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London in winter

Traveling to London in winter has a number of advantages: prices are cheaper, there are fewer tourists and although it is very cold there are very special dates such as Christmas.

María Cano

María Cano

8 min read

London in winter

Christmas tree in London | ©Fas Khan

The winter season in London is the coldest of the year, but that should not condition your trip, because apart from the fact that there are hundreds of plans to escape the inclement weather, are the months of the year in which there is a smaller influx of tourists and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the city more comfortably. In addition, prices are cheaper than at other times of the year. All this except at Christmas, when the city is full of visitors and prices are more expensive. However, in exchange you will enjoy a truly magical city. Here are the best plans for your trip in winter.

And if you are looking for other alternatives, read the post what to see and do in London where you will find the best proposals for any time of the year.

1. Visit the most popular Christmas trees in the city

Trafalgar Square Christmas tree| ©Magnus D
Trafalgar Square Christmas tree| ©Magnus D

Between late November and early December the Christmas spirit takes over the city of London. The streets begin to decorate and the lights begin to shine, the markets open their doors and one of the best plans you can enjoy is to visit the impressive tree in Trafalgar Square. With a height of more than 20 meters, this tree hides a very curious history, since every year since 1947 Norway sends this fir tree to Great Britain as a thank you for its support in World War II.

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2. Tour the Southbank Winter Festival

At the Southbank Centre winter market| ©Pete Woodhead
At the Southbank Centre winter market| ©Pete Woodhead

Another essential proposal during the months of November and December is to stroll through the Southbank Centre Winter Festival. On the banks of the Thames there are food stands where you can enjoy delicious dishes, craft stalls that will dazzle you and wooden huts where you can take shelter from the cold. In addition, snow shows and festive performances are organized - an ideal plan for the whole family!

The traveler's tip

Christmas is a truly magical time to travel to London. Don't hesitate to visit this time of year and let yourself be dazzled by the lights, see the Christmas trees, go ice skating and enjoy a delicious hot chocolate at Winter Wonderland - there's something for everyone!

3. Be dazzled by the Christmas Lights

Strolling the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders
Strolling the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders

At Christmas time, the city of London is filled with light and color with thousands of bulbs that decorate its main streets, sites and stores. The Christmas lights switch on usually takes place in mid-November, so if you visit the city throughout the month of December you can enjoy this spectacle of lights and color. Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square are the destinations that should not be missed in your Christmas lights route through the city of London.

Book a tea bus in London

4. Immerse yourself in a movie Christmas on ice skates

Enjoying Ice Skating| ©Ungry Young Man
Enjoying Ice Skating| ©Ungry Young Man

If you are looking for the best image for your Christmas greeting, don't hesitate to take a picture while skating on ice. Since mid-November, several ice rinks have been installed in the city of London.

  • Somerset House is the most popular of the skating rinks that are installed in London and is located in the courtyard of a neoclassical palace located on the banks of the Thames next to a large Christmas tree. In addition, while skating you can enjoy Christmas music and also make available to attendees a Christmas gallery.
  • Natural History Museum: Located in the neighborhood of South Kensington next to the entrance of the Natural History Museum is installed one of the favorite skating rinks for skaters. In this case, the Christmas tree is located in the center of the rink. In addition, there is a hut that serves hot chocolate and where you can have a snack before or after the session.
  • Hampton Court Palace: Located on the outskirts of London, this is another ideal environment to have some races on skates. It is located next to this palace on the banks of the Thames.

5. Stroll through Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Walking through Winter Wonderland| ©MrT HK
Walking through Winter Wonderland| ©MrT HK

Located in the heart of London, in Hyde Park, is celebrated Winter Wonderland, a festival that starts in mid-November and takes place until the first days of January and celebrates the Christmas season with a wide range of entertainment activities, attractions and gastronomic proposals. Do not hesitate to go in the morning with the little ones of the house and taste a delicious hot chocolate, or enjoy with your partner or friends a mulled wine while enjoying one of the many shows scheduled.

6. Enjoy the musical 'The Nutcracker'

The Nutcracker| ©Carolina Patiño
The Nutcracker| ©Carolina Patiño

In winter, London's theaters kick off the season of Christmas-themed comedies, musicals and ballets. One of the classics that is repeated every year is the play 'The Nutcracker', a musical performance for the whole family that tells the story of a little girl on Christmas Eve. The staging of this work is by the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet. If you decide to attend, I recommend that you buy your ticket in advance.

