London has a reputation for being foggy, rainy, and let's be honest, just not having the best weather found on Earth. That being said, London is a great vacation destination regardless of season, you just need to know what to expect for weather and climate so you can plan your travel itinerary accordingly and pack the correct clothes for the weather you're likely to encounter. Knowing what type of weather to expect when you visit and how climate changes over the course of the year will offer you insight into what activities can be best enjoyed during what season.
London has a temperature oceanic climate, meaning termpatures do not fluctuate by season nearly as drastically and continental cities or climates. Although London has a reputation for being a wet and rainy city, in reality it receives less average precipitation than Rome, Naples, or Bordeaux. London has a relatively average level of precipitation for cities in a continental climate, but it suffers from small drizzles and cloudy days which give the perception of constant wetness. This section of our comprehensive UK travel guide will advise you on what type of weather to expect during the season you may be traveling in and how you can prepare for your upcoming self-guided tour with the best time to visit London.
Spring in London, and much of the world for that matter, is all about new life emerging from the harshness and brutality of winter. Beginning in late March, temperatures begin to steadily rise, with frosts less frequent and the days growing longer. London benefits (and suffers) from an intense urban heat island effect, meaning that human activities such as vehicle, industrial, and heating exhaust as well as materials used for building structures contribute to a higher average temperature than the suburbs just outside the city, for example. London experiences one of the most powerful urban heat island effects in the world, and temperatures can sometimes be up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in the city center as opposed to the outskirts. For this reason, London might be the warmest part of the United Kingdom whenever you choose to visit, making March, April, and May ideal months for exploring the city as it is neither too hot not too cold. Springtime still tends to be wet and windy however, so don't forget to pack your raincoat and layers.
Because the weather in spring isn't exactly ideal for outdoors activities such as sports, going to the beach, or hiking, travelers can benefit from discounted travel arrangements and reduced tourist traffic during the early weeks of spring, making an extended tour of London's historic attractions convenient and affordable during this time of year.
The summer in London and the rest of the United Kingdom can change at a moment's notice, for nearly any reason. In theory, London should be hot and dry during the summertime, but practically, it still rains quite a bit and is generally rather damp. Warm weather comes to London in waves, with frequent heat spells hitting the city, when seemingly millions of Brits grab their bathing suits and trunks and head to the beaches of the south and eastern coast. On one of these warmer days, temperatures may fluctuate between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so take advantage of the weather and soak up the raise at a nearby park, public pool, or beach. Arguably the best part about exploring London in summer is the extended amount of daylight, with London getting nearly 17 hours of sunlight in mid-June.
Autumn weather in London is very comparable to early spring. Don't be surprised to encounter moist, rainy weather with plenty of wind and constantly changing temperatures. The secret to being comfortable in London during fall is to bring a versatile wardrobe with a variety of different layers, so you can start warm and remove layers as necessary to cool down. September and early October are relatively mild, with temperatures hovering between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you'll be in London in late October or through November, you'll definitely want to bring a thick winter jacket as well as a raincoat. Although London certainly has a reputation for being rainy in the fall, the reality is there is actually very little rainfall, just many gray, drizzly days.
The last few winters in London have been surprisingly mild, considerably more so than average. London in winter is like any other time of year, although the temperature will certainly be colder on average, the possibility for a warm, sunny day with temperatures in the 50's is not unheard of by any means. Londoners are not used to dealing with snow on a regular basis, although snow does fall, it rarely accumulates and thus is rarely an issue for drivers seeking to navigate London in winter, although February of 2009 for example, saw over 20 centimeters of snow and airports, public transportation, and schools closed until the situation improved.
Ultimately, there is no wrong time of the year to visit London, it completely depends on your travel plans and the things you want to do in London. If you want to see sunshine and explore the city during warmer weather, you're best bet is to visit in late spring or early summer, when rainfall is at its lowest and sunshine is at its highest. If you want to play around in a winter wonderland and spend considerable time visiting indoor attractions, the city is considerably less crowded (with tourists) in wintertime, allowing you to conveniently tour the many attractions and sights of the city without waiting in extended lines.