Heading to London in December and not sure what you can do in London in winter? Well, don’t worry, in this post, I will tell you about the possible activities in London in December, when it’s cold and (possibly) rainy, so you can still enjoy the city.
If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. I’m originally from St. Petersburg, Russia (if you’re planning to visit St. Petersburg at some point, you can read my local’s guide to St. Petersburg), however, I’ve been living in London for the last 2.5 years. London is one of my favourite places on Earth and I always act like a tour guide, when friends come to visit London. However, when someone comes to London in winter, it’s always a challenge, as the weather isn’t always great. If it rains, you can still do many amazing things and right now, I will tell you about your best options for London in December.
What to pack for London in winter? / What’s the weather like in London in winter?
London weather in winter is pretty unstable. It can be sunny and relatively warm one day and cold and miserable the next day. The normal temperatures in winter are usually within the 10C – 2C range (50 – 35F) and it can rain almost every day in London in winter.
If you’re wondering what to pack for London in winter, I recommend bringing waterproof shoes like Timberland boots or Dr Martens with really warm wool socks (preferable 2-3 pairs), a very big sturdy umbrella like this one or this one; a warm parka (preferably waterproof as well), but not too warm, you don’t need a North Face jacket in London, it’s usually circa 8 degrees (Celcius) in winter, however, it’s normally quite windy. Bring a hat, a scarf, some gloves and multiple layers. The key is multiple layers. Ah, and don’t forget a travel adapter if you’re coming from the area with the US, European or other plugs. Finally, don’t bring too much cash, as MANY businesses in London are going cashless. I hope that now you know what to pack for London in winter a bit better.
Where to stay in London in winter?
Affordable and amazing hotels to stay in London in winter: Half Moon in Southwark, The Cuckoo N1 and Camden Enterprise Hotel. Check my blog post about the best areas to stay in London if you’re looking for the best districts in London.
Amazing things to do in London in December & in winter (& even for Christmas)
1. Go on a hunt to find the best Christmas decorations in London
In my opinion, the best part about visiting London in December is Christmas decorations. London is one of the nicest decorated cities in the entire world and it also has multiple Christmas Markets. So charge your cameras and go for a walk exploring the street decorations, ice skating rinks and Christmas markets in London!
If you need a clue, where to find the best Christmas decorations and installations in London, head to my post about the best Christmas spots to visit in London here >>>
2. Explore the museums of London
London has amazing museums and most of them are free (read my post about the best free things to do in London). If it rains a lot, you can go to explore the fabulous British Museum or my favourite National Gallery. Victoria & Albert, Science and Natural History museums are all located very close to each other, so you can combine them in a very long museum day!
3. Watch a Musical or a Celebrity play
One of the best things to do in London in December is visiting a musical or a play starring one of the celebrities. When it’s cold outside and you don’t feel like walking around for that long, you can always attend a musical. If you haven’t bought advance tickets, don’t worry, you can buy tickets for many musicals and plays on the same day. Just head to the TKTS office on Leicester Square and choose among the best deals of the day! If you want celebrity-specific plays, I always check this website for current plays with celebrities in them.
4. Explore London’s best brunches
When it rains, you can go for brunch. London is famous for its brunches and some of the most popular places in London have a queue for 2 hours. And you need to stay outside all the time. However, many trendy brunch spots allow reservations. If the weather doesn’t allow, you can book a table and explore brunching in London.
Read my post about the best brunches in London >>
5. Try London’s most Instagrammable desserts
London is full of amazing Instagrammable locations that usually trigger a “wow” effect. In the last years, Instagrammable desserts in London have picked up quite a lot and now there quite a selection of places to visit. You can try various photogenic ice creams, amazing doughnuts, beautiful milkshakes and all sorts of waffles.
Read my post about the most Instagrammable desserts in London or this post about the most Instagrammable locations in London.
6. Explore The Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of the prettiest areas in London and it’s also great for shopping. The Covent Garden Market is covered, so if it rains a lot, you can hide from the rain and do a bit of shopping. Among some of the things, you can buy there are various teas, cosmetic brands, luxury items, ice cream and a lot of souvenirs. You can also eat in Covent Garden – there are plenty of amazing restaurants.
Do you like bubble tea? Check where to try the best bubble tea in London >>>
7. Go shopping for brands to one of London’s Outlets Bicester Village
If you like shopping and you would love to buy some fancy brands, you should head to one of London’s outlets. Skip Oxford street with its crowds and head directly to ICON outlet in O2 in North Greenwich or take a train or coach to London’s best outlet – Bicester Village.
8. Watch opera or ballet in Royal Opera House
If you don’t like musicals or traditional plays, well, you can visit a performance by the best opera and ballet in London. I watched two ballets in the Royal Opera House and I was very impressed, even though I come from the city with the best ballet (St. Petersburg). You can see the playbill and buy the tickets online here >>>
9. Do a pub crawl
Explore the traditional pubs of London and do the pub crawl either by yourself or you can buy one of the tours. I recommend this 2-hour historic pub tour, where you can try delicious beer as well as explore the best and most famous pubs in London.
Looking for more tours? Read this post about the best tours to take in London for any interests >>>
10. Head to Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios in Watford
I know, I know, these tickets are hard to get, so you need to book online in advance. However, if you want to visit the Warner Bros studios and visit the Harry Potter making the tour, you can buy them from resellers and visit the studios the same week. Check the prices and availability now.
Moreover, if you’re lucky, sometimes they release next day tickets on the official website as well. That’s how we managed to visit the Harry Potter Studios as well. This is a perfect activity for a rainy day in London, as you can easily spend 3-4 hours in the studios plus add 3 hours to get there and back.
11. Explore the Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is one of the most interesting attractions in London.
You can visit the Abbey for free (if you attend the mass on Sunday) or if you want just to visit the abbey and listen to a tour, you can buy the tickets online.
12. Visit all the attractions in London with the London Pass
If the weather isn’t great and you have a lot of time in London, you can purchase London pass for 2, 3 or more days and get a free entry to London’s best attractions like London Eye, Tower of London and even London stadiums (Chelsea etc). You even get a free entry to Windsor Palace in Windsor. Check the prices and availability of the London Pass now.
Looking for free things do to in London? Read this post!
13. Visit Windsor
Another great thing to do in London in December is visiting Windsor. Getting to Windsor is very easy – just head to Waterloo station and hop on a train to Eton and Windsor Riverside. Windsor is a very compact city, so you won’t need to walk a lot in the cold weather of December. The main highlight of Windsor is, of course, Windsor Castle. You can either visit Windsor by yourself or buy a tour.
If you buy a tour that combines Windsor, Oxford and Stonehenge, it would be even a better deal. You can check the prices and availability here.
14. Visit Traditional English Afternoon Tea
If it’s cold and raining, there is nothing better than the traditional English afternoon tea. If you haven’t heard of the Afternoon tea before, basically, it’s the tea ceremony (with unlimited tea) with a lot of small savoury sandwiches and sweet pastries and cakes. You can also buy a special package with a glass of bubbly. Afternoon tea isn’t just a 5 O’Clock tea, it’s an entire meal. Believe me, after the Afternoon tea, you won’t be able to eat for 5+ hours.
If you want to try the ultimate experience, book Afternoon tea at Ritz. However, there are cheaper (and still very nice) alternatives such as Rotunda at Four Seasons (£36 pp) or even cheaper afternoon teas at Whittard of Chelsea Tea room for £15 per person.
15. Visit a Gin distillery
Gin is the trendiest spirit in London nowadays and you have a chance to find out how it’s distilled. You can visit one of many distilleries in London such as City of London distillery or Beefeater Gin Distillery.
16. Explore the biggest toy store in London
If you’re caught up in the rain around Regent Street, you can rush to Hamleys, the biggest toy store in London. If you’re in London with kids, it will be a paradise for them. However, adults also usually like Hamleys. On the lower ground floor, there is a Harry Potter store, where you can buy all the Harry Potter souvenirs and on the other 5+ floors, you can find all the possible toys, you can think of!
Here were some amazing things to do in London in December. If you were looking for the best things to do in London when it rains and when the weather is horrible and very cold, I hope you got some new ideas from this post. If you need more London and UK travel inspiration, you can check some of my other posts, like a 1-day road trip to Cotswolds, non-touristy and secret things to do in London and more!