Rainy day in London got you down? Here’s my personalized guide for how to spend a rainy day in London (from a local!). Enjoy!
It doesn’t take long in London to realize which stereotypes hold true. And let’s just say London isn’t exactly known for bright sunny days. Whether you’re in London for a spell or the long haul you and rain will be making very, very good acquaintances.
But don’t let the drear of the city get you down. In fact, there’s a certain charm in London that comes only with a rainy day.
Over the past four years, I’ve experienced every kind of UK weather under the sun (or lack of), and learned to not let a rainy day keep me inside. So if you find yourself in less than balmy weather (which may be often) here’s how to spend a rainy day in London.
Ride on Top of a Double Decker Bus
If the best way to see a city is by foot, then the best way to browse is by bus. As cheesy as it sounds, double decker buses are still one of my favorite parts about London.
Grab your Oyster, head to Central and hop up to the top deck to get spectacular panoramic views of London, without a drop in sight.
Stop “N” at Westminster Cathedral to Primrose Street in Shoreditch is a particular favorite. So I tend to start with a walk around Central and take a ride down to East London after. Putting you in the perfect spot to…
Do Some Vintage Shopping
Fashion has no weather bounds. Indulge in some retro retail therapy with a visit to the best thrift shops in London. I always find there are less crowds on rainy days, meaning uninterrupted browsing and more chances to find a decent piece or two. Personal recommendations include…
- Atika | 55-59 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 5JP
- East End Thrift Store | 4 Assembly Passage, Stepney Green, London E1 4UT
- Rokit | 42 Shelton St, West End, London WC2H 9HZ
- Beyond Retro | 110-112, Cheshire St, London E2 6EJ
- Reign Vintage | 12 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0PN
Go to a Museum or Gallery
My go-to antidote for weather spoiled plans, London museums and galleries are a guaranteed pastime for a rainy day. From roaming historic artifacts at the British Museum to eclectic art at the V&A, there’s an oddly comforting feeling that comes with a rainy day in a museum.
If you’re especially in the mood to explore, you can make the day out of popping into all the galleries and museums London has to offer.
Some of my favorites include..
- Tate Modern — A modern and contemporary art gallery featuring installations from around the world, including Picasso! | Bankside,| London SE1 9TG
- The Queen’s House — A former royal residence featuring award-winning portraits and an infamous tulip staircase. | Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF
- Science Museum — An interactive museum tracing the world’s scientific breakthroughs, with an IMAX cinema! |Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2DD
- The Wallace Collection — A renovated townhouse featuring 18th-century French treasures and 28 rooms of painting and armories. | Hertford House, London W1U 3BN
- National Gallery — A treasure trove of renowned paintings from artists like Van Gogh, Turner, and Botticelli to name a few. | Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN
Pro-Tip: Most museums are free in London, but may ask for a small donation. Be sure to check beforehand! based on donations
Take Up a Class in London
Make the most of being indoors by learning a new thing or two! London is gloriously filled with classes spanning from pottery to Thai cooking classes and everything in between.
Have a browse on Eventbrite or Obby and take soak up a new skill for the day!
Nosey Around a Bookstore
Take a dip into one of London’s many literary havens with a day at the bookstore. Unbiasedly (biasely) speaking London has some of the best bookstores in the world.
From the beautiful to the quaint and quirky you can escape the rain and the digital world in a single afternoon. Some personal recommendations include…
- John Sandoe’s Bookstore| An eighteenth-century bookshop tucked in the streets of Chelsea | 10 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London SW3 2SR
- Daunt Books|A beautiful Edwardian style bookstore specializing in travel books | 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW
- Notting Hill Bookshop | The bookshop from the Notting Hill movie! |At 13 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE (I wrote a whole blog about it here)
- Primrose Hill Books | An intimate family-run bookshop right off of Primrose Hill | 134 Regent’s Park Rd, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8XL
Visit Brompton Cemetery
Not the first thought that comes to mind when you think of rainy day activities, but if you’re anything like me you’ll appreciate all the beauty London has to offer…even if its a graveyard.
One of the oldest homes of London’s forgotten, Brompton Cemetery is particularly eerie, but beautiful nonetheless, especially on a rainy day. Grab your umbrella and spend a lazy hour or two escaping city life.
Catch an Old Film
I still haven’t figured out what it is about the rain that makes you feel so nostalgic, but catching an old film is the perfect way to step back in time for a less than pleasurable London day.
Catch an old film at one of London’s many independent theaters, and leave your weather worries behind. My personal recommendations are…
- Regent Street Cinema — A cozy independent theater in the heart of London | 307 Regent St, Marylebone, London W1B 2HW
- Rio Cinema — A lively art deco styled cinema |107 Kingsland High St, Dalston, London E8 2PB
- Deptford Cinema — An intimate Southeast cinema run by locals! |39 Deptford Broadway, Deptford, London SE8 4PQ
Go to the Theatre
Of course, if you’re looking to take your rainy day escapades a step further, you can always catch a show in the West End. With endless options to choose from, there’s something for every theatrical taste.
You can check out the latest shows here.
Find a Covered Market
A bit of rain shouldn’t keep you hungry! A covered roof is all you need to avoid the rain and indulge in some street food finds. Luckily — London has plenty.
Between Greenwich Market, Leadenhall Market, Covent Garden Market, and Borough Market you’re absolutely spoilt for choices.
See the London Eye from a New Perspective
Typically you’d opt to see the London Eye in its sunny glory, but you’d be surprised just how cool the view gets on a rainy day!
Watching the rain roll off views of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace at 443 feet feels like you’re in some kind of spy movie, and a fitting venture for a rainy day in London. You can book your tickets here.
Roam Under the Umbrella Art at Vinopolis Piazza
If you’re already packing your umbrella you might as well blend in with the scenery!
A colorful art installation strung along the Vinopolis Piazza can brighten up your day (and Instagram feed) with a snap or two underneath Johnson Tiles’ rainy day come to life.
Vinopolis Piazza | 1 Bank End, London SE1 9BU
Go to a Cafe
As a certified coffee fiend, this is how I spend most rainy days in the capital — sipping away a dreaded workload or taking up some blogging. But you don’t have to bring a laptop to enjoy some of the best coffee spots London has to offer.
Bring a book or conversation and you’re good to go!
Read More: 5 Notting Hill Cafes You Must Try and 5 Lovely Primrose Hill Cafes
As any time in London will prove, rainy days are here to stay. But that shouldn’t lead to spoiled plans. I hope these gave you some ideas to turn your dreary London day to some very pleasant memories.