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Vienna

The 20 best places to go for Christmas

From classic festive getaways to Scrooge-friendly destinations to escape, these are the world’s greatest places to spend Christmas

Ed Cunningham

The most magical time of the year has a habit of transforming destinations around the world: cities get decked out in dazzling decorations, streets teem with local traditions and squares are taken over by pop-up festive markets.

That said, some destinations are great to visit at Christmas for precisely the opposite reason: because you might not even realise it’s Christmas at all. Who hasn’t sometimes wanted to hibernate in the sun until the madness is over? 

And so, when considering the best destinations to visit at Christmas, we haven’t just included places with quirky traditions or an unmissable festive atmosphere - there's plenty of Scrooge-appropriate destinations on here too. Dive into our festive travel list below and you’re guaranteed to find somewhere great to spend the season. 

RECOMMENDED: 💝The best Christmas markets to visit in Europe and worldwide ❄️ The best places to travel in December 🎄The 50 best Christmas movies of all time 🎊The 65 best Christmas songs of all time

At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines . This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines .

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The best places to go for Christmas

New York City, USA

1.  New York City, USA

Best for:  shopaholics 

From the dreamy romance of ice skating at the Rockefeller to Broadway’s dazzling festive shows, there are plenty of reasons why the Big Apple has such a rep at Christmastime. NYC is a classic festive choice and, with its selection of department stores, markets and bazaars, there remains nowhere quite like it when it comes to shopping, either.

Read more: The best Christmas things to do in NYC

Lapland, Finland

2.  Lapland, Finland

Best for: wannabe Santa elves 

There are few destinations as legendarily Christmassy as Rovaniemi, which, as the capital of Lapland, is also the official hometown of Santa Claus. But Rovaniemi isn’t all about Santa. Once you’re done exploring Santa Claus Village and getting reindeer rides about town, be sure to sweat out your worries with a festive sauna – a Finnish Christmas tradition.

Edinburgh, Scotland

3.  Edinburgh, Scotland

Best for: Christmas markets

Sure, each city centre twinkles with lights and exudes wafts of mulled wine throughout December, but few do it as well as Edinburgh. East Princes Street Gardens dazzles every year with a whole host of market stalls, festive food and fairground rides, plus plenty of whisky stands for a warming Christmassy bev. Sticking around for New Year's? The city's Hogmanay celebrations are a world-renowned way to launch 2024. 

New Orleans, USA

4.  New Orleans, USA

Best for: an unconventional Christmas

New Orleans is packed full of alternative Christmas traditions, from its bonfires on the banks of the Mississippi and charmingly redecorated streetcars to its lively carol concerts and glam AF hotel lobby decorations. With daytime temperatures hitting about 17C, it’s also that bit warmer than much of the rest of the continental US at this time of year.

Reykjavik, Iceland

5.  Reykjavik, Iceland

Best for: the lads!

No, not those kinds of lads. We’re talking about the ‘Yule Lads’, 13 folkloric dudes who traditionally leave gifts in boots for Iceland ’s well-behaved kids. Christmastime is also just a rather lovely time to visit Reykjavik, with the city boasting markets and ice-skating – as well as, thanks to its extra-long nights, great opportunities for viewing the Northern Lights .

London, UK

6.  London, UK

Best for: traditional romantics 

Festive cheer sweeps through London sometime in early November and doesn’t let up. By the time the end of December comes around, Christmas vibes hit a fever pitch: the already-very-romantic UK capital finds itself lined by fir trees, twinkling with Christmas lights and sound-tracked by jangly festive tunes. Aye, it’s exactly as magical as it sounds.

Read more: The best Christmas lights in London

Nuremburg, Germany

7.  Nuremburg, Germany

Best for:  Weihnachtsmarkt fanatics

Germany ’s Weihnachtsmarkts (traditional Christmas markets) are famous the world over – and Nuremburg’s is one of the country’s oldest, biggest and best. Notes of gingerbread and mulled wine waft through a mini city of wooden stalls teeming with candy canes, scrummy lebkuchen and handmade decorations.

Sydney, Australia

8.  Sydney, Australia

Best for: Christmas dinner on the barbie

Looking for somewhere that goes full-throttle for Chrimbo but isn’t so, erm, wintry ? Australia ’s likely your best bet. Sydney has all the festive lights, trees and even ice skating of a typical Christmas-celebrating city, but with toasty average temperature highs of 25C. Don’t knock an Xmas dinner cooked on a beachside barbeque until you’ve tried it.

Bruges, Belgium

9.  Bruges, Belgium

Best for: chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate

Turkey, mince pies, and pannetone are all the festive foods that might spring to mind at first, but it wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate. And where's the best place to go for that? Well, it has to be Bruges - from the divinely rich hot chocolates on offer at the market to the traditional Yule log, this little city has bags of Christmassy confection to fill those stockings, or to gorg on under the twinkly lights. 

Tokyo, Japan

10.  Tokyo, Japan

Best for: the culturally disconnected 

With no public holiday and everything open as usual, Japan doesn’t really celebrate Christmas – but that’s also its charm. The country is nicely disconnected from the rest of the world’s Xmas mania but still has tonnes of festive stuff to see and do, from Tokyo’s gorgeous winter illuminations to the annual Japanese tradition of getting KFC on Christmas day.

Caracas, Venezuela

11.  Caracas, Venezuela

Best for: religious roller-skaters

Think you’ve got a neat ride when it comes to heading down to church (if that’s your jam, anyway) during the Christmas period? Check out the locals in Caracas. From December 16-24 before 8am, roads are closed in the Venezuelan capital so that churchgoers can roller-skate to mass. It’s also common for rollerbladers to dress up in Santa gear... does it get much cooler than that?

Marrakech, Morocco

12.  Marrakech, Morocco

Best for: festive escapees 

Christmas isn’t celebrated by the vast majority of people in Marrakech, making it perfect for escaping conventional festive vibes. The Moroccan city also isn’t anywhere near as hot in December as it is in the summertime (hitting highs of 20C without dipping too low at night), so exploring its medina, souks, mosques and riads is even more pleasant.

Greenland

13.  Greenland

Best for: adventurous eaters

The festive period in Greenland is best known for its food: specifically mattak (essentially a strip of whale skin) and kiviak (a kind of fermented seabird). Both are a delicacy to natives, but they’re likely a bit more, er, stomach-testing to the rest of us.

Phuket, Thailand

14.  Phuket, Thailand

Best for: clubbers and beachside chillers

Sure, if you really want to, you can have a perfectly Christmassy time in Phuket. The island has plenty of carol concerts and festive dinners if you so want them. However, it’s an ideal place to get away from all the usual festivities, too. As a largely Buddhist country, Thailand doesn’t really celebrate Christmas – leaving you free to chill out at a beachside bar or go clubbing as if it’s any normal day of the year.

Prague, Czech Republic

15.  Prague, Czech Republic

Best for: aesthetes

With its awesome gothic churches and winding baroque streets, Prague is one of Europe’s most dazzlingly pretty cities at any time of the year. But at Christmastime? Well, the Czech capital somehow gets even prettier. The key attractions here are the markets, which take over the likes of Prague Castle and Wenceslas Square with local specialities such as medovina (honey wine), rybí polévka (traditional fish soup) and perníčky (spicy gingerbread).

Vienna, Austria

16.  Vienna, Austria

Best for: total festive immersion

Whether you’re watching Krampuses (a sort of nightmarish Austrian anti-Santa) roam the streets, munching on toffee apples at one of the city’s many Christmas markets or simply soaking in the very, very pretty street decorations, we challenge you not to get totally swept up in Vienna’s all-encompassing Chrimbo vibes.

Cape Town, South Africa

17.  Cape Town, South Africa

Best for: sun bunnies

The beauty of the southern hemisphere in December is that the climate is precisely the opposite of the chilly north. With its long days of uninterrupted sunshine and temperatures in the high 30Cs, Cape Town offers a totally different Chrimbo vibe. Festive picnic atop Table Mountain or in the lush Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, anyone?

Singapore

18.  Singapore

Best for: light display fanatics

With main thoroughfare Orchard Road hosting a celebration on Xmas Eve complete with countdown and fireworks, Christmas in Singapore has a unique New Year’s Eve feel about it. Most legendary, however, are the city’s light displays. From the Christmas Wonderland in the Gardens by the Bay to the light shows at Vivocity, Singapore sure knows how to put on a mesmerising electrical show.  

Guatemala City, Guatemala

19.  Guatemala City, Guatemala

Best for: demon banishers

There’s something very purifying about burning stuff – and Guatemalans know that so well that they’ve made a tradition out of it. Every year on December 7, Guatemala celebrates the ‘Día del Diablo’ (or ‘Day of the Devil’), kicking off the Christmas period by burning an effigy of the devil. The act is intended to symbolise the cleansing of bad spirits.

Colmar, France

20.  Colmar, France

Best for: Christmas dreamers

Even in the height of summer, Colmar, a thirteenth-century town in the eastern French region of Alsace, looks rather a lot like it’s made out of gingerbread. Add a dusting of snow, some tasteful Christmas lights and a characterful festive market? You’ve got one of the world’s most picture-perfect Xmas destinations.

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The 32 best places to spend Christmas around the world

By Caitlin Morton

Dubai

We’re all for cosying up with loved ones at home, but we also love seeing how cities around the world transform every December. The best places to spend Christmas, in our book, run the gamut from European classics with storybook Christmas markets to Asian cities with over-the-top light displays, and even merry mainstays right here in the U.S. There are even some spots in the southern hemisphere where temperatures hover in the 80s on 25 December, in case your idea of a perfect holiday includes lounging by the pool with a cocktail.

While the jollity may look a bit different from city to city, these global destinations keep the holiday cheer going year after year. And if you already have your plans solidified for this upcoming season, it’s never too early to start planning a fabulous winter vacation for 2023.

Bruges at Christmas

Bruges, Belgium

Why we go: Europe’s best-preserved medieval city oozes charm year-round, but especially during the holidays. It’s hard to imagine a place more magical as you wander the cobblestone streets, admire the shimmering lights, and warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in cafés.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Follow the Winter Glow light trail with stops at 10 installations through the historic part of the city centre, including lights at the Church of Our Lady Tower and a projection at Gruuthuse.

Stay here: Grand Hotel Casselbergh (steps away from the Markt) has inviting touches like exposed wooden beams in the rooms, a lobby bar with a fireplace, and a wellness centre located in a 16th-century cellar.

Cape Town at Christmas

Why we go: If you’re looking to escape winter during Christmas, you can't do much better than Cape Town – it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, after all. You can even visit one (or several) of the South African city’s holiday markets without having to wear a coat and scarf.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: They’re not exactly Santa’s elves, but the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 African penguins at Boulders Beach – where you can get close enough to take portrait-mode photos of them – are sure to warm your heart just the same.

Stay here: The light and breezy rooms sitting above the Atlantic Ocean at Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa are the perfect antidotes to the winter blues.

Why we go For the past three decades the little town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania has channelled its name and...

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Why we go: For the past three decades, the little town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania has channelled its name and transformed into “Christmas City” for the holidays. Celebrations are centred around the Christkindlmarkt at the SteelStacks, with more than 50 booths featuring artisan crafts, as well as live music and special events with Santa Claus himself.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: A “live” advent calendar at the Goundie House on Main Street features a downtown merchant emerging from the door at 5:30 p.m. every night with treats for all who are waiting.

Stay here: Hotel Bethlehem is a wonderland of its own, with 35,000 Christmas lights, 36 wreaths, life-sized toy soldiers, and a gingerbread house of the hotel.

Chicago at Christmas

Why we go:  From its European-inspired Christkindlmarket to light shows galore,  Chicago knows a thing or two about embracing the Christmas spirit (and the freezing temperatures). Can’t-miss activities include visiting the 55-foot Christmas tree in Millennium Park and cosying up in a heated igloo at The Godfrey Hotel.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Be dazzled by 2.5 million LEDs at ZooLights, an annual light festival held at Lincoln Park Zoo. Check out the event’s calendar for sensory-friendly visit times.

Stay here:  Fresh off a $100 million renovation,  The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago guarantees the most luxurious stay in the town – especially if you book a suite overlooking Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Be sure to book a festive afternoon tea or five-course winter truffle dinner at the delicious on-site restaurant, Torali.

Best places to spend Christmas Cologne Germany

Cologne, Germany

Why we go: Nothing embodies old-world yuletide charm like the Christmas market, and nobody takes Christmas markets more seriously than the Germans , with Cologne’s festivities drawing some four million visitors each winter.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Take in the merry sights from the observation deck of KölnTriangle, the tower directly opposite the Cathedral on the Rhine.

Stay here: The Hyatt Regency Cologne has great views of the Cologne Cathedral, plus excellent multi-course meals at Glashaus Restaurant.

Shopping street in historical centre of Copenhagen decorated for Christmas holidays Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Why we go: According to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries , making it a great place to spend the holidays. Things are even jollier at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens , where antique amusement park rides decorated with lights are surrounded by yet another adorable, alpine village-style Christmas market selling gifts and snacks. The park has also been known to deck out its tree with Swarovski crystals .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Book a table at Restaurant Vita for some andesteg , a traditional Danish holiday dish of crispy, succulent roast duck served with prunes and apples.

Stay here: Never mind hygge – Hotel Sanders takes Danish comfort and contentment to new heights.

Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Why we go: Dubai does Christmas the same way Dubai does nearly everything – in true, over-the-top fashion. Catch the tree lightings happening around town, including the ones at Towers Rotana, Fairmont The Palm, and The Irish Village, and then watch the jolly ol’ St. Nicks making a run for it at the Santa Run. And since no visit to Dubai is complete without several shopping sprees, set aside time to stock up on goodies at one of the city’s Christmas markets .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Dubai Mall is an air-conditioned winter wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink, and you'll find indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.

Stay here: Jumeirah Al Naseem earns high marks for its posh rooms, easy beach access, and superior dining and spa options.

Dublin at Christmas

Dublin, Ireland

Why we go: If your idea of Christmas merriment includes an authentic Irish pub crawl (we get it), then Dublin is your place. Holiday offerings also include Christmas markets, decked-out shops on Grafton Street, and tree-lighting ceremonies galore.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: For 66 years, The Moving Crib in St. Martin Apostolate’s basement has been charming families with its mechanical figures depicting scenes like Noah’s Ark.

Stay here: The Westbury becomes even more luxurious during the holidays, with prime views overlooking the lights of Grafton Street during afternoon tea.

Symphony of Lights Hong Kong

Why we go: Hong Kong ’s yuletide urban offerings rival that of NYC ’s, with holiday markets, window displays, and concerts galore (they even have a Santa Con). Then there are the lights. The Symphony of Lights show – held nightly at 8 p.m. – will leave you breathless, thanks to an extravagantly choreographed neon show displayed across more than 40 of the city’s iconic skyscrapers along Victoria Harbor.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Experience the Symphony of Lights during a harbour-front dinner cruise.

Stay here: As if the Ritz-Carlton wasn’t swanky enough, the hotel hosts Christmas parties, dinners, and afternoon teas all season.

Aurora Village in Inari Finland

Inari, Finland

Why we go: While most tourists flock to the Lapland city of Rovaniemi come Christmas, we suggest heading even further north (like, within reach of the Arctic Ocean north) to the village of Inari. Located in the heart of the scenic Ivalo region – reachable via a 1.5-hour flight from Helsinki – Inari is a pure winter wonderland dotted with hotels and restaurants that keep things nice and cosy. It’s hard to imagine a more authentic winter holiday than one spent riding dog sleds, feeding reindeer , and chasing the Northern Lights .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: A private Northern Lights safari will have you sitting in a heated sleigh and sipping sparkling wine while waiting for the aurora to dance. (Rough life, huh?)

Stay here: Finnish Lapland is known for its glass-igloo accommodations, as well as in-house winter activities and cosy, panoramic cabins at Aurora Village Oy . (Heated windows ensure the snow doesn’t cover your view.) Plus, daily reindeer feedings are available.

White Barn Inn Kennebunk Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

Why we go:  If you're wondering where to go for Christmas celebrations unlike anywhere else, look no further. Every December, this tiny New England town bursts with holiday cheer during its annual Christmas Prelude, an 11-day bash that's about as New England as it gets – one of the main attractions is a tree made of lobster traps. The lobster rolls at The Clam Shack – considered to be some of the best rolls in Maine – will make you forget about gingerbread and sugar plums altogether.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Santa Claus’s arrival at the Christmas Prelude on a lobster boat is (obviously) the star attraction.

Stay here:   White Barn Inn epitomises New England luxury all year, but just wait until you see it over the holidays. This year’s seasonal offerings include Christmas cookies and eggnog by the fire, special Christmas feasts at the White Barn Inn Restaurant, and afternoon tea attended by Santa Claus himself.

Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

Why we go:  Love the idea of a Bavarian holiday but hate the idea of a transatlantic flight? Enter  Leavenworth . This town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains was modelled after Germany’s alpine villages, complete with half-timbered houses and epic food halls. As you can imagine, the city comes alive during Christmas with over-the-top holiday lights and tons of winter sports.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum features a collection of some 9,000 nutcrackers from more than 50 countries – definitely worth stopping by between snowshoeing and skiing excursions.

Stay here:   Icicle Village Resort is just as magical as it sounds, with a relaxing spa, in-room fireplaces, and a restaurant serving up Bavarian favourites.

Christmas at Somerset House London

Why we go: Christmas in London has timeless appeal – chalk it up to the decorated Georgian townhouses, lively pubs, and a dash of Dickensian charm. Our step-by-step guide to spending the holidays in London covers the perfect place for afternoon tea , a steak to tuck into after a day spent gift shopping, and a martini to sip on Christmas Eve – and that’s just for starters.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: One of the most magical experiences is gliding around the frozen 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House, a sprawling neoclassical building off the Strand.

Stay here: Claridge’s – because there's no better place to ring in Christmas than in one of the best hotels on the planet.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Maldives

Why we go:  Visiting the Maldives in December guarantees you’ll have a white Christmas – only we’re talking about the dazzling white sand, not snow. While the atoll doesn’t officially celebrate the holiday, many resorts cater to Western travellers with themed dinners and decorations. But let’s face it: you’ll be too busy with spa treatments and snorkelling trips to even bother with those proverbial visions of sugarplums.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  If you really want a traditional burst of holiday cheer, head to  Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for a tree lighting ceremony, followed by cocktails on the beach.

Stay here:  Conrad Maldives Rangali Island really is one of the best resorts in the country, famous for its lavish suites and  underwater restaurant , Ithaa. Guests lucky enough to visit during the holidays can also enjoy champagne and lobster beach barbecues, lavish pool parties, winter-themed spa treatments, and special underwater meals on Christmas Day.

Central Park

New York City

Why we go: There’s no shortage of ways to make your New York City Christmas magical, whether it’s ice skating at Rockefeller Center, window shopping on Fifth Avenue, or lurking around 34th street hoping to witness a miracle.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: There’s no such thing as going overboard with Christmas decorations in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighbourhood. Join a walking tour organised by the area’s residents.

Stay here: The Plaza , full stop. (If it's good enough for Kevin McCallister ...)

Galeries Lafayette at Christmas

Why we go:  Can you really think of a more magical place to spend Christmas than Paris? The city provides  festive activities at every turn, from the light installations on the Champs-Elysées to any number of pop-up markets and ice skating rinks. Even if you don’t feel like shivering out in the cold, warming up with a mug of hot chocolate at Angelina will still get you in the spirit.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Whether you gawk at the window displays outside, or the massive Christmas tree inside,  Galeries Lafayette is well worth elbowing a few fellow tourists to check out.

Stay here:   Hôtel Lutetia is a Left Bank stunner with gourmet holiday menus and an Art Deco lobby decked out with lights and trees. Upgrade to a higher room category for oversized bathtubs and balconies overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Prague

Prague, Czech Republic

Why we go: Prague ’s holiday markets easily make the city one of the world’s best places to spend Christmas: they run for a full month, with locals and travellers passing through for mulled wine, sticky pastries, and roasted ham. The main markets take place in the Old Town and Wenceslas squares, just 10 minutes apart by foot – and are set to the backdrop of some of the prettiest Gothic architecture you’ll ever see.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Sip on Svařák, a Czech mulled wine with a citrusy touch from a market stall. Or, for a sweeter taste, indulge in a hot chocolate at Cafe Slavia, founded in 1881.

Stay here: Aria Hotel is located within walking distance of Prague Castle, and its music-themed suites are always a hit.

Quebec City at Christmas

Quebec City, Canada

Why we go: Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, and its colonial French architecture gives it an unmistakably European feel. The cobbled streets of the Old Town are packed with quaint shops and delicious bistros, all merrily decorated for the holidays.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The Au 1884 toboggan run by Château Frontenac (open from mid-December to mid-March) is one of the city’s oldest traditions – and quite the thrill. Zoom down icy tracks overlooking the city on a wooden sled reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

Stay here: You can’t go wrong with Auberge Saint-Antoine and its lobby fireplace, heated bathroom floors, and a Christmas package that includes a five-course dinner, holiday movie screenings at the in-house theatre, and a personal visit from Santa in your room.

Reykjavik at Christmas

Reykjavík, Iceland

Why we go: Reykjavík shines on the streets and in the sky in December. Strings of glinting Christmas bulbs illuminate the city during its very long nights, and on the clearest evenings, the Northern Lights can be seen from the city’s darker streets and parks.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The 13 Yule Lads, a group of holiday trolls you’ll see about town, are Iceland’s equivalent to Santa Claus in local folklore (and have actually been around a lot longer than St. Nick).

Stay here: Hotel Borg , the city’s oldest and most elegant hotel, still reigns supreme.

Rio de Janeiro Brazil christmas

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why we go:  Who says Christmas has to be about ugly sweaters and hot cocoa? December in Rio is all about kicking back on a  spectacular beach – with daily temperatures hovering in the 80s. The city also happens to host the world’s largest display of full-sized nativity scenes during its annual Festival de Presépios (“Crib Festival”), found at Jardim de Alah between Leblon and Ipanema.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  For the very best display in town, ride a bike around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon and enjoy views of the world’s largest floating Christmas tree from every angle.

Stay here:  The  Fasano Hotel along Ipanema Beach has an infinity pool overlooking the ocean that will make winter seem very, very far away.

Rome at Christmas

Rome, Italy

Why we go: The streets around Rome will be festively alight, sure, but the home to the seat of Catholicism is an excellent option for folks seeking a more sacrosanct Christmas experience.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Hear hymns echoing off the walls of the 1,900-year-old architectural marvel during midnight mass at the Pantheon.

Stay here: Aside from classically designed guest rooms, Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese offers festive amenities like themed dinners at the rooftop restaurant and chauffeured tours of Rome’s holiday lights in a vintage Fiat 500.

Best Places to Travel in December Salzburg at Christmas

Salzburg, Austria

Why we go: It’s no surprise that Salzburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City that served as the backdrop for The Sound of Music also fills its famed Christkindlmarkt with song. With roots dating back to the 15th century, sing-alongs and traditional wind music are as much a part of the festivities as the mulled wine and market stands. We’re not mad about the bauernkrapfen (fried pastries), either.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: It’s literally Christmas all year round at the Christmas in Salzburg shop on Goldgasse, known for its frilly ornaments (especially those hand-painted on eggshells).

Stay here: Hotel Goldener Hirsch is just steps away from Christkindlmarkt, although we’d be fine staying in these comfortable rooms all day.

San Miguel de Allende Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Why we go:  Christmas in San Miguel de Allende kicks off on 12 December (aka Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe), and the rest of the month is equal parts solemn and celebratory. You may encounter nativity scenes and church services one day, then parades and fireworks the next. But seeing as it all takes place in one of the friendliest, most beautiful cities in the world, we’re guessing you’ll be able to easily enjoy every moment.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Between 16 – 24 December, most of Mexico participates in Las Posadas, a religious festival honouring the Nativity story. Once a day, two people dressed up as Mary and Joseph lead a procession to a different home and ask to be let inside (as in the biblical journey to Bethlehem), and the reenactment typically ends with carols, food, and pinatas.

Stay here:  The city has its share of swank hotels, but it’s hard to compete with the spa amenities and rooftop bar at  Rosewood San Miguel de Allende .

Christmas in San Juan Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Why we go:  Puerto Rico prides itself on having the longest holiday season in the world, lasting a whopping 45 days between the end of November and the middle of January. That gives you even more time to enjoy the island’s festive decorations, folk music, midnight mass services, and coquito – a coconut-based drink that puts eggnog to shame.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Stroll around Old San Juan to see Christmas lights strung up on colourful buildings, with some of the best displays near the central Plaza de Armas.

Stay here:  Our readers love  Condado Vanderbilt Hotel for its hammam spa (the only one in PR), ocean-facing rooms, and four relaxing pools.

Holiday Luminaria Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why we go:  Santa Fe’s already-beautiful plaza becomes downright magical with the addition of Christmas lights – but the holiday spirit doesn't start and stop there. The city also offers midnight mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi, holiday exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Art, holiday flamenco performances at El Flamenco Cabaret, and seasonal shopping at the Winter Indian Market. Even when Christmas is officially over, you can keep busy at Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe – both just an easy drive away.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Don’t miss the annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk, a Christmas Eve event consisting of farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and topped with a votive candle) lining the streets and walls of adobe buildings.

Stay here: 2022 Hot List winner  Bishop’s Lodge has a tangible warmth to it, with wood-burning kiva fireplaces and hammered bronze tubs adorning the rooms.

Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg, France

Why we go: Strasbourg is home to the oldest of France’s Christmas markets, dating back nearly 450 years. There are 12 in total to check out, which is sure to keep you busy. Pro tip: Though the markets will be full of delicious goodies, many choose to indulge in the king of Alsatian delicacies: foie gras, which is also a French Christmas tradition.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The superlative market sits beneath the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral, the tallest surviving structure built entirely in the Middle Ages. How’s that for a photo op?

Stay here: We’re huge fans of the impossibly luxurious Hôtel Les Haras , installed in Louis XV’s historic stables in Strasbourg.

Sydney at Christmas

Sydney, Australia

Why we go: You haven't seen Christmas lights until you’ve seen Sydney's Christmas lights. Plus, the holiday season lasts an entire month here (take that, 12 days of Christmas) with “Sydney Christmas.” The festival features the city’s largest Christmas Tree at Martin Place.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Wonder at the 3,500 twinkling lights at the Strand Arcade or the 85,000 twinkling LEDs at the incredible Pitt Street Mall Canopy of Light.

Stay here: Celebrate with a Christmas Day lunch followed by a nap by the rooftop pool (remember, it’s summertime Down Under) at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.

Taipei at Christmas

Taipei, Taiwan

Why we go: 25 December isn’t a public holiday in Taipei, but it’s still one of the best places to spend Christmas, as the city celebrates with incredible lights displays, festive attractions, and events. During the weeks between mid-November and the New Year, pretty much the entire Banqiao District transforms into Christmasland – which is exactly what it sounds like. We’re talking massive Christmas trees, rides, concerts, and markets selling local goods.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Don’t miss the Christmasland section over in the Fuzhong Business district, with a magic forest and Boshou light park.

Stay here: We love the Mandarin Oriental for its decadent decor and wide range of food options.

Tbilisi Georgia at Christmas

Tbilisi, Georgia

Why we go:  Due to the Georgian Orthodox Church’s use of the Julian calendar, Christmas isn't officially celebrated in Tbilisi until January 7. Decorations and festivities start much earlier, however, with city-wide light displays, Christmas markets, and musical performances ready to dazzle visitors starting in December. 

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Located in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square, the Liberty Monument (which depicts Saint George slaying a dragon) is covered with cascading lights to create a massive makeshift Christmas tree.

Stay here:  The cosy-chic vibes at  Stamba Hotel are unparalleled – think buttery leather sofas, lush hanging plants, and floor-to-ceiling shelves of vintage books.

Tokyo at Christmas

Why we go: The city turns the voltage up each year with its winter illuminations, with different districts competing to create some truly sensational displays. Standout illumination sites include the almost 10-foot-tall snow globes with falling snow at Tokyo Midtown and a massive Baccarat crystal chandelier at Yebisu Garden Place. The bright lights are so popular, they stay up well past Christmas day – often through January or February.

The one thing to get you in the spirit : One of the most famous illuminations is the Blue Cavern ( Ao no Dokutsu ) in Shibuya, which is inspired by the blue grottos of the Mediterranean.

Stay here: Aman Tokyo , a two-time Gold List winner, has a multi-level spa and deep furo soaking tubs in each room.

Vienna at Christmas

Vienna, Austria

Why we go: Vienna practically sparkles with holiday spirit during the Christmas season (the lights covering nearly every building might have something to do with that). The city is known for its markets, with the Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall and the holiday tree at Rathausplatz stealing the show. Also nearby are the Nativity Trail and the Tree of Hearts.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Enjoy the crystalline tones of the one and only Vienna Boys Choir – which has been around for more than 500 years and traditionally performs in its hometown during the holidays.

Stay here: The Park Hyatt Vienna is within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and features some of the largest rooms in Vienna.

Vilnius Christmas Tree 2022

Vilnius, Lithuania

Why we go: Vilnius becomes a true winter wonderland in December, with a Christmas train that weaves through Old Town, 3D nativity stories projected onto buildings, and Christmas markets in the city’s squares.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The headline-making Christmas trees are no joke. This year’s main tree was designed to look like a giant multi-layered birthday cake to honour the city’s upcoming 700th anniversary.

Stay here: The warm and inviting Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius is as close to all the Christmas delights as you can get.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler US .

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The Best Places to Go for Christmas

These are 20 of the best places to spend Christmas this year.

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

best countries to visit during christmas

For some people, the perfect Christmas vacation involves fully leaning into winter on a snowy mountain somewhere, curled up next to a crackling fire. Others prefer to lounge on a beach as far away from cold weather as possible. Wherever you choose to spend "the most wonderful time of year," you're likely to find some version of holiday cheer.

From the sunny shores of Saint Lucia to the storybook town of Solvang, California, to Santa Claus' own hometown in Finnish Lapland, these are the best places to visit for Christmas this year.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is an idyllic ski destination perched in the beautiful Tetons of Wyoming. Late December here is packed with holiday programming that typically includes ice skating, skiing with Santa, and caroling. The festivities usually kick off with a Christmas tree lighting and end with fireworks on New Year's Eve.

There are several stunning slopeside lodges to choose from, including the luxurious Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa and the ski-in, ski-out Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole . Looking for gifts in downtown Jackson? The iconic elk antler arches that frame the Town Square are illuminated for the holidays, making it feel magical. For a unique adventure that embraces the hot and cold, plan a trip to the Granite Hot Springs Pool , which can be accessed only by snowmobile, fat bike, dog sled, or skis.

New York City

There's truly nothing like Christmas in New York City . The city lights shine brightly year-round, but holiday lights add to the magic. You'll hardly have to look for activities or entertainment with all the famous displays: the enormous tree at Rockefeller Center and the smaller but still dazzling tree at Washington Square Park, the LED-lit Saks Fifth Avenue facade, and the animated window displays at Macy's Herald Square, to name a few. You can sip hot chocolate while you shop for last-minute gifts at German-style Christmas markets and partake in the age-old tradition of watching the Radio City Rockettes perform their annual Christmas Spectacular on a holiday vacation in NYC.

Bruges, Belgium

KavalenkavaVolha/Getty Images

The Bruges Christmas Market is one of the best in Europe. This enchanting event takes over the Markt, the square at the heart of the city, with stands and wooden chalets selling everything from handmade Christmas ornaments to waffles and woolly socks. The colorful storefronts surrounding the square are adorably festooned with holiday decorations, and you'll find confectioneries serving Belgian hot chocolate — no doubt some of the best you'll ever taste. The festivities extend to a smaller market in nearby Simon Stevinplein square. Elevate your stay with a suite overlooking the picturesque canal at the luxurious and historic Hotel Van Cleef .

Beaver Creek, Colorado

Another place to experience the holidays on the ski slopes is Beaver Creek, Colorado, about 12 miles over the road from bustling Vail. This picturesque ski village typically sees festive activities for the whole family, from an annual Christmas tree lighting to changing events like holiday movie nights and cookie-baking competitions.

As for a cozy place to rest your head, The Osprey offers luxurious accommodations and a heated outdoor pool all mere feet from the chairlift. Otherwise, you can book one of just 60 rooms at The Pines Lodge . Both offer ski-in, ski-out access.

Saint Lucia

If your idea of a white Christmas involves soft, powdery sand, consider going to this beautiful Caribbean island. The luxurious Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort , typically offers a full lineup of holiday activities such as visits from Santa, a traditional family Christmas meal, and a New Year's Eve beach bash. Of course, you can also spend your days lounging on the stunning beach between St. Lucia's iconic peaks, the Pitons, or enjoying the resort's regular amenities and activities, including a pool, spa, dive facility, and kayak rentals.

Highlands, North Carolina

If you're looking for a charming, small-town Christmas experience that feels like it's straight out of a Hallmark movie, head to Highlands, North Carolina. This picturesque town is in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest. Throughout December, you'll find storefronts along and around Main Street decorated with wintry displays. The city runs a competition, so cast your vote on which you think is the best. Visit with Santa in Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park on any Saturday in December leading up to the big day. Old Edwards Inn and Spa and Half-Mile Farm ( favorite hotels among Travel + Leisure readers) offer cozy accommodations with a side of holiday decorations and Christmas cheer.

Salzburg, Austria

Christmas markets, warm glühwein (mulled wine), medieval castles, and a museum wholly dedicated to Christmas will surely get you into the holiday spirit while visiting Salzburg. As you probably know, the city is the birthplace of Mozart and the setting of "The Sound of Music," a movie that seemingly plays on repeat over the holidays. Ice skate around a statue of the iconic composer at Mozartplatz and soak in stunning views of the snow-capped Alps on the south-facing terrace of the Hohensalzburg Fortress . The most luxurious place to stay? That would be Hotel Goldener Hirsch right in Old Town.

Solvang, California

If you won't have a chance to wander through a storybook town in Denmark this holiday season, you can get a similar feel in Solvang. The small city in Santa Ynez Valley was founded by a group of Danes in the early 1900s. They created this adorable community, now known for its Danish businesses and architecture. Solvang typically hosts Julefest , a month-long village celebration complete with outdoor gatherings and holiday decorations. Make the stay even more Christmassy with a stay at The Landsby or the Winston , two of Solvang's coziest boutique hotels.

Stowe, Vermont

A popular ski destination among East Coasters and one of the most picture-perfect places to go for Christmas, Stowe is within driving distance of several major northeastern cities (Boston, Albany, and Montreal, to name a few). The ski season typically starts in November, so this is an ideal place to hit the slopes if you're looking for a white, powder-filled Christmas. Stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak for beautiful mountain views and ski-in, ski-out access.

Edinburgh Castle, arguably the city's most recognizable landmark, glows over the holiday season. The annual Castle of Light event began in 2019 and draws crowds with spectacular displays projected onto the exterior walls of the 12th-century stronghold. The projections typically get a refresh every year, and have included everything from fire-breathing dragons to flowers. Other holiday must-dos include the festive afternoon tea at Dome , where the stately Georgian Tea Room is enhanced with seasonal decorations. Sip mulled wine at one of the Christmas markets and ice skate on George Street for the full experience. If you're around on New Year's Eve, participate in Hogmanay, Scotland's own end-of-year celebration. Edinburgh puts on a Hogmanay festival that includes a torchlight procession, concerts, and a disco party.

Washington, D.C.

See the National Christmas Tree, ice skate at Washington Harbour, and sing along with a choral concert at the National Cathedral this December. Washington, D.C., hosts an array of holiday happenings throughout the season, and many of them are free, so go ahead and spend some extra money Christmas shopping. Head to one of the renowned Smithsonian museums to escape the cold weather, bundle up and admire the lights at the National Zoo, or walk along the National Mall with a hot cocoa in hand. When it comes to accommodations, The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown can hardly be beat.

Florida Keys

With pleasantly warm December weather, the Florida Keys are an ideal escape for those looking to spend the holidays in a U.S. beach destination. Kick off your Christmas vacation with a scenic road trip through the Florida Keys, stopping at islands en route to Key West. This is a popular time to visit, so consider staying away from the crowds at the secluded Sunset Key Cottages , a 27-acre private island resort accessible by ferry. Upon arriving, you'll find serenity just a short trip from the attractions of Key West.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a great place to visit any time of the year. Loved for its culture, food, and picturesque setting, the city typically hosts a number of holiday events throughout December. Annual highlights include the Santa Fe Botanical Garden's Glow light display and Christmas concerts inside the impressive Loretto Chapel leading up to December 25. You can even find winter sports at Ski Santa Fe , about 15 miles away. For a special hotel experience, book your stay at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe , which offers a range of festive amenities, or spend the night on the historic and holiday-lit Santa Fe Plaza at La Fonda .

Buenos Aires

Christmas is a summer holiday in the Southern Hemisphere, and Buenos Aires celebrates it with outdoor asado feasts and fireworks. High temperatures in December range from the upper 70s to the low 80s Fahrenheit, which means Papá Noel sometimes wears a tank top. The sunny weather is perfect for sipping cocktails and picnicking on the Plaza Intendente Alvear. While you're in the Argentine capital over the holidays, sample the pan dulce ("sweet bread"), admire the decorations that usually take over the Galerías Pacífico shopping center, or make like a local and escape the city to a nearby beach.

There's just something especially magical about London at Christmastime. Between the glittering lights, cider-slinging holiday markets, themed pop-up bars, and ice skating rinks from Hyde Park to the Queen's House in Greenwich, the city really comes alive for the holiday season. Stay at The Lanesborough for a truly festive experience — the luxurious hotel has beautiful holiday decorations, in-suite shopping from Harvey Nichols, and the option to have your room fully decorated with the hotel's Christmas in Residence program.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Why not spend the holidays in Santa Claus' hometown? Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, is home to Santa Claus Village and SantaPark , where you'll find the man himself and his reindeer sidekicks. During the winter, the arctic landscape is covered by a thick blanket of pretty snow. You'll also have the best chance of the year at spotting the northern lights. There are several hotels in the area with glass igloo accommodations, which provide stunning 360-degree views of the aurora borealis from inside.

The Maldives

If you'd rather wear sandals than snowshoes, the Maldives might be the ideal place for you to spend Christmas. Winter is the dry season, when the weather here is at its best. Daily highs average in the mid-80s Fahrenheit — perfect for a holiday beach getaway. At the end of the day, kick back in luxurious accommodations at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands .

Bavaria, Germany

Spend your Christmas holidays in this picturesque region in southern Germany. Start your adventure in Munich, where you can sip mulled wine as you stroll through a genuine German Christkindlmarkt. Then head out of the city to find Christmas spirit in small towns like medieval Rothenburg or go skiing in the Alps. Wherever you go, beware of the spooky Krampus, a frightening Christmas beast of local folklore.

Quebec City

Quebec City is about as European as it gets outside of Europe itself. The predominantly French-speaking Québécois celebrate the season with German-style markets, ice skating at Place D'Youville, and shopping in Old Quebec, transformed into a dreamy scene. For a truly Canadian experience, take a ride on Au 1884 (aka the Dufferin Terrace Toboggan Slide), one of Quebec City's oldest attractions. The slide runs right past Fairmont Le Château Frontenac , a castlelike hotel where you can stop for soup or coffee to escape the cold.

The Bahamas

Just a short flight south for East Coasters, The Bahamas is another popular choice for travelers seeking sun and sand during the holidays. Mid-December is the start of the high season here, probably because daily highs in the 80s are such a welcome change to chilly temperatures in much of the U.S. Thanks to a wide range of accommodation options — from resort complexes like Baha Mar with seemingly endless amenities to more intimate private island resorts like T+L reader favorite Kamalame Cay — there's a perfect Christmas vacation waiting for you in this sunny oasis.

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Looking for inspiration on Christmas destinations? We can help, with our list of the 20 top Christmas places. Some have snow, almost all have glitter and Christmas spirit is guaranteed. Take a look.

This article is inspired by our Rough Guides guidebooks — your essential guides for travelling the world.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark - one of the best Christmas destinations

2. dublin, ireland - best christmas pubs experience, 3. salzburg, austria - authentic charming traditions, 4. nuremberg, germany - home of the german lebkuchen, 5. new york, usa - the true spirit of celebration in the metropolis, 6. berlin, germany - a mix of cultural and nightlife festivities, 7. rome, italy - christmas in majestic surroundings, 8. lapland, finland - the homeland of santa claus, 9. edinburgh, scotland - a city steeped in christmas magic, 10. montreal, canada - fireworks and christmas magic in the old town, 11. hong kong, china - an extravagant christmas amid glittering skyscrapers, 12. washington dc, usa - a mix of old-school american traditions and the spirit of christmas, 13. boston, usa - an old-fashioned us christmas, 14. cologne, germany - christmas on the banks of the rhine, 15. prague, czech republic - an iconic holiday city among the best christmas destinations, 16. reykjavík, iceland - snowy christmas and northern lights, 17. dresden, germany - sweet christmas traditions, 18. bruges, belgium - a crowd-free christmas in a medieval atmosphere, 19. new orleans, usa - heart-warming christmas traditions, 20. aspen colorado, usa - christmas paradise for skiing enthusiasts.

Pick Copenhagen for Christmas. The affordable and friendly capital of Denmark has a glittering city centre and it's easy to get around. If you want full festive fantasy, book tickets in advance for Tivoli Gardens . It's one of the world's oldest amusement parks and is magical at Christmas.

Copenhagen is famous for its castles, which take on a special magical charm at Christmas time. Among the most famous are Kronborg Castle, Christiansborg Palace and Rosenborg Castle.

If you're travelling to Copenhagen with children, take a look at our list of the best kids' activities in Copenhagen .

Where to stay in Copenhagen

  • Copenhagen Marriott Hotel
  • Hotel Skt Petri

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Tivoli Gardens is one of Denmark's top Christmas destinations © Vlad Andrei Nica/Shutterstock

Find Christmas craic in Dublin during December. The streets feel festive, there are ice rinks and carol singers at St. Patrick's Cathedral . And when you want to get cosy, Temple Bar pubs have you covered. If that sounds like fun, stay at Castle Hotel near Temple Bar.

What also makes Dublin one of the best Christmas destinations is the 12 pubs of Christmas. It's a world-famous competition challenging groups of friends to visit 12 pubs by the end of the night. Needless to say, only the most resilient participants make it to the end.

Explore Dublin and its castles and cliffs with our tailor-made 5-day trip .

Where to stay in Dublin

  • Egans House
  • Baggot Court Townhouse

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Dublin is especially Christmassy in December © David Soanes/Shutterstock

Experience the festive and very Austrian city of Salzburg . Its famous Baroque architecture looks even lovelier with a snowy mountain backdrop. And it's the birthplace of Mozart so expect a lot of music wherever you go.

It's also home to the oldest Christmas market in Europe which is awash with charming traditions and smells like warm gingerbread. If you want to put that to the test, take a tour of Salzburg Christmas markets with local guides.

Where to stay in Salzburg

  • Hotel Hohenstauffen
  • Altstadthotel Wolf-Dietrich

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Christmas Market in the old town of Salzburg © Izabela23/Shutterstock

Go Christmas shopping at the famous Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg . You'll find over 180 market stalls set on Hauptmarkt selling everything from toys to gingerbread. 

Don't miss the opportunity to taste the famous Lebkuchen (german gingerbread) was invented in Franconia in the 13th century. Head for the Lebkuchen-Schmidt stands at the Christkindlesmarkt to sample the authentic Lebkuchen.

Where to stay in Nuremberg

  • Novina Hotel Tillypark
  • Hotel Agneshof Nürnberg

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Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg as night falls © Sean Nel/Shutterstock

New York City rules Christmas from the outrageously famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to its dazzling store windows and awesome ice rinks.

One of the recent additions to New York's Christmas atmosphere is the New York Botanical Garden Glow . After dark, you can enjoy a stroll along the mile-and-a-half-long route decorated with all kinds of light installations. Dance performances, ice carving demonstrations and other seasonal activities are also on the agenda.

With our tailor-made 15-day tour you can experience the most iconic cities on the east coast of the USA: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

Where to stay in NYC

  • Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel
  • Hotel St. James

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Decorations in New York City - one of the world's best Christmas destinations © Anastasios71/Shutterstock

Berlin has over 50 neighbourhood Christmas markets, so it's a bit of a festive legend. It's also worth visiting for iconic museums, great nightlife and festive experiences.

From mid-November to the first half of January, the Berlin Botanical Gardens invites you to enjoy a night stroll among the illuminated gardens. During the festive season, there are golden glowing arches, glittering penguin statues and twinkling lights streaming from the trees. Book your visit in advance, tickets sell out very quickly and don't forget to bring your camera to take the perfect festive photo.

In our in-depth guide, you'll find things to do in Berlin at any time of year.

Where to stay in Berlin

  • Essential by Dorint Berlin-Adlershof
  • Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz

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Christmas market, French church and konzerthaus in Berlin, Germany © S.Borisov/Shutterstock

Rome mixes up its festive traditions across the entire city. So you have art collections, museums and monuments combined with Christmassy Italian food and culture. All of that makes Rome one of the best places to visit at Christmas. Plus, there's the Vatican Midnight Mass. So why not have a look around on a private Christmas tour with local guides?

The Christmas tree in the Colosseum in Rome cannot be overlooked. It may be a couple of metres shorter than the one in New York's Rockefeller Centre, but it is a truly spectacular sight.

Italy doesn't miss an opportunity to shine with its famous cooking at Christmas either. Don't miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Italian Christmas dinner before midnight mass.

Soak up the sights and delights of Ancient Rome, with our tailor-made 6-day trip

Where to stay in Rome

  • Hotel Area Roma
  • Hotel Marcantonio

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Colosseum decorated for Christmas in Rome, Italy © Bucchi Francesco/Shutterstock

Visit Santa in Finnish Lapland at the legendary Santa Claus Village just outside festive Rovaniemi . It's a kid's Christmas fantasy, and children do love it. But it's also designed to enchant adults. Plus, there's a chance of Northern Lights in December.

Here you can meet the pack of huskies at Apukka and hear their stories before mushing them through the trees on your own sledge.

Explore the surroundings of the Arctic Circle, visit a magical place - Santa Claus Village - try the traditional Lappish food, snow-shoeing with our tailor-made 5-day tour .

Where to stay in Finland

  • Park Hotel Tornio
  • Lapland Hotels Äkäshotelli

Rovaniemi Santa Claus Village © Shutterstock

Snowman in Santa Claus Village in Lapland, Finland © Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

Edinburgh does a festive atmosphere from its atmospheric Old Town to the Georgian New Town. Edinburgh Castle looks magical, there are colourful Christmas markets and the New Year street party is one of the biggest in Europe.

The Christmas season is the best time to take a magical walking tour of Edinburgh and discover the city where the world of Harry Potter was conceived. Here you will have an opportunity to test your knowledge with an audio-visual quiz, find out your Hogwarts House, and visit Tom Riddle’s grave.

Visit two traditional capitals, London and Edinburgh and discover peaceful Scottish islands with our tailor-made 14-day trip vintage England .

Where to stay in Edinburgh

  • Radisson Blu Hotel

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Edinburgh Christmas markets in Princes Gardens © Ulmus Media/Shutterstock

Christmas is magical in Montreal . It's the second largest city in Canada and has everything from skiing on Mont Tremblant to the Vieux Port ice rink. Enjoy Christmas festivals and explore Old Montreal. Then meet ghosts of Christmas past on a haunted walking tour .

Montreal has held an annual parade of Santa Clauses since 1925. It is known locally as Defile du Pere Noel. About 15-20 floating statues take part in the procession through the city centre to Catherine Street. Also, don't miss out on the beautiful views of the Christmas fireworks held every year in Montreal's Old Port.

Where to stay in  Montreal

  • Manoir Sherbrooke
  • Hotel Bonaventure Montreal

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Place d'Armes at Christmas, Montreal, Quebec, Canada © Pinkcandy/Shutterstock

Hong Kong is the most extraordinary city and it dazzles at Christmas. Look forward to illuminated skyscrapers, bedecked shop fronts and Christmas music everywhere. If you want even more glitter, try happy hour with a light show at Sky100 Observatory.

At the Hong Kong Ocean Park , you can have a great time with the kids as well as on your own. Here you'll witness some wonderful world-class Christmas activities and performances. There's also a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree and plenty of roller coasters to suit all tastes.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant and exciting atmosphere of Hong Kong with our 5-day tailor-made trip.

While planning your Christmas holiday read our list of the best places to stay in Hong Kong .

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Glittering Hong Kong lights up for Christmas © Shutterstock

Washington DC is a Christmas capital packed with heartwarming traditions. Don't miss the illuminated Pathway of Peace with its 56 Christmas trees. Wrap up warm against the freezing weather to go exploring.

It's hard to argue that Washington DC is one of the best Christmas destinations. There's Christmas entertainment to suit all tastes, from a visit to the National Christmas Tree in President's Park to the holiday boat parade in Wharf.

Where to stay in Washington DC

  • The Normandy Hotel
  • The Dupont Circle Hotel

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White House at Christmas in Washington DC © Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Boston is an Old World US Christmas from gas lamplit streets on historic Beacon Hill to huge Christmas trees and enchanting Quincy Market .

One of the best things to do in Boston at Christmas time is to visit the pubs. There are many different bar events during this time, the most popular being SantaCon and Ugly Sweater. For Santa Con, all participants dress up in their favourite Santa Claus costumes and shuttle around Boston's many pubs. The Ugly Sweater crawl is exactly what you think it is: put on your ugliest holiday jumper and head to Boston's pubs!

Where to stay in Boston

  • The Bostonian Boston

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Christmas traditions in Boston Massachusetts, USA © Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

Experience Cologne for eight Christmas markets and the Rhine riverbank markets. Quaint Glühwein stalls contrast with impressive urban architecture here and you'll find lovely festive traditions. Spread some cheer on a Christmas market and Kolsch Beer tour.

In addition to the Christmas markets, the city offers various Christmas activities such as a trip along the Rhine, and the Christmas garden at the Cologne Zoo. In Cologne, you can enjoy Christmas circus and theatre performances.

Where to stay in Cologne

  • NH Köln Altstadt
  • Hostel Köln

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Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Germany © picturetom/Shutterstock

Prague is considered one of the best Christmas destinations for a reason. Festive Prague looks spectacular at Christmas time. How could it not with architecture spanning over 600 years, medieval streets, wooded hills and the lovely River Vitava with its many romantic bridges?

Prague's Christmas markets are in no way inferior to those in other famous Christmas destinations. If you are looking for the most atmospheric and scenic, head to the Old Town Square Christmas Market. Once there, don't forget to make your way to the Old Town Tower to enjoy the view from above.

Also, don't miss out on the opportunity to sample some of the Czech famous Trdelník and Svařák (Czech take on English mulled wine).

The Czech Republic is famous for its beer culture. If you're a beer enthusiast, check out our guide to Czech beer and the best places to try it in the Czech Republic.

Where to stay in Prague

  • Hotel Pivovar
  • Hotel Klara

Find more accommodation options to stay in Prague.

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Christmas in Oldtown Square, Prague, Czech Republic © Jiri Foltyn/Shutterstock

Warm to Iceland at Christmas. It's where to discover 13 Icelandic Santas known as Yule Lads. The weather's snowy and there's a good chance of Northern Lights.

Reykjavík is breathtakingly beautiful at any time of year, but on Christmas Eve the city is transformed with dozens of Christmas trees and decorations. If you like ice skating, go to one of the two ice skating rinks - Tjörnin pond or the Nova ice skating rink. Nova ice skating rink is sutuated on the Ingólfstorg Square where you can visit the little Christmas market.

Where to stay in Reykjavík

  • Hotel Orkin

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Snowy Christmas in Reykjavik, Iceland © John Speargod/Shutterstock

Visit Dresden for sweet traditions like the Stollen cake parade. The enchanting River Elbe setting enhances Christmas markets. And if you want to see historic Frauenkirche at its finest, take a night tour of Dresden with friendly local guides. Dresden is known for being home to some of the best   German Christmas markets .

Visit the Dresden Strieselmarkt, Germany's oldest Christmas market. This market is a magnet that attracts visitors not only because of its venerable age, but also because of its other sights. It is home to the world's largest step pyramid Erzgebirge at 14.61 metres, probably the world's largest candle arch and a daily Christmas cultural programme for young and old.

Embark on an exploration tour through Saxony starting in ­Dresden with our tailor-made 5-day trip.

Where to stay in Dreseden

  • Hotel Elbflorenz
  • Penck Hotel

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Christmas market in Dresden, Germany © LianeM/Shutterstock

Bruges medieval town centre was made for Christmas. It's awash with chocolatiers and charming Christmas markets. The canals are wintery and atmospheric and you can hear the traditional carillon in Bruges Belfry.

Belgium is among the countries that are mostly off the tourist radar. Thanks to this coincidence, you have the opportunity to stroll around the many serene canals of Bruges and feel as if the whole city is just for you.

And of course, Belgium is practically synonymous with chocolate, and the chocolate in Bruges is considered one of the best in Belgium. Take a stroll through the local chocolate shops and enjoy chocolate in all its Christmas shapes.

Where to stay in Bruges

  • Hotel Ter Brughe
  • Snuffel Hostel

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Christmas decorations light up Bruges' Old Market Square © kavalenkau/Shutterstock

New Orleans does full-on Christmas with riverboat carol cruises, festive street cars and dazzling decorations. The city's historic quarters are at their most atmospheric and it's the perfect time of year to take a haunted cemetery tour .

Another event that might interest you is the Celebration in the Oaks in the City Park. Hop on the train with friends and family and enjoy 25 acres of Christmas holiday displays and 600-year-old ancient oaks studded with lanterns and moss.

It should also be mentioned that New Orleans is famous for its cocktail culture. Once there, check out our list of must-visit bars in New Orleans .

Where to stay in New Orleans

  • The Westin New Orleans
  • Le Méridien New Orleans

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Christmas lights in the French Quarter of New Orleans © Colin D. Young/Shutterstock

Spend Christmas in the Colorado mountain town of Aspen . One of the world's most famous ski resorts it's all about alpine lodges, cosy restaurants and a festive atmosphere.

Above all, Aspen is a skiing paradise and it's a great idea to combine outdoor activities with a variety of Christmas events. The 12 Days of Aspen, a series of Christmas-themed events, takes place from 20 to 31 December. If you're travelling with children, this option is ideal, as most activities are tailored for the younger participants.

Where to stay in Aspen

  • St. Regis Aspen Resort

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White Christmas in Aspen, Colorado © The World in HDR/Shutterstock

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For more travel inspiration check out the snapshot of our ultimate Rough Guide: Make the Most of Your Time on Earth and find ideas and tips for your future trips.

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The best Christmas holiday destinations for 2023

By Laura Chubb , Anya Meyerowitz and Emma Love

The best Christmas holiday destinations for 2023

After years of Christmas travel being put on pause, 2022 saw avid travellers embrace the festive escape once more. Christmas holiday destinations are a contentious issues among large families, however. An amble around Europe's famous Christmas markets is on most people's bucket lists, but then there's the practicalities of finding a cosy bolthole in a new city – to tree, or not to tree? Winter sun spots like Australia and South Africa were out of bounds in recent years due to strict Covid entry requirements, but families are free to reunite on whichever side of the globe they wish – and doing so in droves. With plenty of options back on the agenda, we've listed the best holiday destinations for Christmas in 2023. To stay closer to home, see our pick of the best UK Airbnbs to book for Christmas .

white sand beach and crystal clear water with coconut palm tree Phuket Thailand.

Why? For ultimate beach bliss. Clear water laps against the sandy shores, palm trees sway, and the chill of the UK seems so far away. There’s also something for everyone; larger resorts and villas for families on the larger Thai islands , boutique and big-name hotels on some of the smaller ones, and hostels at every turn for a cost-effective, island-hopping festive experience. Every type of traveller is catered to somewhere, and the beaches are undeniably divine, making it ideal for intergenerational escapes.

Insider tip: Christmas in Thailand is delightful, but New Year’s Eve is another spectacle altogether. Stay on Koh Samui and head to the beaches for raucous parties and kaleidoscopic firework displays, or head to one of the many beach clubs and high-end hotels for a more civilised affair. Alternatively, a two-stop trip could be the bucket list adventure to beat them all. You’ll likely need to pass through Bangkok to reach the islands, so consider sticking around on the return leg to experience the celebrations in one of Asia’s largest metropolises, watching the colourful explosions illuminate the Chao Phraya River.

Where to stay: Splash out on a stay at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui for the most indulgent festive escape, and you’ll barely need to lift a finger. It’s a large resort, but it doesn’t feel that way, thanks to clever landscaping and guest rooms hidden among the towering trees and wild flora. Connor Sturges

Panorama of Las Palmas from the sea. Gran Canaria Canary Islands Spain.

Gran Canaria

Why? For (almost) guaranteed short-haul sun. The average temperature can hover around 20C on December afternoons, perfect for long sunny lunches along the harbour and walks along the coast – take a tip if you dare.

Insider tip: Hire a car to experience all Gran Canaria has to offer. December isn’t quite sunbathing season, but it’s ideal for exploring the charming towns, historic churches, markets and natural wonders dotted across the island.

Where to stay: Gran Canaria is an ideal Christmas holiday destination for families with broods in tow, but the island is no longer the reserve of those needing all-inclusive convenience. Adults-only Hotel Veintiuno is set in an 18th-century colonial house and offers cosy rooms, a rooftop swimming pool and a location ideal for exploring the capital Las Palmas. Connor Sturges

The Cotswold village of Broadway Worcestershire England.

The Cotswolds

Why? To experience a quintessentially English Christmas. Chocolate box villages dusted in snow, cosy evenings by pub fires, and the chime of churchbells ricocheting off period properties.

Insider tip: The Cotswolds has some of the cutest Christmas markets around. Broadway’s market is the perfect place to enjoy gooey raclette, a glass of mulled wine and a last-minute spot of shopping from craft stalls.

Where to stay: Cotswolds cottages don’t come cheap at Christmas, but make it a family affair, and it’ll be one to remember. Check out our guide to the best Airbnbs in the Cotswolds for some inspiration, or look to Luxury Cotswold Rentals for gargantuan homes designed to fit all the family… and some. Connor Sturges

Why The fairytale Christmas scene  snowy gabled houses and twinkly cobblestone streets  doesnt get much more...

Bruges, Belgium

Why: The fairy-tale Christmas scene – snowy, gabled houses and twinkly cobblestone streets – doesn’t get much more quintessential than in Belgium’s prettiest city. The medieval centre is known for its Gothic architecture, and the squares are strung with fairy lights and dotted with market stalls selling crafts and waffles wrapped in paper. Blow away the cobwebs on Christmas morning with a bracing walk alongside the icy canals, followed by a stint in one of the cosy pubs.

Insider tip: Belgian chocolatiers are famous for good reason – and Christmas is a great time to sample the wares of as many different stores as possible. We particularly like Spegelaere, a family-run chocolate shop just outside the city centre. Sarah James

Where to stay: Embrace the romance of the town with a B&B stay. The canal-side Bonifacius was famously used by Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as a green room during the filming of In Bruges . An immaculate breakfast here is served in the intimate Gothic Room. If you can brave the cold, wander up the winding staircase to the roof terrace where you'll find exceptional views over the Church of Our Lady and 13th-century belfry.

Why Sure everyone knows Christmas in New York is special  but do they know its romantic too From iceskating under the...

New York City, USA

Why : Sure, everyone knows Christmas in New York is special – but do they know it’s romantic, too? From ice-skating under the Rockefeller Center tree, to riding the gorgeously restored, vintage Jane’s Carousel on the East River-front, and strolling hand-in-hand across a twinkly Brooklyn Bridge, this is movie-grade amour .

Insider tip : Cuddle up on a Christmassy date at Williamsburg ’s Nitehawk Cinema . Even better, you can order food and cocktails right to your seat.

Where to stay: For the full New York at Christmas movie magic experience, nothing can beat The Plaza . A stay here is particularly magical for children, where little ones can call on the service of a family 'ambassador' and goodies on offer include a closet full of dressing-up gear, children's terrycloth bathrobes and a $100 gift card for nearby toy store FAO Schwartz. See our pick of the best hotels in New York for more.

Why The Caribbean has always been a favourite destination for cruisefans over the festive period with its honeyhued...

Barbados, Caribbean

Why? The Caribbean has always been a favourite destination for cruise-fans over the festive period, with its honey-hued beaches and cerulean waters, and Barbados is arguably its star attraction. The festive season is the island’s sweet spot, where it is at its most relaxed until mid-December and still enjoying balmy temperatures, however the hotel prices often drop and the UK fashion set has yet to jet in for New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to picture a Christmas spent among the coconut palms and rolling surf, doused in sunscreen, rather than curled up in a jumper, but we’re certain you’ll soon get used to it… 

Insider tip: If you can’t bear to miss out on your Christmas Cake fix, tuck into the Bajan version (known as a ‘Great Cake’), made with local rum. Really get the flavour of things by booking a day trip to the Mount Gay rum distillery – we defy you not to be singing carols at the top of your voice by the end of it. 

Where to stay: Swap the supersized resorts for Cobblers Cove , a 40 bedroom bolthole that's dressed delightfully – think millennial- pink accents and candy-cane-striped pool umbrellas – like a tropical country club. For more recommendations, see our edit of the best hotels in Barbados . 

Why Forget the 12 days of Christmas  the festive season in Iceland lasts a full 26. In fact most Icelandic traditions at...

Why: Forget the 12 days of Christmas – the festive season in Iceland lasts a full 26. In fact, most Icelandic traditions at this time of year are bigger and more elaborate than those in the UK – including the 13 Santa Clauses who bring presents to children across the country. The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in December are also pretty good, and experiencing a white Christmas here is all but a given. In the capital Reykjavík , the frozen central pond of Tjörnin is a brilliant spot for ice skating on Christmas Day, while the big celebration is on Christmas Eve, with a supper of smoked lamb and langoustine.

Insider tip: If you stay until New Year’s Eve , you can catch the city’s unique fireworks display – locals purchase their own and the sky is lit up with countless mini displays when midnight strikes.

Where to stay: Reykjavik Edition has a standout location plus a rooftop terrace for viewing the northern lights. Another option is Kvosin Downtown Hotel , a charismatic boutique property with fantastic apartment suites. See our pick of the best Iceland hotels for more. 

Why This Middle Eastern playground can make every generation feel like a kid again  whether thats riding the slides of...

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Why : This Middle Eastern playground can make every generation feel like a kid again – whether that’s riding the slides of its water parks, sledding down a ski slope in a shopping mall, or jumping around on its giant trampoline park, Bounce . And while Christmas isn’t a national holiday here, bling-bling Dubai can’t resist this twinkly time of year: the malls and hotels are all a-sparkle with lights and enormous trees. Add to that the weather (highs of 26˚C in December), plentiful beaches, and all-ages fun (such as ogling a giant dancing fountain or speeding up the world’s tallest building), and it’s not such an out-there idea.\

Insider tip : Don’t miss the surreal experience of shopping centre Souk Madinat Jumeirah at Christmas, when there’s a German market, a snowball zone, and Santa riding a gondola-sleigh around the mall’s canals.

Where to stay: All of the major players are here but for a change of pace, try the newly opened 25hours Hotel One Central , where 30-something hipsters and creatives move between the co-working spaces, pottery and podcast studios, and mixed-gender saunas. The rooms and suites here are equally un-Dubai, with hammocks, sheik-sized beds, and private bar areas with room for a DJ.

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Why It's been a while since we've had a bit of childlike magic at Christmas. Lapland neednt just be for kids either...

Finnish Lapland

Why : It's been a while since we've had a bit of child-like magic at Christmas. Lapland needn’t just be for kids either: throw over Santa and snowmen for cosy nights in glass igloos, and romantic husky-sled rides through forests glittering with frost. Head up to Ylläs and you can even get steamy in a sauna gondola: a cable car converted into a sauna, which takes guests on a 20-minute ride. An outdoor Jacuzzi session and traditional sauna are included in the (admittedly steep) price. Note that a typical Lappish Christmas dinner often involves reindeer, which seems like a truth only suitable for an adult.

Insider tip : If you’re looking to work off all that Christmas food, Ylläs National Park opens up its snowshoe tracks to fatbikers, so you can pedal your way around this wintry wonderland and work up a real sweat.

Where to stay: In one of the glass igloos at Apukka Resort near Rovaniemi, perfect for cosying up to watch the Northern Lights from bed. All igloos have sofa beds so they're great options for families, while self-catering apartments are also available.  

Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

Why: For a blast of winter sun with a sprinkling of festive spirit, all without the jet lag. In December , the top draw in Cape Town is usually carols by candlelight at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Children will also love the holiday activities at the V&A Waterfront, from magic shows on the croquet lawn, to puppet shows and face painting at the aquarium. If you're organised, book in to one of the best restaurants in Cape Town for an extra special Christmas or Boxing Day lunch. City centre restaurant FYN recently made it onto The World's 50 Best Restaurants list. 

Insider tip: The most obvious place to spend Christmas Day is at the beach – whether you fancy surfing at Llandudno or people-watching at Camps Bay. For a change of pace, book a table on the terrace at Grande Provence, a stellar wine estate in Franschhoek.

Where to stay: For the best poolside scene in the city, check in to Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel . The Wes-Anderson -style pink palace has clear views of Table Mountain from its main terrace, making it one of the best spots for a sundowner in Cape Town.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas

Why: Boxing Day can sometimes feel a little flat – especially if you’ve over-indulged with too many helpings of trifle at Christmas lunch – but not in the Bahamas where the annual Junkanoo Parade brings a carnival party vibe to the streets. The biggest event takes place in Nassau where the sound of drums, horns and cow bells fill the air and musicians and dancers dressed in elaborate bejewelled costumes shimmy their way through the town. Afterwards, pick up a conch salad (try Dino’s, by Compass Point) and head to the beach.

Insider tip: For those wanting a quieter escape hop on the ferry to Eleuthera, known for its coral-pink sand and clusters of cays, and nab one of the chic safari-style tents at The Other Side.

Where to stay: If you're travelling with little ones, SLS Baha Mar is perfectly set up for families, most notably for their poolside cabanas, kitted out with couches, a mini fridge, a flat-screen TV, and waiter service. For couples, check in to the all-inclusive, adults-only Warwick Paradise Island .

St Moritz Switzerland

St Moritz, Switzerland

Why: What better way to kick off Christmas Day than with an exhilarating family toboggan run from Preda to Bergun? This glitzy Alpine ski resort comes up trumps with plenty of festive sporty fun on offer from ice skating (there are two rinks, at the Kulm Country Club and Lake St Moritz ) to snowshoe hikes and even snowkiting on the Bernina Pass. Those who prefer to slow the pace can wrap up warm for a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride or tap into centuries-old spa traditions – the Kulm Hotel has a heated open-air pool that looks out onto a winter wonderland.

Insider tip: After a morning spent swooshing down the slopes, refuel at an Alpine hut with panoramic mountain views, such as El Paradiso Mountain Club or the legendary Alpina Hutte. See our St Moritz insider tips for more. 

Where to stay: The obvious options are Badrutt’s Palace and the Kulm Hotel but for something cosier, book one of the seven rooms at the art-loving Villa Flor in nearby Zuoz. 

Why Caribbean islands dont come more romantic than St Lucia with its dreamy views of the Pitons incredible beaches and...

St Lucia, Caribbean

Why : Caribbean islands don’t come more romantic than St Lucia , with its dreamy views of the Pitons, incredible beaches and chocolate plantations (meaning you can expect chocolate-covered spa treatments, and couples’ chocolate-making classes). Thanks to a strong Catholic culture, Christmas is a big deal here, too: St Lucian twists include its traditional, deep-red sorrel drink (made with cinnamon, cloves and ginger), and black Christmas pudding (soaked in red wine). While roast turkey remains on the menu, expect sweet potatoes and plantains in place of parsnips and sprouts.

Insider tip : The island ’s most interesting restaurant for a romantic meal is undoubtedly The Rabot Hotel , at Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa-plantation-set boutique residence. Along with head-on views of Petit Piton, you’ll eat a cacao-infused menu, featuring dishes such as tuna-dorado tartare with cacao nibs and cacao beer pork tenderloin.

Where to stay: The Rabot Hotel was also voted the best hotel in the Caribbean in our Reader's Choice Awards. 

Why Mexico goes big on Christmas  elaborate nativity scenes street processions plazas decked with fairy lights festive...

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Why: Mexico goes big on Christmas – elaborate nativity scenes, street processions, plazas decked with fairy lights, festive piñatas – so it’s ideal for a taste of tradition with a side of sunshine. Forgo the rowdy Caribbean coast for the more laid-back Pacific side, where family-friendly town Puerto Vallarta excels at ‘something for everyone’: snorkelling trips around the Marietas Islands’ ‘Hidden Beach’; a sunset boat ride to Las Caletas cove for a traditional dance show; wandering around botanical gardens and eating at torch-lit waterfront restaurants.

Insider tip: The Malecón is Puerto Vallarta’s seafront promenade, the centre of community activity and a riot at Christmas, with craft markets, street-food vendors, palm trees hung with stockings and Santa-hat-wearing sand men.

Where to stay: At handmade hotel Verana , where 10 casas are embedded in the jungle with spellbinding views of the ocean. Families will love One&Only Mandarina where you can opt to stay in oversized treehouses or ocean-facing villas, and the fantastical kids’ club was designed by Academy Award-winning art director Brigitte Broch, whose wonderland sets have been seen in Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet .

Why A tropical Christmas in Hawaii still feels festive. On Oahu Honolulu City Hall is festooned with lights and has a...

Why : A tropical Christmas in Hawaii still feels festive. On Oahu, Honolulu City Hall is festooned with lights, and has a heavily decorated 50ft-tree out front; on Maui, Santa rocks up at Wailea Beach on Christmas Eve via outrigger canoe. Any one of these preternaturally gorgeous islands will appeal across the generations, with their mix of white-sand beaches, watersports, and family-friendly hijinks.

Insider tip : On Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center hosts a Christmas marketplace; on certain days, real snow is brought in for making snowmen. Check out Hukilau Marketplace for updates.

Where to stay: At Four Seasons Resort Hualãlai , fresh off a multiyear, multimillion-dollar renovation that saw a refresh of every guest room, the expansion of its family-friendly villa offerings, a sleek new pool and several updates to its world-class golf course. 

Why Dreaming of a white Christmas It doesnt get much merrier than North Americas favourite ski resort where snow is...

Whistler, Canada

Why : Dreaming of a white Christmas? It doesn’t get much merrier than North America ’s favourite ski resort, where snow is guaranteed, as are festively freezing temperatures. As well as a heap of family entertainment (the weekly Fire & Ice show sees skiers jumping through fiery hoops), there’s everything from ice skating to snowmobiling for the kids, and the slopes stay open on Christmas Day. Large, luxurious chalets are plentiful around Whistler Village: many with gorgeous views of Blackcomb Peak, patio heaters for outdoor evenings, and games rooms to keep all ages entertained.

Insider tip : Canadians are more likely to feast on pumpkin pie than Christmas pud on 25 December. Save the hassle of making your own and pick one up at local favourite Peaked Pies – it’s actually an Aussie bakery, but Whistler’s hungry skiers love it.

Where to stay: If it's your first time, opt to stay amongst the action of Whistler Village at Sundial , a boutique hotel with a rooftop hot tub, or nearby at Four Seasons Resort Whistler.

Why You dont have to look hard for the romance in Bali. Horseback rides on the beach Check. Gripping each other tightly...

Bali, Indonesia

Why: You don’t have to look hard for the romance in Bali . Horseback rides on the beach? Check. Gripping each other tightly on a scooter, zipping past 50-shades-of-green rice fields? But, of course. Glamping in the jungle, with your own private saltwater pool? Well hello, Capella Ubud. And then, when you’re hankering for a festive fix, there’s the Canggu Xmas Bazaar: a unique blend of traditional wooden Balinese architecture, festive crafts and Indonesian street food. Kitschy, yes – but it’s Christmas, after all.

Insider tip: Top off Christmas Day with a fireworks display: locals love setting them off once darkness falls, and if you head to the beach in Canggu you’ll catch one of Bali’s more fabulous sunsets, too.

Where to stay: For a private stay, takeover one of these villas in Bali . In Ubud, we like the look of Sharma Springs , a six-storey bamboo villa that sleeps up to ten (a fifth bedroom is located in a separate guest house) and has its own private pool and yoga pavilion.

Salvador Brazil

Salvador, Brazil

Why: Rio de Janeiro might be the kingpin Brazilian party capital on New Year’s Eve but for festive cheer, head north to the Bahia city of Salvador . With a fusion of African and Brazilian culture, this place crackles with energy all year round – but cranks it up several notches at Christmas. The pastel-hued houses of the UNESCO historic quarter make a colourful backdrop for impromptu marching band parades where the drummers dress up as Santa, and live music and dancing in the squares.

Insider tip: From here, it’s a two-hour (often choppy) boat trip to Morro de Sao Paulo, on the tip of Ilha de Tinharé. There are five numerically-named beaches: first beach is crowded and for watersports, by the time you reach fifth, you’re likely to have the sand to yourself.

Where to stay: The grand Hotel Fasano Salvador stands tall in a carefully restored 1930s building – once the former headquarters of the A Tarde newspaper – and has spectacular city views from its rooftop pool.

Why If youre looking to combine Yuletide cheer with a breathless party scene you wont go far wrong with Berlin. The...

Berlin, Germany

Why : If you’re looking to combine Yuletide cheer with a breathless party scene, you won’t go far wrong with Berlin . The Germans practically invented Christmas (we have them to thank for embellishments including decorated trees, baubles and tinsel), and they’re the undisputed world champions of the Christmas market (find a toboggan run and ice rink at Potsdamer Platz; Alexanderplatz packs a Ferris wheel and Christmas ‘pyramid’ with more than 5,000 lights). The city’s club scene hardly closes down as December comes to a close, however; on the contrary, it often ramps up, making it one of the best Christmas holiday destinations for those looking to party before spilling out into the snow.

Insider tip : Clubbing stints require planning: wear sturdy shoes and at least one T-shirt change. Dresses and heels aren’t simply impractical – they usually induce the bouncers to turn you away.

Where to stay: If you're here for the nightlife, Orania.Berlin — a luxury hotel in the edgy Kreuzberg district – is surrounded by some of the city’s best clubs. Radisson Collection Hotel , with its two-storey-high freestanding cylindrical aquarium, is an ideal option for families.

Why Morocco isnt exactly big on Christmas though youll still find traces of it in bigcity malls and hotels and there are...

Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Why : Morocco isn’t exactly big on Christmas, though you’ll still find traces of it in big-city malls and hotels, and there are Catholic churches throughout the country (thanks to historic Spanish and French influences). Make a beeline for the remote Atlas Mountains just outside Marrakech . 

Insider tip : If you’re set on scaling Mount Toubkal, be aware that this time of year requires serious skills, crampons and ice axes. Alternatively, stay below the snow line with treks through Ouirgane National Park and Azzaden Valley, which are excellent in their own right, but also have great views of Toubkal.

Where to stay: Handily, some smart retreats have sprung up in this rugged region, so you can go off-grid in style. Berber Lodge – village-like and set inside an olive grove – is low-key, glam and gorgeous.

Why Christmas is one of the busiest times of year to climb the Roof of Africa. So if youre travelling solo but fancy...

Kilimanjardo, Tanzania

Why: Christmas is one of the busiest times of year to climb the Roof of Africa . So, if you’re travelling solo, but fancy meeting new people, this is a great way to tap in to some group spirit while also ticking off a life goal – pack your Santa hat for commemorative pictures at the top. As Christianity is a major religion in Tanzania , the holiday is very much celebrated: though it’s more low-key than the West’s commercial circus, you’ll see enough trees and baubles to feel suitably full of good cheer. Forget the turkey, though: Tanzanian families tend to go all out and buy a goat or a cow for the big dinner.

Where to stay: It’s practically mandatory that you follow up the Kili trek with a restorative break in Zanzibar. The village-style Zuri hotel has 56 standalone bungalows set amid dense bush and spice gardens, with Indian Ocean waves rolling just beyond your window.

Why This StTropezonsnow is the party ski resort and a Christmas cardworthy delight this time of year too. Here in the...

Val d'Isere, France

Why : This St-Tropez -on-snow is the party ski resort, and a Christmas card-worthy delight this time of year, too. Here in the powder-swept Alps , there’s no shortage of festive markets, steaming vin chaud , or decadent Christmas menus paired with Champagne . On Christmas Day, ski lifts are open as usual and Dick’s Tea Bar , the party place-to-be, brings the après with resident DJs. 

Insider tip : Luxury travel specialist Scott Dunn tells us you can’t beat L’Atelier d’Edmond for a decadent Christmas dinner. This double- Michelin-starred stunner typically rustles up a tasting menu that forgoes turkey for the more refined flavours of Arctic char and deer.

Where to stay: Val has been outdoing itself with ultra-luxe chalets lately: seven-room Chalet Husky has a climbing wall, infinity waterfall and space for rifle shooting and archery; at Arctic Townhouse , you’ll find a sauna, indoor hot tub and screening room. For more, see our where to stay in Val d'Isere guide. 

Why For a solo Christmas with just the right mix of adventure and home comforts playing cowboy  at a dude ranch in the...

Dude ranch, Colorado

Why : For a solo Christmas with just the right mix of adventure and home comforts, playing cowboy (or cowgirl) at a dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains could be ideal. You’ll spend your days getting active in that crisp mountain air – riding horses, learning to shoot and lasso – and evenings sharing hearty home-cooked meals, swapping stories around a campfire or square-dancing at the local saloon. Colorado’s little mountain towns come alive with holiday lights and festivities this time of year, and the region is stuffed with dude ranches offering seasonal packages, which typically include a snowy horseback ride and family-style feast on Christmas Day.

Where to stay: Dude ranches come in all styles and sizes, so do your research on the vibe. Sundance Trail Guest Ranch , for example, is small and low-key, with a real focus on a homestay-style experience, while C Lazy U Ranch is more like a hotel and goes all-out with sleigh rides and Santa PAs.

Why Christmas is a time for giving so if you feel like doling out some good cheer try a festive break with International...

Volunteering in Cusco, Peru

Why : Christmas is a time for giving, so if you feel like doling out some good cheer, try a festive break with International Volunteer HQ . You could even combine it with a pilgrimage – in Cusco, for example, IVHQ volunteers wrap presents and prep Christmas decorations for underprivileged local children; why not independently tack on the Inca Trail trek to nearby Machu Picchu , too?

Insider tip : Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is a brilliant spot for Christmas Eve, with its market and incense-filled churches. Stick around to see the whole city explode with fireworks at midnight.

Why Sometimes in order to escape Christmas you need to escape the world entirely. Even in Kathmandu a colourful clash of...

Himalayan Trekking, Nepal

Why : Sometimes, in order to escape Christmas, you need to escape the world entirely. Even in Kathmandu, a colourful clash of Hindu temples and Buddhist prayer flags, Christmas Day is a recognised holiday – with Santa hats, decorated trees and glittering lights to match. There’s never been a better time, then, to leapfrog the masses and head for the Roof of the World on an Annapurna trek. Though it can get cold up in the Himalayas this time of year, the trails are blissfully quiet. Even better, a proper trek should take at least a week, so if you head off on Christmas Eve, it’s all about New Year by the time you’re back – when Santa will be safely absent 'til next winter.

Insider tip : December’s daytime temperatures and clear skies make ideal hiking weather, but come nightfall, the mercury will usually dip below freezing. Be sure to bring a down sleeping bag and plenty of layers.

Why‘Partying in Colombia might once have been synonymous with cocaine but if theres one place that really shows how the...

Cartagena, Colombia

Why: ‘Partying’ in Colombia might once have been synonymous with cocaine, but if there’s one place that really shows how the country has changed, it’s Caribbean seaside city Cartagena : no longer a best-kept secret, but a bona fide tourism big-hitter. Crowds come for the buzz of the picturesque Old Town, livelier than ever at Christmas: where festivities spill into cobblestoned streets, public squares shimmer with over-the-top trees and giant baubles and the colonial mansions’ famous flower-filled balconies are strung with lights.

Insider tip: Formerly sketchy, now shabby-chic Getsemani isn’t just Cartagena’s hippest neighbourhood (with interactive pop-up dining and factories-turned-pizza-restaurants), it’s the best damn nightlife spot in the city, too. Bazurto Social Club is the place for sultry salsa dancing with locals, or touristy Café Havana – all retro 1930s style, Panama hats and lethal mojitos – pops five nights a week until 4am.

Where to stay: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena , a former 17th-century monastery located a short walk from the beach. 

Why This is where probably the worlds most famous Christmas Day beach party is held. On 25 December Santahatwearing...

Sydney, Australia

Why : This is where probably the world’s most famous Christmas Day beach party is held. On 25 December, Santa-hat-wearing crowds descend on Bondi ’s beloved crescent for barbecues and frolics. Lifeguards even plant a fir tree in the sand and, in the absence of snow, many folk build festive sandmen. However, anyone planning a rowdy booze-fest will be disappointed: the entire beach is an alcohol-free zone. Christmas just not Christmas without grog? Nearby, The Bavarian Bondi Beach will be a beery riot, and even does a Christmas roast .

Insider tip : For a less crowded experience, try Balmoral Beach, where the Bathers’ Pavilion usually puts on both a booze-included buffet and a three-course lunch. The restaurant’s wall of glass patio doors, which look out to sea, just might seal the deal.

Where to stay: Park Hyatt Sydney , beloved for its location tucked beneath the Harbour Bridge and it mosaic rooftop pool that is one of the city's great spots. 

Why Incidentally just voted one of the top 20 best cities to visit in the world in the Cond Nast Traveller Readers...

Salzburg, Austria

Why? Incidentally, just voted one of the top 20 best cities to visit in the world in the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2021 , Salzburg really turns on the charm over the festive period. Decked out in its finest baroque regalia and surrounded by the Alps’ lofty peaks – smothered in snow – a December spent among the clock towers and chocolate box architecture of the Old Town begs a knitted jumper, rosy cheeks and a constant sense of occasion. The Salzburg Christmas Market on Cathedral Square conjures the sort of romantic, fairytale scene that might be plucked from a cheesy rom-com, and there’s no finer way to escape the cold than to take your seat for a Mozart concert in the composer’s own birthplace. 

Insider tip: In Austria , warming up chilly fingers over a hot chocolate is an unmitigated delight, and one that the city takes very, very seriously. You’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to stop, but for an extra special treat, head for Mozart’s favourite café, Café Tomaselli. 

Where to stay: For a spectacular view, we love the look of the large sun terrance at this penthouse apartment on Airbnb , located at the foot of Gaisberg and a 10-minute bus or car ride from  Salzburg city centre. 

More From Forbes

Christmas in europe 10 highly recommended destinations for a truly memorable holiday trip.

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The most beautiful European cities with their romantic Christmas markets, picturesque ski resorts, ... [+] Christmas and New Year’s festivities are ready for visitors.

Noticed how every year, Christmas seems to start earlier? This year, in many parts of Europe, it started to surface in October (along with Halloween decorations): lights, trees and garlands are already gracing streets and windows in many of the most beautiful European cities as romantic Christmas markets, picturesque ski resorts , Christmas and New Year’s festivities get the finishing touches for an unforgettable holiday season.

Then there are the lists of the ‘best Christmas festivities’, ‘best Christmas markets’, ‘must-have end-of-year travel experiences’ t0 help guide your decisions if you’re planning to travel to Europe to finish this eventful 2022.

Here, based on some of the most reliable sources, I offer ten of the best recommended destinations for a truly memorable winter experience on the old continent.

Among the top “ 25 Travel Experiences You Must Have ” put together by a five-person jury at the New York Times , the region of Andalusia in the south of Spain appears prominently.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, andalusia, spain.

Picturesque street in the small ,white-washed village of Mijas, decorated for Christmas in Spain's ... [+] Andalusia.

With its mild weather of ‘almost-summer sunshine’, fewer tourists (except at Christmas), golden sandy beaches along its long coast, the white summits of the Sierra Nevada, famed cities full of legendary heritage and a wealth of special celebrations, parades and carnivals, Andalusia is definitively one for the bucket list.

Starting with the architectural treasures left by the Islamic civilization during the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th to the 11th centuries that include Seville’s Alcázar Palace, the Mezquita-Catedral of Córdoba and the storied Alhambra in Granada “glittering in honeycomb muqarnas and moonlight-washed, waterway-threaded gardens.”

Then, from the centuries-long reign of the catholic church and monarchy that followed, the great cities of Andalusia “became spectacular palimpsests of divergent faiths superimposed on top of each other” evident in extraordinary monuments like Seville’s 15th-century Gothic-style cathedral — built on the footprint of an Almohad mosque whose graceful minaret was repurposed as a church tower — and Córdoba’s Renaissance cathedral that “bursts from the austere, rhythmic heart of the mezquita , itself built atop the remains of a sixth-century Visigothic basilica,” as explained by the New York Times.

“Beyond its beauty, Andalusia is a tribute to the indelible marks that cultures and communities leave on one another across time and space.”

Lofoten, Norway

Northern lights above Festhelltinden peak and Hamnoy, Lofoten Islands.

Norway’s Northern Lights​​ are another inescapable presence not only on the New York Times list.

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, is an elusive natural phenomenon as unpredictable as it is extraordinary that illuminates the sky “with dancing streaks of saturated yellow, pink, purple and green, a tangoing of solar gas and Earth’s magnetic field rendered in Technicolor.”

Places located where the Arctic Circle begins, some 66.5 degrees north of the equator, are considered prime viewing spots. Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia are top ones.

“Lofoten, an archipelago off Norway’s northwest coast, offers one of the most picturesque backdrops for witnessing this mercurial sight. There, a coastline framed by jagged peaks, sweeping fjords, sandy beaches and rorbu , old fishermen’s cabins painted cherry red and pine green, makes for a serene visit, day or night. Winters on the archipelago are long (November to April) and dark (for five weeks in December and January, the sun doesn’t even rise), so consider them a prime time to settle down on a north-facing beach (Unstad and Gimsøy are particularly beautiful) or sink into a hot tub at a heritage fishing lodge, neck craned skyward — and wait. The anticipation is half the fun,” writes Aileen Kwun in the Times .

And if you happen to be in Norway, there are two other winter destinations ranked high on many lists:

Bergen, like in ‘Frozen’

Bergen waterfront, Norway.

Bergen, Norway, known as the inspiration for Arandelle , the magical kingdom in Frozen, and also as the world’s biggest gingerbread town, “where you can pay a visit to many art museums, and aquariums, as well as go shopping in the nearby markets under a very special Christmas atmosphere,” is recommended by Schengenvisainfo.

Oslo, the beautiful Norwegian capital with unequaled and cheerful sites, Christmas trees, many winter activities like skiing and sledding at slopes located within a short ride and the most unique Christmas fair held at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History should also be on the itinerary.

Rovaniemi: Santa’s town

Santa Claus at his desk in Rovaniemi, Finland, the capital of Lapland and known as Santa's hometown.

Also in the Scandinavian ‘neighborhood’ appears another “must see” destination: the Santa Claus Village in Finland included in the The Travel’s 10 Unbelievably Stunning Winter Destinations:”

“Rovaniemi, Finland, is the capital of Lapland and is known as Santa Claus's hometown. It's also where he keeps his office and welcomes people year-round. Visitors can get a unique passport stamp and send postcards directly from the Santa Claus post office.

Located in the Arctic, the place is also an excellent spot to watch the northern lights, one of nature's most spectacular sights. Visitors can also go on a dog sled trip and learn more about the Lappish culture.”

Transylvania

Snowy winter in romantic Transylvania.

The #1 spot on The Travel’s list is Transylvania , ‘A Surprisingly Romantic Destination’: “When visiting Romania, travelers should go beyond Bucharest and include Transylvania in their plans.

Bram Castle is also a must-see, year-round stop. But, but it looks especially magical when it's snow-covered. The region has many other incredible towns, and those wanting to explore Christmas markets should head to Cluj, Sibiu and Brasov.

The region has excellent slopes at Poiana Brasov, where visitors can also enjoy spas and hot tubs. People dreaming of snow-capped villages should check Sighisoara, which UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site .”

The Travel list includes two more unexpected destinations:

View of the northern light from the city center in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and the northernmost “capital in the world“ is the ultimate destination for nature lovers and arguably the most famous spot on the island, mainly during summer when the hot springs attract hundreds of tourists, the guide writes. “The city offers many activities all winter, including seeing the northern lights and diving into the geothermal spas that become even better when the temperature drops.”

Bled Lake, Slovenia

Panoramic view of famous Bled Island (Blejski otok) at scenic Lake Bled with Bled Castle (Blejski ... [+] grad) and Julian Alps in the background on a beautiful sunny day in winter, Slovenia.

Bled Lake in Slovenia is one of the country’s most famous sights, renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. The lake “becomes even more beautiful when it's snow-covered,” according to The Travel. “It's the perfect time to explore the area with almost no tourists and lower prices. For tourists visiting Lake Bled in December, there's an excellent Christmas market where they can also try traditional foods and drinks.”

Prague at Christmas: classic view of snowy roofs in the city center, with the Christmas market and ... [+] Tyn church.

For many, Prague is among the most romantic cities in Europe — particularly magical in winter and included on most lists of the continent’s best Christmas markets.

It’s one of the Best Christmas Holiday Destinations in Europe by European Best Destinations ( EBD ) and appears at # 2 of best Christmas markets on the list of Tik Tok users , among others.

The Czech Republic’s capital offers many ice skating rinks in the parks, castles and museums to visit with shorter lines than during the rest of the year and the famous Christmas markets.

“This year, celebrations for Christmas in Prague will begin on November 26 and end on January 6, 2023,” writes EBD. “During this time, the Old Town Square in the Czech capital will fill with wooden stalls, and merchants offering Christmas goods like mulled wine, hot roasted chestnuts, gingerbread biscuits or the typical food in Czechia – Christmas cookies or Czech grilled sausages.

The city is also well known for its spectacular Christmas tree, decorated with traditional Czech blown glass balls, a perfect setting for unforgettable photos to fill the book with this year’s memories.”

The main Christmas markets in Prague are held in the heart of the city – in Old Town Square as well as in Wenceslas Square. Smaller markets are also held at other locations.

Traditional Alsatian half-timbered houses in Colmar, decorated and illuminated at christmas time, ... [+] Alsace, France

Many destinations in France, with their enchanting Christmas markets, snare first places on many lists of the best in Europe and the world — and Colmar and Strasbourg are usually among the top.

Colmar ’s is one of the Christmas markets most suggested by content creators in TikTok and is present year after year in the European Best Destinations list.

This year, the Christmas market in Colmar opened on November 24, and visitors will be able to have an unforgettable experience until December 29.

Colmar has the ambience of a magical Old Town and when decorated for Christmas it’s like being in a fairy tale. The town center consists of various architectural treasures which blend wonderfully with the lighting especially designed to bring out the heritage of the town.

Christmas decorations in Strasbourg on an old house wall

Strasbourg , a UNESCO world heritage site, is a beautiful city throughout the year, but when it dresses for Christmas, it becomes one of the most acclaimed in the world — its title of “Capital of Christmas” well earned.

The city’s “must-experience” Christmas market appears on practically every list of the ‘best in Europe’ and worldwide. It’s the oldest Christmas market in Europe, having started in 1570. Since then, the city has continued its tradition, remaining one of the top destinations to be visited during the Christmas period.

“Strasbourg, birthplace of Christmas celebrations, invites you on a true sensory journey,” writes EBD. “From the fairy-like lights to the delicious aromas, let yourself be carried away by the city’s warm atmosphere, marvel and wander around the 300 wooden chalets set up in the city’s historic centre. With its majestic Great Christmas Tree sporting a dress of lights, and its countless illuminated streets, the Capital of Christmas takes you into an enchanted and richly decorated city that will enthrall young and old.”

People skating on city skating rink in Zagreb, Croatia. Zagreb has been declared the best european ... [+] christmas destination three times in a row.

Along with Strasbourg, Croatia’s capital, Zagreb , has been repeatedly named Best Christmas holiday destination in Europe by European Best Destinations.

“Zagreb and Strasbourg (both thrice-awarded) are out of competition but still among the favorite Christmas destinations for travellers,” according to EBD. `’Zagreb is the only destination awarded the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe three consecutive times.”

Zagreb’s “magical offer” spread around the city includes a renowned ice skating rink on King Tomislav Square, food and drink kiosks that fill the cooler evening air with spicy aromas, music and art exhibits.

This year's Advent includes a rich program of indoor and outdoor concerts and exhibitions that will run from now through January 7.

EBD’s Best Holidays Destinations

In partnership with more than 350 European tourist offices and the Eden network created by the European Commission to promote sustainable tourism, EBD releases its list of the 20 best holiday destinations based on the votes of thousands of travelers who placed more than 100 markets at the top of their rankings.

“The selected ones are not only alleys of chalets but cultural and artistic events with concerts, creative workshops, Christmas lights, fireworks, shows and ice rinks and are committed to sustainability, offering local food and artisanal products,” the organization explains.

This year’s list includes Budapest , Hungary, (twice voted Best Christmas holiday destination); Basel, Switzerland; Tallinn, Estonia; Metz, France; Brussels, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; Govone & Asti, Italy; Craiova, Romania; and Leipzig, Germany.

Here’s the complete list of EBD’s Best Winter Holidays Destinations.

Cecilia Rodriguez

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best countries to visit during christmas

The 14 most Christmassy destinations in the world

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Recently updated on October 5th, 2022 at 04:15 pm

The most Christmassy destinations around the world bring to life the gingerbread villages, sparkly fairytale towns and Christmas markets of your dreams. If you’re wondering where to travel for this December for Christmas cheer, pop the most Christmassy places around the globe on your radar. From European Christmas markets to religious affairs, take a festive escape to these dazzling December destinations.

Vienna, Austria

best countries to visit during christmas

With some of the best Christmas markets in Europe (not one, but three “Christkindlmarkts”!), Vienna is a winter wonderland come December. It’s oldest market stretches back to the 13th century making this one of the oldest most Christmassy places in the world. Head to the Austrian capital in December for goblets of gluhwein, traditional nativity scenes, charming markets and angelic carollers.

GET INSPIRED BY: Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland

New York, New York, USA

best countries to visit during christmas

How many Christmas movies have we watched set in New York where they go ice skating? NYC is one of the top Christmassy destinations around the world and ice skating in December is a Christmas bucket list must. Every festive season the city that never sleeps rolls out a month-long program of fun from the 27-metre-tall (95ft) Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree with 30,000 lights, to the giant decorations on Sixth Avenue. Peep at shop window displays, visit Christmas fairs, attending festive parades and watch carollers sing.

RELATED BLOG: Why New York City is the most Christmassy city in the world

Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg Christmas Market Germany

Germany counts more than 70 (!!) Christmas markets every December, and – we think – the best is in Nuremberg. The local Christkindlesmarkt is a special tradition with around 200 stalls selling handmade gifts, sweet gingerbread hearts, traditional toys and the famous Zwetschgenmännle prune men posing in all their Christmas splendour.

GET INSPIRED BY: German Christmas Markets

Tokyo, Japan

best countries to visit during christmas

Japan is not a country that shys away from a theme and in the busy metropolis of Tokyo locals make sure its one of the most Christmassy places in Asia, let alone the world. Expect over-the-top decorations, crazy lights and festive trimmings across the city. The Starlight Garden in Tokyo Midtown and Caretta Shiodome are the best spots for festivities. Plus there’s a European-inspired Christmas market under the Tokyo Sky Tree. If you’re there on Christmas Day make like the Japanese and order buckets of KFC for the family – the easiest festive feast ever! 

North Pole, Alaska, USA

best countries to visit during christmas

Mr Santa Claus might be fictitious but the North Pole is an actual real place. North Pole in Alaska is home to some 2,200 residents that help the big man in red get ready for his gift run. One of the most Christmassy destinations in the world, year-round you’ll find dazzling decorations, twinkling lights and other tributes to Old Saint Nicholas.

Lapland, Finland

best countries to visit during christmas

Depending on who you speak to, some consider Lapland the true home of Santa Claus. Finnish locals celebrate the man in the capital city Rovaniemi with authentic winter activities like reindeer safaris, the chance to watch Santa’s elves at work, and baking classes with Mrs. Claus. So wholesome! 

RELATED B LOG: Visiting Santa’s Grotto in Rovaniemi, Lapland, should be top of any Christmas lovers bucketlist

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

best countries to visit during christmas

Where to travel for Christmas cheer if you can’t skip over to Europe? Make your way north to Canada’s Montreal. The French-speaking city oozes European vibes and every year puts on a very François-themed Défilé de Noël festival with Christmas fairs, weekly fireworks and the annual Santa Claus Parade, which has been celebrated since 1925. Arrive ready for cool Canadian weather, steaming mugs of hot chocolate and candied chestnuts.

Sydney, Australia

best countries to visit during christmas

A hot summer Christmas in Sydney will have you question the need for snow. Indeed Sydney manages to pull off being one of the most Christmassy destinations around the world while also being hot, hot, hot in December. The city puts on massive displays of dazzling lights and festive events, including a self-guided walk that explores the big tree with 110,000 LED lights, the sparkling Canopy of Light with 85,000 lights and 10 two-metre high mega stars. Did we mention you can go to the beach on Christmas Day?

Moscow, Russia

best countries to visit during christmas

Moscow’s magnificent Christmas Light Festival rolls out more than 400 dazzling light installations across the city. Wander between city squares admiring the lights while shopping Christmas stalls, drinking mulled wine and snacking on gingerbread and caviar-filled crepes.

GET INSPIRED BY: Festive St. Petersburg and Moscow

Munich, Germany

Useful phrases RS896_MUNICH_Capture_63A6197-scr

The capital of Bavaria throws an incredible Oktoberfest party every year – but it’s not the only festival it does well. Embrace festive cheer in the central Marienplatz and wander the old town savouring the sights, sounds and smells of Munich’s charming Christmas market. Think twinkling lights, carols and one mega dazzling Christmas tree. 

best countries to visit during christmas

Asia doesn’t usually spring to mind when thinking about where to travel for Christmas fun, but Singapore is doing it’s best to bring festive feelings to the island state. The famous Orchard Road becomes a dazzling Christmas village complete with a huge sparkling tree, while the Gardens by the Bay hosts an extravagant month-long light and sound spectacle called Christmas Wonderland. Singapore is hot year round so chase a white Christmas feeling at Snow City, or find magic at Universal Studios.

GET INSPIRED BY: Singapore Explorer

Copenhagen, Denmark

best countries to visit during christmas

As you’d expect from a Scandinavian capital, Copenhagen is one of the most Christmassy destinations in the world. The Tivoli Gardens are the centre of it all with dazzling light shows, amazing Christmas markets and brilliant trees decorated with thousands of lights. The gardens have been pulling off Christmas cheer for more than 170 years, so safe to say they know how to bring the magic.

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

best countries to visit during christmas

Wondering where to travel for Christmas with a twist? New Orleans is a destination that goes against the grain at every chance. The southern city is famous for its Creole food and at Christmas you can join a centuries old tradition, the Réveillon dinner. It was originally the meal after midnight mass but nowadays restaurants offer decadent four-course meals with lush southern dishes such as shrimp remoulade, lobster bisque, seafood gumbo, fried oyster chowder, satsuma sherbet, Louisiana pecan pie, and Bananas Foster bread pudding. Afterwards roll into the French Quarter for festive homes, watch bonfires on the levee, and sing carols outside America’s oldest cathedral in Jackson Square. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Tastes and Sounds of the South

Lucerne, Switzerland

Events in Europe

With snowy mountains and cute villages and town, Switzerland has an undeniable Yuletide cheer to it and Lucerne is the best place to chase the festive spirit. Lucerne’s Christmas market at Franziskanerplatz sits in the heart of the Old Town. Grab a warm mug of Glühwein and wander the traditional wooden stalls eyeing up souvenirs. 

So, those are the most Christmassy destinations around the world. Do you know where you want to travel for Christmas this year? Will you take a December trip to visit the best Christmas markets in Europe? Let us know in the comments….

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Best places to visit in december 2024.

Planning a vacation in December can feel overwhelming alongside holiday shopping and year-end festivities. But you'll thank yourself later if you squeeze in time for a trip before the new year. U.S. News considered prices, events, accessibility and seasonal crowds to decide the best places to visit in December. Whether you're seeking a warm-weather hideaway or want to experience the holiday spirit in a snow-covered town, you'll find it in these destinations. Vote for your favorite spot below to help decide next year's list.

London, England

U.s. virgin islands, french alps, torres del paine national park, hawaii - the big island, new york city, rio de janeiro, quebec city.

best countries to visit during christmas

London is abuzz with holiday-themed activities in December. Holiday pop-ups transform attractions like Hyde Park and the London Zoo, while Christmas ballets and concerts take over the city's legendary entertainment scene. What's more, "Harry Potter" fans can opt for a festive tour during the Hogwarts in the Snow event at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Chilly temperatures in the 40s and rainy conditions mean it's the perfect time to don your coziest jumper. Plus, London's rainy day standbys like the Tower of London and the British Museum are typically less crowded at this time of year.

best countries to visit during christmas

If you're seeking palm-fringed festivities without the need for a passport, look no further than the U.S. Virgin Islands. December is the start of the dry season in this Caribbean island chain, and average temperatures in the 70s and 80s are perfect for lounging on beautiful white sand beaches like Magens Bay or snorkeling in Virgin Islands National Park. Plus, you'll get a taste of the islands' vibrant culture during the Crucian Christmas Festival, which takes place on St. Croix at the end of the month. Partake in the merriment with parades, music competitions and more.

best countries to visit during christmas

Snow-capped mountains, quaint villages and mouthwatering cuisine (much of which involves some form of melted cheese) make the French Alps a classic winter getaway. Most ski resorts open by early December, so you can get an early start on the slopes for the season, or just take part in the lively après-ski experience in iconic destinations like Val d'Isère and Chamonix. What's more, many villages like the châteaux-studded Annecy amp up the charm with cozy Christmas markets throughout the month. Winter in the Alps is never cheap, but try visiting earlier in the month before school holidays for the best room rates.

best countries to visit during christmas

Make the trek to the Finnish Lapland for the ultimate Arctic experience. Finland's northernmost region promises a deep layer of snow all winter, perfect for skiing or sledding down the longest toboggan run in Europe. Most flights to this region land in Rovaniemi, home to Santa Claus Village, where you can meet the man in red, step across the Arctic Circle or embark on a reindeer sleigh ride. Though you'll only see about four hours of daylight, this makes for prime conditions to view the dazzling aurora borealis from the comfort of one of the glass hotels in the region.

best countries to visit during christmas

December is one of the most popular months to visit the Bahamas – and for good reason. By the time this month rolls around, the threat of hurricanes has passed, making it terrific time to enjoy the outdoors. Spend your days lounging on one of the Bahamas' many beaches, snorkeling or diving in the crystal-clear water or taking a boat tour to a private island . What's more, if you're visiting around the holidays, you'll catch the travel-worthy Junkanoo festival , which celebrates Bahamian culture with parades and festivities on Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

best countries to visit during christmas

Although Phuket, Thailand, offers a consistently warm climate year-round, its dry weather and calm water in December make this month a great time to visit. Plan on spending most of your time sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving and more at beautiful beaches like Nai Harn and Kata Noi. But remember, December falls within Phuket's peak tourist season, so you won't find many deals for flights and accommodations during this month. Avoid a holiday visit in late December for slightly better rates.

best countries to visit during christmas

Located in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a backpacker's dream due to its breathtaking landscapes and unmatched preservation. The remote kingdom's focus on cultural and environmental sustainability means heritage sites like the cliff-clinging Paro Taktsang and the riverside Punakha Dzong are never overcrowded. But cooler winter temperatures (averages range from the 30s to the 60s, depending on elevation) mean you'll encounter even fewer tourists. While a trip to this intriguing destination won't be cheap, a low-season visit can drive down the price of lodging and tours.

best countries to visit during christmas

Nestled in southern Chilean Patagonia, this national park offers travelers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hailed among hikers as one of the most scenic destinations in the world, the park is home to turquoise lakes and dense forests, plus massive Grey Glacier and the towering granite of Cuernos del Paine. December offers up to 17 hours of daylight, allowing plenty of time for extensive hikes. But even though December is part of Patagonia's peak summer season, temperatures drop dramatically after nightfall, so visitors will want to pack layers.

best countries to visit during christmas

This Hawaiian paradise is the perfect place to escape winter's onset. Weary travelers can thaw on colorful beaches like Punalu'u Beach (which has beautiful black sand ) and Papakolea Beach (a unique green sand option), while more adventurous types can go for a hike in 'Akaka Falls State Park or catch a glimpse of the more than 4,000-foot-tall Kilauea volcano at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. You'll likely contend with other snowbirds in December, but you'll find that hotel prices on the Big Island are still consistently lower than those on neighboring isles.

best countries to visit during christmas

If Old Man Winter has you dreaming of warming things up, consider a trip to the Spice Island. Grenada, a tiny island in the Caribbean known for its aromatic spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, boasts steady temps in the 80s. And since December sits just between the rainy season and high tourism season, it's the perfect time to catch some rays without the crowds (or cost) of the months to come. Spend your days lounging on Grand Anse Beach or sampling the island's rich flavors at local markets or the House of Chocolate.

best countries to visit during christmas

It's not surprising that dozens of holiday movies are set in New York. Dazzling sights like the iconic Christmas tree and ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, decked-out window displays at Macy's and horse-drawn carriages in Central Park conjure up holiday cheer throughout the city. And while this metropolis offers plenty to do throughout the year, festive shows, Christmas-themed pop-up experiences and even the nip in the air make December one of New York's most magical months. Just be prepared for a bit of sticker shock; the holiday season is also one of the most popular (and expensive) times of year to visit.

best countries to visit during christmas

If you're willing to brave the cold, travel to Prague for a fun and festive winter vacation. The city turns into a winter wonderland in December, with snow-dusted buildings and Christmas markets selling everything from locally made jewelry to toys to Christmas ornaments. Those with little ones in tow should try to arrive in early December when the annual St. Nicholas Eve event takes place. During this traditional celebration, you'll see Czechia's version of St. Nick, along with his angel and devil guides, hand out candy and other treats as they walk around the city.

best countries to visit during christmas

While the Northern Hemisphere transitions to winter in December, Rio de Janeiro enters its peak summer season. And although this is one of the wettest times of the year here, you'll still enjoy optimal warmth and mostly sunny conditions. As such, there will be plenty of opportunities to see must-visit sights like the Christ the Redeemer statue or Sugarloaf Mountain. If you're keen on experiencing Rio's lively party scene during your visit, be sure to time your trip around Réveillon. This popular New Year's Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach draws millions of people annually with its music, dancing and fireworks.

best countries to visit during christmas

The holiday season in Germany's fourth largest city can only be described as magical. Cologne hosts a handful of Christmas markets, including the popular Advent village at Cologne Cathedral, which boasts 150 stalls. When you're not taking in the city's imposing architecture or getting into the jovial spirit with a glass of Kölsch beer (a Cologne original), pop into Museum Ludwig to view modern art or the Chocolate Museum for tasty samples. Combat the dreary weather – average highs are in the low 40s and rain is common – by soaking away the chill at a thermal spa such as Neptunbad or Claudius Therme.

best countries to visit during christmas

It's easy to fall in love with this Canadian destination, especially when it's covered in fresh snow. You'll be enchanted by Old Québec's sights and sounds as it transforms into a Christmas village. Shop for gifts (or for yourself) in Quartier Petit-Champlain, home to one of the oldest shopping streets in North America. Plus, with its 17th- and 18th-century architecture, French-speaking Quebec City allows you to soak up European culture without dropping the cash for a flight across the pond. Just be sure to bundle up; temperatures can drop to the single digits in December.

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The 32 best places to spend Christmas around the world

By Caitlin Morton

The 32 best places to celebrate Christmas around the world

We’re all for cosying up with loved ones at home, but we also love seeing how cities around the world transform every December. The best places to spend Christmas, in our book, run the gamut from European classics with storybook Christmas markets to Asian cities with over-the-top light displays, and even merry mainstays in the U.S. There are even some spots in the southern hemisphere where temperatures hover in the 20s and 30s on December 25, in case your idea of a perfect holiday includes lounging by the pool with a cocktail.

While the jollity may look a bit different from city to city, these global destinations keep the holiday cheer going year after year. And if you already have your plans solidified for this upcoming season, it’s never too early to start planning a fabulous winter vacation for 2023.

Why we go For the past three decades the little town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania has channelled its name and...

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Why we go: For the past three decades, the little town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania has channelled its name and transformed into “ Christmas City ” for the holidays. Celebrations are centered around the Christkindlmarkt at the SteelStacks, with more than 50 booths featuring artisan crafts, as well as live music and special events with Santa Claus himself.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: A “live” advent calendar at the Goundie House on Main Street features a downtown merchant emerging from the door at 5:30pm every night with treats for all who are waiting.

Stay here: Hotel Bethlehem is a wonderland of its own, with 35,000 Christmas lights, 36 wreaths, life-sized toy soldiers, and a gingerbread house of the hotel.

Bruges at Christmas

Bruges, Belgium

Why we go: Europe’s best-preserved medieval city oozes charm year-round, but especially during the holidays. It’s hard to imagine a place more magical as you wander the cobblestone streets, admire the shimmering lights, and warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in cafés.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Follow the Winter Glow light trail with stops at 10 installations through the historic part of the city center, including lights at the Church of Our Lady Tower and a projection at Gruuthuse.

Stay here: Grand Hotel Casselbergh (steps away from the Markt) has inviting touches like exposed wooden beams in the rooms, a lobby bar with a fireplace, and a wellness center located in a 16th century cellar.

Cape Town at Christmas

Why we go: If you’re looking to escape winter during Christmas, you can't do much better than Cape Town —it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, after all. You can even visit one (or several) of the South African city’s holiday markets without having to wear a coat and scarf.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: They’re not exactly Santa’s elves, but the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 African penguins at Boulders Beach—where you can get close enough to take portrait-mode photos of them—are sure to warm your heart just the same.

Stay here: The light and breezy rooms sitting above the Atlantic Ocean at Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa are the perfect antidotes to the winter blues.

Chicago at Christmas

Why we go:  From its European-inspired  Christkindlmarket to light shows galore,  Chicago knows a thing or two about embracing the Christmas spirit (and the freezing temperatures). Can’t-miss activities include visiting the 55-foot  Christmas tree in Millennium Park and cozying up in a  heated igloo at The Godfrey Hotel.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Be dazzled by 2.5 million LEDs at  ZooLights (now through January 1), an annual light festival held at Lincoln Park Zoo. Check out the event’s  calendar for sensory-friendly visit times.

Stay here:  Fresh off a $100 million (Rs8,15,62,25,000) renovation, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago guarantees the most luxurious stay in the town—especially if you book a suite overlooking Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Be sure to book a festive afternoon tea or five-course winter truffle dinner at the delicious on-site restaurant, Torali.

Best places to spend Christmas Cologne Germany

Cologne, Germany

Why we go: Nothing embodies old-world yuletide charm like the Christmas market, and nobody takes Christmas markets more seriously than the Germans , with Cologne’s festivities drawing some four million (forty lakh) visitors each winter.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Take in the merry sights from the observation deck of KölnTriangle, the tower directly opposite the Cathedral on the Rhine.

Stay here: The Hyatt Regency Cologne has great views of the Cologne Cathedral, plus excellent multi-course meals at Glashaus Restaurant.

Why we go According to the World Happiness Report Denmark is one of the worlds happiest countries making it a great...

Why we go: According to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries , making it a great place to spend the holidays. Things are even jollier at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens , where antique amusement park rides decorated with lights are surrounded by yet another adorable, alpine village-style Christmas market selling gifts and snacks. The park has also been known to deck out its tree with Swarovski crystals .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Book a table at Restaurant Vita for some andesteg , a traditional Danish holiday dish of crispy, succulent roast duck served with prunes and apples.

Stay here: Never mind hygge—Hotel Sanders takes Danish comfort and contentment to new heights.

Dubai

Why we go: Dubai does Christmas the same way Dubai does nearly everything—in true, over-the-top fashion. Catch the tree lightings happening around town, including the ones at Towers Rotana, Fairmont The Palm, and The Irish Village , and then watch the jolly ol’ St. Nicks making a run for it at the Santa Run . And since no visit to Dubai is complete without several shopping sprees, set aside time to stock up on goodies at one of the city’s Christmas markets .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Dubai Mall is an air-conditioned winter wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink and indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai.

Stay here: Jumeirah Al Naseem earns high marks for its posh rooms, easy beach access, and superior dining and spa options.

Dublin at Christmas

Why we go: If your idea of Christmas merriment includes an authentic Irish pub crawl (we get it), then Dublin is your place. There’s no better way to warm up on a cold Christmas night than with some black pudding and a few pints—and trust us, this city has enough cozy bars to last you through New Year’s. But the Irish capital isn’t just about drinking, of course. Holiday offerings include Christmas markets, decked-out shops on Grafton Street, and tree-lighting ceremonies galore.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: For 66 years, The Moving Crib in St. Martin Apostolate’s basement has been charming families with its mechanical figures depicting scenes like Noah’s Ark.

Stay here: The Westbury becomes even more luxurious during the holidays, with prime views overlooking the lights of Grafton Street during afternoon tea.

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Why we go: Hong Kong ’s yuletide urban offerings rival that of NYC ’s, with holiday markets, window displays, and concerts galore (they even have a Santa Con). Then there are the lights. The Symphony of Lights show—held nightly at 8pm—will leave you breathless, thanks to an extravagantly choreographed neon show displayed across more than 40 of the city’s iconic skyscrapers along Victoria Harbour.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Experience the Symphony of Lights during a harbour-front dinner cruise .

Stay here: As if the Ritz-Carlton wasn’t swanky enough, the hotel hosts Christmas parties , dinners, and afternoon teas all season.

Why we go While most tourists flock to the Lapland city of Rovaniemi come Christmas we suggest heading even further...

Inari, Finland

Why we go: While most tourists flock to the Lapland city of Rovaniemi come Christmas, we suggest heading even further north (like, within reach of the Arctic Ocean north) to the village of Inari. Located in the heart of the scenic Ivalo region—reachable via a 1.5-hour flight from Helsinki —Inari is a pure winter wonderland dotted with hotels and restaurants that keep things nice and cozy. It’s hard to imagine a more authentic winter holiday than one spent riding dog sleds, feeding reindeer , and chasing the Northern Lights .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: A private Northern Lights safari will have you sitting in a heated sleigh and sipping sparkling wine while waiting for the aurora to dance. (Rough life, huh?)

Stay here: Finnish Lapland is known for its glass-igloo accommodations, as well as in-house winter activities and cozy, panoramic cabins at Aurora Village. (Heated windows ensure the snow doesn’t cover your view.) Plus, daily reindeer feedings are available.

White Barn Inn Kennebunk Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

Why we go:  If you're wondering where to go for Christmas celebrations unlike anywhere else, look no further. Every December, this tiny New England town bursts with holiday cheer during its annual  Christmas Prelude , an 11-day bash that's about as New England as it gets—one of the main attractions is a tree made of lobster traps. (The event will take place 1-11 December this year.) The  lobster rolls at The Clam Shack—considered to be some of the best rolls in Maine—will make you forget about gingerbread and sugar plums altogether.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Santa Claus’s arrival to the Christmas Prelude on a lobster boat is (obviously) the star attraction.

Stay here:  White Barn Inn epitomises New England luxury all year, but just wait until you see it over the holidays. This year’s seasonal offerings include Christmas cookies and eggnog by the fire, special Christmas feasts at the White Barn Inn Restaurant, and afternoon tea attended by Santa Claus himself.

Why we gonbspLove the idea of a Bavarian holiday but hate the idea of a transatlantic flight EnternbspLeavenworth. This...

Leavenworth, Washington

Why we go:  Love the idea of a Bavarian holiday but hate the idea of a transatlantic flight? Enter  Leavenworth . This town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains was modelled after Germany’s alpine villages, complete with half-timbered houses and epic food halls. As you can imagine, the city comes alive during Christmas with over-the-top holiday lights and tons of winter sports.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum features a collection of some 9,000 nutcrackers from more than 50 countries—definitely worth stopping by between snowshoeing and skiing excursions.

Stay here:   Icicle Village Resort is just as magical as it sounds, with a relaxing spa, in-room fireplaces, and a restaurant serving up Bavarian favourites.

Why we go Christmas in London has timeless appeal—chalk it up to the decorated Georgian townhouses lively pubs and a...

Why we go: Christmas in London has timeless appeal—chalk it up to the decorated Georgian townhouses, lively pubs, and a dash of Dickensian charm. Our step-by-step guide to spending the holidays in London covers the perfect place for afternoon tea , a steak to tuck into after a day spent gift shopping, and a martini to sip on Christmas Eve—and that’s just for starters.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: One of the most magical experiences is gliding around the frozen 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House , a sprawling neoclassical building off the Strand.

Stay here: Claridge’s—because there's no better place to ring in Christmas than in one of the best hotels on the planet.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Maldives

Why we go:  Visiting the Maldives in December guarantees you’ll have a white Christmas—only we’re talking about the dazzling white sand, not snow. While the atoll doesn’t officially celebrate the holiday, many resorts cater to western travellers with themed dinners and decorations. But let’s face it: You’ll be too busy with spa treatments and snorkelling trips to even bother with those proverbial visions of sugarplums.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  If you really want a traditional burst of holiday cheer, head to Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for a tree lighting ceremony on December 21, followed by cocktails on the beach.

Stay here:  Conrad Maldives Rangali Island really is one of the best resorts in the country, famous for its lavish suites and underwater restaurant, Ithaa. Guests lucky enough to visit during the holidays can also enjoy champagne and lobster beach barbecues, lavish pool parties, winter-themed spa treatments, and special underwater meals on Christmas Day.

Central Park

New York City

Why we go: There’s no shortage of ways to make your New York City Christmas magical, whether it’s ice skating at Rockefeller Center, window shopping on Fifth Avenue, or lurking around 34th street hoping to witness a miracle.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: There’s no such thing as going overboard with Christmas decorations in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood. Join a walking tour , organised by the area’s residents.

Stay here: The Plaza, full stop. (If it's good enough for Kevin McCallister ...)

Why we gonbspCan you really think of a more magical place to spend Christmas than Paris The city providesnbspfestive...

Why we go:  Can you really think of a more magical place to spend Christmas than Paris? The city provides  festive activities at every turn, from the light installations on the Champs-Elysées to any number of pop-up markets and ice skating rinks. Even if you don’t feel like shivering out in the cold, warming up with a mug of hot chocolate at Angelina will still get you in the spirit.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Whether you gawk at the window displays outside or the massive Christmas tree inside, Galeries Lafayette is well worth elbowing a few fellow tourists to check out.

Stay here:  Hôtel Lutetia is a Left Bank stunner with gourmet holiday menus and an Art Deco lobby decked out with lights and trees. Upgrade to a higher room category for oversized bathtubs and balconies overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Why we go Pragues holiday markets easily make the city one of the worlds best places to spend Christmas They run for a...

Prague, Czech Republic

Why we go: Prague ’s holiday markets easily make the city one of the world’s best places to spend Christmas: They run for a full month, with locals and travellers passing through for mulled wine, sticky pastries, and roasted ham. The main markets take place in the Old Town and Wenceslas squares, just 10 minutes apart by foot—and are set to the backdrop of some of the prettiest Gothic architecture you’ll ever see.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Sip on Svařák, a Czech mulled wine with a citrusy touch from a market stall. Or for a sweeter taste, indulge in a hot chocolate at Cafe Slavia , founded in 1881.

Stay here: Aria Hotel is located within walking distance of Prague Castle, and its music-themed suites are always a hit.

Quebec City at Christmas

Quebec City, Canada

Why we go: Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, and its colonial French architecture gives it an unmistakably European feel. The cobbled streets of the Old Town are packed with quaint shops and delicious bistros, all merrily decorated for the holidays.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The Au 1884 toboggan run by Château Frontenac (open from mid-December to mid-March) is one of the city’s oldest traditions—and quite the thrill. Zoom down icy tracks overlooking the city on a wooden sled reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

Stay here: You can’t go wrong with Auberge Saint-Antoine and its lobby fireplace, heated bathroom floors, and a Christmas package that includes a five-course dinner, holiday movie screenings at the in-house theatre, and a personal visit from Santa in your room.

Reykjavik at Christmas

Reykjavík, Iceland

Why we go: Reykjavík shines on the streets and in the sky in December. Strings of glinting Christmas bulbs illuminate the city during its very long nights, and on the clearest evenings, the Northern Lights can be seen from the city’s darker streets and parks.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The 13 Yule Lads , a group of holiday trolls you’ll see about town, are Iceland’s equivalent to Santa Claus in local folklore (and have actually been around a lot longer than St. Nick).

Stay here: Hotel Borg, the city’s oldest and most elegant hotel, still reigns supreme.

Rio de Janeiro Brazil christmas

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why we go:  Who says Christmas has to be about ugly sweaters and hot cocoa? December in Rio is all about enjoying an icy caipirinha on a  spectacular beach —with daily temperatures hovering in the 20s. The city also happens to host the world’s largest display of full-sized nativity scenes during its annual  Festival de Presépios (“Crib Festival”), found at Jardim de Alah between Leblon and Ipanema.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  For the very best display in town, ride a bike around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon and enjoy views of the world’s largest floating Christmas tree from every angle.

Stay here:  The Fasano Hotel along Ipanema beach has an infinity pool overlooking the ocean that will make winter seem very, very far away.

Rome at Christmas

Rome, Italy

Why we go: The streets around Rome will be festively alight, sure, but the home to the seat of Catholicism is an excellent option for folks seeking a more sacrosanct Christmas experience.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Hear hymns echoing off the walls of the 1,900-year-old architectural marvel during midnight mass at the Pantheon (24 December into the 25th).

Stay here: Aside from classically designed guest rooms, Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese offers festive amenities like themed dinners at the rooftop restaurant and chauffeured tours of Rome’s holiday lights in a vintage Fiat 500.

Best Places to Travel in December Salzburg at Christmas

Salzburg, Austria

Why we go: It’s no surprise that Salzburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City that served as the backdrop for The Sound of Music also fills its famed Christkindlmarkt with song. With roots dating back to the 15th century, sing-alongs and traditional wind music are as much a part of the festivities as the mulled wine and market stands. We’re not mad about the bauernkrapfen (fried pastries), either.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: It’s literally Christmas all year round at the Christmas in Salzburg shop on Goldgasse, known for its frilly ornaments (especially those hand-painted on eggshells).

Stay here: Hotel Goldener Hirsch is just steps away from Christkindlmarkt, although we’d be fine staying in these comfortable rooms all day.

San Miguel de Allende Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Why we go:  Christmas in San Miguel de Allende kicks off on 12 December (aka Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe), and the rest of the month is equal parts solemn and celebratory. You may encounter nativity scenes and church services one day, then parades and fireworks the next. But seeing as it all takes place in one of the friendliest, most beautiful cities in the world, we’re guessing you’ll be able to easily enjoy every moment.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Between 16 and 24 December, most of Mexico participates in Las Posadas, a religious festival honouring the Nativity story. Once a day, two people dressed up as Mary and Joseph lead a procession to a different home and ask to be let inside (as in the biblical journey to Bethlehem), and the reenactment typically ends with carols, food, and pinatas.

Stay here:  The city has its share of swank hotels, but it’s hard to compete with the spa amenities and rooftop bar at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende.

Christmas in San Juan Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Why we go:  Puerto Rico prides itself on having the  longest holiday season in the world, lasting a whopping 45 days between the end of November and the middle of January. That gives you even more time to enjoy the island’s festive decorations, folk music, midnight mass services, and coquito—a coconut-based drink that puts eggnog to shame.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Stroll around Old San Juan to see Christmas lights strung up on colorful buildings, with some of the best displays near the central Plaza de Armas.

Stay here:  Our readers love Condado Vanderbilt Hotel for its hammam spa (the only one in PR), ocean-facing rooms, and four relaxing pools.

Holiday Luminaria Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why we go:  Santa Fe’s already-beautiful plaza becomes downright magical with the addition of Christmas lights—but the holiday spirit doesn't start and stop there. The city also offers midnight mass at the  Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi , holiday exhibits at the  New Mexico Museum of Art , holiday flamenco performances at  El Flamenco Cabaret , and seasonal shopping at the Winter Indian Market. Even when Christmas is officially over, you can keep busy at  Taos Ski Valley and  Ski Santa Fe —both just an easy drive away.

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Don’t miss the annual  Canyon Road Farolito Walk , a Christmas Eve event consisting of farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and topped with a votive candle) lining the streets and walls of adobe buildings.

Stay here:  Hot List winner Bishop’s Lodge has a tangible warmth to it, with wood-burning kiva fireplaces and hammered bronze tubs adorning the rooms.

Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg, France

Why we go: Strasbourg is home to the oldest of France’s Christmas markets, dating back nearly 450 years . There are 12 in total to check out, which is sure to keep you busy. Pro tip: Though the markets will be full of delicious goodies, many choose to indulge in the king of Alsatian delicacies: foie gras, which is also a French Christmas tradition.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The superlative market sits beneath the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral, the tallest surviving structure built entirely in the Middle Ages. How’s that for a photo op?

Stay here: We’re huge fans of the impossibly luxurious Hôtel Les Haras, installed in Louis XV’s historic stables in Strasbourg.

Sydney at Christmas

Sydney, Australia

Why we go: You haven't seen Christmas lights until you’ve seen Sydney's Christmas lights. Plus, the holiday season lasts an entire month here (take that, 12 days of Christmas) with “ Sydney Christmas. ” The festival features the city’s largest Christmas Tree at Martin Place.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Wonder at the 3,500 twinkling lights at the Strand Arcade or the 85,000 twinkling LEDs at the incredible Pitt Street Mall Canopy of Light .

Stay here: Celebrate with a Christmas Day lunch followed by a nap by the rooftop pool (remember, it’s summertime Down Under) at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.

Why we go 25 December isnt a public holiday in Taipei but its still one of the best places to spend Christmas as the...

Taipei, Taiwan

Why we go: 25 December isn’t a public holiday in Taipei, but it’s still one of the best places to spend Christmas, as the city celebrates with incredible lights displays, festive attractions, and events. During the weeks between mid-November and the New Year, pretty much the entire Banqiao District transforms into Christmasland—which is exactly what it sounds like. We’re talking massive Christmas trees, rides, concerts, and markets selling local goods.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Don’t miss the Christmasland section over in the Fuzhong Business district , with a magic forest and Boshou light park.

Stay here: We love the Mandarin Oriental for its decadent decor and wide range of food options.

Tbilisi Georgia at Christmas

Tbilisi, Georgia

Why we go:  Due to the Georgian Orthodox Church’s use of the Julian calendar, Christmas isn't officially celebrated in Tbilisi until 7 January. Decorations and festivities start much earlier, however, with city-wide light displays, Christmas markets, and musical performances ready to dazzle visitors starting in December. 

The one thing to get you in the spirit:  Located in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square, the Liberty Monument (which depicts Saint George slaying a dragon) is covered with cascading lights to create a massive makeshift  Christmas tree .

Stay here:  The cosy-chic vibes at Stamba Hotel are unparalleled—think buttery leather sofas, lush hanging plants, and floor-to-ceiling shelves of vintage books.

Tokyo at Christmas

Why we go: The city turns the voltage up each year with its winter illuminations, with different districts competing to create some truly sensational displays. Standout illumination sites include the almost 10-foot-tall snow globes with falling snow at Tokyo Midtown and a massive Baccarat crystal chandelier at Yebisu Garden Place. The bright lights are so popular, they stay up well past Christmas day—often through January or February.

The one thing to get you in the spirit : One of the most famous illuminations is the Blue Cavern ( Ao no Dokutsu ) in Shibuya, which is inspired by the blue grottos of the Mediterranean.

Stay here: Aman Tokyo, a two-time Gold List winner, has a multi-level spa and deep furo soaking tubs in each room.

Vienna at Christmas

Vienna, Austria

Why we go: Vienna practically sparkles with holiday spirit during the Christmas season (the lights covering nearly every building might have something to do with that). The city is known for its markets, with the Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall and the holiday tree at Rathausplatz stealing the show. Also nearby are the Nativity Trail and the Tree of Hearts.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Enjoy the crystalline tones of the one and only Vienna Boys Choir—which has been around for more than 500 years and traditionally performs in its hometown during the holidays.

Stay here: The Park Hyatt Vienna is within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and features some of the largest rooms in Vienna.

Vilnius Christmas Tree 2022

Vilnius, Lithuania

Why we go: Vilnius becomes a true winter wonderland in December, with a Christmas train that weaves through Old Town, 3D nativity stories projected onto buildings, and Christmas markets in the city’s squares.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The headline-making Christmas trees are no joke. This year’s main tree was designed to look like a giant multi-layered birthday cake to honor the city’s upcoming 700th anniversary.

Stay here: The warm and inviting Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius is as close to all the Christmas delights as you can get.

First published on CNT US

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23 US Cities That Go All Out for Christmas

By Caitlin Morton

Galleria Dallas

Think of the phrase “Christmas in America” and you’ll likely imagine the usual suspects: giant trees festooned in twinkling lights, people of all ages caroling and singing “Silent Night,” ubiquitous tributes to the jolly man in red named Santa Claus, and gingerbread. Lots of gingerbread. But take a closer look and you may be surprised: Christmas celebrations across the United States can look very different, depending on the environment, local history, and present-day cultures of the people who live there. Not everything is a winter wonderland—in fact, maybe a warm-weather destination for the holidays is exactly what you need. Regardless of temperature, these 23 destinations are some of the best places to spend Christmas this year.

These places below are known for the ways they come alive at Christmastime: from the glitzy and glam festivities of big cities like New York or Chicago to the Santa-hats-and-shorts vibes of Santa Fe and St. Augustine. Of course, your Christmas vacation ideas in the US are far from limited to just these places. Here's one idea: Head out on a multi-destination road trip to check out some fantastical drive-through Christmas lights displays . And while there are a great many places to celebrate Christmas around the world , experience one Christmas in America and you’ll be a person changed for the better.

Here are some of the best places to go for Christmas in the United States this year, ranging all types of atmosphere and styles: from Kennebunkport to Las Vegas , from Dallas to North Pole, Alaska (note the missing the ). No matter where you choose, there are plenty of activities to participate in, events to check out, and places to stay. Happy holidays, y’all.

This article has been updated since its original publish date. All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why we go Located about 20 minutes south of Washington DC Alexandria is a pictureperfect place to spend the holiday...

Alexandria, Virginia

Why we go: Located about 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, Alexandria is a picture-perfect place to spend the holiday season. The Old Town’s row houses and centuries-old brick streets look even more charming when adorned with snow and Christmas wreaths, and you can expect a ton of seasonal activities. The festivities kick off along the Potomac River shoreline with the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights (December 2 at 5:30 p.m.) and the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade (December 3). Come Christmas Eve, try to spot Waterskiing Santa along the Potomac River.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Get a taste of the Christmases of yore at nearby Mount Vernon (George Washington’s former home), where you can take a candlelit guided tour, and enjoy some cider and cookies (with special events on November 24 and 25, December 1, 2, 8, 9, and 17).

Stay here: Book a stay at The Alexandrian, Autograph Collection , which is on King Street, in the heart of Alexandria’s shopping and entertainment area.

Biltmore Estate in Asheville during Christmas

Asheville, North Carolina

Why we go: Asheville is easily one of the country’s best places to spend Christmas, offering all the light displays and holiday shopping—not to mention the perfect tucked-away location in the Blue Ridge Mountains —any vacationer could wish for. Some of the city’s seasonal offerings include a lit-up wonderland at the North Carolina Arboretum , and the 29th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at The Omni Grove Park Inn (on display from November 27 to January 2).

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Christmas at Biltmore Estate is just as spectacular as it sounds, with 100 hand-decorated trees, 10,000 ornaments, and 100,000 holiday lights drawing visitors through the new year in January.

Stay here: Cozy up in The Foundry , a hotel that opened in 2018 with a James Beard-nominated chef running its in-house restaurant. It’s Asheville’s best boutique hotel, filled with authentic touches—from lots of exposed brick to the restaurant’s modern spins on comfort food.

Why we go This Christmas visit the little town of Bethlehem—in Pennsylvania that is. The citys Germaninspired Christmas...

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Why we go: This Christmas, visit the little town of Bethlehem—in Pennsylvania, that is. The city’s German-inspired Christmas City Village and Christkindlmarkt (November 17 to December 17) feature rotating displays by artisans, live music, and glass-blowing demonstrations. After stocking up on handmade ornaments and nutcrackers, take a carriage ride through Downtown Bethlehem to take in all the Christmas lights.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The Winter Light Spectacular (through December 31) at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, about 30 minutes northwest of Bethlehem, features more than a million lights and illuminated scenes throughout the zoo.

Stay here: The Sayre Mansion Inn has warm and comfortable rooms, private six-course dinners, and beautiful Christmas decorations. If you want to venture out into the town, Lehigh University, St. Luke’s Hospital, the Steel Stacks Performing Arts Center, and the Wind Creek Casino are all nearby.

The Reindeer Farm Bowling Green

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Why we go: Normally, you wouldn’t expect an Arctic experience in southern Kentucky, but Bowling Green is shaking up the holiday game this year. The Christmas spirit is definitely alive at the city’s Reindeer Farm , where families can feed reindeer, watch holiday movies, and drink cocoa while writing letters to Santa. (There's even wine tasting for the grown-ups.)

The one thing to get you in the spirit: End your festive vacation at the SoKY Marketplace Ice Rink , an outdoor rink where you can skate with Santa and the Grinch.

Stay here: Opened in mid-2019, the Lodge at Olde Stone offers 12 cozy, Kentucky-inspired suites and a restaurant serving up Southern dishes. And if you’re a golfer, be sure to pack your clubs: the property boasts 9- and 18-hole courses onsite.

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Branson Missouri

Branson, Missouri

Why we go: Sort of like a family-friendly little sister to Las Vegas, Branson pulls out all the stops every holiday season. The Ozark Mountain town transforms into a winter wonderland with 1,500 Christmas trees in and around town, ice skating under the Branson Ferris Wheel, and several drive-through light displays .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Head straight to the 1880s-themed amusement park Silver Dollar City for the annual An Old Time Christmas festival. The party lasts until December 30 and includes 6.5 million lights, 1,000 trees (including an eight-story one), outdoor shows, parades, and, of course, rides.

Stay here: Chateau on the Lake is one of the nicest hotels in town, with beautiful lake views, a full-service luxury spa, and the Chateau Marina, where activities include fishing, water skiing, and tubing (though you may want to wait for warmer weather—or not, if that’s your thing).

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Why we go: Charleston is the perfect destination for any fan of the holidays, but not of the frigid weather that often comes with the season. There are plenty of Christmas-oriented events and festivities in the city that are fit for every type of tourist. Check out the Festival of Trees at The Charleston Place , where 16 Christmas trees, each one decorated by a local Charleston business or organization, will be on display throughout the beautiful hotel’s second floor. For something that sounds (and is) magnificent, catch The Sound of Charleston , where you can hear the music that tells the city’s story: gospel spirituals, music by George Gershwin, Civil War songs, and jazz. For something pleasantly aquatic, head over to the South Carolina Aquarium, which presents the dazzling light show Aquarium Aglow after the sun goes down on select evenings this November and December (be sure to say hi to “Scuba Claus” in the Great Ocean Tank).

The one thing to get you in the spirit: As far as classically Christmassy merrymaking goes, it doesn’t get any more traditional (minus the freezing temperatures) than the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park featuring a spectacular light show that features over two million tiny light bulbs.

Stay here: There are plenty of options in South Carolina’s beautiful port city: There’s the perennial favorite French Quarter Inn , which welcomes guests with a glass of Champagne and is just a few steps away from the famous Charleston City Market. Meanwhile, The Vendue , the city’s first art hotel concept, offers an ever-evolving experience—the hotel has a full-time docent and rotating exhibits. And for something classic, there’s Hotel Bennett , voted the very best hotel in Charleston by Traveler readers in the Readers’ Choice Awards 2023 ; its old-world grandeur and good ol’ Southern charm make this Marion Square hotel irresistible. (The place also hosts a holiday tea on Thursdays and Fridays until Christmas.)

Chicago Christmas

Chicago, Illinois

Why we go: From its European-inspired Christkindlmarket (from November 17 to December 24) to light shows galore (there’s the Let It Shine drive-through Christmas lights display), Chicago knows a thing or two about embracing the Christmas spirit (and freezing temperatures). Can’t-miss activities include visiting the 51-foot Christmas tree in Millennium Park and cozying up in a heated igloo at The Godfrey Hotel .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Be dazzled by 2.5 million LEDs at ZooLights (from November 17 through January 7), an annual light festival held at Lincoln Park Zoo. Check out the event’s calendar for sensory-friendly visit times.

Stay here: As far as hotels go, travelers truly have their pick of the litter in the Windy City. One top choice is The Langham, Chicago , housed in a landmark Mies van der Rohe building along the Chicago River. It's just a Chicago hotdog’s throw away from Magnificent Mile, where you can get all your holiday shopping done. For the sportier among us, there’s the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel , which has a strong local following for its historic lobby, indoor bocce, foosball in its game room, and the gem-like Milk Room bar, among other things. On the rooftop, and mostly enclosed by an atrium, Cindy’s cranks it up with large format cocktails, shareable dishes, and some of the best views of Millennium Park.

Galleria Dallas

Dallas, Texas

Why we go: Proving you don’t need cold temperatures to get in the Christmas spirit, the holiday celebrations in Dallas put most northern cities to shame. Most notable is Holiday at the Arboretum (now through January 5), a Christmas village with millions of lights, a 50-foot tree with lights animated to music, and visits with Santa Claus. Elsewhere in town, you can drive through the Dallas Zoo Lights route (from November 17 to January 2) and skate next to the country’s tallest indoor Christmas tree at the Galleria Dallas Ice Skating Center .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Throw a few back at Miracle , a Christmas-themed pop-up bar that returns to Dallas this year at the cocktail bar Royal 38 in Uptown Dallas.

Stay here: If you really want a festive experience, check in at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek , where the grounds are beautiful and the food is so tasty, you could dine on property every night.

Denver Colorado

Denver, Colorado 

Why we go: Unwrap the magic of the holidays in Denver this season with special events and millions of twinkling lights. Enjoy a family outing to the Denver Zoo Lights , or a fun day of shopping and ice skating downtown. Get a dose of culture with a viewing of A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker (see the full calendar here ), then visit the Mile High Tree at the 16th Street Mall (it’s actually 110 feet tall, but that’s still pretty impressive).

