No, it doesn’t rain all the time in Britain! But when it does, it’s good to know there’s loads to do. From balmy tropical glasshouses to luxurious spas and remarkable art and architecture, there’s great fun to be had whatever the weather. Stately Homes and Castles Stay dry in some of the oldest houses and fortresses in the world. Explore classic fairytale castles like the Tower of London with nearly 1,000 years of bloody history, imposing Edinburgh Castle or Cardiff Castle with its sumptuous interiors.
If stately homes are more your thing, head to Pride and Prejudice star Chatsworth House or Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill. Don’t miss the newly restored Royal Palace at Stirling Castle in Scotland, a stunning glimpse into the luxurious life of King James V. You can find more information on British stately homes and castles on the National Trust Website. Theatre matinees Take in a play at one of Britain’s top theatres. Many have special deals for matinee performances in the daytime and it’s the perfect way to escape the rain. Try Manchester’s Royal Exchange, Birmingham’s Rep or see some Shakespeare in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. In London you can get cheap deals on tickets from the tkts booth in Leicester Square.
Botanical Gardens Dry out among tropical plants in the elegant Victorian glasshouses at places like Kew Gardens in London and the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. You can also see whole environments under cover at the incredible Eden Project in Cornwall and fascinating flora in a striking modern setting at the Sheffield Winter Gardens. Shopping What better way to perk yourself up on a rainy day than indulging in a bit of retail relaxation? Try London’s covered Borough Market for scrumptious British produce, the cool, Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham for big high street names and Glasgow’s Merchant City for designer brands. If you’re heading to the South Coast, Brighton’s quirky boutiques and independent shops are a good bet for cool clobber and vintage gems.
Spas and swimming pools Luxuriate in Britain’s only natural thermal spa at Thermae Bath Spa with its rooftop pool, take the kids to Splashdown Water Park in Poole which has hair-raising water slides or share the water with ducks at Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds in London. If you’re feeling flush, dodge the rain at a luxury spa hotel. For Britain’s best spas, check out the Good Spa Guide. Museums and galleries Stay out of the rain and soak up some of Britain’s cultural riches. Get artistic at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, delve into Scottish history at the recently refurbished National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh or head to London for ravishing art at the Royal Academy, the Tate galleries and the National Gallery. Caves and Caverns Go underground and discover the spooky caves at Wookey Hole or tour the gargantuan hydroelectric power station at Dinorwig in Snowdonia. You can also try potholing in various locations in the UK including Snowdonia, Derbyshire, the Brecon Beacons and Devon. Indoor Entertainment Centres If you want all sorts of entertainment under one roof, try the Xscape Centre in Milton Keynes with a bowling alley, climbing wall, cinema, ski slope and parachute simulator. The Namco Station in London’s City Hall also has dodgems, arcades, bowling and pool tables. Aquariums Exploring beneath the sea needn’t mean getting wet and Britain has some of the most high-tech aquariums in the world. The London Sea Life Centre has an underwater walkway and The Deep in Hull has over 30 aquatic exhibits, 40 sharks and 3,500 fish. Water sports What’s a little rain when you’ve just jumped 20ft into the Irish Sea? Coasteering is a thrilling combination of rock climbing, sea swimming and cliff jumping. One of the best places to have a go is the wonderfully unspoilt Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales. If you’d rather try surfing, head down to Croyde in Devon or Newquay in Cornwall. Blenheim Image via Giorgos