How to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to London Any Time of Year
London is a great city for families where you can ride the London Eye (Riverside Building, Westminster, London), a massive Ferris wheel with views of the skyline,or tour the kids through the extensive Natural History Museum (Cromwell Rd., Kensington, London)—just two of the many family-friendly attractions in the city.
Many visitors assume that it's always raining in London, but that's a common misconception. London boasts temperate weather most of the year (it rarely snows in winter), and the city is easily walkable, even with kids. The best time to visit is springtime, although you can plan a fantastic trip whenever your budget and vacation days allow. Here are a few things you should know about visiting London throughout the seasons, especially when it comes to weather and crowds.
Spring is an ideal time of year to travel to London. The city is not yet filled with summer tourists, but it's still warm enough to spend time in the parks or stroll through one of outdoor food markets like Borough Market (8 Southwark St., London). There is always the possibility of rain in London, but if you bring a waterproof jacket and an umbrella, you'll have everything you need. The temperature averages from 50 to 65 degrees F in April and May, so dress in layers.
Summer in London is a lively time. On the weekends, everyone flocks to the parks to picnic and lay in the sun, so your kids will love running through Hyde Park or grabbing ice cream along the Thames River. In July and August, the temperatures can be as high as 85 degrees F. Be sure to pack a range of clothing in case it rains or cools off, and slather the kids in sunscreen.
It can be crowded in London during the summer, especially in the touristy areas like Trafalgar Square or Westminster Abbey. Plan ahead and pay a visit to these high-traffick areas in the early morning before the crowds gather. Don't forget to book theater tickets or museum reservations before you arrive, and have a few alternatives prepared in case the restaurants you want to visit have long waits.
October is the rainiest month in London, but that doesn't make fall a bad time to visit. The temperature averages 50 to 60 degrees F, and the leaves changing color can make for impressive photographs. The crowds thin out in the fall as kids return to school, but you'll still want to book theater tickets ahead of time. Plan some indoor activities in case of rain, such as the British Museum (Great Russell St., Bloomsbury, London) or the Sea Life London Aquarium (County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd., London). London also has plenty of movie theaters, which can be a lifesaver when it rains.
It doesn't snow very often in London, but it can get cold between November and February. While the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees F, check the forecast ahead of your trip and prepare for 25 to 35 degrees F. Bundle up and try to keep outdoor sightseeing to a minimum. Most of London's museums are free, so wait out any freezing weather in the Tate Modern (Bankside, London) or the Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Rd., Knightsbridge, London), which offers free daily family activities and crafts. There are tons of plays and musicals on throughout the year in London's West End, so look into the kid-friendly options and grab tickets to a matinee show. The chilly weather can make everything feel cozier, too, so snuggle up for dinner at one of London's intimate, historic pubs. The Admiralty (66 Trafalgar Square, St. James's, London) has a children's menu, as well as a solid selection of pints for the adults.
If you don't want to walk, take London's efficient subway system called the tube. It will take you from place to place in any weather (although not all of it is air conditioned, which is something to consider in hotter temperatures). For each family member, purchase an Oyster Card, a smart travelcard that uses pay-as-you-go fares to tap in and out of the tube and on buses. The cards work even on the Thames Clipper, a fleet of commuter boats that can carry you and the kids from one end of London to the other on the river. The boats are covered, so ride along the Thames even when it's raining.