Best Places To Visit In December
The big question to ask yourself when booking a December holiday is: sun or snow? As the northern hemisphere is getting cosy and gearing up for the festive period, the tropics are basking in the sunshine. Will you swap carols for calypso beats in the Caribbean, or wrap up warm and head to a European winter wonderland? Here are a few ideas to help you decide.
Bianca Ohannessian is a travel and fashion writer and social media specialist. When she’s not writing for various websites and for her own travel blog, Rockskippers, she’s out exploring the globe.
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The Austrian capital is a picture of elegance on the banks of the Danube River. With a dusting of snow over its historic buildings, Vienna is a picturesque place for a city break. It’s packed with cultural attractions, from its heritage of classical music to the grandeur of its palaces. Explore some of the 1,441 rooms of the Schönbrunn Palace or visit the luxurious 13th century Hofburg Imperial Palace.
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December sees traditional Christmas markets popping up around the city too. The Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung dates back to 1772. As well as plenty of local delicacies and warm drinks to ward off the chill, it’s a good opportunity to pick up some gifts. Wooden stalls sell local arts and crafts such as ceramics and glass decorations.
Italian Alps, Italy
As the ski season picks up pace, December is a popular time to visit the Alps. Stretching across eight different countries, the Italian portion of this magnificent mountain range offers slopes for all skiing and snowboarding abilities. Perched up high by the Swiss border, Livigno has good facilities for beginners as well as red and blue runs.
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Head over to Cervinia to glide down the world’s longest ski run. It also has fantastic views of the iconic Matterhorn Mountain (which you might recognise from the Toblerone logo). Or try the six resorts which make up the Milky Way near the French border, home of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. You’ve also got some lively après-ski to look forward to after a day on the powdery slopes.
New York, USA
New York knows how to celebrate the holiday season in style. As well as all the classic sight-seeing favourites, such as a visit to the Statue of Liberty or taking in the panoramic views from the top of the Empire State Building, December is a fun time of year to visit. The shops are decked out with fabulous festive window displays.
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If you need a coffee break from all the Christmas shopping, you’ll find numerous independent coffee and doughnut shops selling artisanal baked goods in unusual flavours. Take a stroll around Central Park if you catch a sunny, crisp afternoon, or check out the High Line park which runs alongside the river. Things are a little more chilled over the river in Brooklyn, where you’ll find friendly restaurants, pop up art galleries and vintage shopping.
You’ll have no trouble finding sensational sweeps of platinum-coloured powdery sand framed by swaying palm trees. Try lively Brockley or Brighton beach, or hire a car and explore the stunning coves that are dotted along the coastline. If you’re curious about the Caribbean Christmas experience, head to Queen’s Park on Christmas morning. The capital Bridgetown is decorated with lights for the festive season.
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The downtown area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there are lots of cultural attractions to explore there too, both old and new. Don’t miss the 17th century Garrison and the impressive limestone Parliament Buildings. Or dip into the vibrantly coloured underwater world with some scuba diving or snorkelling at Folkestone Marine Park & Visitor Centre.
Over in Central America, the sun is shining in December but temperatures still haven’t hit their peak. This is good news if you’re going to Guatemala as it makes sight-seeing a bit more comfortable. Aside from lots of Christmas celebrations in the form of parades and parties, there’s plenty to tick off your bucket list here.
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Hiking up a volcano, kayaking across beautiful Lake Atitlán, lounging in the sunshine on a black sand beach – these are just some of your options. You’ll also find pretty towns and cities featuring colonial architecture and colourful markets, such as Antigua. However the main attraction is the wealth of ancient Mayan ruins which you’ll find deep in the jungle in places like Tikal and El Mirador.
The UK seasons are reversed down under, so summer is in full swing in Australia in December. You’ll get a fantastic mix of beach and city in Sydney. If you’re there until the end of the month, celebrate the New Year in style with a picnic in the Botanical Gardens where you’ll get magnificent views of the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge. Explore the shops and museums around the city or experience some fine dining in the restaurants around the harbour.
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Spend a day on famous Bondi beach or take a boat to laid-back Manly to catch some waves. There are several beautiful scenic spots to explore outside the city too. Take a drive to the Eucalyptus covered Blue Mountains to hike amid trees and waterfalls and get a glimpse of the Three Sisters rock formation.
With the festive season fast approaching, December is a magical time of year to head to Tromsø. Picturesque wooden buildings are scattered across this Arctic island. You’ll find spectacular views of fjords and beautiful snow-covered forests which you can explore with hiking tours, kayaking trips or dogsled rides.
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Known as the gateway to the Arctic, it’s a real winter wonderland around this time of year. The city is modern and has its fair share of museums and restaurants. Check out the striking Arctic Cathedral and experience its exquisite acoustics with a midnight concert. Whatever you do, don’t forget to look up. The skies often come alive with the colourful glow of the northern lights at this time of year.