London is always a good idea, but it's an especially lovely place to visit in fall. As the summer crowds disperse and the leaves turn golden, the city's parks provide a colorful backdrop for autumnal strolls and its cozy pubs serve comfort food in front of crackling fires. And the seasonal chill offers the perfect excuse to take shelter in some of London's world-class museums, galleries and attractions. The nights may draw in but there's plenty to fill your days with. Here are our favorite things to do in London in fall.
Pick a park, any park. London may not seem leafy at first glance but it's home to 8 royal parks that cover 5,000 acres and a number of major open spaces like Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common. Don a coat, scarf and hat and hunt for conkers among the crunchy leaves. For spectacular fall colors head to Hyde Park to walk among its 4,000+ trees; Hampstead Heath to spot ancient oaks and maples and Richmond Park to see the deer battle it out during rutting season.
Explore some of London's top museums after dark during October's Museums at Night weekend, a bi-annual event that encourages attractions to throw open their doors to showcase their treasures in quirky ways. Highlights include spooky Halloween-themed tours, film screenings and immersive workshops. Many of the venues are free to enter but some of the special events may incur an additional fee.
'Tis the season to take shelter in a cozy pub with a mulled wine or a pint of ale by a crackling fire. London is full of warm and welcoming pubs that really come into their own when the weather turns sour. History fans should check out the Spaniards Inn at the edge of Hampstead Heath, a 16th-century pub where Charles Dickens and John Keats used to drink, and the Mayflower, a riverside drinking den where the Pilgrims set off from to explore the New World. The Gun in Canary Wharf is home to cozy nooks and open fires and the Ship Tavern in Holborn serves excellent roast dinners in its candle-lit dining room.
Tuck Into a Sunday Roast
Traditionally served on a Sunday, the roast dinner is a British institution. This hearty dish is made up of roasted meat (usually beef, pork, chicken or lamb) served with roasted vegetables (typically potatoes, carrots, and broccoli) alongside stuffing, savory Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy. You'll find roast dinners on menus in pubs and restaurants across London and it's comfort food at its finest, especially after a long walk in a park. Top picks include Hawksmoor for its duck fat roast potatoes and bone marrow gravy, the Jugged Hare for its rotisserie-cooked game and the Harwood Arms, London's first Michelin-starred pub.
Explore London's spooky side at Halloween with a visit to one of the city's many haunted houses, pubs and theaters. Highlights include Sutton House and Breaker's Yard in Hackney where ghosts have been spotted roaming the oak-paneled rooms; Theatre Royal on Drury Lane for star-studded sightings and Highgate Cemetery where a 7-foot-tall vampire and a floating nun are said to haunt the gothic tombs.
The annual London Restaurant Festival is a month-long celebration of the city's excellent eateries. Over 300 restaurants take part in a series of culinary events between October 1 and 31 including kitchen tours, specially-designed tasting menus, restaurant-hopping trails and chef-led workshops. Several restaurants offer great value meal deals throughout the month so it's a great time to take a bite out of London's dining scene.
See Fireworks Light Up the Sky
See London's skies light up with fireworks on (or around) the 5 November, better known throughout the UK as Bonfire Night. The date marks the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate the protestant King James I to replace him with a Catholic head of state. At Bonfire Night events you'll likely see effigies of Guy Fawkes on top of bonfires and tuck into traditional food like toffee apples, parkin cake, treacle toffee and baked potatoes. Major London fireworks displays take place in Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park and Southwark Park.