We’ve spent a great deal of time travelling throughout the UK, plus we’ve taken many trips to London, a city we love to visit. I even lived in London for a number of years. There’s so much to see and do in London that we find ourselves returning time and again for new adventures – everything from seeking out Harry Potter sites to hitting the Winston Churchill trail.
Based on our experiences, we wanted to put together a guide to what to pack for London, to help you when planning what to bring. This London packing list will also work for visiting other cities and parts of the UK and is designed for visiting London and the UK any time of year, with some items being more required in winter or summer, and noted as such.
The climate does not vary too greatly across the country, although it is usually a little cooler as you get further north, especially up into northern Scotland. The key thing with travelling in the UK is to be prepared for anything. The weather in the UK is famous for being fickle, and weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable. So even in summer you can expect cold, grey days, whilst winter can provide unexpected sunshine and even a little warmth!
Now we’re going to go through our packing list in some detail, after which you’ll find a checklist so you don’t forget anything!
London Packing List
Generally, for cities in the UK you will find that folks will tend to be fairly well dressed, so you will likely want to pack your nicer looking clothes – although you don’t need to be super dressy for most occasions. Just bear in mind that if your travel plans include fine dining, nice bars or trips to shows like the opera or the west end then you might want to bring some smarter clothes.
When we travel to London in winter we usually wear jeans or pants and Jess will wear layers with a warm sweater like this on top, while I will usually have a shirt and a fleece. We will also both wear a warm winter coat. A warm scarf (this one for Jess) and good gloves are also essential winter items for London! If you suffer from the cold, you will also likely want a warm hat.
For visiting London In summer, Jess will usually bring along a pair of pants, capris, and have a light dress with a shoulder wrap to wear depending on the weather. She often wears clothing by FIG travel – you can her thoughts on that here. I will usually wear jeans, although on the odd rare hot day I can find that jeans become uncomfortably hot to walk in sometimes, so I will also pack light pants or shorts. For bright days (they do happen, we promise!), you’ll also likely want a pair of sunglasses.
The key thing for either time of year is to bring a series of clothing you can layer so you can adjust to the climate accordingly.
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, if you are doing anything more formal such as a nice afternoon tea at a nice hotel, you should definitely check the dress code in advance so you are prepared.
You are unlikely to need outdoor gear such as hiking pants or boots for your London trip, although if you are heading out to the countryside for a little while, (perhaps following one of our UK itineraries), then a good pair of hiking pants will likely be a good addition to your UK packing list.
A decent pair of shoes can make or break a holiday. You’re going to be doing a fair bit of walking as you explore the UK and her cities, and the last thing you want is sore feet or blisters.
I have this absolutely fabulous pair of Timberland shoes that I love. They are dressy enough for a night out or a nice meal, but also comfortable enough for walking in all day. They’re also 100% waterproof, which can be a real benefit, as rain showers can happen at any time in the UK!
Jess loves her versatile black Skechers shoes and they have been her go-to shoe for our many city trips for years. Whatever shoes Jess wears though, she finds she suffers from arch pain, probably because of high arches. After a lot of research, we settled on these cool insoles, which have solved that problem.
3. Toiletries / Make up
Naturally you’re going to want to bring your toiletries with you on your trip to London!
You don’t need much different for London and the UK than anywhere else, so just remember your essentials – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodarant moisturiser and any make-up or sanitary products that you might need.
Of course, all these things are easily available to buy in the UK as well, although as brands might differ slightly, if there is a product you love from home it is best to bring it with you to be sure. If you are on any medication you should definitely bring this as well.
4. Electronic Gear
The UK uses a 220v three pin system, so if you’re travelling from nearly anywhere else in the world you are going to need a travel adapter. We actually prefer to use a cheaper adapter like this and then pair it with an extension setup like this, which gives us all the plugs and USB ports we need to charge our all devices.
Note that if you are travelling to England from the USA, which uses a 110v system, not all your equipment will work. Most laptops, phones and cameras will be fine, but in our experience, many hair dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners don’t support dual voltages. You can check on the plug or in the manual to find out. Jess has a dual voltage hair dryer and a dual voltage hair straightener for just this reason.
You will also of course want your smartphone. If you have an unlocked phone, the cheapest way to get online will be to pick up a SIM card on arrival, or order one in advance. See our advice on getting online when you travel for tips on the best options. If you’re thinking of a new smartphone for your trip, check our guide to the best cameras for travel, which has a section on smartphones that are good for travel and taking photos.
If you like to read, you may also want to travel with a table or e-reader like a Kindle. For most trips you probably won’t need a laptop, but of course if you find it easier to travel with a laptop or tablet then bring one by all means!
5. Photography Gear
London is a very photogenic city (see my guide to the best photography locations here for some ideas), so you’re definitely going to want to bring some kind of photography gear with you on your trip. Even if that’s just a smartphone!
Our photography setup is likely overkill for most, but if you want to get the best photos, then we advise investing in a dedicated camera and ideally a tripod. See our guide to why you need a tripod for suggestions on the best travel tripods.
We also travel with a selfie stick to get nice photos of the two of us together if we don’t want have time or space to set up the tripod – after a bit of research we settled on this one as having the most useful features.
Don’t forget when travelling with your camera to bring a few accessories. We’d advise spare batteries, spare memory cards, a UV filter for the lens, and a decent bag or case to keep it all safe. If you don’t get a dedicated camera bag, a camera insert that goes inside your daypack or carry-on is a wise investment.
