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Should you visit London in Winter?? Yes! Just because you have heard that London is wet and cold, firstly it doesn’t mean that it’s like this all through the wintertime in London, and secondly, that isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t have to ruin your trip!
There are lots of things to do in London in winter, lots of things to do when it rains in London, and visiting London in December for Christmas is particularly amazing. Many say that Christmas is the best time of year to visit London!
So here are my top tips and suggestions to help you have the best experience in London in Winter!
If you’re visiting London from elsewhere in the U.K or flying into London. Be sure to check The Train Line to find the best deals on train tickets to London and London’s Airports! I use The Train Line all the time to compare the best times, routes and prices!
Winter in London Travel Tips!
1 – Things To Do in London in Winter.
First off, the best tip for London is to work out what to do in London in winter. This will majority depend on the weather of course because if the weather is nice with chilly but blue skies you can do everything you would do in London any other time of the year like in Autumn and Spring in London.
Staying inside and visiting some of London’s museums would be a top recommendation for many when it comes to things to do in London in Winter, but to see more of the city than the inside of the museum I suggest sightseeing inside.
For example, you can take a boat ride along the River Thames and you will be able to see London from the inside of the boat and pop outside if the weather is ok. You can even make this a whole event by going for Afternoon Tea on the Thames, or you can simply jump on a Hop on Hop Off Boat Tour like this.
And what about the streets of London? You can see them from a bus too, I went out for Afternoon Tea on a Double Becker Bus in the summer, it started raining despite being August and it made me think how cosy it would be for a Winter activity in London. The food was great and it was an easy way to see the streets of London.
For the best view of London, you need to be inside anyway, so that’s ok if it’s winter. Whether you go on the London Eye, to the top of The Shard, or if you’re on a budget in London, head to the Sky Garden and Tate Modern Museum which offer free viewpoints in London, you will be sure to stay dry and warm whilst appreciating London’s incredible skyline!
London is full of parks and even if you’re in London for 2 days, I’d still suggest visiting a park, even in Winter. The best parks in London in Winter would be Hyde Park, Green Park and Holland Park because of their central London location and because they have good paths to walk on to stop you getting muddy.
Hampstead Heath Park in Hampstead is my favourite London Park (read this post to see why!) but in the winter, because it’s more of a wood and forest, it can get pretty muddy and you need good footwear.
If you’re visiting London when it rains, here’s another blog post of mine with things to do when it rains in London which will, in turn, give you even more ideas of winter things to do in London!
2 – Eat & Drink Inside.
Another way to enjoy London during wintertime is to make sure you plan your meals and drinks inside too! There’s nothing worse than being outside in freezing temperatures trying to eat and drink.
Luckily, London becomes really cosy in Winter. There are lots of Winter rooftop bars in London like The Trafalgar in St James, Golden Bee in Shoreditch, Pergola in Paddington and FEST in Camden. These London rooftop bars will keep you warm with blankets and outdoor heaters so they are perfect bars in London to visit during the day and in the evening.
There are also plenty of food markets in London. Some will be London winter markets that are set up purely for winter and Christmas specifically like Covent Garden, Leicester Square and the Southbank Christmas market. Other markets will be open all year round.
Some markets in London are better than others in winter, for example, Camden Food Market is not a good market to go to in winter in London because it’s all outside with limited indoor areas whereas Borough Market, Greenwich Market and cool food markets like Dinerama and are indoor with indoor seating.
These are my 5 favouite street food markets in London!
3 – Visit London at Christmas.
Visiting London in December is the best month to visit London I think because the whole city lights up and there are so many things to do in London at Christmas!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is the most visited and most popular place to visit in London in December. Winter Wonderland London is full of rides, food stalls, shops and bars.
London in December also comes alive with more Christmas markets than any other city I think. On top of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, head down to the Southbank for the Southbank Christmas Markets, Leicester Square and Covent Garden Christmas Market.
Here’s my post on how to see the best Christmas lights and Christmas markets in London to help you see them all in one day in London!
Other things to do in London in December include ice-skating in the many rinks that are put up around the city and Christmas shows in the theatre.
4 – What to Wear in London in Winter.
They say that there is no bad weather, only bad outfits and I agree. It can be hard to plan your London winter outfits because it’s not always really cold, some days during the London winter time the weather can be quite mild.
When it comes to what to wear in London winter I’d say that layers are key so you can take them off and put them on. Jeans are the best trousers to wear to keep you warm, I even wear tights under my jeans sometimes in winter, especially in January and February. Boots are needed too whether they are walking boots or Chelsea boots.
Wear a tank top or t-shirt with a jumper, a warm coat on top and a hat and scarf.
If you’re struggling with Winter in London what to wear then know that all the London winter clothes you need can be purchased when you get to London. I suggest heading to Oxford Street first if you need to go winter clothes shopping in London and go to the highstreet stores like Primark, H&M, Newlook, Next, Marks and Spencers and Uniqlo.
