The legendary city of London is one of the most traveled and loved destinations in the world. It is rich in history, art, and music and it seems like the view from every corner you turn could be a postcard. The climate of London is considered oceanic, with hot, damp summers, and cold, wet winters. The city can definitely be said to have four clearly defined seasons, and despite the reputation of the city for being gray and rainy, London gets less rain than many other oceanic cities on the European mainland. Expect a constant average of 8-10 days of rain per month, and somewhat unpredictable temperatures in autumn and spring.
Chance of Rain13°/6°
Summer in London is one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit this fabled city. The temperature can be quite hot in the peak season of summer, but expect rain about 8 days out of the month. The “urban heat island” effect can raise the temperature up to 5 degrees higher in the city itself than in the outlying suburbs during the summer, so slight variation depend on where you are staying and sightseeing.
The average mean temperature of summer in London is an overnight low of 13C (55F), and it typically reaches 22C (72F) during the day.
If you choose to visit during the summer, there are hundreds of activities to make your vacation one to remember. Since the weather is so comfortable and warm during much of the summer, most tourists choose to wander the scenic streets in central London in order to see all of the notable spots. Any wander during summer in London should start at The Houses of Parliament near the Westminster Bridge and make sure to take the traditional pictures of Big Ben, the massive clock tower which is one of the most recognizable parts of the London skyline. In the same square as Big Ben is Westminster Cathedral. This is the official church of the London royalty, and if you don’t want to stay for an entire mass, stop in at off hours to see the spectacular architecture inside. Down the road from the Houses of Parliament is the iconic Trafalgar Square and the soaring obelisk called Nelson’s Column. Trafalgar Square is a popular meeting place in the center of London, and is often the site of political activism, live concerts, outdoor art displays, and street performers. On the outskirts of the Square is the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, two separate and world-renowned museums that happen to sit directly next to one another and are often confused for a single location. Summer is also a wonderful time to lounge in one of London’s many parks for a sunlit afternoon. Hyde Park is the largest and most famous park in the city, with miles of walking paths and open spaces for picnics, but other parks like Kensington Gardens and Regent’s Park are also stunning green spaces in the midst of the bustling metropolis. After a long summer’s day of sightseeing, relax in a trendy restaurant in Soho, north of Trafalgar Square, which is the swanky area to be “seen” in London.
Autumn in London is a time of variable weather which locals have gotten used to. The rain increases slightly during the autumn months, and the weather has a much wider range. Warm sunny days can be followed by brisk, gray, damp weather, and the rule of thumb is to always carry an umbrella in this unpredictable season.
The average mean temperature during autumn in London is an overnight low of 8C (46F), and a comfortable daytime high 15.5C (60F).
As the leaves begin to change, the city takes on a certain vibrancy and a wealth of color, so despite the slightly cooler, wetter weather, tourists still throng the city. There is not a defined “tourist season” in London, as it is a popular destination year-round. Autumn in London is packed with cultural events and enough sightseeing musts to keep your vacation filled to the brim. Getting away from the center of the city is sometimes a nice way to experience London without the bustle of the downtown area. Greenwich, on the south side of the river, is a quaint and historic area of the city, with plenty of cultural food, interesting shops, and the Cutty Sark Exhibition on the pier. Greenwich Park is also a spot for lovely walks and a phenomenal view of the entire city from the top of Greenwich Hill. The observatory at the top of the hill is the basis of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), from which all other time zones measure. From Greenwich, you can also take the tunnel below the Thames and come out on the eastern side of central London for a lovely walk along the banks of the city’s main waterway. Also on the south side of London is Brixton, the neighborhood famous for its’ wide mix of cultures, daily outdoor markets, counterculture events, underground music, and boutique eateries. Visit the historic Roxy Theatre in Brixton for a true London experience. If the weather turns sour during the day in autumn, there is no better time to check out the dozens of museums in London. The world-renowned Tate Modern is one of the premier collections of modern art in the world, and regularly changes exhibits to always remain on the cutting edge of cool. For a smaller, more exclusive venue, try to stop in at the original White Cube Gallery on Duke Street, the center of art dealing and contemporary creation in the city. In November, celebrate Guy Fawkes day, which commemorates the failed attempt to blow up Parliament, and is marked by massive fireworks displays in a number of locations in the city. Also, November means the beginning of the holiday season, so the traditional ice rink is set up outside the Museum of Natural History and draws thousands of revelers every day as they get excited for the holidays of December.
