If you are wondering where to go on holiday in December then you need to read this bumper guide to Holidays to go on this Christmas! From European winter city breaks, tropical, winter-sun destinations and some of the more unusual Christmas destinations, you are sure to be inspired with this festive roundup. If you are thinking about going on holiday for Christmas then why not check out this list of top Christmas destinations featuring destination ideas from top travel bloggers, that is sure you give you lots of Christmas holiday destination inspiration!
Don’t forget to look for a great Christmas flight deal with the Skyscanner app, download it to check out the best Christmas getaway deals.
If you are looking for ski holidays this Christmas then Bansko could be the cheap Christmas ski holiday you are looking for! There are many affordable hotels, guesthouses and hostels in Bansko. If you are creating your own trip, you can find some great deals on sites such as Booking.com or TripAdvisor. Many of the hotels have added amenities such as swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, spa facilities and free shuttle buses to the gondola. The price for ski rental and lessons in Bansko will vary depending on if you have booked a package, or if you are negotiating your own lessons and rental and what time of year you are going to Bansko. You can book your ski packages in advance through a wide variety of ski companies. The upside is that everything will be arranged for you and you can waltz up to the ski hire and be on your way to the slopes in no time.
Celebrating Christmas in London is a truly magical and special experience. The city is filled with festive decorations and lights, Chrismas songs are playing in every shop and several events are going on to get people in the holiday spirit. Visiting Christmas markets is one of my favourite thing to do. Winter Wonderland, Winterville and South Bank Christmas Market are the most popular ones. They all offer tasty food and handmade products. Winter Wonderland is great for thrill seekers as there are several rides to keep them busy, including roller coasters, a Haunted House and Ferris Wheel. There are many pop up events going on as well. Kew Gardens is great for any age group. You can walk along a mile long trail that is filled with different unique decorations. In the Backyard Cinema, you can watch Christmas movies in a festive setting on comfy beanbags.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
After living in London with its full-on festive feeling and Christmas lights everywhere, it took me a while to get used to Amsterdam’s understated festive atmosphere at Christmas time, however, I now think it’s really charming and it makes Christmas and New Year a great time to visit. Not only are visitor numbers lower than the busy peak summer season so you can take your pick from hotel deals, shorter queues for museums, and fine dining in Amsterdam’s best restaurants, but the city is very beautiful with the canals lit up at night.
This is thanks in part to the special Amsterdam Light Festival that sees the world’s best artist create dramatic light installations over and on the water. There’s also the iconic ice skating rink outside Rijksmuseum which will put anyone in a festive mood. Hearty traditional Dutch meals like Stamppot and Hutspot will keep you warm and well-fed, especially if topped off with the special Christmas treat of oliebollen, raisin-filled doughnut balls!. While the Dutch Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, comes a little earlier (December 5th) than Christmas Eve, there are still many Christmas-shopping opportunities too with Christmas markets scattered across the city. Amsterdam in winter truly is special.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a beautiful city at any time of year, but the best time to visit Prague is in the winter. In December, Christmas Markets pop up all over the city in Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Peace Square and around the castle. Although it can be bitterly cold in Prague during the winter, with temperatures regularly below freezing, wrap up warm and have a hot chocolate or warm honey wine (medovina) to keep out the cold. If it snows, the streets become even more beautiful, and a snowy Charles Bridge first thing in the morning is a wonderful sight. Prague is quieter during the winter too, and although a lot of people to come to Prague for the Christmas Markets, it is much quieter than during the summer months.
Rome is one of my favourite destinations during the holiday season. At this time the city dresses up with light displays and while they are rather small, compared with those in many European cities, they make the city’s monuments sparkle in a magical aura. In December, the city is full of events, several churches build impressive nativity scenes and iconic spaces such as St Peter’s square and Piazza Venezia see the arrival of huge Christmas trees! The festive period is also great in Rome for music lovers. The opera house always has a rich programme at this time of year and the city’s auditorium adds to the offer with performances to suit most musical tastes. The space in front of the auditorium becomes an open-air ice skating rink as well, making Rome at Christmas fun for all ages.
One of my favourite and very festive places that I’ve spent Christmas was Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland, which is also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. For me, I associate two things with Christmas, one is fluffy white snow and the other is Santa Claus of course! Abisko National Park delivered on both of these and made me feel like a child again! Arriving in Swedish Lapland with snow everywhere was a real winter wonderland experience.
