Are you trying to figure out which season is the best time to visit London? From enjoying galleries and museums in winter to chilling out in the Royal Parks in summer, here’s how to make the most out of each season in London.
London’s weather seems to be the epitome of the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. Although it enjoys a mild climate and lacks the wild extremes found in other parts of the world, London has a reputation for unpredictable and highly changeable weather that is well-deserved. First, here are a few myth-busters:
How to make the most out of London each season
The best time to visit London depends on what you’re looking for. For many, summer is the ideal season to walk around London, enjoying all the gardens and parks from dusk to dawn. Others love to take advantage of the quieter cold and rainy months, exploring the many museums and galleries.
There’s no wrong time to visit London. The weather has its unique charm in each season, and there are good reasons to recommend a visit at any time of year. Here’s a little summary if you can’t make up your mind:
Highlights to enjoy in London by season:
- Winter: This is an enchanting time in London, with wonderful seasonal activities. The weather then is chilly and cold, but not the bitter cold of other northern climates, making outdoor activities still quite pleasant much of the time. Favourite activities during winter include going to markets and enjoying the many museums the city has to offer.
- Spring: This is a magical time in London when the city’s numerous gardens and parks come back to life, and the weather is cool and mild.
- Summer: It can be quite warm at times during summer, although the lack of humidity makes it quite tolerable, and there are many outdoor festivals and events to enjoy. And if you’re visiting with kids, make sure to take advantage of London’s many fabulous playgrounds.
- Autumn: This is the season that brings back the chilly air, with fantastic changing foliage and some terrific activities like Bonfire Night. Enjoy the autumn colours in all their magnificence in Royal Parks like Hyde Park, Richmond Park and Greenwich Park.
What is the best time of the year to visit London?
While London is a great city to visit all year long, May-June is mild with much fewer tourists than July-September. London is also very Christmassy, so December is a good choice.
Winter in London
Bundle Up and Pack Your Woolies
The winter season in London: The temperatures in London from December to February are usually above freezing but rarely go higher than about 48F or 9C.
Winter weather in London can be quite changeable, so make sure to pack accordingly and bring accessories such as hats, gloves, and boots to ensure that your visit is a pleasant one. Keep in mind that London is at the same latitude as Siberia, which might naturally lead you to think it would be a bitterly cold and inhospitable place, but happily, this is not the case.
Spring in London
Could be a Lion, Could be a Lamb
The spring season in London: The average temperatures in London during the spring season of March, April, and May are generally between 50F and 60F or 11C to 15C. Mornings may start out a good deal colder and the same goes for the evenings.
Suppose you aim to enjoy Central London’s many galleries and museums in peace. In that case, wintertime is often the best time to visit London as there will be fewer queues and families with children compared to the busy school holidays during summer. London is generally quite a nice change for those visitors coming from frigid Northern climates, chilly and damp but not snow-bound or icy. We have the powerful Gulf Stream currents to thank for this meteorological anomaly.
Recent global climate changes point towards shifts in the Gulf Stream that may have an adverse effect on London’s temperatures, but for the time being, everything is holding steady. Rainfall during the winter months can be a factor; London gets an average of 40mm to 50mm of precipitation during the winter months. Bring some rain gear with you, or be prepared to purchase some if necessary.
Remember that the same rain you might shrug off in the summer can be quite unpleasant or even dangerous in the winter; hypothermia may seem unlikely, but it can actually happen quite quickly. Travellers who get soaked to the skin in cold London weather and have no way to change into dry things should head for a warm place as soon as possible; a pub with a fireplace would be ideal, but even a heated shop would do.
There are sometimes snow or ice storms in London, but these are generally short-lived, and the average temperatures are high enough that nothing stays on the ground for very long. Winter weather in London can be fun; if you are in the city during one of the rare snowstorms, you will likely see the residents playing in the snow and hard at work building snowmen while the temperatures permit.
Spring climate in London can be some of the best and worst sorts of weather. There is nothing as nice as the warmth of a spring day, reminding us that the cold and dreary winter will soon give way to sunny days and flower-scented evenings.
There is nothing so cruel as when that warm spring day is then drenched with a sudden downpour of icy rain and buffeting winds that seems intent on reminding us rather unpleasantly that winter does not give up its grip so easily. However, if you’re planning to enjoy London’s amazing Royal Parks in full blossom, springtime is the best time to visit London.
Spring visits to London require flexibility and preparation; pack accordingly and consider alternatives for outdoor activities. Otherwise, you risk having the vagaries of Mother Nature derail your best-laid plans. Despite the uncertainties, springtime is a lovely time of year to visit London; people are getting out and enjoying the weather when it is okay, and everything seems to be green and growing and full of promise.
Packing a little bit of everything is probably the best course, as you may find you need both cold weather and warm weather clothing and outerwear during your stay in the city. There is a good deal of rain in London during the spring months, expect anywhere from 37mm to 46mm per month. Umbrellas and waterproof jackets are good things to bring with you, or they can be purchased during your visit if you would prefer.
Londoners are used to dealing with the peculiarities of the weather here, and stores carry a dizzying variety of rain gear. London’s spring climate can put a damper on outdoor plans, but the delightful days more than outweigh the risk of spring showers.
Summer in London
Warm and Getting Warmer?
