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!)
*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking.
**2020 is obviously a very odd year for Christmas Day activities. We’ve tried to make notes where things are/aren’t offered this year but things change quickly.
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! Watch the video below to find out how they work.
You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number, so give yourself extra time to call one, just in case it takes a little longer than usual.
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 be doing a Christmas river cruise, which includes a Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request, child-friendly)
Where to go to church on Christmas Day in London
If you have a favourite church you’d like to worship at on Christmas Day in London, check the church’s website to see when services are being held.
Since public transportation is closed, I’d also recommend asking your hotel concierge about nearby churches and cathedrals that they know are having services that are within walking distance.
*Obviously, many 2020 services will be closed or be taking place virtually, so again, check online to see what your church of choice is providing.
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Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day
A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.
Afternoon teas on Christmas Day in London:
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. *This might not happen in 2020, no info out there yet about it.
Visit one of London’s incredible 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. 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.
Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour
Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.
*Not available on 25th in 2020 but you can book on for the 26th!
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…
*This year, it’s only the Christmas lunch cruise that’s available.
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.
Go experience spookily quiet London
There’s truly no day like Christmas Day in Central London, the quietest day of the year. So grab a Boris bike or just put on your decent walking shoes and explore the city while it’s in this almost spooky state. It’s GREAT for taking photos without crowds of people blocking the way. If you go at night, all of the Christmas lights can be enjoyed in the quiet too.
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Enjoy Christmas Day in London! Be sure to tag @LoveandLondon and use #LoveandLondon on Instagram so we can see what you got up to around the city.