What to Do When it Rains in London
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London is famous for Big Ben, Westminster, the Tube, afternoon tea, Chelsea and Arsenal, and… its rainy weather. When packing for a trip to England’s largest city, taking an umbrella is as important as remembering to bring your passport.
Actually, London’s image as a rainy destination is a bit overblown. On average, it rains about 109 days per year. While that is a lot compared to many other cities, the number shows that the chances of having your UK vacation completely rained out are not as high as you might think.
Not as wet as you might expect, but still wet
That said, it is good to be prepared for wet weather. Londoners are not fazed by rain storms. They simply whip out an umbrella or flip up their hood and continue going about their business. Tourists can take a “when in Rome” approach and similarly ignore the precipitation. However, a squall could prove quite unpleasant if you are planning a stroll through Hyde Park or a sightseeing walk around the West End or Notting Hill.
It’s always good to have a few rainy day alternatives for any city, but especially for one that, like London, has more than 100 rainy days per year. Here are some options for those times when the sun isn’t shining on your trip.
Museums and shopping
London's museums are on many itineraries. People plan to visit these venues regardless of the weather. One strategy is to schedule your exhibit viewing for the last days of your London stay and then move your visits up if the weather isn't cooperating with your outdoor plans. The National Gallery, British Museum and Tate Modern are obvious choices, but niche venues like the National Maritime Museum, London Transport Museum and Design Museum are also worth a look.
Then, of course, there is shopping (or window shopping if you prefer). Famous department stories like Harrods are good rainy day sightseeing spots, as are classic indoor retail centers like Leadenhall Market or more-modern spaces like Westfield London.
Beyond the obvious: other indoor options
Then there are less obvious rainy-day options, such as a tour of the BBC Broadcasting House. The BBC is arguably the world’s most famous media name. Visitors can tour the broadcaster’s headquarters and, if they plan ahead a little bit, reserve a space in the audience for one of the live shows.
You can also try a different kind of sightseeing. The Piper Central London Model is a 1:1500 scale model of the city. It is less than 40 feet long, but the detail is incredible, and, best of all, admission is completely free.
You can even hit the fairways in London during a rainstorm. Urban Golf is a simulator that allows enthusiasts to play the world’s best courses while staying indoors in climate-controlled comfort.
London is not as rainy as most people think. It is, however, good to have some options in case the weather does not cooperate with your outdoor plans.
More by Josh Lew
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