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What To Do On Christmas Day In NYC, London, Tokyo, & Barcelona

Find out what's open and what's not in these 4 international cities.

By Joe Lepore

13 November 2019

Whether you’re dying to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, or heading to London to give your miserly uncle a real life Christmas Carol, many travelers take the holidays as a chance to see a new city. The only problem? It’s the holidays there, too—with all the holiday closures that come with it. With these tips from Journy, you won't get caught with nothing to do on the 25th.

Better yet—leave all the planning to Journy! Request by December 8, and we'll plan the ultimate (customized!) holiday itinerary for you complete with restaurant reservations, activity bookings, and everything in between—so you can actually enjoy holiday traveling for once.

New York

Grand Central Station, NYC

Sure, the city never sleeps, but even NYC gets a little sleepy on Christmas Day. Major museums, like the Met and MoMA, are closed. But there’s still plenty to do! You could celebrate the day like a true New Yorker and check out some of its great arthouse movie theaters, like The Film Forum or Nitehawk, and follow up with a stop at great New York institutions like Russ & Daughters or Nom Wah Tea Parlor. If you’re looking for some live entertainment, don’t fret—most Broadway shows still perform on Christmas Day. Plus, you can always go see the tree!

READ MORE: The Best Foods In NYC, According To These Locals

London

Regent Street, London

If you’re fantasizing about a quaint, Victorian Christmas, be warned: London really closes down for the holiday! On Christmas Day, public transportation is closed, meaning your only ways of getting around are taxis, bikeshare, and your own two feet. If you decide to walk around it can be a unique way of seeing the city—rarely is central London so empty during the day. It’s a fantastic time to check out the Christmas lights in the normally bustling Seven Dials.

A number of restaurants close the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s, so plan to make reservations—especially for meals on the 25th and 26th (Boxing Day). If you’re hungry on Christmas, you’re in luck: stop in for a hearty Christmas dinner at spots like Dean Street Townhouse, Wild Honey St James, or the Rosebery.

Tokyo

Shinjuku, Japan

For much of Japan, Christmas Day is just another Wednesday. In Tokyo, people do like to eat out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—so reservations can be hard to come by if you don’t make them early. If you’re looking for a little holiday spirit in the middle of Tokyo, take the opportunity to check out some of the city’s fantastic winter lights displays, which can be found in neighborhoods like Shiodome, Shinjuku, and Shibuya. Head to Roppongi Hills for their “Artelligent Christmas” display—a weirder side of Christmas, for sure!

Note that Tokyo's markets, including Tsukiji Outer Market and the new Toyosu Fish Market, actually have extended opening hours from December 23-31 so that locals can purchase the necessary supplies for one of Japan's largest holidays: New Years.

Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Like London, Barcelona takes Christmas seriously and much of the city closes down for the holiday (and Boxing Day, too). Luckily, a few tourist sights are open Christmas Day: Gaudi’s Park Güell and Casa Batlló are open, and even La Sagrada Familia accepts visitors until 2pm. If you're hoping to visit a Christmas market like Fira de Nadal or Fira de Santa Llúcia, be sure to do so before the 24th, as they close between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

The Spanish are known for late dinners, but keep in mind that many restaurants in Barcelona close early on Christmas Eve. For a few great spots open on Christmas Day, Journy recommends El Informal, Botafumeiro, Tragaluz (open for lunch but not dinner), and Montiel.


With a little planning with Journy, you can be sure to have a fantastic Christmas anywhere you’re headed!

And if you're hoping to escape to warmer climates this holiday season, Thailand might just be the place for you.