London is a city known for many things – and gray, rainy weather is one of them, right? Not true! London is a city with dynamic seasons. Sure, there’s a grayer, rainier time of year (winter), but there are also spring showers and flowers, sunny summer days, and crisp, clear autumn afternoons.
So when is the best time to visit London? Great question. Since each season is so different, it might seem obvious – summer, right? But there are different reasons to visit during each of London’s seasons, and my favorite season to visit might surprise you.
Read on to discover London in each season and what makes a visit during that time of year special. I’ll cover the weather, common activities and events, and more for different times of the year; I’ll then end by sharing when to visit London – the best time to visit London, according to yours truly based on my years of living in London and visiting too.
London in Different Seasons
Whenever the question “when should I visit London?” pops up, I think the best and most comprehensive way to answer it is to take a look at the different seasons in London and how they’d affect your trip. Below you’ll find a detailed description of each season and what you can expect; at the end of this post, I’ll share my personal suggestion about what I consider to be the best time to visit London.
Spring in London
What is there to say about spring in London? Carpets of flowers flood royal parks, flowering trees drape over English townhouses, days become longer and warmer. It’s such a magical season to visit.
Spring in London starts in March and lasts until the final days of May. The temperatures are pleasant around these months, reaching 52°-59°F (11°-15°C). While the weather is mild and suitable for most travelers, you’ll be better off carrying an umbrella wherever you go as it rains quite often during springtime.
Like with other destinations, spring is the best time to visit London for many travelers. It makes sense as spring is the shoulder season to visit London, with affordable prices and smaller crowds. However, not all months enjoy the same popularity or weather. So here’s a broad overview to help you know what to expect.
Weather-wise, March is quite unpredictable. There are two possibilities: either it is sunny with temperatures rarely exceeding 65°F (18°C), or it’s painfully freezing with snow showers. The perk of visiting London around March, especially mid-March, is that airlines offer cheaper fares, and hotels lower their rates. Also, you will save tons of time since fewer tourists are visiting popular landmarks.
Come April, the weather can still be a little unpredictable, but you’ll definitely see more spring-like days. Most of London is in full bloom by now, and the average temperature is about 60°F (15°C). April is still a good time to travel if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy pleasant weather.
Finally, May is a fantastic month to experience London. On average, temperatures hover at about 65°F (18°C), although you can get a few chilly days in your itinerary with temperatures decreasing to 50°F (15°C) overnight. Hordes of tourists haven’t taken over the city yet, so you’ll be able to explore London landmarks and tourist stops without having to push your way through the crowd. Plus, most parks and royal gardens are as beautiful as ever. However, during the last days of May (late spring), hotel and flight prices start to surge; it’s best to consider the last week of May more like summer (more on that below) than spring.
Besides iconic landmarks and experiences, there are a few things you will only get to experience in springtime.
- BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival (March)
- The University Boat Race pitches Cambridge against Oxford in the ultimate rowing race (early April)
- This year Easter weekend falls from April 15th-18th. Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays in the U.K., and most shops are closed to the public. (It’s a fantastic time to sample Fortnum & Mason’s delicious chocolate eggs, though!)
- The RHS Chelsea Flower Show caps off a season of blooms, with everything from cherry blossoms to magnolias and daffodils to tulips (May)
Summer in London
Summer in London starts in June and ends in August. You’ll discover that summer is the best time to visit London for many reasons. First and foremost, the weather is glorious. Unlike other cities, London isn’t popular for its hot summers. They are always relatively mild, and the temperatures are always tolerable, ranging from 70°-73°F (21°-23°C), so it doesn’t interfere with your walking or sightseeing.
Moreover, the summer months are among the driest of the year. However, you’ll still need your umbrella. It wouldn’t be London without occasional rain showers.
Also, you will get the chance to explore all of London’s attractions. For example, most royal residences are only open during the summer months when the royals flock to their summer houses.
Not everything is a bed of roses, though. Summer is the peak season to visit London. So, while you won’t be stopping to find a place to recover from a merciless heat, you’ll have to stand in long queues in nearly every site you visit as tourists invade London throughout the summer. Take my advice and always book your tickets to visit any attraction in advance.
Considering the incredible weather and increase in tourists, visiting London in the summer is expensive. Hotels and airlines raise their prices, and there’ll be limited availability.
Here are a few unmissable events you can attend in summer in London:
- Wimbledon: buy tickets to witness a match in the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
- Attend Notting Hill Carnival, an annual Caribbean festival event that has taken place in London since 1966 (August 27 to August 29, 2022)
- Dance the night away at the Mighty Hoopla music festival (no 2022 dates yet)
Autumn in London
While many people overlook it, autumn is a beautiful season to visit the English Capital. Autumn in London is all about the natural scenery, with London’s 8.4 million trees turning orange, red, and yellow.
