This post most likely contains affiliate links to things such as tours, transport, accommodation, products & amazon associate links. I may receive a small commission if you use the links which costs you no extra, but helps keep this blog going.
Like every city, London is a hard city to see when it rains, and unfortunately, Britain gets a lot of wet weather and we often have many rainy days in London. When it rains in London it can seem like all of your plans have been ruined, especially if you planned to visit London’s Parks or to do a walk around one of London’s many neighbourhoods.
However, there are plenty of indoor attractions in London and good things to do on a rainy day in London which are perfect if you’re visiting London as a tourist as you can still see the best of London inside avoiding the rain.
In fact, you’re more likely to visit some really cool, local and quirky spots by having to go inside, you just need to know where to go which is where I come in to help!
Here are BEST ideas of things to do on a rainy day in London from a Londoner!
1. Visit London’s World Class Museums & Galleries.
London is FULL of museums and galleries with some of the best in the world!
Yes, you can go to a museum anywhere in the world but you can only go to London’s museums in London!
If you wake up and it looks like it’s going to rain all day and you’re looking for things to do in London today on a rainy day. I’d suggest heading to South Kensington because here you have the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A all within minutes of each other. There’s even an underground tunnel taking you from South Kensington tube station to the entrance of the museums meaning even less time out in the rain. Plus, they are all free to enter!
Other popular museums in London that I’d recommend you visit are the British Museum in Bloomsbury near Covent Garden and the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. These are both free to enter too although because all 5 of these are London’s most popular museums you may find that there are queues to enter which are not to fun to stand in in the rain. To avoid the queues I would get there when they open at 10:00 am or late in the afternoon.
If you want some lesser-visited museums and galleries in London which may not have queues I’d recommend London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, the Tate Modern on the Bankside area of the River Thames, the Imperial War Museum near Elephant and Castle, and the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. Some of these are not free to enter but that will mean there will be fewer people going on a rainy London day which means no queuing outside in the rain!
If you’re not in London already, be sure to look at The Train Line for the best train tickets to London. I use them all the time to search for the best times, routes and prices!
2. See the River Thames by Boat.
Seeing the River Thames in London is a must-do activity because so many of Londons icons lie along the Thames.
On a non-rainy day in London it’s nice to walk along the Thames (I have a River Thames Walking Guide here) however a popular thing to do in London is to go on a River Thames Boat Cruise which works perfectly for things to do when it rains in London because you can see so many sights from the comfort of inside a boat.
The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Pauls Cathedral, the Shard, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London can ALL be seen from a boat on the Thames. I would recommend booking a boat in advance so you don’t have to queue in the rain and to ensure you get a good seat.
One of these River Thames Boat Cruise options would work well:
3. Have Lunch, Afternoon Tea or Dinner on a Double-Decker Bus.
If you’re looking for a unique way to see London, to stay dry and eat a gourmet lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, I really recommend Bustronome London!
After meeting them outside Embankment Station, across the road from the London Eye, you’re shown to your table on the top floor of a double-decker bus with a panoramic terrace and taken on a 2/3 hour trip around London seeing many of the top sights including Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the Royal Albert Hall, all whilst being served the most delicious food and perfectly matching wine.
Having Afternoon Tea on a London Bus like this or watching the sunset over London whilst having Dinner on the Bus is a memory you won’t forget from your trip to London. This is such a special and fun London experience!
You will need to book a table in advance which you can do on their website and with the London’s weather being as unpredictable as it is it means that it’s never a bad time to book this London Restaurant Bus. For example, although it was sunny when I boarded the bus, midway through when it started raining I was so pleased to be inside the cosy bus with a full view of the city thanks to the panoramic windows, and with a glass of wine in my hand.
*This was a gifted experience to me by Bustronome London but I absolutely loved it which is why I am recommending it to you.
4. Play Ping Pong, Crazy Golf, go Bowling or to a Ball Pit Bar.
There are so many fun things to do in London but as with all cities, sometimes you need a local to help point them out, especially if you are visiting London for the first time.
These may seem like things you could do anywhere in the world but this is London, and London has added a quirky twist on simple activities like Ping Pong, Golf and Bowling. So much so that Londoners visit them all the time!
Fun inside activities in London include visiting Bounce, which is an indoor purpose-built Social Ping Pong Club! There are now 2 locations in London, Old Street near Shoreditch and Farringdon in Central London.
Indoor Crazy Golf has taken off in London and there are now lots of really popular locations to play at! Junk Yard Golf is one of the most popular places for Londoners offering wacky and random junk-filled crazy golf courses including dodgems, bathtubs and jungles!
For a unique bowling experience in London, head to All Star Lanes, they have 4 London locations which offer a retro American themed bowling experience complete with Happy Hour and Karaoke booths!
Finally, if a ball pit bar is something you’ve been wanting to go to, London has that for you – Ballie Ballerson is beyond fun and literally has adult ball pits for you to jump into between having some drinks, or brunch!
