Christmas Day in London is the only day of the year when London comes to a standstill: There is no public transport and most shops are closed.
Lots of people visit London during the Christmas holidays, and sometimes people feel disappointed when they discover that there isn’t much to do in London on Christmas Day, as nothing is open. It is the only holiday of the year that can be considered a real bank holiday for those who work in central London, as other bank holidays in London go unnoticed, as shops don’t close, and public transport is always on the go.
So one of the questions that I receive the most include: What do we do in London on Christmas Day? Is it a waste of time? How do spend Chrismas in London?
The truth is that London never really stops; even if it is Christmas Day and the shops are closed, there is always something to do. Yes, some restaurants will be open, and what’s more, they will be offering traditional Christmas Dinner. There will also be taxis (although they will be more expensive this day) and London’s buildings and skyline won’t be covered… So don’t worry, there are things to do. We have made a list of the best things to do in London on Christmas Day.
What to do on Christmas Day in London
Few tourist attractions will be open on December 25 in London, but so that you can make the most of this day, I have compiled everything I have found that can be done on Christmas Day in London, including restaurants that offer traditional food British Christmas.
Christmas Day Sigthseeing Bus Tour
A special Christmas Day sightseeing bus tour normally runs on Christmas Day in London. We think this is actually a good way of spending part of the day, and it can be pretty spectacular. Just imagine – no crowds, no traffic… You will see London like never before, and it’s also a way to get around the city as there is no public transport.
Details for 2022 are yet to be confirmed, but you need a specific ticket for the Christmas Day Sightseeing Tour. This ticket will allow you to use the sightseeing tour on the 25th and the 26th of December, allowing you to go on the River Cruise on the 26th (as the cruise is not available on Christmas Day). Find out more: Big Bus London Sightseeing Bus.
Christmas Day Tours from London
Why not visit another city for the day and enjoy a traditional Christmas Meal whilst you’re at it? This is possibly one of my favourite options if you are visiting London during the Christmas holidays and don’t know how to spend Christmas Day.
Details for 2022 haven’t been confirmed yet, but we will update this article as soon as details are revealed!
- Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon and the Cotswolds: Day trip to the Cotswolds, visiting Stratford Upon Avon (W. Shakespeare’s birthplace), travelling through the pretty villages of the Cotswolds with traditional Christmas Meal included. Find out more: Christmas Day trip to the Cotswolds.
- Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath: Day trip to Stonehenge, Windsor and Bath with traditional Christmas Meal included. Find out more: Christmas Day trip to Windsor.
- Dover, Rochester and Canterbury: Day trip to Canterbury, travelling past Rochester Castle and Dover. Find out more: Christmas Day trip to Dover.
Peter Pan Cup Race
The Peter Pan Cup Race takes place every year on Christmas Day on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. It starts at 9 am, and it’s free to watch and cheer those brave swimmers!
» Find out More: Peter Pan Cup Race.
Bus Tour in central London and Christmas Lunch on a Thames River Cruise
This is probably one of the best options for someone visiting London during the Christmas Holidays and spending Christmas Day in London. First, hop on a sightseeing tour of the city on the quietest day of the year, and then enjoy a traditional British Christmas Meal on a Thames River Cruise.
Exact details for 2022 have not been released yet – we will update this information when it’s available!
» Find out More: Sightseeing Tour and Thames River Cruise.
River Cruises in London on Christmas Day
> Sightseeing River Cruise
One of the few tourist attractions available on Christmas Day is the Thames Sightseeing Cruise. This is a 1-hour circular cruise departing from Westminster Pier, next to Big Ben. Children up to 4 years old (included) go for free. On Christmas Day, the first river cruise departs at 9.45 am, and the last one departs at 2.45 pm.
> Sightseeing River Cruise with Christmas Lunch
Another great option for those spending Christmas Day in London is to have a traditional Christmas Lunch whilst cruising the River Thames and taking in all the wonderful views. The cruise departs Westminster Pier at noon and returns at 3.15 pm.
» Find out more: Christmas Day River Cruise with Christmas Lunch
Where to Eat in London on Christmas Day
Even though many pubs and restaurants will be closed on Christmas Day in London, some will open and offer a traditional British Christmas Lunch. It is important to book, though, as you may want to book the restaurant closest to your hotel (or near a sightseeing bus tour stop!), knowing that no public transport will be available.
You can spend the morning strolling through central London or going on the sightseeing bus tour and then take the opportunity to enjoy Christmas Lunch, something that can only be done properly once a year!
Here is a list of restaurants in London that offer a special menu for Christmas Day:
Pubs open on Christmas Day in London
- Hornimman´s: Pub located in Hay´s Galleria, London Bridge. Ideal if you wish to go for a leisurely walk along the south bank of the Thames before or after lunch. They offer a special Christmas Day menu which costs £74.95 per person for the 5-course menu. You have to book in advance and pay a deposit that will be deducted from the final bill on the day. More information and bookings on their website: Hornimman´s
- The Lamb and Flag: Located in Covent Garden, this pub offers a traditional Christmas Day menu for £80 per person. Find out more: The Lamb and Flag.
- The swan: Located next to Hyde Park, this pub offers a traditional Christmas Day menu for £80 per person. Find out more: The Swan.
- Prospect of Whitby: This pub in Wapping has some of the best views in London. They will be serving traditional British Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day for £64.95 per person. Find out more: Prospect of Whitby
- The Kitchen Restaurants: This chain of restaurants will offer traditional Christmas Day lunch, across different restaurants in London. The menu varies between £95 and £125 per person. Find out more: The Kitchens.
- The Latchmere: Located in Battersea, you can enjoy Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day for £65 per person. Find out more: The Latchmere.
- Duke of Sussex: Located next to Waterloo tube and train station, this pub offers a traditional Christmas Day menu for £75 per person. Find out more: Duke of Sussex.
- The Mayflower: A little bit further away from central London, near Rotherhithe station. Find out more: The Mayflower.
Restaurants open on Christmas Day in London
- Duck and Waffle: One of the restaurants with the most spectacular views in London, on the 40th floor of one of central London’s buildings. It offers a special Christmas Day menu for £120 per person. Find out more: Duck and Waffle.
- Browns: Browns Restaurants are one of the most famous traditional British restaurants in London, and it’s no wonder they offer a Christmas menu to celebrate Christmas Day in style. They offer a 5-course menu for £90 at their Victoria restaurant. Find out more: Browns
- Dean Street Countryhouse: If you want to have an unforgettable day and you don’t mind paying a bit more, then I’d recommend trying this restaurant, one of the most luxurious restaurants in London. Find out more: Dean Street Countryhouse (2022 details not confirmed yet)
- Chop House: All three Chop House restaurants offer Christmas menus from £55 to £75 per person. One of them is located on Butler’s Wharf, overlooking Tower Bridge, another one is located next to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the third restaurant is next to Moorgate. Find out more: Butler´s Wharf Chop House.
- Hotel Ritz: The famous Ritz hotel in London offers different options for Christmas Day, from a traditional meal to an unforgettable dinner or a typical British Afternoon Tea… Find out more: Ritz Hotel.
- Aviary: Christmas Day menu for £70 per person. Find out more: Aviary.
International Restaurants open on Christmas Day in London:
- Cinnamon Club: This is one of London’s most famous Indian restaurants and it celebrates Christmas Day with a special menu. Find out more: Cinnamon Club.
- Namaaste: Indian restaurant located in Camden. Find out more: Namaaste.
- May Fair Kitchen: Restaurant with contemporary Italian and Spanish menu. Find out more: May Fair Kitchen.
In addition to these restaurants, some cafes and chain restaurants are usually open in central London on Christmas Day; many will not offer a special manu for Christmas Day but will be serving their normal menu.
What closes on Christmas day in London
- Winter Wonderland. Find out more: Winter wonderland.
- All the ice-skating rinks. Find out more: Christmas in London.
- Christmas Markets. Find out more: Christmas in London.
- Virtually all shops and supermarkets.
- All the museums, such as the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum…
- All the attractions, such as London Eye, Tower of London, Madame Tussauds… except the Sightseeing Bus Tour as mentioned above.
Public Transport on Christmas Day in London
As I mentioned before, Christmas Day is the only day of the year when there is no public transport in London, and this can be a problem if you need to move around the city on that day. There will be no underground service, no bus, no overground, and no DLR amongst other services.
Taxis will be available throughout the day, but they will be more expensive on this day. If you already know that you will need to go from one place to another, such as from the airport to the city centre, I recommend booking a minicab in advance, since it will probably be cheaper than calling a taxi on the day.
National Express buses will operate on Christmas Day, making airport transfers easier.
- Bus from Stansted Airport to Central London.
- Bus from Gatwick Airport to Central London.
- Bus from Luton Airport to Central London.
Christmas Eve and Boxing Day in London
Shops, tourist attractions and public transport also have different opening times during Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Here you can find what is open and what to do on these days: Christmas Eve and Boxing Day in London.