Fall in London begins in September and lasts until November. The main perk of visiting during the fall is that crowds have diminished, and it’ll be easier for you to explore the city. Also, from late October onwards, you can find better hotel and flight deals.
As a general rule, London’s fall weather is highly volatile and often chilly, so you might find yourself wearing your jacket more often than not. Fall temperatures range from 52°-59°F (11°-15°C). However, the earlier you visit, the warmer the days will be as you can still experience 60°-70°F (15°-20°C) in early September.
Days start to become shorter as well, with the sunset taking place at around 7:30pm in September and by 4:30pm in November.
As usual, your umbrella will be your inseparable companion during your visit to London. Autumn is London’s wet season, with precipitations increasing as months go by, with October being the wettest month of the year, at 71mm of rain.
Don’t let London’s rainy and cold days stop you from visiting it in the fall. The city has tons of things you can do and see. For me, the best thing about visiting London during this season is seeing London’s green spaces change in color. London is brimming with enormous parks, which put on quite a show; there are lovely spots for leaf-peeping across the city.
Just because summer’s winding down doesn’t mean the fun is over; here are some popular events in London in the autumn:
- Totally Thames, a month-long annual festival dedicated to showing locals and travelers the history and cultural importance of the River Thames (September)
- I don’t need to tell you that London is a fashion capital. In 2022, the city celebrates London Fashion Week from Friday, September 1 to Tuesday, September 20.
- Head out to one of London’s top clubs to celebrate Halloween.
- Listen to the best jazz musicians at the London Jazz Festival (11-20 November)
Winter in London
Winter in London spans from December to February. Temperatures get pretty chilly, with averages falling between 36°-43°F (2°-6°C). Yep, you better pack lots of layers! While snow isn’t uncommon, winter temperatures don’t typically drop below freezing in London, which means moving around the city and visiting its landmarks is still doable with the right clothes. January is the coldest and windiest month; the days are super short, too, with the sun setting around 4:00pm.
Are you wondering when to visit London and still stay within your budget? Winter might be an ideal season for you. There’s no true “low season” to visit London, to be honest. However, January and February come pretty close. As the chilly weather scares away most tourists, you can easily find cheaper airfare and accommodation deals compared to the summer. Many people like to visit London in December to partake in the holiday season. Sadly this means hotel and flight rates rise around the holidays.
While winter isn’t exactly the best time to visit London, those who visit during the chilly months will be lucky to witness one of the most beautiful shows this city puts on: Christmas lights! London has a strong Christmas lights game, with all the main streets and luxury department stores hanging gorgeous Christmas lights to celebrate the arrival of the jolly season.
Winter may be more grey than other seasons, but the fun doesn’t stop. Here are some popular activities and events in winter in London:
- Visit a pop-up Christmas Market
- Go ice-skating at Somerset House
- Indulge in decadent afternoon tea
- Attend the Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night
The Best Time to Visit London
If you ask me, London is beautiful in all its seasons, and each one has its perks. Which one you choose will mostly depend on your budget and interests. However, we can’t deny there’s a perfect time to visit London. Keep on reading to find which one (although I’m sure you already know!)
The Best Season to Visit London
The best season to visit London is during spring. Everything, from the weather to prices, finds the perfect balance.
Spring has decent weather to discover London. Temperatures might fall on the colder side but aren’t freezing like January. The important thing is that they allow you to comfortably walk around the city, without wearing tons of clothes. Plus, you get to experience London’s flowering season!
The second reason spring is the best season to visit London is that you won’t find a sea of people every time you visit a popular spot. London welcomes tourists year-round; however, you’ll see fewer during the spring months.
Last but not least, traveling to London during the spring is affordable. Spring (along with autumn) is the most budget-friendly time to visit London in terms of airfare, which is usually the biggest expense when it comes to planning your trip. (Hotels are cheaper during the winter, if that helps you decide when to visit.)
The Best Month to Visit London
The best months to visit London are April and May. Weather-wise, both months enjoy mild temperatures and little rainfall. Should you visit the city in April, you’ll find the best deals on accommodation and airfare. April is definitely the way to go for those who want to explore the city without enduring hordes of tourists.
Late spring enjoys better weather; and considerably longer days; however, it’s close to the start of the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices. I should warn you that London isn’t the most budget-friendly destination. However, if you were wondering when to visit London if you’re a bit tight on cash, I suggest looking at March. It offers the best overlap between cheaper airfare (typically in the spring) and cheaper accommodations (usually in the winter).
Have any other questions about when to visit London? Let me know in the comments or join the conversation in my London Travel Tips Facebook community.