Every year, millions of tourists go to London in the United Kingdom since it is a vibrant city famed for its extensive history, diversified culture, and iconic sites. It’s no surprise that London is a popular travel destination given the abundance of world-famous attractions it has to offer, like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds, and Westminster Abbey.
Though some would believe that any time of year is appropriate for seeing London, you will have a better experience in London if you know how to avoid the city’s busiest and most miserable months, and this guide does exactly that and has got you covered to avoid the worst months and the worst time to visit London!
The Worst Time To Visit London
The worst season for travelers to visit London is during the summer, notably from June to August. This time of year is particularly difficult for tourists to the city due to several factors.
First of all, a huge number of tourists swarm the city. The summer surge dwarfs the winter crowds in size. It can be challenging to maneuver through the crowded streets, so it might not be the best time to visit London if you don’t like being around strangers.
Second, summertime transportation can be a nightmare. London’s subway system, the Tube, is constantly crowded, and there are frequent delays and interruptions. Using public transportation to go about might be frustrating, so plan accordingly.
Additionally, it can be hot and humid in London throughout the summer. London’s weather is recognized as being nice but the summer can be especially awful. The humidity can feel oppressive and the temperature frequently reaches the 90s. Avoid visiting London in the summer if you don’t like heat or humidity.
The summer months in London are also the most expensive. The city is always pricey to visit, but during the summer, prices surge even more. If you’re on a tight budget, you should think about going in the shoulder seasons, like spring or fall, when costs are usually lower.
Additional Challenges: Worst Time To Go To London
Apart from the aforementioned difficulties, there are additional challenges that make the summer the worst time to visit London.
Worsen Air Quality
Due to the worsening air quality, summer and late spring in London can end up being the worst times to visit. Several times in the past year, the city’s air was described as hazardous, primarily because of the large number of taxis, cars, and people. This raises questions, especially for people who struggle with breathing problems like asthma.
According to a Time Out Group Analysis, London has recently experienced higher levels of air pollution, which might provide extra difficulties for tourists. High pollution alerts have been caused by regional emissions, warm temperatures, and strong winds which make it more difficult for everyone to breathe properly. It is advisable to limit your time outdoors, especially in locations with high pollution levels, even if you are not particularly prone to air pollution.
Although the Greater London Authority is taking action to resolve the problem, it will take some time before any appreciable changes are observed. Therefore, you might want to think about visiting London in a different season when the air quality is typically better if you’re sensitive to air pollution or concerned about its effects on your health.
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Tourists in London face significant challenges throughout the summer, especially because of the looming prospect of excessive heat and its potential consequences. Long periods of extremely hot weather, or heatwaves, not only cause discomfort but also pose serious risks, including the possibility of mortality.
The U.K. Met Office reported that in July 2022, London experienced its warmest month on record, with temperatures at Heathrow Airport and St. James’s Park surging to a sweltering 40.2°C (104.4°F). Both residents and visitors were subjected to serious health risks due to this unheard-of heatwave and severe temperature.
Due to England’s increased risk of heatwaves brought on by climate change, June and July are less preferable travel months to London due to their high temperatures. In hot weather, the risks of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and respiratory problems are greatly increased.
The U.K. Met Office took the extraordinary step to declare a national emergency during the previous year and issue a “red” extreme heat warning, indicating the likelihood of serious sickness or even life-threatening conditions. This severe warning emphasizes the dire necessity for vigilance and preventative measures in the face of such harsh weather conditions and highlights the seriousness of the situation.
High Crime Rate
While crime can occur throughout the year in London, the period from June to August stands out as a time when the likelihood of experiencing such incidents tends to be higher. The increased outdoor activity in parks, gardens, and tourist attractions attracts more people but it also creates opportunities for pickpockets and thieves as well.
Transportation hubs and crowded areas, like train stations and airports, can be attractive to individuals looking to take advantage of tourists. Being cautious, keeping your belongings secure, and avoiding displaying valuable items openly can help mitigate risks.
