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23 Rainy Day in London Activities: What to Do in London in the Rain

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We all dream of sunny London days, but the fact of the matter is that it can be a bit damp, here!

Not as much as you may expect, but definitely you should come prepared with some rainy day in London activities no matter the time of year.

Luckily, London certainly doesn’t shut down in the rain because otherwise it would seemingly never be open!

I’ve got some cool suggestions of things to do in London indoors so that you can have some options to keep you dry if you need it!

Person crossing the road in London as it snows, holding a blue umbrella
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Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK or live in the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!

You should also check out my ultimate course on visiting London with over 70 topics, including how to stay safe in the city, to help you make the most of your London trip here!

Museums 

If you’re wondering what to do in London in the rain, don’t forget my list of the best London museums for some inspiration.

They’re all indoors, by nature, so you won’t even notice the weather outside when you’re wandering through the rooms at the British Museum or checking out what the monarchy has collected at the V & A.

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For the larger museums like the Science Museum and Natural History Museum in South Kensington, as well as the Museum of London, you can easily spend at least half of a London rainy day here, and the full day if you’re willing to go a bit slower, get involved in activities, and eat lunch on site.

There are also some smaller museums like the Museum of Brands and the Charles Dickens Museum that will give you a good hour or so out of the weather without taking up your whole day. 

Art Galleries

The National Gallery was practically made for bad weather!

Spend your time wandering around all of the galleries or head to somewhere like Tate Modern where you can enjoy endless hours of modern art and films without stepping foot outside.

The great thing about many of London’s art galleries are that they are conveniently located to other attractions as well, so once the weather lets up, you can head outside and easily onto your next London adventure. 

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I would prioritize just one art museum that’s relatively large, like Tate Britain or the one’s mentioned above, as the smaller galleries won’t get you out of the rain long enough and you’ll have to keep darting in and out.

SkyGarden

If you want a postcard view of rainy London, then you don’t need to worry about the weather during your booking at the SkyGarden.

You’ve got loads of indoor space to get a great view and the drizzles coming down the window will just add to the atmosphere. 

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There are also food options so you can plan to have something to eat to get reenergized.

And this is yet another reason why visiting the SkyGarden is much better than the touristy view from the Shard, one of my suggested things to NOT do in London.

With the view from the Shard, there’s no hang-out area and it’s a case of going up to then come back down immediately afterwards.

The SkyGarden is more of an experience, hence, a great thing to do in inside in London when the skies open!

London Eye

While the line for the London Eye is outdoors, the actual ride itself which lasts 30 minutes is entirely in a closed bubble, so don’t fret if it rains during your London Eye experience.

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Again, seeing London in the rain is an essential part of visiting London (it sets the mood!), so just enjoy the view and the city being refreshed by Mother Nature. 

Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are completely indoors and mostly underground, so not only does it not matter if it’s raining, but you won’t know anyways!

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This is a fantastic way to spend a few hours on a rainy afternoon or morning, as you can really dive into the museum and all of the artifacts and rest assured that you won’t get wet as you go from room to room. 

Westminster Abbey & St. Paul’s Cathedral

There are beautiful Westminster Abbey views from the outside, but as you go into the Abbey itself, you’ll be indoors and out of the bad weather.

City of London School with Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral
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The same goes for St. Paul’s Cathedral – hurry indoors and then an entire world of church and London history will be open to you without needing an umbrella. 

Covered Markets

Not all London markets are covered, but many are!

You can experience much of Borough Market while under cover, and the same goes for Old Spitalfields Market.

A squid food shop at Borough Market London
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Take the opportunity to do some shopping, eating, and browsing as you wait for the rain to clear. 

Some of the markets do have large outdoor components, especially ones that don’t run all week like the Columbia Road Flower market, so research your market of choice before planning it for a rainy day in case it’s fully exposed.

British Library

One of my favorite sites in all of London is the British Library, and it’s just a bonus that it’s indoors so you don’t have to get wet in the rain.

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Head to the permanent collections and visitor galleries to see the Magna Carta, handwritten original lyrics from popular British bands, and a treasure trove of scientific and literary original works by names you’ll be familiar with (Leonardo da Vinci, anyone?)

Shopping at Selfridges or John Lewis on Oxford Street

You won’t want to do major shopping in London on Oxford Street in the rain as you’ll have to keep ducking in and out of stores, but if you are open to exploring one of the UK’s premier department stores in more depth, check out Selfridge’s or John Lewis on Oxford Street.

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With multiple floors and plenty of things to buy and see, you can spend quite a while in here discovering the classic tastes in the Food Hall, seeing the latest British fashion, and lusting over purchases that might be too big for your suitcase!

Have Lunch in a Pub

Pubs are even cozier when it’s raining outside!

Stop into one of London’s best pubs anytime in the afternoon for lunch, dinner, or drinks, and you’ll find a warm and comfortable place to get out of the weather for awhile (and you’ll be joined by plenty of people doing the same!)

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If you haven’t been to a pub before, check out my guide to pub etiquette in the UK.

It will help you figure out things like whether you’re supposed to seat yourself, tipping, and all of the cultural need-to-knows!

Have Afternoon Tea or Tea in a Cafe

You can either pop in for a sit-down at a cafe for some drinks and a cake, or you can book a full afternoon tea for a rainy day.

With the amount of afternoon teas available in London, you can often book last minute with smaller groups, or at least the day before if you know you’re in for a wet day!

