*Article updated November 2017
London in the cold may not be quite as fun as in the summer but there’s still plentyyyyyy to do around town. Here are 10 ideas for what to do in London during the winter.
1. Go ice skating
Is that really predictable? We’re blessed with relatively mild winters in London, so it’s totally possible to go ice skating here without freezing your face off. Although you may get rained on. Somerset House, The Natural History Museum and Tobacco Dock all have ice rinks you can hop onto— book in advance.
2. Pop into one of the city’s department stores
London’s most famous department stores include Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty London. Whether or not you have the means to be able to purchase anything at one of these spots, you could get lost for hours in the store, and the best part is that it’s nice and warm. Make sure you take the trip to the Christmas department, which you can find at all of the stores, and find yourself a beautiful London souvenir for your Christmas tree.
3. Visit a rooftop
Visiting a rooftop sounds nuts in the dead of winter, but some spots in London make their rooftops into an entirely different experience in the winter, complete with heaters and blankets to keep you toasty.
The offerings and spots that actually do it change every year, but here are two of my favourites:
The Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop has a winter wigwam that has a different theme every year. For 2017-2018, it’s Moroccan, so this is a good choice if you’re a little Christmas-ed out.
John Lewis’s Oxford Street department store always winterises their roof top garden, and you can eat, drink and hang out to your heart’s content above Oxford Street.
Up for some games and drinks? Visit the new Social Fun & Games Club at Roof East.
4. Visit Winter Wonderland or Winterville
Winter Wonderland, which is essentially big winter fairground in Hyde Park, is a London winter staple. I must warn you, it gets REALLY crowded, especially on the weekends. I’d recommend trying to head south to Winterville on Clapham Common, which is meant to be an alternative Christmas fair. It will likely be less crowded and have a more local vibe, so you might prefer it.
5. Settle into a pub for Sunday Roast and a pint
Sunday roast is one of the best things about England. It’s a meal offered every Sunday, obviously, and it kind of reminds me of Thanksgiving food— lots of meat, carbs, and some veggies too. Find a cozy pub nearby with a good Sunday roast, and have a few pints after you’ve eaten— just enjoy the pub life.
6. See a theatre show in the West End
It’s cold, you want to be inside, and it’s not so crowded in London… the perfect time to see a show. Some will have deals online for the winter if you book in advance, so check sites like Lastminute for those.
7. Shop the sales
Many high-street stores in London run decent sales up until Christmas, and then when January rolls around, you can expect lots of price slashing. Read my article about some of the best areas to go shopping in London. Be warned… Oxford Street and Regent Street get silly amounts of crowded in December. Avoid if you can, especially on the weekends.
8. Book a spa day
I can’t think of anything better than getting out of the harsh winter cold and dipping into a hot sauna or getting a massage. Book a day of pampering at your hotel’s spa, or look at sites like Last Minute, Virgin Experience Days, and TravelZoo for a deal. Spas are usually fairly empty around January/February time so they’ll usually have some good offers available.
9. See a film in a unique theatre
During the summer, London’s all about its rooftop cinemas, but that ain’t gonna fly in the winter. Stay toasty but still get a cool experience at one of the city’s unique cinema experiences. Book yourself into Electric Cinema, the Winter Film Club, or a Backyard Cinema showing.
10. Warm up with afternoon tea
I looooove afternoon tea, no matter what time of year, but it’s just lovely in the winter. Tons of hotels and restaurants around London do afternoon tea, from the traditional, to the offbeat, to the most high end.
Read my guide on how to have afternoon tea while in London.
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