Things To Do In London When It Rains

Date post added: 3rd November 2023

Is London a rainy city? It certainly has a reputation for a higher-than-average number of rainy days, but the reputation probably overstates things a bit. Compared to other cities in Europe, it’s on par with Paris and lower than Amsterdam when it comes to average rainfall per year.

In any case, London’s pretty well suited to the rain. When it’s blazing hot, the streets melt and the trains can’t cope. England just isn’t set up for soaring temperatures. We do better with a certain level of grey drizzle. We’re comfortable with drizzle. And we certainly don’t let rain stop play.

London is packed with rainy-day activities – you just have to know where to look. From the Southbank to South Kensington, there are some of the best museums and art galleries in the world. Then there are fun things like board game cafes, urban golf and incredible theatrical productions. So grab a brolly, and explore our grey, wet city.

London Museums and Galleries

Victoria and Albert Museum

This extraordinary museum really is something special. It’s a global destination for art, design and performance with an amazing array of displays, collections and installations. The current hot ticket item is the Coco Chanel exhibition, showcasing the legendary designer’s iconic tailoring. But you’ll also discover displays of historic costumes, digital art, pottery collections and remarkable photography (anything from the Windrush living legacy to Elton John’s snaps). Admission is free, but there’s a charge for some exhibitions. Our V&A guided walk takes place on Friday mornings.

Science Museum

Another must-do rainy day activity when visiting London is the Science Museum. Packed with exhibitions, stories behind the objects we use every day and extraordinary inventions that have changed how we live, the Science Museum is fun for all. Children will love the interactive Wonderlab with its seven zones including the chemistry bar, friction slides and colour room. See collection highlights like the space suit of Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, in the Exploring Space exhibition or Amy Johnson’s Gipsy Moth aeroplane, which flew from Croydon to Australia in 1928. And did we mention that the Science Museum is free?

The Natural History Museum

For a wet weather activity in London, you can’t go wrong with The Natural History Museum. If it looks familiar, that’s because movies like The Mummy, Tomb Raider and Paddington were filmed here. Key standouts of The Natural History Museum have to be the 25-metre blue whale skeleton, suspended in the air in the majestic Hintze Hall, and the dinosaur and mammal galleries. Other galleries explore the world of volcanoes and earthquakes, gemstones and minerals or prehistoric fossils. The Natural History Museum first opened in 1881 and is now home to 80 million specimens spanning 4.5 billion years. To do the Natural History Museum justice, you could always book our own guided tour.

British Museum

The Great Court

Over two million years of history are waiting to be uncovered at the British Museum. Journey back to ancient Egypt to see the world-famous Rosetta Stone with its ancient hieroglyphs, explore Mexico’s Aztec artefacts or delve in the cultural wonder of Africa. 60 free galleries await you at the British Museum, which dates back to 1759. Located in Bloomsbury in London’s West End, don’t miss the historic Reading Room, said to be one of London’s greatest sights. Unbelievably, the British Museum spans over 13 acres, so if you’re in need of a guide who knows their Egyptian mummies from their Parthenon sculptures, you could always book a London Walks British Museum Tour.

The National Gallery

Man looking at Velásquez painting in detail

There is surely no better way to spend a rainy day in London than in the company of some of the world’s most famous artworks. The National Gallery is home to paintings from Titian, Cézanne, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Constable, da Vinci, Botticelli and many other masters of their craft. To see masterpieces like Claude Monet’s Bathers at La Grenouillère in person, combined with the regular exhibitions at The National Gallery will surely turn any London downpour into a delight. As The National Gallery sits in the heart of London at Trafalgar Square, you’ll be in prime position for lots of other London landmarks such as Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery.  True art buffs should book in for the best art tour ever.

Madame Tussauds

A slight gear change here, but waxwork museum Madame Tussauds is an ever-popular London attraction. It’s the place to mix with A-list celebs, royalty and superheroes and pose for selfies with the waxwork models. But there’s more to discover than famous faces here. There are immersive experiences like the 4D Marvel Universe. Or you can also explore London’s crime history with its slightly gruesome Chamber of Horrors.

