While England’s capital city has plenty of great weather, it also has its fair share of rainy days – so it’s always good to come armed with a list of possible indoor activities in London!
Happily, there are lots of things to do in London when it rains, so if you do hit a soggy patch while you’re visiting, take a look at our top suggestions (including a few ideas on free indoor activities in London!)Plan a visit to London
1) Enjoy some afternoon tea!
If you’re after a relaxing activity on a rainy day, there’s nothing nicer than enjoying a spot of afternoon tea.
For a truly regal (and very English!) experience, consider booking a table at the iconic Fortnum and Mason, or head to The Ritz where your afternoon tea will be accompanied by soothing background music from their in-house pianist and harpist (just make sure that you’re dressed appropriately, as they have a strict dress code). Other great options are The Dorchester in Mayfair, a plant-based afternoon tea in Holy Carrot, The Savoy on The Strand, or The Goring in Belgravia. Better yet, if you’re short on time and you want to pack as much into your itinerary as possible, consider booking yourself onto Brigit’s Bakery afternoon tea bus sightseeing tour - delectable treats with a side-order of world-famous tourist sites await you!
And don’t forget that if you’re on a HomeExchange, you can order an afternoon tea to have at home! Try sketch’s amazing cake selection delivered in their iconic dusty pink jewellery box – you can either collect from their Conduit Street store, or have it delivered to you via courier.Plan an exchange in London
2) Take in London from a height
When the weather is miserable, enjoy London’s skyline from a sheltered vantage point:
The London Eye is a fun way to take in the sights of London from the warmth of a pod. As Europe’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, it offers a 30-minute rotation.
The Shard is London’s highest building. With a 360-degree observation deck on the 72nd floor, it’s an impressive option – but prepare to spend a fair bit on your entry ticket (or go for dinner in one of the many restaurants and request a table with a view!)
One of the top free indoor activities in London has to be the Sky Garden, which is located in iconic skyscraper, the Walkie Talkie. You’ll need to book your spot up to 3 weeks in advance, but a one-hour slot will give you plenty of time to admire the views from the 43rd floor while surrounded by landscaped gardens.
Try one of London’s viewpoint bars, many of which have indoor or sheltered rooftop tables. Tucked away next to St Paul’s Cathedral, Madison’s is a sleek roof terrace with a retractable cover, or try the 40th floor Iris Bar in The Gherkin. Another great option is The Rooftop St James. Located on top of The Trafalgar Hotel, the bar directly overlooks Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
3) Head to the markets
If the weather turns against you, exploring an indoor market is always a fun way to get to know the city – and luckily London is jam-packed with great indoor spots. Old Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch is one such option, as while it’s outdoors, it has a roof. Offering vintage stalls, vinyls and award-winning street food, it’s a cultural delight. South of the Thames, Greenwich Market is a fun undercover hideaway that offers handmade gifts, clothing and jewellery, while Broadway Market in Tooting is home to an eclectic mix of street vendors.
The city has also seen many covered food markets pop up in recent years, making this one of the best things to do on a rainy day in London. Top picks include:
- Seven Dials Market in Covent Garden which is home to two bars and 20 eateries.
- Market Hall which serves up incredible food all hours in Victoria, Canary Wharf and Oxford Street.
- Brixton Village hosts independent shops and food vendors, plus you’ll often find music and performers.
- Borough Market is largely covered, making it a great stop on a rainy day in London. Pick up artisan cheeses, local wines and baked treats for the ultimate meal back at your home exchange.
- Vinegar Yard in London Bridge is fun for families during the day, and a younger crowd in the evening.
4) Get your game on
In need of some brilliant things to do in London on a rainy day? If you need to burn off a little energy, you’re in luck as there’s a host of indoor activities that the whole family will enjoy.
Indoor crazy golf Swingers has two locations in the city and the West End, or you could play a game of darts in one of four Flight Club locations (Bloomsbury, Islington, Shoreditch and Victoria). Alternatively, there are plenty of bowling alleys around London – though the four All Star Lanes locations are particularly popular (Holborn, Stratford, Brick Lane or White City), or lose a few hours in the iconic Rowans Tenpin Bowl in Finsbury Park, where you can bowl, play pool or just mess around with retro arcade games.
If you’re after something a little quirkier, try your hand at a virtual reality game with DNA VR at the old Battersea Power Station, or get your anger out with some axe-throwing at Whistle Punks in Oxford Circus!Have fun in London
5) Explore nature… indoors!
Wondering what to do in London when it rains? There’s a variety of places where you can enjoy nature without having to wear your waterproofs:
- Petersham Nurseries – the quaint tearoom is covered in winding plants. It’s nestled in Richmond with a meadow surrounding it, so you’ll truly feel like you’re in the English countryside.
