Looking for the best time to visit England? Discover the best seasons and months to visit along with crowd levels, weather, and events!
Planning a trip to the UK and wondering when the best time to visit England is? It’s funny how such a simple question can equate to hours of research and leave you feeling like you’re still unsure of the answer.
Between finicky weather and massive tourist crowds, it’s particularly important to research the best time to visit England before you book your plane tickets. Is a higher likelihood of good weather important enough for you to embrace the crowds? Or are you the opposite and will gladly deal with rain and cold to escape the tourist rush?
Either way, doing your research beforehand will prepare you so you aren’t surprised and fully know what to expect. I always find a trip is more enjoyable when you are aware of the circumstances…be that crowds, weather, festivals, or seasonal attractions.
Enough of the preamble…let’s get into the best time to visit England! I’ll take you through each month and season so you can decide what makes the most sense for you.
short and sweet: The best time to visit England is late spring and early fall
September through early October and late May through early June are the best time to visit England. These months will give you the best chance of decent weather and fewer crowds.
England in Summer – June through August
The best time to visit England for decent weather and festivals, the worst time to visit for crowds and prices
Summer is not the best time to visit England…the crowds are annoyingly high and warm sunny weather is not guaranteed
If you’ve visited England or the United Kingdom in the past, I’m sure you learned pretty quickly that the weather here is pretty unreliable. Most places around the world equate summer to sunny, warm, dry weather. While you might have a good chance of experiencing a typical summer day during the months of June through August in England…you can’t assume it will be guaranteed.
For example, I spent the entire month of August in England and there were more cold, cloudy, rainy days than there were warm and sunny. I think I experienced a total of five days where the temperature rose above the 60s.
You have to be prepared if you are doing a quick trip that maybe the entire week you visit the temperature doesn’t reach above 60. Or maybe you hit a heatwave where it’s in the 90s and humid. You just don’t know, and you have to be ready for anything.
See my London blog posts:
You may be thinking “so what, that doesn’t sound terrible”. But you have to think about what summer means crowd and price wise. Huge, massive crowds that push hotel prices up. Between school breaks, tourists assuming summer means awesome weather, and festivals, June through August are some of the busiest months of the year.
If you were guaranteed perfect summer weather, then maybe dealing with the crowds would be worth it…you wouldn’t mind overpaying for your hotel or squishing yourself onto the overcrowded Tube. Unfortunately, you won’t be guaranteed warm sunny days. So why battle the rush of tourists? This is why I recommend skipping the summer months and visiting in early fall or late spring.
If you plan to visit England in summer I highly recommend trying for as early as possible. The crowds really pick up starting in July since that’s when kids get out of school. Early to mid-June would be the best time to visit England during the summer.
Be sure to check/Google the festival calendar for whatever city you’re visiting in England. The summer months are jam packed with festivals and events. It’s important to be aware of what events are happening and where so you can decide if you’d like to attend or if you want to scram and avoid the crowds said event attracts.
In June we have Trooping the Colour (a massive parade to celebrate the Queen’s birthday), Stonehenge Summer Solstice, the Glastonbury Festival of indie pop music in Somerset, Taste of London, and the Royal Ascot horse races near Windsor. The Wimbledon Championships are usually in late June/early July for my tennis fans. Notting Hill Carnival is usually in August along with the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and the Reading Festival and Reeds Festival (Britain’s largest rock music festivals). Visit Great Britain lists many of the biggest annual events in Britain.
To give an idea of weather I’ll focus on London. Other popular cities like Oxford, Bath, Cambridge, and York are usually a few degrees cooler than London. June brings lows in the low 50s and highs in the high 60s. Perfect sightseeing weather without sweating through your shirt. July and August bring lows in the mid 50s and highs in the low 70s. Dress in layers because when the sun shines it is hot! Another perk of summer is the very long days with 16+ hours of day light between sunrise and sunset.
Need some day trip ideas from London?
Fall in England – September through November
The best time to visit England for manageable crowds and crisp (maybe damp) sightseeing weather
Early fall is my absolute favorite and the best time to visit England. Specifically, mid to late September and early October. Kids go back to school at the end of August, which greatly helps with the crowd levels. The further you get into fall, the lower the crowds will be. You’ll be able to find better hotel rates and have a better chance of getting into restaurants, tourist attractions, and snag tickets to musicals and plays.
One surprising fact about fall is that September is often warmer and drier than August! Leaves will start to change color in mid to late September and full autumn is in swing by October. This would be a lovely time to explore the countryside like the Cotswolds to really take in scenery.
