The weather in London can be a little challenging at times. Rainy days can be a little gloomy, but there are, in fact, plenty of things to do in London when it rains. This can make exploring the city a challenge, as a lot of tourism and attractions are outdoors.
The good news is that there are still plenty of indoor activities that you can enjoy in London when it’s raining – from visiting world-famous museums to indulging in some retail therapy and enjoying afternoon tea. This famous city has something for everyone whatever the weather, so don’t let the rain keep you from enjoying all that London has to offer.
If you need some inspiration on things to do in London when it rains, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your time in the city – including information on what makes each of these activities unique and worth exploring on a great British rainy day.
1. Visit the Science Museum
Learn about the history of science and technology at the world-renowned Science Museum. There are plenty of great things to see in the Science Museum in London, from historical exhibits to interactive displays. Some of the highlights include the Atmosphere gallery, which explores the science of weather, and the Information Age gallery, which tells the story of communications over the past 150 years.
Be sure to check out the Science Museum’s Wonderlab, which is full of fun and educational activities. A big bonus is that the Science Museum is within walking distance of other great museums like the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, so you can easily make a day of it.
2. Don’t miss the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, and for good reason. This incredible museum is home to a wide range of exhibits, including a life-sized blue whale skeleton, an earthquake simulator and, of course, the famous dinosaurs.
There are plenty of hands-on activities to enjoy, making it a great option for a rainy day. One of the best things about the Natural History Museum is that admission is free, so it’s a great way to save money while exploring London.
3. Discover the History of Fashion at the V&A
Fashion lovers will enjoy spending a rainy day at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is dedicated to the history of art and design. This world-renowned museum has an incredible collection of fashion exhibits, ranging from historic clothing to contemporary designs.
In addition to the fashion exhibits, the V&A Museum also has galleries devoted to jewellery, furniture, photography and more. Plus, as the venue holds temporary events like fashion workshops, lectures and festivals, there’s always something new to see and do at the V&A.
4. Explore Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is one of the most iconic landmarks in London, and it’s also a great place to explore on a rainy day. This historic building is full of fascinating stories and artefacts, and there are plenty of guided tours available. The history of this famous building dates back over a thousand years when it was first founded as a Benedictine monastery.
Today, Westminster Abbey is known as the coronation church of England, and it’s also where some of the country’s most famous historical figures are buried. This includes everyone from Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.
If you want to learn more about the history of Westminster Abbey, be sure to check out the excellent audio guide, which is included in the price of admission.
5. Book a tour of the London Eye
The London Eye is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and it’s a great option for a rainy day activity. This enormous Ferris wheel offers incredible views of London from high above the city, and it’s also a great way to learn about the city’s history and architecture.
Tours of the London Eye typically last around 30 minutes, and they’re a great way to get an overview of the city.
6. Step on the Greenwich Meridian at the Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian of the world, which is the line of longitude that divides the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. This line also passes through the Observatory’s famous time ball, which drops at 1 pm every day.
In addition to being a fascinating place to learn about timekeeping and astronomy, the Royal Observatory is also a great spot for views of London. On a clear day, you can see the city centre from here.
7. Discover the Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are a must-see for history buffs visiting London. This underground museum is housed in the actual war rooms that were used by Winston Churchill during World War II, giving visitors a fascinating insight into the country’s wartime history.
The Churchill War Rooms are located in the basement of the Treasury Building, which is just a short walk from Westminster Abbey. Admission to the museum includes an audio guide, which is a great way to learn more about the exhibits.
8. Discover London’s Sea Life
Sea Life London Aquarium is located in the heart of the city — home to over 500 species of marine life — and makes for a great rainy day activity.
This world-class aquarium has a wide range of exhibits including a tropical reef, a shark tank and a seahorse kingdom. Plus, there are plenty of hands-on activities, making it a great option for families.
9. Visit the Madame Tussaud’s Museum
Madame Tussaud’s is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions and a great option for movie enthusiasts. This world-famous museum is home to lifelike wax models of some of the world’s most famous people, from movie stars to politicians.
In addition to the wax figures, Madame Tussaud’s also has many interactive exhibits, making it a great option for families.
