20 Best Places to travel in Christmas time

by author David Jones

To many, the holidays may not seem like the greatest time to travel the globe, especially when it’s supposed to be a time of get-togethers and merrymaking. But with places all over the world celebrating Christmas in their own ways, it’s actually a great opportunity to see how different cultures enjoy the end of the year. If you want to celebrate the holidays a little differently this year, then stick around for (in no particular order) 20 destinations we believe are perfect to visit during Christmas.

1. Prague, the Czech Republic

Prague is a beautiful city year-round, but the architecture and design of the Czech Republic’s capital fits with the yuletide season all too well. The local celebrations add to the beauty of Prague, and are worth seeing in person.

If you travel a little early, you’ll get to see the locals celebrate Mikuláš, more commonly known as St. Patricks day. During the celebration on the fifth of December, children dress up in both angel and devil costumes. Don’t worry if you aren’t there early enough, though – the city’s famous Christmas market runs all holiday long, enough time for you to pick the perfect souvenir.


2. New York

New York pulls out all the stops during the holidays. The City that Never Sleeps will keep your eyes open at the many attractions they set up every year for residents and tourists alike. A great place to visit during December would be the Rockefeller Center, home of the city’s most famous Christmas tree. The tree is lit up during the fourth of the month, and performances by popular artists will lead up to the awaited lighting. It’s definitely the best time to visit the tree.

Another great location to check out during December would be Central Park. The city’s world-famous recreational site is transformed into a beautiful ice-skating rink, which is perfect for both romantic dates or family fun. New York becomes an entirely different city during the holidays, in all the right ways.


3. Finland

Finland’s snowy terrain perfectly suits the Christmas spirit, with some of its attractions taking it further. Tourist destinations that fit the yuletide season perfectly are the reindeer farms found throughout the country. These animals, known as the ones who drag around Santa’s sleigh,  are definitely cuter than all the stuffed toys they’re based on. They also have ski resorts, saunas, and even trips on icebreaker ships as possible activities for tourists, so you’ll never get bored there.


4. Berlin, Germany

Quite a few of the places mentioned in this list are known for their extravagant Christmas light displays, and Berlin’s no exception. Everywhere from outdoor areas to inside public malls are lined with decorations galore, and captivate throughout the season. The city’s museums such as Museum Island and theaters like the Babylon theater provide a more cultural experience during the holidays, which are enjoyable in their own way as well.


5. Switzerland

The alpine landscape is a feast for both the eyes and the soul, and that could be just what you need during the holidays. Explore the Swiss alps either on foot or by dog sledding, perfect for canine lovers out there. Christmas is also never complete without sweets, and you can enjoy plenty of that with the country’s world-famous chocolate. You can even visit Cailler Chocolate Factory, where they produce and offer samples of their own chocolates.


6. Tromsø, Norway

If there’s one place that should convince you to travel during the holidays, it’s got to be Tromsø, Norway. Tromsø doesn’t make this list because of the great slopes that line the town’s horizon (though it definitely could have with just that). What makes Tromsø so special is that it’s widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights. This spectacle can be seen year-round, and although it’s impossible to predict when these arouras actually appear, getting to see one during Christmas would make for the experience of a lifetime. So if you want to test your luck (while also enjoying the beauties of Norway’s landscape), Tromsø’s the place to be.


7. Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland offers a lot to tourists who wish to visit. One of their main attractions during the yuletide season is their annual Santa Claus Fun Run, where, you guessed it, everyone participating wears an outfit of our beloved Santa. Another feature that’s open to the public is the 24 Doors of Advent, an event running from the 1st to 24th of December. During the 3-week event, a location in Edinburgh opens to the public and following through till the end will let you learn of the hidden wonders the city has to offer.


8. London, England

Christmas in London involves a lot more merrymaking than you’d expect. The city is bustling with activities, and that lets people enjoy the holidays in many ways.

For the kids and kids at heart, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a must-see. The event features circus performances and skating rinks, and even some delicious wine for the adults. If you’re looking for some interesting competition, the Peter Pan Cup hosts a 100-yard swim down city’s freezing waters. And for those who love nature, London’s parks offer a white Christmas in the truest sense of the word, with everything covered in a blanket of snow and ice.


9. Paris, France

The City of Lights is usually associated with Valentine’s and February, but December in Paris is beautiful as well, adding a romantic touch to the yuletide season.

Like every other city, Paris lights up its evenings with beautiful Christmas lights. Evening strolls are perfect this time of the year and coupled with the ice skating rinks set up around the city, it makes for the perfect Christmas date with a loved one. If you’re traveling with kids, though, Disneyland Paris’ enchanted Christmas will provide fun for both young and old alike.


10. Tokyo, Japan

 While Christmas dates its origins back to the western world, Asia embraces the festivity as much as anywhere else, and Japan is definitely no exception. The country’s embraced the tradition, and Tokyo’s numerous attractions are a testament to that.

