I don´t want to start this blog post with "London is well known for bad weather and rainy days", because this is just a persistent rumor and not the truth. In contrast to many other Central and Northern European countries, London doesn´t have more rainy days. Nevertheless, there are approx. 150 days of rain a year and for these days I listed 25 things to do in the British capital when the weather is bad.
Rainy days London - 25 things to do in London when it rains
Indoor activities in London for one day
1. British Museum
The British Museum is one of the biggest and most visited museums in the world. It shows exhibits from all over the world which present the human history and culture. It´s no problem to spend more than a day there because if you would look at every single object for only 10 seconds, it would take approx. 925 years. Highlights:
- The futuristic entrance hall
- Rosetta Stone (it provided the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics)
- Elgin Marbles (marble sculpture and fragments from the Acropolis of Athens)
- The Egyptian mummies
2. Harry Potter Studios
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour "The Making of Harry Potter" is a must-see attraction for every Potterhead. Apart from a small outdoor area, the whole "tour" is inside a huge building. Walk through the Great Hall, fly on a broomstick, go to the Forbidden Forest, look at numerous requisites, learn how to use a wand ... Just immerse yourself in the magical world of Harry, Ron and Hermine. More information here
3. Exhibition Road
At the Exhibition Road in South Kensington there are three great and free museums, where you can spend a rainy day: the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum. The Natural History Museum shows one of the worldwide biggest natural sciences collections. But not only the exhibition itself is well-worth seeing but also the huge Romanesque-Byzantine building. Highlights:
- The skeleton of a blue whale in the entrance hall
- A blue whale which is approx. 30 meters long
- Different dinosaur skeletons
- The architecture of the building
The Victoria & Albert Museum is the world's leading museum of art and design. It shows ceramics, furniture, fashion, jewellery, paintings, sculptures, photographs and a lot more. Highlights:
- Historical fashion from the 5th century
- A beautiful backyard with a big fountain
The Science Museum shows revolutionary inventions from the fields of science, technology, medicine and industry. Highlights:
- Telescope from Galileo Galilei
- Command module Apollo 10
- The oldest steam locomotive in the world
4. Shopping Center Westfields
The shopping mall Westfields Stratford City is one of the biggest shopping malls in Europa. Inside the huge building you will find approx. 250 shops, many restaurants, bars, a bowling alley and a cinema.
Greenwich was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. It is no problem to spend a whole day of rain in this amazing neighbourhood. The beautiful Greenwich Market is fully roofed over and offers everything that the "Shopper's Heart" could desire: artworks, crafts, cloth, jewellery, accessories, beauty products, street food and a lot more. Only 300 meters away is the National Maritime Museum, the largest museum of its kind worldwide. Only 800 meters from the Maritime Museum is the Royal Greenwich Observatory, which accommodates the Zero Meridian and the Peter Harrison Planetarium. The planetarium offers different and interesting shows for approx. 8 GBP per adult.
Indoor activities in London for half a day
Why don´t you spend a few hours at a spa when it rains in London? For example at Porchester Spa (Bayswater), London´s oldest one. It offers access to two steam rooms, Turkish baths (tepidarium, caldarium and laconium), a plunge pool and the relaxation lounge. Price: £28.90.
2. Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is one of the most popular museums for modern art worldwide. Like all public museums in London it is free of charge. Highlights:
- Artworks from Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joseph Beuys, etc.
- 360° view from the rooftop terrace
3. National Gallery
The National Gallery shows one of the worldwide largest collections of paintings from the 13. - 20. century. The beautiful Victorian building is located next to the famous Trafalga Square. Highlights:
- Paintings from Monet, Van Gogh, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, etc.
- The building itself
4. Sea Life
Sea Life is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. It shows one of Europe's largest collections of global marine life. It will transport you into an amazing underwater world. Highlights:
- Shark Walk
- Penguin Point
5. West End Shows
Why don´t you check out a West End show when it rains? For example Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre), Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre) or Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre). For these shows it is often possible to buy tickets for the same day.
Indoor activities in London for 1-2 hours
1. Electric Cinema
Why don´t you watch a cool movie when it rains outside? One of the most beautiful cinemas in London is the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill or Shoreditch.
2. Escape Rooms
Train your brain! There are all sorts of Escape Rooms in London. If you are obsessed with Harry Potter you may like the Escape Room Enigma Quests? With a group of 3-5 persons, you can graduate from the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. To get out of the room you have to pass all exams within one hour. (Book early!)
