England’s capital city — London is glamorous every day, especially with the stunning Buckingham palace at its heart. And as the mercury drops, the city becomes more dazzling and exquisite. So, winter is undoubtedly one of the best times to explore this gem. Wondering what are the best things to do in London during winter? Fret not, we have you covered.
London is evidently a winter wonderland you can’t miss. With twinkling Christmas lights, carolers on the street, freshly baked cookies and high-tea get-togethers, the city captures the season’s aura beautifully. Not only the festivities around the city but various indoor and outdoor activities, ice skating and installations at art galleries are equally popular.
The city doesn’t let anyone down as there is something for people belonging to all age groups. Whether you are visiting London with your travel buddies or your family, it has an endless list of fun things to do.
Check out some of the activities to do in London during winters
Take a spin on the London Eye
You can’t start touring London without a whirl. Quite Literally! The captivating 360° view of the city from the London Eye is truly mesmerising.
You can spot noted locations including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Thames river from the giant wheel on any good-weather day but during winters you can see sparkling lights on trees and other festive decorations too. The award-winning and UK’s most visited attraction is an ‘eye-conic’ spot you can’t miss.
Visit Westminster Abbey
One of the country’s most paramount structures with Gothic architecture — the mediaeval sanctuary of an Anglo-Saxon saint at its core, the Abbey is a must-visit. Since 1066, it has been the official coronation church. Not only coronations but royal weddings and burials also take place here as well.
From kings, queens, statesmen, poets and authors to national and international heroes and villains — it has a rich history at every corner. Whether you are a history buff or not, its exquisite architecture and stories are sure to linger in your mind for decades.
Head to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the best places to rekindle the spirit of Christmas with your family and friends.
Activities include ice skating, visiting the magical ice kingdom and having fun on an ice slide. You can try wild rides like Munich looping, giant wheel, euro coaster, wilde maus, hangover, ice mountain and aeronaut starflyer.
Besides exciting rides, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has a Santaland where you can spend a magical day with kids. For adults, there are traditional Christmas markets, a carousel-themed bar, Thor’s Tipi Bar, street food joints and lots more. It is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in London during winter.
Sample delectable dishes at Borough market
One of the most ancient food markets in the world, Borough Market has been satiating people’s appetites since 1756. Here, you can enjoy authentic lip-smacking cuisines from all over the world under one roof.
Moreover, experienced traders and cooks can enlighten you with food stories as well. Eating at Borough Market is an experience you’ll always cherish as it is way beyond just consuming food. So, if you are a foodie and you are in London, skipping Borough Market can be called a sure-shot crime.
Attend the Winter Lights Fest in Canary Wharf
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Sad, dark winter nights? No. That doesn’t exist in Canary Wharf. The spectacular light show by the most innovative and talented light artists in the globe will encapsulate you in its charm.
The sparkling lights during evenings can enhance your mood and lift your festive spirits. And, the most exciting part of the exhibit is that the whole of Canary Wharf London is free for visitors.
Stroll through the Christmas markets
Who doesn’t love shopping? Moreover, if you are in London during the holiday season, you should bring home some gifts for your loved ones or souvenirs for yourself.
There are so many Christmas markets spread throughout the entire city that you can be spoiled for choice. The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has a pretty big market with over 100 wooden cabins. The South Bank also has a flourishing market at the time of Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival. Greenwich Christmas market and Kingston Christmas market are also part of the top winter attractions.
Visit the London Tower Bridge
Irrespective of the season, visiting London isn’t complete until you hit its defining landmark, the London tower bridge. Since its opening in 1894, it has been an artistic inspiration and has appeared in multiple British as well as other international movies.
Soak in its exceptional architecture and rich history, enjoy the panoramic view of the whole city through the walkways and glass floors and don’t miss visiting one of the hidden treasures of London, the Victorian Engine rooms.
Spend a spooky evening at the London Dungeon
How about a bone-chilling evening during more chilled winters? If you are ready to step inside a horror movie then the London Dungeon is your place.
