Despite it being my first trip to London, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to see and do in only four and a half days.
One of the reasons being was that it was fairly quiet at the popular tourist attractions (only a five minute wait to ride the London Eye or feeling like I had the National Gallery to myself first thing in the morning).
Not having to wait in a queque makes a big difference which makes winter one of the best times to visit London.
Flights, transportation and accommodation was also very affordable compared to the summer months, making an already expensive city seem more budget friendly.
There may be less daylight hours during the winter, but the city looks glamorous at night with all the holiday decor, which makes it a treat to explore the city without huge crowds.
Not that you need anymore convincing, but here are ten reasons why winter is the best time to visit London!
1. The tourist attractions are less busy
London is busy all year round, but fortunately when I visited in November most of the popular tourist attractions were quiet or had very little wait to get inside.
I was pleasantly surprised and this allowed us to get a lot more accomplished during the short time we were in the city.
London might appear dreary during the fall and winter months, which is why it’s essential to dress appropriately and always bring an umbrella (a travel umbrella will suffice).
2. The city is decorated for Christmas
There is no doubt about it — London is absolutely beautiful during the holiday season! It was nice to see the city lit up and decorated for Christmas.
Some of my favourite spots to visit were Carnaby Street (as shown in the photo), Regent Street and Oxford Street.
3. Flights and accommodations are cheaper
I was able to score a great deal with Air Transat and find affordable hotel accommodation within a 15-minute walk to Tower Bridge.
Since hotels tend to be cheaper during the winter, you might be able to stay at a nicer place for less (depending on your budget).
4. Winter Wonderland
From November 20th to January 3rd 2016, you can visit Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in London. It’s free to enter which makes it a nice place to walk around and soak up the festive atmosphere.
We don’t have anything like this here in Toronto, so it was a treat to enjoy all the different sights!
5. Holiday shopping
With all the festive decorations around the city, it can certainly put you in the mood to do some holiday shopping. Some of the best spots for shopping include Oxford Street, Regent Street, Knightsbridge and Notting Hill.
Don’t forget to treat yourself to Ben’s Cookies if you’re browsing the shops along Oxford Street.
6. Enjoy afternoon tea
After an early morning of sight seeing, there’s no better way to relax than to warm up with some afternoon tea. Afternoon tea can be pricey in London, but fortunately there are some affordable options.
While it’s not traditional afternoon tea, I recommend visiting the Garden Cafe inside the V&A Museum (which is free to enter). It’s self-service, where you can pick and choose which cakes, scones or sandwiches you want, along with a pot of tea.
7. Browse one of London’s open air markets
No trip to London is complete without a visit to one of its open-air markets. Many of them are decorated for Christmas which makes it a nice time to visit.
Some of my favourites include: Covent Garden (as shown in the photo), Borough Market and Portobello Road Market.
8. Explore London’s free museums
If the forecast calls for rain, head to one of London’s free museums where you can warm up while learning about art or culture.
For art, I recommend the Tate Modern or the National Gallery. For culture, I recommend the British Museum or the V&A Museum. Click here for a complete list of free museums in London.
If you’re looking to explore London’s paid museums and attractions, I recommend taking advantage of The London Pass, which includes free entry to over 60 London attractions and tours, plus a bunch of other great perks.
If you are traveling to London by train, I recommend using London’s 2FOR1 coupons to save money at a variety of London attractions. This is what I did and it worked great for my itinerary.
9. Lace up your ice skates
During the winter, outdoor ice skating rinks pop up all over the city. This is a popular past time in London and whether or not you are good at skating, it’s a fun activity during the winter months.
Skate at iconic locations such as Hampton Court Palace, the Natural History Museum or Westfield London.
10. Relax with dinner after a long day
The only downside of visiting London during the winter is that daylight hours are short since it begins to get dark at 4:00pm.
I recommend making the most of your day by getting up early to do sight seeing while the sun is still out before relaxing after a long day at dinner.
Linger over dinner, remember all the things you did during the day and enjoy a delicious meal. One of my favourite meals was at Franco Manca for pizza.
Over to you — what is your favourite winter activity to do in London?
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