In recent years, Christmas has become a global celebration, regardless of location or religion. Because of this, more people, including families, couples, and solo travelers alike, are choosing to spend the holidays away from home and somewhere new in the world.
The only issue with this plan is deciding on a destination. With so many beautiful towns and cities out there, all with their own traditions, events, and decorations, narrowing down your options can be tricky. To help you out a little, here are sixteen of the best places you could spend the holidays this year.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Unlike many other countries, Amsterdam starts its Christmas celebrations the month before the big day, with the arrival of Sinterklaas and the citywide lights festival occurring in November, rather than December.
As well as this magical event, there is also the opportunity to ice skate along the canals or the Iamsterdam ice rink, check out many Christmas markets, and ride the joyous Ferris wheel.
You can also take part in the Winter Parade at the convention center.
Although most famous for its Christmas Market, which has been running for almost 500 years now, there is a whole host of festive things to be getting on with in Strasbourg.
Alongside the traditional market, which is home to themed Christmas villages and more than 300 hundred stalls, there is the alternative OFF Market, which features street art and live music.
Make sure you also take the time to admire the giant and wonderful Christmas tree near Sharing Village.
Nestled in the heart of Bavaria is the breathtaking display of Gothic brick architecture and medieval fortified buildings known as Nuremberg.
This historic city plays host to more than 2 million visitors each year, many of which come to explore the world-renowned Christkindlesmarkt or Christmas Market, with highlights such as the 200 stalls, steam train, carousel, and Ferris wheel.
There is also Toy and German Railway Museums to educate and entertain the family.
Being the birthplace of popular Christmas hymn, “Silent Night”, Salzburg is a must-see for Christmas-loving travelers all over.
As well as its traditional festive market and frequent dustings of snow, this quintessential Christmas town also plays host to a few more unusual traditions, most notably being The Krampus Runs.
Occurring throughout December, these events have locals dress up as terrifying beasts, knowns as krampuses, to search for naughty children.
For some of the best Christmas lights in the world, Geneva is the place to go.
As part of the Christmas traditions, the entire Lake Geneva is lit up, featuring stalls, shops, and, of course, thousands of lights. There is also a market full of Christmas treats for foodies all over the world.
If you’re a fan of the circus, then head over to Plaine de Plainpalais to see the Cirque de Noel, which displays many talented acts, including magicians, tightrope walkers, and trained cats.
Rome is a city on many travelers bucket lists, but few would think to visit throughout the festive period.
Unbeknownst to many, Rome is one of the most magical places to spend the holidays, with its glorious Christmas tree at the Colosseum and Christmas light displays as you’ve never seen them before.
The ornately crafted Nativity scenes displayed in the churches and the festive concert at The Auditorium are also more than enough to take your breath away.
When it comes to Christmas, Scandinavia’s affordable and vibrant capital is not one to disappoint.
Being a relatively small and welcoming city, pre-Christmas activity is simple and fun to navigate. The whole place is covered in lights, with markets on almost every corner you come across.
Complete with cabaret, crafts, beer, and rollercoasters, The Tivoli Gardens hosts one of the best. If candy is the best part of Christmas for you, then Soemods Bolcher is the place to go.
You’ve never done Christmas until you’ve done it in London. It’s a truly unique experience. The entire city transforms into a magical winter wonderland, with ice skating being the most loved activity on offer.
There are also lots of legendary London hallmarks to explore, including Covent Garden, Hyde Park, and Piccadilly Circus, as well as the thousands of shops and stalls.
If you get a little tired from all of the excitement, you can have a drink and meal at a retro ski lodge.
Edinburgh is a city famous for its cold and often snowy weather, but, throughout the festive months, this is no longer something to be complained about.
In fact, by turning the city into a picture perfect for a Christmas card, the fact is celebrated. As well as the wintery weather, the Christmas tree maze, many markets and ice rinks, and The Street of Light all help to create a truly magical area to spend the holidays.
There are also plenty of shopping opportunities to enjoy.
With their Irish spirit and a cracking sense of humor, those in Dublin have a number of weird and wonderful ways to spend the holidays.
One of the most surprising is the popular swim on Christmas morning which occurs at the Forty-Foot sea-water pool.
If you were to spend the festive season in the city, there are also plenty of more traditional activities to enjoy too, as well as ice skating, Christmas markets, pantomimes, lights, and a Christmas carol sing along.
New York City, USA
The city that never sleeps never fails to put on a great show over the Christmas period, which is likely why so many TV shows, books, and movies are set in the city during Christmas time.
There is far too much to do, even for a long trip, but that just makes the experience that much more exciting.
Lying at the very core of New York Christmas is Rockefeller Center, so be sure to include that in your itinerary, as well as a skate on its long-running and famed ice rink.
Christmas is a massive holiday in Malta, with residents proudly opening up their shutters and doors every single year to show off the nativity scenes they’ve assembled in their homes, along with the huge display spread over Ta’ Passi Fields.
As well as this, you have a wondrous sight of Christmas lights and singing carolers to keep Downtown Valletta alive with Christmas spirit. If you’re a fan of the theater, then the Manoel is known to put on a popular pantomime every year.
Often considered to be one of the most underrated Christmas getaways out there, Vilnius feels nothing less than magical throughout the festive season.
It doesn’t matter how dark or cold the winters get, the locals continue to keep spirits up and alive with the many festivities and markets around the city.
You can go and admire the tree at Cathedral Square, buy yourself or someone else something to keep warm at the Wool House or explore the Christmas Charity Bazaar.
Running from November to January, the Christmas Markets in Brussels completely take over the city, filling the center with more than 200 chalets, fairground attractions, and ice rinks.
There are also plenty of Christmas events to keep your busy, including concerts at the Grande Place, lights parades, and choirs singing on Saint Catherine Square.
As if this isn’t enough, the food is also some of the best around, featuring Belgian specialties, like waffles and chocolate.
A real dream come true for children and adults alike, Santa Claus’ hometown is a must-see for all who still believe in the magic of Christmas.
You can enroll in Elf School, feed reindeers by hand, bake gingerbread biscuits with Mrs. Claus, and so much more.
There are also wildlife parks, sanctuaries, museums, and science centers to keep you busy, including The Arktikum, which helps to reveal the mystery of the northern lights.
St. Petersburg, Russia
For those true Christmas lovers out there, who never really want the day to end, why not celebrate a second one and head to Russia for the New Year.
Unlike many other places in the world, Russia celebrate Christmas day in early January, making it the perfect festive spot for those that can’t go away over the 25th.
St. Petersburg is an ideal spot for those looking for a new experience, with the opportunity to book a troika ride around Pavlovsk Park.
Many people prefer to stay at home over the holidays, but for those that want to travel and see somewhere new, then you need to choose the right spot.
There are many destinations to consider, much more than you could write in a list, in fact, but those above are some of the best or most popular around.
Hopefully, with this information, you can narrow down your choices and pick the best destination for you and your family. Christmas is just around the corner, so don’t leave it too late to plan your holiday getaway.