Visiting London in winter or fall? From ice skating, to a Christmas Winter Wonderland and the foliage in the parks, check out the best things to do in London in winter and to enjoy autumn in London.
London is a city full of galleries, pubs, great restaurants, and world-class museums. This city has a lot to offer any time of the year, but in the fall and winter season in London, and especially on the occasion of Christmas, things become pure magic.
There are plenty of great places to visit in London in winter, or to enjoy autumn in London. However, it can be a task if you don’t know what exactly to do when traveling to London. So, after doing some great research, I’ve listed the 14 best things to do in London in winter & fall. So, have a look and plan your winter wonderland trip right away!
Table of Contents
Go Ice Skating at Somerset House
During winter in London, you can enjoy ice skating at Somerset House and several other locations, including the Natural History Museum’s ground or at the ice rink in the moat of the Tower of London. If you are visiting London in November, good news: the ice rink is open November 14th 2018 to January 13th 2019 this year.
Both kids and adults will have a ton of fun, and it’s one of the most romantic things to do in London in winter if you come with your partner. The lights, the music, the magic…aaaah.
And if skating is not your thing, well, drinking hot chocolate at rink-side and watching all the other skaters is a lot of fun anyway.
Tickets are limited and go fast. I suggest booking your tickets in advance by phone or at the on-site booking office. A few more tickets are released for the same day directly at the box office.
Ice Skating at Somerset House Opening Hours: 9am to 9pm
Admission: Ticket prices start at £11 for adults and £8.50 for children
Closest Tube Station: Temple
TIP TIME: Are you arriving to London before your check-in time? Or maybe you have a few hours before your flight after you check out? Don’t drag around your luggage! Leave it at one of LuggageHero luggage storage shops around London and go skating at Somerset House!
Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is London’s highest public garden, and it offers 360 degrees uninterrupted views across London. We are talking about some amazing views here and the space itself is a magical one. High glass ceilings, plants everywhere,… it’s really an oasis in the middle of the city.
Access is free, but you need to book in advance your slot because space is limited. There are several bars, restaurants, and brasseries inside so why not enjoy a meal with a view when outside is cold?
Sky Garden Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, and on weekends 11am to 9pm
Closest Tube Station: Monument
Experience the Museums of London
London has some of the best museums in the world, and it’d be a pity not to add them to your London itinerary. Even better to schedule a visit when it’s raining! There are way more than I can mention here, but you should definitely pay a visit to these museums – most of them are free!
The British Museum
You must have heard of the British Museum. From the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Marbles to the Lindow Man mummy and Egyptian mummies, this museum has a lot to offer to its visitors. You could easily spend a whole day here!
If you’re interested in a guided tour to understand better what you’re looking at, I recommend this affordable London British Museum Skip-the-line Guided Tour, that in 2 hours will bring you through the higlights of the museum.
If you’re traveling with children and you’re afraid they might get bored, why not go with this Private Family and Children British Museum Tour, a customized tour by a special children’s guide?
One last idea (that I find extremely cool!): treat yourself to an Afternoon Tea at the British Museum to end your visit with tea and scones.
British Museum Opening Hours: 10am to 5.30pm, Fridays 10am to 8.30pm
Closest Tube Stations: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn
The Tate Modern
If you like art, you can’t miss the Tate Modern. Located off the South Bank of the Thames, this museum hosts a collection of British, international, and contemporary art, exhibiting 70,000 artworks. You can see the paintings by Dali and Picasso, and many other prominent artists on display here.
Tate Modern Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10am to 6pm, Friday to Saturday 10am to 10pm
Closest Tube Station: Southwark
The Natural History Museum
Located in Kensington, the Natural History Museum houses a huge collection of natural specimens, that include 70 million different plant, fossil, animal and rock finds. Here you’ll find anything from entire dinosaur skeletons to a room where you can literally experience a earthquake.
Due to its popularity, this museum is often crowded, so I suggest going around the opening time. And the best news is , this museum is also free to enter. A great option especially if you are traveling with kids – they will absolutely love it.
Natural History Museum opening hours: 10am to 5.50 pm
Closest Tube Stations: South Kensington and Gloucester Road
Unusual Museums in London
Looking for some unusual museums in London? Check out the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, a cool museum tucked away in Notting Hill.
Otherwise, what about London’s smallest museum at Trinity Buoy Wharf?
CHECK OUT: 16 Unusual Things to Do in London
Combine a traditional English Tea with a tour of the city
Enjoying a traditional English tea in London with scones, finger sandwiches, and maybe some champagne is a very popular thing to do, and a hot cup of tea is perfect for the winter weather.
You can also combine the traditional English tea with a tour of the city, like this tour that combines a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with a traditional afternoon tea with Prosecco.
Enjoy autumn in London with the foliage in London parks
I don’t know about you, but I love the autumn colors, and there’s no better way to enjoy the foliage than by taking a walk in a park. Check out these parks for the best autumn walks in London.
Hyde Park is the most famous park in London, and the largest of the 9 royal parks. Divided in two by the Serpentine Lake (where you can rent a boat or sail by ferry), this park is famous for its Speaker’s Corner, the regular events and concerts hosted here, and the fact that it’s so big that you can literally forget you are in the middle of ne of the busiest cities in the world.
It’s one of the best places for a walk in London in fall, as the colors are incredible…and you can meet hundreds of squirrels. The London autumn weather is often pretty nice, so just bring with you an umbrella just in case and enjoy a long walk.
Closest Tube Station: Knightsbridge, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch
Located in Clapham, South London, this one is a triangular park with ponds and amazing colors in the fall. This park covers 220 acres and looks like a green ocean. South London used to be dodgy in some areas but it’s become much, much better in the years and this is one of the gems of South London. If you’re visiting London in October, a walk with the foliage here is one of the best things do in London in autumn.
Closest Tube Station: Clapham Common
Hampstead Heath is spread on 791 acres, features playing fields, swimming ponds, and it’s a great park for a walk in the fall… or any other season really. But those orange hues of the leaves make it even more beautiful.
You can enjoy some amazing views of London from the top of Parliament :ill, which is one of the top spots to also see sunrise in London. No need to pay any fee! Sounds spectacular, doesn’t it?
Closest Tube Stations: Golders Green, Kentish Town, Hampstead, Hampstead Heath, Gospel Oak
Check Out London’s Christmas Markets & Lights
London christmas decorations are incredible! You’ll find festive lights all over town, but Marylebone Village, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, and Oxford Street are particularly impressive.
Regarding London’s Christmas markets, you can’t miss the Hyde Park christmas market at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, Leicester Square Christmas Market, and Christmas by the River at London Bridge City. These winter markets in London are a great place to shop for souvenir, or just spend a nice afternoon with friends and a hot chocolate.
Enjoy A Sunday Roast, Mullet Wine Or A Pint of Ale In A Traditional Pub
London is famous for its traditional pubs and literary heritage. There are many traditional pubs in London, including The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead and Charles Dickens’ favorite Lamb & Flag in Convent Garden.
On Sundays you can enjoy the traditional Sunday Roast with a pint of ale, or cozy up with a glass of mullet wine which (imo) is the best thing ever when it’s snowing outside. One of the most traditional London winter activities!
Visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Around Christmas time, Hyde Park holds a great event named Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. I wouldn’t want to miss it, and you shouldn’t either!
Visiting this Christmas wonderland is one of the best things to do in London at Christmas time. The UK largest ice rink, Christmas shows for kids, comedy and other types of shows for adults, an ice bar, 9 roller coasters, and a 60 meters high ferry wheel is what you’ll find here. If you’re visiting London with kids, don’t miss this one!
You’ll pay a ticket for each attraction or show you choose to attend. It’s recommended you book your tickets in advance online, although you can also buy the tickets on the same day at the park (attractions subject to availability).
Opening Dates: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is open from November 22nd 2018 to January 6th 2019
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm except Christmas Day
Winter Wonderland (London) prices: it depends on the attractions you want to enjoy
Closest Tube Stations to Winter Wonderland: Green Park, Victoria, Paddington
Go Shopping at Harrods
You can’t really visit London in the winter and skip at least a quick visit to Harrods, can you?
One of the most famous department stores in the world, Harrods is synonymous with luxury and designer clothing and merchandise. It’s great to do your Christmas shopping in London, but even if you don’t have a big budget to splurge, though, Harrods is a great place to just browse around and spend one or two hours, especially at Christmas time.
Harrods become Christmas themed as early as late September, with tons of Christmas lights and decorations and a whole section dedicated to Christmas gifts and merchandise. There’s even Santa in person for the kids!
Harrod’s Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 11.30am to 6pm
Closest Tube Station: Knightsbridge
Take a Tour of Shoreditch with a Special Guide
This year, take a special tour around London and help a social enterprise working with homeless, ex-homeless, and vulnerably housed Londoners.
Think about it, who knows better the city than someone who lives in its streets? Unseen Tours provides paid work to people who would have difficulty finding a job due to their situation, and provides you with an unusual, in-depth tour that won’t leave you indifferent.
I’ve taken two tours with Unseen Tours, and recommend it to anyone who not only is interested in visiting the city, but also wants to understand more about the social issues of the UK. You can choose between tours in Shoreditch (one of my favorite neighborhoods in London with all its street art), Soho, Brick Lane, and other areas.
FULL BLOG POST: Unseen Tours: Exploring London with a Homeless
Tour cost: £12 (of which 60% goes to your guide and 40% to the organization)
Shelter from the London winter by visiting the Tower of London
Visiting a 900-year-old castle in the middle of the city? A great idea to spend a cold winter or autumn morning in London. The fortress is famous for displaying the opulent crown jewels, but my favorite part is its bloody history. The Tower of London is also the tower of terror, featuring the machines that were used to torture and behead prisoners. Really scary!
Come at opening time at winter and there won’t be many people around. If you want to make sure to escape the crowds, check out this Tower of London and Tower Bridge VIP Early Access Tour, which gives you access to the castle and the Crown jewels before the crowds arrive.
Tower of London Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4.30pm, Sunday to Monday 10am to 4.30pm
Admission: £25 for adults, £11.90 for children (save 15% when buying tickets online)
Closest Tube Station: Tower Hill
TIP TIME: If you’re planning to visit the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and other famous attractions, it makes sense to buy a London Pass with Free Entry to 60 attractions that will help you save money and will give you fast-track entrance.
Discover the Unusual Things to do in London
If it’s not your first visit to London, you’re probably looking for some unusual ideas. Well, it’s your lucky day! From day trips to city farms, secret parties, the only lighthouse in London and a container city, and guided tours of old, unused tube stations underground, here I have 16 suggestions for you.
Check out my top things to do in London off the beaten path.
Things to do in London in Winter & Autumn Month by Month
Here’s a quick recap of what to do in during the London winter months and in autumn, month by month for your convenience. You’ll find a few extra events that happen once a year.
Things to do in London in October
- Enjoy the foliage in London parks such as the ones mentioned above, or go further to beautiful Kew Gardens or Richmond Park for some of the best autumn walks near London
- Every October London hosts an event called Museums at Night, where museums and galleries stay open after dark
- London get spooky at Halloween! Check out a few Halloween Events
- Celebrate all that is Africa at the Africa On The Square event at Trafalgar Square
Things to do in London in November
- Somerset House Ice Rink is finally open, so go ice skating!
- Are you a Harry Potter fan? Then don’t miss Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studios
- Get warm with a traditional English Tea
Things to do in London in December
- You really shouldn’t be wondering what to do in London in December: there’s so much choice! First things first, visit London’s Christmas Markets
- Don’t miss Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
- Spend an afternoon at the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens that become a winter wonderland in occasion of the yearly Christmas at Kew
Things to do in London in January
- If you’re visiting London in January, some of the best London winter attractions are still open. Go ice skating at Somerset House or check out Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
- Have brunch with a view at Sky Garden
- Join thousands of people for the colorful New Year’s Day parade
Things to do in London in February
- Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day! Celebrate love on February 14th with a special date night or by attending one of the many themed events in the city
- February (or late January, depending on the year) is also the time for Chinese New Year, the largest outside Asia. On New Year’s Day, join the parade in Chinatown and the other related events
- If you’re into fashion, London in February hosts the London Fashion Week, with events popping up all over town
Stay Cozy at The East London Hotel
Sure, the London city center is bustling with life, and colors, and shops… but it’s so crowded and noisy, and the hotel prices are astronomical high. In the years (this is probably my 10th time visiting the city, and I love it every time!) I’ve come to prefer the East side of London.
East London is a very interesting area, where trendy bars and hipster restaurants mix with traditional pubs, street art, and multicultural neighborhoods. This in my opinion is what makes London so interesting, not Piccadilly Circus and the shops of Oxford Street.
This time I stayed at The East London Hotel, a new hotel that just recently opened in the Bethnal Green area, not far from Shoreditch.
The East London Hotel is a hipster, design hotel. I really liked the modern design of the lobby and cafe area, which was perfect for getting some work done while we were in town.
The check-in process was very smooth. You can check in by yourself in one of the computers or ask for assistance, and we got offered water and coffee. The staff was always very helpful and friendly during our whole stay.
We were upgraded to a Premium Double – Accessible room that was spacious by London standards, where hotel rooms are usually very small and crammed.
The bed was very comfy, and I loved the Rituals designer toiletries that are provided to guests. I was able to get my caffeine fix at any time thanks to the Nespresso machine in the room – this Italian girl here couldn’t have been happier.
In the room there are no phones. If you need assistance, you can contact the staff through Whatsapp (there’s good WIFI throughout the hotel, so you won’t have problems connecting to the internet) – which I thought it was very cool! I’m a millennial after all 🙂
The hotel is very close to Bethnal Green metro station on the red line, that brings you into Central London in 13 minutes. There are few locations in London that are this well connected.
Breakfast was very good and healthy. You can choose a few items from a menu, and we always went for a bagel with avocado and eggs (yummmyy), croissant or yoghurt, orange juice and a flat white.
Rates at The East London Hotel start at £69 a night in a standard room.
Check out prices and availability for The East London Hotel.
Many people make the mistake to think that London has to be visited in the spring or summer because of the weather. But London has a special vibe around Christmas or in the fall, and it might even be the best season to visit London. Just make sure to pack the right clothing and enjoy this magical season in London!
The East London Hotel kindly hosted me in London. No matter who footed the bill, my opinions can never be bought. This posts contains affiliate links, meaning that if you book through my links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost for you whatsoever.