10. Immerse yourself in history in the British Museum
The British Museum is one of the world’s largest and most famous museums. This iconic museum is home to an incredible collection of artefacts from all over the world, spanning centuries of history.
Some of the highlights of the British Museum include the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian mummies and the Parthenon sculptures. Admission to the museum is free, making it a great option for budget-conscious travellers.
11. Get Lost inside an Art Gallery
Visit free galleries like the Tate, Saatchi and Barbican Centre to escape the rain and explore world-class art collections. These galleries also host temporary exhibitions, like the David Hockney retrospective at the Tate in 2017, which was the most visited exhibition ever held at the gallery. Many of these galleries also have excellent cafes, making them a great place to take a break from sightseeing and grab a bite. Learn more about London museums and galleries.
12. Indulge in some indoor shopping
Westfield London is one of the city’s largest and most popular shopping centres. This massive complex is home to over 300 stores, making it a great place to find everything from high-end fashion to affordable souvenirs.
There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes inside Westfield, making it a great spot to find something to eat or take a break from shopping. With the addition of cinemas and a bowling alley, there’s plenty to keep you entertained here.
13. Explore the independent markets
Spitalfields Market is an excellent option for a spot of indoor shopping on a rainy day. This market is located in a converted warehouse and offers a unique shopping experience, with a wide range of independent retailers — selling everything from vintage clothing to handmade jewellery and gourmet items.
This market also has a selection of cafes and restaurants, a perfect spot to get your caffeine boost between shops.
14. Discover the West End shows in London
The West End in London is one of the best music scenes in the world. There are dozens of shows playing every night, ranging from long-running classics to brand new productions.
Several ticket agencies offer last-minute tickets at discounted prices, such as London Theatre Direct, so it’s always worth checking to see if there are any deals available.
15. Catch up on the best movies at the Cinema
Watch a movie at London’s Odeon Cinema to escape the rain for a couple of hours. This cinema is one of the most popular in the city and a great place to catch up on the latest blockbusters. With a membership card, you can get discounts on tickets and snacks all year round.
With a large selection of films showing every day, there’s sure to be something that interests you. Plus, the cinema has a great selection of restaurants and cafes, making it a great place to grab a bite before or after the film.
16. Enjoy London’s Food Scene at the London Borough Market
The London Borough Market is a foodie paradise. This market is home to a wide range of stalls selling everything from local fresh produce to international gourmet dishes. The food market halls are cheaper than most restaurants, making it a great option to sample some delicious street food in London if you get peckish. If you’re looking for cheap but tasty food options, check our list of cheap eats in London!
17. Try the local food in Chinatown
London’s Chinatown is home to a wide range of Chinese restaurants, making it the perfect place to try some authentic, local cuisine. Located in the West End, near Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, it’s the perfect place to visit after seeing a show or exploring the nearby shops. This area is also known for its cheap, delicious street food and takeaways. You’ll also find some good Japanese restaurants there. Travelling on a budget? Here is our list of the the best cheap sushi in London. Enjoy!
18. Book a traditional afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea is a quintessentially British experience. What could be more perfect on a rainy day than enjoying a pot of tea and some delicious cakes and sandwiches?
There are so many great places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, with some of the most iconic being the Ritz, Claridge’s and The Savoy. For something a little different (and wallet-friendly), try a cheap afternoon tea in London at one of the city’s many independent cafes.
19. Explore the traditional pubs of London
London is home to a huge number of pubs, ranging from traditional watering holes to modern bars. What better way to escape the rain than by popping into a classic pub for a pint of London’s famous cask ale? If you’re on a budget, check our list of cheap pubs in London.
There are a number of great pubs to explore in London, including historical pubs such as Guinea in Mayfair. This pub is a Mayfair institution and one of the cosiest pubs in London with its open grill, private dining and a great selection of beers, wines and spirits.
On Sundays, most pubs offer Sunday roasts, a traditional dish that will warm you up when it’s cold outside. Try one of the best Sunday roasts in London!
