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Things to do on a rainy day in London
Destinations & Inspiration

Things to do on a rainy day in London

Ellena Morgan
By Ellena Morgan - 16 minute read

Lon­don is one of the world’s great­est cities, and is under­stand­ably top of many trav­el buck­et lists. And while Lon­don has plen­ty of great weath­er, it also has its fair share of rainy days – so it’s always good to come armed with a list of pos­si­ble indoor activ­i­ties in Lon­don! Hap­pi­ly, the city is blessed with sim­ply loads of enter­tain­ment options, so if you do hit a sog­gy patch while you’re vis­it­ing the cap­i­tal city, take a look at our selec­tion of the best indoor things to do in London…

Head to the markets

If the weath­er turns against you, explor­ing an indoor mar­ket is always a good idea, and luck­i­ly Lon­don is jam-packed full of great indoor spots boast­ing amaz­ing food stalls and var­ied shop­ping options. Old Spi­tal­fields Mar­ket in Shored­itch is one such option, as while it’s out­doors, it has a roof. Offer­ing vin­tage stalls, vinyls and award-win­ning street food, it’s a cul­tur­al delight. If you want to taste-test a range of cuisines, then head to the famous Bor­ough Mar­ket which has dozens of food traders from all over the world. Anoth­er great place to vis­it is Covent Gar­den Mar­ket, which was orig­i­nal­ly a flower mar­ket and is now home to bou­tique shops and eater­ies – plus it’s just a short stroll from many sites in Lon­don, so if the sun comes out, you can car­ry on sightseeing! 

Lon­don has also seen a bunch of cov­ered stalls and food mar­kets pop up in recent years, includ­ing Sev­en Dials Mar­ket in Covent Gar­den, and Mar­ket Hall which serves up incred­i­ble food all hours in Vic­to­ria, Canary Wharf and Oxford Street. If you’re head­ing south of the Riv­er Thames, then Brix­ton Vil­lage hosts loads of inde­pen­dent shops and food ven­dors, while Toot­ing Mar­ket is incred­i­ble for the best local food.

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Bor­ough Mar­ket is large­ly cov­ered, mak­ing it a great stop on a rainy day in London

Pam­per yourself

If the rain is ham­mer­ing down, then one of the best indoor activ­i­ties in Lon­don has to be tak­ing the time to explore the won­der­ful array of spas that are on offer. From atmos­pher­ic stone baths to high-tech facials, there’s some­thing to suit every kind of need and bud­get, mak­ing this the per­fect activ­i­ty for a rainy day in the cap­i­tal. We’d rec­om­mend pay­ing a vis­it to the Aire Ancient Baths in Covent Gar­den, where you can enjoy a range of treat­ments as well as ice cold water, sauna and salt baths under the vault­ed stone ceil­ings. There’s also a few firm-favourites pro­vid­ed by well-known brands like Ave­da and Cow­shed with loca­tions across the city, while many of London’s hotels offer half or full-day spa passes.

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Get your game on

The sky is grey, the fore­cast is dread­ful and you’re in need of some bril­liant indoor days out ideas that will help every­one burn off a lit­tle ener­gy? Great news, because if you want to enjoy a game of some­thing but don’t fan­cy get­ting soaked out­side, then there’s a host of indoor activ­i­ties that are per­fect for a rainy day in Lon­don. Indoor crazy golf Swingers has two loca­tions in the city and the West End, or you could play a game of darts in one of four Flight Club loca­tions (Blooms­bury, Isling­ton, Shored­itch and Vic­to­ria). Alter­na­tive­ly, go bowl­ing at one of All Star Lanes’ four loca­tions, or lose a few hours in the icon­ic Rowan’s Ten­pin Bowl­ing in Fins­bury Park, where you can bowl, play pool or just mess around with retro arcade games. If you’re after some­thing a bit more out of the box, try your hand at a vir­tu­al real­i­ty game with DNA VR at the old Bat­tersea Pow­er Sta­tion, or get your anger out with some axe-throw­ing at Whis­tle Punks in Oxford Cir­cus or Vauxhall!

