A rainy day in London doesn't mean you have to spend the entire day in museums! Save this list of the best indoor activities in London so you're prepared when the weather doesn't cooperate!
Chances are high that you'll have a rainy day in London during your visit. That's just what comes with the territory of visiting England.
Luckily, there are plenty of indoor activities in London to fill your time. And guess what? It doesn't have to be a museum. If you've already hit the museums or are just looking for something more memorable, this post is for you.
These are my favorite things to do in London on a rainy day. In fact, many of these activities and attractions are some of my favorites regardless of the weather!
This map shows all the top indoor activities in London for a rainy day. Click the icon in the very top left to see a list view of each pinned location. Click the top right button to enlarge the map. Click the star to save to your own Google Maps account. To access this map once saved (after clicking the star), open Google Maps (on your phone/computer/tablet), click the menu button, go to "your places", select "maps", and you will see this map listed.
- Black - top rainy day activities
- Blue - favorite afternoon tea spots
- Red - London (covered) markets
- Purple - still want a museum? These are my favorites.
1. Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
One of the best ways to spend a rainy day in London for families
You'll never find me upset over a rainy day in London as it's the perfect excuse to visit The Making of Harry Potter - Warner Bros Studio Tour. Since pretty much every person in the world knows the name Harry Potter, chances are you or someone in your group is a Harry Potter fan (cheers to my fellow HP fan club).
Harry Potter Warner Brother Studios is a must. Even if you aren’t a big HP fan, it’s still extremely cool to see a live set and learn how the movies were made.
I’ve been twice and could easily go a third time with everything there is to see. Plan on at least 3 hours for a quick visit. Though, you could easily spend the better part of a day here once you account for the time to get to and from the studios. So if you're looking for a one and done activity vs. knitting together a handful of rainy day activities, this is it.
Booking your tickets beforehand is a MUST.
I recommend taking the bus as it’s a quick ride in a Harry Potter inspired double-decker. All information on getting there can be found on the website.
Don't forget to grab a Butterbeer in the back lot!
2. Afternoon Tea
One of the best indoor activities in London for foodies
Afternoon Tea should be experienced on every visit to the UK and is easily one of the best things to do in London on a rainy day. It's particularly cozy to sip hot tea and nibble on warm scones as you watch the gloomy weather outside.
Afternoon tea is an institution in the UK and one of the experiences I most look forward to each time I visit. It should absolutely be at the top of your list for how to spend a rainy day in London.
Your best traditional (and higher-end) options are Claridge’s, The Dorchester, Fortnum and Mason, and The Ritz. For something a little different try Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel.
Two recent favorites of mine are The Contemporary Art Tea in the Mirror Room at the Rosewood London Hotel and The Chesterfield Mayfair rotating themed tea.
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3. Theatre District – See a Show
One of the best evening activities for a rainy day in London
London’s Theatre District has quite the reputation. Offering world-famous shows at decent prices (every show I've seen in London has hands down beaten NYC in performance and price).
Book tickets in advance or visit the famous TKTS booth in Leicester Square to find a deal on shows that day. Most tickets will be 50% off. Don't hesitate to book a few shows or plays if the weather forecast predicts several rainy days.
4. Sky Garden
One of the best indoor activities in London that's free
London's highest public garden is quite the stunner. Sky Garden has a gorgeous 2 story interior filled with plants and greenery (beyond Instagrammable), and offers stunning views of the city below.
While some may argue to time your visit for a sunny day to get the clearest view of all the landmarks, I think it's a really cool rainy day activity.
Just imagine what it's like to be 35 stories up and watch the rain fall from the giant multi-story windows. It's quite memorable to say the least.
I've visited both in sunny and rainy conditions. I actually preferred my rainy day visit. The vibe was quite moody. It wasn't too cloudy so I was still able to enjoy sweeping views of the city below.
Don't forget to reserve your FREE tickets in advance.
There are also two restaurants and two bars if you want to prolong your visit.
5. London Markets
A foodies dream of how to spend a rainy day in London
If the weather isn't too terrible and you're happy as long as you're doing something that's covered...a visit to some of the best markets in London is a must.
Leadenhall Market supposedly inspired JK Rowling for Diagon Alley. In fact, it makes an appearance in the first movie. There are shops and restaurants here, but I would save your appetite for Borough Market.
Covent Garden Market is a must for any tourist. The main market is a two-level, covered area filled with shops and restaurants. It's also a very popular Instagram spot. The surrounding area around the market is known for upscale shopping, dining, and pubs.
Stop by Abuelo Cafe to warm up with a craft coffee and artistic cake slice. The cafe is a 2-minute walk from Covent Garden Market and it's one of my favorite coffee shops in Covent Garden.
Borough Market is where you want to save your appetite for. This food market is huge and filled with food stalls offering almost every type of cuisine imaginable It's also mostly covered...hence why it's perfect for a rainy day in London as long as it's not too cold.
Diehard foodies could spend several hours here. Though, I'm usually fine wandering around for an hour or two before I stuff myself into a food coma.
6. St. Paul’s Cathedral
A must for any visit to London whether it's raining or not
Climb up 257 steps to the base of the dome to reach the whispering gallery. Whisper into the wall and your friend will be able to hear you on the opposite side. The perfectly curved wall carries your whisper all the way around and has made this quite a popular tourist activity.
Buy your ticket in advance to skip waiting in the rain if there is a line.
7. Westminster Abbey
One of the best indoor activities in London for history buffs (that isn't a museum)
The Abbey is not only the site of coronations, but holds the tombs of royalty, famous poets, politicians, and other notable figures.
If you want to see Westminster and skip touring around and paying the admission price, attend a free Evensong service held daily except on Wednesdays.
Still interested in a museum or two?
If you're planning out how to spend a rainy day in London and enjoy museums, my favorites are the Natural History Museum, Churchill War Rooms, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
A rainy day in London does not mean you have to fill your day will multiple museum visits. There are plenty of indoor activities in London to fill several days.
From covered food markets, afternoon tea, evening theater performances, and a trip to the Making of Harry Potter, you could easily fill a week-long itinerary without having to spend much time outside.
Jimmy Kite says
Lovely post. Very neat and concise. I wish you wrote a little more about the location itself though, because I felt like I was repetitively getting the feeling of skipping queues more than what’s actually at the location. Fantastic collection though. You are appealing me to the destinations ?
Ashley Friemel says
I’m glad you like the destinations I have focused on and really appreciate the feedback. I plan to do several more posts on London where I will go more in-depth on the sights (including the ones mentioned in this post). I hope you find these useful when they are published 🙂