I can say lots of things in praise of London but it’s weather will not be one of them! A city where you can have four seasons in a day and and will always rain at the most inopportune of moments! But don’t worry, rain will not ruin your trip to London so here we round up the best free, luxury and indoor things to do in London on a rainy day with or without kids!
Free Things to Do in London on a Rainy Day
If you are worried about your budget on a rainy day in London then there are plenty of indoor things you can do for free! Most of the museums and all of the National Museums in London are free to the public whether you are a resident or a tourist! Here is a list of my favourite things to do in London for free on a rainy day!
I think the Science Museum is perhaps the best museum in London for kids of any age. There aren’t many museums that I think are wholly toddler friendly but the Science museum is one of them. With its interactive space the Garden offering water play, sound and building, this exhibit is perfect for toddlers. For older children Wonderlab offers interactivity that teaches them about Science concepts! This is a must for any family visiting London.
For adults there are many great objects on view include an Apollo Capsule, the first Locomotive Stevenson’s Rocket and many more scientific wonders to marvel at!
A museum dedicated to growing up in Britain. This fabulous museum is a great place for a multigenerational museum visit.
A fascinating museum that has collections of anthropology and musical instruments. This museum has great family friendly events throughout the year.
Explore Roman Londonium at the Museum of London
The best museum that explores the history of the city in London. One of my favorite exhibitions is to explore Roman London.
The newly refurbished British Postal Museum is a great place to take your little and definitely something for your London bucket list . With a mail train ride and plenty of interactives the British Postal Museum is a great place to take the kids.
Let’s face it – what child doesn’t like dinosaurs. The exhibits lend themselves really well to a family audience. There is really nothing more to say other than your littles are going to love this place.
The British Library is a great space especially for adults! The library offers a great rotation of temporary exhibitions based on its literary collections! Otherwise it is worth meeting in the foyer for one of the free tours of the building! Advance booking is recommended!
The British Museum is perhaps the most iconic of all the London museums. Perhaps slightly overwhelming for little ones it is best explored in segments. Key highlights of the collection have to be the Elgin or Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, Benin Bronzes and the Lindow Man!
You can beat the queues and book a tour here!
Free things to do in London that aren’t museums!
Explore some of London’s Famous Department Stores
Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty’s, Fortnum and Masons and Hamleys are some of London’s most iconic shops! It’s free to browse but be warned this could get expensive!
London has in my opinion got some of the best markets in the world! And luckily given the fickle British weather some of them are indoors! The best indoor markets in my opinion are
- Spitalfields – selling contemporary and vintage clothes, bespoke children’s toys, home items and artisan food products .As a bonus there is a antiques market on a Thursday!
- Greenwich Indoor Market – a UNESCO World heritage site and is the perfect accompaniment for a trip to the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark!
- Covent Garden and Jubiliee Market – in a great central London location.
Visit Platform 9 and 3/4
For Potterheads you can go to Kings Cross Station and visit Platform 9 and 3/4 and even have your photo taken with a disappearing trolley! Be warned that you need to get there early so you don’t have to wait in a long queue!
If you don’t mind the weather you can do a Harry Potter walking tour which includes Platform 9 and 3/4 – book online here!
Indoor Things to Do in London on a Rainy Day with Kids
The London Transport Museum isn’t free but it is a great day out for the family. Offering children a chance to get up and close to transport of yesteryear.
It is best to book your tickets in advance here to beat the queue!
Bonus: The collection storage area of the London Transport Museum in Acton opens twice a year and offers behind the scenes access to the museum collection.
Newly restored after fire, the Cutty Sark will have children in awe. Being able to climb aboard and see under this ship is a visit not to be missed. The National Maritime Museum is a nearby and great accompaniment especially visiting the Great map in the atrium
Please note: while the Maritime Museum has free entrance the Cutty Sark charges admission! It is best to book your tickets in advance!
The Cutty Sark opens daily from 10am until 5pm, with tickets admission for adult at £12.15, while child over 4 (Age 4 -15 years) costs £6.30 and free for anyone under 4.
A brilliant family friendly attraction! Could be coupled with a visit to the London eye!
Definitely one for older children and teenagers. Get a fright at London dungeons at any time of year! Be warned there is a scare factor!
Puppet Theatre Barge
The Puppet Theatre Barge is a London institution. a 50 seater theatre on a barge has great shows for all the family. Located in little Venice! This is great for toddlers and younger children in particular!
Harry Potter studio tour
A short train ride out of London you can get to the Harry Potter Studio tour! A must for any Potterhead! Be warned it is essential to book your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment!
It is imperative to book these tickets in advance with plenty of notice!
