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The Essential Guide What to Wear in London + Packing for London and the UK

Whether you’re heading to London or elsewhere in the UK – or both – then you need this guide to packing for your trip! From what to wear during spring, summer, autumn, and winter, to the essential items we urge you not to leave home without, this packing list for London will steer you through the maze of what to wear in the UK. 

We begin with a seasonal breakdown of what to wear during every season, according to the sort of weather you can expect. Next up is our list of what not to forget – whatever time of the year you travel. This is followed by 13 of our recommended items to include on your UK packing list – based, as always, on our own experiences. 

Last up is a quick reference guide to shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories, and toiletries in the UK. We know where to go, whether you want to invest in hiking boots, buy a top quality waterproof jacket, or simply pick up some cheap t-shirts and scarves. There are so many questions about this on our Facebook group!

Read on to discover all you need to know about packing and preparing for your UK adventure.

Summer days in London can mean sandals, shorts, summer dresses and sunglasses. Image courtesy of Scalens Studio

Whatever the season, comfort is more important than fashion when you’ll be spending so much time exploring London! You’ll be on your feet more-or-less constantly, so sturdy, comfortable footwear that fits is a must. Waterproofing is also a bonus, as it can rain a lot in London and the UK. 

Of course the Great British weather plays a huge part. It’s often unpredictable, with sunshine one minute and heavy showers the next. But it is possible to plan ahead when thinking about what to wear in London.

Checking average temperatures for when you’ll be visiting London to give you some idea of how hot or cold it should be. Do bear in mind, though, that temperatures can rise or fall far more than averages suggest. Layering is the best approach to deal with this – and the UK’s changeable maritime climate.

The good news is that anything goes when it comes to London fashion. 

  • Average lows: 6°C – 10°C
  • Average highs: 12°C – 18°C
  • Average days of rain: 9 days
  • Conditions: Cold and wet to warm and sunny

T-shirts – with or without a sweater layered on top – are ideal for spring. Team these with leggings or jeans. Jeans are also good for evenings, when it’s colder and you’re more likely to be indoors. 

Always choose comfortable shoes, such as trainers, boots, or sneakers. You will be walking a lot. In early spring, the temperature will require closed footwear, while in late spring, sandals might suffice. 

While spring temperatures are typically mild, it does often rain. During spring, you could also experience days that feel more summery or wintry. I always carry a scarf or two to dress up my outfits!

The reality is that temperatures and rainfall levels vary a lot between March and May – and from one day to another, too. Lots of layers you can adjust as you go are thus a very good idea indeed. 

Make sure you pack at least some warm layers, plus a waterproof jacket.

My April wardrobe in 2022 – jumper, scarf and jacket. Image courtesy of Scalens Studio
Jeans, boots and my red Travelon crossbody bag complete the wardrobe. Image courtesy of Scalens Studio
My friend Lucy wore sneakers, jeans, a long black cardigan and cross body bag

London in Summer – June, July, and August

  • Average lows: 13°C – 15°C
  • Average highs: 21°C – 23°C
  • Average days of rain: 8 days
  • Conditions: Warm or hot and dry or humid 

Summer dresses and comfortable sandals can be good for hot summer days in the UK, but do pack clothing for cooler days too, such as t-shirts and leggings, or cropped trousers. I also pack a few summer dresses. You can also buy hiking trousers with zip-off legs for warmer weather though I must admit those are Doug’s go-to rather than mine.

A lightweight, packable waterproof jacket is ideal for wearing or carrying around. Stick to trainers, sneakers or walking shoes or sandals by day to ensure continued comfort!

It’s not always hot in London in summer, so wearing or bringing along an extra layer is wise. Especially for mornings and evenings. 

A cap or hat and a pair of sunglasses are essential summer accessories. 

Summer 2022 at the Tower of London – sandals, cropped trousers, sunglasses, Travelon cross body bag!
Image courtesy of Scalens Studio – summer 2023
Afternoon tea at The Shard so a little more dressed up – summer dress
  • Average lows: 7°C – 13°C
  • Average highs: 12°C – 20°C
  • Average days of rain: 10 days
  • Conditions: Mild and dry to cold, wet, and windy

Autumn – or fall – in the UK is a season of change. Though temperatures can be similar to spring, it can be wetter, and days are shorter. 

At the start of September, it’s likely to feel like summer. The falling leaves put on a spectacular, colourful show in the middle of the season. But by the end of November, you can expect some frosty, wintry mornings.  

Layering jumpers over t-shirts is ideal. At the start of autumn, you’ll need a light jacket, and a warmer one as winter approaches. So pick according to the timing of your visit – or choose one with a removable fleece layer. 

Comfortable, closed shoes like hiking boots or trainers are ideal for exploring during autumn in the UK. Accessories such as scarves, gloves, and woolly hats can also add warmth when needed. 

As during all seasons, temperatures can be much lower or higher than the average for the month, which again is why layering and accessorising can be key. 

  • Average lows: 4°C – 5°C
  • Average highs: 9°C
  • Average days of rain: 10 days
  • Conditions: Cold and dry or windy, wet and icy

Following autumn, winter in the UK brings more of the same, but it will be colder and darker than the previous season. 

Lightweight, long sleeved sweaters layered over t-shirts are ideal. This is the season for thick, winter leggings, or warmer hiking trousers. Jeans are best saved for evenings, as they can become soggy when it rains and take ages to dry. 

In case it gets very cold during the day or overnight, you could pack some thermals to wear under clothing, or as pyjamas. Hats, gloves, and scarves are also useful accessories for daytime. 

A warm winter jacket is perfect for winter. Try to bring a lightweight one, though, as heavy ones can be tricky to carry when you’re in places with heating. 

It can snow or be icy or frosty underfoot in London in winter, especially in January or February. Wearing waterproof, comfortable footwear with a reliable grip is a good idea.

January 2024 – sneakers, leggings (with thermal tights), thermal vest, long-sleeved top, winter coat (waterproof), scarf and crossbody bag
Don’t forget a warm scarf, gloves and a woolly hat! I took mine off for the pic hence the messy hair!
This is a fabulous shot with Ollie of Discover Real London Black Cab Tours. How many London icons are in this one pic?! Check out what Ollie is wearing too.

Add the following to your packing list for London and the UK whenever you visit. 

This one competes with the next on the list when it comes to our number one tip. Exploring London involves a lot of walking, even if you travel by tube, bus, train, or taxi between sights. Walking around just one of the museums can be exhausting, as they’re big and there’s so much to see!

Therefore, comfortable footwear is number one on our priority list. Depending on the season, walking boots, shoes, or sandals are ideal for daytime. Conversely, sneakers or trainers are good all-rounders that can see you through summer to winter.

The weather in the UK is changeable throughout all seasons, so layering is critical! Think a thermal vest then long-sleeved T-shirt or sweater, plus leggings or hiking trousers. Jeans are good for evenings, though they’re not so good on a wet day outdoors, as they get sodden and take ages to dry out.

I tend to wear leggings in the winter rather than jeans – layered with a pair of thermal tights (I bought mine from Marks & Spencer)

Even in summer, it can get very wet on some days in London. Meaning you’ll really wish you’d packed a rain jacket! A lightweight one that rolls down into its own bag or pouch is perfect. 

For early spring, late autumn, or winter, you’ll want something warmer. While you’ll be wearing it for most or all of the time you’re outdoors, make sure it’s not too heavy, if possible, so you can carry it around when you need to. Lots of indoor venues are very warm, so you don’t want something too thick or heavy. In winter, down is a good choice, as it offers a lot of warmth per gram. 

A hood is always a good idea, as it will protect you from rain even when it’s too windy for an umbrella. You can find our top pick waterproof jacket listed below. 

A scarf is a must for all seasons. In summer, it can really smarten up your outfit. Or even be used to shield your skin against the sun. 

For winter, a thicker scarf, plus gloves and a hat, can go a long way towards keeping you warm outdoors. 

Sunglasses can be essential even in winter. The sun can be strong, even in winter, and exploring is always easier when you can see where you’re going!

If you’ll be driving in the UK at all, sunglasses are definitely a cannot-do-without item. 

Due to the rainy climate, a travel umbrella is worth considering for your daypack when in London or elsewhere in the UK. Do bear in mind, though, that when it’s windy, this can be a waste of time. A waterproof jacket with a hood is therefore worth looking out for. 

If you wear glasses, an umbrella is often the best option to keep your glasses water-free. We recently invested in a winter jacket from Kathmandu in Australia, which has a little peak cap which helps keep the rain off, so that may be worth investigating if you live in Australia.

While London is a safe city in general, it does have its share of petty crime. Pickpocketing can be common, especially in crowded places. A cross-body bag – worn instead or or as well as a daypack – can, therefore, be very useful. You can find our recommendations in the list below. 

When shopping for your UK adventure, here are the insider items we really don’t think you should go without!