Churchill War Rooms

Over in Westminster, you can enter the underground nerve centre where Winston Churchill and the British government directed the Second World War. Follow in the legendary PM’s footsteps as you explore the top-secret corridors of Churchill War Rooms. You’ll get an insight into life during the terrifying events of the Second World War. Our Westminster at War guided walk ends here, at the Churchill War Rooms, and it’ll really help you to understand this nerve centre and how London was transformed during that time.

Tate Modern

A feast of modern and contemporary art from around the world, the Tate Modern sits in a former power station on London’s Southbank. Head to the Tate Modern on a rainy day in London and you’ll be greeted by thought-provoking installations in its vast Turbine Hall, like the iconic setting sun by Olafur Eliasson. Then there are the collections by artists such as Turner and Rothko, a journey through British art from 1540 to the present day, or time to just wander and soak in the sheer artistic brilliance. For a guided tour of one of London’s most enigmatic, quirky buildings, take the Tate Modern tour.

Royal Observatory and Planetarium, Greenwich

Step into the fascinating world of time and place at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Part of the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory is devoted to royal astronomer John Flamsteed. Time your visit to see the red time ball drop at 1 pm, once used to signal time to boats on the Thames. If the rain lets up a little, venture outside to see the actual Meridian Line in the courtyard of the Royal Observatory. Every place on earth is measured east or west from this line. The Royal Observatory is also home to the only planetarium in London, the Peter Harrison Planetarium.

London’s Landmarks

The Tower of London

One of the most famous landmarks in London, the Tower of London has seen it all. Anne Boleyn, awaiting her coronation in the Tower and then later in 1536, executed by Henry VIII for treason. Anne’s daughter, princess Elizabeth who would become Elizabeth I, locked up in the Tower by her sister Mary. There is so much intrigue and history wrapped up in the Tower of London that you could spend many a rainy day here. Don’t miss the 23,578 glittering gemstones of the Crown Jewels and search out the six resident ravens. Legend has it that the Tower of London will fall if the ravens ever leave, so there’s an extra raven at the Tower for good measure. A good tip to avoid the usual queues at the Tower of London is to book a tour with London Walks.

The Houses of Parliament

Spanning an epic 266m on the River Thames, the Houses of Parliament, also known as Westminster Palace, is a true icon of the London cityscape. This vast 1,100 room gothic palace was built in the mid-19th century but its history dates back to 1097 and William II. You’ll have to book if you want to while away a rainy afternoon in the Houses of Parliament. If you manage it, tours take in the Lords Chamber, Central Lobby and Commons Chamber. You can even enjoy afternoon tea there too. Of course, no trip to the Houses of Parliament is complete without a glance at Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Who could forget Lady Diana Spencer arriving at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, vast train trailing behind her? St. Paul’s was also the venue for another royal wedding, that of Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII, to Princess Catherine of Aragon who would later marry Henry VIII. Or perhaps the underground crypt would interest you more. St. Paul’s underground crypt is the final resting place of Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Steeped in history, it is easy to imagine those that walked before you as you discover the golden gallery and the whispering gallery.  To discover more of St. Paul’s secrets, the St. Paul’s tour from London Walks is just the ticket.

The London Eye

London Eye

See the whole of London from the comfort of a weatherproof glass bubble. Reaching a 135 metre height and opened in 2000, The London Eye provides breathtaking views of the whole city, come rain or shine. Conveniently placed on the South Bank, the closest tube station Waterloo is only five minutes away, and the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey are just on the other side of River Thames. Each ‘journey’ on the wheel lasts about 30 minutes. Fun fact: the 32 bubbles, or ovoidal capsules which is their technically correct name, represent the 32 boroughs of London.

Covered Markets

Borough Market

Just beside London Bridge (not to be confused with Tower Bridge) you’ll discover one of London’s rainy day – or any day – gems, Borough Market. For over 1000 years, Londoners have come to Borough Market to buy their bread, fish and meat. Today, Borough Market is where you can find the finest world produce in one unique London experience. Take the chance to sample some proper London street food with an international flavour, like grilled seafood skewers and Middle Eastern meze. The full market is on Wednesday to Saturday.