All of these places are good to visit during the day and even better for an evening activity in London. They all have restaurants and bars so you can combine them with a meal or drinks and forget that it’s raining outside in London!
I’ll also add that although these are fun things to do in London, they are fun things for adults to do in London and not really appropriate for families or for taking children in!
I would recommend booking in advance though to ensure there is space which you can do on their websites!
5. Eat Food at a Covered Street Food Market.
London is all about its street food and has an abundance of street food markets.
Some of London’s street food markets are not suitable, or at least, won’t be as enjoyable in the rain. Camden Market is a good example of this as the majority of the market is outside with limited coverage from the rain.
However popular Street Food Markets that are covered and are therefore good when it rains in London are Borough Market near London Bridge, Spitalfields Market and Box Park in Shoreditch,
Those are the popular ones and ones most people know about but for some cooler, more street food markets in London that are inside, check out Dinerama in Shoreditch, Flat Iron Square in London Bridge, The Prince in Hammersmith and Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle.
Related Post: 5 Cool Street Food Markets in London You Need to Visit!
6. Visit a Viewpoint.
If it’s pouring with rain in London, you don’t want to see the city from the ground and you only have a short time like 2 days in London, why not see the city from above?
There are so many viewpoints and observatories in London and some of them are even free.
The Sky Garden in London is free of charge to visit and it’s a cool place located at the top of what is known as the Walkie Talkie Building. Walk in’s are taken but it’s best to book a slot in advance.
The Tate Modern Gallery along the River Thames offers another free viewpoint, go inside to the 11th floor for a 360 covered view of the City and River.
The London Eye is, of course, the best and most popular viewpoint in London as well as offering a really fun experience. Even as a local, going inside the pods and seeing London this way is so much fun. It’s best to book tickets in advance so you don’t have to queue on the day, although note to still carry an umbrella as you will need to queue outside to get on!
The Shard is another amazing viewpoint to visit and a good London attraction when it rains! To see the best view of London from the Shard you can either go to the bar at the top of the Shard and see the view by buying a drink, or you can pay to visit the actual observatory and stay dry in here. Actually, you could also book a yoga class at the top of The Shard and see the view that way which is what I did!
Again it’s recommended to buy a ticket for The Shard in advance because as you can probably tell, London gets very busy and tickets and spaces go fast and even more so when everyone wants to be inside!
7. Go for Brunch like a local.
Going for brunch in London is really popular, it’s what Londoners do and as a visitor to London, you should get involved too!
Brunch in London can last all morning if you plan it right, especially if you’re going for a Bottomless Brunch which London now has plenty of, so heading to a cool London restaurant is a great way to spend a rainy morning in London.
This is my post on the best places to visit in London for brunch to help you decide where to visit when it’s raining in London!
8. See a Show.
From West End Shows to small independent shows you can stay inside away from the rain in London by seeing one London’s most famous shows.
Wicked, Lion King, Mumma Mia, Mary Poppins and The Book of Mormon are some of London’s best and biggest shows but you’ll also find shows that are smaller in smaller venues which are also good to see and these tend to be cheaper which is great if you’re visiting London on a budget!
Last Minute is a good website to get your London Show tickets on, especially if you didn’t realise it was going to rain in London and need a last minute west end ticket!
9. Get Out of London.
Just because it’s raining in London, it doesn’t always mean that it will be raining nearby. Generally, the weather in the South of the UK is the best and less rainy. London is in the South but there are ways to get even further South.
To get the most accurate idea of the weather in London and the weather in England, check BBC weather in advance.
You could head to the British coastline to places like Brighton and Hastings. Or you could go for a walk along coast by visiting The White Cliffs of Dover.
Alternatively, you could go into Kent or to the beautiful city of Bath and to see the famous Stonehenge.
Here are my related posts to help plan your London day trip:
To get out of London you can jump on a train and take yourself (I always use The Train Line to book my trains and to compare the best journeys and prices), or you could take an organised day trip which means you don’t have to think about anything yourself and you’ll likely to be in a coach which will help you stay out of the rain if it does happen to be raining elsewhere in the UK too!
10. Visit the Harry Potter Studios.
Harry Potter fans rejoice! You can visit the official Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios, located just North of London in Watford when it rains in London because the studio is inside!
Even if you’re not a huge Harry Potter fan it is worth checking out the studios when you’re in London as it’s an amazing experience and especially if you’re looking for things to do with children when it rains in London!
You can get yourself to Watford Junction by train from London, jump on the bus provided outside the station and visit the Harry Potter Studios independently. Note that tickets must be purchased in advance on their website here.
Or you can take a Harry Potter Studio Tour with Transfers from Central London if you want all of the information and don’t want to have to worry about getting there and back on your own!
Either way, your time outside is limited!
I hope these ideas of what to do in London when it rains help you enjoy London and stay dry!
For more of my London posts see: