Looking for a last-minute Christmas getaway? Christmas is a great time to travel, especially for those of us who get 4 public holidays in the span of 2 weeks. Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and January 2nd (not sure why…) are public holidays here in Western Australia, so Alex and I are taking full advantage of this and planning to embark upon a road trip to Esperance and then spend some time on the beach here in Cottesloe as well. Here are 19 best Christmas destinations to visit in 2019 whether you’re looking for a white Christmas or a hot, warm, sweaty one.
Best Christmas Destinations 2019
As Christmas is just 4 days after the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, many of the best Christmas holiday destinations in Europe and North America are cold, blanketed with snow, and reminiscent of a sentimental idea of what Christmas ought to be. Our list is dominated by Europe, as each of the major (and minor) cities is a quintessential representation of the romantic idea one conjures when thinking about Christmas; a feeling that provides a rush of nostalgia and memories (hopefully good) of childhood. European Christmas Markets are a very popular tourist attraction and one that we hope to experience next year. Many of our favorite cities in Europe have incredible markets and festivals for the holidays.
For those of us currently in the Southern Hemisphere, December 25 will be a hot, long, sunny, sweaty, day of beach excursions, playing with kangaroos, and BBQs. So, we will also explore some of the best destinations for Christmas in Oceania and South America.
LA is literally sunny 285 – 300 days a year, making it the perfect Christmas destination for those wanting to have a mild December. Considering LA is also only a short drive from the ski resorts of Mountain High, Big Bear, and Mammoth, you can enjoy both a sandy and a snowy Christmas break. Get to the suburbs or LA and enjoy some time hiking in Malibu. You’ll love the fact that you can be outdoors hiking or even swimming at the beach in December!
Our recommendation: Skip Hollywood Blvd. and enjoy these non-touristy things to do in Los Angeles
Well, we had to include the destination that we are visiting for Christmas, right? Esperance is located on the southern coast of Western Australia. It is an absolute paradise of white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. Plus, you can’t really beat the weather in Western Australia in December – February. We can’t wait to spend Christmas frolicking the beaches and playing with kangaroos. Stay tuned for some awesome photos and blogs!
Our second home is also the home to some pretty awesome Christmas markets. We haven’t actually spent Christmas in Florence (yet…stay tuned for next year), but we know many people who have any it seems like such a magical place to celebrate, eat, and indulge in the treats of the Christmas markets.
Our only trip to Munich was for Oktoberfest (almost 5 years ago) but we still loved the charm of the city. Germany has some of the best Christmas markets in the world, and Munich is definitely one of the stops you should make if you plan to visit them!
London is a great destination regardless of the time of year. The city is decorated in lights, there are great Christmas markets, and there are plenty of festivals (as well as New Year’s Eve festivities) to keep you entertained during your Christmas holiday.
London Travel Guide
Ok, ok…you don’t want to be in the cold. We got you. Sure, December is rainier than the other months, but it is a tropical rain. December is down/low season in Bora Bora, so you’ll find some great deals and get to experience true paradise on the cheap.
One cliche, stereotypical, cheesy, trip we want to take one year is to spend Christmas in NYC. Yes, we want to experience the touristy, goofy, overdramatized version of Christmas that is so abundantly available in movies this time of year: ice skating under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, running through toy stores, and riding horse-drawn carriages through central park. It might be cheesy, but it sounds like a great nostalgia infused trip. Spend Christmas in NYC and if you want to stay for New Year’s Eve, you’ll have PLENTY to do!
Utah often gets a lot of bad press and somehow has a negative connotation for some. Trust us, this is as far from the truth as possible. Utah is absolutely gorgeous. In December, it is a true winter wonderland. Just a short drive from Salt Lake City, Park City has some of the best ski and snowboard resorts in the world.
There isn’t a bad time to visit Bali. December is, technically, during “monsoon season,” but we once spent an entire December in Bali and, believe us, the weather was fine! It will probably rain, but it will be intermittent and scattered. You’ll have plenty of time for the beach and will enjoy the gorgeous sunny, smiley, happy island without as many tourists as you’ll see in high season.
Pretty much the whole of Southeast Asia is worth seeing year-round. The wettest months in Thailand actually precede the holiday season, so you’ll probably enjoy gorgeous beach days on your Christmas trip to Thailand. Sure, you’ll get scattered thunderstorms and rain on Koh Samui, but it can be brief. Plus, the rain is usually warm.
December is one of the better times to visit Machu Picchu if you don’t mind the rain. The incredible Incan historical site has become quite popular and easily accessible over the years, which has translated into hoards of tourists, buses, etc. We had one of the most magical experiences of our lives at Machu Picchu, so we recommend that everyone visit at least once in life. Christmas might be a great opportunity as you’ll avoid the hoards of humans and spend your holiday doing something truly memorable.
Back to Christmas markets. Vienna (and many other cities in Austria) are well known to have some incredible Christmas markets. The city, herself, is filled with delicious food, friendly locals, and rich history of musicians, artists, and scientists that have had a profound impact on the world.
We visited Prague a few years ago and would probably say that it is in our top 5 favorite cities in the world. We have seen the pictures of how the city is decorated for Christmas and with the markets, jubilant locals, and decorations adorning the streets, it makes for an incredible Christmas destination.
Budapest Christmas markets look next level amazing and the city, herself, is a gorgeous, historic destination that everyone ought to visit at least once in life. If you’re cold, you can take advantage of the city’s vast network of bathhouses, spas, and massage parlors.
No matter the time of year, Amsterdam makes for a great destination. Maybe it won’t just be pine trees that you’ll be enjoying this Christmas season! Not to mention, in keeping with our European theme, Amsterdam also happens to have some pretty epic Christmas Markets and the Dutch seem to have some great Christmas traditions.
Did you know that Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) is from Turkey? History indicates that Santa was born sometime around 280 AD in Myra (modern-day Turkey). So, as you might expect, the city is decked out for Christmas and the celebrations will be of epic proportions.
The city of lights would make an awfully great destination for a holiday that places such an emphasis on lights. Paris’ Christmas markets rival any city around the world, enhancing the already magical ambiance that one experiences while strolling the streets of France’s capital city.
Guess what? Yes, like all of our other European destinations, Brussels has awesome Christmas markets. They also have WAFFELS, Belgian chocolate, and frites. Brussels is a tryst of modern conveniences and historic charm. If you visit, be sure to take a day trip to our next destination below!
We didn’t think the town of Bruges could get any more magical and adorable…and then we saw photos of the Christmas markets. Bruges has a charm about it that is akin to a fairy tale. Add in Christmas trees, lights, and markets filled with waffels, roasted nuts, and hand-made crafts, and you have yourself the perfect Christmas destination! Go to Lizzie’s Waffels and get the best waffel and hot chocolate you’ll ever have in your life.
Zurich is one of those cities that is perfect to visit any time of the year. In summer, one can swim in Lake Zurich and in winter you can indulge in swiss hot chocolate and gorgeous snow-covered mountains that envelop Zurich like a warm hug. This city is clean, and perfect in almost every way. It would make for the perfect Christmas destination!
You can turn this list of destinations into a pretty epic European backpacking journeying. Train from London > Paris > Brussels > Bruges or take buses between Prague > Vienna > Budapest. There are myriad ways you can see more than 1 of our best Christmas destinations on one trip this year!