5 Great (and Cheap!) London Rainy Day Activities

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london rainy day

Let’s face it, Britain is renowned for its rainy days. They are arguably part of the charm and character of our little island. You can still enjoy a day out in London if it is raining, so here are five great affordable things that you can do in London no matter what the weather throws at you.

You can easily spend a whole day at The Barbican Centre
You can easily spend a whole day at The Barbican Centre | Photo by Joshua Brown used under CC

A Visit to the Barbican Centre

The Conservatory at The Barbican is a great place to stay warm for free on a rainy day. With its beautiful fish, trees and tropical plants it will soon make you forget how dismal the weather is outside. There are always fascinating exhibitions on at the library at the Barbican which tend to be free. The wifi in the public area is free too.

The music, theatre and film schedule is packed and has a great variety including plenty for families to enjoy. If you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the arts world, then the Creative Learning events offer backstage tours, workshops, informative lectures and professional development opportunities.

There are a variety of restaurants, cafés and bars. The Barbican Kitchen is a popular choice with its kids eat free option and delicious pizzas fresh from the hand-built pizza oven.

Old Spitalfields Market is a great place to discover street food and quirky bargains
Old Spitalfields Market is a great place to discover street food and quirky bargains

Covered Markets

London markets are fabulous and offer such variety. If it’s rainy and wet, then exploring a covered market is a great way to spend your day. Street food at the markets is tasty and cheap and you can have a lot of fun without needing to spend much. The markets tend to be pretty reasonable. If you do fall in love with something, it’s worth looking about a bit first. Many traders sell similar things and the price can vary. It is also worth haggling with market sellers, this makes the experience even more enjoyable as well as affordable. The best covered markets in London include: Seven Sisters Market, Queen’s Market, Admiral Vernon Antiques Arcade, Covent GardenOld Spitalfields Market and Camden Lock Market.

At Draught's you can play everything from Settlers of Catan to Scrabble
At Draught’s you can play everything from Settlers of Catan to Scrabble

Activity Cafés

There are some great cafés in London where you can get a nice warm cuppa and something tasty to eat while enjoying something to pass the time too. Draught’s Board Game Café has over 600 games to pick from as well as a decent menu. It grew from a successful Kickstarter campaign with the intention of being a hub for playing, teaching and designing board games. If you are more of a video gamer then you might enjoy Four Quarters in Peckham which boasts video games from all eras as well as some delicious food options. If you want to take things into the evening, then Bounce in Holborn is the place to go if you ping pong with plenty of tables and a very large well-stocked bar.

Unlimited tea, biscuits and wifi make Ziferblat a great and  affordable option
Unlimited tea, biscuits and wifi make Ziferblat a great and affordable option

One of the cheapest cafés in London is Ziferblat. The ingenious idea behind Ziferblat is that you pay just 5 pence a minute that you spend there, allowing you access to as much of their tea, biscuits, wifi and activities as you like. Working out at £3 an hour, this is a great place to visit if you are skint, especially when it is raining.

Pottery cafés are also popular at the moment and pottery projects can take up a good few hours.

Free books, quiet reading spaces and book exchanges all help to make rainy days pass quickly
Free books, quiet reading spaces and book exchanges all help to make rainy days pass quickly

Books for Free

A rainy day with no cash to spare may sound like recipe for disaster, luckily places such as Books for Free exist. This space is stacked with unwanted books that are looking for a new home. As well as plenty of books to peruse, there are also plenty of comfy sofas so you can read your new finds in comfort.

Carnaby Book Exchange is a great place to visit if you have some books that you are done with and fancy something else instead. The atmosphere is conducive to reading and rummaging through their well-stocked shelves, making it a great choice for a wet day.

You could easily lose many hours in The British Library
You could easily lose many hours in The British Library

The British Library also has a very elegant and tranquil reading room if you fancy some peace and quiet as well as access to the staggering 150 million item collection. There are also some striking exhibitions on for much of the year.

There are plenty of fantastic places for brunch in London, often involving bottomless prosecco, coffee or cocktails.
There are plenty of fantastic places for brunch in London, often involving bottomless prosecco, coffee or cocktails.

Bottomless Brunches

If you fancy something to eat but don’t want to be turfed out in the rain once you’ve finished your food, then you can settle in somewhere that offers a bottomless brunch option and take your time enjoying refills. Whether you fancy prosecco or coffee there is plenty on offer.

New Street Grill at Old Bengal Warehouse offers prosecco refills and a delicious brunch for £15.

The Great Exhibition near East Dulwich Station offers bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys, unlimited tea and coffee, as much toast as you can eat and a main meal all for just £20.

Bloody Mary cocktails seem to feature on many of the London brunch menus
Bloody Mary cocktails seem to feature on many of the London brunch menus

Rita‘s near London Fields station offers a great brunch for £16. You get your choice of main, a Bloody Mary and unlimited filter coffee for that price.

So don’t let a bit of rain put you off exploring London. There is still plenty that you can do in the dry, without spending a fortune. People who live in London soon learn that it helps to always carry an umbrella, even if it is just for getting from place to place.

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Filed under: Things to Do
Tags: Brunch, Cafes, Featured, Food, Market, Rainy Day, Shopping
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Name: The Barbican Centre
Address: Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS
Location(s): Barbican, Camden Town, Covent Garden, East Dulwich, Hackney, Holborn, Notting Hill, Peckham, Seven Sisters, Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Upton Park, Westminster,
Access: Barbican | Moorgate (Underground)
Web: http://www.barbican.org.uk/
Phone: 020 7638 8891 020 7638 8891
Business hours: Mon–Sat: 10am–8pm | Sun, Bank Holidays: 11am–8pm
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