It has been a typical year of British drizzly forecasts and rainy downpours, but don't let the wet weather stop you from enjoying all that London has to offer this season. There are endless things to do (and see!) on a rainy day, with a number of free attractions that are a perfect way to get some culture while sheltering from the rain. Whether you're looking for family-friendly activities or would rather sit out the rain in London's best bars, we've got it covered (literally).
How we chose the best things to do in London when it rains
- Rain proof: It might sound obvious but we looked for options that would keep you dry from the rain as you venture around the city.
- Affordable options: Just because it's raining we don't want you to have to spend hundreds of pounds to entertain yourself and your family. There are even some free options in the list below.
- Fun-factor: When the weather doesn't go your way, morale can be low. Let's keep spirits high with these suggestions. The ultimate goal was to turn that frown upside down.
Why you should trust us
This article is written by a mixture of contributors based in London. The majority of the inclusions have been tried and tested by various HELLO! team members.
Best things to do in London when it rains
Catch a movie
Cosy up and watch a movie at one of London's most unique cinemas. From classic musical sing-alongs at The Prince Charles Cinema to an immersive viewing of the latest blockbusters at the BFI Imax, you won't be short of places to go. The Every Man Cinema is also popular with Londoners.
Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix by heading to a trampoline park such as Flip Out London. Show off your trampolining skills, explore the laser maze, or try out the ninja obstacle course - it's sure to entertain adults and kids alike.
Book in for an afternoon tea
Opened by HM The Queen, the Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason has established itself as one of London’s most stylish destinations. During your visit, you’ll be served a host of sweet and savoury delights, from traditional finger sandwiches to exquisite cakes and freshly-baked scones served with clotted cream and Fortnum’s preserves.Expert ‘Tearistas’ will also be on hand to advise you on which tea is right for you from the incredible range of signature blends, single-estate and infusion teas – before you toast the occasion in style with a glass of Champagne.
Shop until you drop
Get some retail therapy at one of London's largest shopping centres. Westfield has centres in both Stratford and Shepherd's Bush, with hundreds of shops, restaurants and cafes all under one roof.
Ping pong and drinks
Whether you're the competitive type or love to have a laugh at your lack of coordination, it's worth heading to ping pong bar Bounce for an evening of fun. If you head to the flagship venue in Farringdon, you may even be in with the chance of meeting the likes of Elle Macpherson and Gwyneth Paltrow!
A fun rainy day activity to do with family, friends or a date, you can't go wrong with a game of bowling! There are so many bowling alleys across the city to choose from, including All-Star Lanes, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, and Rowans Bowl in Finsbury Park, which also has pool, arcade games and karaoke for hours of fun.
Enjoy a tipple (or two) at a pub
What better way to spend a few hours on a rainy day than catching up with friends in one of London's pubs or bars? There are hidden gems across the city, but if it's a cocktail you're after, we recommend one of these best cocktail bars in London.
Dine at one of London's many cafés or restaurants
Take shelter from the rain at one of London's eateries. There are thousands to choose from catering to all tastes, whether you simply fancy a quick bite to eat, want to indulge yourself with a Michelin star meal or want to sample cuisine from around the world. The only hard part will be narrowing it down to just one. Visit TripAdvisor to find a fan favourite.
Visit an indoor play area with the kids
Got little ones to entertain? You'll want to head to one of London's indoor play areas for a fun rainy day activity. KidZania London at Westfield London is an indoor city run by kids, where they can try 60 real-life activities while parents relax with a drink in the Grown Ups Garden Shed.
Do a workout
From boxing to HIIT and yoga to barre, London is arguably where you'll find the best workouts in the UK to get your endorphins going. If you're looking for somewhere you can have a lot of fun while getting your sweat on, FRAME has five studios across the capital and a whole range of classes from 00s rave to 80s aerobics. Or you could even follow along at home, FRAME has partnered with Candice Brathwaite and her exclusive FRAME The Day Dance Cardio class is available on-demand here.
If you haven't visited Flight Club yet, what are you waiting for? This fun concept is designed to bring people together and keep you all unexpectedly hooked. Whether you’re an expert darts sniper or a total beginner, everyone has a chance to win when they step up to a throw line. It's not just darts, too! From bespoke cocktails to delicious sharing boards and ridiculously tasty pizzas, the Flight Club Family will always be on hand to keep the fun (and the drinks) flowing.
Play indoor golf
Unleash your competitive side with a game of mini golf at one of the growing number of venues popping up across the city. Swingers now has two locations in the capital, while Junkyard Golf also has four 9-hole crazy golf courses on offer at its base in East London. One of the newest to open is Puttshack, East London, which uses cutting-edge technology to give mini golf a seriously modern update.
Try an escape room
Gather five friends and test your skills in an escape room. There are scores of themed escape room games across London, including The Game is Now: Sherlock Escape Room, an amazing team challenge that puts you in the shoes of the detective.
Play some boardgames
Embrace your competitive side at board game café Draughts, where you can pick from over 800 board games, including classics such as 5 Second Rule and Battleship. Order some snacks, grab a craft beer and challenge your friends or family to a game or three. There's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, and with such an array of games to choose from, you certainly won't get bored!
