Some people like to escape to warm and sunny destinations come winter, but some cities are at their best during the Christmas season. Festive lights, colorful markets, cozy cafes, and a refreshing lack of crowds make these Christmas destinations worth the cold. Don’t miss it, for this is your best chance to see how cities around the world transform every December. 

26 Amazing Winter Destinations To Consider While Planning Your Christmas Vacation

Christmas celebrations may vary from one place to another but the festive spirit is the same everywhere. Here are 26 amazing Christmas destinations to consider while planning your vacation.

Vienna, Austria

christmas destinations
Vienna Town Hall at dusk Christmas destinations

One of the best cities in Europe is Vienna, no matter the season. With its amazing mix of neoclassical palaces, old Christmas markets, and warm coffeehouses, the Austrian capital is one of the must-visit Christmas destinations in the winter. You can check out the majestic imperial architecture, various holiday concerts, and balls, including the Vienna Philharmonic Ball and the Neujahrskonzert, and try delicious treats like gluhwein, hot chocolate, and sacher torte. Also, check out the Viennese ice skating rinks and the ski fields in the surrounding Alps which is a unique experience. If you wish to have a vintage-style celebration, then this is the place to be as Vienna hosts one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world.

West Bank, Bethlehem

christmas celebration
Santa Claus brought gifts for Christmas. Santa is placing gift boxes under the Christmas tree

If you’re thinking about taking your family on a Christmas vacation, consider going to Bethlehem because no place celebrates this season more than the place where Jesus Christ was born. It’s one of the top destinations to celebrate Christmas. Bethlehem celebrates Christmas like a city carnival since it has a substantial Christian population. Christmas music is played loudly in the street, and there are lights and decorations everywhere. During the holidays, a huge Christmas tree is erected at Manger’s Square. Christmas festivities in the Old City and Manger Square alone can enliven visitors’ spirits.

Lapland, Finland

places to celebrate christmas
People in Reindeer sled caravan safari in winter forest in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

Located to the north of the Arctic Circle, the Finnish Lapland is said to be the true home of Santa Claus. The joyful man in his red and white attire traverses through the streets recreating Christmas Day for everyone. The Santa Claus Village is open throughout the year and is a true winter wonderland. Santa Park, in the center of the city, is a fun place that has various activities, especially for kids. Covered with snowy fir trees and home to various festive experiences like reindeer sleigh rides, husky safaris, and even a visit to Santa’s office it is a joyful experience. You can also learn how to bake cookies from Mrs. Claus, and meet with Saint Nicholas himself, as well as explore the Arctic wildlife and chase the Northern Lights. It’s hard to imagine a more authentic destination to celebrate Christmas this winter. 

Bruges, Belgium

best places to celebrate christmas
Festive illuminations and Christmas tree on the Burg Square in the Belgian city of Bruges.

One of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, Bruges turns into a fairytale landscape each winter. Its winding canals and cobblestoned streets are lit up with thousands of twinkly lights each year. Christmas markets and ice skating rinks abound here, and if you want to escape from the cold, it’s easy to warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate and delicious waffles. December is the best time to visit Bruges because of the world-famous Christmas markets. It’s home to two of the popular Christmas markets where you can get all the festive vibes. The temperature in December is just around freezing making it the perfect place for white Christmas. Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage site fills the air with the aromas of mulled wine and spices along with some Christmas music during this time.

The Vatican, Italy

Christmas in Italy
Christmas tree in front of Coliseum in Rome, Italy

Why celebrate Christmas away from home? This place has the answer to it. Throughout the year, the amazing Vatican City is constantly appealing, but December is especially splendid. The city is overloaded with charming landscapes, and every street serves up roasted clichés, adding to the city’s rhythms. On Christmas Eve, St. Peter’s Basilica hosts midnight mass, which attracts a large number of tourists and makes for a memorable day. Many individuals value participating in this ritual and designate this day as a day of remembrance. The Vatican Christmas Tree, which has been constructed in Saint Peter’s Square, is a popular site during this festive time. Certainly, this location is among the best places to spend Christmas.

Hallstätt, Austria

best christmas destinations
The snow-covered village of Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps during wintertime

We bet you will instantly fall in love with Hallstatt in winter because this place looks like the sets of the Disney movie, ‘Frozen’. This small Austrian village on the shores of Hallstätter See near Salzburg is one of the most picturesque places in the country. The sight of pure white snow draped over the old wooden houses and mountains surrounding the glassy lake with the twinkling of Christmas lights makes the place simply magical. Winters here are nothing short of extraordinary! Its 12th-century churches, charming restaurants, and market squares become more charming during the winter, especially when the Dachstein Mountains that surround it are covered with snow. It is the perfect place to go skiing, snowshoe hiking, or even simply take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Copenhagen, Denmark

christmas celebration
An elevated view of the Swedish city of Helsingborg during some wintry weather conditions.

Copenhagen has been one of the top Christmas destinations in Europe for decades, in large part due to its amazing festive markets at Tivoli and Christiania. The Tivoli Garden is the heart of the city as an antique amusement park and alpine village-style Christmas market are here. The city is also famous for its winter hospitality and its Danish hygge (or “coziness”). Christmastime also sees its canals and restaurants filled with festive cheer. The Christmas vibe in Copenhagen is great because this small yet welcoming place has something new to offer every year.

London, England

celebrate christmas
Christmas shoppers amongst the lights and traffic of Oxford Street in London’s main retail district

There is no bad time to visit London, but the festive winter months truly transform the city. Christmas lights illuminate Oxford Street while famous department store Harrods unveils its theatrical window displays. Hyde Park also opens its annual Winter Wonderland, with its food stalls, ice rinks, and Ferris wheels. There are also festive pantomimes and shows to be enjoyed at the West End.  How about ending your holiday with some cool fashion boutique shopping? In short, London is one of the best Christmas destinations in the world, this place has everything that will make your Christmas celebrations even more memorable.

Bondi Beach, Australia

christmas celebrations
Santa Claus relaxing after Christmas doing a wheelie while riding a motorised esky cooler on the beach

Though not snowy, the fairy lights of the northern hemisphere Christmas can be found at Australia’s Bondi Beach. Given that it includes sand, sun, and surf, this site is among the best for enjoying Christmas. Travelers are drawn to the seaside, where the most incredible Christmas events take place. The busiest beach days of the year at Bondi Beach and the adjacent beaches are Christmas and Boxing Day. However, the majority of them in your immediate vicinity will be youthful visitors and travelers. The perfect party atmosphere is created here by bands and DJs. So this year, try something different instead of the usual Christmas trees and ornaments.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

why celebrate christmas
Aerial panoramic view of Ljubljana decorated for the Christmas holidays. Roofs covered in snow in the wintertime. Slovenia, Europe.

The Slovenian capital is truly a fairy-tale setting, especially come winter. The city’s amazing Baroque architecture is surrounded by sparkling Christmas lights. You can inhale the aroma of mulled wine/roasted almonds and take in the Christmas melodies that keep playing in the background. You can also stroll through the charming Old Town, or enjoy coffee at the many riverside cafes. Also, check out the nearby Julian Alps to the north, and the picturesque Lake Bled. Celebrate Christmas in the magical land to experience the magnificent fireworks that are displayed above Ljubljana Castle. During this time Ljubljana’s atmosphere becomes quite special as there is something interesting always happening. 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam a great place
The dam square at Christmas in Amsterdam the Netherlands

If you’re thinking about taking a Christmas vacation to Europe, Amsterdam might be a great place to go. To spend Christmas in Amsterdam would be like a dream come true. The air is filled with the fragrance of freshly baked products, and the narrow pathways are illuminated by the lovely holiday lights. Nearly every neighborhood in Amsterdam has a holiday tree, and the city is filled with holiday cheer. To make Christmas even more memorable, stay here until New Year’s Eve and enjoy champagne and fireworks in Dam Square or the Nieuwmarkt. Don’t forget to mix up with the locals, too.

Quebec City, Canada

Deserted street in Quebec City decorated for Christmas

For an amazing Christmas experience, few places are as charming as Quebec City. Its amazing historic district is filled with cobblestoned streets and 16th-century buildings which are covered in decorations and snow each winter. CNN has ranked Quebec City as one of the best Christmas destinations in the world because it looks like a Christmas village on a Hallmark card. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Winter sports activities like skating and snow tubing can be experienced here. A visit to Montmorency Falls, a traditional toboggan slide on Dufferin Terrace is other important things to do while here.

Tallinn, Estonia

lights illuminates in Christmas markets
Christmas Fair and Christmas tree on the Town Hall Square. Tallinn. Estonia.

The capital of Estonia is recognised for having a beautiful holiday atmosphere. When it turns into dusk, lights illuminate the city’s cobblestone streets to highlight their beauty. Snowflakes cover the city. Here, in this city’s Town Hall Square, in the year 1441, was where the first Christmas tree was ever erected. A holiday in Tallinn during Christmas will be a lot of fun to treasure. A few of the exceptional wintertime attractions in Tallinn include the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Estonian Open Air Museum, Tallinn Old Town, Tallinn Viewpoints, the Tallinn Christmas Market, and Town Hall Square.

Riga, Latvia

decorative streets
Christmas market and the main Christmas tree located at Dome square in Old Riga, Latvia. At the market people can buy festive souvenirs, and presents.

Christmas is a momentous family event for Latvians. Many Latvians celebrate Christmas Eve on December 24th, by attending midnight Mass at their local churches, trimming their trees, and exchanging gifts. As a result of various activities, Riga rose to fame as one of the world’s top Christmas vacation destinations. Christmas Day and the following day are both Christmas celebration days. The city hosts several family-friendly activities including pony rides and horse-drawn carriage rides.

Prague, Czech Republic

christmas destinations
Old Town Square with Church of Our Lady before Tyn at Christmas time in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is one of the most enchanting Christmas destinations in the world. The cobblestone streets of the old town and the spires of the city’s Castle Hill and St Vitus Cathedral are all covered in festive decorations. To get the festival magic kicking in, Christmas markets in Prague are the iconic places to be in. The city is home to colorful stalls and Christmas markets at Wenceslas Square, Republic Square, Prague Castle, and Havel’s Market. Watch an opera or enjoy ballet or you can even be part of the live events hosted at the city square. Tasting authentic Christmas meals add flavor to the celebrations.

Berlin, Germany

Illuminated streets of Berlin
Photo of Brandenburg Gate at christimas in Berlin, Germany

The capital city of Germany, Berlin is famous around the world for its Christmas markets. There are over 60 of them, but the most well-known is the picturesque WeihnachtsZauber, which features amazing products from artisans from across Germany. You can also enjoy the city’s many amazing restaurants and clubs, as well as its amazing museums. Indulging in Christmas concerts, cultural events, and historical rides is a perfect way to catch the festival vibe.

Lucerne, Switzerland

best places for christmas
Winter-night composition of Lucerne/Luzern (Switzerland) skyline seen from Seebrucke, with the famous Chapel Bridge, the City-Hall Tower, and Lucerne waterfront.

Switzerland in winter is a top destination and is full of ski slopes and resort towns. However, for something different you can visit nearby Lucerne. Located on Lake Lucerne, it is known for its amazing museums and ferry rides. During Christmas time, the whole of Lucerne is lit up with glittering lights. Get into the festive spirit by exploring the many Christmas markets. Take a guided walking tour to explore the old town, and enjoy views of Chapel Bridge and the Reuss River.

Also Read: The Best Alpine Ski Resorts In Europe

Montreal, Canada

best winter destinations
Downtown Montreal skyline in Winter from frozen Canal Lachine.

The second largest city in Canada, Montreal is a magical destination for Christmas trips. This French-Canadian metropolis has the most European Christmas setting across the Atlantic. There’s always something happening, from ice skating on the lake to charming winter markets, from outdoor fun activities to excessive holiday decorations, the city is a treat for visitors. The city hosts the wonderful French-themed Défilé de Noël festival each year, as well as a Santa Claus Parade, and multiple Christmas fairs. There are also weekly fireworks displays and plenty of delicious festive French foods to enjoy.

Reykjavík, Iceland

christmas destinations
Auroras blazing in the sky above the Reykjavik area in Iceland around Christmas time, and snow on the ground.

Reykjavik receives just about four hours of daylight in the month of December, but this cannot be a reason for you to not visit this beautiful city. This wonderful time of year Reykjavik turns into a winter wonderland with people enjoying all the festivities. Set underneath the stunning Northern Lights, the Icelandic capital is lit up beautifully each winter. It is also home to the Yule Town Christmas Market and the famous Winter Lights Festival in February. On New Year’s Eve, there is also an amazing fireworks display. You can also visit other amazing Icelandic locations nearby, such as the pools of the Blue Lagoon, or the impressive Gullfoss waterfall which is fed by the Langjökull glacier and freezes each winter.

Edinburgh, Scotland

where to celebrate christmas
The historic city center of Edinburgh is covered in snow, taken at sunset from Calton Hill in December, with the historic Dugald Stewart Monument in the foreground.

Christmas in the capital city of Scotland is always celebrated in style, hence luring travelers from across the globe. Edinburgh in winter is known for its three-day New Year festival, Hogmanay. Said to be one of the largest street parties in Europe, it includes fairground rides, outdoor concerts, firework displays, and lots and lots of dancing. You can also visit the snowy ski slopes of the Pentland Hills, the Scottish Highlands, and the Cairngorms National Park. Experiencing the culture and customs along with relishing some mouthwatering local recipes are things you just can’t miss.

Strasbourg, France

Christmas Market
Strasbourg, France. Christmas Market in Petite France old district of Strassburg in Alsace.

Located in the picturesque Alsace region of France, Strasbourg sits on the border with Germany. It is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, which features charming wooden huts and delicious roasted chestnuts, brezel, tartes flambées, or choucroute to keep the cold at bay. During Christmas time, the entire place transforms into an unbelievable fairytale location. This is the best place for visitors to experience and understand European culture and their gastronomic delights. Different villages offer visitors various activities to enjoy. Live concerts, theaters, exhibitions, storytelling, and different types of cultural events are just a few of the many activities to indulge in. 

New York City, USA

NYC celebrate christmas
Rockefeller Center Skating Rink

NYC is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in the world, the city hosts numerous events and performances from world-class artists. Like everything else it does, New York in winter is larger than life. The holiday season sees countless events and celebrations, including the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and skating rink. You can also check out the ornaments and decorations on Sixth Avenue and in Dyker Heights, or the famous Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Spend time by checking out the exclusive flea markets and wandering across the local streets. 

Dublin, Ireland

Christmas events and markets
Dublin, Ireland busy street during Christmas

The capital of Ireland, Dublin hosts a wide variety of Christmas events, from markets to music, each adding a festive touch to holiday shopping. The ceremonial turning on of the Christmas lights marks the beginning of the holiday season in Dublin. On November 14th, the famous Grafton Street lights are turned on outside Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, and on November 17th, the Henry Street lights are turned on and the city turns mesmerizing. Through the Elves Post Office, Santa’s Stable, Sleigh Room, and finally Santa’s House, it promises to be a fantastic tour. Some of Irelands’ best artists, designers, and makers will be displaying and selling their work, from pottery to hand-knitted scarves, beautiful ceramics to Irish chocolates, all worth the buy.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Decorated streets
San Juan, Puerto Rico Christmas tree-lined road in the old town.

Walking the blue-tinged cobblestone streets of Old San Juan is always dazzling, but during the Christmas festival season when the same houses are decked out in lights, it becomes even more spectacular. You can start your holiday walking tour of Old San Juan at Plaza de Armas, where City Hall is lit up and San Juan’s Christmas tree is shining at you. From there, go along San Sebastián Street to the Plaza de Colón, which is usually superbly decorated for the holidays. There will be festivities from the beginning of December through the 6th of January every year. Jubilant wandering groups of carolers travel from house to house distributing gifts and making merry.

Cologne, Germany

places to celebrate
Panorama view of cologne cathedral Christmas market with world heritage site cologne cathedral at night.

Located on the Rhine River in western Germany, Cologne is one of the country’s top Christmas destinations. During the holiday season, it fills up with lively Christmas markets selling everything from festive pastries and children’s toys to handmade glass ornaments and wood carvings. Each market is devoted to different themes like culinary delights, and captivating entertainment programs for the young and for the old. A stroll down the festively decorated City will make you look forward to the Christmas season.

Stockholm, Sweden

top christmas destinations
Stockholm’s old city with Christmas tree

Christmas in Stockholm is a unique mix of traditional and contemporary. You’re in for a treat for there’s so much to see, do and taste while visiting Stockholm in December. You can visit the Christmas markets, go ice skating around the Kungsträdgården, or enjoy the traditional julbord (a Yuletide version of the smörgåsbord) which includes everything from the smoked reindeer to Christmas ham. Also spend time exploring Sweden’s unique Christmas traditions, such as a living Christmas calendar.

Suggested Reads: Not A Fan Of The Cold? We Have The Best Warm Winter Destinations To Visit!

To make your Christmas even more memorable, travel to one of these Christmas destinations. Go ahead and choose your destination now! If you have already planned for this year, keep these places in mind while planning your next winter vacation. Are there any of your favorite Christmas destinations that we may have missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.

What city is the most Christmassy?

Lapland in Finland is the most Christmassy as it is known as “the official hometown of Santa Claus”.

Which city is famous for Christmas in India?

Goa is perhaps the best place to celebrate Christmas in India because of its excellent beaches and legendary nightlife.

What is the cheapest place to travel during Christmas?

Mexico is one of the best options for a cheap Christmas holiday.



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