The Rainy Day Tube Tour

London's sights and photo opportunities are all outside, but due to the number of museums and galleries you can easily spend a couple of days inside out of the worst of the weather. From November 2001 most of the museums are free, thanks to the generosity of the English taxpayer. This tour takes in the major sights from covered vantage points: we try to minimise the time spent outside.

First off, do a weather check - either in the papers or online at the BBC. Don't expect it to be 100% reliable - all the photographs on this page were taken on days when driving rain was forecast - but there were many sunny spells also. You might also want to see our 'free bus tour' which takes in the sights on interconnecting double-decker public buses.

We're going to presume it's a stinker and minimise outdoor activity - you don't have to walk more than 200 metres outside at any time. You'll need a one-day tube pass for zones 1 + 2 - about £6 - it covers you for the bus, tube, trains and DLR. Or get an Oystercard (see our transport page).

Start at Charing Cross Station - the epicentre of London. From here a warren of subways takes you to the Old Traflagar Square station, now a part of Charing Cross station, to just outside St Martins in the Fields, to Admiralty Arch - and a few other less interesting locations if you take a wrong turn. You can get a good view of Trafalgar Square, The Mall (with Buckingham Palace at the end), Whitehall and the National Gallery from here - and from the arcade outside Books Etc bookshop (and the coffee bar inside the bookshop).

The National Gallery is a short dash from St Martin's Church - the National Portrait Gallery is next door. From right outside the National Gallery you can take a bus to either the Tate Britain or the Tate Modern - and back. On your return you can alight at one of the stations on the Jubilee line (ask the driver) and take the tube to Westminster station.

The tube exit is right opposite Big Ben so you can see it from the covered canopy without getting wet. It's a 200 yard dash to The Houses of Parliament (but the queues for outside so unless they're tiny don't bother to go inside, unless the House isn't sitting and you've bought a tour) and Westminster Abbey. From Westminster tube station take the Circle line tube to South Kensington Tube Station. From here an underground passage marked 'To Museums' takes you all the way to the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum .

Feast your fill here and come back to the tube station and take the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus, where there's another warren of subways. You can view the statue of Eros from the subway entrance or go into Lilywhite's sports store which has windows over the whole of Piccadilly, just above the statue of Eros.

Back into the Subway you can go right through the underground station and out the other side through onto to the Trocadero building near the north west corner of Leicester Square via a series of subterranean passages.

From the Trocadero it's a short walk across the north end of Leicester Square to Leicester Square tube station (you can take the tube if you want) the Half Price Ticket Booth offers a little protection from the rain as you queue for a ticket for an evening or matinee performance of a show. Next stop Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line.

It's a two hundred yard walk from Covent Garden Tube to the market itself, but the whole area of the market is under cover you can dawdle here. From Covent Garden it's one stop to Holborn, which is the nearest station to the British Museum - though there's about 500 metres between the tube and the Museum proper. From Holborn tube station you can take the Central line to Bank.

At Bank there's a covered walkway to Monument, if you want to view that, otherwise change at Bank for the Northern Line and take one stop to London Bridge station, where there's covered passageway to Hays Galleria from where an underground passage system takes you quite a way along the river - good views and photo opportunities (Tower Bridge, the Tower) can be had from the mouth of Hay's Galleria. From London Bridge Station the overground train takes you to Greenwich mainline station where it's a short walk (or one brief stop on the DLR train) to the Cutty Sark and riverfront.

100 metres from the Cutty Sark DLR station is a small dark brick domed structure which is the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It's a real 'Jack the Ripper' type experience going down in the old wooden lift and under the Thames in an old Victorian tunnel built for dockworkers to get from home to work. Many pop videos are shot down there. From the domed entrance at the other side, you can look back for good views of the Cutty Sark and the Naval College. Island Gardens DLR station is a short distance away.

From here we head back to Canary Wharf (try to get a front seat on the train). You can get out and explore Canary Wharf complex here if you want - the underground stations are very impressive and won a major architectural award.

The DLR takes us back to Tower Hill - convenient for the Tower, or to Bank station where you can connect with the Circle line to take you back to Embankment tube from where you can get a good view of the South Bank and the London Eye (don't even think of going on it in bad weather.)For a good view of The Houses of Parliament from the South Bank you can take the Bakerloo line to Waterloo and the tunnels to the South Bank Centre - there's a good observation platform in the Royal Festival Hall affording good views across the Thames.   Guidebook to what to see and
                      do in London

Search this site:

Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase