London may be a tourist hotspot, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be topping up your tan in the city. While it has the draw of Barcelona in terms of history, architecture and unique activities, its climate couldn’t be further from the much-loved Spanish city.
London is very British in every sense of the word. Despite sometimes being eclipsed by grey skies and showers, it is a supremely enjoyable city even when bad weather strikes. There are of course the traditional bus tours you’ll find on every street corner, but these do get incredibly busy as soon as the heavens open. If you’re looking for something different to keep you entertained during a downpour, keep reading for the best London tourist tips to while away a rainy day in the capital.
Southbank Centre Book Market
Open until 7pm daily (sometimes closes early in the winter).
If you’re a bookworm, you’ll love the Southbank Centre Book Market. Nestled under Waterloo Bridge, it is not only one of London’s best-kept secrets, but is also one of the only outdoor second-hand book markets in the south. It may be outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get wet. The market is fully covered so you can stay dry until the rain passes over, all while getting fully immersed in the large array of books on offer.
Play one of the most exciting Olympic sports
Open 4pm – 12am Monday – Thursday 12pm – 1am Friday and Saturday and 12pm – 11pm Sunday – tables only available at certain times.
Located near Chancery Lane, Bounce is a bar with a difference. Packed full of ping pong tables, the buzzing atmosphere and cool design has made Bounce one of the busiest places in the area. The ideal place to play sport without working up too much of a sweat, you can sample its extensive drinks menu and order food if you’ve worked up an appetite.
Explore where the magic happens
Times vary depending on the theatre.
Are you a fan of the theatre? Then you’ll love a backstage tour. These take place at the National Theatre, Royal Albert Hall and Shakespeare’s Globe daily and enable budding thespians or those just in love with live entertainment the chance to discover some of the unique history of the buildings and the shows. Guests will also find out more about the actors and be given the chance to handle key props.
Unleash the scientist within
Open daily, 10am – 4pm – last admission 4.30pm.
Greenwich Planetarium is one of London science world’s best kept secrets. The planetarium takes guest on incredible journeys around the solar system, all without leaving Planet Earth. With shows for both adults and children alike, there really is something for everyone. The Planetarium also plays host to a number of space-oriented films, so you might catch a classic like Starship Troopers or a blockbuster like Interstellar.
Head for the indoor markets
Opening times vary – check with individual market
London is home to a number of indoor markets, ideal for pottering about and taking shelter. Covent Garden’s market is considered the grandest of all, and often the best-loved. It boasts plenty of restaurants and hundreds of shops to keep visitors entertained, but if all that does become tiresome, you can bet your bottom dollar the street performers will bring a smile to your face.
Cycle in the Olympic Velodrome
Sessions must be pre-booked, but are available throughout the day.
Cycling in an Olympic velodrome really is one to tick off the bucket list. Lee Valley VeloPark hosted the 2012 London Olympics cycling events and now hires out professional bikes and all the safety equipment, so all you need to do is turn up.
Whatever your taste for adventure, we’re sure these London tourist tips will brighten up your day even if the sun won’t!