London On a Rainy Day: 14 Things To Do
Since it rains quite often in London, chances are pretty good that you will have at least one rainy day during your stay, especially between October through January. London gets approximately 112 rainy days per year. That means it rains 30% of the time. During the rainy months, the average jumps up to almost 37% with about 11 days out of 30.
Just because it is raining, does not mean your vacation is ruined though. There is plenty to do in London indoors like museums, indoor shopping malls with entertainment, and dining options to enjoy some London cuisines. Since you will be visiting many of the attractions, consider getting a London pass that can get you in free or at low cost at many places in the city.
Because it rains so often, you should plan what you can do in London on a rainy day, especially if you will be there for more than a couple of days. You don't want to waste any of your vacation days sitting in the hotel watching television. Planning an itinerary for London on a rainy day is a better idea!
There are plenty of London attractions that would be perfect for that rainy day such as the Tower of London, or the London Aquarium, where you can see thousands of marine creatures. See a movie at the Electric Cinema, or spend the whole rainy afternoon at Westfield Stratford City, the largest shopping center in Europe.
In East London, head to Swingers where you can play crazy golf, which is like mini golf on steroids. There are two locations. One on Oxford Street and the other right by the Gherkin Skyscraper. Or go shopping at Old Spitalfields Market.
But while you go from place to place with your umbrella overhead, why bring your shopping purchases or extra gear along and risk it getting wet? Use Bounce luggage storage in London where you can leave your bags while you explore.
Natural History Museum of London
Since 1881, the Natural History Museum of London has been educating everyone who visits. One of three museums on Exhibition Road along with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum, you can visit all three on one rainy day in London.
With more than 80 million items, you can see collections from zoology, palaeontology, mineralogy, entomology, and botany. One of the most popular exhibits is the 105-foot Dippy the Dinosaur skeleton. Another favorite is the New Whale Hall filled with full-sized whale skeletons.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Established in 1852, this fascinating museum boasts 145 different galleries with more than 2.2 million items. It was named for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The museum holds the largest collection of post-classical sculptures featuring a vast array of Italian Renaissance items as well as Asian, European, and American. Some Asian items date back to 500 BC and there are paintings by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Raphael to name a few.
Another old museum, this one opened in 1857 and boasts over 350 thousand objects in several buildings. The main building features the Energy Hall, Exploring Space, and Making the Modern World as well as The Secret Life of Home and Medicine Galleries.
Also in the Main Building, see The Clockmakers Museum, Science City 1550-1800, and Mathematics Winton Gallery. Upstairs you can find the Wonderlab and Flight Galleries. The Welcome Wing features Tomorrow's World, Who Am I?, the Atmosphere Gallery, and the IMAX Theatre.
Located in Bloomsbury, the British Museum has been open since 1753 and has approximately eight million items from ancient mummies to prehistoric petroglyphs from South Africa. The museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM except for Fridays when it is open until 8:30 PM. Admission is free, but they accept donations.
The most famous item at the British Museum is the Rosetta stone, which is something you cannot miss while you are in London whether it is raining or not. Another is the Gebelein predynastic mummies from 3400 BC. But don't miss the Ancient Greek amphora from 540 BC, which is stunning. There are also special exhibitions all year long.
Founded by Henry Tate and is the most visited museum in the United Kingdom, established in 2000. It is often crowded in London when it rains because even the locals enjoy this place. The Tate Modern is a great way to spend a few hours and you can see works from all over the world.
Open until 8 PM and admission is free, although some of the exhibits may charge a small fee. Tate Modern has a wonderful collection of both international modern and contemporary art with quite a few special items like the Monet's 1916 Water Lilies painting and the Pablo Picasso's 1909 painting of Figure Dans un Fauteuil.
Southwest of Tate Modern along the River Thames in the heart of the city, Tate Britain may be a bit older, but it still boasts a plethora of stunning British artwork dating back to the 1500s. Open until 6 PM, this art gallery is also free to the public.
Actually, Tate Britain is a treasure trove of famous paintings done by John Singer Sargent, J.M.W. Turner, and James Abbott McNeil Whistler. The Statue of Millais out front is a popular spot for selfies,, and you can get some unique souvenirs at one of the gift shops.
If you are looking for more art, London has over 200 art galleries to explore. The National Gallery in the West End near Trafalgar Square is open until 5 PM and boasts more than 2,300 paintings dating to the 1200s. The highlights include works by da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
The Barbican is not just an art gallery, it is also a conservatory. The Barbican Conservatory is a glassed garden with exotic fish and more than 2,000 species of tropical plants. The Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly is open until 6 PM daily except Friday it is open until 10 PM. You'll see works from David Hockney, John Constable, and more.
Visiting art galleries is a fantastic pastime, no matter what time of year. When is the best time to see the galleries and museums in this intriguing city? Our guide, The Best Time to Visit London will tell you!
Right by the southern end of the London Bridge, the Borough Market has an indoor section that is perfect for London on a rainy day. You will find more than your fair share of rainy day activities here from shopping to dining. It is open until 5 PM every day except Sunday when it closes at 3 PM.
Situated on the south bank of the river, there are three main sections with over 100 market stalls. The produce stands and shops are popular in London when it rains so be ready for some crowds. But you will also find some wonderful things here you cannot get anywhere else like the Richard Bramble Collection and specialty olive oils made to order.
You may have heard of escape rooms or may have been to one before. But even if you have been to an escape room in the states, you should check out some of the ones they have in the city of London. What better way to spend a rainy day?
The London Bridge Escape Room is popular and easy to find since it is right by the iconic bridge of the same name. Or, if you want to do several of them in one day, there are four in Whitechapel within a few blocks. Try your luck at getting out of a locked room.
The London Bridge Experience & London Tombs
See what goes on underneath the famous bridge with an interactive tour designed to scare and entertain while you learn all about the history of the bridge. Meet characters from the past 2,000 years who will help you relive the dark secrets buried there.
Some say the bridge is haunted and as you walk through the underground rooms, you will meet some of these 2,000-year-old ghosts. Some of them are horribly scary while others are just hilarious. This is a fun experience for a rainy day in London.
Churchill War Rooms
What better place to be during a rainfall than underground? Under the streets of the city, you will find the Churchill war rooms just up from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. It is said that Churchill planned the attack routes during World War II in these rooms.
The Map Room was constantly manned by the Royal Air Force, British Army, and Royal Navy and the Cabinet Room was where they planned their moves. Besides all that, you can also see the bedroom of Clementine Churchill and several others. The price is about $35 per person and it is open until 6 PM.
Have afternoon tea at Covent Garden Seven Dials Market or enjoy a brew at one of the pubs in the neighborhood like Lamb & Flag, which is one of London's oldest pubs. This area is an entertainment and shopping hub in the West End where you can browse the craft stalls at Apple Market.
Check out the classic vehicles at the London Transport Museum or watch the street performers entertain right by St. Paul's Church. See a ballet performance at the Royal Opera or a show at one of the four theatres in the village.
The London Eye is perfect for a rainy day as long as it is not too windy or there is no lightning in the area. It is open to the public until 6 PM but you can reserve a private ride after hours.
Each pod holds up to 25 people in an air-conditioned space with seats for all. The highest point is 443 feet, and you can see for about 40 miles. Another option here is the Pub Pod where you can enjoy two drinks during your 30-minute trip around the wheel.
Another one of London's things to do in the city is sharing afternoon tea somewhere. Anywhere really. There are so many tea cafes and bistros in London, that you will have a hard time NOT finding one. One of the most popular is Savage Garden at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel at the Tower of London.
It is a British tradition to enjoy a cup of tea and cakes, finger sandwiches, scones, and other delicious items. Around the British Museum, you can find over a dozen tea rooms such as Camellia's Tea House, Tea & Tattle, and the Court Cafe on the lower level of the museum. One of the hidden gems in London is the quaint cafe on Farringdon Street called To a Tea. They have the best tea cakes.
Best Rainy Day Activities
Whether you are visiting one of these attractions or one of London's other attractions like the Grant Museum, Sky Garden, or Old Spitalfields Market, you will be spoiled for choice in London on a rainy day. At the mall, besides terrific shopping, you can also find indoor activities like a bowling alley, cinema, and indoor golf.
You also may enjoy one of London's bowling alleys, ping pong bars, or the Royal Observatory. Most of these places are just a short walk from one of the train or bus stations so they are easy to get to without having to get soaking wet. After a morning of staying dry, stop for a bite to eat at a cozy vegetarian restaurant and decide what to do tomorrow!