Old Spitalfields Market

If you want a taste of the authentic London, dodge the drizzle and head for Old Spitalfields Market for some shopping. The original East End marketplace is open seven days a week. Old Spitalfields Market is home to small, local producers, quirky independents and comforting London fare from The Kitchens. Best of all, this eclectic slice of historic London can all be found under one historic (and rainproof) Victorian roof.

Brick Lane Market – Shoreditch

London’s a melting pot of cultures and you can immerse yourself in the London vibe at Brick Lane market in Shoreditch. Located in East London, where Jack the Ripper once prowled, Brick Lane is now where the cool people congregate. On a rainy day, the Truman Markets are a haven. Get your crafts at the Backyard Market, street food from the Sunday Upmarket, your vintage at the Vintage Market and tea with a side order of chintz at The Tea Rooms. For the ultimate in street food though, it has to be Brick Lane Beigel Bake.

Covent Garden

Whether you want to shop or just wander, Covent Garden is an experience in itself. If it’s indoor activities you need, there are three markets at Covent Garden to tempt you. From handmade crafts and antiques at The Apple Market, jewellery and sweet treats at the East Colonnade and the historic Jubilee Market, you’ll have stall after stall of unique produce to choose from. Once a 7th-century Saxon settlement, Covent Garden was once known as ‘Convent Garden’, being where the monks of Westminster Abbey grew their vegetables in the 1500s. Find out more about the fascinating history of Covent Garden on a London Walks tour.


London is filled with unique shops like The Old Curiosity Shop in Holborn, said to be the inspiration for the Dickens novel, or the must-visit Harry Potter shop at Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station. But, if the lure of the high street is too much for you, London has a wealth of shopping districts with an abundance of national retailers and stores. Like upmarket Chelsea for your designer brands, or popular Oxford Street for the renowned department stores and high street shops you know and love. If it’s bucketing down, you’ll need the proper London shopping centre experience at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush or Stratford. Hundreds of shops, and just a few minutes’ walk from the Underground.

Restaurants and nights out

A favourite activity in London when it’s raining is to sample some of the capital’s excellent restaurants. There’s a restaurant for every taste and budget in London, from fine dining to bar snacks in a local boozer. Then there are the cool and quirky, fun things to do in our eclectic city.

For something special, head to the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street for Modern British cuisine. From the top of the walkie talkie building, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the city skyline which is pretty special even in the rain. Then there’s Rules in Covent Garden for traditional British food done so very well. Heading to the pub is a very British response to a rainy day. You’ll find some of the finest around Soho, Hampstead and Clerkenwell.

If you want to mix food and drink with entertainment, try the blend of karaoke and bowling at Bowling Alley All Star Lanes or Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes. Or how about some last-minute food and drink with some ping pong? Yes, it’s a thing at Bounce in London.

Fun rainy day activities in London

Believe it or not, there are still a million other ways you can occupy your time and have a ball on a rainy day in London, it just depends on how energetic you’re feeling! For a chilled day, try the IMAX cinema at South Bank for a cinematic experience like no other. Fancy a spot of crazy golf? Visit Urban Golf for its ‘golf and grooves’ and maybe a burger too, or Swingers Club for a cool, urban crazy golf experience. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but an escape room can be a lot of fun. A great place to be on a rainy day in London is a board game café like Draughts in Waterloo or Scenario in Dalston. Grab a cuppa and settle in for the duration.

See a show

No London rainy day activity guide would be complete without a mention of the fabulous West End musicals on offer in London. Whether you plump for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a classic like Les Miserables or a modern masterpiece like Frozen, London’s theatres have something for everyone. A concert at the Barbican is quite the experience and the centre itself is worth exploring. Then The Old Vic, near Waterloo, is a wonderful place to enjoy storytelling at its finest.

Come rain or shine, there’s so much on offer in London. You need never fear a downpour again with this mix of rainy day activities.


Pippa Jackson

Pippa Jackson

Pippa is a word nerd and content aficionado with a background of working in TV on both sides of the globe. She loves to discover and share the diverse and wonderful stories of her much-loved London. When she’s not writing blogs and articles, you’ll find her walking beside the Thames or even paddleboarding on it (in the finest of conditions only!) or enjoying a coffee in the sunshine with a good book.

Read all articles by Pippa Jackson