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London in the Rain: 5 cheap things to do on those rainy days

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Sea Life Aquarium London
Go under water when it rains at London's SEA LIFE Aquarium. Photo: Tarkun3

By Nina Derham in London—

The bitter truth is that London is never short of rainy days, meaning that popular cheapo activities such as picnics in parks and city walks may well have to be called off. The good news is that the city is jam-packed with fun, wallet-friendly things to do under cover!

Here are five suggestions for cheap things to do in London when it rains:

1. Explore the universe: The Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington
Open: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily
Admission: Free
Website

Museums and galleries are the obvious choice for a rainy day and London is bursting with them – many of which offer free admission. Our pick to keep spirits high once the heavens have opened is The Science Museum. Most Londoners harbor fond memories of fun-filled school trips to this place but it isn’t just for kids – the Science Museum offers an array of exciting exhibitions across all areas of science and the spectacular IMAX cinema is the icing on the cake.

If you’re not all museum-ed out when you’ve finished exploring everything from astronomy to climate change, The V&A and The Natural History Museum are handily located just around the corner. The museum is located next to Hyde Park so it’s the perfect place to duck into for a couple of hours if your trip to the park gets rained off.

2. Release your inner child at Hamleys
188-196 Regent Street
Website

If you need to get out the rain while in London’s West End and you don’t fancy whiling away the hours in Topshop, then head to Hamleys, the world’s “finest” toy shop. This legendary toy superstore is over 250 years old and sells everything from classic games to the newest and most coveted toys. While many hate to admit it, adults can have just as much fun in here as children and it’s easy for time to slip by as you drift back to those carefree childhood days.

3. Shop till you drop (and stay under cover)
Website

If it looks as though the rain is here to stay the why not lift the spirits with a bit of retail therapy? The newly opened Westfield Stratford City is Europe’s biggest urban shopping center and is located right next to the Olympic Village. The complex houses pretty much every shop imaginable all under one roof, as well as numerous eateries, bars, cinemas and a bowling alley; it’s easy to spend the day here without getting bored.

If you are a long way from East London then head to the West London in Shepherds Bush. Of course it is free to browse but we take no responsibility for how much you end up spending!

4. Explore the other side of the South Bank

If you’ve done the Tate Modern and popular outdoor South Bank activities such as river boat cruises, walking tours and catching a play at The Globe Theatre get rained off, then head for cover at Namco Station. This hedonistic haven offers something for everyone with pool, bowling, dodgems, karaoke, arcade games from all around the world and a bar.

Alternatively, pay a trip next door to the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, home to over 500 species of marine life. The Aquarium boasts a special shark walk, interactive feeding and touch pools and is an excellent option for families with young children.

5. And if all else fails… make like a local and head to the pub!

It may not sound very inspired, but many a Brit will head straight to their “Local” for a pint to get out the rain. Some pubs also have board games behind the bar making it even easier to keep entertained until the rain passes. See our post on London’s best traditional pubs for some suggestions to get you started.

Also in our guide: Planning your trip to London? Let us help! Our editors have visited, inspected and reviewed dozens of inexpensive places to stay in central London. Find the perfect place for your trip in our guide to London.

About the author

Nina Derham

About the author: Nina is a freelance travel writer who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to discover the very best on offer in a destination. She recently relocated to London after spending over four years in Madrid and is currently enjoying rediscovering her home town.

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