This post started innocently enough, I was looking for recommendations for where to travel in December. We wanted to book holiday travel, and I thought I could ask fellow travel writers for their advice. It turns out, everyone has a favorite place to travel in December, so here are all of their recommendations. These choices for the best places to visit in December will have you planning a trip in no time!
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Places to Visit in the US in December
Everyone knows how incredible Alaska can be during the summer. Amazingly, it’s even more magical during winter! While Alaska winters can be quite cold, it’s the perfect time to join in adventures like sled tubing, skiing, and ice skating. Plus, there’s no shortage of fun winter festivals to partake in!
Winter in Alaska is the ideal time to experience the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. The short days leave enough time to pet and feed reindeer, while the long nights call for stargazing or aurora chasing!
Just imagine how peaceful lounging in a cozy rental cabin by the fireplace can be after spending time bundled up outdoors. For added serenity, try soaking in the warm waters of Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks. Visiting Alaska during winter will be an experience you’ll treasure! (Natasha of Om Shanti Adventure)
December is the perfect time to visit Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is known as Christmas City U.S.A.
Located in eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley about an hour north of Philadelphia, Bethlehem has been celebrating the holiday season since it was founded on Christmas Eve in 1741 by a sect of Christians known as Moravians.
Today, visitors can experience not one, but two Christmas markets. One is centered in the downtown area, which is also decorated for the holiday season, while the other is located at the community’s once-abandoned steel mill.
Other highlights of visiting Bethlehem, PA at Christmastime include holiday light displays, historic city tours, and charming local shops. (Jim of Uncovering PA)
If you want to warm up a bit with a tropical winter getaway, look no further than Hawaii. Hawaii in December is usually in the low 80s and has wonderful breezes. And if you go before the holidays, airfare and hotel rates are pretty reasonable.
Winter is also the time for whale watching in Hawaii. But the real fun has to do with Christmas in Hawaii. I mean where else can you make snowmen out of sand? Or see hula dancer and ukulele ornaments? Turn on the radio to hear Hawaiian-style Christmas carols.
They also have fun holiday-themed events, like Santa arriving by outrigger canoe! Each island has their own holiday events and festivities and they are worth it! Mele Kalikimaka! (Marcie of Hawaii Travel with Kids)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is one of the best destinations to visit in December for a variety of reasons. The crowds are smaller this time of year, so the streets don’t feel as congested as they do during the busier summer months.
The weather’s also so much nicer in December. In July or August, the desert heat can quickly become unbearable, but in the winter, the temperatures average between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vegas hotels are all decked out in adorable Christmas decorations throughout December, so it’s easy to get into the festive spirit. Since each hotel in Vegas is like a complete theme park, it can take a full day just to explore each one, and every single one offers some sort of free entertainment for the holidays. There’s over a hundred free activities in Vegas, so you have almost endless opportunities to fully enjoy a December trip! (Jillian of Adventure Dragon)
Marathon Key, Florida
The beaches in Marathon Key, Florida are enough to draw tourists from around the globe in any month. However, during the month of December when the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is under the cold of winter, Marathon is a haven. The warm ocean waters keep Marathon Key a warm 85 degrees much of the year. Swim, snorkel, dive or motorboat around the key either on the Gulf or Atlantic side.
Sombrero Beach is the perfect place to start a vacation. White sand, beautiful palm trees and an ocean breeze will make this tropical vacation a lasting memory.
Need a day off from the beach? Head to the Aquarium or the Turtle Hospital, both have a days worth of activities to enjoy. Don’t miss out on the amazing seafood restaurants and live music while you are in Marathon Key, Florida. Not far down the infamous 7 Mile Bridge is Bahia Honda State Park a beautiful location for more outdoor activities. (Pam of Family Fun Joy)
Headed to Marathon? Don’t miss these things to do in Key West with kids, which is only an hour away.
New York City, New York
New York City. No where else does the holiday season quite like New York. The Big Apple is dressed up in its holiday finest with fantastical window displays, amazing light shows and holiday cheer around every corner.
With over 50,000 lights and Swarovski crystals the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is beautiful both day and night. Stroll along 5th Avenue to marvel at the whimsical window displays at department stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. don’t miss the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall!