It is a real-life experience in a 360-degree captivating set with live theatre actors, 19 interactive shows and performances, enchanting special effects, action-packed rides and brilliant storytelling. Halloween fun during the Christmas season, indeed.
Take a hop on, hop off bus tour
Hop on, hop off bus tours take you on a scenic tour of London and winters make the ride more fun-filled. You can easily plan your day your way and not do things according to someone else’s schedule. This tour allows you to jump on and off as many times as you want at designated stops, hence the name.
It is simple — once you have explored the place and taken enough pictures for your social media updates, you can join the tour again on the next bus. It will take you to all the historic landmarks and top attractions of the city.
Visit the Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of London is a beautiful piece of architecture, abundant with collections revolving around the history, art and culture of the country.
Other than history, there are several things to get engaged in such as watching a sensational episode of storytelling by extraordinary children live, taking a yoga class or moving your body in the silent disco.
Unfortunately, the famous ice skating rink at the museum is now closed. It is being transformed into an urban wildlife hub to encourage nature conservation and we can hope it will be equally amazing.
Take your kids for a husky sleigh ride
Delve deep into the Christmas spirit with your kids during the holiday season by taking them to the WWT London Wetland Centre where they can take a husky sleigh ride and visit Santa in his enchanting grotto. It is free for kids aged eight or younger with weight restrictions.
You can take a family photo with these adorable huskies or let your kids ride donkeys in the meadow. Moreover, You can drop by and help the elves with Christmas decorations or prepare gifts with them.
Go ice skating at Somerset House
As the National History Museum ice skating rink is closed, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the snow season. There are many ice skating rinks in the city and Somerset House is definitely a hotspot for ice skaters.
The spectacular ice rink with a huge Christmas tree of over 12 metres and magnificent decorations will give you picture-perfect moments with your family and friends. Other than the riveting skating session, the place has contemporary music, delicious snacks and dishes, exotic drinks and Gourmet dining. Innovative DJs are also there to jazz up your nightlife.
See the Christmas lights on London streets
London is magical during winters and to feel the magic in the air you have to walk through the streets of London and absorb the holiday spirit. Speaking of which, you can’t skip the jazzy lighting of the city which marks the festivities.
You can choose to experience the trailblazing lighting at Kew, the dazzling view of Palm Street, the twinkling lights of Covent Garden, the picturesque Mayfair and Belgravia street lights, Regent Street and Picadilly Circus Christmas lights or the spectacular Oxford street, the list is endless. And, a glass of mulled wine can be the perfect way to end the fascinating night.
Explore the Kew gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens – Kew gardens is a heaven for nature lovers. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to over 50,000 shrubs and plants.
The world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, the Temperature house keeps all rare plant species safe from threats. The Mediterranean Garden and King William’s Temple are natural habitats of diverse plants.
Over 320 metres long and possibly the longest herbaceous borders in the country or the world, the Great Broad Walk Borders offer eye-pleasing lush greens throughout the walkway. And, during winters the colourful flora looks more vivid and attractive.
Experience ‘Hogwarts in the snow’
Potterhead or not, don’t miss visiting the wizarding world of Harry Potter while in London. The Warner Bros Studio tour offers a magical ride (sadly not on a broom though!) to Hogwarts. And, if you are in London during the winter months (November-January) you can experience ‘Hogwarts in the snow.’
The tour takes you to the great hall, Diagon alley, forbidden forest, platform 9¾ and many more breathtaking locations from the set. The original props and costumes are also available to see. This award-winning tour is one of the most enjoyable activities for children and adults alike.
Visit popular museums and art galleries
If it’s too cold outside and you prefer staying indoors, you can visit the enriching museums and art galleries.
Many world-class exhibitions take place in the city during this festive season that are completely free. Though some special exhibitions may have tickets.
The British Museum, National Gallery, Museum of London, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Modern and Science Museum are some of the ones, which can be visited without paying anything.
London is a great place for street art lovers too. After your art tour, you can hop in a cosy pub offering delicious food and hot drinks, to sum up, the evening.
(Main and featured image credit: Dominika Gregušová/Pexels)
This article was first published in Prestige Online Malaysia.