3. Football stadium tour
In London there are 6 football clubs playing in the Premier League. Do you like football? Then book a stadium tour on a rainy day. Most tours last approx. 1-2 hours. During this time you will get to know the press area, the changing rooms, the player´s tunnel, the history of the club and more.
4. Brewery tour at Fullers
Do you like to drink London Pride? Then a brewery tour at Fullers might be a great indoor activity for you. Fullers is one of the leading breweries in Great Britain. In approx. 2 hours you will learn a lot about the history, the brewing process and the different beer types. Afterwards you will get the chance to try different beers. (only for adults / 18+)
5. Crazy Golf at Swingers
I love mini golf but most golf courses I know are quite boring - but not the one at Swingers. This indoor mini golf course offers two 9-hole golf courses which are designed with loving attention to detail. Moreover, the courses are surrounded by a food court and different bars. One Swingers branch is in the City, next to "The Gherkin" and one close to the tube station Oxford Circus. (only for adults / 18+)
6. Afternoon Tea
Isn´t it obvious to go to the famous afternoon tea when being in London on a rainy afternoon? For this, there are plenty of possibilities. I really liked the Orangery at Kensington Palace, but there are also special-themed afternoon teas like a Wizard-Themed Afternoon Tea in Soho, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at Covent Garden or an Afternoon Tea bus tour.
7. Picnic at Cahoots
Cahoots is one of my favourite bars in London. Via an old wooden staircase you will get into a former air-raid shelter that looks like a tube station from the 40ies. There is a great atmosphere, all waiters wear outfits from the 40ies and there is often suitable live music. On Saturdays you can also go there for a nice British Picnic. (Make a reservation in advance!)
8. Rainforest Café
Why don´t you go to the rainforest when it rains? That might sound strange but don´t worry at Rainforest Café you will stay dry. The restaurant is close to Piccadilly Circus and offers great food like burgers, steaks, spareribs, pasta and salads. You will feel like eating in the jungle; wild animal, special effects and jungle sounds are included.
9. Play at Ballie Ballerson
At Ballie Ballerson, a bar in Shoreditch - or should I say a playground for adults? - you can feel like a kid in different ball pits with 1 million balls. Unfortunately, from Monday to Friday it is only open in the evening but on Saturdays the bar is open from 11.30 am - 2 am and on Sundays from 1 pm - 3 pm.
10. The Cauldron
The Cauldron is an extraordinary bar, where you can test your magical skills. For the so called "Magical Cocktail Experience" you get a cloak and a wand to create (alcoholic) drinkable potions in approx. 2 hours. Alcohol-free, gluten-free, and vegan options are all available. The magical experience costs £29.99 per person.
11. Ping Pong Bar
Bounce is the perfect combination of a ping pong place and a bar because the bar in Farrington has 17 ping pong tables. Moreover, they offer delicious pizza. From Monday to Thursday the bar is open from 4 pm; from Friday to Sunday it is open from 12 pm. Bounce welcomes under 18s in the venue before 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday. All under 18s must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21. Another Bounce branch is close to Old Street (East End).
12. Borough Market
London´s oldest farmers market offers delicious street food and many fresh groceries like fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat and a lot more. The stalls are inside a great hall, thus the Borough Market can be visited also when it rains. On Sundays the market is closed.
13. Old Spitalfields Market
The Old Spitalfields Market is located in a Victorian market hall. Therefore, it is protected from rain. The different stalls offer artworks, crafts, fashion, jewellery, accessories, vinyl records and more. Furthermore, there are great street food stalls and many restaurants. The market is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
14. Stables Market
The Stables Market is part of the famous Camden Market. There are approx. 700 shops and stores located in former stables. Most of them are protected from rain. The market offers alternative fashion, vintage cloth, furniture, antiques, second-hand stuff and more. Opening hours: daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
15. Shopping at Harrods
Harrods is one of the biggest, most exclusive and most famous department stores in the world. It offers designer fashion, luxury gifts and accessories. But my favourite sections are the food halls on the ground floor and the toy department.
Things NOT to do in London when it rains:
- Viewpoints: When it rains, it is often foggy as well. Thus, the view is pretty bad. I would suggest to visit the Skygarden, the Shard, the London Eye and similar tourist attractions on a sunnier day.
- Bus sightseeing tour: When it rains, the windows inside most busses are completely misted up. Thus, you can barely look out and a sightseeing tour by bus is a waste of time.
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