You don’t visit London for the weather, meaning it’s always the right time to travel to the city. Despite the capital’s northern latitude (it’s approximately up there with Edmonton, Alberta), weather patterns mean it’s rarely too hot or too cold.
While it can be cool in winter, snow is uncommon and most buildings lack air conditioning simply because it would rarely be used even in the height of summer, when it does get warm, but not often is the heat uncomfortable. In general, the winter months are more humid than the summer, but rain levels are only slightly higher.
Despite Britain’s reputation, rain isn’t nearly as common as you might expect, with downpours being most frequent during the autumn, particularly in November. There’s no such thing as a ‘dry season’ in London, and it can rain at any time. Pack an umbrella or a rain coat if the weather is particularly windy just in case.
Depending on the time of year, daytime temperatures can vary from -1° to 35°C (30° to 95°F), but they rarely fall below 2°C (36°F) or rise above 26°C (79°F) for very long. Even in summer evenings tend to be cool, but the hot days of July and August can be sticky, especially on the Underground, which has no air conditioning. Hotel room thermostats tend to be placed at around 6°C (10°F), which is below the standard American comfort level.
If you are planning to visit during autumn or winter, come prepared with warm clothing, which can be especially useful if you’re exploring the city by night, or venturing out to Stonehenge, Avebury, or a similar attraction outside the city.
During the summer, sunset is typically after 22:00, and some attractions such as Buckingham Palace are only open during this season when the weather is warmest (as the Queen spends this time of the year in Scotland). However, this is also when the city is busiest, with many Europeans visiting London at this time of year. The influx of visitors from the continent drives up airfares and hotel rates, while the queues for major attractions such as the Tower of London and London Eye tend to extensive.
April and October tend to offer the best in terms of mild weather and reasonable crowds. If you’re looking for a bargain, consider visiting in mid-winter, but be warned, some minor locations, such as historic houses, may be closed during this season. Prices shoot up again during the two weeks leading to Christmas, but if you arrive after December 25th you can avail of the many post-Christmas sales, which typically start from December 26th or 27th. At this time of year, hotel prices can be up to 20 per cent lower than normal.
London’s biggest festivals, fairs, and other events occur during the summer, and there are usually significant sales in midsummer.