Best Things To Do in London When It Rains

You can have an amazing time in London even if it’s raining outside.

There are plenty of things to do in London when it rains.

UPDATED DECEMBER 2019

The weather in London is so unpredictable.

Though it rains the most in December, it doesn’t rain only in winter. When it rains in the middle of August, Londoners aren’t surprised at all, they’re used to that.

Often the rain in London is just a drizzle that goes away after an hour or two. You might not even have to use your umbrella.

But from time to time a downpour in London will leave you wondering what you can do to hide from the rain and not waste precious vacation time in this wonderful city.

You may find that you need to change your plans on such a rainy day in London if you don’t want to get soaked, but don’t worry, this guide will help you stay dry with a long list of ideas for the best places to go, attractions to visit, activities to try and other things to do in London on a rainy day.

Grab a Bite To Eat

Going into a restaurant or café seems like the obvious thing to do when you’re out and about in London and it starts to rain.

There are so many good places to eat and drink everywhere in the city that it’s probably the easiest way to pass the time till the rain stops.

Other than eating, what else can you do in London when it rains?

Hide from the Rain: Visit London’s Great Museums and Galleries

This is definitely one of the best things to do in London when it rains, because you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to world-class museums and galleries in London.

Most of the major museums are free every day of the week. Others are quite expensive, but you can get free entry with the London Pass (more about that later).

Museums and galleries are the perfect places to spend a few hours indoors when it rains outside.

Some of London’s most popular museums, like The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert, The Science Museum, The British Museum, Madame Tussauds, The Museum of London, The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, Tate Gallery and Tate Modern have such huge collections that can keep you occupied and entertained indoors for as long as you need to hide from the rain.

The British Museum, London
The British Museum

Tip: The large, well known museums in London can get very busy when it rains, so sometimes it’s better to look for the lesser known museums, that may not be as crowded.

The London Pass is London’s city card that grants you free entry and discounts at a lot of this city’s endless list of attractions.

These include many of the places that you want to go to on a rainy day, such as The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kensington Palace, Churchill War Rooms and many more (over 80 attractions in total).

At some of these London attractions you’ll also get fast track entry with the London Pass, so you won’t have to wait in line when the weather’s bad.

Learn a New Skill while It Rains

There are many workshops, classes and courses you can do in London. Why not learn a new skill in a day?

This is a good solution when you check the forecast and see that it’s going to rain. It gives you time to sign up in advance. You may find drop-in classes as well.

Where Do You Find Workshops in London?

You can always simply Google whatever you want to learn and find workshops to match your interest.

If you want to choose from available listings, try some of these sites:

Airbnb Experiences offer a huge range of workshops, tours and other experiences run by locals.

In London you get a really great selection, with hundreds of experiences on offer, including arts, wellness, food workshops and lots more, from making organic skincare products to making chocolates with a chef.

They are conveniently organised by category and you can search by date, time of day, languages and price. You can also search on the map.

Quite a few of these activities are indoors, making them perfect things to do when it’s raining in London.

As always with Airbnb, you can read reviews and it’s quite easy to find the best activities to match your interests.

Obby has a great selection of workshops and classes to choose from, categorised under art and crafts, food, well being etc.

Obby - find workshops and classes in London - what to do in London when it's raining
Obby – find workshops and classes in London

Eventbrite is a huge database of events. You may be overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of events on offer.

Have an Afternoon Tea

It’s a British tradition that tourists love to love and when it’s raining outside, having your tea and scones is even more fun!

Many, many cafes, hotels and other places in London offer afternoon tea these days.

In some of them you’ll have to book in advance, while others will just let you walk in and order.

While in the past you’d normally have your afternoon tea in a cafe or a fancy hotel, now there are more unique experiences on offer too.

You can have afternoon tea at the British Museum, or on a cruise on the River Thames or even on a double decker bus.

As afternoon tea became more popular, the choice has grown rapidly and so has the price range.

If you’re on a budget, check out Groupon – they often have nice deals on afternoon tea.

Go to a Spa

How about a nice massage instead of running around trying to hide from the rain?

One of the things you can do on a rainy day is book a last-minute spa appointment.

Good places to look for spa deals are lastminute.com, Wowcher and Virgin Experience Days.

All have great offers on facials, massages, body scrubs etc. You can also find a spa with a pool and sauna and get a day pass.

Spend Time in a London Market When It Rains

Some of the best places to go in London when it rains are the city’s wonderful covered markets.

