There is something magical about London during the snowy weather that makes me keep coming back for more. Visiting London in winter may not seem an obvious choice but it is not as difficult as it seems. I have frequented the capital quite a few times now but every time there is always something new to explore.
Samuel Johnson was not wrong when he said, “If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.”
During my first visit, it was all serene and sophisticated as I landed, as if I was the only one walking through the streets. And the best part being an off-season tourist was that I got best London hotel rates and air fares. Here I am sharing tips and ideas to help you plan a magical winter getaway in London.
How to Survive the Weather
From cold and dreary to sunny and breezy, London weather always surprises with an unexpected essence. Snowy, rainy, and sunny, you have to be prepared for all types, as the weather is unpredictable. If the forecast says, it will be a sunny day, prepare yourself for a rainy one. If you do not want to carry a heavy coat, make sure to pack a lot of layers, leggings, hats, gloves, and scarves to keep warm.
Londoners are known for carrying both sunglasses and umbrella together. These two will be a good addition to your travel wardrobe too. As far as trend is concerned, London is a multicultural city so whether you’re dressed funky or vintage, no one will raise an eyelid. Keep comfort in mind, which reminds me of the rubber rain boots I bought.
Things to Do in London during Winter
Visiting London during winter does not mean you have to sit indoors as the city has a lot in store for you. Here are three of my favourite activities to do in London.
1. Ice Skating
A lot of places in London host outdoor ice rinks during December and January like Tower of London, Somerset House, and Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. Add skating to your sightseeing and you will have the best time ever. After twirling on the ice, it’s time to indulge in the great British tradition of afternoon tea.
2. Afternoon Tea
The moment it is 3pm, the thoughts of a delicious hot tea coupled with scones with clotted cream and jam come to mind. And when you’re in the British capital, your trip is never complete without indulging in this tradition. My personal favourite spot for afternoon tea is the Orangery at Kensington Palace that I happened to visit during my trip. However, if your budget allows, you can also visit The Ritz hotel, which has earned many awards and titles for serving the best afternoon tea in the city.
3. Sightseeing Tours
You don’t need to venture outside to explore the best attraction of London. A ride on hop on/hop off bus will take you across the most popular attractions while you sit inside the bus in the warmth enjoying the live commentary by a guide. Many companies offer sightseeing tours, however, I usually do the original tour. It offer a 48 hours pass and three routes and includes a free walking tour and Thames cruise too.
Christmas in London
Visit London in December and you’ll never be short of festive spirit. If it’s a serene city in November, London takes an altogether new festive form in December. This is the best time to visit the capital as a lot of events take place during this time, some of which I find worth mentioning.
Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Stop by Trafalgar Square to relish watching the Christmas tree. Oslo in Norway bestowed this tree upon British for their support during World War II. Every year, free carol concerts are arranged here. Besides, it’s worth paying a visit to The Geffrye Museum. Its 12 historic rooms are aesthetically adorned for Xmas that you won’t help but admire.
Christmas Lights Display
It’s the superb Xmas lights displays in various London streets that give London a festive vibe like never before. Oxford Street, Bond Street, and Regent Street especially come to life with this illumination extravaganza. Post-holiday sales also start in these markets after December 26th in many stores. Harrods winter sale starts a day or two later.
Winter Wonderland Hyde Park
It would be a sin not to visit this carnival at Hyde Park in London. Fortunately, I got some enticing holiday gifts and souvenirs at the German Christmas Market with dozens of stalls selling antiques, art, and gifts. With an Observation Wheel, bars, restaurants, ice skating rink, Santa’s Grotto, and a Snow Ball Bungee Dome, Winter Wonderland is an over-the-top place to visit especially with friends and kids. Entrance is free; however, some attractions require pre-booking.
New Year’s Eve
If you’re in London on New Year’s Eve, don’t miss the exhilarating Fireworks display from the London Eye. The show attracts 400,000 merrymakers every year to Trafalgar Square. To catch a good spot, you have to be quick as a wink. Next day, a parade of nearly 10000 performers adorns the London streets from Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus.
London creates a magical spell during winters that’s unparalleled. If you’re thinking of a winter break, it would highly recommend the Big Smoke.