Are you planning on visiting London in May and want to know what the weather will be like, or wondering what clothes to wear?

If so, this article is just for you! Here’s a local’s view of what weather you can expect in London in May, including temperatures and rainfall. I’ve also included some tips on what clothes to wear as well as a few suggestions of things to do here in May.

Is the weather in May in London rainy or dry, warm or chilly? Will you need to pack a warm coat or shorts and t-shirt? I’ve lived in London almost all my life, so here are all the facts you need about the weather in London in May.

What is May weather in London really like?

Like April, the weather in May can be quite unpredictable, although in general it is warmer especially towards the end of the month. While summer is getting ever closer, it is still in the middle of the period between winter and spring, which means more varied weather.

While there is a perception that May is a warm and sunny time of year, in reality it can be quite cool and unsettled still. Some days you’ll be wrapped up in a warm coat against the cold, wind and rain, the next you’ll be out enjoying the sun in a t-shirt.

May is a lovely month to visit London
May is a lovely month to visit London

There’s an old saying “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” that is thought to mean don’t discard your warm winter clothing until May is out. This is good advice!

You might be surprised to know that snow in May in London has been known, although this is very rare. If it does snow it isn’t heavy and only lasts for a day or two.

Sunrise and sunset times in London in May

May is a nice month to be in London as the days are continuing to be lighter for longer.

With sunrise just after 5:30 a.m. and sunset not until around 8:30 p.m. at the start of the month, there are 15 hours of daylight at the beginning of May. By the end of the month, there are just over 16 hours of daylight. At this point, sunrise is slightly before 5:00 a.m. and sunset just after 9:00 p.m.

Sunrise in London in May
Sunrise in May

Average temperatures in London in May

Despite the longer days, the weather in May can still be quite chilly although noticeably warmer than April. There are more and more days though where the weather becomes much more spring-like and it can be rather warm at times.

Daytime temperatures average around 17 degrees C (63° F) although can be warmer on sunny days with temperatures hitting 24 degrees C (75° F). At night, temperatures drop to an average of about 8 degrees C (46° F).

Rain in London in May

May has a reputation for being dry and sunny, but how much rain does London really get in May? This month is in the middle of the period between winter and spring, which does mean unsettled weather. This means more sporadic rain showers and wind rather than heavy torrential downpours.

Despite the unsettled weather, the statistics from the Met Office show it’s actually one of the driest months in London. The data shows an average of around 45mm of rain over the whole month. You can expect it to rain on average around 8 days in the month which is low compared to other months. However the weather is often very changeable so being prepared for showers is always a good idea!

Sun in London in May

As the days get longer and the weather changes from winter to spring, the days become brighter despite the showers. On average, there are just under 7 hours of sunshine daily – a noticeable improvement on April! May is the month where you really feel like summer is on the way.

What clothes to wear in London in May

The weather in London in May can be rather varied. One day may be t-shirt weather, the next might be rain and wind. The best way to be prepared is to wear layers and have warm and waterproof clothing with you.

I’d recommend some lighter layers for the warmer sunny days, for example jeans, t-shirt and light jumper or sweater. For the cooler days a warm jacket would be good. I usually wear a light-weight down jacket, but a full winter coat isn’t necessary.

To stay dry, I’d recommend a wind and waterproof layer that you can wear on top of your other layers.

Hats and gloves aren’t really necessary in May, but sunglasses will be useful for the sunny days.

An umbrella can be useful when it’s raining, but can also be a hindrance. Typically rainy weather in May is also quite windy, which can damage brollies.

Is May a good time to visit London?

I think May is a great month to visit London. It’s before peak summer holiday season starts so isn’t too busy and the weather is continuing to improve. The days are noticeably longer so you can make the most of the lighter evenings.

London can be beautiful in May too as the flowers are blooming and London’s parks are colourful and green.

Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park on a spring day
Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park on a spring day

Things to do in London in May

There are two bank holidays in May so there are often special events to look out for at the start and end of the month.

Here are some of my highlights for things that you can enjoy in May:

  • Chelsea Flower Show
  • The May Fayre and Puppet Festival at Covent Garden, held on the second Sunday of May
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About the Author

An award-winning travel and landscape photographer from London.

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