What are the best indoor activities in London?

Answers from Our Experts (3)

Jo Caird
  • Jo Caird

  • Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

London's weather may be notoriously unpredictable, but there's no need to let a sudden shower or unseasonably cold day ruin your fun. Here's a mini-guide to the best of indoor London.

Museums and galleries
London's major museums and galleries will keep you entertained for hours, but don't overlook some of the smaller, more niche institutions you'll find dotted around the place. The London Canal Museum, for example, tells the history of London's canals and the people that lived and worked on them.

You'll find London's only planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Shows for adults and children run throughout the day. 

The Royal Institution, Gresham College and the London School of Economics (LSE) all run programmes of daytime and evening lectures that are open to the public and free to attend. Some you need to register for in advance, but most you can just turn up to. The range of topics covered is extremely broad, so you're likely to find something to get your teeth into whatever your area of interest.

Cinema and performing arts
Choose from the dozens of plays, musicals, operas, comedy nights and dance productions playing in London at any one time, or visit an independent cinema like the Electric in Notting Hill or the Screen on the Green in Islington (which is now run by the Everyman Group, but has maintained its original feel). If you're looking for indoor entertainment during the day, a lot of theatre shows have matinee performances on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as Saturdays. Most concerts take place in the evening, but you'll find lunchtime recitals (some of which are free) at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Wigmore Hall.

Hop on a bus or river tour to get a feel for the city without having to brave the weather.

Helen Ochyra

London is known for its unpredictable weather, but the upside to this is that the city has an answer to the rain – an excellent range of indoor activities.

London could probably claim to have the best range of museums in the world, so take your pick. For art, head to the National Gallery for paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries, the National Portrait Gallery for portraits of every famous Brit from Isaac Newton to Kate Middleton, or Tate Modern for modern and contemporary art. In South Kensington, the Natural History Museum has a fantastic dinosaur section and
the V&A pays homage to great design, while the Science Museum has galleries on everything from space to the human body.

Head to the West End to take in a musical. The Book of Mormon, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are all recent editions with rave reviews, while Phantom of the Opera and Agatha Christie's Mousetrap have been running so long most Londoners can't remember a time before them. Alternatively, head to Sadlers Wells for dance, or the Coliseum for opera.

Going indoors needn't mean not getting active. The Oasis Sports Centre has an indoor pool and squash courts, or head to the Ellis Brigham store in Covent Garden to try your hand at ice climbing on their Vertical Chill indoor ice wall. In Finsbury Park, the Castle Climbing Centre has indoor climbing walls, lessons and abseiling.

Westfield's massive shopping centres were made for wet weather days. Shop hundreds of different stores and eat at one of the dozens of restaurants, all without setting foot outside. There are two centres: Westfield London in the west and Westfield Stratford City in the east.

Joseph Reaney

As a rainy city, London's skies will probably force you inside at some point during a visit. Luckily, as a rainy city, it has also developed plenty of ways to entertain you while you're there. Here are just three:

Museums and Galleries
London is perhaps the exhibition capital of the world. With world-renowned museums and galleries including The British Museum, The Tate, The Victoria and Albert, The Natural History Museum and The Imperial War Museum, there's no shortage of ways to spend your time. And the best thing? They're all absolutely free (though donations are welcome!)

Along with Broadway, the West End is considered one of the best places in the world to catch a show. But that's just the beginning of London's theatrical heritage. Other great theaters in the capital include Shakespeare's Globe, the Old Vic, the Royal Opera House and the Open Air Theatre – all of which offer regular matinees.

Oxford Street may be one of the busiest shopping streets in the world, but there are many more rain-proof shopping options in the capital. Head to Westfield London to enjoy more than 275 retailers (from high-street to high-end) all under one roof, or try Leadenhall Market for some added heritage.

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