When it comes to great cities to visit during Christmastime, nothing compares to the magic of London. Simply watch the film Love Actually and you’ll see for yourself. The holiday rom-com classic is filled with scenes showing off some of the best spots in London. In fact, Love Actually has inspired us to list the five coolest things to do in the city. These attractions are great any time of the year, but they’re especially fun during the holidays.

Take a Stroll through Trafalgar Square

As the largest public square in Greater London, Trafalgar Square has been an important meeting site since the 13th century. Today, it’s a great place to explore some beautiful fountains and notable statues like the Landseer Lions. The square is anchored by Nelson’s Column, a 13-foot monument honoring the famous British admiral who died at the Battle of Trafalgar. During the holiday season, however, all of these sites are trumped by the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, which is considered to be the largest in London.

Explore the Galleries at Tate Modern

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then visiting Tate Modern is a must. This museum, which is based in the former Bankside Power Station, houses the national collection of British art from 1900 to today as well as modern international art. From abstraction to expressionism and Monet to Matisse, browsers can experience a range of impressive artwork within Tate Modern’s seven floors. Free daily activities like guided tours and family events make visiting even better.

Lace up Your Skates at Somerset House

Throughout most of the year, the courtyard at Somerset House features an array of dancing fountains. But when winter comes around, the area is converted into one of the most popular ice rinks in London. Visit the rink during the day to enjoy the Neoclassical splendor of the Somerset House while you skate in a classic Christmas-in-London atmosphere (probably why it’s used more than once in establishing shots in Love Actually). At night, the rink often features DJs and more of a club atmosphere. Those who are interested in learning more about the property, which was home to three Catholic queens, can partake in a guided tour.

Buy Some Gifts at Selfridges on Oxford Street

No trip to London is complete without a bit of shopping. If you’re a fan of large department stores, there’s hardly a better choice than the flagship Selfridges & Co. on Oxford Street, which is also the setting for the painfully hilarious gift-wrapping scene when Harry tries to buy a necklace for his secretary before his wife gets back. As the second-largest store in the UK, this retail mecca has over 500,000 square feet of selling space. The building, which was first opened in 1909, is famous for its window displays. In fact, many visitors come just to look at these lavish attractions. However, Selfridges is more than just a large shopping center with a illustrious history; it was named best department store in the world in 2010 and 2012.

Enjoy the View from the London Eye

Located right off the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye offers a perfect vantage point for those who want to see all of the UK’s biggest city. It’s easy to understand why more than 3.75 million annual visitors ride this 443-foot Ferris wheel, the tallest in Europe. In addition to great panoramic views, the London Eye is a cultural landmark. There’s no need to worry about the brisk London air while riding — all of the enclosed 32 passenger capsules have heating and air conditioning.

People Watch at Heathrow Airport

Perhaps one of the most important locations from Love Actually is where the movie begins and ends (along with many flights to London). The iconic scenes in Heathrow Airport showing loved ones hugging, kissing, and crying with happiness sets the mood for romance and longing throughout the movie. Luckily for most travelers landing on flights to London, Heathrow will be their first experience of the city. Instead of cursing your luck in the long line in customs or rushing down to baggage claim, revel in the energy of the airport. Enjoy the mix of myriad cultures coming together, and try to spot familiar scenes from the movie, like when the Prime Minister, Harry, and Colin arrive at the end to their loved ones’ embraces. Airports are notoriously busy and stressful places, but when you’re having a Love Actually London experience, the airport might be your favorite part.

Stop by Grosvenor Chapel

Image via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0 – Adrian Scottow

Westminster Abbey is gorgeous, but it wasn’t in Love Actually. If you are doing a tour of London in the spirit of Love Actually, you can skip the tourist trap and opt for a quieter, more sedate holy place — Grosvenor Chapel. The gorgeous church Peter and Juliet were married in can be found in elegant Mayfair. After a stroll through Hyde Park set your sights on one of London’s most upscale neighborhoods. While you ooh and ah at the million-pound Georgian townhouses, you can imagine where the wedding guests walked on their way to the wedding of 2003. Catch a service at the chapel, so you can relive the spectacular scene where the late, great Lynden David Hall performed in the church balcony during the wedding.

Spend Some Time at Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank

Not only is this an excellent place for a scenic stroll, but this is also where Sam shares his wise-beyond-his-years revelation about love. Missing this Love Actually location would be even worse than the total agony of love. Along with being a key location in Love Actually, Gabriel’s Wharf is a fun and eclectic place to experience. Along with artsy shops, restaurants, and boutiques, the South Bank has beautiful views across the Thames of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the skyline of the City of London. Before leaving the South Bank, it’s a must to check out Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

Wander around Oxo Tower Wharf

Image via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0 – Mick C

Because the South Bank is so eclectically London and central to scenes in Love Actually, you must not miss the Oxo Tower Wharf. If this place doesn’t sound familiar, picture the scene where Mark leaves Juliet after she sees the wedding footage he filmed (you’re humming along to Dido, aren’t you?). The best part of Oxo Tower Wharf is that it’s next door to Gabriel’s Wharf, so you could easily see both South Bank locations in one day. Oxo Tower Restaurant Bar and Brasserie offers skyline views of London and an incredible sunset view of St. Paul’s. End your time in South Bank on your trip down Love Actually Lane here.

Walk Down Poplar Road, Herne Hill

If you’re a diehard Love Actually fan, then this may be one of your favorite places to visit when doing London Love Actually-style. Poplar Road in Herne Hill is where the Prime Minister goes door-to-door, looking for Natalie in the “dodgy” part of the city. The scene of him and his chauffeur singing carols to expectant children and blowing the socks off the adults who recognize him is classic, and you can act out your version on a stroll down the street. Just don’t knock on any doors looking for Natalie — the residents are probably tired of the schtick!

Take in St. Luke’s Mews in Notting Hill

If you love the “Enough” scene in Notting Hill, where Mark finally gets closure, you must visit St. Luke’s Mews. Try to find the exact street and house where Juliet reads Mark’s cue cards while enjoying one of the poshest neighborhoods in London. From the dreamy pastel houses to the must-dine-at restaurants, St. Luke’s Mews in Notting Hill will delight any Love Actually fan.

Will you be visiting London this holiday season? Which sites are you excited to visit? Are you planning to reenact any of the scenes from Love Actually? Let us know in the comments!

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