Christmas is a fabulous holiday we all look forward to each year. But it can definitely bring with it a lot of stress. So why not take a break from it all this season by escaping to an exotic destination to spend the holidays.
There are many wonderful destinations which not only embrace the Christmas spirit, but also bring a little extra magic to the already exciting holiday. Whether you are looking for a winter wonderland to get into the true holiday spirit or desire a tropical paradise to relax, this Christmas can be whatever you make it.
Be inspired by the following destinations which are sure to leave you with many lasting Christmas memories.
Vienna has become Europe’s Christmas Capital with its world famous Christmas Markets which date back to the 13th century. The area around the stunning Belvedere Palace displays more than 40 Christmas stalls offering hand-made Christmas decorations, special culinary delights, and numerous crafts. The smell of roasted chestnuts will fill your nose and international choirs singing carols will delight your ears.
Be sure to check out Schönbrunn Palace which also offers a wonderful Christmas market along with a New Year’s market which runs from Dec 27-Jan 1.
Vienna knows how to do Christmas with style and elegance, far removed from the chaotic commercialism seen in many places.
Not one to be outdone by Vienna’s Christmas Markets, Nuremberg also offers its own Christmas Market, known as Christkindlesmarkt. Some 200 vendors take part in the market, all which offer incredible and unique crafts. It’s the perfect place to get a few more ornaments for your tree back home.
Santa who? In Nuremberg it is Christkind who is celebrated by local children. A young girl aged between 16 and 19 is chosen each year to be Christkind and it is her that is said to bring the kids Christmas presents along with a symbol of hope and love throughout the festive season.
Grab a giant Lebkuchen or gingerbread cookie and cuddle up in warm blankets as you take a historic stagecoach ride through the decorated streets, listening to Christmas songs that fill the streets.
Head to the Arctic Circle this Christmas to spend time in the official hometown of Santa Claus. The city is full of fun winter activities that the whole family will enjoy. Get led by reindeer on a winter wonderland sleigh ride or sleep in an igloo.
After spending the day skiing or snowshoeing, spend the night in search of the magical northern lights. Or how about trying your hand at dog mushing as you lead your own team of huskies through the Lapland wilderness. Snowmobile safaris can also be arranged for a faster paced adventure.
Santa’s Village offers Christmas magic with its shops, restaurants and cafés. Meet Santa himself, get your Arctic Circle crossing certificate, or send postcards back home from
Santa’s main post office where sent letters get stamped with a unique Arctic Circle postmark.
This stunning chain of Islands in the middle of the Pacific is a great destination to relax during Christmas. It is the choice location of past U.S. President Obama and his family, who spend their holiday season here annually.
Like the rest of America, Hawaiians start putting up Christmas decorations around Thanksgiving which takes place near the end of November. No place gets more into the spirit of Christmas on the islands than in Honolulu, where a month long celebration known as Honolulu City Lights takes place. You’ll experience a massive 50 foot lighted Christmas tree, parades, live entertainment, and festive displays.
The islands do see an influx of tourists during the month of December, but escape to islands like the Big Island or Kauai for a bit more of a “silent night”. Both islands offer more seclusion and a wealth of natural beauty. Discover active volcanoes such as Kīlauea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or learn about Hawaiian history and culture at the archaeological gem Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Both Parks are located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kauai offers stunning waterfalls, towering cliffs, canyons, and isolated pristine beaches.
New York City, U.S.A.
Christmas in New York is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. There is a reason many of our most beloved Christmas movies are shot in New York. The entire city goes all out when it comes to decorating for the season. The massive Norway spruce Christmas tree covered in over 50,000 lights stands as the centrepiece along with incredible storefront window displays, giant sized ornaments and statues throughout the streets, and even the Empire State Building being lit in red and green.
Ice skating rinks can be enjoyed by all throughout the city as well as numerous Christmas music events like George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Messiah, and the Paramount Theatre’s musical “A Christmas Carol”. New York will also allow you to get all your holiday shopping completed via Grand Central Terminal’s Holiday Fair.
Extend your stay to ring in the New Year and witness the iconic Times Square Ball drop with stunning live entertainment.
Iceland brings together stunning landscapes, outdoor adventure, delicious fine dining, and Christmas cheer. The already colourful city becomes even more so when decorated in endless Christmas lights. The Winter Solstice occurs on 12/21st which means you’ll get to experience the magical Christmas lights of the city nearly all day long since Iceland sees only about 3-4 hours of daylight this time of year.
You’ll also find loads of new books in the stores thanks to Jólabókafloð, or The Christmas Book Flood. Christmas is the time when all the publishers release their latest titles.
Shop at the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjörður about 20 minutes outside Reykjavik or head even further to explore the Golden Circle route which takes in Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You will also witness Gullfoss waterfall and geysers. Away from the city lights, you will also have a better chance at witnessing the incredible northern lights.
Word of caution, if you’ve been naughty during the year, try your best to avoid the elf-like creatures that are said to come down from the volcanic lands outside of Reykjavik every Christmas to create mischief for those who weren’t exactly angels.
Remember to always cover your travels with quality travel insurance in the event you receive an unwanted Christmas gift in the form of lost luggage, medical issues abroad, delays, or other travel related issues that could arise.