When to visit London

From the Electrifying Summer to Festive Winters, London is a year round destination

Baking in the summer and below freezing in the winter, no matter when you visit the Big Smoke, there’s more than plenty to discover again and again.

Luke Abrahams
20 May 2023

As one of the world’s great cities, London is a tourist magnet 365 days a year. Very rarely does the place shut its doors, except over big bank holidays or seasonal celebrations like Christmas at Twixtmas (that weird, slow period between Boxing Fay and New Year’s Eve). The only respite comes courtesy of the good old British weather. Come during deep, dark winters, the streets are a little more bearable, but as soon as the sun comes out, London is alive with millions of people brandishing breezy hats, questionable shirts and flip flops. The downside? Public transport. Visit this time of year and you’ll fry like an egg, and with London being a little behind the times with those good old A/C units, those who do not like the heat will feel it hard. To make sure you visit during a time of year that’s right for you, we’ve put together this little handy guide of the dos, don’ts, and everything in between.

The Best Time to Visit London

The tourist season in London is pretty much all year round but peaks from early June to late August with key events like the Trooping of the Color, Wimbledon, London Pride, and the Notting Hill Carnival. Though these events are epic in every sense of the word, first-timers to London might get a little overwhelmed, so steer clear. As a local, the best time to visit is without doubt spring. The streets are not as loud, the weather not too hot or humid, and you’ll get to see the city’s parks explode into bloom. With it being slightly cooler, roaming the streets won’t feel like a sweaty chore and you’ll be able to enter top attractions with relative ease.

When’s the Best Time to Avoid All the Crowds?

London is always busy, so there’s no right or wrong answer here. January to February is generally much quieter than other months, but beware – the weather can get bone-chilling so make sure you pack well before jetting into the capital. The cold, if you are not used to it, is a little different here with dense damp fog and long nights ruling much of the winter weather scene. That said, London’s streets (especially on the weekdays) are virtually all yours to explore at an easy pace. Tickets to major exhibitions, tables at booked-out restaurants and cool bars are often a lot more accessible thanks to the seasonal chill. It’s also an ideal time to nab a hotel room for a decent and less-inflated price, luxury stays included.

When’s the Best Time to Go for Traveling Families?

Pack for the freezing cold

If you visit in the winter months make sure your suitcase is full of layers. A good scarf, mittens and ear muffs are always welcome, as are thermals and plenty of chapstick.

In all honesty, all year round. London has no so-called off-season, but if you want to visit with as less stress as possible, it’s best to ditch the summer in favor of quieter months like January through March. Things like the tube and major attractions can become extremely busy, hot and sweaty, so if you are a traveling mom or dad that wants to do everything in their power to keep the kid-induced stress at bay, avoid visiting London during the summer months at all costs. All the big sites are open all year round, except the major palaces and the London Eye which closes for a week for its annual maintenance, but other than that, all of London’s family-friendly attractions are quite literally at your disposal.

What Is The Best Time to See London in Its Prime?

For me, there's no better time to visit London than in the summer. Sure it's hot, but this is the time of year when London really puts on a very good show. The streets are alive with all sorts of celebrations, the pubs are packed, the enthusiasm high, the parks blooming and the special one-off events, pure ecstasy. In a word, London at this time of year is pure magic.

Every season offers something different in London, so it’s really more of a case of what you are looking for. In winter, the city comes alive with fantastical Christmas decorations spread over fancy department stores like Selfridge’s and Harrods, as well as in the iconic shopping arcades that line the Piccadilly and Old and New Bond Street.

Culturally, the summer months are the most important. Huge royal events like the Trooping of the Color (to mark the monarch’s official birthday in June) and the State Rooms opening at Buckingham Palace are all great big spectacles to behold. June also marks Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQ+ culture in the form of parties and a parade, plus the arrival of Wimbledon, the world-famous tennis championships. The late August Bank Holiday weekend ushers in the Notting Hill Carnival (Europe’s largest street parade), so this time of year is all about partying and having a good time.

The Best Time to Venture Out of London Town

The beauty of the UK is that it’s not that big and easy to get around. This means escaping London for the countryside is what we call “a doddle” (a piece of cake, basically).

Late spring (April to June) through to early fall (no later than October) is generally the best time to see the rest of the country as the weather is not too brutal or wet. To see England’s countryside in all its green rolling hill glory, visit between late May and July.

Fall colors shine between late October and early November, so if you want to venture further into National Parks like the Yorkshire Moors or the Peak District, this is when to go. Depending on how long you stay, you’ll also be able to catch fun nights like Guy Fawke’s Day when the skies come alive with kaleidoscopic firework displays.

About the author

Luke AbrahamsLuke Abrahams is a London-based freelance journalist specializing in news, luxury lifestyle, and travel features. Luke was previously the features social media editor at the London Evening Standard. His work has appeared in more than 25 U.K. and U.S. publications, including British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Times, Town & Country, The Telegraph, Condé Nast Traveller, Time Out, House & Garden, Suitcase, Elite Traveler, Insider, and more. So far, Luke has visited 82 countries. His favorite is Italy, and it always will be.