if you would like to go shopping in London when it rains, and if it stops raining, it’s a good opportunity to explore these areas too.
⇒ Find out more: Shopping in London
7. Go to the cinema
And by this, we don’t mean your usual trip to the cinema. London is home to some great quirky cinemas that offer a completely unique experience to your usual outing to the pictures, so a rainy day is probably the best excuse for a trip to the cinema. Check out the Electric Cinema or the Everyman Cinema (especially the one in Hampstead!) for an unforgettable experience.
8. Go to the theatre
With two performances a day (usually 2pm or 7.30pm), escape from the rain in London for a couple of hours by going to see one of the best musicals in London. Although it can often be tricky to get last minute tickets for the more famous shows, you’ll find some helpful tips on how to get last minute theatre tickets here.
9. Wander around Covent Garden
For us, Covent Garden is one of the most magical squares in London. Most of it is under cover but it retains its bustling atmosphere even when it’s raining. On one side of the square you’ll find the covered ‘Jubilee Market’ and Covent Garden is also home to the London Transport Museum, ideal to visit a rainy day.
10. Walk around with an umbrella!
If you’re visiting London from warmer climes, it may be an idea to simply embrace the rain and live like a local. Make sure you bring a good pair of shoes with you and a waterproof jacket whatever the season, and take to the streets of London with an umbrella. You will see that life goes on in London when it rains, and actually the wet weather provides the opportunity for some pretty cool photos.
11. Take refuge in an English pub
This shouldn’t take too much convincing but another obvious choice for what to do in London when it rains is to take shelter in one of London’s traditional English pubs. Have a beer or try a traditional British dish like a Sunday Roast or Fish & Chips, both of which are great warming options after being out in the London rain.
12. Go for Afternoon Tea
A rainy day provides the perfect excuse to sample a traditional British afternoon tea. Warm up with tea (or champagne), sandwiches and scones. Many of the famous hotels in London offer afternoon tea, such as the Waldorf Hilton Hotel or you could even have Afternoon Tea at the British Museum. You will also find traditional tea shops dotted around the capital.
13. Take a sightseeing bus tour
Although it might not be the obvious choice for things to do in London when it rains, many of the open-top sightseeing buses in London actually have a covered section at the front of the bus, giving you the opportunity to take shelter but still see the sights. And if you are lucky enough for the day to brighten up, you can move back out to enjoy the sunshine as well as the views.