The branches of the evergreen trees covered and hanging low due to the weight of the snow. It’s traditional in Sweden for Santa to deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve. So sat in one of the traditional Sami huts, drinking mulled wine he popped in to visit! Abisko National Park is definitely one of the best places to go on holiday for Christmas. As a bonus, it also delivered the best Christmas present ever – seeing the northern lights, 4 night in a row, just wow!
The Austrian Tyrol is a place where Christmas traditions have remained the same for centuries. The cities and villages come alive with age-old customs such as St Nikolaus visits and Krampus (a scary devil-like figure) runs. From the capital of Innsbruck to ski resorts in remote valleys, there is something to suit everyone’s taste during Christmas in Tyrol. Tyrolean Christmas markets are well-known for their authenticity. Spending an afternoon or evening at the Innsbruck Christmas markets is a must, while you’ll never forget the romantic atmosphere when Rattenberg, Austria’s smallest town, is entirely lit by candlelight and fires. The cold during Christmas in Tyrol is driven away by bright festive lights, mugs of mulled wine or hot fruit punch, roasted chestnuts, beautiful music, and fun activities such as ice skating or sledging. There really is never a dull moment in the mountainous Austrian province during the festive period.
Sofia makes for a great city break and is absolutely delightful during the holiday season. Sofia is compact enough to be able to see its major sights within a weekend and it’s easy and relatively quick to get to the city centre from the airport. Sofia is absolutely beautiful under a layer of snow. It’s most impressive Orthodox cathedrals look even more romantic dusted in white. And, best of all, Sofia has its own German-style Christmas Market! So you can soak up the festive vibes while enjoying a Glühwein (always a must for us during the holiday season). Getting inspired? You can read more about how to spend a winter weekend in Sofia here.
Belfast Northern Ireland
One of my favourite places for a quick Christmas getaway is Belfast, the quaint and compact capital of Northern Ireland, which has plenty of festive and seasonal excitement to make for the perfect weekend away. And most of the festivities in Belfast would centre around the Belfast Christmas Market, which is an annual winter event (Nov-Dec) similar to the continental markets elsewhere in Europe, only set under the magnificent backdrop of Belfast City Hall. Then directly opposite are the shopping streets of Donegal Place, which, even if not fussed for shopping, are intriguing with buskers, and quaint sculptures, and just the local festive bustle of the holiday season. However, the best times in Belfast are likely had in the old Cathedral Quarter, famous for its many pubs and traditional bars, and the ‘craic’ (Northern Irish for banter) of a night out in the run-up to Christmas.
Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, is one of the most exciting cities in the Mediterranean. Especially with the arrival of Christmas, this wonderful city, declared UNESCO World Heritage site, has a lot to offer for tourists and visitors. Twinkling lights and Christmas trees are part of the decoration. In addition, there are plenty of concerts available. The Christmas markets, elegantly decorated gives you of the option to try hot wine and other local specialities. While in the rest of Europe is covered with snow, here you can feel a mild winter and cosy atmosphere. Dubrovnik is not only a summer destination with incredible beaches but a perfect choice while waiting for Santa!
The home of Santa is surely the best destination for a Christmas getaway? Lapland at Christmas is a truly magical experience with dreamy snowscapes, reindeer rides, wonderous northern lights and sparkly Christmas lights. The best place to stay in Lapland at Christmas is surely the Santa Claus Holiday Village? This huge village has high-quality Christmas themed accommodation, activities, restaurants, shopping and lots and lots of Christmas trees. It’s a brilliant place for the family and for couples looking for an extra special festive holiday.
One of our most favourite places to go to during the festive season is Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. Edinburgh is a good idea at any time of year but I think it’s an especially good idea at Christmas. There are so many things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas time. The whole town centre comes to life and turns into a truly magical, festive, winter wonderland. There’s the fantastic Christmas market on East Princes Street Gardens, the rides (oh the rides!), the lights, the entertainment, the atmosphere. There’s something for everyone – kids will love the helter-skelter rides, the ice-skating, the pantomime, the adults will love sipping on a mulled wine at the Christmas market, drinking a glass of bubbles in the iconic Dome on George Street. Evenings and weekends tend to get very busy at the Christmas market so if you can, we strongly recommend visiting during a weekday or in the morning or afternoon.
