It’s no secret that London is the perfect city for classic holiday charm. Whether it’s the yeeeeeeears more practice they have, or the fact that they don’t need to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate, the whole city is dressed up with a festive cheer we just can’t match in the USA. Even the typically dreary London weather feels a bit magic with all the twinkling lights around. From ice skating to holiday markets, here are some of the best things to do during the festive season in London!
this post includes affiliate links, which contribute toward my oat-milk cappuccino fund at no extra cost to you. thank you!
Find yourself in a cute neighborhood (try Marylebone or Notting Hill) or a sprawling park (I love Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath), and wander for a while. Morning is the best time to stroll, while everything’s still waking up. This is also my favorite way to stumble upon some of the prettiest places I never could have found otherwise – charming mews, cozy shopfronts, foggy winter views.
Were you going to visit England without having tea? Surely not. Book a table in advance at the Ritz or Fortnum & Mason for classic Christmas flair, or keep things more casual – but no less festive – at Biscuiteers.
The rink at the Natural History Museum is my personal favorite, but the one at Somerset House is a close second. Go at night for maximum twinkle light magic and an easy excuse to warm up with mulled wine or hot cocoa.
Also most magical at night, a Christmas market is the perfect place to grab some seasonal treats and browse the stalls for gifts. I like to pick up an ornament from every place I visit, and a holiday market is an easy win. Find the biggest, brightest lights at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and the most traditional market outside the Tate Modern.
London’s free museums are one of the city’s greatest offerings. Pop into wherever’s nearby or interests you the most – the V&A, the National Gallery, the Tate – and take in their public collections for as long as you’d like.
Department stores like Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, and Liberty (my favorite!) have some of the best decorations around. They’re also great for finding classic gifts and souvenirs, and the big streets like Regent and Oxford are magically lit up at night. Covent Garden dresses up so well for the season that it’s worth a visit even if you’ve bought all the gifts you need.
But don’t skip London’s little shops! Head to Lamb’s Conduit Street or Elizabeth Street for a string of charming (sorry, there’s just no other word for it!) stores full of more unique finds.
A place that feels like a bit of a secret is always cozier. Settle into an armchair at an Electric Cinema to see a movie (any cinema by Soho House has to very stylish and a little mysterious). Or, step into a 90s dream at Cereal Killers Cafe in Shoreditch and design your own perfect bowl of cereal.
The Breakfast Club Cafe on Artillery Lane might seem a little diner-generic, but tell the host you’re there to see the mayor. Before you know it, you’ll be ushered through the refrigerator to the bar downstairs, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town.
my free printable five-step
guide to packing light &
traveling in style