Where to go for Christmas
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations and is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered on it.
Celebrations start four Sundays prior to the eve of Christmas which marks the beginning of the Advent. Post the Advent, most of the Catholic countries also celebrates the Feast of St. Nicholas on the 6th of December. This may not be the tradition in all countries but some of the best places to spend Christmas do celebrate it as a part of their culture. Following the feast, the main celebration is that of the Christmas Eve wherein people attend the Midnight Mass and relish a heart-warming meal their families, and friends.
With the snowfall covering the rooftops, Christmas conifers up for sale, the taste of cinnamon and ginger breads in the air, and with the hustle and bustle of best Christmas markets all over the world; it’s undoubtedly going to be a grand show.
Christmas time is coming! Red lights are already decorating trees; snow is expected in many beautiful cities. Every destination is dressed with its finest decorations. Christmas balls and Christmas lights illuminate the romantic Christmas markets
Christmas is a time to relax and reflect on life. It is, even more, fun when you celebrate it as a family. It is a great bonding opportunity, as you eat, have fun and open gifts together.
If you could close your eyes and make a travel wish, what would it be? Too many places coming to mind?
You might think twice before spending Christmas travelling… Will it feel Christmassy enough? Can I go without my traditional Christmas dinner? Will I cope being so far away from home during the festive period? It can actually be one of the most fantastic ways to spend a Christmas you will always remember! There are plenty of years to spend Christmas at home. Don’t take our word for it, some of our favorite travel bloggers shared their most memorable Christmas’s exploring the world.
Picking your next destination isn’t easy, but there’s a better way than spinning a big globe, closing your eyes and slamming your finger down (it’ll probably end up in middle of the Atlantic, and Wi-Fi there is patchy, to say the least).
We’re looking at December, a month of festive spirit and celebration across the world – which means there’s no better time to dust off that passport and start exploring! While the northern half of the globe are pulling on their warmest knits and sitting in front of crackling fires, those to the South are embracing short sleeves, longer days and warm weather. Whether you’re in the mood for mulled wine and Christmas markets, or looking for a beach escape in the tropics you will have memories for a lifetime and bring back home the best traditional Christmas presents.
With Christmas just round the corner, which of these charming cities are you heading towards? Plan your Christmas vacation with your loved ones.
Let me make your task simpler and show you some out-of-the-world experiences that’ll make you want to leave everything and travel now!
Whether you want to spend Christmas on sun-soaked islands like Fiji or experience a white winter in meccas like New York, we’ve personally shortlisted top places to go this festive season – whatever your agenda.
Whether you stay at home or whether you choose one of these family Christmas trips, ultimately it is simply about being together!
Also let us know your favorite city where you’d like to celebrate Christmas this year in the comments below!
Discover the best Christmas destinations and book your hotel and your flight at the best price.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Where to go for Christmas
Spending Christmas in a country where it’s not celebrated is a different experience. Unlike Christian/Catholic countries where the streets are full of lights and trees full of gifts, you can only see some minimal decor in a shopping centre or, even a clinic, targeting tourists. Eat your Christmas lunch overlooking the jewel-blue waters of the Andaman Sea and work off any excess with a walk along the powder-soft sands, or jumping on a ship to explore by water.
“The white Christmas you’ve always dreamed about in “the island of the ice and the fire – Iceland. The snow shines under the twinkling lights of the thirteen Jólasveinar, Icelandic versions of Santa Claus. And if you are lucky, the sky will turn green because of the aurora borealis influence. Wear thermal underwear, eat lobster soup and drink mulled wine.
If there’s a destination where Christmas is truly celebrated it’s Poland. The cities have the traditional “Jarmark”, Christmas markets with lights and stands selling local sweets. Accompanied by snow, which arrives each year. In these markets you can drink the “grzane wino” (mulled wine) or “grzane piwo” (hot beer with spices) both ideal drinks to combat the cold and get into the Christmas festive mood. You can also taste the popular “makowiec” (a traditional Polish seed pastry) and “piernik” (ginger bread).
The most surreal feeling to swap the winter cold for sunbathing in a Christmas hat. Surfing, cocktail buckets and even bungee jumping, on Christmas Day? Everyone should, at least once, spend Christmas abroad.”
Christmas on the beach in Australia. It is such a novelty, listening to Christmas songs in glorious sunshine, and having a BBQ instead of a roast for dinner! Watching the surfers below from a cliff top at sunset.
Spend Christmas in a swim suit at the beach. Christmas there is more like a big party at the beach – with BBQ and decorated palm trees instead of a calm Advent.
Australians hang wreaths on their front doors and sometimes go out Christmas carol singing on Christmas Eve. People also decorate their houses and gardens with Christmas Trees and Christmas lights. Neighbors sometimes have little competitions to see who has got the best light display. The neighbors often visit each other to look at the light displays at night. Sometimes the displays are put out as early as December 1st.
Australians also decorate their houses with bunches of ‘Christmas Bush’, a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream colored flowers. In summer the flowers turn a deep shiny red over a period of weeks (generally by the week of Christmas in Sydney).
Step Back In Time at the Pyramids Of Giza. Egypt’s pyramids are a sight to behold.
Incredible history, ancient culture and rustic beauty – that’s Pyramids of Egypt for you. While the Great Pyramid of Giza, was built for Pharaoh Khufu and is the most popular of all, do take out time to explore the lesser known Mastaba of Seshemnufer IV. It has an underground burial chamber too.
You will realize that, the Christmas story is pretty simple, with shining stars and the 3 kings crossing the desert. You will find curious and interesting the coincidence of living the Christmas in a way that was so similar to the first Christmas ever!”
In Egypt about 15% of people are Christians. They are the only part of the population who really celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. Most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and they have some very unique traditions for Christmas. Christmas Day isn’t celebrated on the 25th December but on 7th January (like in Ethiopia and by some Orthodox Christians in Russia and Serbia).
The Coptic month leading to Christmas is called Kiahk. People sing special praise songs on Saturday nights before the Sunday Service.
Interailing in Europe
Treat yourself with a fantastic gift: a global pass ticket for the interrail!
You will see snowy mountains and wonderful astonishing Christmas markets with traditional hand made goods and delicious sweets. Fully decorated cities with Christmas lights, ice rinks and Christmas trees, brightly lit streets, a Christmas market in every corner, music, happy families and the smell of a delicious food in the air!
If you’re looking for a place of rest and relaxation after a busy year, the color and chaos of India might not immediately spring to mind. Think again! Lush Kerala, in the tropical south of India, enjoys a vastly different pace of life to the rest of the country. Put your feet up on the deck of your houseboat as it glides along the Kerala backwaters, rejuvenate at a wellness retreat in the jungle forests, indulge in some of the country’s freshest food, and wash away a busy year in the turquoise waters of the Arabian Sea. If you’re looking for somewhere to ring in the new year, head to Fort Kochi to take in the color of the Cochin Festival, a vibrant, chaotic week of celebration at the end of December.
Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated (or whatever tree people can find to decorate!). Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes.
In Southern India, Christians often put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world
In Romania, Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December to 7th January. The 20th is when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day. It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day. The meat from the pig is used in the Christmas meals.
Sfantul Nicolae’s Day (St Nicholas) is celebrated on the 6th December. On the evening of the 5th December children clean their shoes or boots and leave them by the door and hope that Sfantul Nicolae will leave them some small presents! Sfantul Nicolae might also be called ‘Moş Nicolae’ (Old Man Nicholas) and although he is celebrated in December, it’s not part of the Christmas celebrations! A tradition says that if it snows on December 6th, Sfantul Nicolae has shaken his beard so that winter can begin.
The Christmas celebrations really begin on Christmas Eve, 24th, when it’s time to decorate the Christmas Tree. This is done in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Romanian, Christmas Eve is called ‘Ajunul Craciunului’.
A traditional Romanian Christmas: spend the night with friends walking from house to house to sing Christmas carols. In every house people wait for travellers with food and țuică, a Romanian traditional alcohol. Basically you will spend the night singing for the neighbors, walking in the cold, eating and drinking at each stop. It can last until 6 or 7 am but no time to lie down to rest: on Christmas Day, the 25th, after breakfast, everyone goes to visit the family. It is exhausting, but really awesome!
Christmas in Europe is a time for centuries-old traditions with all the trimmings. Sorry to break it to you travellers, but you really haven’t experienced the festive season until you’ve experienced it at an enchanting German Weihnachtsmarkt. Amongst the snow-dusted market stalls selling handcrafted trinkets, fir trees adorned with ornaments, and the cinnamon scent of glühwein, the romance of the holiday season truly comes alive.