London has some excellent markets that you can hide in while it’s raining and there’s plenty to do in any of them to pass the time.

Here are some that I recommend:

Covent Garden Market is probably the most famous one. It’s right in the centre of London and can keep you busy for a while with lovely shops and restaurants until it stops raining.

Covent Garden, London
Covent Garden

Borough Market near London Bridge is a good place to hide from the rainy weather in London if you’re hungry or want to sample some local and international delicacies.

Old Spitalfields Market is one of my favourite London markets. It’s the place to go for arts and crafts, as well as restaurants and cool food stalls.

Leadenhall Market is another London indoor market to visit on a rainy day for shopping and dining. It’s one of the most unique and beautiful places to see in London! It’s also a Harry Potter film location.

Best Rainy Day Activities in London for Harry Potter Fans

There are quite a few Harry Potter locations in London.

Most Potter fans visiting London would go on one of the many Harry Potter walking tours in the city. But where can you go when it rains?

Kings Cross Train Station – Platform 9¾

Between two platforms in London’s Kings Cross train station, a major station in the centre of the city, you’ll find the place The Hogwarts Express departed from.

Line up with other fans to have your photo taken at Platform 9 and 3/4 and visit the Potter souvenir shop next to it.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Harry Potter studios where all the films were made is a short train or bus ride away from the city centre.

A visit to the official Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios lasts about 4 hours (or more…), so as far as indoor activities go, this one will certainly give you shelter from the rain for a long time.

I visited the studios last summer and it was so much fun. There’s a lot to see and the exhibition is beautiful, interactive and fascinating.

I think it’s worth a visit even if you’ve only seen one of the films or read one of the books.

In other words, you don’t have to be a massive Harry Potter fan to enjoy the studio tour; the experience is pretty amazing in itself.

The Warner Bros. studios are located in Watford, north of London.

You can either get there independently by train and then take a shuttle bus, or buy the ticket package that includes entrance to the studios and a direct bus from central London to the studios and back to London.

Make sure you buy your tickets in advance, because this is a hugely popular attraction.

Leadenhall Market

This beautiful, old covered market can be seen in several Harry Potter films.

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market (get a print)

It was one of the filming locations for Diagon Alley, and while you’re there, spot the blue door that was the Leaky Cauldron entrance.

Read a Book on a Rainy Day

Another great indoor activity to pass the time in London when it rains is going to the library.

London has some impressive libraries that are open to the public for free, and you can spend time in them while you wait for the rain to go away.

Some of the most interesting libraries in London to visit when it rains:

The British Library near King’s Cross station has the world’s largest collection of books.

Check out the free public exhibitions while you’re there. You can request to see a book in one of its 11 reading rooms that are free to enter once you issue a reader’s pass.

The Wellcome Collection Reading Room has over 1000 books, categorised under Alchemy, Food, Travel, Body, Breath, Face, Pain, Mind, Lives and Faith.

Find a sofa or walk around to explore the other items in the reading room – sculptures, manuscripts, paintings and interactive activities.

The British Film Institute Library (BFI Library) has books and journals all about cinema and the history of film, mostly in the UK but also worldwide.

I’ve written more about the BFI in my post about South Bank.

If you like poetry, then the Poetry Library in Southbank Centre is the place for you.

It has a huge and growing collection of British poetry from 1912 to contemporary works.

If I’m in central London when it rains, I like to step into one of my favourite London bookshops, Foyles on Charing Cross ( 107 Charing Cross Road).

You can spend hours indoors browsing their massive selection.

It has several floors, a cafe and helpful staff that can look up any book for you.

Go on a Behind the Scenes Tour

A great activity for wet weather London, for the more curious among you.

While it’s raining outside, it may not be a good idea to go on a walking tour, but you can take a tour indoors by joining all sorts of behind-the-scenes tours in London’s most famous cultural institutions.

These will typically teach you about the history of the place and let you look around parts of the building you wouldn’t normally have access to.

If you have a cultural institution that you like, it’s worth checking out if they offer backstage tours. They may also arrange a private tour for you.

These are good for days when you know it’s going to rain, as they require booking in advance. I’ve listed some major venues below with links to their tour pages.

Backstage tours at some of London’s most famous venues:

The Royal Albert Hall grand tour will take you to the auditorium, the Queen’s private box, rehearsal rooms (possibly) and give you insider stories about this world-famous performance hall.

It also offers themed tours, focusing on classical music, history and other themes.

