‘Tis the season of enchantment, and it has a knack for transforming places across the globe. Cities adorn themselves with dazzling decorations, streets buzz with local customs, and squares host lively festive markets.
Yet, some places are ideal Christmas getaways for a different reason: you might not even realize it’s Christmas there. Who hasn’t yearned to escape to the sun and hibernate until the holiday chaos subsides? If so, and if your salary allows it, or if you have won the jackpot with Lottoland, these Christmas holiday destinations are for you.
Note that we didn’t only focus on places with unique traditions or a festive vibe. This list includes destinations that even Scrooge would approve of. Explore our festive travel guide below, and you’ll discover a wonderful spot to celebrate the season.
1. New York City
Embracing the romantic allure of ice skating at Rockefeller and the dazzling festive spectacles on Broadway, the Big Apple earns its Christmas reputation. New York City is a timeless holiday destination, offering a unique blend of department stores, markets, and bazaars, making it a shopping haven like no other.
Certainly, every downtown sparkles with lights and fills the air with the aroma of mulled wine in December, but Edinburgh stands out. East Princes Street Gardens shines annually with various market stalls, festive treats, carnival rides, and numerous whisky booths for a cozy Christmas drink. If you’re staying for New Year’s, the city’s Hogmanay festivities are a globally acclaimed way to welcome 2024.
Rovaniemi is renowned for its Christmas charm, being the capital of Lapland and the official residence of Santa Claus. Beyond Santa, the city offers more delights. After enjoying Santa Claus Village and reindeer rides, immerse yourself in a festive sauna—a cherished Finnish Christmas custom—to unwind and embrace the holiday spirit.
In December, the Czech Republic’s capital transforms into a magical winter scene that’s truly unbelievable. The city’s medieval buildings are adorned with sparkling lights, and its Christmas markets rank among the finest globally. Even better, several of Prague’s key sites, such as Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge, are free to explore, making sightseeing budget-friendly. It’s worth noting that Prague is a sought-after winter spot during Christmas, so it’s wise to secure your tickets in advance and be prepared for bustling crowds of festive visitors.
The Maldives is the perfect choice for an ideal Christmas escape with fantastic weather, lavish places to stay, and stunning views. When you’re not snorkelling with colourful fish or relaxing on pristine beaches, treat yourself to a spa session in an overwater bungalow. As Christmas approaches, numerous Maldivian resorts organize Santa meet-and-greets (sometimes he arrives on water skis), Christmas markets, delightful feasts, and more to bring holiday cheer. Many provide all-inclusive holiday packages, ensuring you make the most of your getaway without breaking the bank.
Recognized as one of the top spots globally to witness the northern lights, this Norwegian city doesn’t catch a glimpse of the sun in December. But don’t fret – Tromsø’s dazzling Christmas lights, festive vibe, and vibrant skies set the stage for an enchanting Christmas getaway. Explore the renowned Christmas tree at Stortorget, discover Sami culture on a reindeer sledding excursion, catch city views from the Fjellheisen cable car, or enjoy the warmth of a charming café. For a truly unique experience, spend the night at the Tromsø Ice Domes. Reconstructed each fall, this attraction boasts an ice hotel, cinema, bar, and restaurant for an extraordinary stay entirely crafted from ice.
Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or someone searching for tranquillity, Aspen is an ideal destination for celebrating Christmas. This mountain town in Colorado caters to skiers with its extensive network of nearly 100 runs and a renowned après-ski scene. Aspen also boasts several high-end resorts offering snug fireplaces and luxurious spas for unwinding. To add a touch of festive joy, head to downtown Aspen for the 12 Days of Aspen, a nearly two-week event featuring free Santa meet-and-greets, ballet shows, carolling, cookie decorating, and more.
The festive atmosphere in Rome becomes even more enchanting during the holiday season. Marvel at the beautiful Christmas trees in Piazza Venezia, near the Colosseum, and in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the world’s oldest permanent nativity scene at the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major. Afterward, indulge in holiday shopping for treats, decorations, and gifts at the bustling Christmas market in Piazza Navona. Make sure to include the Pope’s Christmas message and blessing outside St. Peter’s Basilica in your plans. Remember that several businesses and attractions may be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Experience a traditional Christmas getaway by heading to Salzburg, Austria. In December, the locals embrace tradition by donning horned masks, pelts, and bells, reenacting the folklore of Krampus, who would frighten naughty children. The Old Town becomes lively with this festive spectacle. Additionally, indulge in the holiday spirit at the annual Christmas market, where you can find charming ornaments, toys, and delightful treats like mulled wine and marzipan. Don’t miss a day trip to Oberndorf if you appreciate Christmas carols; it’s where the timeless song “Silent Night” was first performed.
10. Honolulu – Oahu
December marks the beginning of Oahu’s busiest tourist season, but the island’s festive Christmas events, pleasant climate, and fantastic whale watching make it an ideal time to explore. Choose Honolulu as your home base for convenient access to Chinatown’s festive window displays. Make sure to catch the month-long Honolulu City Lights event at Honolulu Hale, offering a range of activities, including a tree-lighting ceremony and a lively parade. To secure your accommodation, booking your hotel room several months ahead is advisable due to high demand.