We also travel with a number of large Ziploc bags which can be really handy to put electronics and wet clothes in should the weather turn bad.
6. Luggage & Backpacks
Picking the right luggage for you is a big decision. The right bag should last you for many years of travel, and suit your particular style – be that carry-on only or checked luggage.
We travel with a fair amount of gear, so we invariably have one checked bag each, and then one piece of hand luggage which has our high value items in. One tip I learnt from my mum’s years of travel wisdom is to split our belongings across our two checked bags – that way if one of them doesn’t make it, we still both have clothes!
For my camera and electronic gear, I currently use a Vanguard Alta Sky 49, which works well as both a carry-on and a day pack. Prior to that, I used an Osprey day pack with a camera insert, which was also super comfortable.
Jess loves her Eagle Creek bags, and has both a carry-on sized backpack and a larger wheeled backpack that we check-in. My main checked bag is an Osprey Sojourn 60. This has been travelling with me since 2013 through multiple countries and countless baggage handler, and is yet to let me down.
If you’re in the market for a new bag, we have no hesitation recommending Eagle Creek, Osprey, and Vanguard as great choices.
7. Reusable Water Bottle
We highly recommend bringing a reusable bottle for water with you so you can fill it in sinks and water fountains and not need to pay for drinks or purchase bottled water. Tap water across the UK is safe to drink, so there’s no need to spend money on water.
Obviously there are a few items you need to bring with you when travelling to the UK, such as your passport. Depending on where you are coming from, you might also need proof of onward travel, a visa, and proof of funds for your time in the UK. Check the UK government website here to get an idea of what documentation you might need. We’d also advise having a note of your hotel address available in non-electronic format, as you will likely need this for the immigration form on arrival.
Beyond the documentation requirements, don’t forget all the cables for your electronic devices. You are unlikely to need a towel for travel in London and the UK unless you are staying in particularly budget accommodation like backpacker hostels or some of the more budget hotel options that charge for add-ons like towels.
We would recommend you bring a travel umbrella or a travel poncho – these can be very useful in London and the UK as rain can happen at pretty much any time! You can also buy these at many shops in London.
For London, we can also recommend the Streetwise Map, which is handy for helping you get around. We also recommend a physical guidebook, either the latest Rick Steves London guide, or the Lonely Planet London guide.
London Packing Checklist
Here’s a full list for you to use as a reminder for your trip to London. You can also download this London packing list in PDF form to print off here.
- Shirts / t-shirts
- Sweater / fleece for layering
- Jeans / Pants
- Underwear / socks
- Shoes (bring a pair that is versatile so you can travel with just one or at most two pairs)
- Swimwear (if needed, such as hotel has pool for instance)
- More formal wear (if needed, such as planned fine dining or theatre experience)
- Clothes (Cold Weather additional items)
- Warm winter Coat
- Additional Sweaters/ Fleece
- Clothing (Warm Weather additional items)
- Short sleeve t-shirts / tank tops
- Spring/Summer skirts/dresses
- Capris / Shorts
- Light jacket / sweater
- Sunglasses / hat
- Reusable water bottle
- Toothpaste / toothbrush
- Hygiene Products
- Other __________________
- Photography Gear
- Tripod / selfie-stick
- Memory cards
- Spare batteries
- Camera accessories
- Portable power pack
- Travel adaptor
- Extension lead
- Laptop / tablet / e-reader
- Other __________________
- Checked bag
- Carry-on bag
- Visa / proof of onward travel etc (if required)
- Travel towel (backpackers only)
- Jewelery / watch
- Travel journal / reading materials
- Cards / games
- Travel umbrella or poncho
- Other ___________________
Further Reading for your Visit to London and the UK
We have written many guides that will help you plan and prepare for your trip to London, plus we have some other go-to resources we think you will find useful.
- To help you plan your time in London effectively, check out our itineraries for 1 Day in London, 2 Days in London, 3 Days in London and 6 Days in London
- If you’re flying into London, see our post on advice on getting to London from the airport, which includes detailed information for all six of London’s airports
- Getting around can be a bit daunting on your first visit to London. See our guide to public transport options in London, as well as our overview of how to buy and use an Oyster card to help get prepared
- If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re going to want to take a look at our guide to the best Harry Potter locations in London
- Fans of Winston Churchill will want to see our detailed guide to seeing all London’s Winston Churchill sights
- Military history buffs will want to check out our guide to London’s Best Military Museums and Memorials
- London has four UNESCO world heritage sites, we have a guide to visiting all of them here
- If you want to get the best photos during your time in London, see my guide to best Photography Locations in London
- Many of London’s attractions are quite expensive, so if you plan on doing a lot of sight-seeing, you can save money with a London Pass. See our full review of the London Pass here to see if it will save you money on your trip
- If your visit to London is part of a wider trip to the UK, check out our detailed 1 week and 2 week UK itinerary posts for inspiration
- For accommodation, we recommend Booking.com. See all their London listings here
- The Eyewitness Travel Guide to London, which has all sorts of information within, including more itineraries and ideas for your trip
- Rick Steve’s London 2018 guide, the #1 bestseller on Amazon for UK travel guides, and always an excellent source of relevant information
And that’s it for our detailed packing guide for London, which hopefully covered everything you need to know for what to pack for London! As always, we’re happy to take your questions and feedback – just leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Safe travels!
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