Unfortunately, tourists may also encounter scams and targeted crimes. Fake ticket vendors, unauthorized tour guides, and distractions aimed at stealing belongings are common tactics. To minimize these risks, it is advisable to consider avoiding the summer months if you want to have a safer experience during your visit to London.
The Environment Agency has established rules that restrict coarse fishing in London between the 15th of March and the 15th of June every year, which includes pursuing species like carp, pike, and perch. As a result, tourists specifically going for fishing activities should be aware! You won’t be able to engage in coarse fishing in London’s canals and still waters during the summer. Visitors must be aware of these rules and make travel arrangements by them.
Check the exact rules and regulations in place for the location you plan to fish if you’re interested in game fishing, which often involves species like trout and salmon.
Travelers may want to avoid visiting London during the summer months if they are especially sensitive to pest bites. Some of the insects that can become a nuisance during this time of year are horseflies, gnats, and midges. However, the most common pests are bed bugs and mosquitoes.
Bed bugs are a common problem in rental housing and public transit in highly crowded locations. It’s not easy to get rid of these bugs, which might ruin a trip or a hotel stay.
There are mosquitoes all across the city, although they tend to congregate around bodies of water (lakes, pools, and wetlands) and places with high humidity. They tend to congregate in warm, grassy locations, and they may be a real pain for guests.
When is London Crowded and Expensive?
The busiest and most expensive time to visit London is from June to August and December to early January. During these periods, the weather is generally warm and dry, and numerous events and activities are happening throughout the city Such as London Gallery Weekend, Taste of London, Trooping the Colour, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, BBC Proms, Notting Hill Carnival.
In particular, July stands out as the most expensive time to go to London. It is the peak tourist season, attracting visitors from all around the world. As a result, airfares, hotels, and overall expenses tend to be higher compared to other times of the year.
Moreover, the city becomes exceptionally crowded during these busy seasons. Popular attractions and areas such as Portobello Road market, which is usually a favorite among visitors, can become overwhelmingly packed. Walking down the street or browsing through market stalls can be a challenging task due to the large number of tourists.
New Year and Christmas are also around the corner which makes it quite expensive to visit London due to the already high rush of tourists.
London in Winter Months
It is important to know that during winter, London has one of the coldest temperatures which falls between 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). It is often damp and rainy, with occasional snowfall. The days are shorter and there are fewer hours of daylight. If you’re not a fan of cold and wet weather, you might find it less enjoyable to visit during this time.
Month-by-Month Analysis: Worst Time to Travel to London
Visiting London is not desirable every month. There are some months to avoid while visiting London. Use the below-mentioned month-by-month evaluation of London to make an informed decision.
January (Coldest Month to Visit London)
- Temperatures: Average high of 8°C (46°F) and low of 2°C (36°F).
- Weather: Generally cold with occasional rainfall and some foggy days.
- Activities: Indoor attractions like museums, art galleries, and theaters are popular. Ice skating rinks and winter markets are also set up.
- Special Events: New Year’s Day Parade, London International Mime Festival.
- Crowd Level: Relatively low, except for New Year’s Day.
- Temperatures: Average high of 9°C (48°F) and low of 2°C (36°F).
- Weather: Still cold, with occasional rain and some sunny days.
- Activities: Valentine’s Day events, exploring indoor attractions, shopping, and enjoying the city’s cozy pubs.
- Special Events: Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown.
- Crowd Level: Moderate, with some increase during Chinese New Year celebrations.
- Temperatures: Average high of 11°C (52°F) and low of 3°C (37°F).
- Weather: Transitioning from winter to spring, with occasional rain and increasing sunshine.
- Activities: Visiting parks and gardens, exploring outdoor markets, and enjoying the changing landscapes.
- Special Events: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, London Beer Week.
- Crowd Level: Increasing, especially during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
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- Temperatures: Average high of 14°C (57°F) and low of 5°C (41°F).
- Weather: Mild and pleasant, with increasing sunshine and occasional showers.
- Activities: Cherry blossom viewing in parks, visiting popular landmarks, and enjoying outdoor cafes and restaurants.
- Special Events: London Marathon, Feast of St. George.