London has four distinct seasons, and winter in London can be a challenge to some tourists used to warmer climes. The temperature drops to a chilly average, but can occasionally turn bitterly cold, particularly when coupled with strong winds. Snow is not uncommon, and the average low usually sits just above the freezing mark. However, when the sun comes out and slightly warms the city, winter in London can still be an enjoyable and somewhat less crowded place to visit.
The average mean temperature during winter in London is an overnight low of 2.5C (37F) and a daytime high of 8.5C (47F).
Winter in London may be cold, but it is fiercely festive, and the city comes alive with lights and life, even during the chilliest parts of the season. Two favorite places to visit during the winter season are Harrod’s and Selfridge’s, two massive shopping palaces in central London that offer everything from fine dining to boutique designer shopping, perfumeries and toy stores, car showrooms and general grocery shopping. They are typically decked out in full regalia for the holiday season, and even a short wander through these world-famous shopping centers is exciting and tempting to visitors. Another popular winter activity in London is to tuck into the antique booksellers on Charing Cross Road, and once you have had your fill of the ancient, dusty, stacks, pop into one of the historic pubs in the area for a pint of your favorite ale and a hot lunch of fish and chips to keep away the winter cold. Don’t miss the massive Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square over the holiday season, and if you want to avoid the cold altogether, spend the day at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, right on the south bank of the Thames, or the Natural History Museums, one of the finest in the world. In the evenings, get out of the windy weather and catch a West End musical. This theatre district, rivaled only by Broadway in New York, is the musical capital of the English-speaking world and has more than 13 million people per year visit the many historic theatres. Walking the city in the winter can be daunting, so get from Point A to Point B in one of the iconic double decker red buses of London, or go underground to escape the chill and fly beneath the city on The Tube. The train stations throughout the city are as much of a sightseeing experience as the buildings, so make sure to check out St. Pancras Station and Paddington station, both great examples of classic Victorian architecture.
The spring season is marked by a rise in temperature, but the rain continues at about 9 days per month. The spring season, similar to autumn, can be variable, with sudden swings of heat and cold that are hard to plan for, so pack accordingly.
The average mean temperature during spring in London is an overnight low bottoming out at 6C (43F), climbing to a pleasant 14.5C (58F) during the day.
Spring in London is a wonderful time to visit the city, and as the weather turns warmer, the opportunities to explore the sights of London are limitless. The London Eye is the relatively new Ferris Wheel/viewing terminal on the South Bank of the city, and a view from one of the bubbles as it rises above the city is truly a unique way to see the “Big Smoke”. While on South Bank, stroll one of the lovelies waterfront areas in the city, packed with restaurants, trendy art installations, book fairs, street performers, and temporary festivals. If you plan ahead, purchase tickets for a Shakespearean afternoon at the Globe Theatre, the original location of The Bard’s legendary outdoor theatre. Further down South Bank, cross the Millenium Bridge and continue on to St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most stories locations in the city. The original church built on the site was constructed more than 1,400 years ago. While on the north side of the river, get locked up for an afternoon in the Tower of London. This famous prison and protected fortress for the wealth of the royalty is a fascinating trip into the history of London, and you can even see the magnificent “Royal Jewels” when they are on display. Next to the Tower of London is the beautiful Tower Bridge, probably the most recognizable part of London’s architecture besides Big Ben.
One of the newest additions to the London skyline is The Shard, a modern 72-story skyscraper that is the tallest building in the European Union, and while you are there, duck into the sprawling London Bridge Station, which is a small city in itself with restaurants, clubs, bars, and shops which blend into the vibrant neighborhood around the station. Check out The Globe pub, a local favorite and hangout for a quiet pint over lunch. The spring weather makes walking the city a delight, and there is no more glorious walk than The Mall, the tree-lined boulevard that leads up to the breathtaking Buckingham Palace. This seat of royal power has millions of visitors each year, and watching the Changing of the Guard is a must for any first-time tourist to the magical city.
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