Buy tickets for London musicals

7. Visit the Harry Potter Studios Park

Harry Potter Park Studios in London| ©Karen Roe
Harry Potter Park Studios in London| ©Karen Roe

An ideal proposal for this time of the year is to visit the Harry Potter Studios Park where you will find all the original objects and sets of the movies: Platform 9¾, the Hogwarts Great Dining Hall, Diagon Alley, the teacher's office or the Forbidden Forest, among others. An unforgettable experience if you are a fan of J.K Rowling's saga. If you want more information about where and how to buy tickets, do not hesitate to read the articles Harry Potter Studios London Park tickets and ticket prices.

The Harry Potter Studios Park is located on the outskirts of London. Visit the post how to get there and you will have no doubts about how to get there.

Buy tickets for Harry Potter Park

8. Escape the cold in one of the city's museums

Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard
Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard

What better way to escape the cold than to take refuge in one of the incredible museums of the city. It is an economical plan, available throughout most of the day and for all tastes. Here are a few options:

  • British Museum: A must on your trip to London. Opened in the mid-eighteenth century, its collection includes pieces from all cultures and stages of history. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone or the sculptures and friezes of the Parthenon of Athens, among many others.
  • The National Gallery: Located in Trafalgar Square, it includes a collection of more than two thousand paintings including works by Van Gogh, Titian, Velazquez and Rembrand, among other great artists.
  • Natural History Museum: Opened in the late nineteenth century, is one of the most spectacular museums in London and houses a complete collection that includes pieces of botany, entomology, paleontology, mineralogy and zoology.
  • Tate Modern: This museum houses one of the world's most important collections of contemporary art with pieces by Edvard Munch, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. In addition, the building is a true marvel.
  • Sherlock Holmes Museum: Obviously it is a must for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Visitors can see objects related to the different cases of the detective and a large collection of furniture and objects typical of the Victorian era.

If you are looking for more information do not hesitate to read the post the 10 best museums in London.

Buy tickets to Madame Tussauds museum

9. Visit Westminster Abbey

Exterior of Westminster Abbey| ©Alex Dawson
Exterior of Westminster Abbey| ©Alex Dawson

Westminster Abbey is a must-see on your trip to London. Located in the historic center, has transcended throughout history as "the church of the Royal Family" to be the place where coronations have been held since 1066 and used as a pantheon of the monarchs.

Westminster Abbey is open every day of the week from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, except Wednesday when opening hours are extended to 6 pm.

Buy tickets for Westminster Abbey

10. Travel back in time at the Tower of London

From afar, the Tower of London| ©Federico Lo Forte
From afar, the Tower of London| ©Federico Lo Forte

Located in the center of the city, on the north bank of the River Thames, the Tower of London is one of the must-see sights of your trip. This historic castle was built in 1066 and has more than seven buildings. The duration of the tour is estimated at approximately three hours and it is highly recommended to purchase an audio guide to learn about the history of its evolution.

Buy tickets for the Tower of London

London temperatures in winter

Snow in London| ©Peter Toporowski
Snow in London| ©Peter Toporowski

London records very low temperatures in the winter season, between 2 and 8ºC. At the beginning of March is when they begin to rise and can reach 11ºC. Even so, the weather should not be something that conditions you because the city has hundreds of plans to escape the cold. In addition, you may be lucky and see the snowy city which is a really incredible postcard.

London's winter tourist crowds

People walking around London| ©Herry Lawford
People walking around London| ©Herry Lawford

The influx of tourists in London in winter is high as in the rest of the year and you have to take into account that it is one of the five most popular cities in the world and receives every year the visit of almost 20 million people. Even so, in the months of January and February there is a lower number of tourists, while Christmas is one of the times that welcomes more visitors.

London prices in winter

Check Prices| ©Peter Olexa
Check Prices| ©Peter Olexa

Prices in London in winter vary a lot depending on the month in which you visit. Thus, in the days of Christmas, prices tend to be a little more exorbitant, while in the months of January and February you can find the cheapest of the year, both in flights and in hotels and excursions.

What to pack in your suitcase if you travel to London in winter

Preparing your luggage| ©Timur Weber
Preparing your luggage| ©Timur Weber

If your trip to London coincides with the winter, wrap up very very well because the temperatures will be very cold, between 0 and 8ºC. I recommend that you take a down coat if possible waterproof in case it rains, snows or simply to insulate you from the humidity so typical of this city. Also, do not hesitate to pack comfortable and waterproof footwear, and do not forget thermal t-shirts and leggings, fleeces and several winter sweaters.

Holidays in London coinciding with the winter season

New Year's Eve Fireworks| ©Tony Hisgett
New Year's Eve Fireworks| ©Tony Hisgett

In winter there are a number of public holidays in London's capital: the usual December 25 and January 1, which coincide with Christmas and New Year's Day, and December 26, which is celebrated as Boxing Day. On these dates the main attractions have reduced opening hours and transport services may offer minimum services, so don't hesitate to check the timetables!