It’s autumn. Well, not technically, but September is close enough to fall and the weather in London has been so cool recently that it might as well be. With the changing seasons, I always start to think about what part of the year sees London at its best. While I love the (sometimes) warm summer months, the city shines in other ways in other seasons, too. As such, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to the best time to visit London.
When is the best time to visit London?
I should start this post by saying that the best season to visit London is like the best wine in the world: it’s the one you like the most. But whether you’re a summer person or a winter one, there are factors to consider that go beyond just the weather (not least because the weather in London is so predictably unpredictable).
Since it’s September, I will start with autumn. It’s one of my favorite times of year to be in London, partly because the weather (sometimes) stays warm through mid-October and partly because the summer tourist crowds thin. It offers the best of summer without the worst of summer. Autumn is also a fun time to be in the city because parks like Hampstead Heath are beautiful with their red and orange leaves, and because it’s a great excuse to dress in classic British trench coats and boots.
People never think to visit London in the winter, but before you skip this section, I encourage you to keep an open mind. Locals know that winter is one of the best times to be in London, particularly in the run-up to Christmas (don’t come in February. We all want to kill ourselves / move to the Caribbean by then). From late November, the city lights up from Regent Street to Sloane Street, with each year bringing an even bigger display of Christmas lights and markets. And on New Year’s Eve there’s a spectacular fireworks show on the Thames. If you can handle darkness, grayness, and coldness (top tip: pubs help!), the Christmas season in London is spectacular.
Spring is another great time to visit London. The winter chill has lifted, and with it everyone’s spirits (by April, we no longer want to kill ourselves / move to the Caribbean). Add to that the purple clouds of wisteria throughout London’s neighborhoods and the spectacular displays of daffodils in Green Park, tulips in Holland Park, and roses in Regent’s Park, and it’s one of the prettiest times to be in London. Spring is also the time when outdoor events and festivals start taking place, so there’s a lot going on in the city.
Ah, summer. I miss you already. Possibly because you never really showed up this year anyway. But when summer does come, whether for a week or several months, London comes alive. The parks and (beer) gardens fill with people, and there’s an energy in the city that gets more kinetic as the sun gets stronger. On top of that, the summer season brings a constant stream of entertainments, from the Chelsea Flower Show to Wimbledon. Festivals and outdoor concerts and cinemas abound, and there’s no shortage of things to do. The only downside is that everyone on the planet seems to know this, and summer can be an overwhelming time to visit London. Which brings me back to autumn…
How about you? What do you think is the best time to visit London?