Be sure to check out the Christmas light displays scattered all across the city. They’re not just your typical hang-me-up decorations – elaborate displays of colors light up the evening, and are a popular sight to see among tourists at this time. Then there’s the annual fireworks display held at Odaiba every week, which adds some Japanese tradition to the holidays. Finally, end the night with some good old karaoke in one of the many Karaoke bars in the city, and you’re sure to have a great time.


11. Cologne Germany

If Berlin isn’t enough to satisfy your wanderlust, head over to Cologne and enjoy the mixture of old and modern architecture all in one place. They’re most famous during the holidays for their Christmas markets, but the city is full of sights to see. From the beautiful Cologne Cathedral to the modern designs of Museum Ludwig and Peek & Cloppenburg, Cologne offers tourists a visual experience like no other.


12. Maldives

To some, the cold of winter isn’t the best thing in the world, despite its ties to the holidays. Not to worry, though, as there are many places around the globe you can celebrate the joys of Christmas without worrying about feeling chilly.  One such place is the Maldives, known for its pristine beaches and warm sands.

For those who prefer an urban experience, head over to Male Island and visit their main attractions, such as the Grand Friday Mosque and the National Museum. If you’d rather enjoy the relaxing breeze, though, then book a reservation at one of the many resorts scattered across its islands.


 13. Alaska

Alaska offers more than just great scenery, and its attractions are perfectly suited for the cold winter holidays. Skiing and snowboarding at Alyeska Resort, the largest ski resort in Alaska, makes for some fun activities as opposed to the usual fireplace get-togethers. If you’re a fan of a more laidback vacation, however, warming yourself up outdoors at hot springs such as Chena Hot Springs resort will do the trick. Alaska’s landscape is a tourist treat in itself, though, and you’ll want to reserve some time to explore the country’s pristine beauties.


14. New Orleans

If you’re a jazz fan, then you probably know about its origins in New Orleans. And while that’s more than enough of a reason to visit this historic city, the city’s got more to offer during the Holidays. Their holiday parades throughout December are a sight to behold, and the local performance of “The Nutcracker” on December 27th is worth watching as well. If you’d rather vibe with the city instead, head to one of the many bars and grab yourself one of their famous cocktails, served with some Christmas magic in every glass.


15. San Fernando, the Philippines

If you’ve got a friend who lives or is from the Philippines, then tag along with them for the holidays, and you’ll be in for a treat. Being a Christian country in a continent dominated by other religions, the Philippines celebrates the holidays with festivals. San Fernando, Pampanga, is a  city known for being more festive than the rest, as they host the Giant Lantern Festival each year. Different parts of the city compete for the best lantern, which results in a Christmas that’s full of colorful fun.


16. Rome, Italy

When people think of Italy, they think of good food, fine dining, and the Colosseum in Rome. You’d think that with so many reasons to visit, Rome would be packed with tourists, but as people enjoy their Christmas at home, the number of people who actually visit during this time is so few that you feel like you have Rome all to yourself, a rare treat for tourists these days.

Some things you can enjoy in Rome during December are the food popular during the season which, in this case, are Roman artichokes and chicory. Sites like the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum aren’t as full of people during December, making the trip a lot less bustling and more intimate.


17. Madrid, Spain

Madrid’s got a lot of great spots to visit during the holidays. We recommend first getting on the Christmas Bus, a special vehicle that takes tourists on a tour around the city and its dazzling lights. The local Christmas market is full of great deals, and you can warm yourself up in the evening with some of their famous churros paired with hot chocolate. For the adventurous folk, the nearby slopes at Sierra de Guadarrama are home to ski resorts, offering something more exciting during the yuletide season.


18. Iceland

If you love Christmas for the ice and snow, then Iceland should be your next destination this holiday. Aside from the calm evening streets and the landmarks such as museums that offer urban tourist options, you’ll find that exploring the country’s landscape is equally stunning. The Northern Lights are visible throughout the country whenever they show up, and you can even explore Iceland’s very own icebergs, and relax in their natural hot springs.


19. Hawaii

Hawaii is worth visiting any time of the year, as the climate stays more or less the same, but this island knows how to celebrate Christmas like any other place in the world. Watch Santa Claus ditch the reindeer sleigh and arrive on an outrigger at Outrigger Waikiki Resort. Watch the New Years’ fireworks at the Aloha Tower. Christmas doesn’t have to be cold and snowy especially with what Hawaii has to offer.


20. Israel

What better way to end this list than where it all started? Jerusalem offers a more historical and spiritual Christmas experience. Take a tour around the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, and walk down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. You can even attend the Christmas mass, held by the local Christian community. No matter what religion you subscribe to, the trip will surely be an eye-opener for many.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this list it’s that you don’t always have to stay home to enjoy the holiday festivities. There’s a whole world full of people celebrating Christmas their own way, and experiencing that firsthand is definitely worth the trip.