- Crowd Level: Moderate to high, particularly during the London Marathon.
- Temperatures: Average high of 17°C (63°F) and low of 8°C (46°F).\
- Weather: Mild and sunny, with occasional rain showers.
- Activities: Exploring parks and gardens in full bloom, boat tours on the River Thames, and attending outdoor festivals.
- Special Events: Chelsea Flower Show, Museums at Night.
- Crowd Level: High, especially during the Chelsea Flower Show.
- Temperatures: Average high of 20°C (68°F) and low of 11°C (52°F).
- Weather: Warm and sunny, with occasional cloudy days and light rain showers.
- Activities: Outdoor concerts, picnics in parks, visiting rooftop bars, and exploring the city’s open-air markets.
- Special Events: Trooping the Colour, Open Garden Squares Weekend.
- Crowd Level: High, especially during Trooping the Colour.
July (Most Crowded Time to Visit London)
- Temperatures: Average high of 22°C (72°F) and low of 14°C (57°F).
- Weather: Generally warm and sunny, with occasional rain showers.
- Activities: Outdoor festivals, Wimbledon tennis championships, exploring parks and gardens, and enjoying alfresco dining.
- Special Events: Pride in London, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
- Crowd Level: High, especially during Pride in London and Wimbledon.
August (Worst Time to Visit London)
- Temperatures: Average high of 22°C (72°F) and low of 14°C (57°F).
- Weather: Warm and pleasant, with occasional rain showers and sunny days.
- Activities: Visiting popular attractions, taking boat cruises on the River Thames, and enjoying outdoor events and festivals.
- Special Events: Notting Hill Carnival, BBC Proms.
- Crowd Level: High, particularly during the Notting Hill Carnival.
- Temperatures: Average high of 19°C (66°F) and low of 12°C (54°F).
- Weather: Mild and transitioning from summer to autumn, with occasional rain showers.
- Activities: Exploring parks with autumn foliage, visiting museums and galleries, and enjoying the city’s cultural offerings.
- Special Events: London Fashion Week, Totally Thames Festival.
- Crowd Level: Moderate, except during London Fashion Week.
- Temperatures: Average high of 15°C (59°F) and low of 9°C (48°F).
- Weather: Cool and crisp, with occasional rain showers and autumn colors.
- Activities: Halloween events, exploring haunted landmarks, visiting indoor attractions, and enjoying seasonal food and drink.
- Special Events: London Film Festival, Halloween activities.
- Crowd Level: Moderate, with some increase during Halloween celebrations.
- Temperatures: Average high of 11°C (52°F) and low of 6°C (43°F).
- Weather: Cool and damp, with occasional fog and rainy days.
- Activities: Exploring indoor markets, visiting museums and art exhibitions, and attending theater performances.
- Special Events: Bonfire Night, Lord Mayor’s Show.
- Crowd Level: Moderate, with increased attendance during Bonfire Night.
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- Temperatures: Average high of 8°C (46°F) and low of 3°C (37°F).
- Weather: Cold and occasionally snowy, with festive decorations throughout the city.
- Activities: Christmas markets, ice skating, visiting winter exhibitions, and enjoying traditional holiday events.
- Special Events: Winter Wonderland, Christmas lights switch-on events.
- Crowd Level: Moderate to high, especially closer to Christmas.
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London is one of the most visited places on the planet, especially since it is on the bucket list of many travelers. However, it is important to avoid the worst time to visit London when choosing to visit this beautiful place. Based on our advice, as well as the monthly analysis, you can plan your next trip to London more efficiently!
Worst Time to Visit London - FAQs
London tends to be busier during school holiday periods, which include Easter (March/April), summer (July/August), and Christmas (December/January). Families and tourists take advantage of these breaks to visit the city, resulting in larger crowds
While London can still be charming during the winter months, it is important to note that the weather can be cold, damp, and occasionally snowy. Outdoor activities may be limited, and some attractions might have shorter operating hours.
London hosts several major events and celebrations that attract large crowds. It’s important to be aware of these events as they can impact travel logistics and increase hotel prices.