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The Denver Christkindlmarket (one of the best German markets in the country) returns to Civic Center Park this winter, open daily now through December 23.

Stay here: The Crawford Hotel , a boutique property in LoDo’s Union Station, boasts Art Deco rooms, and the city’s most beautiful lobby. Soaring ceilings and sky-high chandeliers hang overhead, while oversized sofas and leather chairs create a casual and bustling “living room” frequented by travelers and locals alike.

Kennebunkport Inn

Kennebunkport, Maine

Why we go: If you’re wondering where to go for Christmas celebrations unlike anywhere else, look no further. Every December, this tiny New England town bursts with holiday cheer during its annual Christmas Prelude ; check out the site and you’ll see a live countdown to the event’s start date—it’s that highly anticipated. It’s an 11-day bash that’s about as New England as it gets: one of the main attractions is a tree made of lobster traps. Speaking of, the legendary lobster rolls at hotspots like Scales , The Highroller Lobster Co. , and Miyake will make you forget about gingerbread and sugar plums altogether.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Santa Claus’s arrival at the Christmas Prelude on a lobster boat.

Stay here: According to this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, Traveler readers love the 14-room Cape Arundel Inn & Resort for its oceanside location and restaurant serving up fresh seafood—and, unlike a lot of Maine resorts, it’s actually open during the winter months.

The LINQ Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

Why we go: If you thought Las Vegas was dazzling before, just wait until you see it decked out for Christmas. Basically, the entire Strip transforms into a winter wonderland full of festive events for the entire family. This year's activities include rooftop ice skating at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (beginning December 2), colorful displays outside The LINQ promenade , a 6-foot-tall gingerbread man at ARIA , and a massive holiday display—complete with a 42-foot Christmas tree—at the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Catch an iconic show at the Fountains of Bellagio to see performances set to “Santa Baby,” “Carol of the Bells,” and other holiday classics.

Stay here: It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to the hotels on the Strip in Las Vegas , especially as each property tries to outdo each other—whether for the holidays or just around the year. That said, for a classic experience, stay at The Venetian . The whole place is so marvelously over-the-top that it doesn’t matter that it looks nothing like the real Venice . That’s not the point. This is Vegas, baby.

Nashville Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Why we go: The Music City is all about the—wait for it—music during the holiday season. From November 10 through January 1, enjoy “Country Christmas” at Gaylord Opryland , with tons of Christmas shows, plus ice skating and acres of light displays. Or head to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and take the two-mile drive through Jingle Beat , a light show set to remixed versions of classic Christmas carols. And when in doubt, you can always catch a yuletide show at the Grand Ole Opry .

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Given the Christmas season, a hotel named Noelle seems as perfect a place as any to spend the season. Its Holiday Glow Package is a nice deal, but even cooler is its Ralphie’s Christmas experience, inspired by A Christmas Story, which features Oval-tinis and other seasonal bites (happening in the hotel’s Hidden Bar until January 8).

Stay here: Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Stay at the Noelle—officially Noelle, Nashville, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. It’s in the center of the downtown Nashville action, and its emphasis on art, design, and local artists and designers will help you get to know the city all the more.

New Orleans at Christmas

New Orleans, Louisiana

Why we go: It’s no surprise that New Orleans leans into the holiday season, but we still get all tingly thinking about Christmas in the city. NOLA lights up with events like LUNA Fête , where the Central Business District around Lafayette Square fills up with installations and animated graphics from December 7 to 10. City Park also becomes a wonderland for the entire month with Celebration in the Oaks (November 23 to December 30), a festival with vendors, food and drink stands, and decorations adorning the centuries-old oak trees.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The annual Christmas Eve lighting of the bonfires along the banks of the Mississippi River is a seasonal tradition that's as authentically “New Orleans” as they come.

Stay here: The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans has lots of holiday offerings this year, including gingerbread house building and a four-course dinner on Christmas Eve.

New York City Skating

New York City

Why we go: There’s no shortage of ways to make your New York City Christmas magical, whether it’s ice skating at Central Park, window shopping along Fifth Avenue, visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center, seeing the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, or lurking around 34th Street hoping to witness a miracle.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Prepare to be incredibly and thoroughly overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the Christmas spirit in this Brooklyn neighborhood, which famously goes all out on the holiday decorations each year. Think candy cane lanes, giant snowmen, illuminated snowflakes, and too many glowing Santa Claus figures than the census can count. Lights go up after Thanksgiving and last through the New Year, so whether you’re driving through in a car or taking the pedestrian route, there’s plenty of time to take in the wall-to-wall displays of life-size nutcrackers, enormous twinkling trees, and lawn ornament reindeer. Big sleigh.

Stay here: Easy answer: The Plaza . If you've ever watched Home Alone 2 , you’ll recognize it as the hotel where young Kevin McCallister, while lost in New York, lived lavishly in a posh suite for the holidays. Fittingly, the hotel has a “Home Alone 2: Fun in New York” experience package, offered throughout the year, that lets guests mimic memorable moments from the movie. It includes a limousine ride all over the city to landmarks like Central Park and Radio City Music Hall, a large cheese pizza (to be eaten in the limo, naturally), and the Home Alone sundae, made to fit Kevin’s exacting taste (specifically: 16 scoops of assorted ice cream, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, M&M’s, brownie bits, chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauce). If a more traditional Christmas is what you’re looking for, there’s also the “Suitest Season of All” package that comes with a seven-foot-tall decorated Balsam Hill tree placed directly in your suite.

Newport Beach California

Newport Beach, California

Why we go: The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is one of the longest-running holiday festivals in the entire country, celebrating its 115th anniversary this year from December 13 to 17. (To compare, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting has been running for 90 years.) The “parade” takes place in the harbor of Newport Beach, where yachts, boats, and kayaks have been known to show off up to $50,000 worth of decorations to millions of visitors.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: View the parade from Balboa Island , where the decorated houses threaten to upstage the passing boats.

Stay here: The nautical, all-American feel at Lido House, Autograph Collection fits in perfectly with the theme of the holiday events—especially with the addition of bright, colorful Christmas decorations in the cottages.

North Pole Alaska

North Pole, Alaska

Why we go: Even though this North Pole is 1,700 miles south of the true North Pole, the quaint Alaskan town is 100 percent saturated with Christmas cheer. Most famous for the Santa Claus House (the self-proclaimed “official” home of St. Nick), the North Pole’s nominal spirit even extends to its street names: Snowman Lane, Saint Nicholas Drive, Holiday Road, and Santa Claus Lane, which has light poles shaped like candy canes. Just as adorable is the town’s post office, which gets flooded with tens of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus each year.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The annual tree-lighting ceremony has plenty of photo ops with Santa himself.

Stay here: The North Pole Cabins are comfortable and warm log cabin retreats, located just a mile from the Santa Claus House.

Snowfest at Park City Mountain

Park City, Utah

Why we go: As if the world-class skiing isn’t reason enough to visit Park City this winter, the town also happens to be a wonderful place to spend Christmas. The former Olympic city has ample opportunities for skiing, fly fishing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding—with no shortage of resorts to warm up in between runs.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Hop on a 90-minute train ride with the North Pole Express at Heber Valley Railroad, where you can sip hot cocoa and meet Mrs. Claus.

Stay here: The 12-room Washington School House is just a hop away from Park City’s lit-up Main Street, and its Christmas decorations are some of the prettiest ever seen. In nearby Deer Valley, there’s also the iconic Stein Eriksen Lodge , a luxurious chalet with easy ski-in/ski-out access. And just 25 minutes from downtown Park City Auberge Resorts’ The Lodge at Blue Sky is a perfect place to unwind in luxury.

Holiday Luminaria Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why we go: Santa Fe’s already-beautiful plaza becomes downright magical with the addition of Christmas lights—but the holiday spirit doesn’t start and stop there. The city also offers midnight mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi , holiday exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Art , holiday flamenco performances at El Flamenco Cabaret , and seasonal shopping at the Winter Indian Market. Even when Christmas is officially over, you can keep busy at Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe —both just an easy drive away.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Santa Fe’s annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk , a Christmas Eve event consisting of farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and topped with a votive candle) lining the streets and walls of adobe buildings, is sure to get you in a pleasant and festive mood for the occasion.

Stay here: Condé Nast Traveler ’s Readers’ Choice Award favorite Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi has a tangible warmth to it, with gaslit kiva fireplaces and hand-carved four-poster beds adorning the rooms.

Seattle at Christmas

Seattle, Washington

Why we go: Aside from the delightful sight of a Christmas tree atop the Space Needle, there are plenty of reasons to visit Seattle over the holidays. Your one-stop shop for holiday cheer is Winterfest at Seattle Center (November 24 to December 31), which has family-friendly activities like train rides and ice sculpting demonstrations. There’s also a huge celebration just eight miles east of Seattle in the town of Bellevue: Snowflake Lane (November 24 to December 24), a nightly light show with caroling and snow machines ensuring a white Christmas.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Sheraton Grand Seattle ’s annual Gingerbread Village is probably Seattle’s most beloved holiday tradition, in which the city’s top architecture firms and culinary teams get together to create next-level gingerbread houses. This year’s event runs from November 21 to New Year’s Day.

Stay here: With its mountain lodge interiors, The Edgewater Hotel is one of the best places to cozy up in the Pacific Northwest. If you like to fall asleep while staring out at gentle waves glistening in the moonlight, you won’t find a better spot in the city.

Seneca Falls at Christmas

Seneca Falls, New York

Why we go: It’s a Wonderful Life may have been shot on an RKO soundstage in Los Angeles, but the fine folks of Seneca Falls , New York, swear that their five-square-mile upstate hamlet is the inspiration for the real Bedford Falls . Each December, they host an array of old-timey activities to prove it. This year, the event runs from December 7 to 10 and will include special film screenings, gingerbread house contests, and museum exhibits.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: The “It's a Wonderful Bonfire” event on Friday, December 8, which includes caroling, a visit from Santa, and a tree-lighting ceremony.

Stay here: The Gould Hotel has elegant rooms and a restaurant serving hearty, local meals that will warm you from the inside out.

Why we go Christmas in St. Augustine is truly something to behold. The holiday season kicks off this year with the citys...

St. Augustine, Florida

Why we go: Christmas in St. Augustine is truly something to behold. The holiday season kicks off this year with the city’s annual Christmas Parade, then continues through January 28 with the famous Nights of Lights festival. During the celebration, St. Augustine glows with three million tiny white lights over the Bridge of Lions and through 20 city blocks in the historic district. Bonus: You can enjoy the whole show without wearing a coat and gloves, because, you know, Florida.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Climb aboard the Old Town Trolley’s Famous Nights of Lights Tour, which departs nightly from November 19 through January 28.

Stay here: The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens pairs all the charm of a bed and breakfast with all the amenities of a true luxury hotel. No little detail is overlooked, from interesting on-site activities (like watercolor painting in the courtyard) to immaculate turndown service. The hotel has an age minimum of 16, making this a great retreat for harried parents.

St. Louis at Christmas

St. Louis, Missouri

Why we go: It’s been almost 80 years since Judy Garland first graced the world with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at the end of Meet Me in St Louis , and the Missouri city has embraced its role as one of America’s yuletide capitals ever since. Make sure you hit all the classics, like Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo, the poinsettia show at Jewel Box in Forest Park , and ice skating at Steinberg Rink . For the third year running, there's even a Polar Express -themed train ride at the Union Station development.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Walk among a million dazzling lights at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s annual Garden Glow , which runs from November 18 to January 6.

Stay here: You can’t beat the glittering, Gateway Arch-facing views at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis .

Washington DC

Washington, D.C.

Why we go: There are few holiday displays in the nation that compare with Washington, DC’s National Christmas Tree, but other seasonal perks include private igloos at the Watergate Hotel, the Downtown Holiday Market (now through December 23), and a glorious absence of field trip groups in the Smithsonian museums.

The one thing to get you in the spirit: Make it a priority to amble over to the Ford’s Theatre, which puts on an annual run of A Christmas Carol for the holidays.

Stay here: The InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C., an IHG Hotel , is just a few blocks away from the White House and National Christmas Tree, and offers a holiday afternoon tea and tons of gorgeous decorations. You’ve heard it a thousand times: “There's no place like home for the holidays.”

Aloft Portland Downtown Waterfront ME

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33 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe (+Itineraries & Tips)

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Wondering where to spend Christmas in Europe ? We got you the A to Z of stunning destinations and the best places to spend Christmas in Europe from markets, cultural traditions, and winter activities.

To make it a little easier, we have also shared Europe itinerary samples catered to festive cities plus travel tips to kick-start your trip planning! The list below is listed alphabetically by city. What’s your favorite pick?

33 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe + Itineraries + Tips

best countries to visit during christmas

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

best countries to visit during christmas

Amsterdam is one of the finest European winter break destinations – from Christmas markets, ice skating, museums, culinary delights, and more. RAI Amsterdam welcomes guests into a winter wonderland with fortnight-long festivities.

The giant Ferris wheel will definitely grab your attention from a distance, and while you are at the venue indulge in fine dining, enjoy ice skating or go cross-country skiing.  

Spend Christmas in Amsterdam Europe

Another Christmas market to enjoy is at Amsterdam North (Westergas). It is held the weekend prior to Christmas and it is worth a visit for souvenirs, food, and beer!

A must-do activity during Christmas is the Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise . It is a 75-minute cruise where you can enjoy unique lights and projections along the Amstel River.

Amsterdam’s Museumplein is also transformed into a cute-sy Christmas village with festivities, market stalls, and plenty of winter activities to enjoy. 

If you are in the city on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day you can indulge in festivities, gift exchange, and celebrate with loved ones by enjoying the Festival of Lights.

Accommodation :  NH Museum Quarter

2. Barcelona, Spain

By Vicki from VickiViaja

Barcelona Christmas Market

If you think of the typical Christmas markets in Europe, you will probably first think of Christmas markets in Northern and Central Europe.

But you can also discover some great Christmas markets in southern Europe. Therefore, if you visit Barcelona in winter you should definitely visit at least one of its four Christmas Markets.

Even if these are not quite typical Christmas markets like those in other European countries, they have their own charm.

The largest and most popular Christmas market of the 4 is the Fira de Santa Lucía, which is located in the square in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.

You won’t find a typical mulled wine here, but you will find turrón. This is a delicious Christmas candy that is eaten throughout Spain during the Christmas season. There are also typical Catalan souvenirs to buy.

A Catalan figure that can be bought here at Christmas is the Tió de Nadal or also called Cagatió, which is a small log with a typical red Catalan hat and face.

This little log is giving out gifts for children on Christmas or Epiphany in the old tradition. To do this, the children have to hit him with sticks and sing the Cagatió song, almost like a Catalan piñata.

Another famous Christmas market in the city, the Fira de Nadal Christmas Market, can be found right next to the famous Sagrada Família.

At this Christmas market, there are also such typical Catalan statues to buy Christmas trees. But what makes the market really unique is the wonderful view of what is probably the most famous building in the city.

READ : Itinerary for Barcelona | Find hotels in Barcelona

3. Basel, Switzerland

best countries to visit during christmas

Basel is one of the amazing European cities to spend Christmas. It is conveniently located close to the German and French border, making it easy to create a DIY Christmas tour. 

A 3 day Basel itinerary can easily cover a day trip to Colmar to check off beautiful Christmas markets.

The main Christmas market takes place at the Town Hall Square, but there are many that spring across the city – so you have lots of options to choose from. 

Here you will find stalls selling everything from candles to toys to steaming cups of glühwein line the streets, and the scent of roasted chestnuts hangs in the air. 

Basel’s Christmas market is one of the largest and most festive in Switzerland, so be sure to pay it a visit during your stay.

The Old Town of Basel is all decorated in festive colors and lights. You can join a walking tour, or visit one of the premium fine arts museums – Kunstmuseum, on your own.  

If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, you can browse the window displays of quirky boutiques, and traditional souvenir shops in the Spalenberg district. 

Or stop for lunch at a traditional Swiss restaurant. 

If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day during your trip, be sure to take advantage of it by walking across one of Basel’s famous bridges for sweeping views of the cityscape.

Now, there’s nothing quite like strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the ice, whether you’re an experienced figure skater or a wobbly first-timer. Fortunately, Basel has no shortage of places to go ice skating. 

The largest and most popular ice skating rink is located in St. Jakob’s Square, right in the heart of Old Town. 

Whether you’re looking for festive Christmas markets, charming old-town streets, or amazing Swiss cuisine, Basel has something for everyone this winter.

Where to stay in Basel?  Motel One   Basel

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4. Berlin, Germany

By Sydney from A World In a Reach

Berlin Christmas Market

Germany is the home of Christmas markets, and one of the best Christmas markets to visit in Berlin is the Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt.

If you’re spending a few days in Berlin around the holidays, make sure to pay a visit to Gendarmenmarkt for a dose of Christmas cheer.

Located in Gendarmenmarkt, a large, beautiful square in Berlin, the Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt features everything you would expect from a traditional German Christmas market.

There are stalls selling handmade arts and crafts that are perfect for Christmas gifts, yummy snacks, and of course, glühwein (mulled wine).

A visit to a Christmas market isn’t complete without enjoying a mug of glühwein. You can pay a deposit that you get back when you return the mug, or you can keep the mug as a fun souvenir!

If you’re not a big fan of glühwein, you can also warm up with a tasty mug of hot chocolate or eggnog.

Gendarmenmarkt is located within walking distance of some of Berlin’s top attractions, including Checkpoint Charlie and Museum Island.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay to experience the Christmas market and the nearby attractions, consider a stay at the Hilton Berlin , just a 2-minute walk from the market.

Accommodation: Hilton Berlin

5. Bratislava, Slovakia

By Martina & Jürgen from PlacesofJuma 

Bratislava Christmas Market

If you are looking for a unique Christmas destination in Europe, then you definitely should check out Bratislava – the main city of Slovakia. Visitors are amazed by the many picturesque Christmas Markets and the unique atmosphere when visiting Bratislava in Winter!

The best one can be found at Hlavné und Hviezdoslavovo námestie – where you will also find plenty of excellent accommodations like the beautiful APPEND CITY Hotel Perugia .

During Christmas time the city is full of local specialties, delicious food, and charming goodies. 

People come together to have some punch or mulled wine and enjoy the true atmosphere of a traditional Christmas Market. Really delicious is here the Loksa, a salty pancake, or the traditional Strudl, a crisp cake filled with apples and raisins. 

Also, the mulled wine here in Bratislava is tasty – probably because it comes from local wineries near the city.

In addition to amazing food, you will find plenty of homemade products and traditional souvenirs – perfect to bring home some souvenirs for your beloved.

Another highlight and for many a must-do is ice-skating. Especially at the Main Square, you will find a very well-prepared open-air ice rink.

Not only kids but also adults love to turn some rounds in this incredibly beautiful atmosphere. Skates are available to hire, so you don’t have to bring your own ones.

In the evening, local artists – singers, and dancers perform directly at this Christmas Market and make each visit an extraordinary experience.

Christmas Markets have had a long tradition in Bratislava and therefore a visit to Bratislava for Christmas is absolutely recommended.

Accommodation : APPEND CITY Hotel Perugia

6. Brussels, Belgium

By Sarah from cosmopoliclan

Brussels Christmas Markets

Experience Christmas in the heart of Europe by spending the festive season in Brussels, where a meandering trail of twinkling lights connects the enchanting sites that make up the Winter Wonders festival. 

The absolute highlight is the sound and light show that illuminates the gorgeous guild houses of Grand Place.

At this captivating UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll also find choirs and street artists performing around the giant Christmas tree. 

Sink your teeth in one of Belgium’s iconic treats, from heart-warming waffles to mouth-watering chocolate, as you follow the twinkling lights to yet another captivating location: the intimate St Catherine’s Place. 

best countries to visit during christmas

From there, you can already see the Ferris wheel that spins around at the Fish Market. Buy a unique handmade gift from one of the many festively decorated chalets before tying your ice skates at the Brouckère skating rink. 

The best places to stay near the Brussels Christmas market locations are the NH Collection Brussels Centre , right in the center of the festive action, and The Dominican , a convent that’s been converted into a classy hotel.

Because of its central location, Brussels is also the perfect travel base to explore other European Christmas markets. Just hop on the train and before you know it, you could be celebrating Christmas in Germany or Luxembourg.

Accommodation: NH Collection Brussels Centre | The Dominican

7. Budapest, Hungary

By Cris from LooknWalk

Budapest Christmas Markets

While not a fan of winter or cold weather, I’m fascinated by Christmas Markets, and it is enough to persuade me to plan some trips around them. One of the markets I’ve fallen in love with many years ago – and return to check out almost every year – is the one in Vaci Utca in Budapest.

Hungary’s capital is home to more than one Christmas Market but the one on Vaci Utca is the most famous. Close by, the Advent Feast at the Basilica (in front of St. Istvan Basilica) is another gorgeous choice, featuring an ice rink.

From late November to late January, Budapest will enchant you with Christmas celebrations rich with Central European holiday traditions and, each year, new modern elements. In 2019, we saw a 3D projection of the façade of the Basilica.

The markets feature the best Hungarian handicrafts, as well as a lot of food. While Hungarian cuisine is based on meat (particularly Mangalica), there are plenty of other food choices available, including vegan.

While you are here, make sure to taste the famous Kurtoskalacs (Hungarian spit cake, which originates from Transylvania, Romania).

There are also various cultural events almost daily, including caroling. And if you travel with kids, you’d be delighted to know they can try their hand at various crafts.

These two markets are right in the city center, close to all the major attractions in Budapest . St. Istvan Basilica can be visited and the view from the bell tower is amazing.

There’s a Ferris wheel in Elizabeth Square and, on a sunny day, will give you a nice view of Budapest. 

The Great Market Hall is nearby – make sure to pick up some spices (paprika!). While if you cross the Danube, you can explore Castle Hill. (There’s also a Christmas Market in the courtyard). Here you can find the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion.

Hop on Metro 1 (yellow line) and go all the way to Heroes’ Square. There are two museums and a castle to check out. Plus another market.

For accommodation, opt for Central Hotel 21 –  a personal favorite from the past two years. 

Accommodation : Central Hotel 21

8. Colmar, France

By Rachel from Children of Wanderlust

Colmar France Christmas Markets

Colmar, the capital of the Alsace region, is a picturesque town of medieval half-timbered buildings, located in Eastern France. Formerly a part of Germany, this legacy shows in the character and architecture of the town.

The award winning Christmas celebrations return this year with no less than 6 different Christmas markets spread around the illuminated lanes and attractive plazas of the old town. 

The Alsace region is famous for the quality of its local produce. Expect to find gourmet cakes, gingerbread, cheese, meats, honey, and nougat, amongst other festive offerings.

A particular local favorite is kougelhopf, a sweet bun made with raisins macerated in kirsch (a cherry spirit). 

As well as beautifully decorated houses all around, there is also an outdoor ice rink complete with a mock snowstorm and bubble effects, and even a giant post box for those Christmas letters to Santa.

A mechanical nativity at the children’s market, along with a full program of themed events throughout December, complete the festivities.

For anyone hunting for hidden treasures, guided tours of the markets are available from the tourist office (€5 for adults, €2.50 for 12-18s, free for under 12s). 

The town’s Christmas lights and nighttime buzz are worthy of lingering overnight. A good option is at Hotel le Marechal , occupying a historic building right in the heart of Old Colmar, in an area known as ‘Little Venice’, due to the abundance of waterways.

Whether staying in town or just passing through (you can make it a mega winter trip by visiting nearby ski resorts in Switzerland), the Christmas markets of Colmar present a charming experience for all.

Accommodation : Hotel le Marechal

9. Cologne, Germany

By Angela from Where Angie Wanders

Cologne Germany Christmas market, aerial drone view over Cologne rhine river Germany Europe

The Christmas Markets in Cologne are counted as some of the best in the world so a trip here during the festive season will really put you in the Christmas spirit.

With seven traditional German markets spread around the city, you will be spoilt for choice with regard to buying traditional Christmas gifts to take home with you. From wooden nutcracker figures to hand-blown Christmas tree decorations, they will all tempt you.

The Christmas markets sell the most amazing German foods for you to try from apple strudel to bratwurst sausages and all washed down with spiced Christmas red wine called “Gluhwein”.

But there are lots of other unmissable things to do and see in Cologne and a visit to the chocolate museum should be one of them.

Wander around and see how chocolate is produced and then sit on their riverside terrace and indulge in a Christmas hot chocolate drink complete with marshmallows, cream, and of course, lashings of chocolate.

Cologne Cathedral acts as the centerpiece for the Christmas markets and no visit to Cologne would be complete without stepping inside, lighting a candle, and taking some quiet time for yourself.

You might even hear the Christmas carols being sung, a fitting way to experience Christmas in Cologne.

Where to stay in Cologne? Wasserturm Hotel Cologne

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

By Juliet from liveyourdream.today

Copenhagen / Denmark - November 2019: Wooden stalls at Christmas Market Højbro Plads. Decorated booth selling street food and local craft goods during holidays for tourists. Hygge festive atmosphere.

Denmark may seem cold and unfriendly around the year, but during Christmas time it feels the warmest and most welcoming!

Copenhagen alone offers a variety of wonderful Christmas markets that please both your body and soul as you explore this windy northern capital.

In the heart of the Danish hygge concept, you don’t even need to look for the markets on purpose.

The best Christmas markets in Copenhagen will meet you on every step of your walk around the city center, and even neighborhoods like Christiania dress up every year for the occasion.

You can start your journey at Nyhavn Christmas Market to see the canals, and then have a cup of glögg or some hot chocolate at Christmas Market Højbro Plads.

The most charming place to see in the city is, of course, the Christmas Market at the amusement park Tivoli Gardens. That one is a bit pricey, but it’s worth it as you can spend the whole day having fun there. It will be the highlight of your trip!

If you want to live in an absolute fairytale, check out the D’Angleterre Hotel ! It’s located across the street from the main Christmas market called Julemarked Kongens Nytorv and always has the most unique decorations to complement the market.

Hotels: Search hotel deals in Copenhagen

11. Dresden, Germany

By Cory and G Varga from You Could Travel

best countries to visit during christmas

Europe is blessed with many Christmas markets, one after the other more beautiful and spectacular. But the Dresden Christmas market in Germany has something truly unique, which no other can truly match: it is the oldest Christmas market in the world.

That’s right, the joy of enjoying a stroll through all those wonderful food and souvenir stalls exists thanks to the city of Dresden.

Called Striezelmarkt it has roughly 240 stands and attracts about 3 million visitors from all over the world. 

The original name, Striezelmarkt,  comes from Strüzel or Stroczel, the name of a type of cake sold at the market. You might now know it as Stollen, a sugary fruit cake, famed in Germany. 

At the Dresden market, you can purchase the original Dresden Stollen which is buttery and it is produced in the city only. It also has a special seal on the packaging.

Beyond traditional food and drinks like worst, sweets, and mulled wine, you will find many handcrafted items at the Dresden market. 

It is centrally located, conveniently right in the midst of the many attractions the city can offer. It’s a great place for a romantic weekend in Dresden . We recommend staying centrally in the Old Town, where you’ll find an array of hotels available for all budgets.

Accommodation: Hotel Suitess

12. Edinburgh, Scotland

By Sas from Round Word

Winter festival in Old town Edinburgh  at night, Scotland UK

The traditional Christmas Market in Edinburgh is the East Princes Street Gardens which is a wonderful place filled with magic. It starts about mid-November and ends on the 4th of January.

And with a stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, the Balmoral Hotel, and Calton Hill you simply cannot miss this.

It is one of the occasions when you can see people from all over the world gathering together. They are happy and enjoy the warm atmosphere of the market, where you can find stands selling local dishes, but also products from other parts of the world, such as beer and German sausages.

Local producers have sweets and delicious food, but also handmade objects that you can buy as souvenirs. There is also an amusement park where both children and adults have fun.

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is built every year on two levels right in the heart of the capital, on the main street, close to Central Station. If you look up, you can see the famous Edinburgh Castle, a fortress built on volcanic rock. It’s a true immersion in Scottish history and heritage. 

One of the main attractions of this historic site is the Stone of Destiny, above which many Scottish monarchs have been crowned over the centuries.

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is guarded by the beautiful Scott Monument, built in Victorian Gothic style in honor of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

Edinburgh is a cosmopolitan and dynamic capital, so you can choose your accommodation through b & b, Booking.com, etc. There are hundreds of hotels and shops of famous brands on Princes Street in Edinburgh and in the surroundings. 

Also, there are lots of souvenir shops in which the tartan, the Scottish kilt, the objects representing Highland cattle, and the Scottish flag will immediately catch your eye.

It is worth visiting Edinburgh during the winter holidays to understand exactly what life is like in Scotland.

Accommodation : Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge

13. Frankfurt, Germany

By Krista from Krista the Explorer

Frankfurt Christmas Markets

If you’ve visited Germany during the Christmas period, you’ll know how amazing their Christmas markets are. One of the largest Christmas markets in Europe is located in Frankfurt. 

Rather than being situated in one location, Frankfurt’s Christmas market stretches throughout the old town, overtaking much of the pedestrian streets.

The main part of the market can be found at the historic Romerberg, Frankfurt’s main square in the old town. 

Here you’ll find an incredibly large selection of traditional German food , beautiful market stalls selling handmade goods, and a lot of beer. It’s not a real German Christmas market without sausage and beer right?

The Romerberg also has a gorgeous carousel ride in the middle of it, which lights up at night to match the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. 

Many people overlook Frankfurt as a tourist destination, because of its link to the world of finance and industry, but there is a lot of charm hidden in its old town, especially when there’s a market. 

Part of the Christmas market sits along the Main River, and there are many options for river cruises either during the day or at night, so you can see Frankfurt from a different perspective and relax for a bit after walking around the Christmas market all day. 

Accommodation: Miramar Hotel  

14. Galway, Ireland

By Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland

Christmas Market and Lights, Eyre Square, Galway, City, County Galway, Ireland.

For over 10 years, the Christmas Market in Galway Ireland has been bringing festive cheer to the west of Ireland. Over 650,000 people visited this market in 2019, making it one of the most popular in the country.

Situated right in the centre of Galway in the famous Eyre Square, this Christmas bonanza is one of the most highly anticipated events of the winter season. 

As you wander around the little wooden chalet stalls, you might just find that unique Christmas gift for someone very special.

Delicious artisan food of both Irish and international origin will also feature in the market and a trip to the German Bierkeller will keep any thirst at bay. 

Kids will be delighted with the amusement park rides, including a 32-metre high Big Wheel which gives a great bird’s eye view of Galway. For younger kids, a trip to Santa’s Grotto is likely to be a big highlight. 

Over the course of the four-week fair, visitors will be entertained by live street performers, as well as other festive events including carol singing, storytelling, and lots more. 

Galway is a fantastic city to visit at any stage of the year and the charming streets, especially around the Latin Quarter are well worth exploring.

If you are planning a visit, then book a hotel in the city centre, like the Jurys Inn Galway , so that you can get the most out of the city’s highlights by day and by night.

Read : European winter destinations from ski resorts, chasing northern lights and the winter sun

15. Ghent, Belgium

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

best countries to visit during christmas

Without a doubt, the best Christmas Markets in Belgium bring festive spirit to the season, with beautiful ice carvings, mulled drinks, several decorations, and many more. And the place to visit, during this wintertime, is Ghent. 

Here you can soak in the joyous vibes of the Christmas atmosphere where near about 1500 old miniature wooden cottages were selling off their various Christmas goodies all over the country.

The Ghent Christmas market is an immense village, which ranges from the location of Sint-Baafsplein to Korenmarkt. 

The food stalls are amazing; from the aromas of wintry pine woods to Belgian chocolate fondues.

Additionally, there are many affordable hotels available that offer a pleasant stay, with excellent facilities.

Precisely, hotel locations near Saint Nicholas’ Church and Korenmarkt are generally preferred by me as this spot is also magnificent for touring and restaurants.  

Accommodation : Getaway Studios Gent (near the Belfry)

16 . Krakow, Poland 

By Ketki from explorewithecokats

best countries to visit during christmas

Christmas in Poland is an amazing time to visit, and we highly recommend adding Krakow to the list of best places to spend Christmas in Europe. In early December, Krakow is usually freezing from its first snow! 

Take your time to walk to the dreamy Rynek Główny square, in the heart of Kraków’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, also known to be the largest medieval town square in Europe. One can only imagine what the festive spirit at this scale could be!

Upon reaching Rynek Główny square, you will find the festive spirit with the place completely decked up in the finest attire with decorations, a Christmas tree, and cabins in the market selling souvenirs, tree decorations, cheese, sweets, and pretty much everything festive and Christmasy. 

Krakow Christmas Market is extremely popular not only in Poland but throughout Europe which is why it attracts visitors from around the world.

Make time to admire the horse carriages overlooking the Brick Gothic church of St Mary’s and join the Christmas affair with Obwarzanek in one hand and mulled wine in another.

Keep the supply of hot drinks going to beat the freezing weather and sip on hot chocolate, soup, and other nutritious dishes. You can also find vegetarian food in the Krakow Christmas market.

There were a lot of artisans performing in traditional clothes and groups of children singing Christmas carols. A few local artisans also presented their art and crafts. 

Accommodation: Novotel Krakow Centrum

17. Konstanz, Germany

By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

Konstanz Christmas market

The official name of the Christmas market in Konstanz is the “Weihnachsmarkt am See”, which in German means the “Christmas market on the lake”.

This is quite an accurate description, as the market stalls are lined up all along the shores of Lake Constance, the large and beautiful lake named after the eponymous city. 

Not only that, there’s even a “Christmas Ship” docked in the harbor, and on the ship, there are more market stalls and an ice bar with panoramic views of the gorgeous landscape.

The market is open every day for three to four weeks in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s very popular not only with Germans but also with visitors from nearby Switzerland and Austria .

For this reason, you’re best off coming during the week if possible, to avoid the weekend crowds. 

If you’re traveling from Switzerland , Swiss railways usually offer discounted tickets that also entitle the ticket holder to a free glass of glühwein and a souvenir mug.

While you’re at the harbor, be sure to check out the rotating Imperia Statue, depicting a scantily clad woman holding the pope in one hand and the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund in the other.

If you have an extra day or two to explore the area, there are some beautiful villages along the lakeshore, such as Stein am Rhein and Arbon, both in Switzerland.

Accommodation: Steigenberger Inselhotel Konstanz

18. Ljubljana, Slovenia

best countries to visit during christmas

The capital city of Ljubljana is home to one of the prettiest Christmas markets, where the ‘good fairy’ grants wishes! Although there are multiple markets set up throughout the city, the one at the central square (Prešernov trg Square) is the best. 

It is adorned by the Ljubljanica River, where annual festive markets are set up at the end of November to December (and sometimes up to the first week of January). You can enjoy boat cruises along the river and admire all the lights and ice sculptures on display. 

