Spending Christmas with family is what most people do. But, still, some prefer to explore Christmas at other places around the world. If you are one of those, we have listed the best Christmas destinations for you to prepare your itinerary.
While it is sometimes too early for Christmas decorations, it is never too early for planning a Christmas vacation. With Christmas being almost here, you need to buckle up. The best Christmas destinations during “the most beautiful time of the year” range from sunny shores to winter ski resorts.
The Best Christmas Destinations
A Christmas destination could range from European classics with Christmas markets to warm cities that offer a totally different experience. According to our research, these are the 8 most sought-after Christmas destinations for spending an amazing holiday.
One of the best Christmas destinations is the medieval city of Bruges in Belgium. Every December, Bruges welcomes Christmas in the best way possible. The city with its watchtowers is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides its medieval atmosphere, stepping into the city of Bruges in December feels like stepping into a Christmas card. With the aromas of brewed wine and different spices, the city simply looks and smells like Christmas.
Bruges has many carriage rides that allow you to explore the city. Get cozied up with a shawl or a warm blankie and enjoy the magical views. During the ride you will be able to see Bruges’ famous watchtowers and city hall.
Seize the opportunity of your visit to shop for delicious Belgian chocolate. The city has around 50 chocolate shops. The quality and prices vary from one shop to another. Choose your chocolate carefully.
Another treat that Bruges is famous for is beer. Visit De Have Maan (The Half Moon), the city’s only active family brewery. The brewery has a nice outside area for when the weather is good. The inside of the brewery, however, has a lively atmosphere.
While Bruges does not have Christmas markets as big as those of other Christmas destinations, the city’s two main Christmas markets radiate with Christmas jollies and wonderful atmosphere. Both markets are within walking distance of each other. Wander through the magical town from one market to the other.
Every year, from the 26th of November to the 9th of January, the joyful Christmas markets of Bruges adorn the city and open their doors for visitors. The spicy aroma of warming mulled wine will greet you as you enter the market. The market is full of wooden stalls that sell handmade gifts, Christmas decorations, and local delicacies.
The Belgian Christmas markets are the perfect place to pick out artsy gifts and decorations. Locals sell fairytale characters made of wood and hand knitted scarves and hats that ensure your loved ones stay warm and cozy throughout winter.
A must-see event in Bruges every Christmas is the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival. The event takes place in December and January outside the city’s main train station. During the festival, marvelous sculptures are exhibited at the Ice Palace, a thermal hall with a temperature of -6 °C. So, make sure to wear something that will keep you warm.
If you love cold Christmases, Bruges in Belgium is definitely one of the best Christmas destinations for you. So, choose your dates and get ready to ski your stress away!
Quebec City, Canada
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Quebec city is the best Christmas destination to make your dreams come true!
The spirit of the holidays fills up the air early on at this Christmas destination! Once it is mid November, the city goes into a full festive mood. Lights adorn the cobblestone streets and Christmas decorations go up everywhere.
The German Christmas Market spreads the spirit of Christmas annually from the 25th of November to the 19th of December. The market is designed in a way to resemble the atmosphere of the European Christmas markets.
Visiting the market will leave you with an unforgettable experience. The unique atmosphere of beautiful decorations and gingerbread smell make anyone ready for the sweet holidays. The stalls at the market sell various German treats. Market goers have a great selection of holiday products to choose from; bratwurst, mulled wine, gingerbread, and much more.
The market receives visitors Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Friday and Saturday, the market is open to the public from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Another movie-like Christmas activity is ice skating at Place d’Youville. This outdoor skating rink gives skaters the opportunity to wander through the streets of old Quebec while skating. The rink is known for its perfect surface due to its refrigeration system. The skating rink is open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
For a day full of activities for the whole family, take the cable car to lower Quebec City. Petit Champlain is Christmas card worthy; the district is beautifully decorated for the holidays and full of handmade gifts you can choose from and stock under your tree.
Petit Champlain is the best Christmas destination for the whole family. Adults can enjoy shopping for Christmas while the little ones enjoy some activities. The atmosphere is a mix of historical architecture and sparkly lights. The place is not short of boutiques or restaurants. Allow yourself a full day to discover the Christmas wonder that’s Petit Champlain.
For your Christmas experience to come to a full circle, listen to Christmas Carols at the Notre-Dame de Québec.
Seoul, South Korea
Koreans celebrate Christmas, however, they consider it a couples’ holiday. Couples usually use the day to spend time together and exchange gifts. And while most households do not put up Christmas decorations, streets and shops are ornate to the fullest.
Christmas in Seoul is a totally different experience. The city offers many activities and sights for its visitors which makes it one of the best Christmas destinations.
One of the first activities people anticipate all year round is the Seoul Christmas Festival. The festival is held at Cheonggye Plaza, which is the start of Cheonggyecheon Stream. Visitors wait annually for this festival to enjoy the various programs as well as the fancy lights and Christmas tree. Many like to take photos that ooze with the holiday spirits at the festival.
The festival takes place from the 11th of December, 2021 until the first day of the new year, Jan 1st, 2022. Showtime is from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Another site worth visiting in Seoul is Lotte World. The indoor amusement park dresses in the most fabulous lights ever. Beside the rides at the theme park, the park brings amazing shows and characters to celebrate the holy season.
The highlight of the festival is various special zones set up outdoors and indoors. Outdoors, there is the “Snow Castle” and the enchanted castle lit up brighter than ever. Indoors, the “Miracle Tree” invites visitors to take photos with Santa Big Lotty and his friends amongst the Christmas trees!
The festivities at the park go on from the 23rd of November to the 31st of December.
Lotte World is not the only amusement park in Seoul that gets all glamorous to welcome the holiday season. Everland, one of the most famous and largest amusement parks in Korea, also gets more magical during Christmas.
The park also holds a Christmas Fantasy Festival every year. The festival runs for almost a month and a half, from November 24, 2021 till December 31, 2022. The park also decorates a 500-meter Christmas avenue. The avenue is decorated with around 120,000 LED lights that illuminate the whole area.
The trademark of the Everland theme park during Christmas is its 26-meter-high tower tree. The tree is very big and tall, it can be seen from anywhere in the park and also from outside the park.
The biggest Christmas celebration in Seoul is held at the Myeongdong Cathedral. The cathedral is located in the busy area of Myeong-dong. The cathedral attracts everyone; believers and non-believers.
Each year, during Christmas, the Cathedral reenacts the nativity scene, commemorating the coming of Christ as a baby. The event service takes place each year on Christmas Eve for one hour starting from 22:30, followed by the midnight mass.
The cathedral is beautifully lit during Christmas. It is the best place to feel the holiday charm. Myeongdong Cathedral is open to the public but as it holds religious services, visitors are reminded to remain respectful throughout the ceremonies.
Even though the Calm Lighting Festival is not held especially for Christmas, it is great to seize the opportunity of being in Seoul during Christmas and pay a visit to the festival.
The lighting festival is held at the Morning’s garden. It is Korea’s largest light festival. The festival has 100,000 pyeong of light illuminated by 30,000 lights. The main garden has colorful lights that decorate the trees with Hahmongwon, Hometown House Garden, Boonjaewon, Moonlight Garden, Sky Road and Eden Garden.
The Buy Value, Live Together Christmas Market is held annually from the 21st to the 29th of December. The market takes place in the Hongdae neighborhood, covering the area from Sinchon Station to Yonsei University.
The area is originally full of shops. The whole area is decorated for Christmas, small booths are added in the area. The booths sell all kinds of items. In addition, warm and sweet treats are sold at the booths to make your stroll around the area even more enjoyable.
Even though Korean traditions are different, spending Christmas in the country is an unforgettable experience. Seoul has been voted by many on Tripadvisor as one of the best Christmas destinations ever. So, take the time to explore all the magical attractions in the city.
Christmas on the beach! That might sound a bit like an unrealistic dream, however, Jamaica makes this dream a reality!
The warm weather of Jamaica makes it one of the best Christmas destinations for summer lovers. The country has a temperature between 21℃ and 31℃ all year round.
If you are spending Christmas in Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, do not miss the market at the lawn.
On the Sundays leading up to Christmas, an outdoor Christmas market is held at the south lawn of Devon House. The market basically sells handmade arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, antiques, furniture, food, and other items.
The market allows small businesses to earn some extra money at the time of Christmas. So, shopping at the market is a great opportunity to show support for local small business owners and get some shopping done at the same time.
A Christmas spent in Montego Bay is very relaxing. The island destination is very laid back. It has sunshine, warm weather, and great beaches.
One of the best and most visited beaches in Montego Bay is Doctor’s Cave Beach. Many activities can be done on the beach; from sunbathing, to throwing a frisbee, playing handball, swimming and more.
Another beach in Montego Bay is Blue Water Beach. It is a lowkey option for spending Christmas at the beach. The beach is usually less crowded than other beaches in the area. It is a very good place to relax and enjoy some quiet time.
The beach is surrounded by various local bars where reggae bands play their unique music. The beach is also known for its famous jerk chicken shops that are located around the area. This makes the visit to Blue Water Beach more than just a beach visit!
Jamaica is known for its waterfalls. The most famous of which is Dunn’s River Falls, which is technically one waterfall but looks like a massive multi-stepped waterfall. The site is famous for being one of the best places for hiking.
So while you might be used to spending your Christmas at home all cozied up, it is good to try something new. Get your gears up and prepare yourself to burn some calories.
During your hike, you will be able to walk through Green Grotto Caves, which is a system that was formed by water movement over thousands of years. And for a magical discovery during your hike, check the underground lake that goes deep into the cave.
Jamaica with its beaches, breathtaking sights, and warm weather is one of the best Christmas destinations out there.
Puerto Rico takes Christmas into heart which makes it one of the best Christmas destinations! The festivities go on for the whole month of December and into January. Even though Puerto Rico never gets white Christmases, the traditions in Puerto Rico are many to put you in the right spirit for the holidays.