Rainy day in London get your game on

If it’s pour­ing down, try bowl­ing at Rowan’s in Fins­bury Park, North London

See a play 

If musi­cals aren’t your thing, there’s no short­age of plays on offer in Lon­don. If you fan­cy catch­ing a Shake­speare­an clas­sic (but don’t want to get soaked at the Globe The­atre) then the Nation­al The­atre offers a huge amount of options across three audi­to­ri­ums: The Olivi­er The­atre, The Lyt­tel­ton The­atre and The Dorf­man The­atre. Alter­na­tive­ly, The Old Vic hosts per­for­mances from some of the world’s most acclaimed actors and actress­es, with the Young Vic stag­ing inno­v­a­tive work from big stars as well as emerg­ing artists. Built in the 1980s, The Bar­bi­can boasts a con­cert hall, two the­atres and three cin­e­mas – so there’s no short­age of amaz­ing enter­tain­ment on hand, while chil­dren will love the Uni­corn The­atre which aims to intro­duce a young audi­ence to the world of theatre.

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See­ing a play is a bril­liant activ­i­ty, what­ev­er the weather

Laugh at some comedy

If the weath­er is less than cheery, why not enjoy some laughs at one of London’s many com­e­dy clubs for one of the per­fect indoor things to do in Lon­don? The Secret Com­e­dy Club, (which also hap­pens to be the UK’s high­est-rat­ed com­e­dy club), is tucked away on a side road in the streets of bustling Covent Gar­den, or head to its equal­ly delight­ful neigh­bour the Covent Gar­den Com­e­dy Club, where you can get tick­ets for as lit­tle as £5. Just a stone’s throw away is the well-known 99 Club in Leices­ter Square which has been run­ning for over a decade, and reg­u­lar­ly hosts some of the com­e­dy world’s biggest stars.

If you’re hap­py to hop on the tube to go a lit­tle fur­ther afield (London’s pre­dom­i­nant­ly under­ground trans­port sys­tem is a great way to stay dry when it’s wet!), you can’t go wrong with Angel Com­e­dy Club. With two com­e­dy venues (The Cam­den Head and The Bill Mur­ray), this incred­i­ble club hosts more come­di­ans every month than any oth­er club, and it show­cas­es every­thing from big-name stars who are get­ting ready to go on tour, through to emerg­ing tal­ent – many of whom are tak­ing on their very first open mic gig. Tick­ets are incred­i­ble val­ue and a lot of the shows are even free! Just make sure you’re there ear­ly if you want to get in, as this pop­u­lar haunt can get busy.

Rainy day in London Laugh at some comedy

Shel­ter from the rain and have some laughs at 99 Club in Leices­ter Square

Take in some art

Indoor activ­i­ties in Lon­don are thank­ful­ly plen­ti­ful, as pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions have fuelled the city’s love affair with art. Yes trav­el-lovers, one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Lon­don is to take in a lit­tle cul­ture! With many gal­leries, art muse­ums and exhi­bi­tions across the cap­i­tal, you’re bound to find some­thing to suit your per­son­al pref­er­ences – be that a sculp­ture, per­for­mance art, pho­tog­ra­phy or a Renais­sance paint­ing. Bet­ter yet, many of London’s top spots are free to enter! We’d rec­om­mend start­ing your artis­tic explo­ration by pay­ing a vis­it to both the famous Tate gal­leries. Tate Britain in Pim­li­co and Tate Mod­ern on the South Bank are on oppo­site sides of the water, but you can catch a water taxi between the two venues (and in the process, take in Lon­don from the Thames – with your hood up of course!) Here, you’ll find a large sec­tion of the dis­plays are free to the pub­lic, with some exhi­bi­tions ticketed. 

Oth­er great options with many free dis­plays include the Nation­al Gallery and The Nation­al Por­trait Gallery. If you’re after some­thing more unusu­al, pay a vis­it to the Saatchi Gallery to dis­cov­er emerg­ing artists, and White Cube for con­tem­po­rary art. Alter­na­tive­ly, Whitechapel Gallery is free for all, while Damien Hirst’s New­port Street Gallery is a great choice for a rainy day out in Lon­don – though do check that the gallery is open before you turn up, as it clos­es in-between exhibitions.

