What’s the saying? It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And that couldn’t be truer, especially when spent in London. The capital springs to life during this period; sparkly lights illuminate the streets, pubs start serving warm mulled wine, and pigs in blankets start cropping up on food menus – small sausages wrapped in a blanket of bacon – a seasonal snack enjoyed in Britain during the Christmas period. But come Christmas Day, things are different: the streets are empty, there are minimal cars on the roads, and everything is a lot quieter, which is actually very cool to see since London is usually choc-a-block.
So if you’re in London on Christmas Day, here’s what you need to know and what you can do on the day for some fun.
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(WA = Wheelchair Accessible)
Does public transport run in London on Christmas Day?
It’s essential to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day, so we recommend walking as much as you can – the best way to enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Pop on your best walking shoes and just wander the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of a rare, quiet London. Top tip: if you go at night, you can enjoy the Christmas lights without all the other people.
You can also take a taxi, you might just have to book in advance. If you’re coming from the airport, you can pre-book a taxi with our reliable partner.
Where to eat Christmas Dinner in London
A classic Christmas dinner is arguably the most important aspect of many people’s day, and there are many places in the city where you can enjoy it for yourself on the 25th.
Image Courtesy of The Flask
Dinner at The Flask in Hampstead is for those who want to enjoy dining in a quintessentially British pub next to the warmth of two roaring fireplaces. They’re serving the classics like English turkey, plus plenty of other options like duck wellington and Jerusalem artichoke tart.
The Flask | Hampstead | WA
Image Courtesy of TH@51
TH@51 and House of Ming
This year, on Christmas Day, TH@51 and House of Ming, located in the luxurious St. James’ Court London, A Taj Hotel, are welcoming guests to enjoy their delicious Christmas set dinner menus. The TH@51 menu includes mouthwatering dishes like roasted butterball turkey and baby beet carpaccio with goat’s cheese amuse bouche, while the House of Ming menu boasts dishes like roast duck in a black truffle oil sauce and pan-fried BBQ lamb. Both of the menus include a glass of Prosecco in true festive style.
Image Courtesy of Salaam Namaste
If you want to steer away from the conventional meal, opt for dinner at Salaam Namaste. They’re serving a menu of Indian dishes with a festive flair. This Christmas dinner is also one of the more affordable options on this list of what to do in London on Christmas Day.
Salaam Namaste | Russel Square | WA
Image Courtesy of Sea Containers
Sea Containers Restaurant
The Sea Containers Restaurant is an excellent option for those who want to enjoy a Christmas dinner overlooking the Thames on the South Bank. They’re serving a set menu filled with classics like maple-roasted brussel sprouts and mulled wine-poached pears.
The Sea Containers Restaurant | Southbank | WA
Enjoy a classic afternoon tea
If you’re not much of a Christmas dinner kind of person, then you could opt for a traditional British afternoon tea instead. A handful of iconic places serve this quintessential treat on Christmas Day; you just have to make sure to book ahead to guarantee a spot.
Image Courtesy of The Ritz
The Ritz serves one of the most famous afternoon teas in London, and for Christmas this year, they’re adding a delightful festive twist. Enjoy a range of 18 loose-leaf teas alongside finger sandwiches, Christmas cakes, mince pies and scones dolloped with clotted cream and jam. The Palm Court, where afternoon tea is enjoyed, will be turned into a wintery Edwardian wonderland decked out with a central Christmas tree and plenty of decorations.
Afternoon Tea at the Ritz | Mayfair | WA
Image Courtesy of Claridge’s
Claridge’s in Mayfair is also hosting a seasonal extravaganza on Christmas Day, turning their exquisite afternoon tea into a festive feast for the senses. Sweet treats come decorated with Christmassy designs, and their famous Claridge’s Christmas pudding is served – an annual ritual that dates back over 100 years. Plus, they’re going all out on the decorations this year.
Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s | Mayfair | WA
Image Courtesy of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Attending a service at London church on Christmas Day
Heading to church on Christmas Day is a tradition in some households, and many churches and cathedrals around London host services to commemorate the day. You can either check the timetable of a local church near your hotel and head along to whatever services they’re hosting, or you can go big by visiting an iconic London institution like St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey.
St. Paul’s is hosting the principal service of Christmas Day, complete with carols for the Choir and congregation. Meanwhile, Westminster Abbey has two services, one In the morning to celebrate Christmas morning and one in the evening, consisting of choral music, scripture readings, and prayers. Although, you’ll have to book ahead if you want to attend either of these places on Christmas Day.