Like most European Christmas markets, the one in Ljubljana is set up with stalls selling wares by Slovenian designers, Christmas ornaments, and delicacies. What is wonderful around this time is to enjoy mulled wine (or kuhano vino in Slovene) by the river banks.

Remember to dress warm, as it can get pretty chilly and cold in the evenings. Many outdoor restaurants will have heaters on for your comfort. Read : Guide to Balkans Destinations

Accommodation: Grand Plaza Hotel & Congress Center

19. London, England

By Cathy from Mummy Travels 

best countries to visit during christmas

London takes the traditional Christmas market format and gives it a bit of an urban twist: you’ll find classic favorites, such as wooden stalls selling handmade crafts and clothing, but rather than bratwurst in a bun, you’re more likely to find street food from around the world to go with your mulled wine.

In one of the best locations of all the London Christmas markets , set among twinkling lights on the banks of the Thames, the market starts with an old-fashioned carousel (for kids) to set the mood plus other more thrilling fairground rides. 

Some years there’s a Christmas tree maze to explore as well, plus puppet shows and even a pop-up cinema before now. The London Eye is just a bauble’s throwaway as well.

But the main attractions here revolve around eating and drinking.

Expect duck confit burgers alongside street food from around the world, including pad Thai and falafel, not to mention crepes, prosecco, and mulled cider. Cider brand Rekorderlig usually sponsors a bar too.

Other foodie pop-ups vary from year to year – previous Christmas markets have seen the Circus bar in a traditional Circus tent, and the Bar Under the Bridge, with cocktails and cheese, between November and early January.

There are several chain hotels nearby including the Park Plaza, while you only need to cross the river to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben or hop on a boat along the Thames to enjoy London lit up for Christmas.

Accommodation : Sidney Victoria Hotel

20. Madeira Island, Portugal

By Edyta from Say Yes To Madeira

Madeira Portugal Christmas

Madeira Island is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe, especially for those who wish to escape the cold, but not the great Christmas spirit. This little Portuguese island on the Atlantic is a go-to place for the European winter sun.

During that magical period, the entire island is beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, especially Funchal – the island’s main city. 

The place with the best Christmas vibe is Arriaga Avenue in Funchal, where you won’t only find two big Nativity Scenes, but also a busy Christmas Market called “Mercadinho de Natal”.

You will find there a number of small wooden cottages selling Christmas food and drinks, for example, a local Poncha drink or a cherry liqueur called Ginjinha / Ginja served in a chocolate cup. 

Next to the Nativity scene, you will also find a stage where you can listen to live music. This market is open for a couple of weeks in December, but there is one more event that is worth attending – the “Market Night” on the 23rd of December, which takes place all over the city. 

On that one evening, the entire city centre transforms into a big market with live music, concerts, and parties. When spending your Christmas in Madeira , make sure you stay on the island until New Year’s Eve, as Madeira is an ex-Guinness record holder for the biggest firework show.

21. Manchester, England

By Pauline from BeelovedCity

Manchester England Christmas

If you are looking for awesome Christmas markets in England, Manchester will be your paradise. Unlike London, you won’t find one big winter wonderland but 9 Christmas markets!

Manchester Christmas Markets take over the whole city in November and December. The city centre is fairly small and compact which means that you will never walk for more than 2 mins before finding a new market.

The main one is located in Albert Square. It’s home to a big German bar, many food stands, and of course: Manchester’s Big Santa.

Mancunians love their Christmas markets which is why they are on for almost 8 weeks! There is delicious food from all over Europe, mulled wine, beer, hot chocolate… basically everything you need to get into the Christmas spirit.

If you head to the markets in Cathedral Gardens you will also find a big ice rink. It can get pretty busy in the evening so it’s recommended to book online.

As you are there, you can also go explore the city. It’s pretty small for a big city so you won’t even need to use public transport. You can get everywhere on foot.

If you like history, opt for a walking tour. Manchester has a very interesting background and the guide will tell you everything about it!

If walking tours aren’t your jam, you can explore by yourself. As you roam around Manchester, make sure to go to Piccadilly Gardens, Northern Quarter, Gay Village, John Rylands Library, and the Printworks.

If you can, book your accommodation in the Northern Quarter or Ancoats. They used to be the industrial quarters but were revitalized in the past decade and became Manchester’s trendiest neighborhoods! They will be a great place to stay.

Accommodation : Hotel ibis Styles Manchester Portland

22. Nuremberg, Germany

By Nancy from Around the World at the Weekends

Nuremberg Christmas Markets

There is something very magical about Nuremberg at Christmas. It’s like stepping into a memory or a particularly wonderful Christmas movie.

You must stay at the Grand Hotel – not only does it have the best vodka martinis I have ever tasted but it’s also within walking distance from the Christmas markets. 

There are two main markets in Nuremberg; the adult one, filled with places to buy wooden treasures and fill your bespoken mug with glühwein wine, and also the children’s one; with old-fashioned rides and places to buy the best chewy and delicious gingerbread. 

If you want to eat out then you must try the Heilig-Geist-Spital, which not only has the most incredible setting but also serves up some seriously amazing food.

Talking of amazing food – make sure you take the time to visit 

Restaurant Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof serves the best sausages that I have ever tasted.

While in Nuremberg you must visit the Schöner Brunnen to spin the lucky ring! It’s right next to the market so you will definitely stumble upon it as you wander around the many various and beautiful stalls that make up the market.

Accommodation : ibis Hotel Nürnberg Altstadt

23. Oslo, Norway

By Aga from WorlderingAround

Oslo Christmas Markets

Isn’t Scandinavia a perfect Christmas destination? You can always be sure of the fairytale snowy landscape, reindeer and moose in the forest, and cozy fireplaces brightening up the wooden interiors. 

There are also plenty of Christmas markets to visit around the country.

In Oslo, in the weeks before Christmas, there are Christmas markets happening every day. This is the place to find the traditional Norwegian winter clothes that you need for the winter trip to Norway, including famous Scandinavian woolen sweaters, gloves or socks, delicious comfort food, mulled wine, and plenty of fun activities.

The main Christmas market in Oslo is the one in Spikersuppa in the city center along the Karl Johans Gate. It features the Ferris wheel, fireplaces where you can warm up, and more and more stalls every year. 

In other parts of the city, like Youngstorget, you can find big heated traditional tents called lavvus, traditionally used by Sami people in Scandinavia, that now are converted to Christmas markets.

In the Christmas market in Bærums Verk, you can wander around the little shops located in the old houses from the 17th century, situated along the river.

Accommodation : Citybox Oslo

24. Paris, France

By Maria from EuropeUpClose

Famous shopping district Champs Elysees illuminated with Christmas light in Paris

Christmas in Paris is magical. The city of lights and love is even more magical with all the Christmas decorations, lights, and Christmas Markets. 

As you can imagine, Paris has more than one Christmas Market. There are dozens around the city, each with its own flair and atmosphere. Here are some of the best ones:

Christmas Market Notre Dame Cathedral – it doesn’t get more iconic than that. This beautiful Christmas Market is in a small park called Square René Vivani on the left side of the Seine, next to Notre Dame de Paris.

You will find traditional French culinary treats, mulled wine, as well as artesian handicrafts and gifts. 

Along the Champs de Mars, leading to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, you will find another beautiful Christmas Market. The Eiffel Tower Christmas Market is especially magical at night.

Buy yourself some aromatic mulled wine and sit down on the lawn to enjoy the Eiffel Tower light show. It doesn’t get more romantic than that. 

Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de L’Est – Christmas Markets originated in Germany and the Alsace region of France, so this little Christmas Market is showing off some of the oldest traditions and delicacies.

You will find some of the best culinary treats from the Alsace, including foie gras, Kouglehopf (sponge cakes with dried fruits and nuts), and sweet Alsatian Riesling wines. 

The Trocadero Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas Markets among local Parisians. Check out the view of the Eiffel Tower and channel your inner kid by riding on one of the historic Mary Go ‘Rounds. 

READ : Where to stay in Paris  |  Best hotels in Paris with Eiffel Tower views

25. Prague, Czech Republic

By Kelli from thevanabondtales

Prague Christmas Markets

Prague is frequently listed as one of the best cities to visit in Europe and what better time to visit than at Christmas? A city already buzzing and full of life somehow manages to take it up a notch during the holiday season. 

Christmas markets are sprinkled throughout the city with the largest one set up right in the old town square.

If the old town square isn’t pretty enough, picture the St. Vitus Cathedral beautifully lit up with a large sparkling Christmas tree in front, and decorated Christmas stalls selling local goods, delicious food, and mulled wine.

One of my favorite things about visiting Christmas markets is the food and of course, mulled wine, and Prague has its fair share of both. Try the Pražská Šunka, or Prague ham, which can be seen roasting on spits throughout the market. 

And no trip to a Christmas market is complete without Pražská Klobása or grilled sausages. one of the most common Christmas market foods in Europe.

And if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then Trdelnik is for you. Trdelnik, a pastry made from dough, grilled using a rotisserie and then dipped in sugar, cinnamon, or any other delicious topping you can think of!

If the food at the Christmas market isn’t enough, then check out La Degustation. Holding one Michelin Star, La Degustation offers degustation menus based on traditional Czech cuisine at affordable prices. It was one of my favorite meals during my time in Prague.

Read: Where to stay in Prague

26. Rovaniemi, Finland

best countries to visit during christmas

Just because the temperature has dropped and the days are shorter, doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Rovaniemi, Finland is the perfect place to enjoy all that winter has to offer. 

From snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to visiting Santa Claus Village, staying in an ice hotel, and taking a reindeer sleigh ride, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

One of the highlights of any trip to Rovaniemi is seeing the magnificent Northern Lights. Also known as the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that is truly a sight to behold. 

As mentioned, Rovaniemi is home to Santa Claus Village, and this is where you can meet Santa Claus himself! Located right on the Arctic Circle, Santa Claus Village is a festive spot to visit. There is a huge but beautiful Christmas tree that adorns the site and is hard to miss. 

When in Finland in winter, you can also go dog sledding. It is a traditional mode of transportation in the country and has been used for centuries. Today, it’s mostly done for leisure and tourism purposes. 

Snowmobiling is also popular. You can explore the snowy landscapes of Finnish Lapland on a snowmobile. There are many tour operators offering different types of tours, so you can find one that suits your abilities and interests. 

Other popular winter activities include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

These are just a few ideas for things to do while spending time in Rovaniemi during Christmas! With so many options available, you’ll never find yourself bored here. So put on your warmest clothes, embrace the cold, and have some fun in Finland!

Where to stay in Rovaniemi?  Santa Claus Holiday Village

27. Salzburg, Austria

By Fiona from thetravellingthirties

Salzburg Christmas Markets

Austria is a gorgeous country surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lakes, and music. One of the most beautiful cities in Austria is Salzburg. Filled with hidden lanes and courtyards, quaint buildings, mountains, and the history of Mozart.

Nothing can make Salzburg any cuter except perhaps, the Christmas markets. There is one large Christmas market in the main square, with shops and food stalls to die for. Don’t forget to order a piece of Apple Strudel with Vanilla sauce.

Just off the main square is a large ice-skating rink for young and old to show off their graceful moves!

Salzburg’s Christmas markets are one of a kind because each laneway leads to a hidden courtyard filled with another unique Christmas market.

From snow globes to woolen socks, hand-knitted scarves, warm drinks, and crafted wooden decorations, it is a great place to purchase some souvenirs to take home.

Although a little bit touristy, don’t miss out on doing the sound of music day trip while you are visiting Salzburg!

If you’re looking for a place to stay, Wolfgang’s managed by A&O is a fantastic option. It is a 10 – 15 minute walk from the heart of Salzburg so it is a little quieter but it is very close to the train station and many public transport options.

Salzburg is an absolutely beautiful city that everybody must visit at least once in their lives, so why not make it during Christmas time?

Accommodation : Wolfgang’s managed by A&O

28. Strasbourg, France

By Anya from Unexpected Occurrence 

Strasbourg Christmas Markets

Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Alsace . The sweet old town comes alive with stalls full of traditional crafts, local foods, and mulled wine. Almost two million people visit this Christmas market every year, and it’s not hard to see why!

 The Christmas lights and the main tree in the centre square are iconic, and Petite France’s charming Alsatian architecture makes you feel like you’re in France decades ago. 

When in Strasbourg, don’t miss the Alsatian Museum, which highlights the history of the region. It explains why you see so much German influence in the culture of the Christmas markets and is a great way to learn about the deep traditions the markets hold. 

Strasbourg is also one of the best hubs for exploring the other Christmas markets within the region – there are so many smaller, yet charming, towns located along the Wine Route of Alsace, each one with a different personality.

If you’re spending a winter holiday in Strasbourg, you can easily get to the other towns by train or car for a full week of Christmas and holiday spirit. 

Accommodation: Hôtel Couvent-du-Franciscain

29. Vienna, Austria 

By Stephanie from History Fangirl

Best places to spend Christmas in Europe is Vienna

If you’re planning a trip to the best European Christmas markets, you simply must put Vienna on your list! It is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.

The town is practically bursting with Christmas spirit during the holidays, with almost two dozen official city Christmas markets. 

If you’re only going to have a few days to see them, make sure to visit the markets at the Rathausplatz (Vienna’s City Hall), Maria-Theresien Platz, and Schönbrunn Palace.

However, if you come across any charming little markets as you explore the city, then you should stop and partake there as well!

At the markets, make sure to taste a Chimney cake, drink a mug of gluhwein, and lace up your ice skates. Of course, you can also enjoy shopping for Viennese souvenirs and Christmas ornaments. Some markets also have entertainment for children, concerts, 

When you’re done at the markets, head back to Hotel Sacher for a luxurious hotel stay at the home of the Sacher Torte. That’s right! The famous Viennese dessert was invented right here! 

When you’re not visiting the markets, you can enjoy some of the other great things there are to do in Vienna in winter, like go to a performance at the Vienna Opera House or simply soak up some warmth in one of the famous Vienna cafes.

Make sure to also set aside time to walk down Der Graben at night. This festive street is lit up and feels even more wonderful during the holidays!

Read: Where to stay in Vienna for first timers

30. Warsaw, Poland 

By Mark from Vogatech 

Warsaw Christmas Market

The Warsaw Christmas Market is not as big as the one in Vienna, but it really offers a lot. The fair will start operating at the end of November, and its doors are open to visitors until December 24th.

It is set in Old Town Square. The very fact that it is located in the capital of Poland, where life, as in any capital, is exciting, hectic, and interesting, should not be expected from the Christmas fair that is located there.

The stands are full of traditional Polish food, delicious hot drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages, more precisely their famous vodka with fruit flavors. Everyone somehow always recommends the peach one, they say it is delicious.

Fried fish, stews, and hot soups, all to warm and soothe you during this cold holiday period.

In addition to really tasty food and drinks, like every fair, this one in Warsaw is no exception, there is a large offer of handmade wooden decorations, and various souvenirs with Christmas motifs.

Some of them are winter apparel, mobile accessories and cases, fridge magnets, and more.

Live music on the stages will warm you up and move you at least to beat in rhythm to warm up and enjoy the overall atmosphere that the fairs offer.

The capital of Poland also offers a large selection of accommodations for its tourists.

Some of those on offer are Motel One Warsaw-Chopin , PURO Warszawa Centrum , Hotel Arche Geologiczna , or for those with a larger budget Hotel Warszawa with five stars where the night is around 200 euros, while other hotels range around 50-60 euros per night.

Accommodation : Motel One Warsaw-Chopin | PURO Warszawa Centrum | Hotel Arche Geologiczna

31. York, United Kingdom

By Sinead from Best In York Guide

York Christmas Market

A trip to York at Christmas is perfect for some festive shopping as the city hosts an award winning six-week long Christmas market. The historic city’s pedestrianized streets are taken over by 100 cute, wooden chalets selling unique and personal gifts. 

Several stalls sell handmade crafts made locally in Yorkshire whilst other stalls feature delicious and tempting local produce such as Yorkshire biscuits, fudge, wine, and York Gin. 

The attractive market is illuminated at night and during both daylight and evening hours, shoppers are entertained by carol singers, bands, and festive-themed buskers.

The market also offers an enormous tipi, specially erected for Christmas shoppers. 

The cozy tipi offers weary shoppers a rejuvenating mulled wine, craft beer, or hot chocolate in front of a roaring log fire.

After browsing and shopping at the market, visitors to York can visit the iconic York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, walk the city’s medieval walls (which are the longest city walls in England) or visit one of York’s world-class historical museums or period houses. 

There is a wide variety of hotels to choose from in York. For a hotel with a view, Dean Court Hotel opposite York Minster cannot be beaten, or for a bit of Christmas luxury, indulge in a stay at The Grand Hotel, York’s only five-star hotel.

Accommodation: Dean Court Hotel | The Grand Hotel

32. Zagreb, Croatia

By Coni from Experiencing the World

where to spend Christmas in Europe Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia is mostly known for its coastal towns and beaches, so it’s far away from what people imagine when picturing a white Christmas in Europe. But don’t let that fool you!

Winter in Croatia is just as spectacular as it is in Central European countries.

Zagreb hosts a yearly winter wonderland – Advent u Zagrebu – that has been recognized as the best Christmas Market in Europe for 3 years in a row now! That should be reason enough to put it right on top of your Christmas destinations bucket list.

It’s a magically decorated fairytale. If you can circle around the fact that Santa Claus will be speaking in a Slavic language, you’re in for a treat. The market takes over the city center, which means that wherever you go you’ll be greeted by the holiday spirit. 

Stands with a myriad of food delights and beverages for all tastes (from the local spirit, rakija, to the classics milled wine and coffee, to grinch tea) will be surrounded by the landmarks of the city – St. Mark’s church, Ban Jelačić Square, Zagreb Cathedral and King Tomislav Square.

Zagreb will also offer you a beautiful ice skate rink, continuous concerts in pergolas around parks and squares, stalls with lovely handcrafted decorations and presents, and plenty of spots created for the perfect Instagram shot. 

Prepare for the cold, but keep in mind you’ll have all sorts of delicious local sweets to keep you warm. And if you want a bit of sun, just head to the coast!

Read: Where to stay in Zagreb Croatia

33. Zurich, Switzerland

By Smita from My Faulty Compass

Zurich Christmas Markets

The beautiful city of Zurich turns into an even more magical place during Christmas! Twinkling lights, fascinating events, huge Christmas trees, and charming Christmas markets make Zurich a uniquely wonderful place to visit during the winter.

One of the best things to do in Zurich around Christmas is to take in the festivities!

The Christmas markets in Zurich are some of the best in Europe – in fact, the market at the main train station is the largest covered Christmas market in Europe!

Adorned with gigantic displays and a huge Swarovski Christmas tree, this market offers everything – from lovely Christmas trinkets to yummy fondue, chocolates, and mulled wine.

A stroll down from the main train station towards Bahnhofstrasse (also decorated with beautiful lights!) will bring you across more Christmas markets, the first of which is at Werdmühleplatz.

This is a smaller market serving fantastic food and drinks, but the main attraction here is the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’! A huge Christmas tree-shaped podium allows a kids’ choir to spread cheer through their wonderful songs (a few in English too!) – an experience not to be missed!

As you continue your stroll towards Bellevue, you come across one of the largest markets in Zurich, spread out in front of the Opera House.

Try some fondue or chocolates here for a uniquely Swiss experience.

Head next to Niederdorf for the oldest and the most romantic Christmas market in Zurich.

Plan your stay around the old town or Bellevue or Bahnhofstrasse to get the most out of your experience of Christmas in Zurich.

Read: Where to stay in Zurich | Zurich in winter

Europe Christmas Itineraries: Famous Christmas Markets, hidden gems, and sightseeing

If you need a readymade itinerary for exploring festive markets in Europe, here are some samples,

7-day Prague, Budapest, and Vienna itinerary for Christmas

Embark on a 7-day Christmas journey through Prague, Budapest, and Vienna . 

Start your trip in Prague, where the Christmas markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are a must-see. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, savor traditional Czech food, and marvel at the Christmas light displays.

On day 3, head to Budapest. Take a dip in one of the city’s famous thermal baths, visit the Christmas markets at St. Stephen’s Square and Vorosmarty Square, and don’t miss the chance to try the traditional Hungarian chimney cake.

Spend the last 3 days in Vienna, Austria’s capital. The city is known for its imperial palaces such as Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg, but during Christmas, the markets take center stage. 

The most famous one is the Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz, but there are several others worth visiting. Try the traditional Austrian punch and delicacies while enjoying the magical atmosphere.

Italy and Switzerland Christmas Trip Itinerary

Spend 10 days exploring the best of Italy and Switzerland with this Christmas-themed itinerary. Start your trip in Rome, and check off Vatican City as well ( 4 days in Rome )

Then travel to Venice, where you can admire the festive decorations on St. Mark’s Square and take a romantic gondola ride for a special holiday experience. Explore for 2 days.

From Venice, head to Zurich. Take a high-speed train to the largest city in Switzerland and explore. Zurich has its own Christmas market at the Main Train Station where you can buy gifts, and sample delicious Swiss specialties such as fondue and raclette. 

On day 9, start your journey towards Basel . Wander their old town and its world-famous art museums. If you have additional time you can even add a day trip to Colmar in France for Christmas Markets. 

Paris, Colmar Christmas Trip

The City of lights is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas. For a festive adventure, take a 6-day trip through Paris and Colmar.

In Paris, indulge in romantic strolls along the Seine River, explore Notre Dame Cathedral, and marvel at the stunning Eiffel Tower. Don’t forget to visit the Christmas markets at La Défense and Notre Dame to get in the holiday spirit.

On day 3, head to Colmar. This city is known as the capital of Alsatian Christmas, with its picturesque streets lined with decorations and wooden stalls full of artisanal gifts. Take a stroll through Little Venice and admire the colorful houses overhanging the canals, or take a cruise along the river for a unique view of the city.

You can also take day trips to Strasbourg and Mulhouse, both known for their beautiful Christmas markets. Enjoy local specialties such as choucroute (sauerkraut) and winter pâté, and explore the impressive cathedrals in these cities.

See German Christmas Markets in 7 days

Experience the best of Germany’s Christmas spirit in 7 days with this festive itinerary. Start your trip in Berlin, where you can find some of Europe’s largest and most famous Christmas markets. Don’t miss a visit to Gendarmenmarkt or Charlottenburg Palace for an unforgettable holiday experience.

On day 3, head to Dresden. This city is known for its traditional Striezelmarkt, which dates back to 1434. Be sure to visit the market and sample some of the traditional treats like stollen (fruit bread) and bratwurst (sausage).

The next 3 days will be spent in Bavaria . In Munich, you can explore the world-renowned Christmas markets and enjoy treats such as roasted chestnuts, gingerbread cookies, and hot mulled wine. Don’t forget to take a tour of the famous Nymphenburg Palace.

On your last day in Germany, head to Nuremberg for the world-famous Christkindlesmarkt. The Nuremberg Christmas Market is one of the oldest in Europe and features over 180 wooden huts selling traditional crafts and gifts. Sample some of the delicious treats like gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds, and lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies), and soak up the festive atmosphere.

This 7-day itinerary is an excellent way to experience German Christmas traditions first-hand. 

FAQ: Christmas Destinations Europe 

Where is the most christmassy place in europe.

Europe is full of magical Christmas destinations, but the most Christmassy place in Europe has to be Nuremberg, Germany. This medieval city is home to one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Europe, with over 180 wooden huts selling festive treats such as gingerbread cookies and roasted almonds. 

The market also hosts various events such as concerts and puppet shows, making it the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit. 

Where is the most magical Christmas town?

Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland, has become synonymous with the magic of Christmas and the enchantment of Santa Claus. Nestled within this region is the town of Rovaniemi, known as “the official hometown of Santa Claus.” 

At the charming Santa Claus Village, you have the incredible opportunity to meet St. Nicholas himself and immerse themselves in a host of delightful winter activities. 

From snowshoeing to cross-country skiing, ice skating rinks, and enchanting reindeer rides, there is something for everyone to embrace the joys of the season. Moreover, the breathtaking landscape adorned with Arctic forests and frozen lakes adds an extra touch of wonder to your Christmas experience.

Which country is known for having one of Europe’s best Christmas markets?

Germany is renowned for having some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. From bustling Munich and Berlin to the traditional markets of Dresden, Germany offers a variety of experiences sure to get you into the holiday mood. 

Nuremberg’s world famous Christmas markets are also worth a visit, where you can sample delectable treats like roasted chestnuts and gingerbread cookies or buy unique Christmas gifts while admiring the stunning architecture of the city.

What is the most visited Christmas market in Europe?

Vienna, Austria hosts the largest Christmas market in Europe, nestled near the city’s historic city hall, known as the Rathausplatz. Every year, this enchanting market attracts approximately 3 million visitors, eager to immerse themselves in the festive spirit and delights it offers.

Christmas in Europe: Travel Tips

When traveling to Europe during Christmas, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Make sure your passport is valid and that you have all the necessary documents for entry into each country. Check visa requirements as well as health insurance policies before departing.

It’s also advisable to book your accommodation and transportation in advance , as prices tend to peak during the winter season (around Christmas and New Year). Make sure you pack appropriately for cold weather and bring enough warm clothes and waterproof shoes or boots. 

Depending on where you’re traveling to, it may be wise to purchase a city pass or travel card as these can save you money.

Finally, always remember to plan ahead and do your research. Knowing what to expect regarding the weather, local customs, and currency can help make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. 

So that’s a wrap! Where are you heading to this winter – to celebrate Christmas in Europe?

Pin: Best places in Europe for Christmas Markets and Traditions

best countries to visit during christmas

Mayuri is the founder & editor of ToSomePlaceNew. An Indian-Canadian globetrotter, she has traveled to over 100 cities and 40+ countries.

Mayuri has a graduate degree in History and is an MBA. She loves traveling the world particularly Europe, capturing historical nuances, and discussing that over a cup of coffee with her husband, Salil. 

She has lived in Portugal, Canada and India.

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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas

Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas

Are you planning a winter getaway? Then Europe is the best continent in the world to celebrate Christmas! I’ve enjoyed a European Christmas for many years and my recommendations span from the historic Christmas markets of Germany to the icy tundra of Scandinavia – you can’t go wrong with any of these Christmas vacation recommendations!

This is the home of the great Christmas market tradition, and in cities like Dresden, Cologne , and Strasbourg , you’ll find some of the biggest and best festive celebrations in Europe. But you can escape the crowds, too, with weekend breaks in lesser visited but equally festive cities like Riga and Krakow. 

Head to Norway , Iceland , or Finland for serious winter vibes, a guaranteed white Christmas, and the Northern Lights. Or travel far south to the Canary Islands , where the sun doesn’t stop shining, even in winter.

With so many amazing places to visit in Europe for Christmas, you might not know where to begin. Check out my list of fun and festive cities and regions a visit, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an exceptional European Christmas experience!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

1. Edinburgh, UK

Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a glorious and wintry affair come Christmas time, and if you can grin and bear the cold weather, then you’re in for a festive getaway like no other because this place offers one of the best Christmas vacations in Europe. 

The Scottish capital is magical at the best of times, but you’ll love seeing the church spires, Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Mile decked out in their festive attire. The light shows and Christmas trees brighten up the dark nights spectacularly, while a wee dram of whisky or a warm pint of ale never tasted so good. 

What Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Edinburgh

There’s much for you to do on a Christmas weekend escape in Edinburgh. There are Christmas markets across the city, including excellent ones at East Princes Street Garden, Grassmarket, and Leith. You might even catch a few hymns inside the Greyfriars Kirk or St. Giles Cathedral. 

If the cold is getting to be too much for you, then you can spend your vacation inside, exploring the National Museum of Scotland , sampling the local tipples at the Scotch Whisky Experience , or touring through the stately rooms of Holyrood Palace. And if you get a few rays of rare sunshine around Christmas, you could even try the hike to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that towers above the city.

Stay on after Christmas, and the fun really begins. The Scots celebrate Hogmanay over the New Year, and Edinburgh hosts epic fireworks displays, concerts, and countdowns to celebrate the end of the old and the start of the new! 

2. Budapest, Hungary

Where to Vacation in Europe for Christmas: Budapest

One of our favorite Christmas towns in Europe is Budapest , where you’ll fall in love with the festive cheer the moment you land. 

Budapest hosts some of the best Christmas markets in Europe , and you can gorge on goulash and sip on palinka from late November until the New Year. Start in downtown Budapest, where you’ll see Deak Ferenc Square, Vorosmarty Square, and St. Stephen’s Basilica decked out in lights and radiating Christmas cheer. 

Impromptu singers and brass bands fill the Hungarian capital’s streets with the sound of hymns and carols, while the scent of a chimney cake doused in cinnamon never smelt sweeter. Once you’ve explored the downtown markets, cross the River Danube and take the funicular to the top of Castle Hill. 

Must Visit Places in Europe for Christmas: Budapest

Take in the splendid view from Fisherman’s Bastion, and then shop for sheepskin shoes and Hungarian decorations at the small market stalls around Buda Castle. If it’s getting a bit chilly, pop into the Great Market Hall back in Pest for some hearty Christmas eating, or visit one of the many museums, like the Hungarian National Museum , the Hungarian National Gallery , or the House of Terror . 

Budapest gets cold in winter, and with temperatures often falling below freezing, you’ll want to wrap up nice and warm. The cold weather, though, is guaranteed to make your trip to one of Budapest’s thermal baths all that more enjoyable. 

Start with the iconic Szechenyi Thermal Baths , where the outdoor pools are very much open no matter the weather, then try the quieter Gellért Baths if you love the thermal bathing experience. 

3. Dresden, Germany

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Dresden

Dresden is one of our top picks for a winter getaway, not least because the German city hosts one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. The Dresden Striezelmarkt was founded as far back as 1434, so they’ve had a long time to perfect their festive celebrations.

Visit Dresden from the end of November through Christmas, and you’ll find the Striezelmarkt in full swing on the Altmarkt, the oldest public square in the city. This is where the original market was possibly held, although back in the early 15th century, it’s thought to have only been a one-day event.

What Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Dresden

The name comes from the selling of striezel at the market, a popular type of stollen cake that you’ll find in abundance today. These days, there are well over 240 different market stalls, and there’s everything from g luhwein to Christmas decorations for sale here. 

4. Prague, Czech Republic

Must Visit Places in Europe for Christmas: Prague

Prague in winter is a wonderful experience, and given the chill weather found in Central Europe this time of the year, you’ll welcome the strange warmth of a busy Christmas market. Prague is even more beautiful now than in summer, as the magnificent castle is spectacularly lit up like a beacon of festive cheer on the skyline. There’s a reason why Prague is considered to be one of the best Christmas towns in Europe!

The sounds of hymns drift through the streets, while the Astronomical Clock never stops chiming, even in the cold chill. Head to Wenceslas Square or Castle Square for Christmas markets, where you can dine on goulash and chimney cakes until you can eat no more. 

What Places Have Shoulder Season in Europe for Christmas: Prague

Spend your evenings warming up in a microbrewery or traditional Czech pub. The darker beers taste better than ever in the cold, while hearty plates of roasted pork knuckles and bowls of garlic soup never go amiss at Christmas time.

5. Reykjavik, Iceland

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Reykjavik

Iceland in winter? Surely that’s madness? It’s certainly brave, but it’s not mad to visit Iceland at Christmastime. In fact, it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe for Christmas because you’ll be in for a serious winter experience.

If you’ve always dreamed of a white Christmas, then Iceland is the place for you. The rooftops will be constantly shrouded in snow, while the landscapes will be cold, icy, and otherworldly. It’s a raw experience, but one you’ll come to love as long as you’re prepared for the cold.

Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Reyjavik

We recommend basing yourself in Reykjavik during winter. The Icelandic capital is easily accessible by air, and even with long, dark nights and short days, the city is abuzz with festivities, lights, and Christmas markets. If the snowstorms hold off, you might even be able to make it out to the waterfalls and geysers of the Golden Circle . 

If not, then you’ll find plenty of warmth in Reykjavik’s thermal baths, where geothermally heated waters are guaranteed to infuse you with heat and energy (try the Blue Lagoon ). Of course, the real reason to visit Reykjavik at Christmas is to see the Northern Lights. This is when the skies are at their darkest, and you’ll have a great chance of seeing the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis above Iceland. 

6. London, UK 

Where to Vacation in Europe for Christmas: London

London is one of the world’s most magnificent cities, and even in the dark depths of winter, the British capital knows how to live well. This is a city that’s never quiet and come rain or snow or frost or sleet, you’ll find central London awash with carol singers and market stalls throughout the Christmas season. 

London has embraced the European Christmas market tradition in recent years, and you’ll find wooden stalls lining the banks of the River Thames. Stop for a mulled wine and listen to an impromptu street concert, then find yourself an old pub for some hearty pub grub and a few pints of English ale. 

What Places Have Shoulder Season in Europe for Christmas: London

You can spend fun evenings in the West End theaters, watching hit musicals and the best of British theater. There are Christmas concerts in music venues and carol services in iconic churches like Westminster and St. Paul’s. 

No visit to London in winter is ever complete without a day at Winter Wonderland. Drawing on the classic German-style markets so popular on the continent, this vast Christmas experience is home to Oktoberfest tents, ice skating rinks, ice bars, and fun fair rides. 

7. Rovaniemi, Finland

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Rovaniemi

There’s no better place to spend a Christmas in Europe than Rovaniemi, a remote Finnish town that’s located on the Arctic Circle. And why would we send you high up into the icy tundra of northern Europe for Christmas? Because Rovaniemi claims to be the hometown of Santa Claus. 

This is the heart of Lapland, and some seriously slick marketing has put this city at the center of the Father Christmas story. You can visit Santa Claus Village , where you’ll find museums, restaurants, and cafes all dedicated to Christmas. You can mail a Christmas card home from the Arctic Circle, and you’re guaranteed to have more snow than you bargained for. 

What Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Rovaniemi

But away from the touristy Santa themes, Rovaniemi is also a fascinating winter destination in its own right. You can learn about the local Sami indigenous culture, visit reindeer farms, and enjoy sleigh rides in the snow. You can explore the tundra on snowshoeing trips or snowmobile adventures, and you can chase the Northern Lights under the dark night sky. 

8. Tromsø, Norway

Best Things to do in Tromso: Tromsø Ice Domes

If you can’t get enough of those winter vibes, then Tromsø offers one of the best Christmas vacations in Europe. Open up a map of Europe, then find Norway. Keep going north, and then further north, until finally, you’re deep in the Arctic. That’s Tromsø, a small city of some 70,000 hardy souls who live an adventurous life on the edge of Norway. 

In winter, Tromsø experiences the Polar Night. The sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for six weeks of the year, and temperatures routinely stay well below freezing. Wrap up warm for this one, but prepare yourself for a winter escape like few others. 