Go to a London Ball Pit
Over 18s only for this one! Ballie Ballerson is famous in London for being super fun. If you pre-book ball pit tickets you can plan to be on the dancefloor all night. These tickets include two hour access to the giant ball pits, plus you can stay in the main bar area and order from the full food and drink menu all night!
Go to a spa
Treat yourself to some rest and relaxation at one of London's city spas. You'll find incredible spas within the city's top hotels or could head to your local salon for a little bit of pampering. Check out our favourite luxury spa guide. BOOK SPA BREAK
Things to do in London FOR FREE when it rains
Explore the British Museum
As one of London's most popular attractions, it's likely the British Museum will be busy on a rainy day – but don't let that stop you. This museum always has special exhibitions and displays that will captivate and educate visitors young and old. Plan your visit at britishmuseum.com.
Take pictures of umbrella art
What better way to shelter from the rain than under an umbrella or twenty? The colourful art installation outside Vinopolis Piazza consists of several floating umbrellas, making it the perfect location to grab some pretty pictures, escape the rain and see Borough Market at the same time.
Visit one of London's covered markets
For a more unusual shopping experience, take shelter from the wet weather at one of London's covered markets like Borough Market – where you can sample delicious food or snap up ingredients to cook something at home. Alternatively, Leadenhall Market, which was built in 1881, is a stunning indoor shopping space offering retailers such as Barbour and Reiss, tasty lunches from market stalls and breathtaking architecture.
Visit the Sky Garden (probably London's best free viewpoint)
Famous for being one of the best viewing points in Central London, the Sky Garden occupies the top three floors of 20 Fenchurch Street and is a great place to hang out without spending a penny. It is open daily; just book your free visit in advance as tickets for the Sky Garden sell out quickly.
Things to SEE in London when it rains
Experience some history at Tower of London
Take a step back in time to explore the Tower of London, where you can learn about its history and see the Crown Jewels on display in the Jewel House – some of which are still used in royal ceremonies today. Book your tickets at hrp.org.uk. If you're planning a day of sightseeing you might want to look into a London Pass ticket.
See some art at Tate Modern
Get some culture at the Tate Modern, which has an impressive selection of international modern and contemporary art, and a number of special exhibitions to enthral art lovers. Better still, entry is free.
Go to see a show
If you're keen to watch a show, check out LondonTheatreDirect.com for all your West End needs.
Wander around the Natural History Museum
Whether it’s taking a photo with the clock from the CBeebies shows Andy's Dinosaur Adventures and Andy's Prehistoric Adventures, or exploring the hands-on science centre, it’s a great place to keep dry on a family day out. Be sure to visit Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature, and discover where the real world and the Wizarding World intertwine. See what's on at nhm.ac.uk.
Get inspired at the V&A Museum
Museums are a failsafe way to spend a few hours while it's raining, and the V&A is a must for anyone with an interest in art and design. What's on right now? Well, Re:Imagining Musicals is on until 27 November 2023 and celebrates the world's best loved musicals.
Immerse yourself in the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
What better way to get up close and personal with art than being totally immersed in it? Fans of Mexican legendary artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, can do just that in the exhibition, Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience - a mesmerising digital show that brings the couple's works to life. Watch as Frida and Diego's brushstrokes paint the walls around you in over 300 digital projections. The exhibition runs until 31 August and it's recommended to spend about an hour there. For tickets, see mexicangeniuses.com.
Cruise along the River Thames
Watch some of the city's iconic landmarks float by as you glide down the River Thames in a Boat Cruise. Cuddle up in the warmth with a drink or take photos of the London Eye and Big Ben like a tourist, it's a relaxing way to escape the wet weather. Book now on londonpass.com.
Go on the London Eye
Even if it's raining, you can still see some of the city sights from the shelter of one of the pods on the Coca-Cola London Eye. Sure, visibility may not be as good as on a sunny day, but you'll still get a good glimpse at landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and down the River Thames.
Have a day out at the Science Museum
Exploring the Science Museum is an ideal wet weather activity with children in particular, but visitors of all ages are sure to be in awe of the award-winning exhibitions and objects on display, including a number of interactive and immersive experiences.
Go inside St Paul's Cathedral
It's an iconic part of the London skyline, but why not take the opportunity to go inside St Paul's Cathedral? You'll learn about the cathedral's fascinating history and explore the galleries and crypt. Plan your visit at stpauls.co.uk.
Explore Westminster Abbey
Alternatively, you could go to Westminster Abbey, a famous landmark that dates back to 960AD and has played host to historic events such as the Queen's coronation and the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate in 2011.
Relax in the Barbican Conservatory
Looking to escape the feeling of the concrete jungle and unwind in the countryside? You don’t need to travel far. The green spaces of the Barbican Conservatory offer thousands of plant species to wander through to clear your mind, and those with a sweet tooth can indulge in an afternoon tea - don’t mind if I do!
Head to the Royal Observatory
Take a journey through space and time in Greenwich, home to the Royal Observatory. In the planetarium, visitors can experience the wonders of space with expert commentary from real astronomers, while you can also stand on the Prime Meridian Line at the home of Greenwich Mean Time. See more at rmg.co.uk.
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