Rainy day in London Take in some art

Tate Mod­ern is a great, free attrac­tion for a rainy day out in London

Vis­it a museum

Just like art gal­leries, many muse­ums in Lon­don (and the UK in gen­er­al) are free to enter, and they’ll undoubt­ed­ly offer you one of the best indoor days out when it’s chuck­ing down with rain. We’d rec­om­mend tak­ing a vis­it to the beau­ti­ful area of South Kens­ing­ton where the Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um, The Sci­ence Muse­um and the Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um are all with­in a short dis­tance, per­fect for dart­ing in-between on rainy days. A must-vis­it is the famous British Muse­um, home to thou­sands of arte­facts from around the world, while oth­er strong con­tenders are The Well­come Col­lec­tion for those of you inter­est­ed in med­ical his­to­ry and art. 

If you’re a his­to­ry buff, The Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um, HMS Belfast and The Nation­al Mar­itime Muse­um are all a must, with the lat­ter being huge­ly pop­u­lar with chil­dren – make sure you book a tick­et for the Children’s Gallery as soon as you arrive, for plen­ty of inter­ac­tive fun. If you’re after some­thing a bit more unusu­al, The Design Muse­um in Hol­land Park, Lon­don Trans­port Muse­um in Covent Gar­den and The Muse­um of Brands in Not­ting Hill are all fan­tas­tic choic­es to learn some­thing new.

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The Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Muse­um is the per­fect rainy day out

Shop until you drop

As far as indoor things to do in Lon­don go, there’s no bet­ter way to spend a rainy day than with some retail ther­a­py. If you’re hap­py to splash the cash whilst avoid­ing the rain, West­field shop­ping cen­tres in Strat­ford and Shepherd’s Bush are the per­fect options for those look­ing to enjoy the best of the UK high street in one con­ve­nient space. On top of great shops, these malls also have a range of cafes and restau­rants, mean­ing there are plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to rest your feet between shop vis­its – while chil­dren will adore the dress­ing-up and role play oppor­tu­ni­ties at Kidza­nia (which is an entire indoor city!)

If you’re after a tru­ly Lon­don expe­ri­ence, then set aside some time to vis­it one of the capital’s many icon­ic depart­ment stores, such as Sel­f­ridges, Fort­num and Mason or Har­rods, where you can find the best lux­u­ry items as well as an out-of-this-world shop­ping expe­ri­ence. Anoth­er great option that is rel­a­tive­ly well cov­ered from the ele­ments is the new Coal Drops Yard devel­op­ment in Kings Cross, which is home to a range of styl­ish brands. 

And of course, a trip to Lon­don wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a mooch around the capital’s many inde­pen­dent stores. We’d sug­gest head­ing south of the riv­er and explor­ing the traders in Brix­ton Vil­lage, Toot­ing Mar­ket and Green­wich Mar­ket, all of which are con­ve­nient­ly pro­tect­ed from the rain. Here you’ll find local artists, bou­tique home­ware stores, trendy cloth­ing, yum­my cakes and baked goods, as well as tra­di­tion­al food ven­dors and green grocers.

Rainy day in London Shop until you drop

Har­rods is an icon­ic shop­ping spot for any trip to London

Enjoy after­noon tea

If you’re after a relax­ing after­noon activ­i­ty on a rainy day, we can think of noth­ing nicer than enjoy­ing a spot of after­noon tea. Just think, the weath­er may be grim out­side, but against the back­drop of a whim­si­cal set­ting (or some­thing mod­ern and funky if you pre­fer!) you could be shel­ter­ing from the weath­er with some tru­ly British cucum­ber sand­wich­es, scones and jam, and a com­fort­ing pot of Earl Grey. Which is frankly blissful. 

For a tru­ly regal expe­ri­ence, we’d rec­om­mend book­ing a table at the icon­ic Fort­num and Mason, or head to The Ritz where your after­noon tea will be accom­pa­nied by sooth­ing back­ground music from their in-house pianist and harpist (make sure that you’re dressed appro­pri­ate­ly, as they have a strict dress code). Oth­er great options are The Dorch­ester in May­fair, a plant-based after­noon tea in Holy Car­rot, or the icon­ic dusty pink hues and funky toi­lets of Sketch.