Every year during Christmas, the area around the Cathedral and Town Hall is perfused with festivities. The entire city is transformed into a small paradise of colors and lights, twinkling festivity sounds, and salivating smells. If you are a culinary enthusiast, you will love this place. Throughout the festival season, stalls of traditional delicacies, such as Potato fritters, Printen, Christmas cakes and biscuits, line up the streets. You will even find some very pretty art and craft items at the colorful stalls. Every year this place witnesses more than 1.5 million visitors who come to enjoy the festival.
If you during the festival season, a strong scent of mulled wine will hit you right away. Then slowly the happy Christmas music will flow towards you spreading joy. Next thing you know, twinkling lights will light up your life! It’s worth experiencing the hustle-bustle of the markets and the traditional Saxon treats.
Vienna is known for the grace and elegance that it puts into while celebrating Christmas. It feels like magic if you are in Vienna at this time of the year. The streets and plazas are filled with sparkling Christmas stalls, cafes with traditional delicacies, and twinkling lights adorning the city’s magnificent architecture. You can indulge in freshly baked condiments at Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt, try your hand (or feet) at ice skating in Rathausplatz, visit the Snow Globe Museum, or be a part of the legendary Christmas concerts.
Considered to be one of the oldest Christmas markets in not just Europe but the whole world, Salzburg Christkindlmarkt is known to be rooted to its age-old traditions and cultural values. Dating back to the 15th century, Salzburg serves as one of the traditional cities with a strong historical background for those who are gearing up for one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.
Powdered snow, wooden stalls, cozy woolen hats, salivating delicacies, and the contemporary decor define the markets of Tallinn at this time of the year. Their yearly Christmas celebrations have earned them the reputation of being one of the most cheerful and treasured Christmas markets in all of Europe. The pretty twinkling stalls are filled with handcrafted artisanal goods and traditional delicacies. Mini zoos with adorable animals keep the kids busy while the elders can go about their shopping sprees. Tallinn feels like pure magic during Christmas.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague gives the impression of a Gothic fairyland during Christmas. The grandeur architecture of the city provides the perfect and most elegant background for this lively festival that is filled with the scents of mulled wine, colorful stalls, and the decorations. The Prague Christmas Market is topped up with cute wooden huts jam-packed with traditional delicacies like freshly baked pastries and hams, craft items made out by artisans, and beautiful Christmas tree ornaments. The entire city is lit up by lights, music, and nativity scenes, the true spirit of Christmas.
Last but not the least; nothing surpasses the charm of Prague when it comes to the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. Beating the second oldest and the oldest markets, Prague boasts of the most beautiful and the best Christmas market in the whole of Europe. With its famous attractions all decked up and all the streets shining brighter than ever, celebrating Christmas in Prague feels nothing less than a carnival.
If you are in Hungary during the winter holidays then make sure you pay a visit to the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival that takes place at Vörösmarty Square. This will be a unique experience for you. The grandeur plaza located at the heart of Budapest transforms into a festive space filled with wooden stalls, traditional delicacies, and stages for local entertainment. If you are a foodie, it is recommended that you try the honey cookies made out of traditional Budapest recipes, cinnamon, and the scintillating mulled wine. The fragrance of these food stalls will automatically lure you into the market square.
From riding the lit Streetcar to skating on the ice rink at Budapest Park, Budapest serves as one of the most fascinating and best places to spend Christmas in Europe. With grand celebrations like attending the midnight mass at the St Stephen Basilica to being a part of the traditional and classic Hungarian Folk Show, Budapest will leave no stone unturned in charming you with its festive offerings.
The Christmas market in Brussels lasts for more than a month. The market is jam-packed with cute little stalls that offer traditional craft items and delicacies, a festive ground with merry-go-rounds, and an ice rink for some skating. But what takes away the breadth is the gigantic Christmas tree surrounded by the light and sound show. One of the best places to spend your Christmas holidays.
Bruges buzzes with the festive cheer of Christmas and definitely takes you down the memory lane by helping you to experience the warm Christmassy feeling like when you were a kid. The salivating scent of warm, freshly baked waffles fill the streets of Bruges and the twinkling fairy lights all over the majestic buildings make Christmas seem like a fairytale. The white snow adds the perfect backdrop to the celebrations and festivities. You can even hop aboard a carriage driven by horses to take a tour of this beautiful Christmas-loving city.
Search for some of the best gifts for your family and friends? Head to one of the biggest Christmas markets held in Brussels inside the premises of Place Flagey. Shop for some of the best handicrafts products as souvenirs by artists who fly down from places like France, Hungary, Germany and so on.
Graz will leave you enchanted during the time of Christmas. The city is accented by romantic lights along the streets and the ice rink for skating. The markets, especially, look dazzling against the backdrop of the city’s glimmering festive lights. The markets buzz with traditional stalls of artisan made products, freshly baked condiments, and local delicacies. A very famous local drink, the Feuerzangenbowle, comes very handy in the biting cold. Even there is something for the kids as well in the form of the carousel.
Snow arrives right at the time for Christmas covering vast swathes of the cities in white and creating a perfect cozy festive ambiance. The main streets of the cities are lined with decorative lights that add to the Christmas spirit. Moreover, the hustle bustle of the traders and artisans in the markets accents the festive celebrations. Their traditional drink, Glögi, is served around with warm amiability. The Ice Park has recently become popular among tourists and locals alike for ice skating. They also follow the traditional rituals of celebrating St Lucia Day and The Tiernapojat tradition. The stalls offer handicrafts, decorations for Christmas, beautiful lanterns, traditional delicacies, and hot drinks.
If you can handle the winter, why not go all in and escape to a true winter wonderland? Finnish Lapland is a true Arctic wonderland; snow-dusted fir forests, rushing waterfalls, gentle reindeer and a vast, white wilderness that’s guaranteed to leave you breathless (and not just because it’s cold).
Strap on your hiking boots and crunch a path through the taigas, rustle up some huskies and experience the rush of a real dog sled, watch the sun go down over the pristine peaks, and then enjoy a traditional Sami meal or sauna while the skies dance with the Aurora Borealis. Keep an eye out for a jolly bearded man in a red suit around the 25th too – rumor has it Santa’s workshop is right here!
See where Santa Claus lives. Norway has become synonymous with Northern Lights. You can spend time shopping in the brightly lit markets, have a cuppa Finnish coffee and even pay Santa a visit. As a part of this unique adventure, do head to Spitsbergen – a place where there are more polar bears than humans!
Rovaniemi, the capital city of Lapland, witnesses snow 6 months of the year making this place an ideal landscape for Christmas celebrations. The main attraction of this city during the winter months is the Santa Claus village, which means it is Christmas all around the year in Rovaniemi. They hold exhibitions depicting the spirit and tradition of Christmas and that of Santa Claus. You can even take part in exhibitions for exquisite handicrafts. And if you pay a visit to the forest of the Elves, you will even get a glimpse of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh through the forest.
Welcome to the land of Santa! Celebrating at one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe brings a lot of surprises on the go, of which, the best one can be encountered in the city of Rovaniemi. The official home of Santa Claus which is located at the heart of Lapland, travelers can visit and greet the Santa at the Santa Village which lies on the Arctic Circle. This is possible for all 365 days of the year, and we’re not joking!
If you are willing to enjoy a contemporary or traditional Christmas, then Stockholm is the right place to be. The powdered snow provides a great festive ambiance. You can just visit the Old Town’s Christmas Markets, have some gingerbread and glögg, and go shopping for artisanal products under the starry decorations that spread throughout the city. Little red stalls will definitely grab your attention and are a must visit. They offer traditional sweets, reindeer meat, smoked sausages, and elk meat along with many other Christmas specialties.
Be it shopping at the beautiful Christmas markets or relishing some of the delectable and freshly baked gingerbreads, none of your Christmas trips to Europe are complete without experiencing the best of both the modern as well as traditional worlds at Stockholm. Let the beautiful lights guide to some of the most beautifully decorated places to visit in Sweden.
Enjoy Dinner At Eiffel Tower In Paris. Live the Parisian life with a French meal at Eiffel Tower
Celebrate a visit to the iconic monument and symbol of love, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, with an exotic French meal. There are two restaurants located there that offer French specialties.
Paris, the city that brings alive the art, fashion, and gastronomy cultures, is another dazzling destination for Christmas in Europe. The popular market buzz with shopping events at this time of the year. The markets are jam-packed with cute chalets that accent the Christmas atmosphere. You will be awed by the diverse Christmas decorations and art products available at these markets. When it comes to food, the typical French cheese, wine, and champagne are proudly featured in the gourmet market. And the glittering view of the city at night will definitely give you some unforgettable memories.
Want to know the best place to cherish your Christmas celebrations? It has got to to be Strasbourg, hands down! Much reckoned to be the Christmas Capital, it is a strict no no to miss out on exploring the 400 years old Christmas markets that makes Strasbourg one of the best European cities for Christmas.
Offering Christmas shopping on Oxford Street, festive markets with mulled wine, a huge winter wonderland festival in Hyde Park and the possibility of a white Christmas, London is a huge crowd-pleaser when it comes to Yuletide trips.
If you do not have enough time to discuss and decide with your family about where to spend Christmas in Europe then London is the easiest option. Celebrating Christmas in London is a unique experience in itself. The whole city transforms into a winter wonderland with skating being one of the most loved activities during Christmas. From shopping to relishing a heart-warming meal, and from the carol concert to the midnight mass celebrations, London is worth spending the Christmas at.
Santa makes an appearance by speedboat at many Fijian resorts over Christmas and festive lunches and carol services all take place beneath the sun’s warm rays.
As if Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay light show wasn’t enough, the city shines brightly over Christmas as streets are transformed into a glowing winter wonderland. Hit up Orchard Road for lights, installations and the chance to snap a pic with Santa, or restaurant-hop to taste-test all manner of festive feast specials.
New York City
The most famous Christmas street lights are at the Rockefeller Center in New York where there is a huge Christmas tree with a public ice skating rink in front of it over Christmas and the New Year.
With its Christmas shopping opportunities, snowy scenery, holiday markets and classic New Year’s Eve countdown at Madison Square, New York is hard to beat during the festive period.
Christmas in Geneva is equal to the best Christmas Lights ever. The whole Lake Geneva is lit up with shops, stalls, and a thousand lights as a part of the European Christmas traditions. And for the foodies, who’re looking forward to the best places to spend Christmas in Europe, look no further than Geneva that hosts a market full of pre-Christmas food exhibitors from all over the world.
Must Experiences: Must-attend the Genève Marché International de Noel at Place de la Fusterie, explore the Christmas market at Lake Geneva, go shopping at Rue du Marché, and Rue de Rive, and more.
Ice Skating at Amsterdam, Netherlands. Unlike other European countries, celebrations in Amsterdam start in November. The main gathering place of the Museum Square transforms into a magical Christmas village where one can enjoy to the fullest at some of the best Christmas markets. From enjoying a joyous Ferris wheel ride to the endless food, music, drinks, and dance scenes, Amsterdam is indeed one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.
A true Christmas city in all its senses, Copenhagen follows some of the best traditions during the celebrations at one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. The whole city is covered in lights to the brim and one can always run into massive Christmas markets at every nook and corner of the city. From relishing the best of street food to touring the old candy factory, Copenhagen has a lot more than what meets the eye.
When you need to look for tickets to go there, a room to stay, a taxi to pick you up, museum e-tickets so you do not have to wait in lines, …and so much more
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|What ever you do and where ever you go have a Merry Christmas!|
Merry Christmas In Different Languages
Arabic Eid Milad Majid (عيد ميلاد مجيد) Which means ‘Glorious Birth Feast’
Dutch/Flemish Vrolijk Kerstfeest
French Joyeux Noël
German Frohe Weihnachten
Mandarin Sheng Dan Kuai Le (圣诞快乐)
Cantonese Seng Dan Fai Lok (聖誕快樂)
Danish Glædelig Jul
Finnish Hyvää joulua
Greek Kala Christouyenna or Καλά Χριστούγεννα
Bengali Shubho bôṛodin (শুভ বড়দিন)
Hindi Śubh krisamas (शुभ क्रिसमस)
Israel – Hebrew Chag Molad Sameach (חג מולד שמח)
meaning ‘Happy festival of the Birth’
Italian Buon Natale
Japanese Meri Kurisumasu (or ‘Meri Kuri’ for short!)
Portuguese Feliz Natal
Russian s rah-zh-dee-st-VOHM (C рождеством!) or
s-schah-st-lee-vah-vah rah-zh dee-st-vah (Счастливого рождества!)