A portable power bank can be a godsend when on the move. Pack this one into your daypack as a lifesaver if you forget to charge your phone – or run your camera battery down from taking so many pictures!

Click here to buy a portable power bank

Whether you tend to get overwhelmed by crowds or simply like to listen to music or a film in peace, a set of noise cancelling headphones is such a great investment for both home and away. 

Bose are the best in terms of sound quality, battery life, comfort, control, and connectivity. These also have an Aware mode to stay safe on the move. 

Click here to buy noise-cancelling headphones

It can get very hot in London in summer – and many places in the UK don’t have air-con. In winter, I also love using hand warmers on colder days. 

Click here to buy a fan

Click here to buy hand warmers

Anti-theft bags are a worthwhile purchase for global travel wherever you go. They are generally slash-proof, RFID-blocking, and have integral locks. You can choose between cross-body bags and backpacks.  

Click here to buy an anti-theft cross-body bag

Click here to buy a small anti-theft bag

Click here to buy an anti-theft backpack

A packable waterproof jacket is such a London essential! Invest in one with a hood, as it will help keep you dry when it’s too windy for an umbrella. 

Click here to buy a packable waterproof jacket

A lanyard for carrying your camera phone on the move can leave you hands-free. Choose between long lanyards worn around the neck and shorter, spiralling tethers to wear around your wrist. 

Click here to buy a phone lanyard

Click here to buy a phone tether

We love to use packing cubes when preparing for a trip to London and the UK – or indeed anywhere on earth! They can max out available space while helping you stay organised. 

Click here to buy packing cubes

Doug – we’re looking at you here. He always carries an AirTag. That way Tracy doesn’t lose him – or can locate him if he does get lost!

Click here to buy an AirTag or here to buy a Tile

A universal travel adaptor is the best choice for a trip to London, because you can use it there and in Europe, where the sockets are different. In fact you can use some anywhere in the world!

Click here to buy a universal travel adaptor

Eco Chic shopping bags fold down into a super small pouch. They have so many uses and are very long-lasting. There are so many lovely designs to pick from, too. 

Click here to buy an Eco Chic shopping bag

I have found that accommodation often does not supply enough towels – which is a real issue when you need to wash your hair. Recently I have packed a hair towel turban and found it fantastic.

Not only is it small and therefore easy to pack, but it means that I don’t have to wander out of the shower with hair dripping all over the place (as was always the situation when the accommodation only supplied one towel.

Never, ever leave home without adequate travel insurance for your health and wealth! If you get sick or have an accident, it could affect the rest of your life. 

A fee free card, such as the one from Wise, is a safe way to pay without incurring hefty fees. 

Finally, don’t forget any items that you cannot live without! This might mean in the literal sense, such as medication. Or those things you simply wouldn’t enjoy your time in the UK so much if you didn’t have them. 

For me, it’s a spare pair of glasses – without them, I cannot see a thing. I also take decent tea bags everywhere I go!

Read – UK Travel Packing Essentials

If you need to buy clothing, or extras such as footwear, accessories, or toiletries in London, here are some of the stores to look out for. Don’t stress, as there are plenty of affordable shopping options when things don’t go to plan!

If you want to pick up some cheap t-shirts, leggings, and so on, head to a branch of Primark. There’s a huge one on Oxford Street, for example, in the centre of the West End. Prices are low and quality is good for what you pay. 

Marks and Spencer – or M&S – is a little more upmarket. It’s always a reliable choice when you want clothing that looks good, fits well, and will last. 

Mountain Warehouse – which you can generally find on every high street – is particularly good for fleece sweaters and hiking trousers. 

Outdoor stores are huge in the UK. You’ll also find plenty of sports shops in London and the rest of the country. These are ideal for buying good quality outerwear and footwear that can provide comfort, while standing up to seasonal variations. 

There’s a branch of Mountain Warehouse in pretty much every town, selling fleeces, jackets, coats, and outdoor footwear. M&S can be good here, too. 

Boots and Superdrug are the British go-tos when you want anything from makeup to toiletries, pharmacy items, and baby or elderly care products. 

We hope this guide has helped with planning – and packing – for your trip to the UK, and/or its capital. Prioritise comfortable shoes, pack layers and bring a waterproof jacket that’s suitable for the season, and we reckon you can’t go far wrong.

If all else fails, the UK has lots of shops where you can buy everything you need at affordable prices. It’s simply a matter of knowing what to look out for.

Happy travels!

Read more:

London Travel Guide & Itinerary Planner Ebook (+ 4 BONUS ebooks)