I keep getting asked by people what is there to do in London during Christmas Day, or to some visitors it might just be the 25th of December.
Are you in London on the 25th of December? Here’s a list of handpicked things for you to do!
Before we begin, some key information and tips:
Choose the location of your hotel wisely
It’s something you should always do, but during Christmas day there is no public transport at all, and any cab or Uber ride will be expensive. Before booking your hotel, check where it is within the city. London is huge, so it can be a good idea to stay quite central and be within walking distance (in London terms 😜) to a few interesting spots.
How to get around
By the magic of your own two feet of course! It’s a great opportunity for you to get to know London by foot. You will most likely travel by tube (London Underground) most of the time, so here’s your opportunity to see it all connect.
Another option is to rent a bike.
You may have seen around the city lots of different bikes. Some are parked together – those are the Santander bikes by TFL (Transport For London) also known by us Londoners as ‘Boris Bikes’, and some of them are owned by private companies and are scattered throughout the city, most common ones I’ve seen are Lime and Jump, both which can be used via their app to find their nearest location. Make sure you have a working credit or debit card for this. No cash can be used.
London has many roads designed for bicycles, but whatever you decide to go for, please be careful and aware of your surroundings.
How to prepare for this day outdoors
It’s no secret that at this time of the year, it’s pretty damn cold in London. Whether it’ll snow or not is impossible to tell. I do this every morning before going out and I suggest you as well, check the daily forecast. Unlike days where things are mostly open and have heating on. On Christmas day there are slim-to-none, therefore you’ll be outside for most of the day (unless you choose to stay at your accommodation, which is not a bad decision).
Here are my tips:
⛄️ Layer up. You can always take something off if you need to.
⛄️ Wear comfortable shoes for walking, but also good for standing the cold.
⛄️ Bring water and snacks with you. You don’t want to get dehydrated or peckish with no where to purchase food.
⛄️ Bring a camera or a camera phone. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to view the city emptier than usual (besides other tourists like you). You’ll want memories of this day!
⛄️ Bring a portable phone battery. You might need it depending on your phone and how long you’ll be out.
⛄️ Download Citymapper or use Google Maps. Make sure you know where you are and how to get back to your accommodation.
Usually when you’re out and about and need a toilet break, you go in to a department store or a restaurant. This will prove tricky during Christmas Day, but worry not! Someone was clever enough to make a map of public toilets for you. This will come in handy.
So what can you do on Christmas day? Here are my suggestions:
A walk in the Royal Parks
Seems like an obvious one, but there are so many beautiful parks all over London. So wherever you stay, there should be at least one you can visit. See the list of open Royal Parks here.
My favorite of them all, Primrose Hill, situated above Regent’s Park, has a great view over the city. Primrose Hill is known for celebrity spotting (I once saw Gwen Stefany there!) though it’s unlikely you’ll see any on Christmas Day, the park is a great spot to visit.
Nearest station: Chalk Farm / Camden Town
A walk through Regent’s Canal
Regent’s Canal is 13.8 km (8.6 miles) long. It starts at Paddington Arm and ends at Limehouse Basin. The core of the canal is between Angel and Little Venice, which is still quite a walk but if you’re in the area you can walk any part you’d like. Both of these are docking spots for boats.
Where to eat
These places will have to be booked way in advance. They all serve both veggie (v) and vegan (ve) options and will have a special Christmas meal menu. Make sure you check if they have a dress code in advance.
The Cinnamon Bazaar, Indian cuisine
Nearest station: Covent Garden
The Gilbert Scott, British cuisine
Nearest station: King’s Cross / Euston
Ham Yard Restaurant, British cuisine
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus
The Spread Eagle, pub food
Nearest station: Camden Town
Horniman at Hays, pub food
Nearest station: London Bridge
Founders Arms, pub food
Nearest station: Blackfriars
Many branches of Wetherspoons pubs will be open throughout London, but they won’t be serving food during Christmas Day. Find a branch close to you here.
Take a Christmas Day cruise
City Cruises offers a cruise during Christmas Day which is again, advised to book in advance. You’ll cruise by London’s main attractions and they even have a live singer!
The sightseeing ticket will cost you £21 for adults, £10 for children and free for under 4 year olds excluding a meal.
The cruise & meal ticket is £125 for adults, £99 for children for a 4-course traditional meal and a welcome drink. Be advised that it doesn’t specify the menu or dietary requirements, I advise give them a call to get more details.
Watch the Peter Pan Cup
Every Christmas Day since 1864, London’s bravest swimmers dive into the freezing waters of Hyde Park’s Serpentine, in a competition for the Peter Pan Cup.
If you want to catch it on time, make sure to arrive before 9am when the race starts.
Nearest station: Marble Arch / Lancaster Gate / Hyde Park Corner
Go ice skating at JW3
There is an open ice rink open during Christmas Day, and it happens to be at the Jewish community center. Booking in advance is highly recommended. Tickets are £17 for adults, £12 for children.
Nearest station: Finchley Road
Take the Charles Dickens walking tour
The Walks website described the tour well: “On Christmas afternoon we celebrate Charles Dickens, his words, his life, his London and his Christmas. A Christmas before Cola turned Santa red.”
The tour operates in any weather. It starts at 2pm from Trafalgar Square and lasts for two hours. It will cost you £10 for adults, children go free. No need to book in advance. More info can be found here.
Discover Brick Lane’s street art
If you’re around East London, simply walking the streets of the Shoreditch-Brick Lane areas you’ll discover local street art that was done by many different artists. The street art changes frequently, so even if you’ve been there before you’re most likely to find new decorations to the area. It’s a free, outdoor museum for you to enjoy!
Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street / Liverpool Street