Christmas is a time to celebrate with loved ones and make new memories. If you want to make this Christmas unforgettable, you might want to think about taking a trip somewhere new. Here are eight Christmas destinations to make your next holiday your best yet.
1. Inari, Finland
Christmas lights in the neighborhood are one thing. But what if you could see the Northern Lights on Christmas Eve? When you visit scenic Inari in Finland, you can. This locale is full of natural beauty. There are multiple national parks, dense forests, and brilliant lakes. You can explore the scenery on skis, in snowshoes, or even in a reindeer-drawn sleigh!
Inari is part of a region known as Lapland, and Lappish Christmas is an incredible experience. If you have children, you might want to stay in the nearby Santa Claus Holiday Village. The village is decorated with garlands, trees, and lights, and you can even arrange for Santa to come to visit your children in your hotel room. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Lappish Christmas feast including salted fish, reindeer steaks, sweet potatoes, beetroot salad, and more.
2. Stowe, Vermont, USA
If you’d love a skiing holiday but want to stay within the continental United States, Stowe is an ideal place to spend next Christmas. It’s easily the most popular ski resort on the east coast. And if you live in a major northeastern city, it’s probably within driving distance. Skiing season begins in November, so you’ll certainly be able to experience a white Christmas here!
Stowe is especially well known for cross-country skiing, and it’s full of peaceful, scenic trails. Some resort hotels also have ski trails leading straight into town. If skiing isn’t your strong suit, you also might enjoy exploring via snowmobile! Stowe also offers a range of dogsledding options, and you can even take a family-friendly ride in a hot air balloon. When you’re ready to come inside for the rest of the day, you can explore chocolate shops, breweries, museums, and even spas. This town also has to perform arts centers that operate all year, so you can check out a show or two if you’d like!
3. Bruges, Belgium
If you’re hoping this Christmas will be like something out of a fairy tale, travel to Bruges this holiday season! Cobblestone streets and quaint gabled houses await. You can enjoy a snowy walk through the medieval city center; it’s strung with Christmas lights and full of local vendors selling crafts and homemade waffles. The city is also home to cozy pubs perfect for a break from the cold. And if you want a souvenir, you’ll be glad to know that Bruges is a great place to find traditional German Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations. Don’t forget to check out the Bruges Belgium Christmas Market at the city’s Grote Markt. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can still enjoy the market’s ice skating rink!
While you’re in town, you can take the opportunity to explore some of the many chocolate shops. Belgian chocolate is world-famous for a reason! Take the whole family and sample chocolates from small family-run stores, world-renowned chocolatiers, and everything in between. To really get a feel for the town, stay in one of the local bed and breakfast establishments.
4. Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff is home to Canada’s first national park. Known for some of the world’s best skiing and impossibly blue glacier lakes, it’s an ideal place to spend Christmas if you want to be surrounded by both natural beauty and festive Christmas traditions. There’s no shortage of scenery to see and things to do. During the holiday season, the ski resort in Banff is adorned with Christmas decorations.
The town of Banff also has an especially unique interactive Christmas experience called In Search of Christmas Spirit. It’s told from the perspective of the wildlife of Banff National Park, and it’s full of illuminated sculptures, sound effects, and of course plenty of Christmas lights. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors here. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, explore hiking on some of the area’s many snowy trails. You can also take a relaxing soak in the hot springs and enjoy Banff’s own hot chocolate trail. And if you’re up for a bit of a trip, you can head over to the nearby town of Lake Louise to see a truly incredible ice castle!
5. Cologne, Germany
Cologne is known as “Cathedral City,” and its spectacular architecture makes it a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. But around Christmas, the city comes alive with lights and German Christmas traditions. Cologne is especially well known for its many Christmas markets. They’re full of unique crafts from all over Europe, and many have live entertainment on site. You can also find specialty Christmas markets, some of which exclusively offer regional culinary specialties.
If you’re a fan of sweet treats, you’ll love Cologne’s Chocolate Museum, a place where you can learn the history of one of the world’s most beloved candies. And for a real challenge (with a real reward at the end), try climbing the city’s largest cathedral. It’s over 300 steps, but once you reach the top, you can gaze out over the magnificently decorated city.
6. Saint Lucia
When they think of a Christmas escape, most people picture a winter wonderland. But if you prefer white sandy beaches to white snowy mountains, you might appreciate a Christmas spent on the Caribean island of Saint Lucia. Even though it’s often warm enough to feel like summer, the island has several Christmas traditions you’re sure to appreciate. If you’re in town before Christmas, be sure to check out the Festival of Lights. It’s a commemoration of the start of the Christmas season. The island town of Castries lights up, and there’s an official Christmas tree lighting, too. The festival celebrates St. Lucy, the patron saint of the light (and the saint the island was named after).
If you like exploring new cuisines, a Saint Lucia Christmas trip is just what you need. During this season, the locals offer all types of cuisines for tourists to sample. And if you really want some holiday fare, check out the specially-made fruitcake full of local rum. Of course, you can also spend the holidays swimming in the blue Caribbean waters or relaxing on the beach. It’s the perfect escape if you’ve been wanting to trade your winter coat for a swimsuit.
7. St. Moritz, Switzerland
If you’re seeking a Christmas holiday that’s simultaneously luxuriant and cozy, look no further than the snowy slopes of St. Moritz. This resort town looks like something out of a postcard, and it’s the perfect choice for those eager to engage in some winter sports. St. Moritz is known for skiing, but you can also ride toboggans, ice skate, or go on a snowshoe hike. If you want to try something new, you can even check out kite skiing.
If you prefer, you can also take a horse-drawn sleigh ride or soak in an indoor heated pool with a view of the scenery. St. Moritz also offers a wealth of accommodation options. You can stay in some of the area’s famous luxury hotels or choose a quaint villa in an adjacent town. And if you really want to create a luxury experience, you can even book a charter with a private jet company to get you there.
8. New York, New York, USA
Christmas in New York is an especially festive experience perfect for adults and kids of all ages. You can visit the iconic Rockefeller Center to see the largest Christmas tree in New York, see plenty of bright decorative lights, and go ice skating. If you’re looking for a fresh-baked treat or want to do a little Christmas shopping while you’re there, you can also visit the massive Union Square Holiday Market.
If you want to really get into the Christmas spirit, you can check out an event that most people only see on TV: the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. See the Radio City Rockettes perform, experience original Christmas music, and see the show’s famous live nativity scene including a live camel. Or if you want to see something especially unique, make a plan to see the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. The show is a miniature recreation of the New York skyline, and it’s full of miniature trains chugging all through the garden. At night, the garden hosts an incredible display of Christmas lights that you can walk through!
Christmas is often called the most wonderful time of the year, and you can make it even more wonderful by traveling somewhere new. Whether you’re in search of snowy mountainsides or sandy beaches, you’ll be able to find something you and your loved ones will remember for years to come.