Christmas time is coming! Do you know what are the best Christmas destinations in 2018?
From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes or even tropical beaches, here are 32 places to spend Christmas & New Year’s Eve chosen by 32 travel bloggers who recommend you the World’s most magical Christmas destinations.
Looking for an amazing Christmas in Europe? Don’t miss these essentials for backpacking Europe in the winter.
Best Christmas Destinations
Índice del post
- 1 Best Christmas Destinations
- 1.1 Rovaniemi, Finland
- 1.2 Vermont, USA
- 1.3 Edinburgh, Scotland
- 1.4 Paris, France
- 1.5 Tallinn, Estonia
- 1.6 Brisbane, Australia
- 1.7 Bruges, Belgium
- 1.8 Coron, Philippines
- 1.9 Chamonix, French Alps
- 1.10 Jasper, Canada
- 1.11 New York, USA
- 1.12 Soll, Austria
- 1.13 Ghent, Belgium
- 1.14 Vancouver, Canada
- 1.15 Japan
- 1.16 Strasbourg, France
- 1.17 Rome, Italy
- 1.18 Seoul, South Korea
- 1.19 Dresden, Germany
- 1.20 London, UK
- 1.21 Beirut, Lebanon
- 1.22 Zipolite, Mexico
- 1.23 Tbilisi, Georgia
- 1.24 Courchevel, France
- 1.25 New Orleans, USA
- 1.26 San Juan, Puerto Rico
- 1.27 Leyte, Philippines
- 1.28 Iran
- 1.29 North Beach, Australia
- 1.30 Key West, Florida, USA
- 1.31 Cape Town, South Africa
- 1.32 Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
- 1.33 SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓
We’ve celebrated Christmas in multiple destinations around the world. My kids have had fun in Romania, New York, Australia, the middle of the ocean and more. But nothing has ever been as real and magical as the time we spent in Rovaniemi, Finland. Home of the real Santa. A one hour flight not of Helsinki, Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Clause including his post office where letters from all over the world arrived and are sorted into country location.
You can visit any number of themed attractions from Santa’s Holiday Village or Santa’s Park. But better yet get up close the enchanted Finish forest on a husky sled or by learning to become an elf and decorating trees in the woods. Looking for something a little more grown up? Then jump on a snow mobile to find the Northern Lights under the darkened sky. You’ll not be disappointed with a visit to Rovaniemi, it’s like walking into a Christmas snow globe. Everything breaths Christmas and you can’t help but feel jolly. Just like the big red man himself.
– Erin, Explore With Erin
Vermont is the perfect place to spend the Christmas holidays. When you see a postcard of a snowy Christmas village decorated for the season, it’s quite possible you’re looking at an image of Vermont. This wintry New England wonderland is as cute as you imagine, with tiny villages, steepled churches, and snow snow snow!
There’s plenty of winter fun to be had, from skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and ice skating to snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more. And Vermont is known for its delicious local food. After time spent enjoying a winter’s day, you can sit down next to a roaring fire for a hearty meal. The classic Christmas spot is Vermont.
– Amy & Nathan, Two Drifters
Edinburgh, Scotland is a perfect Christmas destination. From a gloomy medieval Scottish capital, Edinburgh transforms into a giant cheerful and lively Christmas Market. Yes, almost the entire city centre is occupied by the Christmas market and this is amazing. However, at some point, Edinburgh gets so crowded, that it’s hardly possible to cross the street.
Edinburgh Christmas market has a couple of attractions, e.g. a huge Ferris wheel, an ice-skating rink and many others, especially for small children. Even though that it doesn’t usually snow in Edinburgh (well, maybe a couple of times during the entire winter), the atmosphere is still great! I visited Edinburgh Christmas market
– Liza Skripka, Tripsget
Paris is a wonderfully romantic city at any time of year but at Christmas it’s even more magical with the streets, squares and shop fronts lit up by thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights. I loved exploring the stalls of gifts, crafts and no end of edible and drinkable delights along the Champs-Elysée. The avenue of trees sparkling in their festive finery with the Arc de Triomphe at one end and a giant Ferris wheel at the other really is a stunning site. The atmosphere is decidedly festive. Sip a glass of mulled cider and soak it all in.
Another favourite spot, although an out and out tourist trap where artists display their paintings of Paris or try and persuade you to have your portrait drawn, the Place du Tertre in Montmartre is also a very pretty scene at dusk with the Christmas lights gently swaying in the breeze.