London sees lows in the low 50s and highs in the high 60s in September, lows in the high 40s and highs in the high 50s in October, and lows in the low 40s and highs in the low 50s in November. The rain tends to pick up starting in October. The weather is more than comfortable to sightsee. Just make sure you have a few indoor activities planned for times when the weather is rainy. Though you may be surprised if you visit in early fall at how mild and dry it is!
The fall has its fair share of events…though not nearly as many as summer and many of these events are smaller in size. In September we have the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, London Fashion Week, and the York Food and Drink Festival. November 5th, known as Guy Fawkes night, is celebrated across England with bonfires and fireworks to commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Christmas events and markets start to open come late November. This would be a great time to experience the Christmas markets before they become packed in December.
Between the lower crowd levels and crisp (sometimes damp) autumn weather, mid-September to mid-October are my favorite and the best time to visit England.
England in Winter – December through February
The best time to visit England for Christmas markets (December) and the lowest prices of the season (January and February)
England during the holidays is magical. While many tourists rush to countries like Germany, where the traditional Christmas markets originated, cities like London, York, and Bath have plenty of Christmas cheer to offer. London has almost too many Christmas markets to keep track of. From small and charming, to larger than life, you won’t be disappointed.
The light displays are some of the best I’ve seen in the entire world! Skate under a palace, listen to carols at Trafalgar Square, knock out your Christmas shopping list in SoHo, attend a Christmas themed afternoon tea…London really is one of my favorite places to visit during the holiday season. I’ve written detailed post of the best things to do if you visit London in December.
Cities like Bath and York all have Christmas markets as well if you want something a bit more small and charming.
There will be crowds during the Christmas rush, but it’s not as crowded as summer and I’m still able to find great hotel deals in December. It will be the most crowded and expensive the beginning of the month. The closer you get to Christmas, the less crowded it will become since tourists go home to spend Christmas and New Years at home.
The weather is not bad in December. Much more mild than other popular destinations like Germany and Austria. December through February sees lows in the high 30s and highs in the mid 40s. I even experienced a few sunny afternoons where I ditched my coat and was fine in a thick sweater! Per usual with England, always have your umbrella with you as this season brings the most rain.
Taking the holiday season aside, January and February are the best time to visit England if you want the best hotel deals and lowest crowd levels. After the holidays everyone heads home, kids go back to school, and popular cities around England feel more “local” and less “touristy”. You won’t have a problem finding a seat at restaurants and popular sites will be void of long queues and wait times.
There is also something to be said on how cozy the pubs and bed and breakfasts feel during the winter months. You might just find yourself enjoying the cold and dreary weather as you sit by the fire and sip your tea or tuck into hearty English dishes like steak and ale pie.
York blog posts:
Spring in England – March through May
The best time to go to England for colorful landscapes and decent crowds
Early spring is the best time to visit England if you don’t mind cold and dreary weather in favor of less crowds. The later you get into spring, and the warmer the weather gets, the more crowded it will become.
May is my personal favorite and the best time to visit England for the perfect mix of decent sightseeing weather and manageable crowds. Late spring also means the country with be bursting with color as everything is in bloom.
If you do visit in May, Google UK bank holidays. There are two bank holidays in May (beginning and end of May) which means there will be heavier crowds. Try to plan your trip around these holidays or visit less popular cities.
March and April have a pretty empty festival and events calendar. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, one of the oldest sporting events in the world, is in March and the London Marathon is in April. May picks up a bit with the Bath Festival, Chelsea Flower Show, and Bath Fridge Festival.
March and April see lows in the low 40s and highs in the mid 50s. May is much more enjoyable with lows in the high 40s and highs in the low 60s.
My personal advice is that if you’re going to visit when it’s colder, go in winter when things are brightened up a bit with holiday cheer. All the decorations and events make bearing the cold worth it. March and April have always been a bit depressing for me since the weather is pretty darn cold and gray this time of year. Or wait until early May when things start warming up and you have a better chance of getting a sunny day.
I hope this post helps you decide the best time to visit England for your upcoming trip. In summary, my favorite times to visit are late May through early June and September through early October. These months offer the ideal mix of good sightseeing weather and lower crowds. The Christmas season is also a memorable time of year to visit with all the Christmas markets and special events. I personally try to avoid summer because of the crowds, late winter (after Christmas) and early spring because the weather can be a drag.
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See my other UK blog posts!