To us, a festive Winter break is all about snow-covered peaks, colourful decorations, warm drinks and delicious sweets to fuel our adventures. Zakopane, a small town in the South of Poland, has it all! Located at the foot of the beautiful Tatra mountains, it is a heaven for nature and Winter lovers, with scenery worthy of a fairytale. The atmosphere and architecture will instantly put you into a festive mood. There are plenty of activities for people of all ages: museums about the area’s history, a street market that will make you wish you had an extra suitcase to take everything with you, a vast offer of Winter-related sports, and even an Aqua Park! There are easy hikes and even easier cable cars to take to get to the top of the mountains for some truly stunning views. We’re sure you’ll also fall in love with this gem once you visit Zakopane!
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Moscow is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas, whether it’s Orthodox Christmas (January) or Christmas celebrated elsewhere in Europe (December). Around the city, you’ll find various Christmas markets serving a uniquely Russian spin on the Christmas traditions, including glintwine and many birch items! Although Orthodox Christmas is later than Christmas celebrated in Western Europe, you’ll find Moscow bright and awash in lights. While walking along Moscow’s avenues, you’ll find the buildings beautifully lit and the stores open ready for both tourists and locals. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll see Saint Basil’s Cathedral covered in snow! The whole scene is straight out of a Christmas snowglobe, so don’t miss Moscow in winter!
Last Christmas we travelled from Australia to Boston in the USA in hope of experiencing our first white Christmas. I knew I had a 60% chance of getting snow in Boston and was informed on arrival that Boston hadn’t had a white Christmas in 11 years. About time I say. Luck was on our side and it started to snow at 8am on Christmas Day and continued until 11am delivering 4 inches of the perfect fluffy white stuff! Best of all was exploring Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Harvard University, the Freedom Trail and experiencing the festive season all covered in snow. We had lunch at the Cheers Pub, made famous from the 80’s sitcom Cheers. I loved Boston, after visiting 7 different states of the USA on that trip, Christmas in Boston was by far my favourite. The snow just made it unforgettable.
We’ve spent several Christmases Down Under in Newcastle, New South Wales, my wife’s hometown. It’s a wonderful antidote to the long nights and dreary weather we leave behind in the northern hemisphere, normally with lots of sunshine and warm weather guaranteed. Newcastle’s a great city to visit most of the year because it has several prime Pacific Ocean beaches. It also has two ocean bath complexes – Merewether is the largest in the southern hemisphere – and a convict-built rock pool at the base of a cliff that’s almost 200 years old. The warm weather, the chance to swim in the ocean pools and the chance to get some much-needed Vitamin D, makes it a great place for a festive break.
There are plenty of signs of Christmas all around. Some of the beaches hold Surfing Santa events, and you find little Aussie twists like kangaroos pulling Santa’s sleigh Christmas Day in Australia is usually warm – we’ve had some in the mid-30s with cloudless skies. We always order in a few kilos of fresh prawns for Christmas lunch, before joining friends or relatives later for a barbecue.
To me, Stockholm is the perfect place to visit during Christmas! In summer the crowds can be immense especially if one or several cruise ships are docked! In winter the dark nights close in early which adds to the atmosphere of the city and the cold weather offers many opportunities to experience fika and the traditional dish of Swedish meatballs. As the city is set for winter there are plenty of indoor activities including a wealth of museum however my favourite place is to walk around the living museum Skansen and experience traditional Swedish life! But my absolute favourite thing is to experience the traditional Christmas markets at Gamla Stad and Skansen.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea doesn’t usually spring to mind when planning the Christmas or winter holidays. Surprisingly Seoul is a lovely city to visit all year around and especially when it just snowed in winter. The royal palaces and shrines turn into real winter wonderlands. This is a unique experience to have in Seoul. Other typical winter activities Seoul has to offer is the ice skating rink at Seoul city hall. The many Christmas markets and activities are another reason to visit this vibrant capital. The main markets and festivals held during this season are Lotte World’s “Christmas Miracle”, Lighting Festival at The Garden Of the Morning Calm and the Kintex Christmas Fair.5 days is an appropriate amount of time to really discover Seoul as there are loads of other non-winter related tourists sites and activities available. Check out my post – Seoul itinerary 5 days for inspiration.
What do you think of this guide to holidays to go on this Christmas? Would you prefer a winter destination for Christmas or would you swap your festive jumper for a bikini for a Christmas beach holiday? Let me know in the comments below!