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Are you planning a trip to London in winter?
Get your woolly hat and gloves ready, it’s a lot of fun.
There are plenty of things to do in London in winter even on the greyest of days.
What's in this article
- 1 Things to do in London in winter
- 2 Where to stay in London in winter
- 3 Visiting London in December
- 4 London winter weather
- 5 Further reading on visiting London
Things to do in London in winter
Visiting London in December, January and February provides some unique challenges.
The days are cold and darkness sets in early and you will probably want to spend a lot of time indoors. But you might be surprised to learn there are some fun outdoor attractions too.
So get creative and plan out a London winter itinerary with these activities.
Catch a show in London’s West End
From classics like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera to the latest productions starring world famous actors there is a show for everyone playing in London’s West End.
Top London theatre shows 2019
- 42nd Street – an exciting all singing and dancing spectacular. We loved this show and would go back again and again – click to check ticket prices
- Les Miserables – London’s longest running show (since 1985) and favourite tale of love, loss and redemption set in the Paris commune – click to check ticket prices
- School of Rock – this is a fun stage version of the Hollywood blockbuster by musical great Andrew Lloyd-Webber that gets rave reviews – click to check ticket prices
- Matilda – a clever musical version of the Roald Dahl classic perfect if you want to treat your kids and make them laugh out loud – click to check ticket prices
Find a cosy London pub
Nothing could be cosier and more English than an open fire roaring inside a quaint pub.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese at 145 Fleet Street is one of London's oldest pubs, dating from just after the Great Fire of London.
This pub has a coal fire burning in the bar and a fascinating history. Apparently Charles Dickens and Mark Twain once drank there.
If you like the sound of that, here is a list of pubs in London with an open fireplace and a fabulous walking tour of the city's historic pubs where you uncover the hidden stories behind each watering hole - click here for more information
Looking for more activities to do at night in London?
Read our guide to London after dark
Visit London's museums and galleries
Many of the city's museums and galleries are free to visit, so they are always a popular winter activity in London.
We love visiting the British Museum in all seasons but this visitor favourite can fill a whole rainy London day.
The ever popular Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A in Kensington are always extremely busy.
We recommend visiting the museums early (before midday) to avoid the crowds.
Tip: We often go to South Kensington tube station and have breakfast so we can enter as soon as they open at 10:00am. Here is a list of popular London eateries that can be found nearby.
To avoid the main tourist traffic go to Greenwich where there are several fascinating museums including the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory and Meridian Line and National Maritime Museum.
All these museums have fantastic exhibits and experiences for kids of all ages if you are travelling as a family.
There is a London gallery for all art lovers - from modern art at the Tate Modern to Old Masters and Renaissance glory at the National Gallery. For our round up of the best art galleries in London click here.
For mid shopping trip culture fix try the Wallace Collection near Selfridges. This museum is free to enter and has great art and beautifully curated collections of amour, porcelain and furniture.
Afternoon tea indulgence
This British tradition is a must do each time you visit London.
Afternoon tea can be taken at many unique venues across London but I think the most fabulous tea is at the iconic Houses of Parliament - a truly unique London experience.
If you fancy a stylish and modern tea, we recently enjoyed an indulgent afternoon tea with a spectacular view of the Tower of London at Aqua Shard
I love tea so much I made my own round up of favourite places in London for afternoon tea - click here to view
More London afternoon tea ideas
Shop till you drop on Oxford and Regent Streets
Duck in and out of the shops along Oxford and Regent Street for high street bargains. Post Christmas sales are fantastic in London and you are likely to find some great deals.
Make sure your drop by Liberty of London at and enjoy one of my favourite activities - shopping for scarves.
At Christmastime you must go to the top floor where there are all the tree baubles you could dream of in Liberty of London's Christmas shop.
If you like markets head to Spitalfields for a uniquely London experience and fun offerings from small designers.
Where to stay in London in winter
When it is cold outside, we think it is important to stay somewhere lovely and cosy. Find a hotel in a central location with all the creature comforts and you have the ultimate mid winter treat.
Our pick of London's luxury hotels
The Goring is close to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey for sightseeing and Sloane Square for shopping.
This elegant hotel is a haven from the fast pace of the city and is renowned for impeccable service and hospitality. Staying here is such a treat - click here for latest prices
Across town at the Rosewood London in Holborn the atmosphere is equally tranquil. Close to the theatres of Covent Garden and shopping on Oxford Street, the hotel is in an historic building that captures the essence of London's grandeur.
I have enjoyed many meals at the Holborn Dining Room within the hotel and always recommend visitors dine there when in London - click here for the latest prices
Cosy London hotels
Guests enjoy complimentary luxury toiletries and fluffy bathrobes at this modern and stylish hotel - click here to check latest prices
Close to the Tate Modern, Borough Market and action on the Southbank, citizenM London Bankside is a modern hip hotel in a great location.
Guests love the artwork and modern style - click here for latest prices
London apartment rental
We recommend you choose areas that are close to transport and activities to make the most of your trip:
- Soho, Oxford Street, West End
Read my guide to finding the best apartments and houses for short term rental online and find your perfect London winter base.
Visiting London in December
December is the best month to visit London in winter. The city is magical during the Christmas season.
There is nothing more festive than shopping in central London at Christmastime soaking up the atmosphere, Christmas windows and decorations around Covent Garden and New Bond Street.
The Southbank Christmas Markets are a fun way to spend an afternoon. Sip on mulled wine as you browse the craft stalls for gifts and ride the carousel.
The market and Christmas activities stretch from outside the Tate Modern to near the London Eye.
Right in the heart of Soho, there is a lovely Christmas market at Leicester Square. This one gets very busy with shoppers and visitors so visit earlier in the day if you want to avoid the crowds.
Try ice skating at Somerset House or the Natural History Museum. You can even skate in front of the Tower of London.
This is one of our favourite Christmas traditions. For some reason the ice skating rinks close after the Christmas season which is a real shame - it's so much fun!
Tip - book tickets early for ice skating especially if you are visiting closer to Christmas. It is a very popular activity with both Londoners and tourists.
Don't forget to visit London's famous fun fair Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Open from November to January, there are fairground rides, a market to browse and an opportunity to meet Santa of course.
London winter weather
Winter runs December to January in London. Days are short and nights are long - the sun sets around 4pm and rises again after 8am.
Temperatures in winter stay well below 10°C / 50°F but rarely dip below freezing. Snow is rare in London but it is a magical sight to behold. There's nothing quite like seeing the city's iconic monuments blanketed in snow.
Make sure to bring a warm coat, hat and gloves so you can enjoy your trip to London outdoors as well as inside.
How long is winter in London?
It can be bitterly cold in London until April. We had the dubious pleasure of walking straight into a horizontal sleet storm over Easter one year.
Londoners excitedly wait for the Spring and Summer when the blossoms are out.
During those seasons the living is all about lazy days in the gorgeous parks and gardens and a long afternoon pub garden lunches. In the meantime, there much to appreciate about London in winter.
Further reading on visiting London
If you want to hit all the classic sights and only have limited time in London, you might like to check out our 3 day London itinerary.
Over three days you can visit everything you love about London - the history, pubs, parks and shopping.
More useful posts for your trip to London:
- what to pack for your trip to London
- our favourite list of apps I recommend for visitors to London - updated regularly
- afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament
- some uniquely London souvenir ideas
- spend the day in glorious Greenwich
- our guide to visiting London with kids
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