Visiting London on Christmas Day? This guide will help you figure out how to have a lovely 25th of December, despite closures and empty streets (which actually sounds amazing to me!)
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London transportation options on Christmas Day
It’s very important to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day. I recommend walking as much as you can, as you’ll enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Also consider going to one of London’s parks, or just walk around admiring the city’s architecture, outdoor artwork, and Christmas lights.
Traffic is also super light, so rent a Santander Cycle (Boris Bike) and cycle around the city in a way you’d never be able to do the rest of the year!
You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number.
Big Bus Tours has a Christmas Day Bus Tour that would be so lovely. Book a ticket here.
Where to get a Christmas meal in London
Select restaurants and pubs will be open for Christmas lunch and/or dinner. Most places will have a set Christmas menu, and the offering on that menu, as well as price, will vary. Book early!
Here are some restaurants and pubs serving up Christmas meals:
Cinnamon Bazaar (vegan meals available)
Gilbert Scott (veggie and vegan meals available)
Duck and Waffle (veggie menu available)
Ham Yard Hotel Restaurant (gluten-free, veggie and vegan meals available)
City Cruises will also be doing a Christmas river cruise. You can do just the sightseeing tour or have a four course Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request)
Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day
A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.
London attractions and activities open on Christmas Day
Unfortunately, not much is open beyond some restaurants and pubs. However, here are some options for things to do and see.
Go swimming in Hampton Pool
Hampton Pool is heated, and on Christmas Day they’re welcoming brave souls to go for a dip. Make sure you book tickets in advance!
Watch the Peter Pan Cup
If you’d rather watch some swimmers from the comfort of your down jacket and thick mittens, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. The Serpentine Swimming Club holds an annual swimming race (every year since 1864) in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Show up at 9am to see these brave souls do their thing.
Visit one of the Royal Parks
All royal parks (which covers most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. I recommend the Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens combo but any green space you can get to will suffice.
Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour
As mentioned above, Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.
Go for a Christmas boat ride along the Thames
Even if you don’t want to go for the City Cruises’ Christmas lunch cruise you can still book yourself in for a classic Thames river sightseeing tour. Christmas Day on the River Thames… what a treat!
Go ice skating at JW3
The Jewish Community Centre in London has an ice rink that’s open on Christmas Day. What a fun thing to do! It’s pretty popular so book your tickets as far in advance as you can.