With December temperatures hovering around 6°C here in the UK, and plenty of wet and windy weather too, isn’t it about time you took a trip away? Now is an excellent time of year to explore somewhere new – people are getting into the Christmas spirit in countries right across the globe, and New Year celebrations are on the horizon too – so shouldn’t you consider packing a suitcase, jumping on a plane and experiencing it for yourself?
Explore new streets, try delicious dishes for the first time and snap photographs of the sights you’re longing to see: it’s all waiting for you out there. Whether you’re a culture vulture, a sun worshipper or simply in search of some Christmas spirit, here are ten of the best holiday destinations in December.
For Sun Worshippers
As one of the Canary Islands (located off the coast of North Africa), Lanzarote is somewhere you should consider if you want sunshine without a long-haul flight. It’s not tropical, but with average highs of 21°C in December, it’s certainly shorts and t-shirt weather. A four hour flight will see you sunbathing on the beach, exploring volcanoes and sipping cocktails in one of the island’s vibrant bars – so don’t be surprised if your friends and family back home are more than a little jealous! Papagayo is well worth a visit while you’re in Lanzarote – its soft white sand and towering cliffs warrant the extra effort of hiring a car to get there.
Another of the Canary Islands, Tenerife should also be up there on your bucket list of destinations for winter sun in December. While it’s the coolest month of the year for this beautiful island, temperatures still hover around 20°C. Throw down your towel on the golden sands of Playa de las Teresitas, and be sure to try the black sand beach at Playa Jardín with Mount Teide towering in the background. And, La Laguna had its first Christmas market in 2016 – so don’t be surprised if you see market stalls selling festive fare against the backdrop of blue skies and flip flops.
Want some serious winter sun? A longer journey will see you lounging on the sublime shores of Cancun as the warm sunshine beats down on your skin. Average temperatures reach around 28°C, meaning you’ll still be pretty comfortable but guaranteed to need some suncream. Sea temperatures tend to average around 27°C which is perfect if you fancy dipping in and out of the waves while you’re relaxing on the beach. But if you want to get off the sand at some point? Take a trip to Coba to see the Mayan ruins (climbing the pyramid if you’re fit enough!) and make memories you’ll never forget by diving beneath into the ocean to explore the Underwater Museum.
For Christmas Cheer
There’s no better time to visit Hungary than December – its Christmas markets are world-renowned, and Budapest in particular is especially festive. Wrap up warmly (temperatures hover around freezing with frequent snowfall), heading straight to Vörösmarty Square to explore the city’s oldest Christmas market: you’ll have a maze of stalls to explore, perusing everything from Christmas tree decorations to steaming mountains of mouth watering goulash and sauerkraut. The nearby Opera House is the perfect place to see a performance (ballets including the Nutcracker are performed over Christmas), and don’t overlook the magic of simply strolling the streets with a mugful of mulled wine to keep you in high spirits: Budapest really is the best holiday destination in December if it’s festive cheer you’re after.
New York, USA
For a very Merry Christmas, you couldn’t do better than heading to the Big Apple. New York is extra exciting at this time of year, with gigantic Christmas trees illuminating the city’s streets and decorations making the department stores of 5th Avenue look even more enticing. Press your nose against the glass of Barneys, Saks and Macy’s before going ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park, and do a spot of Christmas shopping at Union Square Holiday Market. And if you still have energy? Go sledding at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, then head to a diner for something indulgent to warm you up afterwards.
For City Slickers
If it’s a romantic getaway to an iconic location you fancy, Paris is well and truly the best holiday destination in December. The city sparkles with thousands of fairy lights, with artfully decorated trees lining the boulevards, and the scent of cinnamon and other Christmas spices scent the air around Paris’ boulangeries. Book tickets to the Notre Dame Cathedral to listen to the most goosebump-inducing performances from world-class choirs, and twirl your way around the ice rink at the Champs-Elysées.
As one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milan is a sophisticated city to visit at any time of year. Bring a sizeable amount of spending money with you if you fancy dressing yourself from head to toe in the stylish threads this Italian city is famous for, or simply wander the streets and treat yourself to various trinkets on offer at the O Bej! O Bej! festive market. Of course you won’t want to miss a visit to Duomo Cathedral on the run up to Christmas (the Italian Gothic building is breathtakingly beautiful), and you’ll certainly enjoy eating your way around this magnificent city too, filling up on creamy panzerotti, crispy cotoletta alla Milanese and melt-in-the-mouth pizza.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While Dubai is an excellent location for year-round sun, it’s actually its credentials as a glistening city that make it such a good idea for a December getaway. It’s a shopping mecca for those who are serious about snapping up some of the best quality products in the world, making it the ideal place to get a jump-start on your Christmas shopping for friends and family. December also sees the stars arrive for Dubai’s International Film Festival, and of course, Dubai’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are truly spectacular – so time your holiday here to take part in arguably the best fireworks display on the planet… a grand way to welcome in 2018 indeed.
If you’d like some more city break inspiration for winter getaways, take a look at these.
For Culture Vultures
Despite what you might imagine about walking around Rome in the sunshine, December is actually the best time to see Rome. That’s because the low-slung sun softly illuminates the Colosseum and other breathtaking pieces of architecture, and the restaurants are filled with locals tucking into hearty pasta dishes and Italian soups. Walk through spacious museums such as the Musei Capitolini (many of the tourists have long left Rome), boldly explore the Catacombs beneath the ground, marvel at the Sistine Chapel and sit quietly in the Church of St Louis of the French – the Caravaggio paintings in here are a fairly well kept secret and look particularly atmospheric at this time of year.
For something totally out of the ordinary and a million miles away from the kind of thing you’ll find in southern Europe, consider Copenhagen – it’s certainly the best holiday destination in December for culture vultures. This city is somehow both cosmopolitan and quaint, with cobblestone streets and ancient castles and palaces partnering with art galleries, museums and shopping boutiques. Pay a visit to Christiansborg Palace, stroll through the Open Air Museum (one of the oldest open air museums in the world) and check out the Copenhagen Contemporary – an international art centre displaying works on the harbour front. You’ll feel a million miles from home and want to come back for more – that’s for sure.
So, which of these enticing destinations will you be booking flights to? Let us know!