The holidays are drawing near once again. The festive season is the perfect opportunity to travel, find yourself a place relax, and enjoy local ambience. We’ve pulled together some top Christmas destinations around the world – whether you want to enhance the experience of a traditional Christmas, or make a complete break.
Want the bustle of a busy city, or a quiet retreat? Wintery wonderland, or summer celebrations? Take a look at our suggestions for a place you can relax with your whole family – even your pet.
If you love Christmas, Nuremberg is the place to be. Germany loves Christmas too, and nowhere does it better than this beautiful town in Bavaria.
The Christmas market – Christkindlesmarkt – at the heart of the old town is steeped in tradition, charm, and cheer. The merry atmosphere is punctuated by enticing scents: mulled wine, roasted almonds, gingerbread, traditional German sausage, fresh bread. Nuremberg Children’s Christmas is around the corner, with rides and reindeer entertainment to keep children occupied.
Bavaria is home to the famous Black Forest and quintessentially German icons. You can base yourself in this charming town for further explorations of the region. It’s easy to take it at your own pace at this time of the year, with everyone in friendly celebration mode.
Germany is also a good destination for pet owners. Although there are strict rules in some areas, dogs are generally welcome. If you don’t want to leave your pooch behind for Christmas, keep your whole family together with a pet relocation service.
Experience a Christmas in the Arctic Circle. Some of the classic Christmas traditions we know have roots in Scandinavia, making Norway ideal for those who love the snowy side of this celebration.
If you’re keen on outdoor pursuits, like skiing or sledding, there’s plenty available in Tromso. You also have a very good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. The winter months tend to be some of the most lively for atmospheric activities. You may even be able to book yourself a tour to increase your chance of spotting this natural phenomenon.
Limited daylight hours and cold weather will also give you the excuse to keep cosy with family and friends. It’s the perfect excuse for relaxing after a long year. Scandinavians are some of the best in the world for finding ways to enjoy the winter, so you’ll be in great hands.
Christmas may not be the traditional celebration in this part of the world, but Hong Kong puts on an amazing show. With so many expats moving to Hong Kong and a growing international culture, it’s no surprise.
Victoria Harbour is stunning to begin with, but over Christmas it’s brought to life. Extravagant glittering displays festoon the streets and waterfront. It’s the ideal time to take a night cruise and enjoy the city from the water. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean park embrace the spirit, decorating with fake snow and lights. There are also Christmas markets a-plenty to be explored.
In Hong Kong, December 25 is Boxing Day. Rather than spending this day at home with families, people go out and enjoy seasonal attractions and festivities. If you’re thinking about moving to Asia, now’s the time to see this island state at its most festive. You’ll be looking for a moving company in Hong Kong soon after, we are sure.
If you want to get away from the Western tradition of Christmas, it’s quite possible to do in Hong Kong. Wander around some of the less-central streets and you’ll quickly forget Christmas exists. This time of year is also warm but not yet too muggy. You can discover some of the local culture and cuisine at your leisure. You may also get to see some of the preparations for Chinese New Year, which begins in mid-January.
Forget London and Belfast. Our UK recommendation is beautiful Edinburgh. This historical Scottish city really knows how to put on a party. And while snow can never be guaranteed, it’s a distinct possibility.
One of the most iconic images of Edinburgh is the castle perched on rocks, overlooking the city. At Christmas time, the winter Christmas markets are tucked right below. Drink mulled wine as you browse a range of stalls. If you have kids, you can send them off to the many rides while you take a break.
Edinburgh is teeming with culture and history. For indoor entertainment, there are museums, art galleries, live music, theatre, and plenty of excellent restaurants. On a crisp, sunny winter’s day there’s nothing like walking along Portobello beach. Edinburgh is a charming city retreat that can’t be beat. If you’re thinking about moving to the UK this trip could just sway you.
