With summer well and truly over, it is time to come to terms with the idea of autumn. But what a summer we have had, surely we can’t complain … other than that it was far too hot obviously and the grass was all brown and burnt because we didn’t have any rain – I mean we wouldn’t be Brits if we weren’t able to moan about the weather.
But back to the topic on hand. Autumn is coming and with it comes the inevitable rain. This last weekend was a prime example of that, as we pretty much had constant rain from early Saturday until Sunday afternoon.
Yes I hear you say, doesn’t it rain in London non stop anyway? Well, while this seems to be common knowledge to EVERYONE and no one is ever tired of pointing this out to me, let me tell you that London averages 106.5 days of rain a year. And whilst this is quite a lot, it is less than New York with 122 days and even less than Orlando Florida that comes in at a whopping 117 days. Who would have thought.
But anyway, who are we to let a little rain dampen our mood? There are lots of things you can do in London when it rain. So get your wellies on, grab your brolly and off we go.
So here are my top tips of things to do in London when it rains.
Visit a museum
London has a wide array of museums, so even if you are not the classic museum type, there sure should be something to tickle your interest. And best of all, most state museums are free. You might want to leave a little donation to keep them going or you might have to buy a ticket to see some of their additional exhibitions, but the main museum is free.
And most museums also come with a lovely tea shop, so you can extend your stay a little before heading out in the wet again.
Some of my favourite museums in London are:
- The Victoria & Albert Museum (corner Cromwell Road / Exhibition Road, nearest tube ‘South Kensington): dedicated to decorative art and design and set in a stunning building. They recently had a new entrance added, so go and check that out as well.
- The Natural History Museum (corner Cromwell Road / Exhibition Road, nearest tube ‘South Kensington): next door to the V&A and in a similarly stunning setting. It houses a large selection of animals, plants and minerals and is probably best known for its large dinosaur selection. For years Dippy (a life size cast of a dinosaur skeleton) had been the main feature in the main entrance hall of the museum, but has recently been replaced by a giant whale.
- The British Museum (Great Russell Street, nearest tube Holborn): home to a large selection of mummies and exhibits of all periods of history, it houses a vast selection of exhibits. And take the time to visit the Great Court in the middle of the museums. The large glass roof will look stunning and light, even if it is pouring with rain outside.
Ride a Bus
Only because the weather is crap doesn’t mean you have to miss out on exploring the city. Ok you might not fancy a walk through the City or a cruise on River Thames, but there are other ways. Just take a bus. And I am not (necessarily) talking the Hop-on Hop-off tourist busses. Any regular bus will do. There are some really good routes that take you past a lot of the main sights, like route 23, 15 and 9 (check out my ‘London on a budget’ post for more info).
See a show or concert
Why not head to the West End and see a show? Obviously you can do this even without any rain, but surely this is a good excuse to actually get yourself a ticket for the night. There are loads of theatres in the West End and you are spoiled for choices when it comes to plays and musicals. Head to Leicester Square in the morning and bank yourself some bargain tickets for the evening.
So how about London’s longest running theatre play, Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, continuously running in the West End since 1952.
It might also be worth checking out some of the local churches for some awesome lunchtime concerts for very little money (or even for free). Union Chapel in Islington is one of my favourites and also St. Martins in the Fields have some great concerts on.
I mean after all you were probably planning on doing some shopping anyway, so adapt to the weather and head to one of the shopping malls instead of Oxford Street. Westfield in Stratford and Shepherds Bush would be the largest ones, but there are others around as well.
Have Afternoon Tea
A quintessentially British affair is Afternoon Tea. And don’t be fooled, we are not talking a simple cuppa and a slice of cake. Afternoon Tea (or High Tea) is a rather lengthy procedure with generous amounts of tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones. You can easily spend two to three hours, so forget about the rain outside and indulge in an afternoon treat.
My absolute favourite is the Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair and tea time at the Ritz is still on my bucket list. However there are loads of places throughout London that offer Afternoon Tea, from larger hotels to cafes and even some department stores, so you should be able to find one regardless of your travel budget.
So whilst I hope you have absolutely marvellous weather whenever you visit London, I also hope this little guide on what to do when it rains in London helps you keep up your spirits if you do get caught in the rain.
After all, do what the locals do. Take your umbrella with you at all times and get on with it. Life’s too short.