The summer season in London: Temperatures in the summer months of June, July, and August usually hover around 70F or 20C, although there are times when the mercury has climbed as high as 100F or 37.9C. The extreme temperatures are the exception, however, and visitors can generally expect to enjoy very pleasant London weather while visiting the city.
The London weather forecast for summer is usually quite good. The city has a temperate and mild climate, which means temperature extremes are rare.
Summer is usually warm and sunny with occasional rainstorms, but being London, you can expect a certain changeability in the forecast as well. A day might start dreary and wet only to turn into a gloriously warm day or vice versa.
London lacks the oppressive humidity that is commonly found in many locations during the summer months, and this in itself makes it a delightful place to be in the warm season.
The Gulf Stream currents are mainly responsible for London’s mild climate, and global changes in these currents may eventually lead to more extreme temperature changes. For now, however, the weather is relatively stable, and temperatures rarely get hot, even at the height of the summer.
If you’re looking to enjoy the city’s many festivals and outdoor areas, summer is the best time to visit London. London has plenty of gardens, parks, and woodlands that are especially appealing during the summer months where you can enjoy walking, scooting and cycling.
Be ready for anything when it comes to packing for a summer visit to London. Warm weather clothing is a must, but make sure to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket, and a jumper might also be helpful for the occasional chilly evening. London weather can be quite changeable, so make sure that any outdoor plans you might make have an alternative in case of inclement weather. The London weather forecast for summer enables you to enjoy the best of what the city has to offer.
Autumn in London
Fabulous Fall Foliage
The autumn season in London: Temperatures for the autumn months of September, October, and November go from about 66F or 19C to 50F or 10C. Rainfall during this time period is about 50mm for both September and October, and about 65mm for November which is usually London’s rainiest month.
The autumn season is not all that different from the weather forecast for spring. During these transitional seasons, the weather is usually mild and pleasant with a fair amount of rainfall and changing skies.
Some years, the weather can stay quite summer-like well into October, while other years, it would seem like winter when November rolls around.
Bonfire Night celebrations on or around November 5th are a particular part of autumn in London. To celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, many fireworks displays and bonfires take place all across the city, and the cool autumn London weather is the perfect time to enjoy these festive outdoor events.
The vibrant autumn foliage of September begins to fall in October, and by November, it is easy to imagine wintertime is just around the corner. Happily, London’s climate is relatively temperate, so autumn weather is not the bitter introduction to winter that you might find in destinations with a more extreme climate. If vibrant autumn colours are your thing, autumn is the best time to visit London with many parks and gardens.
Packing a warm coat and accessories like gloves and a hat are advisable because a warm and pleasant autumn day in London can quickly be followed by days of cold and dampness. Ever unpredictable, London weather requires some patience and flexibility from visitors.
To its credit, London weather is quite changeable, so a dreary morning could well give way to a beautiful afternoon. Londoners are accustomed to the erratic nature of the elements. They are generally prepared for anything when it comes to weather, and you should follow their lead. The autumn weather forecast for London is a bit unpredictable, but this time of year is a lovely time to visit the city.
London’s weather – Two Myth Busters
Myth #1: It’s raining all the time
London has a reputation as an extremely rainy city, which is really not true at all. Overall, London gets less rain than Sydney, Australia or Dallas, Texas, neither of which are considered to be cities that get excessive rain. Perhaps it is London’s propensity for unexpected showers that has earned it the rainy reputation; carrying an umbrella seems almost mandatory amongst residents.
Myth #2: London is very foggy
One atmospheric condition that London has long been linked to is fog, but this has changed in recent years. Long ago, industrial pollution caused a combination of haze, fog, and smog to form into the famed “London Pea Soup” which actually ended up killing thousands in the 1950s. Clean Air Laws have all but eliminated this problem, and London’s fog is now just as ordinary as that of other cities.
The most reliable UK weather forecast app
The weather forecast is known for being painstakingly inaccurate in the UK. Not so much because the weathermen and weatherwomen are doing a bad job, but because Britain is a small island in the middle of the ocean surrounded by winds from all directions making the weather highly variable. While figuring out the best time to visit London, here are a couple of apps that you can use:
Who predicts the weather in the UK? It’s the Met Office, United Kingdom’s national weather service which is streaming the weather data to all the other weather apps and websites like BBC weather, Google weather and The Weather channel.
So does it matter which weather app you’re using?
Since all the apps are using the same data coming from the Met Office, it’s more down to personal preference which one you should use. If you prefer asking Google Assistance for the weather in the morning or rather watch the BBC weather forecast on TV it all comes down to the reliance on the same data source.
The forecast will often be displayed in different ways though, so even if the underlying data is the same you might perceive the prediction differently. The Met Office also has its own website and app where you’ll also be given warnings and very detailed technical weather forecasts.
When is the best time to visit London for families?
Travelling with young children, the warmer months offer more flexibility making it easier to take breaks in parks and playgrounds when the kids get tired of visiting attractions. Travelling with teenagers, in autumn and winter might be better with fewer queues and less busy high streets when going shopping.
When is the worst time to visit London?
Popular free attractions like the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum tend to get very busy during school holidays. If you don’t have school children or you’re visiting London from outside of the UK, it might make sense to check when the UK school holidays are before booking your trip.
When is the rainiest season in London?
Like the rest of Europe, autumn (September – November) is the rainiest season. However, keep in mind that London is a lot less rainy than its reputation.