When is the Best Time to Visit England? Weather and Crowds
When is the Best Time to Visit England? Weather and Crowds

When is the Best Time to Visit England? Weather and Crowds

When is the best time to visit England? This is a key question when planning a trip to the most popular destination in the UK with a few aspects to think about.

Do you go during the great English summer to make the most of the warmer weather but also risk the peak tourism season? Or do you visit outside of this period for cheaper prices and fewer crowds, but chance it with rainy and cold days?

The truth is, there is no perfect time to visit England. There are just better and worse times based on what it is you want to do.

Most people will tell you without hesitation to visit in the summer months. But I’m here to go into a little more detail than that so you can base your trip dates on more than just the weather.

Read on for a detailed guide on the best time to visit England covering peak season, destinations, costs, and, of course, the weather.

When is the best time to visit England?

Looking for a quick answer instead of my detailed advice? Then here’s an overview of the best time to visit England.

My opinion on the best time to visit England

My advice is to visit England either in May or September. These months offer the best of everything.

May comes just before peak season and  September just after it, both times meaning less tourists. And being so close to the summer, the weather is warm and mostly dry during both months. Prices won’t be their lowest, but they also won’t be at their highest.

The best time to visit England for good weather

May through to the end of September is the period with the best weather in England. On average, May is the month of the year with the fewest days of rain and July tends to be the hottest. In July, the average temperatures are around 24°C  (high) and 13°C (low).

So what month has the best weather in England? It has to be July. The hottest days are bearable, if not enjoyable, for most and the cooler temperatures in the evening are still warm enough for shorts.

The best time to visit England for fewer crowds

You can avoid the crowds in England by planning your trip between November and January. This is the wettest period of the year and the long winter nights draw in. It’s for these reasons that tourist numbers drop during these months.

However, it’s definitely not the time of year to plan a trip to one of England’s national parks.

The best time to visit England for the cheapest prices

Bad weather and cheaper prices go hand in hand when traveling. Fewer tourists means that accommodation prices will come down to their lowest during November to January—as will transport costs. The exception to this is the Christmas and New Year period.

The cost of flights to the UK will skyrocket a week or so before Christmas Day and remain high until a week or so into the new year. All types of accommodation tend to put their prices up too.

When is the best time to visit England for good weather? Detailed advice

The UK has 4 distinct seasons which all regions of England experience. Weatherwise, each period has its pros and cons.

Summer

The English summer runs from June to the end of August. The summer months are the hottest and sunniest and offer the best weather if you want to spend your trip wearing shorts and t-shirts.

You can expect temperatures to typically reach the mid 20s. In the last few years, the hottest days have been getting hotter. Now there are usually a few days that break into the 30s.

However, none of this is to say that you won’t need a rain jacket. It is the UK after all and you can still get caught in wet and windy weather during this period. England has 12 rain days in July on average.

The only negative weather aspect of visiting England during this time is that the hot weather can catch you out. So, make sure to drink enough water. Try and keep out of the sun for long periods too.

Autumn

The autumn months in England are September – November. Temperatures become milder with the warmest of around 20°C (highs) to 12°C (lows) in September.

The days start becoming shorter in Autumn and rainy weather starts setting in. The number of rainy days varies per month, but expect between 10 – 20 days to be wet.

It’s a bit of a bummer if you love the heat as you’ll have just missed the summer. But it’s an ideal time to visit England if you enjoy warm weather while wearing a layer or 2.

If, like me, you enjoy photography, then you’ll find England is a picturesque dream in autumn. The leaves begin changing colours and falling to the ground, and the increased rainfall makes the green countryside more vibrant than during summer.

Winter

December – February marks winter in England. The winter months are cold, wet and, in general, grey. Average temperatures are around 7°C (highs) and 2°C (lows), and it will be fairly wet too. There are around 10 rain days per winter month on average.

Make sure to pack warm and waterproof layers if you are visiting England in the winter. There’s nothing worse than being cold and wet at the same time.

The coldest month of the year tends to be February around coastal areas. Inland, January and February are usually equally cold. Make sure to have a hat and gloves, as at its coldest, the temperature can drop below freezing.

But just like autumn, winter in England  has a pretty side. Although few and far between, blue-sky, frosty winter days are fairy-tale like.

Spring

Spring is probably the best time of year to visit England if you want longer days to explore and fair weather to keep warm but cool. Along with the increased daylight following winter, the spring months of March to May see temperatures warm quite quickly.

In March you can expect highs of around 10°C and lows of 3°C. By April this will climb, typically to around 16°C and 7°C respectively.

After summer, I’d say that spring is the second-best time to visit England weather-wise.

When is the best time to visit England to avoid the crowds? Detailed advice

Let’s look at tourism in England for the different times of year and my advice in more depth.

Peak season

It’s no surprise then that the busiest months for tourism in England are June, July and August. Depending on where you go, this can be the best time to visit England, or the worst.

The nice weather is obviously great for all kinds of tourism; from city breaks to outdoor adventures. But this is when the crowds flock to England.

It’s the most-visited country in the UK by a mile and this is made worse by the combination of lots of public holidays and the six-week school holidays which take place during these months.

I spent an August long weekend in the Lake District and we made sure to book an Airbnb a few weeks in advance. Popular destinations with limited accommodation such as national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) will fully book.

In many of these places, for solo travelers, the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is your only option for finding backpacker-friendly accommodation prices. Depending on where you go, YHA hostels can be fully booked from months in advance.