Unique Things to do in Tromso: Tromsø Ice Domes

Start by exploring the city, visiting the likes of the Arctic Cathedral, the Polar Museum, and the Troll Museum. At night (which could be all day), you’ll have a huge chance of seeing the Northern Lights, and even more so if you join a Northern Lights tour into the wilderness. 

You can learn about Sami culture at the nearby reindeer farms, cross-country ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile. Or you can just cozy up in a cafe or bar and enjoy the unique life above the Arctic Circle. 

9. Strasbourg, France

Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Strasbourg

Straddling the great border region between France and Germany, the city of Strasbourg is home to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. In fact, Strasbourg plays host to what could be the oldest Christmas market in France, a tradition heavily influenced by the city’s close ties with neighboring Germany (where the Christmas market tradition is strong indeed!).

The city offers the perfect winter escape, with well over 300 traditional market stalls set up across the vast Christkindelsmarkt. The market dates back to 1570, and you’ll love browsing through the stalls as you listen to carol singers and sip on mulled wine. Strasbourg hosts one of the tallest Christmas trees in Europe, too, while the entire city is beautifully illuminated from November into the New Year. 

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Strasbourg

While you’re in Strasbourg, you can also pop into the European Parliament for a quick tour of the EU’s democratic workings. Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg is a glorious work of Gothic architecture, while the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art offers a glimpse into the city’s creative side. There’s much to do in Strasbourg in the lead-up to Christmas, so why not start planning your getaway to this fairytale medieval city?

10. Vienna, Austria

Must Visit Places in Europe for Christmas: Vienna

Vienna has long been a cultural powerhouse, and come Christmastime, the festive traditions here are strong. The Austrian capital is one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe, and we know you’re going to love the markets, lights, and music that consume the city in late November and all of December. 

The Christmas market tradition in Vienna could date back as far as the 13th century when the city hosted a special December market once a year. Fast-forward over 700 years, and there are as many as 20 different markets variously located around the city. 

Where to Vacation in Europe for Christmas: Vienna

The most iconic Viennese Christmas market is held in front of the City Hall (the Rathausplatz). Loftily named the “Viennese Dream Christmas Market,” this is where you’ll find traditional wooden stalls selling gluhwein , roasted chestnuts, bread dumplings, and potato pancakes. 

Take a tour of the baroque-style Belvedere Palace, where you can delve into Habsburg history before shopping for Christmas souvenirs at the palace’s wonderful Christmas Village. You can visit the market at Schonbrunn Palace, the Christmas Market at Spittelberg is a historic treat, and Art Advent is always a creative affair. 

11. Seville, Spain

What Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Seville

Spain is criminally overlooked during the Christmas season, but the southern European nation has some of the best local festivities you’ll experience.

While Madrid and Barcelona certainly have some excellent Christmas markets to visit, we recommend traveling further south to Seville . Not only does Andalusia have the best December climate (temperatures can reach highs of 16°C, which is positively tropical during a European winter!), but Seville has some of the best Christmas light shows in Spain.

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Seville

Famous landmarks like the Plaza de España and the Archivo de Indias are brightly illuminated throughout the Advent period. The main shopping streets are decked to the rooftops with lights, while impressive nativity scenes fill the public squares. 

The Royal Orchestra of Seville hosts special Christmas concerts, while Christmas parades are a regular occurrence right up until Three Kings Day on January 5. While you’re in the area, you could also pop further south to Malaga, where there are equally impressive Christmas light shows in the Old Town. 

12. Cologne, Germany

What Places Have Shoulder Season in Europe for Christmas: Cologne

Situated on the wide banks of the River Rhine, the German city of Cologne has a history stretching back to the days of the Roman Empire. It’s a fascinating city to explore, and even more so when the streets are lined with Christmas decorations and the church spires shine brightly through the winter nights. 

Cologne is brimming with Christmas cheer from the end of November onwards, as Advent markets fill the squares. You’ll find the most iconic Christmas market beside the towering steeples of Cologne Cathedral (whose twin spires rise to 157 meters), where you can browse through wooden market stalls and listen to carol singers after admiring the view from the top of this 13th-century work of impressive religious architecture (there are 533 steps to the top!). 

Where to Vacation in Europe for Christmas: Cologne

Away from the cathedral, you’ll find many more Christmas markets to peruse during your stay in Cologne. Markt der Engel is a charming market inspired by the theme of Christmas angels, Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market is a Santa Claus-themed market designed for families on Rudolfplatz, and The House Elves’ Winter Fairytale is a magical Christmas experience for all. 

At Christmastime, you can join an Advent-themed cruise along the River Rhine, listen to festive concerts in music halls and churches, and enjoy plenty of g luhwein and glass after glass of Cologne’s famous Kolsch-style beer!

13. Krakow, Poland

What Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Krakow

If you’re looking for a budget Christmas market getaway, then why not book a trip to Krakow ? Poland offers great value for money – especially when compared to the popular markets in neighboring Germany – and you’ll love the festive spirit that sweeps through the nation in the build-up to Christmas.

Krakow might be Poland’s second city, but the city was, for centuries, the royal seat of Polish kings. Until 1596, when the capital was moved to Warsaw, Krakow was Poland’s capital city, and you’ll still feel that regal touch today when you’re wandering around the Old Town. Take a walking tour of the city to learn more about the history (including the destruction wrought by the Germans during World War II) before exploring the magnificent markets in Krakow.

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Krakow

Krakow’s Christmas markets start at the end of November and run until just after Christmas Day. The largest market is located in Main Square, which sits at the heart of the medieval Old Town. You’ll find wooden market stalls surrounded by 13th-century architecture, and you can order a kielbasa sausage and sip on mulled wine as you listen to carols. 

The Main Square also hosts regular live music events throughout the Advent period, with a dedicated stage set up for bands and singers. There’s a highly competitive nativity scene competition, too, while all the major sights of the city – including the National Museum in Krakow, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Wawel Royal Castle – remain open to the public.

14. Riga, Latvia

Must Visit Places in Europe for Christmas: Riga

Riga is home to one of Europe’s most historic old towns. Cobbled streets, lined by old merchant guilds and townhouses dating back to the Middle Ages await you in the Latvian capital, while art nouveau architecture sits alongside communist-era buildings. 

It’s a destination that’s slowly but surely making a name for itself as an alternative European city break destination. There are none of the crowds of France or Germany, but from December onwards, Riga is decked to the spires with Christmas lights and illuminations. 

Where to Vacation in Europe for Christmas: Riga

Given the cold, cold weather of the Baltics, Riga also has that classic wintry feel to it. Visit the castle for fairytale winter vibes, then jump into Riga Central Market (the largest market hall in Europe) to warm up with some pelmeni or potato pancakes (classic Latvian dishes). 

The Old Riga Christmas Market is held from late November until the New Year, while various smaller markets and pop-up events are hosted in different squares and districts throughout the festive season. 

15. Tenerife, Spain

Best Cities to Visit in Europe for Christmas: Tenerife

A European Christmas is typically associated with winter weather. The bright lights are there to brighten up the dark skies, while a white Christmas is quite literally the stuff of wintry dreams. But head to Tenerife , and you’ll see a different side of Europe in winter, not least because temperatures can reach highs of 18°C even toward the end of November. 

Tenerife – and other Canary Islands , like Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura – has the best climate in Europe, and it’s a great place to escape the colder climes of the continent. Being located way out in the Atlantic Ocean, a three-hour flight south of Spain, that should come as no surprise. 

Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas: TEnerife

Despite the warmer weather, Tenerife is very much in festive mode. Christmas lights and trees decorate town plazas, Las Canteras Beach even hosts a unique nativity scene carved from the sand, and musicians ply the streets singing festive songs. Head to Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain, and you’ll even have super-dark skies that are perfect for Christmas stargazing.

There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in Europe for Christmas. What’s your favorite festive destination?

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our favorite travel books!

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Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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best countries to visit during christmas

25 Countries with the Most Public Holidays in the World

I n this article, we will take a look at the 25 countries with the most public holidays in the world. If you want to skip our discussion on the global variation in public holidays, you can go directly to the 5 Countries with the Most Public Holidays in the World .

Public holidays are recognized globally but vary greatly from one country to another due to cultural, religious, and historical influences. India and Colombia are amongst the countries with the highest number of public holidays in the world , each celebrating around 18-20 days annually. On the other hand, countries like Mexico and China are amongst the countries with the least public holidays in the world (7-8 days each year).

While some countries require employers to provide paid time off on specific public holidays, the United States does not. Instead, the US government recognizes 10 federal holidays, leaving it to individual employers to decide whether to grant their employees the day off with pay. This disparity in holiday policies highlights the diversity in work culture and labor laws worldwide.

Public holidays also significantly impact the financial and business sectors. Major stock exchanges such as the NYSE, NASDAQ, and London Stock Exchange typically close on public holidays. This leads to fluctuations in trading volumes and market liquidity before and after these holidays.

Between 2001 and 2022, the S&P 500's performance during the Thanksgiving season has been inconsistent, with positive returns occurring only half of the time. Throughout this period, the S&P 500 experienced gains of over 1 % on just three Black Fridays: in 2001, 2007, and 2012. Conversely, it declined by as much as 1.7% in 2009.

Thanksgiving holds significance for the food industry, while Black Friday stands out as a major day for retailers. The stock markets in the US remain closed on Thanksgiving and operate with shortened hours on Black Friday. Research suggests that markets typically witness heightened trading activity and increased returns on the day preceding a holiday or a long weekend, a phenomenon commonly referred to as the holiday or weekend effect.

Public holidays can be particularly advantageous for certain sectors, such as retail, hospitality, and tourism, as they often witness significant profits during these periods. This is because individuals tend to travel, dine out, and shop more on holidays. The Christmas season, for instance, often sees an increase in retail spending.

Recent data from the National Retail Federation ( NRF ) indicates that, on average, Americans spend approximately $997.73 each Christmas. That equates to roughly the median pre-tax weekly salary of $1,001. In other words, on average, Americans devote about one week's worth of their salary annually to purchasing Christmas gifts.

Moreover, holidays also help improve long-term productivity by preventing burnout and boosting employee morale. Employees working in offices that extend closures beyond federal holidays are notably more inclined to report higher productivity during their time in the office. Specifically, 42 % of employees in offices with extended closures report increased productivity, compared to only 17% in offices that remain open outside of federal holidays.

Considering these aspects, companies also give high priority to providing enough holidays and comprehensive leave policies. For instance, corporations like Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL ), Salesforce Inc. (NYSE: CRM ), and Roku (NASDAQ: ROKU ) have attractive paid time off (PTO) policies, resulting in a happier workforce.

At Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL), employees enjoy eleven specified paid holidays, which include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Presidents Day, Juneteenth, Labor Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving (two days). Furthermore, Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) provides a range of leave options, such as maternity, personal, paid parental, and bereavement, as part of its diverse leave policies.

Meanwhile, Salesforce Inc. (NYSE:CRM) implements a flexible paid time off policy, essentially offering employees unlimited vacation time. Similarly, for salaried employees, Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) doesn't monitor vacations or have set holidays. Employees can take as much vacation as they feel they need as long as they complete their work and don't disrupt others' tasks or deadlines. Just a quick check-in and notice before taking time off is all that's required.

Here’s what O’keefe Stevens Advisory said about Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) in its Q1 2024 investor letter:

“Roku, Inc.  (NASDAQ:ROKU) – An idea that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years back when low P/E or low multiple meant the stock was cheap. Roku is free-cash-flow positive, EBITDA breakeven, and GAAP Net Income unprofitable. Historically, investors tend to shy away from unprofitable businesses. Deeming them too risky. Roku has a $2B net cash position and is reinvesting in the business, grabbing Connected TV market share. Geographic expansion takes time and capital. They have a dominant share and have many tailwinds. Walmart’s acquisition of Vizio adds to the already heightened uncertainty. We can’t remember seeing a company with such “negative” sell-side coverage. 9 buys, 10 holds, and 4 sells. Nearly all reports discuss weighting for clarity, which is why the opportunity exists. Wells Fargo has the lowest price target at $45, or 26% downside. We see a reasonable case for a $100 stock in the near term and long term, owning a compounder with an attractive business model, secular tailwinds, and dominant market share that can translate into a desirable return over the next several years.”

Our Methodology

To create the list of the 25 countries with the highest number of public holidays worldwide, we referred to multiple sources, including official government sites, Business Day , Time and Date , Wise , and Social Talent , amongst others. These countries are ranked in ascending order based on their total public holidays for the most recent calendar year. It's important to note that the count of public holidays can vary annually due to variations in the calendar. Furthermore, countries may occasionally introduce one-time holidays for specific cultural or religious events. Additionally, some countries delegate the final decisions regarding public holidays to local governments. For countries with the same number of public holiday, we did the tie-breaking based on their scores on Global Life-Work Balance Index of 2023. For countries missing on their index, we checked up work-life balance situation for them on other sources.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years  ( see the details here ) . Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

Total Public Holidays = 14

Turkey observes approximately 14 public holidays. Key national holidays include New Year's Day, Labor and Solidarity Day, and the Commemoration of Atatürk. Turkey also observes Islamic holidays, such as Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha, based on the lunar calendar.

24. South Korea

South Korea celebrates various public holidays, including Chuseok, a three-day harvest festival similar to Thanksgiving. Other important holidays include the Lunar New Year called Seollal, which involves family reunions and ancestral rites, and Children's Day, a celebration of the young with various family events.

23. Trinidad and Tobago

Total Public Holidays = 15

Trinidad and Tobago observe a mix of cultural and religious holidays. Carnival Monday and Tuesday stand out, with street parades and calypso music. Independence Day marks the nation's liberation from colonial rule, and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is also widely celebrated.

22. Lithuania

Lithuania commemorates its history and culture with 15 public holidays like Statehood Day, honoring the first king’s coronation, and Restoration of Independence Day. Traditional festivities include Užgavėnės, a pre-Lenten festival celebrating the retreat of winter.

21. Slovakia

Slovakia celebrates Constitution Day to mark the adoption of its constitution, alongside St. Cyril & Methodius Day, which honors the Christian missionaries who brought Christianity to the region. Other holidays include All Saints’ Day, a day of remembrance for deceased loved ones.

20. Kazakhstan

Total Public Holidays = 16

Kazakhstan celebrates its Independence Day with great pride. Unity Day fosters harmony among Kazakhstan's diverse ethnic groups, and Nauryz, the Persian New Year, is a spring festival that includes concerts, street food, and traditional games.

19. Indonesia

18. pakistan.

Japan’s 16 holidays include Golden Week, a series of four national holidays within one week, creating a long vacation period for citizens. The Emperor’s Birthday is a day of national pride and celebration, while Children’s Day features carp-shaped kites symbolizing strength and success.

16. Thailand

Sweden’s public holidays include Midsummer, celebrated with maypoles and dancing, symbolizing the joy of summer. Meanwhile, the National Day commemorates the election of King Gustav Vasa in 1523, marking the beginning of modern Sweden. Christmas and Easter are also celebrated in the country.

14. Philippines

13. colombia.

Total Public Holidays = 18

Colombia celebrates many different holidays like Independence Day with parades and festivities and Holy Week with processions and religious ceremonies, particularly in historical cities like Popayán.

12. Lebanon

Total Public Holidays = 19

Lebanon celebrates both religious and national holidays, like Independence Day, marking freedom from French rule, and Eid Al-Fitr, ending the fasting month of Ramadan. Other significant days include Armenian Christmas and the Annunciation, reflecting the nation's religious and ethnic diversity.

11. Argentina

10. liechtenstein.

Total Public Holidays = 20

Liechtenstein celebrates National Day on August 15th, coinciding with the Feast of the Assumption. This holiday includes a speech by the Prince, a fair, and fireworks. Moreover, St. Berchtold's Day involves communal meals and traditional music, highlighting communal bonds. Liechtenstein is one of the countries with the most public holidays in Europe.

9. Cambodia

Total Public Holidays = 21

Cambodia observes the Khmer New Year, one of the most important holidays, with house cleanings, games, and ceremonial offerings. Another significant holiday is the Pchum Ben, which involves offerings to ancestors at temples, reflecting the deep cultural respect for family lineage. Cambodia is among the top 10 countries with the most public holidays in the world.

8. Malaysia

India’s multiple holidays include Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi, the festival of colors. Meanwhile, Republic Day marks the adoption of its constitution with grand parades, and Independence Day is celebrated with flag-hoisting ceremonies across the country.

6. Bangladesh

Total Public Holidays = 22

Bangladesh celebrates its Independence Day with parades and cultural programs. The Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh, starts with colorful processions and fairs. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are also major religious holidays marked by prayers and communal feasts.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries with the Most Public Holidays in the World .

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25 Countries with the Most Public Holidays in the World

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  • 35 Exotic Places To Visit In December In India 2024 To Enjoy A Surreal Vacation

23 Mar 2023

Winter is around the corner and it’s about time we pack up our bags and move out to experience the chill.  December is the month when pleasant amalgamates with chill and creates a new fetus known as Whoopee! These exciting places in India in December can turn your regular trip into a new discovery that you’ve been longing for since long. We have got the best places to visit in December in India  to make winters an epic affair. These beautiful locations are known for various reasons and one cannot leave the chance to explore the best views and indulge into exciting activities all at  once. 

35 Places To Visit In December In India In 2024

Here is the list of places that you should definitely visit in India in December so that you enjoy your winter vacation. Take a look:

1. Thajiwas Glacier, Jammu & Kashmir

Sonamarg covered in snow during winters

Image Source

Witness the beginning of snowfall in kashmir in December as you go about the glacial sighting in this winter wonderland. The weather at the meadow of gold, Sonamarg, drops down to subzero levels during this month, making it one of the best places to visit in December in India for couples.

Visit the undiscovered Thajiwas glacier, located just 7 kilometers. Sledge rides, snowboarding, and skiing are the best things to do in December here. Sport a red Santa Claus coat and hop onto a sledge singing ‘jingle bells’ with breathtaking hills on the backdrop at one of the best places to visit in December in India.

Cost of sledge cart with shoes : INR 150 to INR 300 Cheapest stay : Hotel Tourist Palace Tariff : INR 3,400 per night Famous Food: Rogan Josh, Dum Aloo, Yakhni What To Buy: Shawls, handicrafts, cardigans, carpets and other woolens, stone carved jewelry, embroidered bags Where To Buy From: National Highway 1D, Sonmarg Market How To Reach: After reaching Sonmarg from Srinagar by road, one can trek all the way up to the glacier or hire a pony to reach up the top.

Must Read: 30 Unbelievably Beautiful Places To Visit In Kashmir

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2. Dawki, Shillong

Crystal clear water of Dawki river

The place becomes heavenly in December with a pleasant temperature ranging from 12 to 20 degrees. Shillong is the only hill station in the country which is accessible from all sides. The water of Unmgot River in Dwaki is so clear that a boat floating on it, seems like it’s flying in mid-air. Shillong definitely needs to be added to your list of top tourist places in India for winter. You can also, relish the sweet and juicy oranges at the border town near the river.

Cheapest stay : Hotel Broadway Tariff : INR 30,000 per night Famous Food: Khao Suey, Thukpa, Jadoh, Jhur Kleh, Makham Bitchi What To Buy: Oranges How To Reach: The nearest airport to Dawki lies in Guwahati which is located at approximately 200 kilometers of distance. One can cover the distance in between either via private cabs or hiring the helicopter services.

3. Manali, Himachal Pradesh

a snowladen mountain in Manali

Image Source Tall deodar trees, towering mountains, curvy roads, and heavy snowfall, Manali is one of the best places to go in December in India . A paradise for newlyweds and snow lovers, this hill station is also a great place for adventure sports in Manali like paragliding, ice skating, rappelling, and rock climbing. One can also do Lamadugh Meadows, Solang Valley, and the Koshla-Tree line trek, making it one of the best adventure tourist places in India in December.

Ideal Duration: 3 Nights/4 Days Places to visit In Manali : Old Manali, Chandrakhani Pass, Hadimba Temple, Rohtang Pass Things to Do In Manali : Waterfalls: Listen To The Music, Adventure Sports: Indulge In Exciting Activities, Arjun Gufa: Meditate And Relax, Beas Kund: Trek To The Top Cheapest stay: Holiday Heights Manali Tariff: INR 3,500 per night Famous Food: Red rice, river trout, masala omelet, Sidu, Babru, Patande What To Buy: Prayer wheels, Kullu cap, Tibetan handicrafts, woolen clothing, shawls, thangkas Where To Buy From: Old Manali market, Himachal Emporium, Tibetan Market, Manu market, The Mall Road How To Reach: The nearest airport lies 50 kilometers from Manali in Bhuntar that is well-connected with Delhi, Chandigarh, and Shimla. The nearest railway station lies in Pathankot which is 285 kilometers from Manali. One can hire private cabs or take public buses from both the places till Manali.

Suggested Read: 35 Things To Do In Jodhpur

4. Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

Snow-capped Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh

The picturesque town of Dalhousie is one of the best places to visit in India during December. But what makes it one of the best places to visit in December in India? With its snowflake covered Deodar forests, the view is absolutely quintessential! This gorgeous winter destination becomes a ramp opened to the chilly breeze with a view of snow-capped mountains. Additionally, all the trekking enthusiasts must visit Dalhousie in December to attend the National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 Days Places to visit In Dalhousie : Khajjiar, Peak, Kalatop Wildlife Reserve, St. Francis Catholic Church Things to Do In Dalhousie : Panch Pulla – Experience The Magic Of Whispering Woods, Khajjiar – Go Paragliding, Chamera Lake – Go Boating, Satdhara Falls – Take A Dip, Dainkund Peak – Go For A Scenic Hike Cost: INR 6,300  Duration: 6 days and 5 nights Famous Food: Madra, LuchiPoti, Sidu, Dham, Aktori What To Buy: Copper and silver diyas, Tibetan carpets, Kullu shawls, bags, handicrafts, souvenirs Where To Buy From: Gandhi Chowk, Tibetan Market, Himachal Handloom and Crafts Centre How To Reach: The nearest airport to Dalhousie is Gaggal airport which is around 13 kilometers from the destination and the nearest railway station is in Pathankot which is 80 kilometers from Dalhousie. One can take private cabs, local buses, or luxury coaches to travel from airport, railway station, or other destinations to Dalhousie.

5. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 

How could we miss out on the most beautiful place to visit in December, the Queen of Hill Stations—Shimla! Let’s go for a colonial walk in the most romantic getaway in India. Walk through the snow floors with long boots and visit the Chail town. You will encounter immense peace beyond the crowd of Shimla. This is one of the magical places to visit during Christmas in India .

Click the perfect selfie with your loved one at the best  honeymoon destinations in India in December . Take a joyride at the Winter Sports Festival in Shimla—enjoy the natural ice-skiing and hanging balloons to enjoy the pleasant Shimla weather in December.

Ideal Duration: 3 Nights/4 Days Places to visit In Shimla : Summer Hills, Indian Institute Of Advanced Studies, Annandale, Jakhoo Hill Things to Do In Shimla : Toy Train Ride: Passing Through The Green Hills, Ice skating: Asia’s Only Open-Air Ice Skating Rink, Jakhu Temple: Trek To The Top, Camping: Stay Amidst The Woods Cost of ice skiing : INR 100 per person Cheapest stay : Alpine Heritage Residency Tariff : INR 2,500 per night Famous Food: Madra, Dhaam, Sidu, Thukpa, Babru, Chha Gosht, Mash Daal, Chicken Anardana What To Buy: Handicrafts, woolen materials, wood items, handmade paper, wooden tables, handicrafts, jewelry, antiques Where To Buy From:  The Mall Road, Himachal Emporium, Tibetan Market, Lower Bazaar, Lakkar Bazaar How To Reach: Shimla is home to the Jubbarhatti Airport which is approximately 20 kilometers from the city and well-connected with main cities such as New Delhi and Chandigarh. The nearest railway station is the Kalka station which is located around 96 kilometers away from the city. One can hire a private cab or take a local bus that runs regularly from the airport, station, and other cities of the country in order to reach Shimla.

Suggested Read: 18 Secret Places In Himachal

6. Auli, Uttarakhand

Snow floors in Uttarakhand for perfect ice-skiing

The snow-clad peaks of the Neelkant, Mana Parbat, and Nanda Devi give an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the hills which will make your toes freeze, especially at the time of Christmas. Want to learn skiing at one of the best skiing places to visit in December? Well, then you’ve to add Auli to your list of places to explore in December.

It is the time when you can start learning this thrilling adventure sport. And if you think skiing is your thing, you must attend the National Championship of Skiing held in February at Auli.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 Days Places to visit In Auli : Gurso Bugyal, Trishul Peak, Chenab Lake, Nandaprayag Things to Do In Auli : Skiing, Auli Gorson Trek, Camping, Cable Car Ride When : Skiing could be done from December to March and Championship is being held in February Month Cost of skiing : INR 500 for two hours; hire an instructor in INR 1,000  Cheapest stay : Maya Deep Herbal Resort Tariff : INR 1,600 per night Famous Food: Dal, leafy vegetables, rice, bal mithai What To Buy: Souvenirs, handwoven shawls, woolen caps, blankets, gifts Where To Buy From:  Lower Market How To Reach: After reaching Rishikesh via bus from Delhi, one can either opt for a shared taxi or hire a private cab till Joshimath. From Joshimath, one can either continue their journey by road in a cab or go for a more fun option i.e. the cable car that runs from Joshimath to Auli and offers impeccable views. The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant airport of Dehradun.

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Bhavya Gives An Extensive Account Of His Jaisalmer Trip With Friends

Desert safari, haunted Kuldhara village, & Gadisar Lake. There's more...

best countries to visit during christmas

Ashish Tells Why Kashmir Turned Out To Be A Winter Wonderland For His Family

For Gondolas, Shikaras, and plenty of snow!

best countries to visit during christmas

Arunav Can't Stop Praising His Adventurous Trip To Sikkim & Darjeeling With Friends

For adventure in Air, on Land, and in Water!

best countries to visit during christmas

Avneet Describes Her Trip To Spiti With A Group Of Strangers That Became Friends

Sightseeing. Monasteries. Trekking. And beauty all along

7. Chopta, Uttarakhand

a huge snowclad mountain in Chopta

One of the best places to visit in India during winter , Chopta offers a panoramic view of snow laden Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Chaukhamba. One can feel the freshness and romance in the air of Chopta. It isn’t just a destination to watch mesmerizing snowfall, but also a great trekking destination for adventure lovers.

Ideal Duration: 1 Day Places to visit In Chopta : Tungnath, Deoria Tal, Rohini Bugyal, Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Things to Do In Chopta : The Tungnath Trek, Baniyakund, The Chandrashila Trek, Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary Cheapest stay: Shivansh Cafe and Resto Tariff: INR 1000 Famous Food: Chicken curry, rice, kadhi How To Reach: Chopta has a well-connected road network that allows buses, taxis, and private cars to access this hill station very easily. The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport and the nearest railway station is in Haridwar. One can easily hire a public transport from both the airport and the railway station.

Suggested Read: 15 Places To Visit In Himachal Pradesh In December

8. Binsar, Uttarakhand

a snow covered mountain visible through floating mist

Binsar is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular places to visit in winter in India. In the lap of statuesque and breathtakingly beautiful peaks of Nanda Devi, Pachachuli, and Trishul, lies the sleepy hill town. Binsar is mainly known for the serene and dense forests of the Binsar wildlife sanctuary . One can admire the panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks like Kedarnath and Nanda Devi from Zero Point in Binsar.

Ideal Duration: 1 Nights/2 Days Places to visit In Binsar : Zero Point, Kasar Devi Temple, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Chitai Golu Devta Temple Things to Do In Binsar : Trekking, Paragliding, Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing, Forest Walk, Skiing Cheapest stay: Idyllic Haven Homestay Tariff: INR 1,500 per night Famous Food: Madve ki roti, Bhaang ki khatai, Kaudh ke daal, Kumaoni roti, Aloo ke gutke, Palak ka kapa What To Buy: Souvenirs, wooden products, sweaters, Rhododendron squash, local honey, handmade soap Where To Buy From: Binsar nature gift shop, Finest Himalaya, Jagnath gift center How To Reach: Binsar is well connected to the major cities of the ocuntry by road. The nearest airport to Binsar is located around 152 kilometers from Binsar in Pantnagar and the nearest railway station is approximately 120 kilometers in Kathgodam.

9. Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand

beautiful views of snow mountains in Mukteshwar

2,285 mt above sea level, Mukteshwar is among the most spectacular winter places in India . The marvelous views of imposing Himalayan peaks and the dense forests of the hill station fascinate young couples and nature lovers. The snow-clad slopes and the green meadows covered under thick but soft snow make Mukteshwar one of the most romantic destinations to visit in India during winter.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Things to Do In Mukteshwar : Trekking, Paragliding, Sunrise Above Nanda Devi Peak, Sitla Cheapest stay: Mukteshwar Himalayan Resort Tariff: INR 2,500 per night Famous Places To Eat: Rosefinch Cafe, Alankar Restaurant, Chirping Tales Cafe. Nirvana Organic Kitchen, The Birdcage What To Buy: Jams, Chutneys, handcrafted toys and woolen garments, herbal products and oil, herbal tea Where To Buy From: Kilmora Shop in Sargakhet village, Mukteshwar 263138, India How To Reach: Buses and taxis to Mukteshwar are easily available from Nainital, Almora, and Haldwani. The nearest airport to Mukteshwar is 94 kilometers away in Pantnagar which is well-connected with Delhi and the nearest railway station is Kathgodam Railway Station that is around 62 kilometers from Mukteshwar.

Suggested Read: 27 Best Honeymoon Places In India In February

10. Leh, Ladakh

Chadar Trek in Ladakh is called the frozen ice trek which one must include in the itinerary of places to visit in December in India

Image Source The crystal blue ice and the hills on the backdrop will flabbergast you. The only frozen ice trek in India is incredible! The extreme adventures of the Chadar trek couples with -14 degrees Celsius temperature. There are other amazing treks besides Chadar namely—Sham trek, Liker to Khaltse trek, and Samboo to Khalsar.

Ideal Duration: 5 Nights/6 Days Places to visit In Leh : Zanskar Valley, Pangong Tso Lake, Magnetic Hill, Shanti Stupa, Royal Leh Palace, Stakna Monastery Cheapest stay : Dorje Guest House Tariff : INR 1,500 per night Famous Food: Ladhaki pulao, tigmo, thupka, khambir, phirni, skew, momos What To Buy: Handicrafts, silver and stone jewelry, pashmina shawls and wooles, rugs, carpets. Apricot jam Where To Buy From: Main Bazaar, Tibetan Handicraft Emporium, Tibetan Handicraft Community Showroom How To Reach: The easiest and fastest way to reach Leh Ladakh is via air mode of transport. The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh. If traveling by train, one can take a rail till Tawi. Both railway station and airport have buses and taxies readily available. One also has an option of catching a bus from Srinagar and Manali to travel to Ladakh by road.

11. Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Jhelum in Srinagar is among the most beautiful places to visit in India in December

Image Source Do you remember that song from the movie Mission Kashmir -‘Socho ke jheelon ka ek shehar ho’ in Shikara featuring Preity Zinta and Hrithik Roshan? Well, then you can actually reshoot the same scene with your love at this romantic hideaway in India. The best part, temperature in December just touches the freezing point, making it one of the best places to visit in December in India for honeymoon.

Explore Gulmarg tourist places and go skiing on the fresh snow. Gulmarg is one of the best places to visit in December. It is just 56 kilometers from Srinagar and is considered as one of the best places to visit in December in India for couples.

Ideal Duration: 4 Nights/5 Days Places to visit In Srinagar : Nigeen Lake, Aru Valley, Mughal Gardens, Dachigam National Park, Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden Things to Do In Srinagar : Seek Blessings At Shankaracharya Temple, Shop Like A Local, Marvel At The Hazratbal Mosque, Stay In A Gorgeous Houseboat Cheapest stay : Asian Park Hotel Tariff : INR 2,000 per night Famous Food: Rogan Gosh, Modur Pulav, Matschgand, Yakhni, Dum Olav, Kashmiri Muji Gaad, Aab Gosht, Goshtaba What To Buy: Spices, Kashmiri tea, Pashmina shawls, walnut wood items, copperware, paper mache artifacts, carpets Where To Buy From: Zaina Kadal Road Market, Lal Chowk, Badshah Chowk, Residency Road How To Reach: Home to an international airport namely Sheikh ul Alam, Srinagar is easily accessible by airways. This airport is located only 15 kilometers from the main city and one can find taxis and buses covering the distance between the two. For those traveling by railways, nearest railway station is the Jammu Tawi or the Udhampur Railway Station. Apart from this, Sringara also has a well-connected road network that links with all the major cities of the country.

Suggested Read: 47 Places To Visit In Winter In India

12. Nagoa Beach, Diu

The virgin Beaches of Diu

Image Source The virgin beaches of Diu are so breathtaking in December that you’ve to see it to believe it. The temperature ranges 16 degree to 23 degree Celsius. Bonfire on the pristine beaches create wonders as Diu is out of the ordinary honeymoon destinations in India in December. The uncharted union territory of India has a unique festival which ,starting in December, can accompany you in your exciting trip.

Diu is one of the cheapest places to visit in India in December , so get your bags packing!

Cheapest stay : Diu Vision Guest House Tariff : INR 1,500 per night Famous Food: Jetty Rolls, lobsters, saltwater fishes, crabs, multi-cuisine food items What To Buy: Ivory carvings, pearl jewelry, souvenirs, shells, brass artifacts, bangles, terracotta pen stands, bamboo baskets, cashewnuts Where To Buy From: The Town Square Bazaar, The Maharaja Super Market, The Princess Park, beach markets How To Reach: Diu is easily accessible from the major parts of the country by rail, air, and road. The Diu Airport connects this destination to other cities via airways while the railway station in Veraval is the nearest to Diu for those who are traveling by train. Diu also possess an amazing road network that links this union territory with other major cities of the country. From buses and taxis to private cabs, one can opt for either of these options to travel by road.

13. Small Vagator, Goa

Sunburn in one of the best place to places to visit in India in December

Image Source Goa is amongst the most popular places to visit in December in India. The casinos in Goa become wilder during this month which is why the place got its name as the ‘Las Vegas of India’. The fireworks and the trance music with sand tickling your toes is best feeling you can have during new years!

The list does not end here—loudest EDM party, feast of St.Francis Xavier, and Sunburn Music Festival come complimentary. The place has exactly everything to offer what you expect for a kickass Christmas and New Year.

Cheapest stay : Lambana Stay Tariff : INR 2,700 per night Famous Food: Chicken Xacuti, Goan Squid Fry, Goan Fish Curry, Bebinca, Pork Vindaloo, Fonna Kadi, Chicken Cafreal What To Buy: Cashewnuts, spices, handicrafts, wooden furniture, painted tiles, feni Where To Buy From: Anjuna Flea Market, Mapusa Market, Panjim Market, Calangute Market Square, Mackie’s Night Bazaar How To Reach: Goa is home to a wide network of airways, railways, and roadways that connects well with major cities of the country. Goa is home to Dabolim Airport and Margao railway station, each with facilities of taxis and local buses that makes commuting to the main city much easier.

