I didn’t move to London for the weather. This city has a lot going for it, but the climate isn’t always ideal. Then again, no place is perfect. I’d rather have gray skies in London than sun in some other parts of the world. And rain isn’t the worst thing, either. So if you find yourself wondering how to spend a rainy day in London, here’s a quick guide to help you out.
Rainy Day in London
Before I start, it’s worth noting that there’s a silver lining to London’s inclement weather. While it rains frequently in this city, it doesn’t usually rain very hard or for very long. Most of the time a light drizzle won’t stop you from walking around the city, and downpours are rare and usually only last 10 minutes. I once read that Mexico City gets more annual rainfall than London.
How to Dress for Rain in London
But it does rain here, so it’s worth being prepared. First off, you need the right clothes. My packing lists for spring, summer, autumn, and winter will help you dress for the weather, and having a good umbrella is key. If you’re in the UK, get this one. If you’re in the US, this one is just the thing.
Things to Do in London When it Rains
Dressed for the weather, it’s time to figure out how to spend a rainy day in London. I’m a big fan of London’s museums, not least because there are so many that it’s impossible not to find one to fit your passions. They’re great places to take shelter from a light mist or a heavy torrent, and the larger ones are big enough to keep you entertained all day.
Good clusters include the South Kensington museums—the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and V&A are all next to one another—and the Trafalgar Square museums—the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are adjacent to one another. Then there’s the British Museum, which you could spend years in and still not see everything.
If museums aren’t your thing, London has no shortage of shopping. Oxford Street and Regent Street are packed with all the big names in UK retail, and it’s easy to dodge the rain by spending a morning or afternoon in one of the big department stores. Even places like King’s Road and Marylebone High Street have sufficient shops to make escaping a shower relatively simple.
Going to the theater is another of the best things to do when it’s raining in London. Plays and musicals abound in the West End and other parts of the city, and spending a couple hours under the roof of one of London’s playhouses is a great way to stay dry. Most shows offer both matinees and evening performances, so you can get last-minute tickets or time your experience according to the forecast (however unreliable it may be).
An alternative option is to embrace the rain. Throw on your waterproof jacket, pull up your wellies, and go for a walk in Hampstead Heath. Splash through the puddles, turn your face to the sky, and let the rain do what it will. Afterwards, find a cozy pub and curl up with a hot drink or a pint, letting the fire dry you out and warm you up.
However you choose to spend your rainy day in London, I hope you have a good time and that the gray skies don’t get you down. This city has so much to offer that a little precipitation can hardly make it less appealing.
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