London is a majestic, sprawling metropolis which attracts millions of domestic and international visitors every year. There is a compelling reason to visit the British capital at any time of year, but each season offers something unique and shows the city in a slightly different light. If you’re planning a weekend in London this year, look no further. In this article, we explore the various attractions and activities that capture the essence of the capital throughout the year so you can plan your trip a little more easily.
A nice time of year to visit is spring, roughly from March to May, for a few reasons. London’s peak seasons are summer and winter, during which tourist numbers go through the roof. The interim seasons are noticeably quieter and have the added benefit of missing the summer’s scorching sun and winter’s cold and rain. Spring temperatures can be chilly still, but much milder and this can make for a more enjoyable trip. Furthermore, you can avoid peak season prices for accommodation and transport.
Spring is a good time to experience the main attractions while they aren’t overwhelmed with tourists and temperatures aren’t at the extremes. Think London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and many more in the centre of London – you’d be best getting some central accommodation so look at places to stay in Waterloo and the surrounding areas. Spring is also a good time to take in London’s natural greenery as flowers and trees come into blossom. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is quite the spectacle and many of the city’s parks start to come alive during this period.
London at the height of summer is something to behold. From June to September, the capital truly comes alive and there is a unique energy that isn’t quite present at any other time during the year. Expect to pay premium prices for attractions, accommodation and transport, and be prepared for extreme heat and scorching sun on some days (especially in central London). You will be joined by many more visitors if you book during the summer season, which may or may not influence your decision.
If you want to experience some of the main attractions during summer then try to book as far in advance as possible, otherwise, you may have to wait in queues for some length of time. If this doesn’t sound like the sort of trip you want to have, you can always explore alternative attractions that are typically a little calmer. Beer gardens are extremely popular to soak up the summer sun and London’s parks are often filled with picnickers enjoying the warm weather – Hyde Park and Regent’s Park usually hold open-air theatres, concerts and movie screenings which can be a fun addition to your trip. The Notting Hill Carnival is an explosion of colour and London’s sporting culture is unrivalled in the summer with Wimbledon taking centre stage.
Similar to spring, the autumn season between September and November is a chance to experience London calming down between the rush of peak season. Autumn colours frame London in a majestic light and temperatures are a little gentler for any that don’t enjoy the extreme summer heat. Again, accommodation and transport costs should be lower than in the summer and winter, and you should find more availability for attraction bookings.
Autumn is a great time to admire the changing seasons in the city’s grand parks, you could easily spend a weekend just doing this in autumn. The weeks around Halloween and Bonfire Night offer a unique experience to take in the scenes at London Dungeon and various other frightful attractions. Alternatively, you could immerse yourself in some culture at Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral or one of the many theatres and concert halls in the capital.
Perhaps the most popular time of year to visit London for many people is winter – from December to February. It’s another peak season, so expect to pay premium prices for most things, but it’s usually worth it to experience the festivities and excitement. You’ll need to ensure you pack all the right clothing because the winter can be harsh.
Winter is a good time to experience some of London’s indoor attractions, including the many world-famous museums and cultural centres. The British Museum and the Natural History Museum are two of the most popular and, best of all, they are usually free to enter which is great for families spending a weekend in the capital. Of course, there are London’s infamous Christmas markets which are probably the main attraction at this time of year. Highstreets and shopping centres are also popular places to visit to browse through Christmas sales and soak up the festive spirit. To round the year off, New Year’s Eve celebrations attract tens of thousands to the banks of the River Thames which could be a fantastic way to end the year with your friends and family.
London is a city worthy of visiting all year round but consider carefully the type of experience you want to have. Each season offers something different but whenever you visit the capital you’re sure to have a spectacular time!