Suggested Read: Enjoy A Great New Year In Goa On A Budget

14. Mylapore, Chennai

The beautiful beach of Chennai

Chennai is hotter in other months, but it is one of the most popular places to visit in December in India. Sip coconut water, stroll along the longest beach of India & feel the pleasant breeze through your hair. And coconut water isn’t the only beverage to quench your thirst here, Pondicherry, just 2 hours from Chennai, offers cheap booze! Spend some bugs for the love of music while traveling to Chennai. Madras Music Festival and 89th Annual Conferences and Concerts  is one of the best places to visit in December in India with the baby.

Cheapest stay : R.M.C Travelers Inn Tariff : INR 1,500 per night Famous Food: Idli and Sambhar, Uttapam, Dosai, Ponganalu, Vada, Milagaai Bhajji What To Buy: Crockery, Costume, Jewelry, Silk Saris, Kanchipuram saris, souvenirs Where To Buy From: Chingari, Sakyaa, Rasi Silks, Trishla Planet, Mylapore Tank, Sukra Silver, Giri Trading, Palam Silks How To Reach: After reaching Chennai, one can use any mode of local road transport such as buses and taxis in order to reach Mylapore. Mylapore is linked well with the major cities, Chennai airport, and railway station.

15. Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

beautiful sunset at Radhanagar beach in Havelock

One of the most popular holiday destinations in India in December is Havelock Island of Andaman, where lies the gorgeous Radhanagar Beach . Situated about 12 km from Havelock’s ferry pier, it is titled as “Asia’s best beach” and “the world’s 7th best beach” by Time Magazine. The stunning curve of white sand, the beautiful palm trees, and the blue waters can be all yours this December. It is the best place to visit in December with family .

Cheapest stay: Greenland Resort Tariff: INR 1,000 per night Famous Food: Vegetable, rice, naan, fish curry, chicken curry What To Buy: Pearls, spices, timber crafts, shells, jute items, coconut handicrafts, Nicobari mats Where To Buy From: Radhanagar Beach market, No. 2 Village Street Market, Market No. 3 Street Market How To Reach: The best and easiest way to travel to Radhanagar Beach is through a jetty. One can hire a jetty from Swaraj Dweep dock that drops one at the Swaraj Deep Island which is around 10 kilometers away. Once on the island, one needs to take a cab,an auto, or a rickshaw to reach the beach.

Suggested Read: 20 Places To Visit In Kerala In December

16. Kovalam Beach, Kerala

lighthouse on the beach of Kovalam

The beautiful waters of Kovalam Beach are great for swimming and trying adventure sports. About 16 km away from Kovalam, the beach is ideal for sunbathing and watching beautiful sunsets. The chilly month of December is an ideal time to visit the splendid beaches and enjoy the warm water of the Arabian Sea. It is one of the best places to visit in December in South India for the views and the food!

Places to visit In Kovalam : Lighthouse Beach, Hawah Beach, Vellayani Lake, Kovalam Art Gallery Things to Do In Kovalam : Take a sightseeing tour – An excursion to discover the town, Spend a night in the houseboat – An experience worth every bit, Give adventure sports a shot – Try that one water sport you’ve always wanted to Cheapest stay: Hotel Sea View Palace Tariff: INR 1,500 per night Famous Food: Idli, Dosa, Vadai, Uttapam, crabs, prawns, lobsters What To Buy: Handicrafts, spices, sarongs, lungis, books, seashell jewelry Where To Buy From:  Beachside Shacks, Lighthouse Beach How To Reach: The nearest airport to Kovalam lies 15 kilometers away and is named Trivandrum International Airport that is well connected with the major cities of the country and other parts of the world while the nearest railway station is Trivandrum Central railway station. One can take a bus or taxi in order to reach the beach from the airport or the railway station or from other cities of the country for those who wish to travel to the beach by road.

17. Rann Of Kutch, Gujarat

Rann of Kutch in Gujarat which is the only salt desert in India

December is the best time to explore the white desert to see the salt turn blue under the moonlit sky. A stay at a tent in the outskirts of Dhordo village is an enchanting experience. Kutch becomes alive during December with loads of celebrations—The Kutch Festival.

The only festival which extends for two long months is held in this salty land. If you are thinking of the places to visit in December in India you can plan for a vacation to experience the Rann Utsav for an everlasting experience. Gujarat, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the warmest places to visit in December in India . But to be fair, the sunshine is bearable during the day.

Places to visit In Kutch : Kalo Dungar, Kandla Port, Kutch Museum, Dholavira, Bhadreshwar Jain Temple Rann Utsav date : 1st November to 20th February Tickets : Book your tickets for Rann Utsav here Cheapest stay : V.R.P Guest House Tariff : INR 1,100 per night Famous Food: Typical Gujarati Thali that includes roti, dal, kadhi, curd, rice, and other vegetable curries What To Buy: Embroidery work, hand block printing, wood carving, mudwall painting, silver work, pen knives, ironbell Where To Buy From: Rann Utsav , Art Villages like Bhujodi, Dhamkada, Nirona, Bhachau How To Reach: Once in Gujarat via airways or railways, one can either take a bus or hire a private cab in order to reach Kutchh from Dhordo.

Suggested Read: 101 Places To Visit In India Before You Turn 30

18. Wayanad, Kerala

lush green mountains of Wayanad, one of the scenic places to visit in December in India

Are you searching for some December vacation destinations in South India? This green paradise rests amidst the gorgeous mountains of the Western Ghats. The history, culture, forests, food, and people, everything about Wayanad is incredibly awesome. There are plenty of trekking routes and bird watching spots that attract tourists from all over India.

Wayanad is truly heaven waiting to be discovered by nature and adventure lovers, making it one of the most gorgeous places to visit in December in India.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Places to visit In Wayanad : Chembra Peak, Meenmutty Waterfalls, Kuruva Dweep Islands, Phantom Rock Things to Do In Wayanad : Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Banasura Sagar Dam, Edakkal Caves, Ziplining Cheapest stay: Wayanad Wind Resorts Tariff: INR 2,500 per night Famous Food: Kilikoodu, Malabar Biryani, Chemmeen Unda Puttu, Puttu, and Beaf Fry, Sadya, Chatti Pathiri, Mutta Mala, Pazham Nirachathu What To Buy: Spices, coffee, tea, bamboo articles, native craft, herbal plants Where To Buy From: Market Road, Easwaran Nanmboodiri, The Focus Mall How To Reach: The nearest airport to Wayanad is the Calicut International Airport that is located around 65 kilometers while the nearest railway station is in Kozhikode. One can easily hire a cab or take the local bus to reach Wayanad from the airport or the railway station.

19. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

prayer flags near Tawang gate which is covered by snow

Image Source One of the most gorgeous and difficult-to-reach December vacation destinations, Tawang is a paradise for explorers and adventure enthusiasts. This place offers magnificent views of the snow-covered Himalayas, ancient monasteries, and valleys wrapped by colorful prayer flags. The beauty of Gudpi and Chong-Chugmi ranges, Tawang chu River and Tawang valley.

Those who want to experience the fun of celebrating Torgya festival can visit Tawang in October and in February for the Losar Tibetan new year festival . It is one of the best places to visit in North East India in December .

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Places to visit In Tawang : Sela Pass, Thingbu Hot Spring, Gorsam Chorten, Shonga-Tser Lake, Pankang Teng Tso Lake Things to Do In Tawang : Taktsang Gompa, Gorichen Peak, Sela Pass – Traverse Through This Beauty, Madhuri Lake – Take A Stroll Around Cheapest stay: Sambala Hotel Tariff: INR 1,000 Famous Food: Zan, Khura, Gyapa-khaz, Thukpa, Puta, Bresi, Momos, TsizinKyola, Khazi What To Buy: Handicrafts, woolen carpets, shawls, shoes, handmade sheets, Thangka painting, bamboo utensils Where To Buy From: New Market, Old Market, Nehru Market How To Reach: The nearest airport to Tawang is located around 387 kilometers in Tezpur and the nearest railway station is Rangapara Railway Station at a distance of 383 kilometers. One can travel through road and from airport or railway station to Tawang by hiring a cab or taking a coach.

Suggested Read: 14 Invigorating Picnic Spots Near Jaipur 

20. Udaipur, Rajasthan

Sunset at Lake Pichola in Udaipur, one of the preferred places to visit in December in India

Image Source This city of lakes with its magnificent gifts—Lake Palace, Fateh Sagar Lake, Monsoon Palace and Jag Mandir is amongst the perfect places for a December vacation. The best part of Udaipur is that it is located at the base of Aravali hills. The temperature of Venice of the east in December is cold because of the surrounding hills but the lakes nullifies the extreme effects. So, what you get as a result is fabulous.

And all you art lovers, plan your trip around Shilpgram Arts and Crafts Festival to explore some endemic traditional crafts. You could learn crafting skills from the famous artisans too.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 Days Places to visit In Udaipur : Haldighati, Dhebar Lake, Nakki Lake, Hawa Mahal Cheapest stay : Anand Mahal Hotel Tariff : INR 5,000 per night Famous Food: Mini Mirchi Bada, Dall Baati Churma, Dabeli, Kachoris, Mewari egg What To Buy: Silk sarees, jackets, cushion covers, jewelry, turbans, wall hangings, diaries Where To Buy From: Hathi Pol Bazaar, Bada Bazaar, Chetak Circle, Bapu Bazaar, Shilpgram How To Reach: Udaipur houses a domestic airport and railway station which connects well with the major cities of the country well. One can also travel to Udaipur by road via a private cab, personal vehicle, or local bus that runs regularly from major cities to Udaipur such as Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, and more.

21. Guwahati, Assam

For A Pleasant Holiday

Guwahati, located on the banks of Brahmaputra River, serves as a gateway to Northeast India. Crammed with tourist hotspots, recreational centres, malls, places of religious significance, and other attractions, a tour of Guwahati has a lot to offer. Being a place which is rich in biodiversity and blessed with an abundance of flora and fauna, it is a great travel destination for all nature lovers.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Places to visit In Guwahati : Umananda Island, Dighali Pukhuri Lake, Nehru Park, Ferry Ghat Things to Do In Guwahati : Sualkuchi, Shrimanta Shankardeva Kalakshetra, Assam State Museum, Saraighat Bridge Cheapest stay : Hotel Aarian Aatithya Tariff : INR 7,679 per night Famous Food: Momos, Jhal Muri, Luchi, Assam Tea, Thukpa, Chowmein, Khaar, Silkworms, Masor Tenga, Payash What To Buy: Bamboo decorations, mekhla chadar, silk sarees, tribal arts, Assamese silk Where To Buy From: Fancy Bazaar Market, Paan Bazaar Market, Paltan Bazaar Market, GS Road Market, Ganesh Gudi Market How To Reach: Guwahati is home to an international airport named Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and a railway station which connects well with the major landmarks by road. One can also take buses or private cabs from the neighboring cities such as Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal, and Nagaland.

Suggested Read: 8 Fascinating Cities To Visit For India Walking Tours

22. Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya

Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya is among the places to visit in December in India

Located in the heart of Meghalaya, the enchanting Cherrapunji was once titled the ‘wettest place on Earth’ by the Guinness Book of World Records. This beautiful location boasts of deep valleys, foaming rivers, mystical clouds and rainfall heavy enough to be measured in feet. Untouched by urbanism, Cherrapunjee houses an array of bewitching sights and natural attractions rare to find anywhere else.

Cheapest stay : Jiva Resort Tariff : INR 3,000 per night Famous Food: Pork momos, Jadoh, Sohra Pulao What To Buy: Orange flower honey, exotic spices, tea, bamboo handicrafts, scottish clothing, handmade soaps Where To Buy From: Police Bazaar, Sohra Market, Iew Sohra How To Reach: Once in Shillong via airways or railways, one can take a local taxi, private cab, or the local luxury coaches that cover the distance between Shillong and Guwahati.

23. Kaziranga, Assam

A group of tourist taking up a jeep safari in Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is the place where man and nature meets together, where wildlife roams fearlessly, and where the nature unwinds its pristine form in millions of hues. Take a ride on an elephant, and go deep inside the wilderness of the park to enjoy the lush-green view, especially during the morning. Or, you may also hop on a jeep safari and enjoy a cruise ride in a boat on the Brahmaputra river.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Cheapest stay : Prayag Emerald Tariff : INR 2,000 per night How To Reach: There are a total of two airports located near the Kaziranga National Park- Guwahati International Airport which is at a distance of 217 kilometers and Jorhat Airport whch is at a distance of 97 kilometers. The nearest railway station to the National Park is Furkating sitting at a distace of 75 kilometers. Once in Assam, travelers can take a bus or cab or taxi from the to cover the distance between the two.

Suggested Read: 9 Best Destinations In India For Hot Air Balloon Ride

24. Neil Island, Andaman

Adventurous Snorkelling In Andaman

Neil Island is one of the tiny islands of India that carries the secrets of Andaman Islands , in the Bay of Bengal. With coral reefs and breathtaking views, it is a must-visit for travelers. Neil Island has a peaceful ambiance with the perfect essence of nature. One can chill or take long walks on the magnificent beach of this Island. Neil is really small and thus, doesn’t take much of a traveler’s time to explore it fully.

Cheapest stay : Kalpani Beach Resort Tariff : INR 1,630 per night Famous Food: Samosas, dal pakoras, jalebis How To Reach: Neil Island can be easily reached via airways and waterways. One can take an early morning boat from Port Blair to Neil Island or cruises from major cities such as Chennai and Kolkata to reach the island directly.

25. Kohima, Nagaland

Pink rhododendron in Dzukou Valley in Kohima

Perched atop a high ridge, Kohima is the capital of the northeastern state of Nagaland that shares its borders with Myanmar (formerly Burma). Kohima tour packages beckon ardent tourists to delight in its hilly beauty. Kohima is amongst the three Nagaland towns with Municipal council status along with Dimapur and Mokokchung. This picturesque town is the home of the brave and daring, yet simple and innocent Naga tribes. It is also one of the best offbeat places to visit in December in India.

Ideal Duration: 1 Night/2 Days Cheapest stay : The Heritage Hotel Tariff : INR 1,815 per night Famous Food: Bamboo shoots, Axone, meat dishes What To Buy: Metal work, woodcraft, baskets, jewelry, beadwork, traditional attire, souvenirs Where To Buy From: Naga Bazaar, Central Market, Mao Market, Tibetan Market How To Reach: The nearest airport to Kohima is the Dimapur Airport which is situated 74 kilometers away. There is no railway station connectivity in Kohima. By road, one can easily hire a taxi, take local buses, or take a private vehicle to reach Kohima.

Suggested Read: 49 Beautiful Places To Visit In North India

26. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer is one of the top places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Honzasoukup for Wikipedia

If you are wondering where to go in December in India, Jaisalmer is the answer to your question. This is one of the major tourist spots located in Rajasthan which offers a wide range of things to explore. Also called the ‘golden city’, the city is surrounded by the golden dunes and the castles which are made of golden sandstone. Alongside that the city is also famous for its beautiful architecture in the forms of temples and Havelis which reflects the rich heritage. The main highlight of the city is the Jaisalmer fort which is surrounded by narrow alleys.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 Days Places To Visit In Jaisalmer : Jaisalmer Fort, Gadisar Lake, Patwon Ki Haveli Things To Do In Jaisalmer : Shopping, sightseeing Cheapest Stay: Shahi Palace Hotel Tariff: INR 550 per night Famous Food: Pyaz ki kachori, Gatte ki sabzi, Daal Baati Choorma What To Buy: Camel leather products, Jaisalmer fossil stone, Mirror work embroidery How To Reach:  The nearest airport is the Jodhpur airport from where one has to take a taxi. The city is also well connected with many states by road. Alongside this, some of the famous trains which connect to the city are Jaisalmer express and Jodhpur Jaisalmer Express.

27. Alleppey, Kerala

Sail through the backwaters of Alleppey, one of the best places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Ram Mohan Thangasamy for Wikipedia

Often called the Venice of the East, Alleppey is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kerala which is bordered by the Laccadive Sea. Known for its majestic palm-fringed canals called the backwaters and the rejuvenating Ayurvedic resorts, this place is truly a paradise. Alleppey is also known for its beautiful houseboats which gives a tour of the backwaters, making it one of the best tourist places in India in December.

Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/1 Day Places To Visit In Alleppey : Alappuzha Beach, Marari Beach, Pathiramanal Island Things To Do In Alleppey : Sightseeing Cheapest Stay: Mariya Homestay Tariff: INR 550 Famous Food: Puttu and Kadala, Shappu Meen Curry, Semiya Payasam What To Buy: Coir Items, Spices How To Reach:  The nearest airport from Alleppey is Cochin International Airport, and it has its own railhead. It can be visited by road as well.

Suggested Read: 23 Interesting Places To Visit In Udupi

28. Ranthambore, Rajasthan

Ranthambore is one of the best places to visit in December in India for wildlife enthusiasts

Image Credit: Whoisagoodgirl for Wikipedia

Considered to be one of the best tiger reserves of the country, the Ranthambore National Park is known for its rich flora and fauna. Surrounded by the Vindhya and Aravali Hills, the tiger reserve houses friendly tigers that can be easily sighted. Alongside that Ranthambore is also famous for its fort which makes the trip worthwhile. This place makes an ideal escape for wildlife photographers and nature lovers. All of this and more makes Ranthambore one of the well-known places to visit in December in North India.

Ideal Duration: 2 Days Places To Visit In Ranthambore : Ranthambore Fort, Padam Talab, Jogi Mahal Things To Do In Ranthambore : Sightseeing, Wildlife Safari Cheapest Stay: Saini Guest House Tariff: INR 999 Famous Food: North Indian Cuisine What To Buy: NA How To Reach:  To reach Ranthambore one can travel from Jaipur Airport which is the nearest. One can also reach by bus/taxi. The nearest railway station is the Sawai Madhopur railhead.

29. Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Mehrangarh in Jodhpur is one of the top places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Kronnied for Wikipedia

Also called the Blue City, Jodhpur is one of the magnificent cities to visit in Rajasthan. The main highlight of the city is the Mehrangarh Fort and the blue houses which appear to be just exotic for the eyes. Alongside that, there are many temples, lakes, and shopping places that look like a mirage from the bygone era. All of this and more make Jodhpur one of the best places to visit in India in December.

Ideal Duration: 2 Days Places To Visit In Jodhpur : Mehrangarh fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada Things To Do In Jodhpur : Sightseeing, Shopping Cheapest Stay: Govind Hotel Tariff: INR 670 Famous Food: Pyaz ki kachori, Gatte ki sabzi, Daal Baati Choorma What To Buy: Handicrafts, Bandhani How To Reach:  The city has its own domestic airport and there is a Jodhpur railhead that connects to major cities.

Suggested Read: 22 Most Beautiful Waterfalls In India

30. Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna

Image Credit: Happyshopper for Wikipedia

Known for its pristine beaches and breathtaking landscapes, Gokarna is actually a Hindu pilgrimage town located in Karnataka, a place to visit in December in India. Located at the Karwar coast, Gokarna is an ideal place for beach lovers and hippies. The place is also known for its out-of-town beaches like the Kudle and Om beach. Holding a wide contrast, surrounded by the palm-fringed trees the place is visited by mainly foreigners and very less of Indian crowd can be seen.

Ideal Duration: 2 Days Places To Visit In Gokarna : Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple, Om Beach, Kudle Beach Things To Do In Gokarna : Sightseeing Cheapest Stay: Hotel Gokarna International Tariff: INR 918 Famous Food: Seafood like Pomfret and Kingfish, South Indian cuisine What To Buy: Brass lamps, Organics, and herbal products, Kallu Sarkkare, How To Reach:  The nearest airport is the Dabolim airport in Goa which is 140 km away. The nearest railhead in Ankola which is 20 km away

31. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

Pondicherry is one of the best places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Deepak TL for Wikipedia

Often called Pondy locally, this is one of the seven Union Territories of India which was also the former French colony. Holding a perfect blend of traditional Indian and French architecture, the place is also known for its beautiful streets lined up with French Quarter, mustard-yellow colonial structure, and also huge walls covered with bougainvillea. Alongside that, there are some beautiful cafes and boutiques which give a glimpse of the French culture. Hence, Pondicherry is considered a best place to visit in India in December.

Ideal Duration: 2-3 Days Places To Visit In Pondicherry : Sri Aurobindo Ashram, The Sacred Heart Basilica, Puducherry Museum Things To Do In Pondicherry : Sightseeing Cheapest Stay: Nomad House Tariff: INR 930 Famous Food: Baguettes, Croissants, Idly, Sambar What To Buy: Leather products, Textiles, Aromatherapy products, French antique furniture How To Reach:  The nearest airport is Chennai International airport which is 135 km away.

Suggested Read: 10 Safe Places In India To Travel

32. Thrissur, Kerala

Resorts Near Thrissur

Image Credit: Shijan Kaakkara for Wikipedia

Often called the cultural capital of Kerala, Thrissur is famous for its classic Keralian performing arts, beautiful religious sites and also the well-known Thrissur Pooram Festival and Onam festival. The name Thrissur is the concise form of Thiru-Shiva-Per-Ur which means a city of three temples. It was also once the capital of the Kingdom of Kochi.

Ideal Duration: 3-4 Days Places To Visit In Thrissur : Sri Vadakkunathan Temple, Sakthan Thampuran Palace, Thrissur Zoo And Museum Things To Do In Thrissur : Sightseeing Cheapest Stay: City Lodge Tariff: INR 400 Famous Food: Puttu, Vellayappam, Meen Porichathu What To Buy: Handicrafts, Kerala Crafts, Brass Artefacts, Gold Ornaments How To Reach:  The nearest airport from Thrissur is Cochin International Airport, and the nearest railheads are Kollam, Shertallai

33. Nainital, Uttarakhand

Nainital

Image Credit: Nickk Bisht for Wikipedia

Also called the gem of Uttarakhand, Nainital is known as one of the most beautiful hill stations in Uttarakhand which is situated at the foothills of Kumaon ranges. Situated at a height of 1938 metres, Nainital is famous for the Naini lake which is one of the famous attractions there. Alongside that, it is considered to be one of the best places to visit in December in India . Founded by the Britishers, the hill station looks similar to the Cumbrian Lake District.

Ideal Duration: 2 Days Places To Visit In Nainital : Naini Lake, Tiffin Top, GB Pant High Altitude Zoo Things To Do In Nainital : Sightseeing, Shopping, Boating Cheapest Stay: Vista Hotels And Stay Tariff: INR 820 Famous Food: Bhatt ki Churkhani, Aloo ke Gutke, Arsa, Gulgula, Arsa What To Buy: Pine cone decorations, Aroma Candles, Knick Knacks, Woollens, Fruit Products How To Reach:  The Kathgodam railway station is the nearest railhead from Nainital which connects to major cities. The nearest airport is Pantnagar which is located 70 km away from the hill station.

Suggested Read: 20 Remote Places In India

34. Sikkim, India

Sikkim is one of the scenic places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Madhumita Das for Wikipedia

Located in the north-eastern region of India, Sikkim is one of the surreal places to visit in India. Surrounded by the dramatic scenery, this place is known for panoramic views and snow-covered mountains. The state is one of the must-visit places for the adventure junkies who love to indulge in enthralling activities. Alongside that, it is also a home to Kanchenjunga which is also the third-highest peak in the world. It is definitely one of the top places to visit in India in December.

Ideal Duration: 5 Days Places To Visit In Sikkim : Pelling, Ravangla, Lachung Things To Do In Sikkim : Sightseeing, Trekking, Shopping Cheapest Stay: Magellan’s Hotel Tashi Thendup Tariff: INR 950 Famous Food: Gundruk Soup, Thukpa, Momos, Sael Roti What To Buy: Canvas wall hangings, Thangkas, Woolen Carpets, Choosees How To Reach:  To reach Sikkim, one has to take a flight to Bagdogra Airport in Gangtok and continue the remaining journey by road. The nearest railheads from Sikkim are Jalpaiguri and Siliguri.

35. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi is one of the religious places to visit in December in India

Image Credit: Ken Wieland for Wikipedia

Known as the world’s oldest living city, Varanasi is called the city of gods and holds strong importance among the Hindus. One of the best Resting by the banks of Ganges, the streets are very narrow and one can spot cows at very nearby distances. Besides this, there are various temples to explore and experience the culture of the country.

Ideal Duration: 2 Days Places To Visit In Varanasi : Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Dashwamedha Ghat, Dhamekh Stupa Things To Do In Varanasi : Sightseeing, Shopping Cheapest Stay: Alka Hotel Tariff: INR 595 Famous Food: Kachori Sabzi, Chena Dahi Vada, Choora Matar, Malaiyyo What To Buy: Banarasi Silk Sarees, Gulabi Minakari, Glass Beads, Rudraksha Mala How To Reach:  The two main railheads of the city are Varanasi railway junction and Kashi railway junction which connects with major cities. The city also has its own airport named the Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport.

Further Read: 12 Honeymoon Places In December In India

Packed your bags already? Quit stalling, book your trip to India and take your friends along on this thrilling vacation. The places to visit in India in December are chock full of friendly people, a rich cultural and historical background, and local experiences that you won’t forget in this lifetime. 

For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer, please click  here . 

Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In December In India

Which are some of the must-visit places in India in December?

When exploring different places in India, you’ll come across several tourist locations where you can unwind yourself and relax. Some of them are mentioned in the list below: 1. Kasol, Himachal Pradesh 2. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 3. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 4. Gokarna, Karnataka 5. Hampi, Karnataka 6. Wayanad, Kerala

Where is Christmas celebrated in India?

The festival of Christmas is celebrated wholeheartedly in India, especially in places like Shillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram), and Kohima (Nagaland). You can even have a great time celebrating Christmas in the different regions of cities in South India like Bangalore and Chennai.

What are the places to visit in December in India with family?

Manali, Dalhousie, Shimla, Srinagar, Mylapore, Andaman, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Sikkim, Kochi, Munnar, and Ooty are some of the most popular places to visit in December in India with family.

Can we visit Delhi in December?

Yes, you can visit Delhi in December as it is one of the preferred cities to plan a trip to enjoy the winter season. Make sure to carry your woollen clothes that will keep you warm in chilly weather.

What are the places to visit in December in India with friends?

Goa, Kovalam Beach, Andaman, Tawang, Mukteshwar, Leh, Rishikesh, Auli, Ladakh, Spiti, Binsar, Nainital, Chopta, Pondicherry, Kasol, Narkanda, Tirthan Valley, Sikkim, McLeodganj, and Rann of Kutch are some of the coolest destinations where you can go with your pals.

What are the places to visit in December in India for solo travellers?

Some of the most gorgeous destinations to visit solo in India in December are Kasol, Manali, Sangla, Gulmarg, Leh, Rishikesh, Auli, Spiti, Ladakh, Gangtok, Tawang, Shillong, Tirthan Valley, Jaisalmer, Goa, Kutch, Pondicherry, Alleppy, Agra, Coorg, and Munnar.

Is Manali open in December?

Yes, Manali is open for tourists in December. However, Rohtang Pass remains closed in December due to heavy snowfall.

What are the places to visit in December in India for a honeymoon?

Andaman, Shillong, Coorg, Munnar, Manali, Shimla, Wayanad, Sikkim, Shillong, Udaipur, Ooty, Darjeeling, Agra, Lakshadweep, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer are some of the most romantic winter honeymoon destinations in India.

Where is the nearest snowfall from Delhi in December?

Some of the places to visit near Delhi for snowfall are Auli, Shimla, Manali, Mussoorie, Kufri, and Kantal.

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Garden tours, plants sales and more ways to spend time among flowers

Visit Maine's botanical gardens or get a sneak peek of what your neighbors are growing in their back yards.

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One of the loveliest ways to ease yourself fully out of the post-winter blahs and into springtime is to quit being a wallflower and instead surround yourself with living, blooming plants.

From botanical gardens to plant sales and garden tours, it’s time to make like the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” and while away the hours, conferring with flowers.

best countries to visit during christmas

The waterfall at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. Photo by Tory Paxson, Courtesy of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

TOTALLY BOTANICAL

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay is open for the season, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maine Days are May 31 to June 2, when anyone with a Maine driver’s license or state ID gets in for free. Ditto for dads/father figures on Father’s Day (June 16). Advance registration is required. With more than 300 acres of gardens and natural spaces, including a waterfall, there will be plenty to see, smell and bask in the scenery.

Here are more things to do in Boothbay

best countries to visit during christmas

A tour group walks on the boardwalk at Viles Arboretum in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Viles Arboretum is a botanical garden in Augusta with 6 miles of trails and more than 20 botanical collections. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. There are 224 acres with all sorts of flora and fauna to discover. Leashed dogs are welcome, and the visitor center is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Viles Arboretum offers medicinal plant walks, and although the May 18 session is full, you can still register for the June 15 and Sept. 14 events, lead by herbalist, homeopath and flower essence practitioner Debra Bluth. Tickets are $25. Advertisement

The Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve has four areas to explore on its property in Northeast Harbor: the Asticou Azelea Garden (dawn to dusk daily), the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden (noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday from July 9 to Sept. 8, reservations required), Thuya Garden (dawn to dusk daily, June 15 to Oct. 14) and Little Long Pond Natural Lands (hiking trails and carriage roads open dawn to dusk daily). On June 26, at the Wildflowers of Little Long Pond event, participants can wander around the garden’s fields and forest, spotting wildflowers along the way while practicing how to identify them.

best countries to visit during christmas

Joyce Saltman, right, and Beth Anisbeck embrace a tree for 60 seconds during a tree hugging event sponsored by Portland Parks and Recreation, at Deering Oaks Park last year. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

TOURS AND MORE

2nd Annual Tree Hugging 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Deering Oaks Park, Portland. portlandmaine.gov The tree hugging is a family-friendly community gathering to celebrate Portland’s many trees. Park ranger Liz Collado will lead a sensory awakening and forest bathing session. Along with tree hugging, there will be a storytime, and you can touch a forestry truck and meet naturalist Noah Querido and Portland city arborist Mark Reiland. Just down the road, you’ll find Fessenden Park, on the corner of Brighton and Deering Avenues. The tulips have arrived, and it’s worth a visit to see them.

McLaughlin Garden Lilac Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 24. McLaughlin Garden and Homestead, 97 Main St., South Paris, $5. mclaughlingardens.org You’ll find more than 125 varieties of lilacs at the McLaughlin Garden Lilac Festival. Explore on your own or take a guided tour led by a horticulturist. There will also be family-friendly activities, and you can shop for native and unusual plants.

4th annual Woodfords Community Garden Tour 1-4 p.m. June 8. Woodfords Corner Community in Back Cove, Deering Highlands, Oakdale and Deering Center, $20 suggested donation. woodfordscorner.org Presented by Friends of Woodfords Corner, this self-guided tour features at least 10 gardens. As you make your way down the list, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by all of the hidden havens bursting with flowers, plants and impressive yardscaping elements.

Peony Society of Maine 23rd annual Garden Tour 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 8 and 15. Both tours start at 1348 Ohio St., Bangor, $5 donation. peonysocietyofmaine.net You’ll visit multiple gardens in Bangor, Winterport, Ripley and St. Albans, and your senses will be filled with countless peonies. A peony plant will be raffled off at the end of each tour. Advertisement

Hidden Gardens of Historic Bath 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 22. Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., 880 Washington St., Bath, $40. sagadahocpreservation.org The Hidden Gardens of Historic Bath house and garden tour features several homes in North Bath. Every stop on the tour will be a treat for your senses and may motivate you to make some of your own magic when you get back home.

Garden Conservancy Open Garden Days 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 29. Beckett Castle Rose Garden, Singles Road, Cape Elizabeth, $10. gardenconservancy.org You’ll see plenty of roses as well as ocean views at Beckett Castle, which sits right on the water, with views of five lighthouses. The castle was built in 1871, and its rose garden features more than 70 varieties of heirloom roses. A 50-foot stone tower doubles as the rose arbor entrance to the castle.

PICK A PLANT SALE

Tate House Museum’s Annual Plant and Herb Sale 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18. Tate House Museum, 1267 Westbrook St., Portland, 207-774-6177.  tatehouse.org The wide selection includes perennials divided from the museum’s 18th century reproduction garden. Visitors can also make their own “seed bombs” and get a sneak peak at a new installation by artist Ashley Page from 10 a.m. to noon.

Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland Spring Plant S ale 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. May 18, Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, 217 Landing Road, Westbrook, 207-854-9771.  arlgp.org   Perennials, house plants and more will be on sale, and plants that don’t have specific pricing are “name your own fee.” Anyone interested in donating plants or pots to the sale should send a message to [email protected] .

Taking Root Plant Sale 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 1, Tom Settlemire Community Garden, Maurice Drive, Brunswick, 207-729-7694.  btlt.org This annual sale is organized by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Proceeds benefit the Common Good Garden, which provides food and gardening education for the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Master gardeners will be on hand to help shoppers choose their best options.

Scarborough Land Trust Native Plant Sale and Spring Festival 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 1, Broadturn Farm, 388 Broadturn Road, Scarborough, 207-289-1199.  scarboroughlandtrust.org Visitors will find native plants, food vendors, local artisans, guided nature walks and activities for kids. To preorder plants, visit the Scarborough Land Trust website.

Maine Audubon Society Native Plants Sale and Festival 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 8, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, 207-781-2330.  maineaudubon.org More than 75 species of native wildflowers, shrubs and tree seedlings will be available, along with workshops, info tables and experts.

Staff writer Megan Gray contributed to this report.

Related Headlines

Headed to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens? Here’s what else to check out in Boothbay

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IMAGES

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    Himalayan Trekking, Nepal. Why: Sometimes, in order to escape Christmas, you need to escape the world entirely. Even in Kathmandu, a colourful clash of Hindu temples and Buddhist prayer flags, Christmas Day is a recognised holiday - with Santa hats, decorated trees and glittering lights to match.

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    It's not a shock that this city in Pampanga is hailed as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. Although it doesn't attract as many foreign tourists as other parts of the country, San Fernando is certainly one of the must-visit Christmas destinations in Asia. 7. Taipei - Taiwan.

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  26. 35 Best Places To Visit In December In India 2024 (With FAQs!)

    Image Source Tall deodar trees, towering mountains, curvy roads, and heavy snowfall, Manali is one of the best places to go in December in India.A paradise for newlyweds and snow lovers, this hill station is also a great place for adventure sports in Manali like paragliding, ice skating, rappelling, and rock climbing. One can also do Lamadugh Meadows, Solang Valley, and the Koshla-Tree line ...

  27. Garden tours, plants sales and more ways to spend time among flowers

    To preorder plants, visit the Scarborough Land Trust website. Maine Audubon Society Native Plants Sale and Festival 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 8, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, 20 Gilsland Farm Road ...