Travelling to Europe in winter might not be at the top of everyone’s bucket list, but funnily enough it actually should be. Seasoned travellers will tell you that this is when you experience Europe at its best with the best ever wintertime outings. Cities like London, and the entire country of England for that matter, are geared for the cold. They’ve had many centuries of practise to perfect the art of wintertime entertainment, after all.
This is why you’ll find that there are plenty of awesome things to do, see, and taste on free days in London. Here are a few of our top wintertime outings in London for 2017:
Join a haunted pub tour
Everyone knows you are obligated to get a pint in when you touch down in jolly old England. Make the most of the outing by going on a tour of three of London’s famously haunted pubs. This walking tour traverses just a little over 2km, and along the way you’ll discover the Professor of Profanity, Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop and London’s first bank (now a pub with its very own charming phantom).
Go ice skating!
Ice skating has to be one of the best parts of winter, and London has plenty of wonderful skating destinations to choose from. Alexandra Palace’s lofty indoor skating arena is open throughout the year for general skating sessions and classes, but around Christmastime it comes alive with fun and frolics. Alternatively, head to the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink to enjoy a skate against the rather impressive backdrop of the sixteenth-century abode of Henry VIII. Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is also a sight to behold, with the biggest outdoor rink in all of the UK illuminated with 100 000+ lights!
Seek out an eatery with an open fire
Fireside dining is an absolute must when the temperatures plummet. Savouring a meal with the pleasant crackle of a cosy fire in the background is a gorgeous experience when it’s frosty outside. We recommend Provençale cuisine Clos Maggiore in Convent Garden with its roaring open fires in both the dining room and glass-roofed conservatory, or modern tapas at Cambio de Tercio in Knightsbridge. There are however many other wonderful restaurants with fireplaces to choose from, so go wild!
Enjoy a spot of theatre
London has an amazing variety of theatres. From the Harold Pinter to the Royal Theatre on Drury land, the Lyceum, Dominion, Piccadilly and Prince Edward Theatres, there is something to suit every taste and budget. If you really feel like getting into the festive mood around Christmastime, have a look at what’s on at the Royal Festival Hall. Here you can catch good old-fashioned crowd pleasers like The Snowman or Slava’s Snow Show.
Get a new perspective on classic attractions
Sure, it’s cold out, but going for a brisk walk through London in winter is a great way to see the city from a brand-new perspective. Especially if a little fresh powder has just fallen! Public art pieces come alive in winter, when the weather interacts with these normally static attractions, transforming it into something new entirely. Button up those coats, lace those boots and set out on an urban hike to rediscover Henry Moore’s The Arch, The Joy of Life fountain in Hyde Park, the Temple Bar Marker and more. Here is a list of the foremost public art pieces in London to inspire your adventure.
Window shop until you drop
England is big on Christmas. As such, come November, you can get ready for some rather spectacular window displays. The big retailers really go all about, decorating their shops, store fronts and hallways to within an inch of its life. As such, you don’t even have to spend any money to get in the Christmas spirit – you can simply wander around, drinking in the absolute beauty of these festive decorations. The Hamleys in Regent Street is the oldest toy store in the world and really know how to push out the boat. If you have younger travellers with you, this is really worth a look. While you’re in the vicinity, try to catch a glimpse of the iconic Regent Street Christmas Lights when the sun goes down. And then, of course, there is the opulence and elegance of Harrods in Knightsbridge. Few stores can beat this festive stalwart when it comes to dressing for the occasion!
These are just a few of the fun things that you can get up to on free days in London during wintertime coach tours with Expat Explore. Our tour leaders know the city inside out, so if you need a little guidance, you can always ask for some suggestions. Here’s to living life between the beats and enjoying Europe tours in the off-season when the crowds dissipate and you can experience London as the locals do!