- Chiswick House Conservatory – here you’ll find an array of rare flowers, including one of the rarest blooms in the world (the Chinese Middlemist’s Red) which is extinct in its native country.
- Kew Royal Botanic Gardens – with numerous glass houses and sheltered spaces holding 50,000 living plants, there’s plenty to see and do on a rainy day in Kew.
- The Barbican Centre’s Conservatory – this amazing tropical garden is home to terrapins and over 2,000 species of plant. Many locals would admit it’s one of their favourite things to do in London when it rains, particularly as tickets are free! Check online at 9.30am each day when a limited number of same-day tickets are released, or join the mailing list to find out about upcoming tickets.
6) Be entertained with a play, a musical or some comedy
The West End is home to many great musicals, and you can often pick up last-minute tickets with significant discounts. Go to a reputable source like London Theatre Direct and don’t consider buying from the ticket touts.
If musicals aren’t your thing, there’s no shortage of plays on offer. If you fancy catching a Shakespearean classic, then the National Theatre hosts numerous options while The Old Vic boasts performances from some of the world’s most acclaimed actors. Alternatively, the Young Vic stages innovative work from big stars as well as emerging artists, while children will love the Unicorn Theatre.
If you fancy something a little lighter, make the most of the capital’s brilliant comedy scene. The Secret Comedy Club is tucked away on a side road in the streets of bustling Covent Garden, or head to its equally delightful neighbour the Covent Garden Comedy Club, where you can get tickets for as little as £5. Just a stone’s throw away is the well-known 99 Club in Leicester Square which regularly hosts some of the comedy world’s biggest stars, or try out nearby The Comedy Store for stand-up acts every evening Thursday to Sunday.
If you’re happy to hop on the tube to go a little further afield (London’s underground transport system is a great way to stay dry when it’s wet!), you can’t go wrong with comedy at The Camden Head and The Bill Murray, both of which are located in Angel.The coziest London exchanges
7) Take in some art
Free indoor activities in London are thankfully plentiful, and with many galleries and exhibitions across the capital, you’re bound to find something to suit your personal artistic preferences.
Start your exploration by paying a visit to both the famous Tate galleries. Tate Britain in Pimlico and Tate Modern on the South Bank are on opposite sides of the water, but you can catch a water taxi between the two venues. Here, you’ll find a large section of the displays are free to the public, with some exhibitions ticketed.
Other great options with many free displays include The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery.
If you’re after something more unusual, pay a visit to The Saatchi Gallery to discover emerging artists, and White Cube for contemporary art. Alternatively, Whitechapel Gallery is free for all (though you will need to pay for some exhibitions), while Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery is a great choice for a rainy day out in London – though do check that the gallery is open before you turn up, as it closes in-between exhibitions.London HomeExchanges
8) Visit a museum
Many museums in London (and the UK in general) are free to enter, and they’re undoubtedly one of the best indoor activities in London. We’d recommend paying a visit to South Kensington where The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are all within a short stroll.
Another must-visit is the famous British Museum, home to thousands of artefacts from around the world, while if you’re a history buff, The Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast and The National Maritime Museum are all fascinating. The latter is hugely popular with children – make sure you book a ticket for the Children’s Gallery as soon as you arrive, for plenty of interactive fun.
If you’re after something a bit more unusual, The Design Museum in Holland Park, London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill are all fantastic options.Find a London exchange
9) Pamper yourself
If the rain is hammering down, then one of the best indoor activities in London has to be exploring the wonderful array of spas that are on offer. From atmospheric stone baths to high-tech facials, there’s something to suit every budget, making this one of the perfect things to do in London when it rains.
Consider paying a visit to the Aire Ancient Baths in Covent Garden, where you can enjoy a range of treatments as well as ice cold water, sauna and salt baths under the vaulted stone ceilings. There’s also a few firm-favourites provided by well-known brands like Aveda and Cowshed with locations across the city, while many of London’s hotels offer half or full-day spa passes. Alternatively, treat yourself to a floatation therapy session in one of the pods at Floatworks in Vauxhall.Treat yourself to a London break
10) Shop until you drop!
As far as indoor things to do in London go, there’s no better way to spend a rainy day than with some retail therapy - Westfield shopping centres in Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush are the perfect options for those looking to enjoy the best of the UK high street in one convenient space.
If you’re after a truly London experience, then set aside some time to visit one of the capital’s many iconic department stores, such as Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason or Harrods, where you can find the best luxury items. Another great option that is relatively well covered from the elements, is the new Coal Drops Yard development in Kings Cross, which is home to a range of stylish brands – or treat yourself to some handmade jewellery, prints, watercolours and beautiful crafts in Apple Market in Covent Garden!
And of course, a trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a mooch around the capital’s many independent stores. Every borough in London offers something unique, so make the most of exploring wherever you’re staying with HomeExchange.Find a HomeExchange in London
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