Christmas in London: one-day itinerary

Plan a magical Christmas day out to London with our handy guide taking in shopping hotspots and a sack-load of festive fun.

Revel in the city’s seasonal atmosphere and discover some of the top things to do in London at Christmas with our magical day out.

Go Christmas shopping, explore seasonal markets, show off your skills with ice skating or see a Christmas show in London. If you want to stay longer, make memories during a Christmas weekend.

Morning: Christmas shopping in London

Head out early and beat the crowds for a spot of Christmas shopping in London's fabulously festive West End. Marvel at the seasonal shop-window displays and Christmas decorations on and around Oxford StreetBond StreetPiccadilly and Regent Street while picking up Christmas gifts.

Top displays in this part of town include Fortnum & Mason, Liberty London and Selfridges, which all house dedicated Christmas shops: Selfridges is the go-to store for Union Jack baubles and quirky ornaments, Liberty is known for its glass-blown decorations and gorgeous crackers; while Fortnum & Mason has lots of foodie Christmas treats. Also keep an eye out for Cartier's iconic "wrapped present" decorations, on Bond Street.

If you’re looking for something a little different, the independent boutiques in Burlington Arcade, Jermyn Street, South Molton Street and Connaught Village are the perfect places to search for eclectic luxury items, and are just a short stroll away.

Hamleys on Regent Street sells an amazing variety of toys, while Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street offers bold-but-affordable fashion pieces ideal for teens – not to mention plenty of festive glitter and sequins!

Enjoy a pre-Christmas lunch in London  

Ready for lunch? Refuel at St Christopher's Place, a hidden dining gem just off Oxford Street, which boasts more than 20 restaurants and cafes. Alternatively, head to vibrant Kingly Court in Carnaby to eat delicious food from around the world.

For a sumptuous treat, break up the day with an elegant afternoon tea in London at a luxury restaurant or hotel, some of which offer Christmas afternoon tea filled with seasonal treats.

If you prefer something on the go, cross the river to grab hot and tasty dishes from one of the many tempting street food stalls at Borough Market.

Afternoon: wander London's Christmas markets

After a bite to eat, it’s time for a picturesque walk along the river Thames, where you can tuck into roasted chestnuts and enjoy the festive decorations along the South Bank.

Here, you'll find the Winter festival at Southbank Centre in full swing. Look for gifts among the traditional wooden chalets at the Christmas market while enjoying a seasonal cocktail. Or venture further along the river to Christmas by the River for views of Tower Bridge. 

Find more buzzing London Christmas markets

Prefer to rest your legs? Take a break and enjoy some of the best Christmas lights in London, plus other famous illuminated sights, from the comfort of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

Evening: Christmas shows in London

As darkness falls, visit picture-pretty Covent Garden, which is transformed into a winter haven. See the giant Christmas tree in the famous piazza and watch the Covent Garden Christmas lights sparkle, before snapping away at the selfie spot.

There are plenty of places to try for dinner, including quick bites in the market building and trendy eateries surrounding the piazza. Nearby, The Opera Quarter and St Martin's Courtyard are also packed with a diverse mix of restaurants. 

After dinner, sit back and enjoy a pantomime or one of the many festive shows in London this Christmas. Nearby Leicester Square is given a festive makeover during Christmas in Leicester Square, with mesmerising spectacles such as La Clique sure to wow under the magnificent spiegeltent

Alternatively, stroll over to buzzing Trafalgar Square, where you can enjoy Christmas carols around the world-famous Christmas tree, an annual gift from Norway since 1947.

If you’re looking for something more active to do during Christmas in London with kids, wrap up warm and get your skates on at one of London's gorgeous open-air ice-skating rinks.

Afterwards, defrost with a pint in one of London's cosy pubs, treat yourself to a tipple at a luxury cocktail bar or champagne bar, or admire the city’s sparkling lights from above at winter rooftop bar.

For more seasonal events and festive things to do in London, take a look at our guide to Christmas in London.