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Explore nature, indoors

Just because it’s tip­ping it down out­side, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great out­doors! There’s a whole range of places where you can enjoy nature on a rainy Lon­don day with­out hav­ing to wear your water­proofs. The Bar­bi­can Cen­tre is worth a vis­it no mat­ter the weath­er, as amongst the labyrinth of con­crete and peb­ble dash, you’ll find an urban jun­gle in the form of the Bar­bi­can Con­ser­va­to­ry. This amaz­ing trop­i­cal gar­den is home to over 2000 species of plant (as well as many ter­rap­ins) and is open to the pub­lic for a select few days a week – check online at 10am on Thurs­day, when tick­ets are released for the com­ing week.

Anoth­er great spot is Peter­sham Nurs­eries where you can grab a cof­fee and cake in the quaint tea­room that is cov­ered in wind­ing plants. It’s nes­tled in Rich­mond with a mead­ow sur­round­ing it, so you’ll tru­ly feel like you’re in the Eng­lish coun­try­side and not the capital. 

Anoth­er great option if you’re head­ing west is Chiswick House Con­ser­va­to­ry. With its impres­sive domed glass room, it’s old­er than its more famous rival in Kew! Inside you’ll find an array of flow­ers, includ­ing one of the rarest blooms in the world – the Chi­nese Middlemist’s Red – which is extinct in its native country.

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The Bar­bi­can Con­ser­va­to­ry is a must-see on a rainy day out

Take in views of Lon­don (with a drink in your hand)

When the weath­er is too mis­er­able to explore the cap­i­tal city’s many delights, why not enjoy the view from one of London’s view­point bars? In fact, many locals would admit that this is one of their favorite indoor activ­i­ties in Lon­don! Although many of these bars are based on the rooftop (which admit­ted­ly doesn’t sound great on a rainy day) lots of them offer indoor or shel­tered tables where you can take in the view, rain-free. One of the most famous bars with a view is Madi­son. Tucked away next to St Paul’s Cathe­dral, this sleek bar offers unbeat­able views over the City of Lon­don. Although open, the roof ter­race has a retractable cov­er, mean­ing you can enjoy a drink out­doors, no mat­ter the weather.

Anoth­er great option is The Rooftop St James. Locat­ed on top of The Trafal­gar Hotel, the bar direct­ly over­looks Nelson’s Col­umn in Trafal­gar Square, one of London’s most icon­ic land­marks. Alter­na­tive­ly, try Sky­Pod, which is locat­ed in one of London’s most famous sky­scrap­ers the Walkie Talkie. Due to the incred­i­ble views of the city, you’ll need to book your spot in advance (months, even) but trust us when we say it’s worth it. If you’re after short­er queue times in an equal­ly icon­ic build­ing, the 40th floor Iris Bar in The Gherkin offers rain-free views over the city.

Rainy day in London Take in views of London

Enjoy a drink at Sky Gar­den, in Lon­don’s Walkie Talkie building

Or cosy up in a pub

There’s one thing more quin­tes­sen­tial­ly British than the rainy weath­er, and that’s a good pub. Lucky for you, Lon­don is home to over 3,500 of them! No mat­ter what you’re doing in the day, there’ll always be a great pub with­in a short dis­tance. Whether you’re look­ing for a pub lunch, a qui­et place to enjoy a pint with your book, or some­where to kick back after a long day of explor­ing, there’s a pub for every kind of occa­sion. If you need a help­ing hand find­ing a suit­able option near you, take a look at TimeOut’s 100 best pubs in Lon­don.

Rainy day in London Cosy up in a pub

Enjoy a pint at the famous Churchill Arms in Kensington

Of course, this is just a few of the amaz­ing things you can do in Lon­don on a rainy day. Indoor days out in Lon­don could include a trip to the Olympic Park’s velo­drome, or even a trip to one of the capital’s many cin­e­mas – while oth­ers would argue that one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Lon­don is to get even wet­ter and dance in the Southbank’s water jets! If you have any rec­om­men­da­tions, feel free to send them to us and we’ll be sure to add them to this article!