One of my favorite spots in New York during the holidays is the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, a European-style holiday market with over 150 artisans and vendors. (Brianna of The Casual Travelist)
San Diego, California
San Diego is a beautiful destination with lots of amazing things to do in December. While it is a warmer winter destination, it is still full of holiday spirit and plenty of Christmas traditions.
One of the best holiday traditions is the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, which has been happening for nearly 50 years. Boat owners deck out their boats in brilliant displays and parade through the bay in a free show that draws over 100,000 people every year!
Another excellent event is Hotel del Coronado’s Skating by the Sea, where you can ice skate with phenomenal views of the ocean. But December in San Diego usually still has some nice weather, which means you can continue to enjoy year-round activities such as hiking too. So whether you’re looking for Christmas fun or simply a warmer winter vacation, San Diego is the place to go! (Abi of Happy Go Abi)
DC is a popular tourist destination for much of the year, and December is no exception. The US capital puts on a vibrant show of holiday festivity, and much of it is free! For fewer crowds, try to visit early in the month.
One of our very favorite stops during December in DC is the US Botanic Garden. Each year, there’s a huge train display that weaves through leaves and flowers. Plus, you can see plant-based models of all the Monuments! Go first thing or late in the day, as lines get quite long. The Zoolights are also beautiful and great with little ones.
Other excellent December activities are participating in the wreath-laying at Arlington Cemetery, the National Christmas tree/Hannukah Menorah lighting, ice skating, the Nutcracker, and so much more. It’s wonderful for adults and kids alike! (Preethi of Local Passport Family)
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park in December is the ultimate winter wonderland. The crowds have diminished from the summer and a blanket of snow dresses up the already lovely landscape. Wildlife, including wolves, elk, and bison, have moved to the valley floors and are easier to spot.
We like to soak in the Boiling River hot springs, cross country ski on the many groomed trails, snowshoe in peace, and warm up at the hotel dining rooms. You can take a snowcoach to the interior of the park – Old Faithful area and Canyon – or drive to Mammoth Hot Springs and through the Northern Range. (Mel of Yellowstone Trips)
Mexico in December
Mexico City, Mexico
Looking for sunshine and culture this December? Look no further than Mexico City. This hot spot is our favorite – just a 3.5 hour direct flight from LA (or 5 hours from New York).
Topping our list includes the ancient pyramids at Teotihuacan, just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, where you’ll feel like a real-life Indiana Jones. Another must-visit is Frida Kahlo’s “Blue House.” This museum houses rare artwork and tells the story of Kahlo’s birthplace, childhood residence and where she passed.
Finally, no trip to Mexico City would be complete without checking out its delicious food scene. Get your fill of churros – 24 hours a day – at the famed El Moro. And don’t forget to make reservations at Pujol, named the best restaurant in Mexico City by Wall Street Journal, and a top dining spot by Restaurant Magazine. (Phil of Gourmet Globetrotter)
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
December is a great time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with tranquil, warm weather; and calm seas making for great snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Temperatures are a bit lower at around 82°F, even dipping as low as 75°C, so the days are warm, and the nights are comfortable.
The area is well known for all its well preserved Mayan temples such as Chitzen Itza, and the dry weather and mild temperatures make for perfect conditions to explore these archaeologist ruins.
If you visit the Yucatan Peninsula in December, don’t miss diving with Bull sharks, an exhilarating adventure! A favorite in this area is the Cenotes, limestone caves with crystal clear water. Yucatan cenotes are perfect for swimming and exploring during this time of year. (Campbell of Stingy Nomads)
December in Central America
Costa Rica is wonderful to visit any time of year, but December marks the start of Costa Rica’s dry season. This makes it perfect for holiday celebrations, trips to the beach, and exploring the towns and cities decked out in festive decor!
If you plan on visiting Costa Rica in December, be sure to book your hotels early. Many North American families take vacations to Costa Rica during the holiday season, to enjoy the weather, outdoor adventures, and beautiful beaches. Don’t miss the Festival de la Luz in San José, a light parade where locals and tourists alike enjoy street performers, floats, and musicians.
Guatemala is one of the best destinations to visit in December. Due to its location, the weather in this Central American country is warm year-round. This provides anyone with a great getaway, especially if you are from the Great White North like me!
I spent two weeks around Guatemala and quickly fell in love with Lake Atitlan, a beautiful region with breathtaking views of the volcano and colorful Mayan villages. There are 11 Mayan villages around the lake and they provide ample opportunity for you to understand Guate’s culture and tradition. As well, each village has something unique to enchant and captivate. From paddle boarding to yoga retreats, volcano hikes to coffee tasting, there is a lot to do and more to see! (Daisy of Beyond my Border)
December in South America
Argentina is a perfect place to visit in December, especially if you wish to escape a cold, snowy Northern Hemisphere winter! December is the start of summer so days are long and warm; ideal for seeing the incredible diverse sights of Argentina.
Marvel at the awe inspiring Iguazu Falls and the jaw dropping Moreno Glacier. Explore the wild landscapes of the Valdes Peninsula and catch the end of whale watching season. Visit the hatching penguin chicks at the enormous penguin colony in Punta Tombo or head to Patagonia to enjoy incredible hikes in Los Glaciares National Park. We loved the varied, accessible hikes starting from the friendly, pretty town of El Chalten which is nestled within the park and dominated by the surrounding Fitz Roy Massif. (Sinead of Map Made Memories)
December is a wonderful time to visit Colombia as the weather is great and it’s just before the high season, so it’s not overcrowded yet (don’t go in January as all the Colombians themselves are traveling and it gets really busy!).
Christmas is a popular holiday and every casa Colombiana gets decorated with a million lights. Especially if you’re from a country that typically has freezing weather in December, it’s a mind blowing sight to see all those decorations with tropical temperatures.
We fell in love with Colombia as it is one of the most diverse countries we’ve ever visited. We’ve encountered tropical beaches, ancient cultures & archeology, stunning nature and colonial towns. Don’t hesitate to make it your next destination, it won’t disappoint! (Babs at Travel Gear for Kids)
Home to egg-blue glaciers and the rugged Andes Mountains, Patagonia, a region shared by Argentina and Chile, is one of the world’s finest adventure travel destinations. Although weather conditions are distinctly variable at any time of the year, December is an excellent time to visit, as there’s a higher chance of sunny, dry weather, which is all-important if you want envy-inducing photographs from the trip!
The beginning of December is the very start of the high season, meaning places have fewer tourists and trails are quieter. Make the most of this by trekking the W in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia’s most famous hike, which takes you through glorious mountain landscapes of glaciers and ancient forest to reach three picturesque pronged granite towers, or hike to Laguna de los Tres, in Los Glaciares National Park, with its spectacular viewpoint of Mont Fitz Roy. (Steph at Worldly Adventurer)
Canada in December
Whistler in December is the most magical time of the year. Whistler Village sparkles like a fairyland with holiday lights. There’s an uplifting atmosphere in the air as you wander around the village and ride the Peak2Peak Gondola to the top of the mountain. December is the month that is most fun if you’re visiting Whistler with kids as the family Après ski activities are in full swing.
The average snowfall in Whistler in December is 170 cm (almost 5.5 feet), making it a fantastic time of year to have fun in the snow. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you will love hitting the slopes and terrain parks but if you’re not, there are plenty of other things to do in Whistler both outdoors and indoors.
Rug up and go on a fun dog sled ride or learn to be a musher and drive your own team. Other fun outdoor activities in Whistler in December are snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing, sleigh rides and taking part in the Dress Like Santa Ski Day, where everyone dresses up in a Santa or Mrs Claus costume!
The Whistler Film Festival is on each December (this year’s dates are December 4-8) and it’s a fantastic time to visit if you love film. (Christina at Travel2Next)
December Travel in Europe
Amsterdam is very well known for it’s exciting nightlife and gorgeous canals. This thriving city is easily accessible by airplane, train or by car. In Amsterdam you will be able to visit one of many Christmas markets, as well as visit the Christmas tree at Dam Square. With over 40.000 LED lights, the tree lights up the Royal Palace.
Don’t miss the Amsterdam Light Festival. Here you can admire over 30 light sculptures by boat or from the streets. Odds are you will find yourself ice skating over one of many canals in the heart of this gorgeous city, so be prepared! (Jurgen of I Am The Viking)
Though Greece is typically thought of as a summer destination, I would argue that winter makes a wonderful time to visit Athens. Not only do the temperatures drop enough that it’s actually comfortable to explore the ancient town, it stays much warmer with more sunshine than is found in other parts of Europe.
While all the main attractions stay open during the off-peak season, they are much less crowded than in the height of summer. You will be able to explore the Parthenon and other famous sights in relative peace and quiet, which is a bonus in my book!
If you visit around Christmas time, the city comes alive with sparkling lights and festive decorations. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Athens on New Year’s Eve you’ll enjoy some fantastic parties or fireworks displays with the Parthenon making the most incredible backdrop. (Anna at Would Be Traveller)
We loved visiting Barcelona, Spain in winter! The temperatures are much milder than most of Europe, but the holiday magic is alive and well. All of the streets and alleys are decked with creative lighting displays as the city competes with other rivals around the country for the best holiday lights.
There’s a convivial atmosphere as Spaniards stroll the streets enjoying their time off work but the throngs of tourists don’t arrive until spring break a few months later, so it’s a great time of year to get a more local feel. (Melissa of The Family Voyage)
I adore visiting Berlin in December! You can experience the beautiful Christmas markets that come to life all over the city. These are some of my favorite places to shop for unique traditional Berlin souvenirs.
My favorite Berlin Christmas market is the Gendarmenmarkt, but I also love the markets in Spandau and Charlottenburg Palace. If you do visit the palace, make sure to set aside time to go on a tour inside. The sumptuous interiors are absolutely stunning, and in December you won’t have to fight through throngs of other tourists during your visit!
Berlin is also a great place to visit in winter because German cuisine is so hearty and delicious in the cold. You’ll be happy to come in from the cold and warm up with currywurst or some sauerkraut! And of course, a nice, cold glass of German beer! (Stephanie of History Fan Girl)
Brussels, Belgium, is one of the most overlooked cities in Europe. It has centuries of fascinating history, great food, and lots of things to do to keep you entertained for a long weekend or more.
From its beautiful, UNESCO-listed Grand Place (the city’s central square) to the dozens of street art murals that make up its Comic Book Route, Brussels is a mix of historic and modern. When you add in the excellent Belgian chocolate, craft beer, and unforgettable waffles, you get a destination full of beauty, educational experiences, and fun with a touch of gluttony.
In the winter, you can’t miss the Brussels Christmas market that stretches for over a mile, turning the historic city center into a giant festival of lights, decorations, and shopping. (Laura of Travel Addicts)
Budapest in December is an unexpected surprise with its combination of family friendly attractions, historic sites and traditional Christmas markets. There are two major markets located at Vorosmarty Square and the other in front of the tower Basilica. Don’t miss the light display projected onto the Basilica and the mulled wine to keep the frigid temps away.
Looking for more winter fun? Be sure to soak in the thermal baths, take a cruise in the evening along the Danube river to see the historic buildings all lit up and head to the Buda side of Budapest to explore Fisherman’s Bastion. Don’t forget to explore Central Market Hall to purchase freshly ground paprika and peruse the crafts and foods in this two story market. (Chelsea of Pack More into Life)
Colmar is such a magical place to visit in December! The town itself looks as if it’s from a fairytale with all of it’s brightly colored half-timbered buildings and in December, Colmar goes all out with decorations for the holidays.
There are multiple Christmas Markets throughout the city, along with one especially for children. The city’s canals (dubbed “little Venice”) make for a gorgeous stroll through Colmar and give plenty of photo opportunities. It’s also only a 2.5 hour train ride from Paris, making it the perfect overnight or weekend getaway during the holiday season. A word of advice though: Colmar is quite popular in the month of December, so make sure to book accommodations early! (Ashley of Daley Family Travels)
The best time to visit Cologne Germany has to be in the Winter time during their annual Christmas Market. The Köln Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the best Christmas markets we’ve been to in Europe. There are seven themed Christmas markets spread throughout the city, and you can visit them all on the Christmas Tram.
One of the reasons to visit a Christmas market in Germany is the food, and Cologne has some of the best foods we’ve tasted. The highlight was definitely the salmon roasting on an open fire, as well as the Reibekuchen (potato pancakes). Let’s not forget the Gluhwhein to keep you warm during the cold winter days.
Cologne’s Christmas market is also the perfect place to purchase that one of a kind souvenir. With so many handmade, locally made products on sale, it won’t be hard to find that unique gift item for that special someone. (Skylar at Skylar Arias Adventures)
One of the best destinations to visit in December is Dublin, Ireland. The average Dublin high temperature in December is 47 F, with a low of 37. All things considered, that’s pretty mild. Also, it gets wintery and festive, with very little chance of snow. Which is a plus for me.
Three reasons to visit Dublin in December: 1) to avoid the crowds, 2) there’s tons of things indoors, and 3) the Christmas decorations are in full effect.
1. Since December is off-season, the crowds are thinner, but all of the attractions remain open.
2. There are A LOT of indoor attractions, in case it’s cold or rainy. Some of the popular indoor sites are Kilmainham Gaol, the Guinness Storehouse, the Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, and Trinity College Dublin.
3. Three-Quarters of the population of Ireland is Catholic, which means that there are a lot of people celebrating Christmas. Not only are the streets festively decorated in Christmas cheer, but so are the shops and pubs around town.
Grab a pint and take in the atmosphere! (Catherine of Traveling with the Littles)
Milan is possibly Italy’s most cosmopolitan city and it fully embraces the holiday season. In the plaza surrounding its famous Duomo, or cathedral, you’ll encounter a giant decorated Christmas tree and an outdoor holiday market from the start of December. The nearby Galleria boasts equally elaborate decorations along with some of Milan’s most high-end shopping.
The holiday spirit is not limited to the historical center. Throughout the month of December in Milan, indoor and outdoor holiday markets abound across the city. Even away from the markets, you’ll come across the distinct aroma of roasted chestnuts as you stroll, from vendors that seem to be on every corner. Grab yours with a mulled wine or thick and gooey hot chocolate, and you’ll understand how the Milanesi have endless energy to stroll the city streets and take in the holiday atmosphere. There are even some holiday-themed trams if you’re lucky enough to spot one! (Lana of Travel Savvy Gal)
There is something magical about Norway in winter! It really comes alive when you have the chance to bundle up in a thick winter jacket, cap with a fur top, and lined gloves to go exploring in the snow and ice.
I love to go sightseeing with my camera for hours, then tuck into a café with a fireplace and have a cup of hot chocolate. And although you may think it is freezing outside, don’t believe everything you hear. Due to the Gulf Stream, the west coast of Norway rarely drops below zero. Plus, I love to go Christmas shopping and Norway has some of the best Christmas-related shopping experiences. That is why it is my pick for where to go in December! (Cacinda of Points and Travel)
Looking for a country to visit in December? Well, if you still haven’t visited Paris in winter, then you should definitely go at this time of year! I’m not going to lie, winter in Paris is generally cold and rainy, but it is the most magical moment to visit the capital of France.
Actually, it is the only time of the year you can actually enjoy visiting the city without bumping into people or having people ruining your photos. Indeed, Paris is always crowded except in December because of the holiday season, so there is no better time to visit.
December is also the only time of the year you can see illuminations lighting up the main attractions which creates a magical Christmas atmosphere you should experience at least once in your life. (Nesrine of Kevmrc)
Portimao is a beautiful port city located in the Algarve region of Portugal, the southernmost part of the country. This beautiful city has a very busy port for boats, particularly tour boats heading along the Algarve coasts famous caves.
Though much quieter in the winter, Portimao still has boat service and so many beautiful things to see. The beautiful beaches in Portimao, while not ideal for swimming in December, still provide access to the Atlantic and the beauty of the rugged and infamous Algarve cliffs.
Portimao has some of the best seafood dishes in Europe, and its location also makes it a great base to do day trips to Lagos, Lisbon as well as many other cities along the Algarve. Portimao’s authentic Portuguese feel makes this a great December destination. (Diana of The Elusive Family)
Prague is the ultimate destination for a December vacation. If you’re looking for culture, history, great food, and magical wintertime charm, this amazing city has it all! There are several great Christmas markets set up all over town, but the best places to go for all the feels is the Old Square, Wenceslas Square, and Prague Castle, where you can shop, eat and sightsee to your heart’s content!
Don’t miss a walk over the ancient and iconic Charles bridge to catch a view of this stunning city. Be sure to try the tasty Trdelnik (or chimney cakes) that Prague is so famous for along with some amazing smoked cheese and jam. (Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew)
Sweet villages, spectacular mountains and fairy-tale castles make Romania a great travel destination. When I visited Romania last winter, I found out the magnificent landscapes I’d seen in photos looks much more impressive under a blanket of snow.
Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, is brimming with interesting architecture and cosy cafes. In central Romania’s Transylvania region, fortified cities – Sighisoara and Sibiu among them – offer a mix of fascinating history and nature. Skiing and snow sports are popular winter activities, and you can find great fields around Brasov. Since Romania is a predominantly Orthodox nation, there are plenty of holiday festivities to join in, including Christmas markets in most of the bigger cities.
December is the off-season in Romania. If you’re traveling by train through Transylvania (which I highly recommend), you don’t have to stress about tickets selling out. Almost all museums and restaurants remain open throughout winter, although you may have to contend with a few closures here and there. (Emily of Wander-Lush)
What better place to visit in December than the home of Santa Claus! It’s easy to travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi via car, train, or plane, and visitors will be rewarded with a winter wonderland and a white Christmas!
Visits to Santa Claus Village and Snowman World are sure to put a smile on everyone’s faces. There is snow tubing, ice skating, and even a visit with Santa Claus himself! If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to see the Northern Lights during your trip to Rovaniemi. It’s a definite bucket list trip for families.
Picture yourself with a mulled wine in the hand, walking the narrow, snow covered streets of Salzburg.
December is a great time to visit the birth place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
You can go to the house where he grew up, have a famous Sachertorte or Salzburger Nockerl, before you enjoy one of the three Christmas markets.
You can choose between the oldest Christmas market which is situated in front of the Salzburg Cathedral. Or you can attend the Christmas market at the fortress Hohensalzburg with an amazing view over the city. One of my favorite Christmas markets in Salzburg is at the castle Hellbrunn.
And if you want to see the most beautiful Christmas tree in Salzburg be sure to go to the Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in the old town. (Christina of The Female Travelpreneur)
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a fantastic destination to visit in December or in any other winter month. It hosts one of the coziest Christmas markets in Europe, open from November to January each year, showcasing some of the best local handcrafted products and a variety of traditional Christmas delicacies and drinks.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage city, the Old Town of Tallinn looks like it belongs in a fairy tale, offering plenty of historic building and sightseeing opportunities to its visitors.
Not only you will be able to avoid the summer crowds but visiting Tallinn in the winter has another remarkable advantage: the opportunity to try traditional local food. Seasonal dishes such as hearty stews and delicious beverages will be popular in the winter and most restaurants have a relaxing and cozy ambiance. (Thassia of Family Off Duty)
Visiting Vienna in winter could only be described as magical. The entire city wears a festive atmosphere that’s undeniably enchanting. From the Christmas markets to the beautifully decorated streets to the snow falling down, it is a winter wonderland you don’t want to miss.
Vienna is the queen of historical landmarks, palaces, museums, and coffeehouses, but there are a few activities you can only experience in winter. While the Hofburg Palace hosts the New Year’s Eve Ball, Vienna’s City Hall square hosts the biggest Christmas market in the city and some of it turns into a huge ice-skating rink for everyone to enjoy. (Or of My Path in the World)
If you’re interested in traveling internationally with your family this Christmas Season, you can’t beat York, England. This charming and historically rich city has all the ingredients for your best vacation ever. Grand medieval gate towers and imposing stone walls surround cobbled streets with cramped and winding alleys; all dressed in festive Christmas lights and decorations.
The prominent and impressive nearly 1,400-year-old York Minster stands tall among the quaint surrounding late-medieval architecture. Old and new are knit seamlessly together as modern grocery stores and restaurants are nestled within ancient shops and homes.
Along with the architectural treasures that abound, York hosts two of the most captivating and impressive attractions you will likely ever see, the vast, stately Castle Howard and the outstanding National Railway Museum. York has it all and will leave you with a memorable, world-class experience all during the most wonderful time of the year. (JD of American Family Road Trip)
There are few places quite so magical as Zakopane in winter. During December, the Polish village that sits at the base of the Tatra Mountains turns into a Christmas wonderland.
There are Christmas markets and stalls popping up through town, along with the year-round market place that is perfect for unique Christmas gift shopping. The celebrations around Zakopane are in full swing too, with festive events and New Year fun.
Plus you can enjoy the winter activities with skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. Mount Gubawoka is a great spot for beginners ski lessons and it is right near the centre of town.
Make sure you take a trip up Kasprowy Wierch while you’re visiting Zakopane, riding the cable car up the top for incredible mountain views and snowscape. (Holly of Four Around the World)
December in Oceania
December is an awesome time to visit Canberra in Australia. The warmer weather makes it ideal to go on nature walks to get some panoramic picturesque views of Canberra. Top walks are the Mount Ainslie Summit Trail, Black Mountain Summit Walk, One Tree Hill Lookout Walk, and Mount Taylor Nature Trail.
December is a fantastic time to go for a swim at Pine Island, Cotter Bend, Casuarina Sands, or Kambah Pool. You can cool off by eating delicious ice cream at Frugii Dessert Laboratory, or frozen custard from Goodberry’s Creamery.
If you prefer to stay indoors or shop, the Handmade Markets are the best place to find unique artisan Australian made products. There is something for everyone in Canberra in December. (Clara at Petite Capsule)
A trip to the town of Dunsborough in the South West of Australia is the ultimate December getaway. While countries in the northern hemisphere are starting to really feel the cold of winter, summer in Dunsborough is just heating up.
Although some people may enjoy a snowy holiday near Christmas, we would much rather be lying at the beach, swimming in amazing blue water and drinking the local wines. The South West of Australia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the summer weather here is the perfect time to enjoy them. After soaking up some sun, you can explore some of the 150 wineries in the area, handful of craft breweries and delicious artisan food producers of the Margaret River region.
Spectacular coastlines, local beer and wine, amazing food and friendly people all combine to make Dunsborough a brilliant place to visit in December. (Roxanne of The Coastal Campaign)
The Gold Coast, Australia
December is the best time of year to visit The Gold Coast, Australia! It’s the height of our summer so what better time of year to visit some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It’s all about the outdoors and the beach bum lifestyle so there is plenty of opportunity to learn to surf, paddle board, kayak, go fishing, or even just laze around and soak up the sun.
If you’re not much of a beach person there’s still plenty on offer, like exploring the hinterlands and farmers markets with some great local produce or finding a beautiful waterfall for relaxing. (Sophie Marie of Lifestyle Queensland)
December in Asia
With its swaying palms fringing sun drenched beaches and temperatures hovering around a perfect 86 degrees, Goa is a wonderful winter sun destination.
But it’s December when this region really comes to life as the Portuguese influence is strong and everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Villages and churches are decorated in twinkling lights and shining stars, and there is a real buzz in the air.
Visiting Goa is all about finding the right beach for you. There is quite an eclectic mix catering to the raver, the yogi, the package sun-seeker and everything in between. If you are are planning a family trip to Goa and looking for something a bit more chilled, make sure you check out our post, the best beaches in Goa for kids. (Jenny of TraveLynn Family)
Koh Samui, Thailand
If you miss sunny, warm weather and tropical vibes in December, you might want to consider traveling to Thailand. Here you will find an island that offers something for everyone: Koh Samui.
It is really an all-year-round holiday spot but the dry season starts in December, making Koh Samui a perfect winter destination.
There are so many cool activities to choose from: Chill out at the stunning beaches, hike to amazing viewpoints or explore the Buddhist temples. Go see waterfalls, sail to beautiful islands, get a cheap massage, relax with a yoga class or try the national sport Thai boxing.
Oh, and don’t forget to eat lots of delicious Thai food! Sample street food and snacks at one of the many night markets or learn new recipes by taking a Thai cooking class.
The possibilities for having fun are endless and it is almost guaranteed that you will have an awesome vacation on Koh Samui. (Victoria & Alex from Northabroad)
From Bora Bora to the Caribbean our family has spent a few Christmases on the beach. Last December we visited Maldives, where we spent a few days watching the sun come up and listening to the ocean from our overwater villas, it was the most magical of all! Anytime is a good time to visit the Maldives since the temperatures hover over a balmy 80F. The best time to visit the Maldives is said to be from November to April.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is located on the Emboodhu Finolhu Island which used to be called ‘Three Coconut Island’. We flew from Chennai to Male through Colombo on SriLankan Airlines. Taj Exotica is located not too far from the Malé airport and is just a 20-minute boat ride away, no need for any seaplanes. The water is crystal clear, the food and service are amazing and there is abundant marine life and water activities to keep the kids busy while parents find hammocks or the ocean swing to relax! (Priya of Outside Suburbia)
Nagoya, the 4th largest city in Japan is a great place to visit in December. Not only is the winter food delicious, but there are some activities you simply have to enjoy in winter.
Let’s first talk about the great food in Nagoya. I highly recommend you try some steaming hot Miso Nikomi Udon, Udon noodles in a dark Miso soup served still boiling hot in an earthenware pot. Exactly the right food for those cold winter days. You might also want to try Kishimen noodles, flat and broad noodles served in a hot broth.
When it comes to winter activities in Nagoya there is nothing better than a visit to Nabana no Sato, a flower garden with the most beautiful winter illumination in all of Japan. The theme changes every year and the millions of lights are spectacular. There is nothing more romantic than strolling through the park at night with your loved one. (Lena of Nagoya Foodie)
December in the Middle East
Dubai in December is the perfect sunny escape. Sitting on the Arabian Gulf, December brings with it pleasant day time temperatures of around 75F, ideal for enjoying the city’s miles of sandy beaches, sailing from the beautiful marina or taking a deeper explore into the desert and nearby Hatta Mountains.
Those who worry they may not be in the Christmas spirit, rest assured although it’s not a public holiday in this majority Muslim country, you cannot get away from the Christmas decorations and festivities in all the mega-shopping malls and resort hotels – you may even be lucky enough to catch Santa arriving on his camel!
It is also one of the most popular times for tourists, so book favorite attractions and hotels in advance at this time of year. For families, we love the Palm Jumeirah resort area or any of the great family hotels along JBR, The Beach. (Keri of Little City Trips)
December in Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
With its combination of sunshine and adventure, South Africa is one of the best destinations to visit in December.
Cape Town is extra special in December, when locals embrace the festive season and travelers arrive from across the globe to enjoy the mix of beach and city. For those planning a family escape, visiting Cape Town with a baby or kids is a great choice.
The beautiful coastline along the Garden Route is spectacular in the winter months and the Cape Winelands is a magnet for visitors exploring the wineries and indulging in wine tastings and picnics on the lawn.
December is also a great month for safari. The South African summer coincides with the wet season and, despite the resulting tall grasses, the Big 5 make frequent appearances. It was a December safari that rewarded us with a sighting of the elusive wild dogs, a moment we’ll never forget! (Elaine and Dave of Show Them the Globe)
Zanzibar is a perfect destination to visit in December. During this month, and until February it’s hot and dry – ideal conditions for enjoying the beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters surrounding the islands.
There are plenty of things to do in Zanzibar, from diving to enjoying Stone Town’s markets, to seeing the unique wildlife in The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park.
For something special, book lunch at the Rock restaurant – which is exactly as it sounds – an incredible restaurant located on a rock in the ocean. From Stone Town, take a day trip over to prison island to see the old prison and admire the local residents – huge tortoises! (Hayley of A Lovely Planet)