If you do fancy something with even more Scottish romance, it’s just a few hours by train to Inverness. This unofficial capital of the Highlands is the perfect place to head for the traditional New Year celebrations of Hogmanny. Enjoy the warmth of Highland hospitality and the buzz of a good Highland whiskey!
Maybe winter isn’t your thing. Why not head to warmer climes? Not only is it summer in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is known for warm weather, beautiful beaches, and nature.
Australia has a lot of great choices for the sun-seeking traveller. But if you want to escape from the bustle of cities and big tourism, Tasmania is the perfect place to relax this Christmas. And if you’re moving to Australia, this is the perfect chance to discover a region that’s too often forgotten.
This triangular island state is right at the bottom of Australia. This means a slightly cooler climate, but in summer it’s definitely warm enough for sunbathing and camping. If you love nature, it’s the perfect place to explore. As well as having an abundance of classic Aussie wildlife – think echidnas, wombats, Tasmanian devils – it’s beautiful. Tasmania has some of the most pristine forests and water you’ll ever see.
The capital city is Hobart, home to over 40% of the island’s entire human population. Australia’s second-oldest capital, it has plenty of history to explore. If you do want a bit of the Christmas experience, there will be plenty going on in Hobart.
Otago, New Zealand
Spend your holidays on the beach in jandles (that’s flipflops to most of us). If you like the idea of an easy laid-back holiday, get into the DIY Kiwi spirit and pitch your tent on the edge of nature. Alternatively, find one of the many beautiful cabins and home stays with spectacular views and indulge in relaxed luxury.
Otago is a large region in the South Island of New Zealand. Its beaches along the east coast are stunning, with stretches of white sand and dunes. The coastline is alive with wildlife, from native fur seals to fish ripe for catching. Small settlements pepper the region, especially along the coast.
This is one country where ocean, mountains, wilderness, and rolling hills are never too far away. Inland, you can explore rolling hills and farmland, usually golden in the New Zealand summer. The region is also known for its orchards. There are plenty of cycle routes and walking trails to explore.
The main city in this area is Dunedin. One of the first areas that was settled by Europeans, it retains its Scottish charms. The old town centre has historical gothic buildings and puts on a great show for Christmas and New Year.
Christmas is the ideal time to enjoy the romance of Venice. A popular destination in summer, in winter you can experience the city in a way that most travellers never will.
Venetian Christmas markets are the perfect chance to buy last-minute local gifts. Think traditional masks, handmade lace, and glass ornaments from Murano. The big feast is on the 24th, and you’ll have your pick of incredible restaurants to eat at. Enjoy traditional foods like turbot fillet, fondant pumpkin, smoked ham, and glazed chestnuts. Then wash it down with incredible Italian wine.
For those who enjoy a traditional Christmas, Italy’s strong Christian roots offer plenty. Biblical scenes will take over some of the streets. Christmas Mass in any of the churches will be an incredible experience in its own right, even for those who may not be religious.
For those less interested in Christmas celebrations, the lack of tourism really makes it a unique time to experience Venice. Wake up in the mornings to low mist on the streets, and wander around at night enjoying the lights along the famous waterways. Definitely a good choice if you’re trying to impress a sweetheart!
New York, United States
The scene for hundreds of movie Christmases and New Years, New York is the ultimate city destination for your holidays.
The city is brought to life at night with displays of lights throughout streets and parks. Some of the most famous are the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Residents festoon their neighbourhood with decorations, vying to outdo all the previous years. Central Park, of course, also puts on an incredible show. There’s no better time to visit this iconic park. Take your whole family – including the dog – for a stroll.
The Bryant Park Winter Village is unmissable for anyone who loves the festive season, or just plain entertainment. This bustling village includes an ice-skating rink, over 100 holiday shops, and plenty of seasonal activities. It’s ideal for the kids.
Being such a huge city, New York has everything. You can find anything you want at any time of day, and that includes if you want a break from Christmas. This multicultural city caters for everyone. Whether you’re a family, couple, or single, you can make Christmas in New York what you want.