Are you planning to visit London in winter? When we plan travel we prefer to do our trips in spring, summer and early autumn when we can count on some sunshine. However sometimes the only opportunity is to travel during winter. I say embrace that challenge. There are plenty of things to do in London in winter even on the greyest of days.
Tips for visitors to London in winter
Get cosy in a pub
Nothing says England more than a fire roaring inside a quaint pub. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, one of London’s oldest pubs, has a coal fire burning in the bar. For more ideas here is a list of pubs in London with an open fireplace. Enjoy!
Visit London’s museums and galleries
The ever popular Natural History Museum and V&A are always extremely busy. I recommend visiting early (before midday) to avoid the crowds. Also try heading a little out of the main tourist traffic and heading 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 types art lovers – from modern art at the Tate Modern to Old Masters and Renaissance glory at the National Gallery. Here is my round up of the best art galleries in London.
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.
Take afternoon tea
This British tradition is a must do when visiting London. You can have the poshest of teas at The Ritz or take your tea mobile on a vintage London bus. Afternoon tea can be taken at many venues across London including at the iconic Houses of Parliament – a truly unique London experience.
We recently enjoyed a great Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at the Chesterfield hotel in Mayfair. The creative themed menu was delicious and thoughtfully adjusted for our children who were thoroughly spoilt by the staff.
This site has a great list of afternoon tea options.
Some more London afternoon tea ideas
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 and actresses there is always something on to appeal to the broadest of tastes. Check Time Out for up to date lists of what’s on and secure discount and last minute tickets at London Theatre Direct.
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 and enjoy one of my favourite activities – shopping for scarves. If you like markets head to Spitalfields for a uniquely London experience.
Where to stay in London in winter
When it is cold outside it is important to stay somewhere lovely and cosy in a central location with all the creature comforts.
My pick of London’s luxury hotels
The Goring 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.
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 often recommend visitors dine there.
London apartment rental
Depending on how you travel and who you travel with, staying in a well appointed apartment may be a better accommodation option. Read my guide to finding the best apartments and houses for short term rental online and find your perfect London winter base.
If searching the listings for hidden gems seems too much hard work, try apartment rental specialists The Plum Guide. Using impressive criteria and a commitment to uncovering the best hospitality available in London, you are certain to find a cosy stay for your winter visit to London.
December is the best month to visit London in winter
London is lovely during the Christmas season and festive cheer abounds. Try ice skating at Somerset House or the Natural History Museum, shopping in central London and soaking up the atmosphere 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.
London’s long winter
It can be bitterly cold in London until April. I 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
✪ check out this list of apps I recommend for visitors to London – updated regularly
✪ a tour and afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament
✪ some uniquely London souvenir ideas
✪ spend the day in glorious Greenwich
This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own based on personal experience
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