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Some afternoon teas are really all about the view, like the afternoon tea in the Shard or the afternoon teas on a London bus or boat.

I wouldn’t recommend these on a rainy day (unless you’ve already booked), and go for somewhere like afternoon tea at the British Museum which is more about the experience indoors and doesn’t rely on any views outside.

See a West End Show

With both matinee and evening performance options, escaping the weather in a West End theater is definitely not a hardship!

The weather outside won’t matter one bit once you’re singing along to The Lion King classics or traveling to Canada in Come from Away or feeling sorry for Matilda. 

People walking in the West End, London, holding umbrellas, with show adverts in front of them
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If you want last minute tickets, check out the Leicester Square Last Minute tickets booth, or just search online!

Daunt Books

If you’re hoping to escape into a cozy bookshop, Daunt Books is the best bookshop in London, perfect for curling up in a chair and watching the rain roll down the windows as you get lost in a good book (or your thoughts).

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And you’re supporting independent booksellers, which is a great thing to do!

Tower of London

While the Tower of London is not fully insulated from the rain due to the outdoor components, much of the experience does involve going from sheltered area to sheltered area.

The Crown Jewels, for instance, are definitely not sitting out in the rain!

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On a drizzly day, the Tower of London has extra atmosphere and you’ll spend so much time indoors seeing the exhibits and exploring the tunnels and museums that the time you have to spend criss-crossing the Tower outside shouldn’t bother you.

Take a Bus Tour

One option for sightseeing on a rainy day is taking a hop-on/hop-off London bus tour and simply not hopping off!

You wouldn’t want to do this in a torrential downpour where you can’t see outside, but it doesn’t often torrentially rain in London so you’ll be fine on most days.

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This will allow you to stay dry while still learning about major London sights, which is a huge bonus.

You can choose from options that have live narrators as well as those that have recorded options, and while you may need to sit downstairs to avoid getting wet in the open-top atmosphere, it’s a fantastic way to not waste any time in London.

Try an Escape Room

What’s better to get out of the rain in London than an Escape room where the whole point is to stay indoors and out of the elements for an hour or more?

Escape rooms are popular all over the world, but London was one of the leading cities featuring these unique things to do in London, and you can choose from everything to crime scene escape rooms to historic escape rooms to rooms that are suitable for kids.

Visit the Postal Museum

The Postal Museum is one of the most unique museums in London, featuring the history of the postal service as well as the famous Mail Rail which took mail underground from place to place.

You can go on tunnel walking tours and learn more from interactive exhibits, all indoors!

Visit the London Transport Museum

This museum in Covent Garden is one of the best things to do in London with kids, and it’s all indoors so perfect for the rain!

London Transport Museum Review
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The reason it is on my top list of where to take the kids is that it features interactive exhibits more heavily than some of the more standard museums like the British Museum.

They’ll be engaged, able to climb on lots of buses and other transportation carriages, and the gift shop is such a fun and colorful place to buy your London gifts and tube trinkets!

And, bonus!

You can walk just a few steps from the front of the museum into Covent Garden, which has a covered area full of shops and restaurants.

Harrods

If you want some iconic London shopping that you can get lost in without ever having to go back outside, Harrods is the place to go.

This famous store in Knightsbridge is known for being the choice for royalty and the world’s uber wealthy, but today it has everything from a Food Hall to a toy section with plenty of affordably priced options.

Harrod's exterior covered in lights at Christmas
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Image: Harrod’s. Aaron May. [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

This is a must-see for shopping gurus, if nothing else for some window shopping amongst the gorgeous interior and upscale atmosphere (but no, there’s no dress code, thankfully).

See a Film

Whether you want to see the latest blockbuster or you’re after a more indie film, London’s best cinemas feature all of that and more.

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Sure, you could go to an Odean and get the basic experience, or you could visit a historic cinema in London like the Prince Charles Cinema for a memorable experience.

Visit Kensington Palace

If you’re a fan of royal history, check out Kensington Palace when looking for what to do in the rain in London.

Fountain in front of Kensington Palace in Hyde Park London
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The part that you have to pay for, the interior entry, is all out of the rain and you can see fascinating exhibits from royal history as well as check out the cafe and gift shop.

Kensington Palace is famously the home of the late Princess Diana, as well as being the current residence of Will, Kate, and their 3 children.

Go Shopping at Westfields

There are two Westfields locations in London, Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush.

These are basically giant malls, with mostly interior stores so you can spend a few hours browsing some of the most iconic British stores while being out of the rain.

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There are also plenty of restaurants on-site, which means you can combine a trip to somewhere like Debenham’s to check out their lines of teapots with a trip to Nando’s, one of the most popular British chains that serve up great chicken!

This is a particularly good option if you’re in London for awhile and have time to spare, as I wouldn’t recommend someone with just 24 hours in London to spend time in a shopping mall.

Take a Day Trip Out of London

With attractions like Brighton‘s Royal Pavilion just an hour away by train, as well as all of the incredible offerings in Oxford being so close, don’t feel stuck in London if you’ve done most of the indoor activities and it’s raining.

Oxford from above with colourful buildings in front
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Hop on a train and you can explore Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, Museum of the History of Science, and plenty of rainy day offerings like the Covered Market (don’t miss out on Moo’s milkshakes!) and indoor Harry Potter filming locations like the Bodleian library.

You could also consider a day trip to Dover Castle, which does have outdoor components but is also filled with tours of medieval and World War II tunnels, as well as plenty of indoor exhibits.

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