If you like the sparkling lights, the scent of mulled wine and the delicious cookies of the Christmas market, I can't think of anything better than visiting London in winter.
London is a city that needs very few introductions: the capital of England, the most populous city in the whole of the European Union, "for now" (see Brexit) with 20.4 million visitors per year is one of the two most visited cities of the whole planet, second only to Bangkok (21.98 million).
There are many reasons and occasions to visit this metropolis, and certainly one visit is not enough. Although most visitors are concentrated in the "warm" months, or at least not cold (March to July), London in winter is certainly a unique experience to live as it has a lot to offer even when it is cold.
Spring and summer are also two exceptional seasons, but in my opinion there is no better season than winter to visit London: despite the cold temperatures, with all it offers, London in winter will be able to warm your heart, as it always has with mine.
Below is a taste of some awesome activities you can do at London in winter, from December until February.
The first thing to consider is time. London isn't as cold as it is Mountains in inverno, la Sweden or theIceland: from December to early February, daytime temperatures are between 5 ° and 10 °. Although the city is rainy all year round during the winter it is expected 11 to 15 days of rain per month, in short, it rains every other day or so.
It is often windy, and luckily I would say, since the wind blows the clouds away and the sky turns blue.
Snowfalls are rare but it is not impossible that there can be a strong snow storm, in short, it is good to be well covered and ready for anything. Don't worry, at the bottom of this article I also give you some advice on how to dress to best face this season.
1 - Christmas Markets (December)
Di Alexey Fedorenko /
London is also not immune from Christmas markets: in fact, every year hundreds of wooden shops are set up, for this period, ideal for a walk with the family or even alone.
The stalls offer everything from food to typical products, mulled wine and many other activities.
The place that probably has the most to offer is the "Winter WonderlandBiggest "Christmas village" in Hyde Park with more than 200 shops, literally has it all. The only flaw, however, is that obviously Winter Wonderland is the most popular and can be, in some moments, very busy.
If you want to visit something more peaceful these are valid alternatives: Wintertime (Southbank) or Winterville (Clapham Common)
Other Christmas markets to visit in London are the Hyper Japan Christmas market Japanese themed in Wapping and the Christmas fair al Chelsea Physic Gardens.
If you are in London in December a Christmas market surely you will visit it, but if I can give you some advice, look THIS TOUR with a local: it's a great way to learn more about London and the various markets (and to practice and improve your English)
2 - Ice skating (December)
By Bikeworldtravel /
As per tradition, during the Christmas period, the parks and squares are set up ice skating rinks, obviously it is imperative to cover up well, especially if you love to skate for a long time.
The largest skating rinks are often found in the so-called "Winter Villages" which are nothing more than temporary installations that include markets, rinks, decorations etc.
Among the most popular there are Winterville or l 'Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. There are several others but one that I would like to point out to you, especially for those with the cold, the skating rink of Canary Wharf which is the only indoor track in town.
3 - Visit Covent Gardens for Christmas lights and decorations
By serenarossi /
London goes on stage in late November and December with lights and decorations for Christmas and visit Covent Gardens it's the perfect place to see them. You can do a lot of Christmas shopping (bye bye wallet!) In a festive winter atmosphere.
Regardless of whether your visit to London takes place around Christmas time or not, Covent Gardens will find plenty of shops to visit and delicious food of all kinds to delight your taste buds.
Make sure you allow at least two hours for the visit, as you may very well be distracted by the shops to watch the amazing street performers!
Some organized tours to see the Christmas lights and decorations are these below:
- London tourist attractions and Christmas lights
- London: Christmas lights tour on a vintage sightseeing bus
- London: Christmas walking tour
4 - Go see a show in the West End
Di John Gomez /
Known as one of the best live shows in the world, spending the winter in London offers you the perfect opportunity to stay warm and dry: go see a show in the West End!
Going to a musical in quintessential old London is the perfect activity to spend a different evening.
