8 Perfect Christmas Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler
Celebrate Your Way
Looking to escape the snow in search of someplace hot and sunny, or longing for a festive white Christmas for a change? Whether hot or cold, one of these enchanting cities is sure to spark your interest.
From holiday markets and festivals to snow and water sports to cultural happenings, these cities make for the best Christmas vacations, providing seemingly endless opportunities for entertainment. Or, if you’re just looking for a little R&R, there are options for the most laid-back travelers as well.
1. New York City, New York
New York City is one of the most magical places to go for Christmas. Despite temperatures near or below freezing, there are tons of festive things to do and see while in the city.
From catching a Broadway show to watching the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center to enjoying the holiday window displays with a cup of cocoa, nothing beats the excitement of Christmas in the Big Apple. Central Park is especially memorable in the winter when it’s blanketed in white. You can enjoy ice skating, sledding and plenty of snow-filled fun for all ages.
2. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
In Mexico, Christmas is synonymous with party time. San Miguel de Allende in particular offers a memorable holiday experience with traditional posadas, or holiday festivals where local residents play out Joseph and Mary’s journey to find lodging for Jesus’ birth.
The Fiesta Navidad, as it’s called, features concerts, fireworks, elaborate meals and donkeys roaming throughout the colonial city making for a charming old world experience. During the day, enjoy San Miguel de Allende’s artistic spirit in addition to basking in thermal baths or hiking among ancient pyramids at the Cañada de la Virgen.
Photo Credit: Montreux Noel
3. Montreux, Switzerland
While you could surely go skiing at one of the nearby resorts, if you visit Montreux during December, you’re in for a treat. Situated on Lake Geneva at the foot of The Alps, the Swiss city boasts one of the largest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe, Montreux Noel.
A perfect family getaway, the market has shopping, chocolate and candle making workshops, a medieval festival at Chillon Castle, and a magic garden full of Christmas lights. Most special of all, however, is the train that takes you right to Santa’s house for an exclusive meet-and-greet and optional sleepover in a yurt.
Want a more budget-friendly option? The city of Adermatt is a great destination for a cheap Christmas vacation and still has traditional Christmas markets in addition to snowy ski slopes.
4. Koh Tao, Thailand
Bask in the sun at one of Koh Tao’s many dirt cheap resorts or hostels, many of which are built right up to the water. Although Thailand is a Buddhist country and doesn’t celebrate Western holidays such as Christmas, that’s not to say there’s no holiday cheer to be found.
Koh Tao is a travel and backpacking hot spot and home to a growing expat population. Many local restaurants and bars serve up special Christmas menus during the season and vendors sell decorations and Santa hats from their stalls. While you won’t find any snow here, there are plenty of lovely white sand beaches ripe for water sports of all sorts, especially scuba diving.
5. Vienna, Austria
While Vienna is a beautiful place to visit anytime of the year, it’s really a sight to see when the temperature drops and snow starts to fall. A complete cafe culture, Vienna offers an endless number of cozy cafes, bars and restaurants to escape the cold over a cup of coffee and a slice of one of their world famous sachertortes.
Sound romantic? That’s why Vienna is one of the best Christmas destinations for couples.
The winter holidays are also the perfect time to enjoy a bit of culture at one of Vienna’s many museums, operas, concerts and carnival balls. If you don’t mind the cold, there’s always the annual Vienna Ice Dream, a huge ice rink for performance and skating located in front of the Rathaus (city hall).
6. Nassau, Bahamas
If you’re looking to make your friends jealous with your winter tan, the Bahamas are a popular location for Christmas getaways. With weather averaging in the mid 70’s and constant balmy breezes blowing through your hair, you’ll forget it’s actually snowing elsewhere.
Relax and fall into an island routine of sunbathing and water sports during the day and partying all night with a cocktail in hand. If you stay through New Year’s, you’ll get to witness the Bahamian carnival called Junkanoo with its colorful costumes, parades and music; an experience you’ll never forget.
7. Edinburgh, Scotland
The United Kingdom is another magical location for Christmas vacations. Edinburgh in particular boasts snowy hills and medieval architecture; a bustling cosmopolitan city full of things to do.
A popular ski and snowboard destination, Edinburgh’s hills offer ski resorts and centers with vacation packages and lessons for all skill levels. Within the city, you can find traditional holiday markets for shopping and plenty of booze and comfort food to warm you as you go.
Learn about the Scottish traditions of Christmas and enjoy Christmas lunch at the historic Edinburgh Castle. Make sure your stay continues through New Year’s to experience Hogmanay, a truly unique three day street party.
8. Cape Town, South Africa
Check out Cape Town during the holidays for a trendy mix of outdoorsy activities, cultural landmarks and fine dining. Hike or take the historic cable car up one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain.
Nearby Boulders Beach is even home to a colony of African penguins. To experience a taste of South African luxury, head to Clifton 4th beach where the rich and beautiful spend their days or tour one of the many wineries and vineyards in Cape Town’s own wine country.
Like many other countries during this time of year, Cape Town also hosts a variety of markets, street fairs and festivals to celebrate the holidays.