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England/Scotland for Christmas

My husband and I are planning to travel to the UK during the Christmas holiday. The two large cities we plan to visit are London and Edinburgh. Since we'll be in the UK on the 25th and 26th of December, which city is the best bet during that time frame? I know a number of museums and historical sites will be closed those two days. Ideally, we'd like to be in a spot where there are some restaurants open and some places to do sightseeing. Are there things we can do on those days?

Posted by
7552 posts

Can’t comment on Scotland. Never been.

Returning for my 6th Christmas in London this year.

Unless you enjoying walking you’ll not enjoy Christmas Day in London. NO busses. Neither the tube or trains will be running. Cabs will be out but charging a premium transport price. Not one “must see” site will be open, nor will museums. Some pubs, cafes and restaurants but most serving only to mid day.

Christmas in London is about spending time with family. You can watch the Queen’s pre taped Christmas message on the telly. Or if near Hyde Park enjoy the traditional Peter Pan Cup race early in the Serpentine then stroll around the Park and Kensington Gardens people watching. I also think London walks ( has a Christmas Day Walk.

Posted by
714 posts

Last christmas we were in London, went to the Christmas Day service at St Pauls, walking back ( no public transport) had a nice but basic lunch in a little cafe we happened to find open. Then spent the rest of the day voluntering at a homeless shelter. An unusual but nice Christmas day. No sites will be open.

Posted by
6113 posts

There will be some restaurants open in both London and Edinburgh on Christmas Day, although expect to pay through the nose for a meal wherever you are. You will need to book a Christmas Day lunch well in advance. You could rent an apartment and cater for yourselves.

There is no public transport in London on Christmas Day and in Edinburgh, there are no trams and a very limited bus service. New Year (Hogmanay) is a bigger deal than Christmas in Scotland.

All the major tourist sites will be closed in both places. There are more sights in London than Edinburgh that you could walk and look at. Shops will be open on Boxing Day.

Posted by
25 posts

I love London over Christmas, but do come prepared to WALK. Pretty much everything is closed on the 25th and 26th.

One year we went to Hyde Park and hung around the Serpentine watching families feed the (amazing and varied) water birds, and that was great fun! There is also a swimming race in the Serpentine in the morning on Christmas, I think. My husband went once and said it was tons of fun - but don't take my word for it - Google it first, if it appeals to you. :-)

There was also a cafe open by the Serpentine, so we could get a cup of tea or a sandwich and a beer. That was much appreciated because, as above, pretty much everything is closed.

You might find things open around Covent Garden. You can check on pub websites to see their holiday season schedule. Not all pubs open, but a goodly number do. There's also lots of excellent window shopping around Covent Garden, and lovely lights and decorations, even if most of the businesses are closed.

Another option that has worked for us is hotels: lots of hotels have a meal service, or tea, or just a lobby bar that is open, on the 25th, so that is an option to explore.

Or try a restaurant along the Edgeware Road. You can easily walk from Oxford Street, where shops are closed but the gorgeous decorations are still twinkling.

Having not been to Scotland on December 25, I would still venture a guess that there's more open in London.