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.

See a Christmas show, enjoy a festive tour, go Christmas shopping, explore seasonal markets and show off your skills when ice skating.

Morning: Christmas shopping in London

Two staff stand in a shop in Harrods, wearing the iconic green uniform with gold buttons, looking at items to place on the shelves.

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 in and around stylish Bond Street, iconic Oxford Street, elegant Regent Street and historic Piccadilly while picking up Christmas gifts.

Top displays in this part of town include Fortnum & Mason, pretty 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.

Hamleys on Regent Street sells an amazing variety of toys, while Zara's flagship store on Oxford Street offers bold-but-affordable fashion pieces ideal for teens – not to mention plenty of festive glitter and sequins! 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 historic Burlington Arcade, stylish Jermyn Street, charming South Molton Street and pretty Connaught Village are the perfect places for eclectic luxury items, and are just a short stroll away.

Top tip: The world’s most famous department store Harrods is an ideal spot for picking up a Christmas gift, from magical toys and delightful hampers to beautiful Christmas wreaths. Hire a personal shopping assistant to help you find the perfect present for your loved ones.

Lunch: Feast at foodie hubs or afternoon tea

Christmas-themed cakes on two tiers of a cake stand, including cakes shaped like Santa's belt, cakes with holly leaves and cakes shaped like baubles.

Ready for lunch? 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 teas filled with seasonal treats.

Let an expert guide show you around London's hottest foodie spots. Feast on mouth-watering bites from around the world with a Borough Market Food Tour, dine on Indian cuisine on a tour of Brick Lane, or head to the idyllic district of Kensington for a Portobello Market Gastro Tour*.
 
Want to upgrade your kitchen skills? Take a masterclass and learn from the best before tucking into your creations. Enjoy a Sushi and Sake Masterclass at Buddha Bar* or indulge at a luxury chocolate making class in Hoxton*.
 
Refuel at St Christopher's Place, a hidden dining gem just off Oxford Street, which boasts more than 20 restaurants and cafes. Head to vibrant Kingly Court in Carnaby to eat in its heated courtyard, try the eclectic eateries in St James’s Market and Heddon Street, or visit Seven Dials Market, which is home to numerous food and drink traders.
 
Top tip: An afternoon tea tour aboard a sightseeing bus is a great way to explore London's top sights. 

Afternoon: Christmas markets, ice skating and Christmas lights

A woman and two children skate on the ice rink at Winter Wonderland in London.

After a bite to eat, it’s time for a picturesque walk along the river Thames, where you can tuck into roasted chestnuts, enjoy festive decorations and explore the Christmas market along the South BankFind more buzzing London Christmas markets

If you’re looking for something more active to do in the build-up to Christmas in London with kids, wrap up warm and get your skates on at one of London's gorgeous open-air ice-skating rinks. Take in the magnificent surrounds of Somerset House or skate in the shadow of the Queen's House in Greenwich among other magical rinks.

It's now time to put your feet up and enjoy some of the best Christmas lights and iconic sights in London on a special Christmas lights bus tour. Book onto the 5pm tour to give you plenty of time to head to the theatre afterwards.

Top tip: Head to Hampton Court Palace ice rink, for an afternoon of ice skating and exploring the former home of King Henry VIII.

Evening: Christmas shows in London 

A group of actors portraying miners on stage are dancing together.

You're perfectly placed to enjoy some of the many spellbinding shows in London this Christmas. Top shows this year include the magical The Nutcracker, a star-studded Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime and the hilarious Elf the Musical. Or take your pick from more theatre shows, including London’s top 10 musicals, for a memorable night in the city

After the show, visit picturesque 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.

There are plenty of places to try for post-theatre 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. 

End the night with a pint in one of London's cosy pubs, sip on classy drinks at a cocktail bar or champagne bar or admire the city sparkle from above at a winter rooftop bar.

Top tip: Catch a Christmas carol service and sing along to your favourite festive tunes at an enchanting performance at iconic spots such as St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. 

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