20. Discover the bottomless brunch experience
If you’re looking for boozy things to do in London when it rains, then you can’t go wrong with a bottomless brunch. This is a great way to spend a lazy Sunday with friends, especially if you’re looking for quirky girly things to do in London, with several restaurants across the city offering this experience.
For something a little different, you could try one of London’s many Indian bottomless brunches, which offer an unlimited buffet of curry dishes alongside unlimited prosecco or beer.
21. Go skating indoors
Go skating indoors at Queens London for a fun-filled activity to do with friends or family. You can hire skates or bring your own and there’s a bar on-site if you need to refuel after all that skating. Plus, with 12 bowling lanes and an arcade, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
22. Relax at a spa
If you’re looking for things to do in London when it rains that are relaxing, then trying one of the city’s many spas should be at the top of your list. There are so many great spas across London, with soothing options to suit everyone: from the Aveda Institute on High Holborn to Cowshed’s Primrose Hill and the House of Elemis in Mayfair.
23. Immerse yourself in a bookstore
Visit Daunt Books in London for a unique book-buying experience. This store is unlike any other, with its wooden tables and tall shelves stacked with books. Plus, with a great selection of both fiction and non-fiction titles, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste.
24. Book a ping-pong bar
Enjoy a drink while playing ping-pong at the Bounce Ping Pong bar in central London. This bar is great for groups, with a range of tables to accommodate your group size. Plus, there’s a DJ playing music to keep you entertained and energised while you play.
25. Have fun at a drag queen brunch
Book a unique brunch at Blame Gloria, where you’ll be entertained by drag queens while you eat. This is a great way to spend a rainy Sunday, with a delicious brunch menu and plenty of cocktails to keep you going alongside the vibrant entertainment!
26. Enjoy a jazz music session
Why not visit one of the coolest London’s jazz bars to enjoy a chilled live music performance while sipping on a delicious cocktail? These music sessions take place in venues across London, including the 606 Club in Chelsea and the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho.
27. Enjoy the views from the Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is a unique space in the heart of the city, offering panoramic views of London from its viewing platform. This is a great place to visit on a rainy day, as you can enjoy the views without having to brave the elements. Plus, there’s a wide range of bars, restaurants and cafes on-site, so you can make a day of it.
28. Challenge your friends in an Escape Room
An Escape Room is a great activity to do with friends, as you work together to solve puzzles and find your way out of the room. There are many options across London, including the Sherlock Holmes-themed Baker Street Escape and the truly immersive Breakin Escape Rooms experience.
29. Go record hunting
If you’re a record collector, then London is the place to be. With several great record stores dotted around the city, including Phonica Records in Soho and Ace Records in Notting Hill, you’re sure to find that special record you’ve been hunting for or discover a new favourite.
30. Enjoy indoor golf
Swinger’s Golf Club is a unique indoor golf experience in the heart of London. With two 9-hole courses and a range of bars and restaurants on-site, this is a great place to spend a rainy day with friends.
31. Play bowling
All Star Lanes Bowling is a great place to visit for a fun-filled day out. With student discounts, happy hours and a range of food and drink options, it’s easy to wile away the hours here while it’s pouring outside.
32. Beat your friends at London Shuffle Club
London Shuffle Club is a great place to visit with friends by challenging them to a game of shuffleboard. This fun game will keep you entertained for hours, and it’s a great way to spend some time together when it’s raining outside.
33. Discover virtual bingo
Hijingo is a multi-sensory bingo experience with live entertainment and mind-blowing motion graphics. This is the perfect activity for a rainy day, as it’s both fun and interactive. Plus, you may just win a prize!
34. Play indoor games
Draughts is a great board game café located in Hackney. They have a wide selection of board games to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that everyone will enjoy. And if you get hungry, they also serve food and drink.
To sum up
Overall, there are plenty of things to do in London when it rains, so don’t let the weather stop you from having a great time. Get out there and explore all that this incredible city has to offer, rain or shine! For more activities to do with your significant other, check our list of romantic things to do in London.
If you’re keen on exploring London on a budget, you can stay with us at Clink78 backpackers youth hostel in King’s Cross or at Clink261 budget hostel with private rooms.