Christmas is a magical time, so why wouldn’t you want to get in the festive spirit? Here are the best places to visit in December.
P.S. Make sure you check out our Christmas in Europe post for the best European destinations that offer amazing markets to get you in the festive spirit.
Best places to visit in December
New York City
There is something truly magical about visiting New York City during December. The Christmas lights are in full swing, trees adorn every shop window, ice skating rinks are erected outside Rockefeller and inside Central Park and there is a festive buzz in the air.
Christmas in New York is magical and is pictured in the hundreds of films based in the city.
If you are in the city at Christmas time, make sure you don’t miss the iconic tree outside Rockefeller, watch the light show at the Saks Fifth Avenue store, Watch the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and head to the Winter Village at Bryant Park.
Everyone loves ice skating but queues in central locations can be long, why not head over to The Rink at Brookfield Place for a quieter experience with the city skyline as your backdrop.
If you are traveling with family, you may want to check out the Holiday train show, a recreation of New York landmarks made from all types of materials.
Whatever you choose to do in the city, you will be sure to get into the festive spirit.
Every year, Copenhagen is transformed into a Christmas spectacular. With half a million lights and dozens of Christmas trees covering the city, it is hard not to feel merry whilst visiting.
Visit the Copenhagen Christmas markets, sip some Danish mulled wine and enjoy the country’s pork roast snack Flaeskesteg. For a magical experience, head to one of the nearby fairytale-like castles such as Kronberg and Frederiksborg.
Head to Tivoli Gardens for a Winter Wonderland experience with a different. Not only do you have snacks and market stalls but this is also the home to the second-oldest amusement park in the world.
For a relaxing experience head to one of the saunas or, for those looking for a bit more action, don’t forget the ice skating rinks around the city, with many of them being free to skate.
Copenhagen is an incredibly romantic experience so is the perfect choice for couples wanting a getaway, making a trip to Denmark a must!
Just north of the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Lampland is the place to go; especially if you have children or you’re a big kid at heart. You can meet Santa, make gingerbread cookies with Mrs Claus, go to Elf School and make your Christmas wish list with traditional quills.
Plus, you can visit the Arktikum science center to learn more about the northern lights or visit Ranua Wildlife Park to meet baby polar bears, moose, and wolverines.
The town of Rovaniemi is picture-perfect and makes for a wonderful experience, no matter what you choose to do in Lapland.
Known for its coffee, pizza, pasta, and ice cream, Italy is a popular destination all year round.
Visit one of the cities and enjoy the decorations, ice rinks, and markets, or head to the picturesque villages for a quieter Christmas. Head to Vatican city to see a huge Christmas tree stand alongside a large nativity scene.
Head to Milan for spectacular lights or visit Naples for local festive markets. Alternatively, head to Piazza Navona in Rome for a massive Christmas fair or head to Castel Sant’Angelo for some ice skating.
Dublin is always a great place to go for getting merry and having some fun so imagine the city in December. With festive lights across the city, ice rinks, and carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral along with decorations adorning every tree, Dublin is a great place to visit at Christmas.
Whilst in the city, head to Trinity College, which will be fairly quiet during the holiday month, or get merry at the Guinness Storehouse; just two attractions that should be on your Dublin bucket list.
Of course, a trip to Ireland in the Winter wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Trinity Street; head here on the weekends for drinks, singing, and dancing. Make sure to enjoy the different temple bars in Dublin too, this is a must-do!
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
This lesser-known destination has a lot to offer Christmas lovers. The midwestern town celebrates Christmas in full force; the Christmas market feels European but the chill adds extra magic.
Enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride, try some mulled wine and even German schnitzel, or plan a breakfast with Santa.
The town is home to the famed Old World Christmas Market, a mid-19th century style Christmas celebration with Victorian photo-p[s and live holiday music.
With its traditional Baroque architecture and alpine scenery, Salzburg is the perfect Christmas escape in Europe. The festive market attracts thousands of tourists each yet and is ever expanding.
Head up to Hohensalzburg Fortress for a great view of the colorful city at night and, from here, you can catch a horse and carriage ride around the Old Town. Ice Skating is available in Mozart Square and of course, take in a classical music concert whilst in the city.
Most cities and towns in Austria, hold their own Christmas market, meaning you can take a few day trips out to the nearby towns and still have a festive experience. For something truly special, head to St. Nicholas’ Church in Oberndorf; the place where the Christmas hymn ‘ silent night’ was first ever performed in 1818.
I may be biased by I love Christmas in London. Head to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights or visit Hyde Park for the magical Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland is more than just a Christmas market, you can find ice skating rinks, ice sculptures, rides, bars, food courts, and even a circus. Entrance is free and the market runs from December through to the start of January.
Whilst in the UK, why not enjoy a Festive Afternoon Tea with notable experiences at the Ritz or try the Christmas Afternoon Tea abroad the B Bus; a red bus that tours you around the capital whilst you munch on festive delights.
Quebec City, Canada
The city comes to life in the winter, with Old Quebec transforming into a picturesque Christmas village complete with sausage and roast chestnuts.
Head to Place Royale; a hub of festivities with Christmas trees and decorations surrounding the square alongside Notre Dame des Victories Church.
Whist in the city, make sure you head to Le Chateau Frontenac, an iconic hotel perched on the Saint Lawrence River. In December, the hotel lights up with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations.
Take a walking tour around the city to take in all the shop displays, bright lights and decorations.
For a warm winter, head to Thailand. Christmas in Bangkok is fun and exciting, with many restaurants and bars offering special festive menus whilst stores and shopping malls come to life with decorations.
Head down south to one of the islands and relax on the beach, taking in the low season (and slightly cooler weather) that the country has to offer. For party-goers, head to Koh Phangan for a Christmas party on the beach whilst families may wish to head to Phuket for traditional Christmas meals and beautiful beaches. Koh Samui is the perfect relaxing vacation for couples looking to escape and unwind whilst Pattaya is a fun choice for those looking for a cheap, western-focused city with a lot of Christmas dinner options.
Head to Reykjavik, Iceland for the perfect white Christmas. Watch the northern lights, see the sites and enjoy the Yule Town Christmas Market in downtown Reykjavik.
If you’re traveling with family, check out the ice skating rink on Reykjavik pond in the city centre or try an Icelandic horse ride over the lava fields. Take a buggy ride tour around the country and learn more about the YuleLands; Iceland’s scruffy Santa.
For more adventurous travelers, try hiking on a glacier or go snowmobiling around the golden circle of attractions.
Germany is the home of bustling cities that are transformed at Christmas. Berlin, Nuremberg, Cologne, Dresden, Rothenburg, and Frankfurt are all popular places to visit during December. The cities come to life with markets, Christmas lights, and decorations.
Head to the pubs for a strong German beer and don’t forget to try their bratwurst, pretzels, and German Christmas cake.
I was always going to sneak this in there!
Harbin in China is amazing! Visit during December – February to see the biggest Ice Festival in the world. It is breathtaking but makes sure you wear the appropriate layers and clothing; it was -25 degrees whilst we were there in February.