When to visit the United Kingdom

by SmarterTravel Staff

The United Kingdom, for the most part, is a year-round destination. The countryside and seaside bustle in the summer, while there are plenty of indoor museums and cultural events during other times. In general, the most popular time to visit is from the early spring through late summer when the weather is warmest and people take their vacations. The Christmas shopping season in December and school breaks also get busy. Visitor traffic slows down in the early fall when school begins, dips again immediately after the Christmas holidays. The spring and fall are often good times to go for a mix of favorable weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices, but this depends on specific areas within Britain.

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  • high season: May to mid-September, December
  • low season: November, January to February
  • shoulder season: mid-September to October, March to April

Weather Information

The United Kingdom has a mild climate, which tends to be cooler in the north and at higher elevations (particularly in northern England, Scotland, and Wales) and warmer in the south. The weather is changeable, and can swing from warm and sunny to damp and cool in the same day. Rain can fall during any season. Summer is the warmest and driest season with temperatures in the 60s and plenty of sunshine, while winter is the coolest with temperatures in the 40s and considerable rain. Spring and fall hover in the 50s and see light rains.

Crowd Information

The United Kingdom sees the most crowds during the summer months and the fewest during the fall and winter months, except during the Christmas holidays. Major events are spread out throughout the year and bring considerable crowds to different areas, such as The Tattoo in Edinburgh during August, Wimbledon and the Royal Ascot in London during June, rugby matches in Wales at various times, and Hogmanay in Edinburgh around New Year's.

Closure Information

Hotels, shops, attractions, and other venues generally remain open year-round, particularly in large towns and cities.

Other Information

School vacations are peak times, particularly for London. They usually last a week and take place between Christmas and Easter, Easter and summer, and then again between summer and Christmas. Dates vary by year and region of the country. Contact VisitBritain.org at 800-462-2748 for details.

When to Save

Prices are generally the cheapest during the low season, but there are usually many special offers in early fall.

When to Book

In general, it's best to book a few months in advance; however, it's sometimes possible to find good rates and availability two weeks prior to departure.

Information provided by Visit Britain.

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