In Puerto Rico Christmas carols are replaced with Parrandas. These are a type of Christmas music where friends and family gather in the evening, sometimes very, very late, to surprise friends at their homes.
One of the things to do in Puerto Rico during Christmas is to take a tour around Old San Juan. The Plaza de Armas gets decorated with tons of lights; buildings are fully dressed in twinkling lights and streets are more lively than ever.
Around the Plaza de Armas, you will be able to enjoy the sight of the City Hall shining under the Christmas lights. The city’s big Christmas tree is also located at the plaza. A stroll in the area will put you in the right mood for the upcoming celebrations.
The biggest kick of Christmas in Puerto Rico is the various water sports you can play there. Given the fact that it is a tropical country, Puerto Rico has very warm weather throughout the year. This makes it possible to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Pick your activity and go!
Christmas in Belize engulfs many unforgettable memories. The Caribbean country has tropical weather all year round. The tropical weather of this Caribbean country makes it possible to enjoy your roasted Turkey on the beach. Wouldn’t that make it on the list of the best Christmas destinations?
In Belize, Christmas carols are played everywhere; cafes, bars, streets and even on the beach. Drummers fill the streets, tapping out Christmas tones. Both locals and visitors alike get caught up in a groundswell of old-fashioned Christmas cheer that’s rarely seen anymore.
Forget about skating, skiing and other winter activities, in Belize, visitors and locals alike can enjoy many water activities during December. Some of these activities are scuba diving, snorkeling, and splashing. These would make your Christmas holiday a unique experience.
While you are in Belize, seize the chance to climb the pyramids and ghostly ruins of the ancient Maya. Many people visit Belize just to climb these popular monuments. Other historical spots worth visiting include Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, and Caracol.
A big plus for choosing Belize as your Christmas destination is the language of its locals. English is one of the official languages of the country. Signs, menus and many locals use English to communicate information. So, you won’t have a hard time getting around the county.
Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh is the best place to take it easy and unwind. The coastal city is known for its sandy white beaches and clear waters. The warm weather of Sharm El Sheikh makes it possible to enjoy all water activities in December! This makes it rank high on the Christmas destinations list.
The best water activity to do in Sharm El Sheikh is scuba diving. The view of the coral reefs during the dive is sure to take your breath away. The dive will allow you to swim alongside some of the rarest tropical sea creatures.
Besides water related activities, Sharm El Sheikh offers more intense options such as climbing Mt. Sinai. The mountain has two trails to climb to the top. The first is a very worn switchback path, it is the easiest choice of the two. The second trail is the Steps of Repentance and while it is a more difficult climb, it is much more scenic.
One of the experiences not to miss in Sharm El Sheikh is shopping at Sharm Old Market. It is an old souq that sells traditional goods, including shisha pipes, woodwork, and handmade lamps. The area around the market is full of different restaurants and cafés that serve different dishes from Egyptian cuisine.
So, while Sharm El Sheikh is not your usual Christmas destination, the city of peace offers its winter visitors a long lasting memory. The clear waters, nice beaches, different activities, and warm weather make the city one of the best Christmas destinations.
Even though the UAE does not officially celebrate Christmas, the Emirate of Dubai gets all festive and glamorous during the holiday season. So, it is not a surprise that the city is among the best Christmas destinations.
Starting from the beginning of November, the Winter Garden opens its doors for visitors to celebrate the cooling of the weather. The garden is filled with stalls selling food from different places in the world.
The Winter Garden is designed in a way to resemble a winter wonderland. Different shows are held at the garden; holiday carols, street artists and acrobats. Appearances from Santa are also to be expected, so visitors can take their Christmas photos.
The Winter Garden opens its doors daily from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am. Make sure to visit and taste the sweet treats of Christmas.
Dubai has very warm weather during December. The temperature is usually around 26 degrees Celsius. However, this did not stop Dubai from building a ski resort. Every year, from the 1st to the 25th of December, Ski Dubai transforms into a wonderful winter wonderland.
A 40 ft Christmas tree twinkles with lights and festive ornaments. A live choir performs Christmas carols to serenade visitors and bring the spirit of the holy season. Seasonal treats, including warm cups of hot chocolate, gingerbread penguins and mince pies, are available to add sweetness to the event.
The Dubai Opera Big Band celebrates the holidays with all your favorite Christmas songs. You can sing along with the choir, chanting Jingle Bell Rock, Winter Wonderland, Feliz Navidad, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and more.
The sing along event takes place on the 21st and 22nd of December. The event has a 2 pm family performance and an evening performance at 8 pm.
Well, here you have it, the 8 best Christmas destinations. It includes everything you can dream of in a Christmas destination; from white Christmas to warm tropical beaches, artificial skiing, beaches and all. Choose your destination and make sure to book your plane tickets early on to secure a good price.
Read about other places and Christmas destinations around the world on Connolly Cove!