Although the United Kingdom is about the same size as Michigan, it is an island caught between the warmer Atlantic Gulf Stream and the frigid North Sea. That makes for a greater variety of changeable weather than you might expect. It may be at about the same latitude as Canada's Hudson Bay, yet the temperature climate means that palm trees will grow outdoors through the winter—even in parts of Scotland.
Temperatures across England are temperate: Hard freezes and very hot weather are rare. In fact, it's not unusual for some tropical plants to thrive out of doors through the winter. Temperatures across the U.K. vary by only a few degrees from place to place. But those few degrees can make a world of difference. Some smaller palm trees grow along the Cornish Coast and in the microclimates of sheltered gardens.
Visitors are sometimes surprised that temperatures in England between mid-March and mid-October don't vary a great deal. It's possible to experience days in spring and early fall that are as warm as any you might experience in the summer. And it's not unknown for a holiday weekend in August to be brisk.
Don't let all this variability lure you into packing for the tropics, though! Wind and high humidity make even relatively high temperatures feel much colder. And keep in mind too that days are much shorter in England through the winter than they are in North America or further south in Europe. The temperatures drop at night and the lack of sunlight can make you feel chilled to the bone. The climate in Seattle and along the Pacific Northwest is similar to that of England, though, contrary to the myths about the U.K., it rains more in Seattle.
Plan on packing the kinds of clothing that you can layer up or peel off depending on how you feel. Layers are also useful if you're staying in or visiting a historic building; you may need to pile on the extra jerseys to stay comfortable indoors.
Read on for more information about the United Kingdom's climate, season-by-season, as well as suggestions for what to pack.
Fast Climate Facts
Hottest Month: July and August (66 F / 19 C)
Coldest Month: January and February (41 F / 5 C)
Wettest Month: October (2.7 inches)
Spring in the United Kingdom
By March, temperatures in the U.K. start to warm up and frost is more uncommon. Temperatures typically range from 48 degrees to 60 degrees, but the weather is often wet and windy. Daylight starts to increase, ranging from 11 to 15 hours depending on the month.
What to Pack: Don't forget your wellies! Regardless of when you visit the U.K., you should expect rain and damp weather, but especially in the spring. Make sure to pack waterproof footwear, an umbrella, and a trenchcoat.
Summer in the United Kingdom
While summer in most parts of the world means hot and dry, the U.K. experiences quite a temperate season with temperatures rarely exceeding 80 degrees F. Rain is still a possibility though, so you'll want to be prepared. At the peak of summer, London experiences nearly 17 hours of daylight.
What to Pack: Bring your umbrella along, but in the summer months, you might also want to pack a swimsuit and other summer-appropriate attire. When the weather warms up, people flock to Britain's beaches—and you should do the same!
Fall in the United Kingdom
Fall, or autumn, typically has the most weather variability of all the seasons. September and October can still be quite warm, but November is typically quite cold and is among the wettest months of the year. There is usually between 10 and 14 hours of daylight.
What to Pack: Pack a few wool tops and sweaters, which are ideal for their lightweight and breathability. Pair this with a water-resistant (or ideally, waterproof) jacket for periodic rain showers, as well as waterproof shoes. As always, an umbrella is a must!
Winter in the United Kingdom
Winter is the coldest season in the U.K., with temperatures often dropping to freezing. Luckily, they very rarely dip below that. Frost is common and occasionally snow, but the season is mostly wet and windy. Additionally, adding to the gloomy weather, there is minimal daylight throughout the winter, with London receiving as little as eight hours at the season's peak.
What to Pack: Bring a raincoat, a thick woolly sweater and a good pair of waterproof walking shoes. While the U.K.'s winter climate is still relatively moderate, getting wet can make you feel colder than the temperature would suggest.
|Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours|
|Month||Avg. Temp.||Rainfall||Daylight Hours|
|January||47 F||2.2 inches||9 hours|
|February||47 F||1.6 inches||10 hours|
|March||52 F||1.6 inches||12 hours|
|April||58 F||1.7 inches||14 hours|
|May||64 F||1.9 inches||16 hours|
|June||70 F||1.8 inches||17 hours|
|July||74 F||1.8 inches||16 hours|
|August||74 F||2.0 inches||15 hours|
|September||68 F||1.9 inches||13 hours|
|October||60 F||2.7 inches||11 hours|
|November||52 F||2.3 inches||9 hours|
|December||47 F||2.2 inches||8 hours|