Other fun things to do in London on a rainy day
Emirates Cable Car
The only cable car in London and a great fun way for children and adults alike to see London from up high!
Take a cruise down the river!
As long as it isn’t too windy the boats will run! Take a cruise down the river and see all of the best sights of London by boat!
Many people know the iconic tower bridge but did you know that you can walk across and learn about the engineering feat that made it? Children will love walking across this icon!
A London icon on the beautiful south bank of the Thames! Pre booking tickets is a must to try and avoid the queue!
Tower of London
From learning the towers gruesome history or simply admiring the crown jewels! There is something for every interest at the Tower of London!
You can buy your tickets in advance, including Crown Jewel exhibition here!
Go and relive the royal wedding or just marvel at its beautiful architecture.
St. Paul’s cathedral
This place definitely has a wow factor that will even impress the kids. There are multimedia and family trails to make the visit fun for kids to1
Hampton Court Palace
Literally my favorite palace in the world. Hampton Court has something for everyone. From learning about the gruesome history of Henry VIII to the fun maze or admiring the lawn tennis court. Hampton Court Palace is a fabulous day out and can be coupled with a trip down the Thames too!
Hampton Court can get busy so we recommend buying your tickets in advance!
You can get your entrance tickets via Viator online HERE
There is more London day trip inspiration here!
Another World Heritage site, the observatory sits on a hill above Greenwich Park! Also the home of GMT!
William and Kate’s current abode. Kensington Palace is a fab place to visit especially for lovers of royal dress!
Kensington Palace can get busy so we recommend getting the Skip the Line Ticket in advance!
Newly renovated, The House is situate in the beautiful Hampton Heath area of London
One of London’s newest icons. Children will love seeing the view from London’s tallest building!
Located on the West Side of London, visitors can marvel at the beautiful Palladium House and if the weather clears up you can also explore the beautiful Gardens!
Gardens might not be the first place on your mind to explore in bad weather but the beautiful indoor conservatory at the Barbican will make you feel like your outdoors while staying dry!
West End show
For me London is the home of theatre. From musicals to Shakespeare, the London stage has something for everyone even the littlest theatre fans. Make sure you check what family friendly shows are on during your visit.
The largest IMAX in the UK. On a rainy day this is literally the best place in the UK to watch a film!
The Science Museum also has an IMAX theatre!
The place for all celebrity loving teens.
Take a bus ride
The Routemaster Bus is one of London’s most iconic designs! Take either the Heritage Route 9 or 15 bus route to experience travel on one of London’s best buses! You could try an afternoon tea bus tour for a quirky take on this one!
Sporty Indoor Activities in London
House of vans
This indoor but outdoor skate park on the Southbank is shielded from the weather and is a great place for older kids to learn to skate!
Who knew that London was a centre of crazy golf! There are plenty of places to go and enjoy crazy golf for young and old alike
Bowling at Bloomsbury Lanes
A London icon! This 50s bowling lanes are a great place to go for bowling in central London! In the evening, the place has more of an adult vibe with hard milkshakes and entertainement!
I have recently fallen in love with Escape Rooms and London is home to dozens! My personal favorite is in the Kings Cross area!
Play ping pong
Love Ping Pong! Then Bounce in Waterloo is the place for you!
Crystal maze live
As a child of the 80s I was all about the crystal maze! The chance to live my favourite show is just too tempting! Older children will love this interactive challenge and is something I can’t wait to try
Adult Things to Do in London on a Rainy Day
Afternoon tea is a British institution and there are some great family friendly options out there including a Charlie and chocolate factory themed one! I can’t wait to go on my first mummy daughter afternoon tea date!
For more ideas on fitting afternoon tea into your London itinerary check out this post!
Michelin starred dining in London
London is home to some of the world’s best restaurants! One of my favorite thing to do on a rainy day is head to one of them and enjoy one of their good value set lunches! Much cheaper than the a la carte menu but just as delicious!
Eat dim sum in Chinatown!
Chinatown is one of my all time favorite areas on London! If there is a quick rain shower I love dipping into one of the restaurants for a quick bite of dim sum!
Is any visit to London complete without a visit to a proper British pub? And unlike other parts of the world pubs are fine to visit with littles in tow especially if you are ordering food!
Fuller’s brewery tour
If you are willing to travel to the West side of London you can do a tour of the London brewery fullers! A very British experience
Visit a gin distillery
Gin is definitely the drink du jour in London! My favorite gin spot is the City of London Distillery!
Ever get jealous of children and ball pits? Well no longer! Head to Ballie Ballerson for some adult ball pit time complete with DJ!
For more quirky things to do in London check out this post!
Or buy an umbrella and just enjoy the city like a real Londoner!