If there’s 1 part of England you absolutely should NOT leave booking accommodation for to the last minute, it’s the Cornwall area. This region is notorious for insane numbers of tourists during peak season. The area is characterised by its quaint villages and these fill up incredibly fast.

Because of this, I don’t recommend going there. If you want to see beautiful coastal areas and countryside villages, head to East Devon. And if you’ve got the time, then make the trip to West Wales. This is a hidden gem in the UK and a great alternative to tourist-trap Cornwall.

Shoulder season

Shoulder season in England is spring and autumn.

Out of these 2 seasons, I’d pick late spring for a trip. Come May, the warmer weather begins to take hold and the country opens up for all sorts of tourism but without the crowds.

This is my top recommendation for the best time of year to visit England.

Low season

The winter is low tourist season in England. The poor weather means you won’t find the crowds of the high season, but you also won’t have the option of exploring the great outdoors.

Well, you will, but be prepared to get wet and cold. Depending on where you go, you might not even see anything thanks to fog. It goes without saying that hiking and any other outdoor adventure activities are not a good idea this time of year.

Winter in England is a great time to learn about the culture and history by visiting museums and other indoor places. Although this isn’t really something I do when I travel, I have been to the Imperial War Museum in London, and I recommend it.

England will become busier with tourists during the Christmas and new year period. It’s a multicultural nation and people living in other countries will come to see family.

The influx of people at Christmas means prices will go up.

What is the cheapest time to visit England? Detailed advice

Visit England during the low season To make sure your trip to costs as little as possible. You will most likely have to sacrifice some great outdoor experiences. But if you are ok with this, then you can avoid burning a hole in your wallet.

How much does visiting England during the low season (Dec – Feb) cost?

This depends on how you travel to England, when you go, where you go and the accommodation you choose. Let’s look at prices for London in the south and Manchester in the north. These are the number 1 and number 2 most-visited cities in England.

To calculate costs, I’ve used Skyscanner for flights and Booking.com for accommodation. In my experience, these have always been the best sites for finding good deals. That is, unless it’s cheaper to book directly with the airline/accommodation – so check to see if that’s possible and compare the difference.

Flights

We’ll start with the most popular and expensive English destination—the capital.

The cheapest months to fly in the low season are usually January (after the new year period) and February.

Air travel to London from somewhere in mainland Europe can cost as little as £20 each way for the base fair. Coming from somewhere further afield such as New York is going to cost around £350 for a return base fair.

Low season flights to Manchester from central mainland Europe hover around £60 each way base fare outside of Christmas and New Year. A longer-haul flight, for example from New York, will set you back roughly £400 for a return base fair. It’s usually more expensive to fly to airports outside of London and Manchester is no exception.

The cheapest airlines flying to England from within Europe are Easyjet and Ryanair. If you’re coming from further away, then use Skyscanner to find the best deals.

Hostels

The cheapest you’ll find a dorm bed in a London hostel is roughly £25 per night during low season. Prices will be pretty similar throughout January and February once the festive period is over.

Hostel prices are similar in Manchester during the low season. You should expect to pay around £30 per night. Although, you might find a couple of places slightly cheaper than this.

Hotels

Surprisingly, budget hotels in London aren’t too pricey when you consider the reputation the city has for its sky-high rates. Once Christmas and New Year are out of the way, you can find hotels in the range of  £40 – £50 per night.

Hotel prices start at around £45 in Manchester at their cheapest during the low season.

As you can see, a trip to the north or south of England will cost roughly the same for flights and accommodation. However, you’ll probably spend more in the south as costs in general are a lot higher being the more affluent end of the country.

Regardless of destination, I’ve always found the cheapest accommodation rates on Booking.com.

The best time to visit London to avoid crowds

I’m sure you can guess by now that London will be least crowded during the low season outside of the festive period. However, if you want to find the balance between less people and good weather, then there’s a specific couple of weeks that I recommend.

Is September a good month to visit London?

Yes, it is, and the weeks I recommend are the last 2 in September. By now most peak season tourists have been and gone and school holidays are over. The weather is still warm and the days long so you can enjoy London’s green spaces and parks along with its indoor attractions.

Is London busier on Friday or Saturday?

You might be planning day trips to London and are wondering if Fridays or Saturdays are the best days for them.

The main tourist attractions such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar square will be busy all year round. However, expect more people on Saturdays as locals will be off work out and about too.

Stats published by Transport for London state that Friday is one of the least busy weekdays to travel on public transport. Buses are typically quieter between 8:30 – 15:00 and after 17:30. The Tube and Rail see less travelers between 9:15 and 16:00, then after 18:45.

On Saturdays, it’s usually quieter on buses before 11:00 and after 18:00. And on the Tube and Rail before noon and after 18:45.

When is the best time to visit England’s national parks?

May is the ideal time to visit the major national parks in Northern England, such as the Lake District and Peak District, if you want to avoid crowds. It’s pre high season and the weather is generally nice.

It’s also a good time of year to summit the taller peaks in the Lake District such as Scafell Pike and Helvellyn. I’ve got a guide to climbing Scafell Pike from Great Langdale and a Lake District long weekend itinerary if you’re interested.

May is a brilliant time to explore coastal areas in England too. If you want to swim, though, you are better off waiting until September. The weather will be warmer than in May and the peak season will be winding down.

More travel advice on A World Over

I hope you found this guide on the best time to visit England helpful. Let me know in the comments if you did, or if you didn’t. I’m always trying to create the most helpful content and your feedback will help me to do this.

If you want all my travel advice for England, head to my England landing page here.

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