Along Boulevard Haussmann shopaholics will enjoy exploring the stylish department stores that vie for the best seasonal displays each year. Don’t miss Galeries Lafayette, in particular, its spellbinding Art Nouveau stained-glass dome sitting atop three tiers of exquisite balconies, dating back to 1912. And each year there is a different Christmas display here. Next door, Printemps gives it a run for its money with another stunning stained-glass dome and plenty of Christmas bling.
– Kathryn Burrington, TravelWithKat
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia is one of our favourite Christmas destinations. We celebrated Christmas here a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The old town of Tallinn was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to wholly preserve its medieval structure and as such is nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.
We loved the old town of Tallinn because it is so picturesque. The cobblestone streets are all originals, which along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century. It also has super cute houses, cafes and sightseeing highlights like the Kiek in de Kök (a 15th-century defensive tower), the Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century, and a 64m-high tower located in the main square. What makes it extra special is when it’s covered with a blanket of snow at Christmas time – it looks like something from a Disney film.
– Stefan and Sebastien, Nomadic Boys
Brisbane may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of travelling somewhere for Christmas. However, if you want to experience Christmas in the sun, then Brisbane is one of the best places to go.
Let me explain: The weather in Brisbane during December is fantastic. Temperatures are regularly in the high 20s, making it the ideal weather to get outside and enjoy the Australian sun!
Instead of having a traditional Christmas dinner, you could use one of the many free barbecue stations in the various parks around the city, to have your own BBQ dinner. Brisbane doesn’t have a natural beach, but it does have a man-made one on the Southbank. This is a handy place to cool down and relax in the Australian sun during Christmas. During December, a big screen is erected here, which shows a number of famous Christmas films late into the evening completely free!
Enjoying Christmas in the sun is a unique experience that you should definitely try at least once in your life. With great weather and lots to do in the city, Brisbane is one of the best places to do this!
– Tom Stevenson, The Travelling Tom
There’s no doubt that Bruges is one of the fairytale towns in Europe, and of course since Christmas is also a time of fairytales, at that time of the year you can’t expect to find a better travel destination than Bruges itself.
You just walk around the UNESCO World heritage medieval old town, visiting the most essential sights in Bruges, and you will see horse carriages moving on beautiful cobbled streets, medieval buildings in perfect state and most of the traffic noise you will hear comes from bicycle rings and not cars. The ambience you experience in Bruges is like constantly living scenes from a Christmas tale, especially at night when the streets are almost empty and precious landmarks are lit.
Bruges is often covered with snow around Christmas time, and walking between the canals and the picturesque bridges is especially gratifying at that time of the year. When you get tired of walking in the usually pretty cold weather around Christmas, you can warm up in candle lit bars with world famous Belgian chocolate or if you prefer with a pint of some of the most recognized beer on our planet.
– Gábor & Rachele, Surfing the Planet
For me the best winter destinations are somewhere warm. If you’re looking to escape the cold weather give the Philippines a look. Not only is the country one of the most beautiful in the world, it’s also very affordable.
While it’s rainy season in much of the Philippines during Christmas, Coron is an ideal place as the weather should still be perfect, you have a ton of nearby islands to visit, and there are sunken warships waiting to be explored if you’re a scuba diver. Make sure to book an island hopping trip to spend the day exploring the nearly deserted surrounding islands. You can also visit Kayangan Lake during your island hopping tour. It’s known as the cleanest lake in Asia.
Also make sure to hike to the top of the hill for impressive views of the city from behind Coron’s very own Hollywood style sign. So, while your friends back home are wearing triple layers and freezing, book your flights to explore the Philippines.
– Nathan Aguilera, Foodie Flashpacker
Chamonix, French Alps
Every year, on the evening that the children break up from school, we load ourselves (and our dogs) into our car and head to Europe in search of Christmas! Twice now we’ve driven to Chamonix, as this small town ticks all the boxes. The first time we visited we stayed just down the valley in Les Houches and drove in to the town each day. The most recent visit we booked an apartment in the centre of town.
Why is Chamonix perfect for Christmas? Well firstly, snow – guaranteed snow – more often than not in the actual town, but always a short cable-car ride away. They have a small Christmas Market selling locally-made handicrafts (knives, chocolate, alcohol!) – and churros with a chocolate dip. There are several patisseries along the high street and they decorate their windows with amazing festive treats, including brightly coloured glacéd fruits. For the children the chance to build a snowman, go sledging, drink hot chocolate while wrapped up in their winter gear, and shopping the festive market for a new decoration for our tree back at home in the UK, makes Chamonix OUR perfect Christmas destination.
– Tracey Kifford, PackThePJs
What better place to celebrate a white Christmas than the place that celebrates winter… Canada! By December 25, the Canadian Rockies are blanketed in soft snow, but there is plenty to do in Jasper during the winter! Jasper is situated in the heart of the Rockies and is the perfect place to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
When you aren’t relaxing indoors by a glowing fire watching the elk in the forest, head to Pyramid Lake for ice skating on a frozen lake or go Skiing at Marmot Basin! Prefer to go for a walk? Strap on some ice crampons and walk on frozen water that is 9 feet thick at Maligne Canyon. If you want the best of both worlds, go for a drive down the famous Icefield’s Parkway and take in glaciers and snow capped mountains along the way!
– Victoria Yore, Follow Me Away
New York, USA
Thanks to Hollywood and dozens of movies about winter holidays, I cannot imagine a city more romantic and magical around Christmas time than New York. And although the expectations these movies build up are way different from reality – New York during Christmas is cold, windy, and insanely crowded – there’s no other place I’d rather be. You can ice skate at Wollman rink in Central Park like the characters of Serendipity, with the skyline of NYC in front of you. It is as amazing as it looks in the movie (after you stay in line for quite a while and pay an obscene amount of money for tickets).
The top of Empire State building is lit up with red and green lights during November and December. You can try to recreate the scene from Sleepless in Seattle with your loved one. Although the characters in the movie meet there on St. Valentine’s Day, who’s to say that Christmas is less romantic?
You can even talk to the giant Christmas tree in front of Rockefeller Center like Kevin in Home Alone 2! Among other entertainments: walking up and down 5th Avenue and looking at jaw-dropping window displays, catching a Rockettes’ show at Radio City Hall or The Nutcracker performed by The New York City Ballet.
And when you get cold, stop by Serendipity 3 for their famous frozen hot chocolate, the most appropriate drink during Christmas season. Or have dinner at one of the many NYC restaurants featured in movies.
– Yulia Dyukova, The Foodie Miles
Snow-capped peaks, a quaint pedestrian village and fairy-tale seasonal decorations make Soll the perfect Christmas destination. Just 60 minutes from Munich or Salzburg airport, it is an ideal winter sports getaway for a long weekend. The Kaiser Skiwelt area is the largest in Austria and offers plenty to keep you amused over the Christmas period with plentiful slopes (284km of them to be exact!), gorgeous mountain chalets and stupendous views. Soll is one of nine villages which access the area and is surprisingly quiet – no rowdy groups of drunken revellers here, just a handful of bars and restaurants making for a relaxed vibe. If you need some more action, however you can simply ski to one of the more happening villages.
We spent Christmas in Soll a few years ago, and whizzing down the pistes, followed by a cold beer in one of the lively après ski bars beats gluttonous Christmas days on the sofa any year! If you don’t fancy testing your thighs on the ski slopes, you can take the cable car to Hohe Salve and enjoy panoramic views of the mountains while sipping on a hot chocolate topped with sweet marshmallows.
– Anne Slater-Brooks, TravelTheGlobe4Less
The compact medieval city of Ghent, with its cobbled streets and fairytale charm, is often overlooked by travelers who make a beeline for Bruges. But increasingly, more travelers are discovering its quaint canal-side architecture, edgy art scene and quirky bars. Time your visit between the winter months of November and January for the Gentse Winterfeesten, a Winter Festival embracing all things Christmassy and cold; sparkling light displays, traditional festive markets selling both local and international foods as well as craft treats, an ice-rink under the City Pavillion, an ice grotto to meet Santa, thrilling fairground rides and a giant ferris wheel affording panoramic views of the city and beyond.
Take a visit to Gravesteen during the festival and you will see rooms of the medieval castle, which showcases weaponry and torture devices, transformed into a Winter Wonderland with balloons on the ceiling, piles of presents and snow scenes. We particularly loved the medieval dungeon transformed into a tranquil Christmas setting complete with carols and Christmas Tree. As you walk around the city centre, pick up a hot chocolate or waffle from a street stall to warm you up. You will smell the waffles before you see them!
– Jenny Lynn, TraveLynn Family
One of my favorite Christmas destinations is the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. If you live in the western United States or Canada, Vancouver is a great holiday getaway without having to travel too far. The city is home to the Vancouver Christmas Market, which is modeled after the traditional Christmas markets that can be found in Germany and throughout Europe.
For those of us who don’t live in Europe and can’t make it there for the holidays, Vancouver is a great alternative to get a taste of the holiday spirit. In addition to the Christmas market, Vancouver is decked out in décor for the holidays. The street posts are wrapped in strands of lights, businesses are adorned with garland and giant Christmas trees are scattered around the city. The chilly weather and snow in the mountains surrounding the city really adds something special to the holiday season in Vancouver. And if you like snow sports as part of your Christmas experience, Vancouver offers easy access to some of the world’s best skiing and snowboarding.
– Kristen Furtado, Travels and Treats
Christmas in Japan is rather of a commercial one than religious. The main agenda is to spread positivity and happiness to everyone. Hence, wearing of costumes, anime cosplays, loli fashion, and other Japanese culture-related stuff makes Japan one with a unique way to celebrate Christmas.
The vibe presented during Christmas is different, busy, but inviting, and most of all one of a kind! People and families spend time especially in Tokyo to witness dancing Christmas lights in the Parks and to take a photo with cosplayers.
– Jerny Destacamento, The Jerny
We love Christmas, and if you are a fan of Christmas market, you should not miss Strasbourg, France which is said to be the Capital of Christmas and the oldest Christmas market tradition in Europe. Situated at the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg is at the Alsace region. Interestingly, a train from Paris will take 2 hours, but by car, it will take 5 hours.
What is special here and different from Paris or perhaps modern Europe is they focus more on the on the Alsace holiday traditions. You will get to see more traditional and rustic decorations. They are 300 over Christkindelsmärik wooden stalls decorated with beautiful ornaments surrounding the Notre-Dam Cathedral. An awesome sight and awe-inspiring place to be in during Christmas.
And because it is the winter season, it is cold in Strasbourg. Particular noteworthy local things to try out is their hot red wine, (Vin Chaud). Tasty red wine that warms your taste buds and body in the cold weather. Cold weather, hot red wine, Christmas market – Perfect Christmas.
– Don Yida San, Travelvoila
Capital of the Christendom, it’s hardly surprising that Rome is a fantastic destination for Christmas. Whether you are Catholic or not, you will love its festive mood. You can start soaking in the Yuletide atmosphere already from the 8th of December when streets and shops are spruced up with colorful lights, decorations, Christmas trees (the tallest is in St. Peter’s Square), and Nativity scenes all over the city.
This is also the time when the city is dotted with colorful Christmas markets. Among of the most famous is the one in Piazza Risorgimento, near the Vatican, selling handicrafts, jewelry and homeware, and in Piazza Mazzini, Prati neighborhood, where countless stalls sell anything from clothes to regional food specialties, decoration objects and even ethnic and foreign goods. Different neighborhoods, different markets, so don’t be surprised if you see Santa Claus and elves enjoying sweets and candies around the stalls. Many are the activities and events organized during Christmas time, such as concerts, the opening of ice skating rinks and themed exhibitions.
– Angela Corrias, Rome Actually
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has a knack for creating a magical atmosphere during the Christmas season. Store fronts and streets lamps are bathed in beautiful white lights, and fashion-forward Korea is dressed in its best seasonal garb from puffy jackets to silken scarves. It may be freezing and snowing outside, but you’re never too far from a warm coffee shop where you can watch the crisp winter scenery pass by.
The best place for a casual Christmas saunter in my opinion is Samcheong Dong where you can sit on the second or third storey at one of the many waffle shops. If you’d like to be active in the nippy weather, there are ski destinations a bus ride away from Seoul or you can trek one of the many hiker-friendly mountains that cover the city. Novices will love the 3-hour hike up the 836m Bukhansan, just north of the Han River. Start from the Bukhansanseong Hiking Support Center near Gupabal Station (subway line 3). Otherwise you can just wander along the frozen Cheonggyecheon stream where you’re sure to see happy families taking X-mas selfies while listening to Yuletide carolers.
– Callan Wienburg, Singapore n Beyond
German Christmas markets are famous the world over and in Dresden you will find the oldest of these markets. The Striezelmarkt has been running for over 500 years in the same square, and unlike a lot of markets that have been overrun by cheap imported products this market sticks to it roots. Beautifully handcrafted ornaments produced in the Ore Mountains can be purchased here.
Gluhwein is the drink of choice, a warm red or white wine, fragrant with Christmas spice. While the Striezelmarkt is the largest market in Dresden, 4 other markets are within a few minutes walk and more are spread throughout the city. My favourite is the Medieval market, this is held in the Stallhof, the old palace stables and jousting arena. Here food is cooked over open fires, the stall holders wear medieval costumes, and blacksmiths work hot metal. Try your hand at archery or if you are game, grab some friends and have a soak in the wooden barrel hot tub.
– Kaylie Lewell, Happiness Travels Here
London at Christmas is a smorgasbord of fabulousness. From glittering Christmas lights in the West End, to traditional markets, to sing along carols around Trafalgar Square’s world-famous Christmas tree, there’s just so much to see and do.
You could hop aboard a Christmassy cruise on the River Thames, see a Christmas show (book in advance), or just soak up the festive atmosphere in Covent Garden. You’ll most likely find a winter wonderland at Hyde Park, and if you’re into Harry Potter then the Warner Bros. Studio will probably be decked out with Hogwarts under snow.
For the traditionalists you could join in the carols by candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall or go sing carols at historic St Paul’s cathedral. And if it’s activity you’re after then get your skates on at Somerset House’s 18th century courtyard ice rink, or walk along the South Bank and buy a bag of hot roasted chestnuts, have a glass of mulled wine and be dazzled by the London Eye lording it over the river below.
If nothing else tickles your fancy then just wander along Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street gazing up at all the incredible glittering lights. Whatever you do though, make sure you book activities and events well in advance.
– Jo Castro, ZigaZag
Christmas in Beirut? Yes, you have read that right. Especially in the capital city of Beirut, big and glamorous Christmas parties are held in major hotels and lots of people like going to them – even if they are not Christian. You will also see Christmas lights, holly Christmas trees and big commercial displays, that light up the city is a special light and make it a great city break destination.
Also, the Beirut Christmas Village is being held at the Beirut Souks every year attracting thousands of visitors per day. In Lebanon, 35% of the population follow a form of Christianity called Maronite Catholic. That is why during Christmas time the crib scene becomes a focus for the prayer of people in the house. But also other common Catholic traditions such as going to a midnight mass service are also celebrated in the country. Christmas in Lebanon is still celebrated in a classy and kitschy way.
– Clemens Sehi, Travellers Archive
Zipolite is a totally offbeat place to spend Christmas, but I swear it’s amazing. While the town is quite quiet for most of the year, certain times bring many tourists, both Mexican and foreigners. Christmas and New Year’s is a huge time for Zipolite, when the town gets flooded with people sprawled along the clothing optional beach.
There are many Christmas celebrations; my favourite is at Cafe Maya, a small cafe on the beach where I tend to camp when I visit. The owner makes a special meal for whoever is staying at the time, and we all sit down together to enjoy – just like a family dinner, but far away from home. This feeling of being at home and treated to a home cooked meal makes it feel like you never left home – except you’re on the sand in the gorgeous heat! I highly recommend spending a Christmas in Zipolite!
– Danielle Ditzian, Like Riding a Bicycle
The cool thing about Georgia is that you can celebrate Christmas twice; the Georgian Orthodox church doesn’t agree on the birthdate of Christ. Due to a calendar hiccup, the date is off by two weeks. So on the 7th of January, the country celebrates Christmas. Stick around for both dates over New Year’s Eve to get the whole picture of Georgian culture and traditions, including the Alilo Procession.
Due to internationalization of the holiday, it’s not like there’s nothing happening in December. The capital city of Tbilisi is dressed up in a dizzying amount of lights, department stores participate in the gifting-culture, and there’s Christmas trees and other decorations. Everything is open on these days as it’s not a public holiday. Enjoy a low-key Christmas by going on a stroll on Rustaveli Avenue and enjoying the unforgettable food. Drink wines from the country’s various regions and experience Georgian’s genuine hospitality. If you’re feeling devout, visit the impressive Holy Trinity Cathedral and burn a candle. Or do it like a local and burn twenty candles.
– Iris Veldwijk, Mind of a Hitchhiker
If I could pick anywhere to be at Christmas time, it would be the ski resort of Courchevel in the French Alps. Part of the Three Valleys resort, it is the perfect winter destination – and one where you are guaranteed a white Christmas.
The highest village in Courchevel sits at 1850m above sea level and often has snow falling throughout December. This makes for some perfect powder dusted runs across its huge 600km skiing area, which is more than enough terrain for even the most advanced level skiers. Add in lots of van chaud (hot wine), Cointreau and chocolate covered crepes & the inevitable snowball fight and it makes for a magical Christmas destination.
– Vicki Garside, MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld
New Orleans, USA
There is no better place to spend Christmas than the beautiful city of New Orleans. Being born and raised there I might be partial but it’s for good reason. It is a city that exudes happiness and joy all year and even more so at Christmas. It is this vibrancy that makes it the perfect destination to enjoy the holidays. You can spend time in City Park and enjoy Christmas in the Oaks where twinkling lights hang from the most ancient of trees.
Wander around the French Quarter where some of the best jazz musicians exchange New Orleans Jazz standards for Christmas song favorites. Dine at some of the best restaurants in the world like Commander’s Palace or Brennan’s. Sample the city’s best dishes: Oysters Rockefeller, Seafood gumbo, muffulettas or bananas foster. Visit the famous Cafe du Monde for snowy beignets and chicory coffee. Ride in a horse drawn carriage to for a festive tour of a Christmas and city you will never forget.
– Cody Biggers, Travel Devoted
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Writing of your hometown always makes you biased, but it also gives the local outlook on how Christmas happens. Puerto Rico is known for having the longest Christmas you can imagine. Our Christmas season starts from Thanksgiving Day in United Stated (Third Thursday in November) until January 20, when the San Sebastian Street Fests (Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian) end.
Some of the traditions you will find if you spend Christmas in Puerto Rico are the traditional “parrandas”. Parrandas consist on making a group to go late at night singing with instruments door to door looking forward that the neighbors open the door and offer some snacks. The menu you will find in any Christmas party will include Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Peas), Pork and the traditional drink called “Coquito”. The Coquito is a beverage made of coconut cream, condensed milk and lots of runs. Some say that is like the Puerto Rican eggnog. In conclusion, if you want to have memorable Christmas and party hard, definitely San Juan is the city.
– Brenda G. Mejia, Traveleira
Palo is a small town in the province of Leyte, Philippines. It was one of the towns hardly hit by the Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Four years later, Palo and the rest of Leyte now stands proud and getting back on its feet. Despite the frequent typhoons especially on what we call the ‘Ber Months’, Christmas in Palo is a fun and enjoyable season.
Palo has indeed one of the coolest Christmases in the Philippines. The town literally lights up during Christmas Season, which in the Philippines starts on September.
There are numerous activities held in town especially in December. This include contests, shows and fireworks display. Not to mention the ‘Simbang Gabi’ held at dawn in the Palo Cathedral Church where numerous devotees attend to, hoping to complete the 9 days mass before Christmas. A Christmas House is also open for guests wanting to see cute little Santas and small Christmas Towns for free. There is usually a queue when visiting, but the wait is not pretty long as they allow several groups at once.
The Town Plaza in Palo is usually where the action is. If you’re looking for something to do, eat and watch, this is the place to be.
There is a sort of Christmas Bazaar in the Town Plaza called ‘Baratilyo’ by the locals where you can find a variety of novelty items from toys, shirts, homemade jewelries and home accessories. Nightly activities at the Town Plaza are also being held a week or two before Christmas Day with lots of grilled food (bbq and the like) sold at a cheap price.
The Barangays – the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village – also participates in the town’s festivities by decorating their streets with Christmas Lights with most houses joining in as well. Walking in it feels like being surrounded with stars. Add it up with the cool breeze and peaceful atmosphere, and you’ll have a very ‘Christmasy-feel’. For a small provincial town, Palo has indeed something to offer for people who loves Christmas!
– Marvi, Osmiva
If there is one amazing off the beaten path travel destination where to escape all the fuzz about Christmas it is Iran. I never thought about it myself but once I was in the Islamic Republic in the Persian Gulf I realized I was not celebrating Christmas at all that year. There are literally zero signs of Christmas so no christmas trees, no street light decoration totally nothing!
It was weird to experience these days in an islamic country and unintentionally I found out this was the best place in the world to go if you hate Christmas. But there is an alternative: Yalda. As Iranian people are among the most welcoming people in the world it is pretty easy to get invited to a family dinner for their festival on the 21st of December where the celebrate the longest night of the year. Prepare yourself to sit on a table with grandma, eat pomegranate and see the real Iranian culture behind closed doors.
– Tom Grond, Travel Tomtom
North Beach, Australia
There is no better Christmas destination than an Aussie beach. I know this must sound utterly crazy to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere but I can assure you a hot Christmas is to die for. On a sweltering summers day at the beach, you can enjoy the sand between your toes, a dip in the ocean, the glorious Australian sun and a refreshing cider, beer, wine or indeed any cold drink for that matter.
Surrounded by family, my favourite Aussie beach is none other than North Beach, Wallaroo, South Australia. Why may you ask? Well, not only is this beach long with white sand and calm waters but you can drive right up onto it. Yes, drive on the beach! Hence, you can create the ultimate Christmas set up. Starting with a gazebo, bbq and esky for shade, food and drinks respectively you must also bring towels, sunscreen, sunnies and a beach cricket set. Christmas is never Christmas without some friendly family competition, and beach cricket is undoubtedly an Aussie favourite.
If you are ever planning on spending a Christmas down under I would encourage to check out North Beach, Wallaroo, create an epic set up and enjoy the long, long day (it’s summer, of course, the sun does take forever to go down).
– Lauren Owen, The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo
Key West, Florida, USA
You might think a snow covered chalet and a roaring fire is the ultimate Christmas destination, but a tropical destination can be just as fun. Why not put the greenery back in your Christmas tree – as in green palm trees, azure warm water, and an umbrella Christmas cocktail – and head to Key West, Florida for Christmas?
Located at the southernmost point in the USA, Key West is the last stop on US Highway 1 and 90 miles before you reach Cuba. Its laid back island vibe is the reason so many revelers flock here to escape the harsh winter up north and enjoy the holidays in paradise. The holidays are the perfect time to get in, on, or under the water, and you can snorkel, sail, dive, parasail, kayak, fish, or just hang out by the water with a cocktail during the day. Then watch the sun set from Mallory Square and the fun begins.
Cap off your holidays by ringing in the New Year in Key West, watching Sushi descend in her Red High Heeled Shoe at the New Orleans House, the conch drop at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, or the Pirate Wench drop from the mast of a tall ship at the Schooner Wharf Bar. It’s always a fun Christmas party in the Conch Republic!
– Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Cape Town, South Africa
A lot of countries have to endure Christmas in cold weather. And that’s what makes Cape Town really special on Christmas season. Being on the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas in South Africa means summer and summer time means more fun.
If other countries have endless supply of white snow, Cape Town has miles and miles of white beaches to enjoy. Winter Christmas also meant you are limited in what you can do for Christmas, but in Cape Town, you won’t run out of activities to do and places to explore while wearing your bikinis. There are wide selections of great beaches, imposing mountains and landscapes to enjoy. Christmas season here also means more time for kite surfing, surfing, paragliding, shark diving, safaris, nature trekking and simply enjoying this beautiful city in a beautiful weather. And if that’s not enough, this city is also famous for its high quality restaurants and great wines from their world class wineries. And for me, that’s the best way to celebrate your Christmas.
– Christine Rogador, The Travelling Pinoys
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
Pigeon Forge, at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, makes the perfect backdrop to a Tennessee holiday. It is decorated in 5 million lights to create a winter wonderland that can be seen via private vehicle or the town trolley. Full of southern hospitality and good cooking, there are over 125 restaurants to choose from, such as, my favorite, the Apple Barn. The town has an abundance of outlet and souvenir stores to buy gifts for loved ones. There are many hotels that are within walking distance of dinner shows and attractions. If a hotel stay is not what you are looking for, you can invite the whole family to stay in a chalet in the snow covered mountains.
Santa shares the spotlight at the annual Christmas parade with the famous singer and actress Dolly Parton. You can visit her Christmas themed Dixie Stampede dinner show, or have fun at her theme park, Dollywood. It has over 4 million lights along with Christmas decorations, food, music, plays, and a special activity area for the kids where Santa can be found! Christmas in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is the place to be!
– Becci Edington, Tattling Tourist
Where are you spending Christmas?
What’s your favorite Christmas destination?
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