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.

Autumn in 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).

Autumn Trees

Autumn

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.

Horse Riding in Autumn

Winter

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.

Christmas Market

Spring

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.

Spring Garden

Summer

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…

Summer Garden

How about you? What do you think is the best time to visit London?

40 Comments on Lady on the Best Time to Visit London

  1. I agree with all your comments! Love autumn, love summer and love spring. People love shopping In London for Christmas. I love window shopping, the decor is gorgeous but it drives me nuts that it’s dark at 15!

  2. I’ve visited London in March, April, May, September and November, and I think April and September are my favorites. The gardens and parks were lovely, the weather wasn’t too bad and I didn’t have to mess with the summer tourist masses.

    Visiting in November wasn’t bad and definitely helped get me in the holiday spirit. I collect tree ornaments, so it was great browsing through all the Christmas shops at the department stores. However, living at a lower latitude in Texas, I didn’t expect it to get dark so early in the day. My first day there, I was walking through St James’s Park around 4:00 p.m. and thought bad weather was coming, but it was just the sun already starting to set.

  3. I have a soft spot for Christmas, and Christmas in London is simply wonderful! Autumn is beautiful too… it’s actually my favorite season! If the sun is shining, the air is cripsy and the trees are changing the colours… So beautiful! And perfect weather for sightseeing too!
    xx,
    E.

  4. Nice post. I think Autumn is probably my favourite too, I love all the leaves on the streets :). Winter in central london gets so busy for christmas, although Winter Wonderland is so much fun. Shame summer finished so quickly, just when I was starting to get used to the warmth haha.

    Francis

  5. I visited London last winter (during the Christmas season) and it was amazing! I had such an incredible time I can’t imagine there being a bad time to visit at all!

  6. It feels like autumn has already been here for a month! This has made me feel a little more positive about the impending winter, though I agree about February. It sucks.

  7. Fall b is my favorite time b of year anywhere, but especially in London because the tourist crowds are gone and there is a crispness in the air. I can’t wait to get back!

  8. I liked spring and autumn in London (although last October was apparently unusually warm so I might not like more “usual” autumn temperatures as much!) – especially spring when it gradually gets warmer and the days get longer. Such a happy time!

    Which park is that in the second picture, by the way? 🙂

  9. I spent last fall in Oxford and I think it was the best possible time to visit. The weather was great, the colors of the trees and buildings combined with the light were gorgeous. I am hopeful to return next year as it was one of the best experiences of my life. London was equally beautiful and I think there is something very special about England in the fall.

  10. “The winter chill has lifted, and with it everyone’s spirits (by April, we no longer want to kill ourselves / move to the Caribbean).”

    Hilarious! So happy to have found your blog!

  11. ok lady……..you have me scared now !!………I am coming to London in Feb 16 , all bookings confirmed ,so no way out of it 🙁

  12. Great guide! I’m looking to visit London (maybe other parts of England or Scotland too) this October so this is very encouraging. About how long does autumn last for this lovely time you mention? I’m imagining leaves gone by mid-October but I know I’m basing that off of the season where I am located (Colorado), when the mountain leaves are well on their way by September’s end.

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