With plenty of things to do on Christmas day in London, why not grab your coat and scarf and enjoy a day out in the centre.
With limited crowds, it’s a magical experience to see London like this. Grab a Christmas dinner at one of the pubs, see the twinkling lights or maybe a swim in Hyde Park?
Here’s everything you need to know about spending Christmas day in London, from the transport options to where to eat.
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Transportation on Christmas Day
Sadly, there is absolutely no public transport available on Christmas Day. That means no buses, trams or tube trains. However, there are other ways to get around the city that will help to blow away those Christmas Eve cobwebs.
Rent a Boris bike
Cycling through the quiet streets is an option. With little to no traffic, hopping on a bicycle will get you to where you need to be in a matter of minutes. If you don’t own a bike, you can always rent one on the Santander Cycle Scheme. The scheme allows users to rent a bike from £2 a day to promote greener living in the area.
Tours and Trips
Take a tour of the city on a handy hop-on hop-off bus tour that allows you to explore over 70 of London’s iconic landmarks at your own pace. An entertaining commentary is also provided and you are free to “hop-off” whenever your heart desires.
Hop aboard a luxury coach to experience the wonderful sights London has to offer. You can choose between a morning tour or a nighttime tour to visit iconic places such as the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.
You could also set sail on the Thames for a panoramic tour of the city on a luxury Christmas cruise. Enjoy a one hour circular cruise on a heated river boat complete with an open upper deck. Informative commentary is provided by the crew along with Christmas carols and festive refreshments including spiced mulled wine and fruity mince pies. It is the perfect gift for that special someone and under 5’s travel free. What’s not to love?
Go for a Wintry Walk
Walking is another great alternative – and it’s free! Explore the ancient cobbled streets of London and take in the stunning architecture and twinkling Christmas lights.
Hampstead circular walk takes you on a journey through Hampstead Heath which is primarily known for its luscious green spaces. If it’s snowing, you should take the kids to Waterlow Park for some seriously fun sledging.
London is eerily quiet on Christmas Day, so it is nice to be able to take a walk around in peace as opposed to the usual hustle and bustle of the city. Black cabs are also available but be warned, they can be pretty expensive.
Visit a Pub On Christmas Day
Looking for a local boozer to visit with the family on Christmas morning? Having a pint at the pub on Christmas Day is a British tradition, and while they may not be open all day, most pubs are open until midday. Here are some of London’s best pubs to visit on Christmas Day, most of which serve Christmas dinners and are open all day long.
The Swan in Hyde Park has been standing since 1721 and can be found facing the park itself. Apparently, if you spend over £150, they’ll knock 10% off your bill! It is said that the term ‘one for the road’ was first coined here when the local jailer would ask for one last beer for their prisoner.
Christmas Day is possibly the best day to come here if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Camden. The Spread Eagle craft pub and eating house has been at the centre of the community since 1858 and is a stone’s throw away from beautiful Regent’s Park. Perfect for a wintry walk afterwards.
Get on down to The Owl and The Pussycat for some festive grub this Christmas. Located in trendy Shoreditch, this rustic yet modern pub will cater to all your needs while you eat, drink and be merry!
The Prince Albert has been around since 1866, serving up top-quality food and drinks. Christmas at The Prince Albert is like no other with classic British Christmas dishes and festive tipples. This dog-friendly, cosy pub can be found on Albert Bridge Road not far from Battersea Park.
Thankfully, there are a variety of places to eat a traditional Christmas lunch on the big day. Bookings are required, some as early as August. So if you have a place in mind, it is a good idea to check out the booking process sooner rather than later.
Book in at Hans’ Bar and Grill in Chelsea for a home from home dining experience, without the added stress of hosting. Celebrate the day with friends and family over a beautifully decorated table and indulge in the finest Christmas cuisine.
Over at St John in Farringdon, diners can feast on a succulent hog roast that serves up to 22 people followed by sweet apple and calvados trifle for dessert. The three-course menu offers a choice of beef, fish, game or goose along with vegetarian options so that nobody is left out.
If Chinese food is your thing, then head on over to Min Jiang in Kensington for traditional Chinese dishes with a Christmas twist. Choose from an array of meals including a whole wood-fired beijing duck..
Cinnamon Club at Westminster serves up a traditional Christmas dinner with an Indian twist. Dessert includes a garam masala Christmas pudding with spiced cinnamon custard. The popular eatery offers a four-course meal with a festive tipple in its Christmas menu.
Christmas Afternoon Tea
Enjoy a festive Afternoon Tea at The Ritz in the luxurious Palm Court. With over 18 varieties of tea served with the usual finger sandwiches and delicious Christmas treats, The Ritz is the place to be to enjoy a fun afternoon with loved ones. Father Christmas might also pay a visit with presents for some very lucky children.
Also found in Palm Court is The Langham serving classic British cakes and biscuits with a festive twist. Tuck into delicious finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam before washing it down with a tea of your choice. The Langham caters for young children too, with fun gingerbread biscuits and Christmas cupcakes.
Visit the Waldorf Hilton London for a magical Sugar Plum Fairy Afternoon Tea. Feast on salmon blinis followed by sugar plum jam and scones washed down with a fine cup of British tea. You could even treat yourself to a festive glass of fizz.
The Savoy hosts a magical Afternoon Tea complete with lavish decorations and a truly stunning Christmas tree. Delve into turkey finger sandwiches and fruity mince pies to get into the festive spirit.
Attractions Open on Christmas Day
Many churches and cathedrals host a Christmas Day service open to the public. Visit world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral to watch its most famous Christmas concert “A Celebration of Christmas”. Join fellow worshippers at historic Southwark Cathedral to take a journey to Bethlehem to greet the Christ-child.
The Christmas church services may have limited spaces so check on the website for visiting guidelines as you may need to book a slot. Last year, some churches live-streamed their Christmas events which may also be the case for some this year.
Pull on your skates for a trip around the ice-rink. Most places are closed on the big day, however JW3 ice rink usually has its doors open to the public if you fancy some afternoon fun. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate or a mulled wine afterwards to get into the Christmas spirit.
Most of London’s best parks are open on Christmas Day and are usually quite busy. Take the children out on their new bikes delivered by Santa himself. Alternatively, you can work off that Christmas dinner with a wintry afternoon stroll. If you are in central London, then Hyde Park or Kensington Park may be best suited to you. Explore Victoria Park if you are in East London, frequently voted as one of London’s best parks.
Will you be daring enough to go for a dip in the icy waters? If you plan to take a stroll through Hyde Park, keep your eyes peeled for the Serpentine Swimming Club as they compete for the Peter Pan Cup Race. This bizarre event takes place every Christmas morning as brave members dive head first into the freezing cold Serpentine lake. We’ll take a pass thanks!
For a warmer (and safer!) swim, book ahead for a spot at Hampton Pool to get a kick-start on that pending January health regime.
Dust off your walking boots and get yourself down to Trafalgar Square at 2pm sharp for a Charles Dickens themed walk. The tour explores the Victorian alleyways and hideaways frequented by the man who reinvented Christmas, Charles Dickens himself. Sadly, the tour was suspended last year due to the pandemic, however there are high hopes for its return this year.
This fantastic and informative exhibition of real human bodies may not seem very festive – and it isn’t. However, the Body Worlds exhibitions are one of the most successful in the entire world. Join Dr. Angelina Whalley and Dr. Gunther Von Hagens as they educate the audience about the inner workings of the human body through amazing (if not slightly gruesome) real human specimens. Just what you need right before a delicious Christmas dinner!
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.