Wondering what to wear in London in May? With our London Spring packing list we tell you exactly what to pack for special events, certain venues and London weather in May.
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London Weather in May
London is absolutely one of my favorite places to visit in Europe in May. However as a Londoner, May is one of those months I dread weather wise. That is because May is a shoulder season in London and still has extremely changeable weather especially in relation to rain.
In this section of our guide we will give you a complete overview of what to expect of the weather in London in May and how you can pack to best deal with Spring in London.
Is it cold in London in May? Is it Warm in London in May?
It should come as no surprise that the earlier you visit in the month of May the cooler you can expect the temperatures to be.
During the day the temperatures tend to hover around the 15C mark but can hover around the late teens if you are visiting towards the end of the month.
Therefore I wouldn’t say that May is cold however there can be cold winds and rain and it can definitely feel chilly especially in the mornings and evenings. For this reason we would never travel to London in May without sweaters or jackets, and will always wear layers.
Is it rainy in London in May?
As a local I can attest that May can be a rainy month in London. Over half the month will see rain on any given day however I wouldn’t necessarily classify all of these as rainy days in London.
It is more likely in May to see showers that punctuate otherwise dry days. However this does mean that you should be prepared for rain throughout the month. This means at least having some waterproof or shower proof coats and shoes with you.
And if you are visiting London in another month or season be sure to check out our other seasonal specific London guides:
How do Locals Dress in London In May
Being a local, I can tell you that the key to how I and others dress in London in May is layers – and lots of them. Mornings and evenings are chilly in May so you will definitely want a top layer but it should be easy to remove for traveling on the Tube, which can get hot at any time of year.
What to Wear in London in May
London can get rainy whatever time of year you visit and as you will be spending a lot of time outside in London we recommend packing a good quality rain jacket.
We recommend having a stylish rain coat with you as this will look nicer in photographs and will be more similar to what the locals wear in London.
However if you only have an outdoorsy type rain jacket it won’t look out of place.
Cardigan / Hoodie
Although some days a jacket and t shirt will be enough I would advise packing a couple of cardigans and hoodies as an extra layer for cold mornings and nights.
Hoodies are perfectly acceptable at all tourist attractions in London but for dinner a cardigan or sweater would be a more appropriate layer.
London is a pretty casual city where you will find a real diversity in fashion and dress so don’t think you need to bring all your best blouses along with you. T shirts are absolutely fine for most days exploring London.
I recommend packing a mixture of long and short sleeve t shirts especially for those traveling in Early May.
Smart Casual Dress
If you do want to bring a dress with you I would advise going on the more smart casual side and perhaps have a dress that can easily transition from day to night.
There are very few places in London with a formal dress code, so unless you are visiting one of these locations, formal wear can be left at home.
Note: if you are going to afternoon tea in London check out this guide on what to wear to Afternoon tea in London which discusses the dress code at the most popular afternoon tea spots in the city.
Jeans and Trousers
I’m often asked if it is ok to wear jeans in London and the answer is a resounding yes! In fact I think if you ever look around a tube carriage in the middle of the day you will find that the majority of the people will be wearing jeans.
And the great thing about London is that all styles of jeans will be seen from skinny to baggy, from ripped to boyfriend fit so just pack the style you feel most comfortable in.
However if you are going out to dinner in the evening I recommend packing a smarter pair.
I would also always advise you packing a pair of non denim bottoms such as chinos or linen trousers or a longer length skirt which can be dressed up or down.
Goes without explaining I think just be sure to pack enough for your whole itinerary if you don’t have laundry facilities.
And if you are looking for London itineraries be sure to check out our itinerary posts:
No matter the season you are traveling you should always pack sun safe items which includes sunglasses.
What kind of shoes to wear in London in May?
London is definitely a city that is best explored on foot. Therefore you will be wanting comfy shoes with you.
It is not uncommon to see sneakers on locals in London and in my opinion these are the best shoes for exploring London. If you have a pair of sneakers that are waterproof then these would be ideal.
On top of that I would also pack a pair of waterproof boots for those rainy days. As the temperatures start to heat in London in May I personally opt for a pair of ankle boot however it wouldn’t look strange to have a pair of knee high boots with you if that is your preference.
However I would advise that whatever type of boot you pick that you choose something that has a thick and low heel. There are many cobbled streets in London and the escalators on the Tube are easy to catch stilettos in so these are best left at home.
Things NOT To Pack for London in May
London is a relatively flat city and even in London parks there are clearly delineated paths. Unless you are planning to do a day trip out of London into the countryside you will not be requiring hiking boots in the city.
Thin Heeled Shoes
As I mentioned above the combination of cobbled streets in London and the escalators on the tube make thin heeled shoes both impractical and unsafe in London.
Very few places in London have a formal dress code. Unless you are going to a venue with a strict dress code I would leave the formal wear at home.
No local in London will be wearing a fanny pack and it is the one thing that will make you look like a tourist in London. Leave this at home and opt for a crossbody bag or backpack instead.
It always surprises me how few hotels in London have a pool. Unless yours does or you plan on visiting one of London’s famous Lidos you can leave your swimwear at home.
What to Pack for London In May (non clothing)
An Umbrella is a must for whatever time of year you are visiting London. I usually opt for a compact travel umbrella as this is easier to pack away into your backpack during dry spells.
The UK uses the three prong plug, different to the rest of Europe and the United States. So if you are coming from any of these places you will need an adapter to make your electronics work. Click here to purchase!
Power PackLondon is a beautiful city with amazing photo spots around every corner – I promise you your phone will be constantly out so be sure yo have apower pack with you to recharge those batteries.
Theft Proof Bag
Although I have never had any issues when traveling in London, as with any tourist place there are pickpockets. Make yourself less of a target by using a crossbody theft proof bag with plenty of zips.
FAQS about Outfits for London in May
What should I pack for London in early May?
This packing list will work whatever time in May you are visiting however if you are visiting London in early May I would add more long sleeve t shirts instead of short ones.
Can you wear shorts in London in May?
There are no London dress code rules that says you can’t wear shorts in London in May however I would advise against it as it is really warm enough for shorts in London in May.
Are there any special events in London in May that have a dress code?
There are no special events in London in May that have a particular dress code attached.
However in 2023 there is of course the coronation of King Charles III. If you are one of the lucky few who have been invited into the Abbey for this the invitation will detail the dress code.
And if you want to wait outside the abbey to see the King entering and leaving the Abbey then you will need to get there early. This definitely means you will need lots of layers as it is likely you will be overnighting outside on at least one night.
You will also find many people in the crowd wearing Union Jack clothes but this is something you will see elsewhere in the city on a regular May Day.