There’s also a service at St Martin’s in the Field in Trafalgar Square.
Advent and Christmas at St. Paul’s Cathedral | City of London | WA
Advent and Christmas at Westminster Abbey | Westminster | WA
Christmas at St. Martin’s in the Field | Trafalgar Square | WA
Enjoy a Christmas Day activity
Although there aren’t loads of places open on Christmas Day besides a handful of pubs, there are a few activities you can get stuck into.
Image Courtesy of Hampton Lido
Take a dip in the Hampton (heated) pool
Taking a dip in the Hampton heated pool on Christmas Day is a traditional, refreshing way to celebrate the holiday season. Swim under the open sky, perhaps even surrounded by a light dusting of snow if you’re lucky, and enjoy doing laps or simply floating in the heated pool. Make sure you book tickets in advance.
Hampton Pool | Hampton | WA
Image Courtesy of Serpentine Swimming Club
Watch The Peter Pan Cup in Hyde Park
If you’d rather watch swimmers from the comfort of your 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 9 a.m. to see these brave souls do their thing.
Peter Pan Cup | Hyde Park | WA
Image Courtesy of Royal Parks
Enjoy a slow walk through one of London’s parks
All royal parks (which cover most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so embrace being British and head for a brisk winter walk. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a great combo for Central London, or head to East London and explore Victoria Park, frequently voted London’s best park by Londoners.
Find out more about Victoria Park in the video below.
Head to Chinatown and eat
Screw tradition and head to Chinatown to chow down on some Chinese food; most places are open as usual. Or simply enjoy the area while there aren’t as many tourists around.
See the Christmas lights on a classic red bus
Hop on board a classic open-top red route bus to enjoy the twinkling Christmas lights on this tour of London’s Christmas lights. Sit back and relax, and you head on a journey through the heart of the city as it comes alive with the illumination of lights and decorations, all while taking in the sights of iconic landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London.
Image Courtesy of Get Your Guide
Enjoy a Christmas cruise down the Thames
Get cosy and head on a festive ride along the Thames on this Christmas cruise, taking in iconic London landmarks from the comfort of a fully heated modern river boat with an open upper deck providing the best views of the city. The crew provides live commentary, sharing eye-opening insights as you pass historic sights such as Big Ben, the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe. There will even be the chance to purchase drinks and snacks on board, including mulled wine and mince pies, the epitome of Christmas in London. There’s also the option to cruise while you enjoy a traditional four-course Christmas lunch on this festive cruise. You’ll enjoy a classic roast turkey with all the trimmings, like chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon (what we Brits call pigs in blankets) and Brussels sprouts with chestnuts. There’s also a veggie option available.
Image Courtesy of Get Your Guide
Soak up London’s festive spirit
On this Christmas walking tour, you’ll start at Charing Cross Station to see the magical Christmas lights on Regent Street. Spend some time browsing Carnaby Street’s impressive window displays and sparkly lights before heading to the iconic district of Mayfair. Continue your journey along Oxford Street and visit the renowned London Palladium before finishing at the iconic Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland to enjoy the festive atmosphere and sip on mulled wine, hot chocolate, or Bavarian beer. If you’d rather stick to a private tour, this walking tour of London at Christmas can be tailored to your group’s interests and preferences. You can choose your route if there’s somewhere specific you want to check out, or leave it up to your knowledgeable guide who will already know all the best festive hot spots.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of London on Christmas Day
This Sights and Sounds of London on Christmas Day Tour fully embraces the rare peace and quiet that sweeps over the city on Christmas Day. Follow your guide as you head on a leisurely exploration of the city’s Christmas-lit streets and landmarks, with a guided commentary along the way.
Sights and Sounds of London on Christmas Day | Victoria
Image Courtesy of Get Your Guide
Embrace the festive season on a tour of Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford-Upon-Avon
This Christmas tour of Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford-Upon-Avon tour is one of the best ways to experience a traditional British Christmas, countryside style. Head out of the city to explore the historic city of Oxford and retrace the steps of Emma Thompson, Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis, who all studied here. Then, visit the cobbled villages that make up the Cotswolds, followed by a final stop at the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon. Of course, your day will finish with a delicious Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.
Christmas in Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford-Upon-Avon | Coach departs from Victoria
The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day, which has some limitations as well. Here’s a list of things you can do in London on Boxing Day.