The Royal Opera House backstage tour will give you a glimpse into the current production (which may also be a Royal Ballet show, depending on what’s on that day) and the history of the Royal Opera House.

Southbank Centre is a large cultural complex with several performance halls and galleries, housed in an iconic brutalist building.

They offer both architecture tours and behind the scenes tours.

Somerset House has guided tours several times a week, where you can learn about the fascinating history of this building.

The public tours at Somerset House are free, but you still need to get a ticket at the information desk.

The British Library also offers guided tours of its public areas.

See a Film or a Theatre Show When It’s Raining Outside

London is great for both cinema and theatre lovers looking for fun things to do in London on a rainy day.

Catch a West End show or a show at the National Theatre or at one of London’s many fringe theatres.

London’s most popular West End shows aren’t cheap, but you can find good deals on the major booking sites.

The ones I often use are Encore and Theatre Tickets Direct.

Last minute tickets are often available and will also save you quite a bit of money (have a look at the guide to finding cheap theatre tickets in London.)

For film lovers, there are some interesting things to do in rainy London, besides ordinary cinemas.

The British Film Institute (BFI) mediatheque is an amazing place to spend time when it rains, watching films, TV shows, documentaries and videos from its vast catalogue of over 33,000 titles. Find a sofa and enjoy, it’s all free.

Not far from there near Waterloo station, IMAX has some of the largest cinema screens in London.

Rich Mix, near Shoreditch High Street station, shows both mainstream and arthouse films. Apart from cinemas, it has a rich programme of events.

Rio Cinema is a long-running independent cinema that also mixes arthouse and popular films.

You can also visit the Cinema Museum for screenings of old and new movies.

Fun Indoor Activities in London

Some of the best things to do in London when it rains are… games!

There are quite a few games you can play indoors on a rainy day, including some that you’d normally play outdoors.

Here are some cool suggestions (if you know of more, let me know in the comments):

Indoor golf

You can play mini golf in London with clever indoor golf courses at quite a few locations around the city. These include Golf & Country Club, Swingers, Junkyard Golf, Urban Golf and Plonk Crazy Golf.

Bowling

Another fun rainy day activity in London. There are many bowling alleys in London, including Hollywood Bowl, All Star Lanes, Rowans Bowl and Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes.

Board games

Play some board games while it’s raining outside at a dedicated Board Game Café. Draughts has a collection of over 1,000 games in its two London locations and staff that can teach you how to play. You can have some food and drinks while you play.

Escape rooms

There are tons of escape rooms in London, and they will help you pass the time with a fun group activity on a rainy day. Gather a couple of friends and find the nearest escape room to escape from.

Pétanque

I used to think this French game was only played outside, but in London you can play it indoors at a cocktail bar called Baranis. They have the only indoor Pétanque court in the UK.

Ping Pong

You can also play Ping Pong indoors in London while having a drink. Bounce has several locations across the city. You may want to reserve a ping pong table during peak hours, but they also accept walk-ins. The Book Club in Shoreditch also has a ping pong room.

Indoor tennis

Tennis players can also enjoy a game away from the London rain in some indoor tennis courts around the city. These include Islington Tennis Centre and The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

Don’t Hide from the London Rain! 😉

Something else you can do is just accept it.

Since it rains so often, maybe it’s best to equip yourself with a good waterproof jacket or an umbrella and do whatever you want to do.

What Can You Do Outside in London When It Rains?

A walk along the River Thames in the rain can be a beautiful experience.

Walking tours often run whatever the weather, and there are dozens of walking tours you can take in London.

Some people (not me…) have gone on the London Eye in the rain or have done a River Thames boat tour in the rain.

The Tower of London can be a good place to visit on a rainy day, it might even make it more dramatic than it already is.

As long as the rain is not too strong, you can just do whatever you like.

FAQ: What To Do in London When It Rains?

Does it always rain in London?

No. It may rain in any season, but on average London has about 106 rainy days per year.

What’s the rainiest month in London?

December is the rainiest month in London.

What are the best things to do in London when it’s raining?

* Go to a museum or a gallery.
* Join a workshop and learn new skills.
* Go to a spa.
* Spend some time in a covered market.
* Go on a backstage tour.
* Have an afternoon tea.
* Go to the cinema.
* Play games indoors, like ping pong, tennis, bowling or mini golf.
* Visit a board game cafe.
* See a theatre show or a musical.
* Go to an escape room.

What to do in London for free when it rains?

* Visit one of the many free museums and galleries in London.
* Visit a library reading room for free.
* Go to the BFI mediatheque.

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