There are several theaters to choose from, all close enough to each other and depending on when your trip is, the choice of many famous musicals, such as The Lion King, Mama Mia e the Phantom of the Opera.
Here are some of my favorite show tickets:
- London West End: ticket to The Lion King musical (Hakuna Matata !!! my favorite)
- London: tickets to the musical Mamma Mia in the West End
- Londra: TINA – The Tina Turner Musical
5 - View of winter in London from the London Eye
Di TasanP /
Although a little expensive (the price of the standard ticket is around 30 euros), the London Eye is one of the most visited attractions in London: it is not just a normal Ferris wheel, but it offers a magical view of the city, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Thames that, unless you are Mary Poppins, you you will get it nowhere else in the city.
Please note: which in January occasionally closes for maintenance and attention, especially during the Christmas period the queues could be almost endless and staying still during the day in the cold is not exactly the best of life.
So plan your visit carefully ⇒ here you can find the Skip the Line ticket.
6 - Go to the stadium (December)
London is certainly one of the cities in the world with a great following from a sporting but especially football point of view. London alone can boast 50 football clubs, 13 of which are professional football clubs and 22 stadiums.
Whether you are passionate about football or not, going to the stadium during “boxing day” (December 26th - Boxing Day) is a great English tradition that you absolutely must not miss.
For those who are fans of football (I am too ... Forza Genoa!) there are tours that you shouldn't miss for all the gold in the world:
- London: Wembley Stadium Guided Tour (I don't think it needs introduction!)
- London: Chelsea FC Stadium and Museum Tour
- London: Stadium and Football Taxi Tour
Londra: tour all’Emirates Stadium (Arsenal Football Club)
7 - Tour of the best Pubs
If you like to drink, even if not necessarily, during the cold evenings a place where you will definitely want to spend time are the Pubs.
London Pubs will be able to offer you alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a warm and welcoming atmosphere, as well as good food. In London there is a wide choice, but you have to know how to choose, a large number of Pubs are part of "chains" for which they could end up giving an "artificial" and constructed feeling.
I therefore recommend:
The Churchill Arms - Known for its floral facade and Thai cuisine
The Mayflower - Perfect after a walk on the Thames, one of the oldest pubs dating back to the XNUMXth century, wooden furniture and interior, beautiful atmosphere with the fireplace.
The pride of Spitalfields - A few steps from Brick Lane, a very welcoming place with the best beers you can imagine but especially you can meet the legendary Lenny, the cat of the pub!
London is famous for its pubs and so could there be no tours? Here are the best ones in my opinion:
- Seven Deadly Sins Pub Tour
- Camden Pub Crawl
- Historic Pubs Walking Tour
8 - Afternoon Tea
We all know that Tea in England is a real "institution", and what could be better than drinking it hot on cold London afternoons?
There are real ones “Tea experience”, where different places, including restaurants and hotels, organize similar happy hours where you can obviously drink tea, eat something and socialize in a well-kept environment.
Taking part in this experience is, alas, not cheap (prices start at £ 50).
While in London it is worth living the experience at least once, always bearing in mind that there is still a wide choice.
Here are some tours that include Afternoon Tea:
- London: vintage bus tour with tea from Harrods
- London: Afternoon tea and champagne at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel
- British Museum: Afternoon Tea
- Buckingham Palace: Walking Tour and Afternoon Tea
- Traditional afternoon tea at Grosvenor House in London
9 - Warner Bros Studio Tour
Another activity to try in London that is certainly interesting, not "typically London" nor necessarily winter, but definitely a lot of fun for the whole family: it is the Warner Brothers studio tour, where you can explore the sets and behind the scenes of the Harry Potter saga. At the studies you can:
<br>• Climb aboard the original Hogwarts Express, and take a photo on a replica of Platform Nine and Three Quarters
• Visit theDumbledore's office
<br>• Turn into Diagon Alley between the wand shop, the Ghirigoro, Tiri Vispi Weasley, the Gringotts bank and the Emporium of the Owl.
