Admit it: you didn’t arrive in London expecting sunshine. Sure, the capital city might be renowned for a lot of wonderful things: theatre, street food, art galleries and museums… but it’s also a huge advocate of downpour. 

Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in London when it’s raining. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the middle of winter or the thick of summer – you’ll soon get over your frustration at forgetting to bring an umbrella. Read on for the best activities to do in London undercover.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to make the most of Liberty London. One of the finest spots in the city for some (indoor) window shopping, it’s a wonderful place to wander around mindlessly and dream up your imaginary millionaire life while the rain hammers down outside.

This huge, multi-storey designer store is home to womenswear, menswear, jewellery, accessories and more. It’s got a homeware section and a separate food and drink area, too. If you’re looking to splash out and treat yourself, head to Liberty London. If you’re saving your pennies but still want to explore the city like you’re rolling in it, still head to Liberty London.

Culture vultures: now’s your time to assemble. There are few better places to explore when London’s raining than the National Gallery. Home to more than 2300 works of art, you’ll find an ever-changing roster of collections from different artists as well as events and creative sessions to attend. 

While some of them require pre-booking, it’s also possible to just turn up to the National Gallery and see what’s going on. Our favourite, recently? Sketchbook Saturday’s “Drawing dogs” event, taking inspiration from the many canine friends dotted throughout artworks in the gallery, brought to life with your own interpretation. Now, that’s something we bet you didn’t think you’d leave London with.

A healthy dose of history with a few extra spoonfuls of art, culture and science thrown in for good measure is what you’ll find at the British Museum. Come here if you’ve got hours to kill or the rain doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon: the British Museum seems to go on forever and no amount of wandering gives you enough time to truly take it all in. 

Eight million artefacts is the most up to date estimation of what’s under the British Museum’s roof, and that’s not including any temporary exhibitions. Come here to take in two million years of human history and culture and forget about the fact that you didn’t bring a rain jacket on your trip.

The Tate Modern is a conversation starter, even if you’re not someone who goes out of their way to check out London’s best art galleries. As well as priceless classics on show by the likes of Picasso, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, it’s also a place to discover plenty of new artists across multiple floors. 

When you’ve had your fill of art, you can head up to the viewing platform and gaze smugly down at those stuck in the rain (and the spectacular views across the Thames at the same time) or wait until the rain passes and go for a brisk stroll around Southbank.

Advance warning: you probably won’t get to shake hands with Her Majesty during your trip to Buckingham Palace but, regardless of whether you’re a permanent or temporary Londoner, it’s one of the best places to go during a rainy afternoon. Buckingham Palace is beautiful both inside and out, and there’s always something interesting going on here. 

Check out the fine art, wander up the Grand Staircase and do your best Queen-like wave or go on an audio tour through the grounds with Prince Charles talking you through. If you’ve found yourself stuck in rainy London during the summer months, you can console yourself with the fact that this time of year grants you entry to the State Apartments, which are usually closed off.

Centrally located, Harrods is the answer to your prayers if the heavens have opened and you need somewhere to shelter. Great for shopping and even better for a fancy, spontaneous cup of tea, Harrods is world famous for a very good reason. 

More so a small village than just simply a large shop, a trip to Harrods has the potential to incorporate a shopping trip, a delicious meal, a new hairstyle and beauty splurge and even a trip to the pharmacy, if needed. There’s the dazzlingly shiny watch room, and the luxury accessories department where you can easily spend hours choosing which pieces you’d buy if you won the lottery.

Leadenhall Market is somewhat the antidote to London’s luxury shops: you’ll find boutique stalls and street food here rather than million pound watches and bags. This Victorian market feels a little like something out of Harry Potter (fun fact: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone scenes were actually filmed here in 2000/2001) and is the place to go when it rains and pours to pick up some new treats and souvenirs for your trip. 

It’s open 24/7, which means no matter what kind of time you find yourself nearby, it’s guaranteed shelter. Bored of shopping and just want somewhere to relax, instead? You’ll also find a great pub here to kill a few hours with a drink or two.

You could visit Kew Gardens to enjoy nature within London…but you’ll have a much better time getting up close and personal to it at Barbican Conservatory if it’s pouring with rain during your adventures. The second biggest conservatory in the city, it’s home to tropical plants and trees, plenty of colourful birds and exotic fish. 

It’s also just a really beautiful spot to wander around if you’re a fan of all things nature. Its peaceful atmosphere is a literal breath of fresh air away from hectic London and there aren’t many things more relaxing than hearing the rain batter down on the glass rooftop.

Another place for feeling smug that you made it indoors ahead of the downpour, London’s Sky Garden follows a similar plant-filled path to Barbican Conservatory but with a fancy twist. Getting lost between the plants here comes with the added bonus of stylish cocktails or a quick bite to eat while admiring the panoramic views. 

This rooftop garden has arguably some of the best views of London and it’s free entry as long as you book in advance to grab your slot. It’s also a great spot for morning yoga classes or live bands.

Sure, the London Eye is beautiful when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. But it’s also really cool when the sky is grey and the clouds are forming. You’ll also spy significantly shorter queues during the latter. 

One of those London experiences that you probably never got around to doing during day to day life, it’s an experience made for rainy days to keep you hidden away while still seeing a whistle-stop tour of the whole city. Not convinced? Fun fact: The London Eye is also the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK and has more than three million visitors each year.

You’ll likely come to London’s O2 Arena for a concert or gig, but this event space is home to so much more than just live music. If you’d like to throw two activities into one, you can catch the Emirates Air Line over to Greenwich and then spend a few hours wandering around the O2 Arena’s delightfully undercover roof. 

Come here to dance along to some of your favourite singers, rappers, bands and DJs, but also to watch comedy shows or boxing and have something to eat and drink. It’s also home to the famed Selfie Factory, if your Instagram feed needs updating.

Spending some time on a boat that doesn’t move probably doesn’t sound like the most fun-filled activity in the world. But when the boat is the HMS Belfast and its underlying river is the River Thames, it’s a little more exciting. Especially if you’re a self-confessed history buff or want to up your knowledge on all things World War II. 

This previous Royal Navy ship is now permanently moored as a museum ship with audio tours and plenty to explore. She has nine decks and a few different exhibitions to ensure that, even if she doesn’t move, you’ll never get bored aboard.

Take a stroll through the grounds at the Tower of London and pretend you’re royalty for a day. A beautiful part of the city with its stone walls, grassy green surroundings and beautiful rooms means there’s plenty to enjoy here. Soak up London’s medieval history at it’s best, with tours from the Beefeaters, a quick glance at the Crown Jewels and gorgeous architecture in every direction. 

Fancy a break? Sit yourself down on one of the benches and watch the famous ravens do their thing. It’s also situated right next to the River Thames, which means when the rain eases off, you can end your cultural afternoon with a breezy walk.

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