… you’re tired of life” is the expression. It’s right. London is a beautiful, historical and important city. But it’s much more than that – it’s great, great fun. There’s a lot to do in the UK’s capital. There’s drinks, dinner, dancing and everything in-between and outside those categories. Every imaginable cuisine is served somewhere in London – it’s an enormous melting point. Similarly, any drink you could imagine is sold somewhere here, even if you have to break a few laws to get it.
So, during Christmas, what should a tourist do in London? And what should they absolutely avoid? London isn’t the snowy Christmassy town that Dickens wrote about any more – it’s grown to be much more than that and yet has managed to retain some of that old grandeur. London is a city made of the best of two worlds. So, there should be a generous sprinkling of Dickensian Christmas charm, but a decent portion of exciting food, hot coffee and cold drinks, too.
Ice skating has got to be one of the first attractions that anyone would suggest for someone staying in London over the Christmas period. The quintessential experience is, of course, the ice rink outside the Natural History Museum (which a tourist should visit anyway), but if that’s a bit too much for you then you can always just watch with a mulled wine or hot chocolate or head to somewhere else like our next place to see…
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland not only has a free (though slightly packed) ice rink, it also offers a Bavarian beer festival, ice sculptures, two circuses and a festive Christmas market. Make sure to pick up some roasted chestnuts from one of the vendors dotted around the place. Somehow they just taste better and better as the 25th approaches.
There’s so, so much more to check out in London not just over the Christmas period but all year round. It would be useless to list them all – there’s not enough space in an entire book. But we can give you a couple of tips on what to avoid (or, at least, what to not waste your time on). In no particular order:
Don’t worry too much about seeing the Christmas lights. Or rather, if you’re going to see the Christmas lights you should focus more on the shopping than the lights. Oxford Street and Carnaby Street and the many, many other places the lights will have reached to survive on their own merits. Our point is, don’t make space to see Christmas lights. If you’re out being a tourist in London, you won’t have to go looking for them – they’ll be some where you’re headed.
On the topic of “where you’re headed”, make sure to look up the public transport that may or may not be available over the Christmas period. It’s important you spend your time wisely and you won’t manage that if you’re waiting for a bus that isn’t going to turn up. Check before you travel! Oh, and buy an Oyster card – they’re worth the money.
Most importantly, get into the Christmas spirit! Have fun, drink more than you should, and smile at strangers. Happy holidays!