Another reason layers are best is because it may be cold outside but as soon as you get inside a cafe or restaurant, you’ll quickly warm up due to the central heating, and as soon as you reach the tube platform and get on the London tube, especially if it’s busy, you’ll be sweating in no time!
5 – Use London’s Public Transport.
On the note of the London tube, use it because it really is the best way to get around London and especially in London Winter weather!
The London underground may seem scary or hard to navigate if it’s your first time in London but it really isn’t. The coloured lines are easy to work out and the platforms and trains provide well-needed warmth from London’s winter weather. Infact, you may even get too hot on the tube even if it’s 0c outside!
Another way to get around London is on the buses, these are regular so you won’t have to wait outside at the bus stops for long and they are a great way to see the city of London as you get from A to B rather than going underground.
I’d suggest downloading the app City Mapper to help you work out which buses and trains to get in London.
Related Post: What to see in London in 2 Days | London Itinerary!
6 – Winter Day Trips from London.
London is great but it’s also a great place to base yourself and see more of England from!
Generally, the further south you go in England, the warmer and drier it is. London is of course already pretty Southern but you can go a little bit further down for chances of slightly better weather.
Winter day trips from London I’d recommend would be to the coast, for example, Brighton or Hastings, or to Kent. Even though they’ll have a sea breeze, they are still nice places to visit in Winter in England.
Other day trips from London in Winter could be the popular places to visit in England like Stonehenge, Oxford, Cambridge and the Cotswolds. Here are some great options with high reviews from Get Your Guide which is a reputable online tour provider in the UK.
For more ideas and some alternative day trips from London, have a look at this post I wrote!
7 – Be Prepared for all Weather.
I’ve mentioned this briefly already but I’ll say it again because this is an important London travel tip! If you’re wondering ‘what is the weather like in London in winter?’, there is no definite answer because the weather in London changes a lot! We have had extremely mild December’s in the last few years whilst March, which is technically Spring in London, has been freezing!
I’d say that London in January is guaranteed to be cold and probably a bit wet and grey. Moods tend to be low during January in London because Christmas is over and everyone is saving money, trying to lose weight and often doing Dry January where no-one drinks! With that being said, there are still things to do in London in January!
On your London packing list, I would add a small packable travel umbrella in case it rains, but if it doesn’t you can carry it lightly and easily. A packable rain jacket so you can keep exploring London when it rains. And layers like vest tops, t-shirts, jumpers, a coat, hat and scarf, so you can take them off and add them on when needed!
These are 20 items I always pack in my case and will help you on your London trip too!
8 – Stay in a Central London Location.
London is a big city and although the tube and buses make getting around London easy, the average journey time is about 40 minutes. There is an abundance of accommodation in London including hotels, hostels and Airbnb properties!
If it’s cold and wet when you visit London, you don’t want to have to deal with an hour journey just to get back to your accommodation. Therefore I recommend the best area of London to stay in as being in Zone 1 or 2, which still gives you plenty of flexibility.
HOTELS AND HOSTELS IN LONDON
AIRBNB IN LONDON
London has some great Airbnb options like this which will make you feel like a local! To get £25.00 / $30.00 off your Airbnb stay(which is a good saving in London!), open a new account using this promo code!
9 – Be Flexible with When you Visit.
If you’re flexible with when you can visit London and you’re looking for the best month to visit London in winter, I would suggest December as the best time to visit London because of the buzz of Christmas and all of the Winter activities London.
I’d also recommend October and November to catch the end of Autumn in London, these months are when the weather is getting colder, the nights are getting darker but it’s not getting too cold and grey and instead London is a beautiful golden colour. March and late February are also great months to visit London as winter is slowly coming to a close, although it can still snow in March and has done in the last few years, but, slowly nature is coming back alive too which makes London very pretty.
January in London can be pretty bleak to be honest, so if you are flexible this is the one month I would probably recommend not visiting London because Londoners are getting over Christmas and New Year, saving money by not going out and staying in on the coldest and darkest evenings and this will affect your trip to London as a visitor I think!
10 – Note how Dark it will be!
Talking of dark nights you may be surprised by how early it gets dark in the UK during winter and what time the sunrises in London in winter!
In January, the sunrises in London at about 8:00am and the sunsets at about 16:00pm which doesn’t give you that many hours of daylight for sightseeing.
This isn’t a major problem as there are many winter activities in London that you can do in the dark and London is an amazing city in the dark. Walking along the Thames is one of the best things to do in London at night. London is also very safe in the dark, but if you want to visit the best parks in London in winter, go on a London winter run, see some of London’s viewpoints, make sure you do this whilst it’s still light!
Also, we get some amazing winter sunsets in London!
Now you will be all set to visit London in winter and know what to expect during November, December, January and February in London!
For more of my London posts and guides see: