A winter vacation trip fills you with traditions, sparkly lights, and crisp air. However, you can visit hotter or a quieter, far-flung hideaways. Breaking the habit of staying home is being your own Santa Claus on the Christmas. We’ve rounded up a spread of places for a Christmas getaway.
Photo Credit: Best Served Scandinavia
Trømso offers unparalleled views of the aurora. There’s dog sledding, great food, and a mountaintop cable car. Here, “day” is just a couple hours of twilight blue. Stay at Clarion Hotel Bryggen, right on the harbour, one of the very few hotels that is open. The views from this hotel are unforgettable. The traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner at the restaurant,
Prague, Czech Republic
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Walk down the historic Nerudova street in Mala Strana to view the city’s Gothic and Baroque architecture, catch an opera or ballet at the State Opera or National Theatre. The holiday markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are one of the best in Europe. Stay at the Hotel Josef, outfitted with Baleri armchairs, Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures, and fluffy duvets.
Recommendation: Local brews at U Pinkasu.
Photo Credit: Nordic Visitor
The Urho Kekkonen National Park, turns into a winter wonderland. You can roam around via a reindeer-pulled sled, or go cross-country skiing on the Saariselkä trails. Stay at some of the igloos at Hotel Kakslauttanen, made of thermal glass, you stay warm while watching the northern lights.
Recommendation: A four-hour cruise to the Sampo
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A display of 12,000 crystal lights marks the Christmas season on November 21. A hot chocolate and exploring the galleries on Rämistrasse, the Conelli Christmas Circus, or a holiday concert in the Romanesque-style Grossmünster church will be worth a holiday. Stay at the Hotel Restaurant Helvetia, set on the Sihl river which has rooms with Art Nouveau touches. On the eve of December 19, children set candles afloat on the Limmat River near City Hall.
Photo Credit: I Heart Reykjavik
This place has an otherworldly landscape, daylight is a four-hour affair and the northern lights illuminate the night sky. Statues of the 12 Yule Lads can be seen at every nook and corner. For covetable views of the Hallgrímskirkja cathedral, check in to the Hotel Leifur Eiríksson. The seafood restaurant Vid Tjörnina attracts both locals and visitors with its classic Icelandic cuisine.
Recommendation: The hot smoked puffin followed by shots of Brennivín is all time-favourite.
Photo Credit: Visit Scotland
This Scottish town is lit up with holiday lights and includes fireworks illuminating the sky from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Bagpipes play “Amazing Grace” around the Sir Walter Scott Monument. Stay at the Caledonian Hilton Edinburgh which is opulent. Witchery by the Castle, serves perfectly cooked Loch Duart salmon and Gartmorn Farm duck.
Photo Credit: Blonde Gypsy
In this 16th century town, locals leave dinner including aquavit and herring by the fireplace for Santa. Stay at the Grand Hotel Garden Malmö serving traditional Swedish Christmas dish. You can eat at Petri Pumpa festive spread in the stately Elite Hotel Savoy. The feast includes a dozen varieties of herring and salmon and Swedish meatballs.
Photo Credit: Goa Holiday Trip
The Portuguese charm, whitewashed Catholic churches, and firecrackers, bells, and carolers will make your holiday perfect. Stay at the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, built on the remains of a 16th-century Portuguese fortress. Jazz and Goan food is included in the hotel’s Christmas celebrations. Casa Portuguesa, is a sophisticated place to dine out and is a short walk from the Arabian Sea.
San Miguel de Allende, México
Photo Credit: Robin Talks Travel
The Spanish colony in central Mexico is electric at Christmas, with theatrical processions, numerous re-enactments, fireworks, live music, and dancing in the main square, El Jardín. Be sure to sample the Mexican hot toddy made of fruits and brandy, and the sweet bread. Stay at the Casa Sierra Nevada, spread among historic Spanish colonial mansions, many with alfresco corridors, courtyards, and small gardens. With a shaded courtyard and fountain, Cafe de la Parroquia is a tranquil setting for gathering over a meal beginning with a bowl of sopa Azteca.
Photo Credit: Travel and Leisure
Visitors fuel themselves with finger food and a glass of spiced mulled wine at Christmas markets. The Vienna Boys’ Choir concerts are legendary. Stay at the the Ring Hotelis on Kaerntner Ring, a modern yet artsy place. Eight, the Ring’s acclaimed restaurant offers four- and five-course Christmas menus.
Quebec City, Canada
Photo Credit: Quebec Region
Lit-up cobblestone streets, 16th- and 17th-century stone houses, and lots of snow make Quebec’s atmosphere like Europe. Stay at Vieux-Port, Auberge St. Antoine , it boasts of soaring ceilings and cast-iron beams, complimented with amenities as heated stone floors. Aux Anciens Canadiens offers traditional Quebecois cuisine on Christmas Day. Neptune's Shell of giant shrimp and scallops au gratin to grilled pheasant breast is on the menu.
Photo Credit: New Market Holidays
This Bavarian capital puts up a hundred-foot-tall Christmas tree in the Marienplatz and about two dozen Christmas markets. Mulled wine and gingerbread are served on a tram that crosses the old city. Stay at the modern Louis Hotel, a snowball’s throw from the Viktualienmarkt. From November 25 till Christmas Eve, there’s live holiday music at the town hall.
Photo Credit: Brendan's Adventures
It doesn’t look a lot like Christmas, but Paraty, is a well-preserved Portuguese colonial architecture, a vibrant cultural scene, with rainforests and has some of the world’s most perfect beaches. Stay at the pousada Bambu Bamboo, a lush retreat. Breakfast is served by the river. The French restaurant Voilà Bistrot serves foie gras and shiitake mushroom empanadas as part of its Christmas dinner.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Photo Credit: iAmAmsterdam
The legend of Santa Claus is strong in the Dutch capital. Houses are strung with lights. Fireworks can be watched at Nieuwmarkt or Dam squares. Stay at the Canal House located on the Keizersgracht waterway. The local’s trade their bicycles for long-bladed ice skate and tour the city’s outdoor rinks.You may join them too.
Photo Credit: France Villas
A Provençial winter is always fairy tale, music from medieval churches fills the cobblestoned streets; and the freshest foie gras is available at the Christmas markets. Stay at the hotels, Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa or the Terre Blanche Resort. But for a quintessential country escape, you can rent a farmhouse. The Château d'Estoublon Bistrot Mogador serves a traditional “Great Supper” on Christmas Eve. Apart from these places, the other places you can choose is amongst Charleston, Santa Barbara, Boston, Nashville, Durango, Bali, Key West, Taos, Puerto Rico, Castleton or Kaikoura. The experiences here will be unforgettable.