It’s two weeks until the dread day, when most of London shuts down — for Christmas Day, but a few hardly venues will open for the visitors stuck in the centre of town and with nothing else to do.

Experience the empty city

The only day of the year where there’s no public transport, and hardly anyone goes into the centre of town — so what better than to take a trip in and enjoy the eerie emptiness. Only in the very early morning though – before around 10am, as by then bewildered tourists will be wandering around wondering what’s happened.

It’s a remarkable experience though, all that silence and empty streets. If you drive in, drop the car off somewhere and grab a hire bike and pedal around. Do it at least once in your lifetime, it’s a marvelous experience.

Deserted London

Ride a vintage bus

Route 430 — which runs between Roehampton and Putney Bridge will be in operation, staffed by volunteers from a local heritage bus hire firm, and offering free rides throughout the day.

1950s Vintage Bus Hire

Go to church

Even if you’re not Christian, there’s still something nice about a church service on Christmas Day. It’s also a chance to go into the big cathedrals for one of their services, as naturally, they’re open.

Watch swimmers

Every Christmas Morning in Hyde Park, from around 9am, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club gather for the Peter Pan Cup — a swimming race in the Serpentine Lake. Observe and cheer on the people brave enough to be wearing just swimming gear on a chilly morning.

Serpentine Swimming Club

Go swimming

Near Teddington, the only outdoor heated swimming pool that’s open every single day of the year, including Christmas Day. Don’t think of it as a way to work off Christmas lunch though, as that’s a very bad idea.

Hampton Pool

Go ice skating

The only ice-rink in the city that’s open on Christmas Day might not surprise you to learn is in the Jewish cultural centre, JW3 on Finchley Road.

JW3 Ice Rink

See dead people

Not a visit to the cemetery (although that’s an option), but Body Worlds, the plasticised dead bodies exhibition in Piccadilly Circus is open on Christmas Day.

Body Worlds

Pubs

Not all, but many pubs are open on Christmas Day, mainly for pre-booked Christmas Lunch, but as ever fewer of us go to pubs these days, what better day to venture inside one.

Go for a walk

Bit obvious this one, but in our busy lives, it’s hard to find time to just wander around aimlessly for an hour or so — take the opportunity to discover all those side streets around where you live that you’d never usually walk down. And the road traffic will be minimal, so it’s a very peaceful day to go for a walk.

Go sightseeing on the Thames

The big tourist boats that ply the Thames will be operating on Christmas Day, with tours from early morning to mid-afternoon. They also have an onboard Christmas Lunch option for those with deep pockets.

City Cruises

Christmas lights bus tour

Something for the evening, a company that operates bus tours of the Christmas decorations will also run two trips on Christmas Day

Not the cheapest idea, but heck, it’s Christmas Day and the staff need paying.

Golden Tours

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4 comments on “What to do in London on Christmas Day
  1. Janet says:

    Rent a bicycle

  2. Mary says:

    If in need of light refreshments a well known coffee chain and sandwich chain open some branches in Central and Kensington areas on Christmas Day.

  3. Jan lewin says:

    Thank you for this info. I will be there and don’t celebrate Christmas. This helps.

  4. Dave Smith says:

    There’s used to be quite a few restaurants that open on Christmas day – especially Turkish and similar.

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