• See props from movies, such as the Nimbus 2000 on Harry and Hagrid's motorcycle
<br>• Try the real butterbeer and so much more
You can also arrive at the Studios alone by train and then a branded bus that you cannot fail to recognize. Train Line is a great site to compare prices, see timetables and buy train tickets.
If, on the other hand, you don't want to organize yourself, there are tons of tours which includes round-trip transportation, entrance fee, and depending on the tour, other things as well. The best are:
- Harry Potter: tour del Warner Bros. King's Cross Studio (the cheapest, but it includes everything)
- Harry Potter: Warner Bros Studios tour with transfers (the one with the most positive reviews: more than 6500!)
- London: Harry Potter Studios and private transfer from the city center (for those who want the exclusivity of a private tour)
There are tons of tours depending on every need ⇒ see them ALL HERE
10 – Street Art
If you are a lover of street art London will not disappoint you, there are several tours and itineraries that you can do if you want to go in a group.
Obviously it is not the only option, many invent a personalized route for their needs. An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that street art changes very quickly, at a pace that you would never imagine, so what you see in a visit immortalize it because you may not see it anymore and find something else in your next step.
The areas to visit are definitely Camden Town (recommended for John Lennon and Amy Winehouse fans), Shoreditch (you will find pieces of legends like Banksy, Lewis Campbell, Zabou etc.) Croydon, H e Brick lane.
11 - Lumiere Festival (January-February)
In the last couple of years a new winter festival has been born: the Lumiere London.
The Lumiere Festival exhibits more than 50 of light installations, around the city also illuminating famous buildings (with plays of color and light) such as Westminster Cathedral or the National Theater; all at the hands of artists from all over the world.
12 - Chinese New Year (January-February)
Il Chinese New Year varies according to the year, but indicatively it is always between the end of January and the first days of February.
One of the reasons you shouldn't miss this event if you are in London is that the New Year celebrations here are the largest outside of China, and therefore things are done really big.
The celebrations usually take place a Soho and if you pop in, there will be music, performances, dance parades and lots of food. In addition to the New Year a few days later there is the Festival of Lanterns, where, in the evening, hundreds of red lanterns can be admired that illuminate the sky.
13 - Visit the London Surroundings
This is something that I absolutely recommend: it can be done at any time of the year of course, but you want to put it the magic of visiting the English countryside in winter?
I wrote an article on what to see around London, but summing up the best activities you can do in winter are undoubtedly visit the Leeds castle, Stonehenge or windsor castle.
Stonehenge ⇒ ENTRANCE TICKET SKIP THE LINE
Windsor Castle ⇒ ENTRANCE TICKET SKIP THE LINE
From London there are a lot of organized tours, but you can also do it yourself. Many places of interest are easily accessible by train.
I advise you to look up Train Line or on Omio trains and buses available.
Some of the best organized tours I am definitely:
- tour including Stonhenge, Baths and Windsor Castle
- Warwick, Oxford e Stratford-upon-Avon
- TOUR che include Windsor, Bath e Stonehenge
Where to stay in London
To have a pleasant experience in the period of stay, of course, where you decide to stay it can affect both positively and negatively on the activities you decide to undertake, so here are some recommended hotels to be on the safe side.
The Hoxton - Located in Hackney this hotel has a very casual feel, comfortable beds and a fantastic breakfast.
The Soho Hotel - Westminster area Very convenient hotel 5 minutes from Oxford street, very elegant with a very good restaurant and gym.
New Road Hotel - Modern look but also quite alternative, from the possibility to rent bicycles and also has a games room with billiards.
Motel One London-Tower Hill - Central and strategic location, bright, tidy and clean rooms, staff always available. Also equipped with Bar Lounge
The Exhibitionist Hotel by theKeyCollections - More than a hotel, a contemporary work of art, each room and common areas are furnished in a creative and fun way. Located in an excellent position and is also equipped with all the necessary comforts.
W London Leicester Square - Located in the West End area this hotel is very well maintained with fabulous interiors, also equipped with a gym and an excellent wellness center.
How to dress for London in winter
Di Alexey Fedorenko /
If you go to London in winter, definitely you will wonder how to dress and rightly so since the weather is bizarre. The first thing you need to think is that, true London in winter is magical, but to enjoy it to the fullest you have to stay warm and dry.
Dress in layers (onion) is the key! In this way, you can easily go from the cold of the London streets to the warmth of some building, club, bar and restaurant, in short, any indoor place. If you are too hot or too cold, add or remove a layer until you feel comfortable.
By following my advice you will also be able to insert everything you need simply in the hand luggage, but if you have baggage in the hold you will have more space or you will be able to carry more things.
Fleece lined leggings. It doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl, if you're packing for London in the winter, you need to bring fleece-lined leggings! Fleece lined leggings are the perfect thing to add to your London luggage as they don't take up much space and keep you warm under pants, jeans or under your clothes! Alternatively you could take some wool tights, like the ones my mom used to wear when I was a little girl and took me skiing. They are certainly inexpensive, but less practical and more annoying to wear. Leggings are the best choice.
Long-sleeved thermal tops. Here too: whether you are a boy or a girl wear 2-3 thin thermal shirts. These items are affordable (they don't cost much) and you can fold them so they take up little space in your suitcase. Thermal sweaters are perfect to be worn under sweaters or fleeces and if you are particularly cold you can wear more than one at the same time.
Wool hat. Wool knitted hats or caps are a staple to add to your list. Not only do hats make any outfit a little more elegant, they also keep you warm and protect your ears from the wind. You just have to bring one, and you probably already have it in your house so you won't have to buy it.
A solid pair of waterproof boots / shoes. Although you could probably bring any pair of shoes (ok not sandals), I strongly advise against canvas shoes (like the All Stars for example) or leather shoes that risk getting wet and freezing your feet! Bring waterproof boots or shoes. Unless it's snowing, you don't need snow boots but waterproof shoes or boots really help.
A winter jacket. Don't think that you can visit London in winter and DON'T bring a winter jacket or heavy down jacket. Bonus points if that winter jacket is waterproof! If your jacket is a warm down jacket that's fine, but try to pair it with a kway or a waterproof poncho (ok it's not very elegant, but it also covers and protects your backpack from the rain) to put on it in case it rains.
Warm gloves. Don't forget to add gloves to your pack list. Since you will be visiting the city, you will probably use your smartphone or camera a lot and your fingers will get super cold if you don't protect them! Even walking the streets of London in winter without gloves will make your hands freeze, even if you keep them in your pocket. Make sure you buy touchscreen gloves so you can still access your phone without taking them off!
A balaclava or a neck warmer. Ok the balaclava isn't very sexy, but it's a good idea because it's better than a scarf. A balaclava is perfect for both men and women, it is often unisex and if you look carefully you can also find something nice. Some models fit perfectly into clothes, are not bulky and perfectly protect your neck. The scaldacollo instead she is a genius, now I only have those: not only are they warm, not bulky and cute, but you can also use them as a hat.
Maglioni pull-over. Pair a pull-over sweater with jeans, leggings or trousers and you're ready for winter in London. Sweaters are the perfect accessory but there are also those who prefer fleece. Both are fine but try to get them in neutral colors that you can easily match with the clothes you have so that you only have a pair to wear with everything.
Wool pants. I don't like jeans for traveling: I find them warm in summer and cold in winter, but if you visit a city you can wear them with everything and they are fine. Wear them in London, but put under the warm leggings I recommended earlier. For me, however, it is better to opt for wool trousers that are also a bit elegant, but soft and warm.
These are the clothes I recommend you to wear that can keep you warm and make your life easier. Count that you are not going on an expedition to the North Pole, but to London and in case you are cold you can always buy yourself something, indeed you could also buy yourself something to take home and it would be a nice souvenir.