Travel in December is the best time of year for many destinations. In some cases, the crowds will be thinner. Either way, there are so many opportunities to celebrate the holiday season. From Christmas market shopping, to holiday festivals, to epic outdoor activities, the world is truly your oyster in December. With so many choices, you may even find a new holiday tradition. This list of the best places to travel in December will get you packing your bags!
The Best Places to Travel in December
One of the European Union’s oldest holiday markets first opened in Strasbourg 1570. Lucky for us, it’s still going strong. Come to this beautiful Christmas town in picturesque eastern France. Right next to the German border you’ll find an Old World taste of Christmas. With 300 stalls, you can spend several days here perusing everything, and come home with some fantastic gifts. Lose yourself in Strasbourg’s charming narrow alleyways. Delight in Place Kleber, where you will find the Great Christmas Tree. Drink the local Alsatian wine and indulge in all the festivities. Hotel: Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
Mid-December is the perfect time to visit Antarctica. This is when the wildlife really comes out to play. What’s more, you will get up to 20 hours of sunlight, with December 22nd being the longest day. Take pictures of the incredible ice formations, as the icebergs and glaciers begin to melt during December. See penguins, seals and the occasional whale. You may even see a baby penguin or two, as this is prime penguin egg-hatching season. If you’re booking at the last minute and can find availability, many cruises will give you a significant discount. Cruise: Quark Expeditions
The last month of the year is just getting into warm season here on this island just south of Melbourne off the coast of Australia. It’s a dry and warm period, perfect for hiking and scuba diving. Also, there are numerous festivals all around, such as The Falls Festival on December 29-31, and Taste of Tasmania December 28 – January 3. If you are a wine drinker, there are plenty of wineries with which to plan an afternoon of wine tasting. The coastal town of Port Arthur, set on the edge of a peninsula on the south side of the island, is a big draw. Hotel: MACq 01 Hotel
December marks the beginning of the dry season, which is also peak tourist season. There’s still time to book a trip that’s great for the whole family. You can visit Arenal Volcano National National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, or one of the many beautiful beaches. Embark on a jungle tour of the tropics, go horseback riding, ziplining through the forest, river rafting, or surfing. There’s nothing like celebrating the season pure vida style with a drink in your hand and delectable food every day. Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
This is one of the best times and peak season to visit the Kingdom of Wonder. Expect near perfect weather in December. With thousands of temples, Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see during sunrise. For the adventurous and active, a mountain temple hike will reward you with panoramic views once you reach the top. Although a Buddhist country, you will still find festive Christmas decorations and many events throughout the month. Combine your Cambodian adventure with a trip to neighboring Laos and Vietnam. Hotel: Six Senses Krabey Island
Delve into Japanese culture with all sorts of festive fun. While New Year’s is the primary event, the activities throughout December are sure to delight. Go to Shimai Kobo on December 21 and Shimai Tenjin on Christmas Day. These two markets offer wonderful ceramics and handcraft shopping. Delicious food and drink can also be had here. Around Arashiyama December 8-17, lanterns in the thousands will be placed all around, including the enchanted bamboo forest. And if you are here on New Year’s, do not miss the bell-ringing ceremonies at the city’s largest temple, Choin-in. Make sure to visit nearby Nara to see all the deer and beautiful temples. Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Nothing in the world quite compares to New York City during December. The city comes alive with festive lights and impressive 5th Avenue shopping windows. You’ll want to visit the holiday favorites – Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and Central Park skating. If you’ve never done it, catch the Ball Drop in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. And what used to be home of Fall Fashion Week is now the setting of a world-class Christmas market. Bryant Park transforms itself every holiday season into a Winter Village. It’s a European style open-air market, with about 125 vendors selling everything from exquisite jewelry to food to handcrafted wares from all across the globe. Hotel: 1 Hotel Central Park
There’s a reason snowbirds head to Florida for the winter. Instead of wearing a parka in December, you can be sunbathing on palm-lined, white sand beaches by day. Then enjoying the latest hot spots in Art Deco, South Beach at night. Many flock to Miami for Art Basel December 5 – 8. Leading galleries from all across the globe congregate to display significant works from both contemporary art masters and emerging talent. All different types of media – photography, paintings, sculpture, and films of the highest quality – are on display. Add on to this vacay with a one hour flight to the Bahamas or Cuba for even more fun. Hotel: 1 Hotel South Beach
Related Post: The Top 10 Things to do in Exuma Bahamas
During December you can expect warm, dry and sunny weather in this Caribbean island destination. Blue skies beckon many visitors for Cuba’s high tourist season. Step back in time and take a classic car tour of Old Havana. Take a day trip to Viñales to ride horses, see the tobacco farming and pick up some Cuban cigars. The Havana Jazz Festival is the big event in December. You’ll find concerts happening at several venues, as well as impromptu performances by talented musicians. Hotel: El Candil Boutique Hotel
Related Post: What You Need to Know Before You Visit Cuba
New Year’s Eve Hot Spots
The best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve are many so here are multiple hot spots for December travel. Sydney is one of the first places to kick off the new year and has an impressive fireworks displays over the harbor. In Rio de Janeiro, the New Year’s Eve celebration with 2 million people is even bigger than infamous Carnival. London and Paris have fireworks with world famous backdrops. Edinburgh celebrates Hogmanay with 3 days of festival events making it one of the most fun places to be for New Year’s. And of course, there’s the ball drop in Times Square with a million of your buddies. Or watch all of these celebrations on TV from some other amazing place in the world.
These are the top places to travel in December around the world to celebrate the festive season. Whether you are planning a trip for winter vacation or a New Year’s getaway, get booking. It’s a busy travel time. If you still need more inspiration, check out the best places to travel in November.
Other Posts You Might Like:
- TRAVEL: The Best Places to Travel in November
- CUBA: What I Loved and Hated About Visiting Cuba
- PORTUGAL: How to Spend a Perfect 2 Days in Lisbon
- THAILAND: 2 Days in Phuket Itinerary
- PHOTOGRAPHY: The Best iPhone Photo Accessories