The Top 10 Destinations to visit in December
December is one of the busiest travel months of the year after the summer. For the holidays, many fly home or to far-off places. Others are kicking off the ski season early. And workaholics with wanderlust are making the most of their time off to fit in one last vacation before the year is over. However, December is a wonderful time to travel despite the crowds. Europe is plenty of holiday markets, notably in Strasbourg and Nuremberg. For snowbirds in the north, St. Lucia proved to be the ideal tropical vacation destination. Patagonia experiences some of the year’s greatest weather in December. And for the holidays, there is nowhere better than New York City.
See our selection of the top destinations to visit in December for additional inspiration on winter travel.
1. Nuremberg, Germany
No other city decks the halls quite like Nuremberg, which is home to one of the largest Christmas markets in the world each December. One of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, which has been held annually at the Hauptmarkt since at least the 1500s, is located in this little Bavarian town.
To witness the eagerly awaited Nuremberg Christkind (a gift-giving fairy from German Christmas legends) deliver a prologue in the Main Market Square to mark the opening of the market on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent, attempt to travel to Germany in late November if at all possible.
But even if you miss that occasion, you can still take in all the festive spirit of the Nuremberg Christmas market in December. Eat the famous bratwurst and gingerbread of the city, look for vintage wooden toys and knit caps, and gather a few ornaments for your Christmas tree. A delightful carousel for children is also available.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is at its most beautiful in December. When the monsoon rains stop in November, the Thai capital experiences comparatively cold, dry weather in December. The mercury will reach a high of 32 degrees Celsius during the day, with evening temperatures in the low 20s.
Utilize the great weather for sightseeing to discover some of Bangkok’s finest attractions. Visiting the Grand Palace is essential. The approximately 250-year-old palace, which has breathtakingly exquisite architecture, was the residence of numerous Thai kings and their royal courts. There is also a revered Emerald Buddha there.
The oldest temple in Bangkok, Wat Pho, is where you should go if you want to see the well-known 45-meter-long reclining Buddha statue. Wat Pho is located just south of the royal courtyard.
After exploring the sights, take in the energy of this busy metropolis. Khao San Road’s backpacker zone is a riot of colour and activity, with guesthouses galore, loud music, and street vendors peddling trinkets. In this region, you can also get some of Bangkok’s best street foods. The mango sticky rice is a must-have.
3. New York City
In December, there is nowhere else like New York City. When the trees are covered in twinkling lights and there is a light dusting of snow on the sidewalk, the glass and concrete metropolis feels like a winter wonderland.
Visit Rockefeller Center—one it’s of the must-do activities in New York City at this time of year. The Big Apple’s famous Christmas tree can be found there, along with a seasonal skating rink that has been a yearly ritual since 1936. Watch as more than 140 members of the renowned Rockettes perform their high kicks in unison at the neighbouring Radio City Music Hall during the Christmas Spectacular holiday stage production.
The busiest shopping month in New York is December. Explore the festive holiday window displays in storefronts along Fifth Avenue while shopping for presents for all your loved ones at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.
4. Strasbourg, France
Another one of the top destinations to visit in December is Strasbourg, which is located in France just across the border from Germany. This mediaeval city, like its Black Forest neighbours, hosts a well-known Christmas market that combines German and French customs.
One of the oldest markets in the city, the yearly Christkindelsmärik is set against the backdrop of half-timbered buildings beside picturesque rivers. You’ll never forget the sensation of browsing different sellers and drinking a hot beverage as snowflakes danced down on the sparkling market. The Great Christmas Tree is located at Place Kléber, where you may continue your holiday sightseeing. The enormous arbour rises at least 30 metres above the city and has 400 ornaments, 240 lit cherubs, and seven kilometres of flashing lights. You’ll feel the spirit of the season immediately.
5. Hokkaido, Japan
Go to Hokkaido if you want to ski on world-famous slopes in December. Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best snow destinations. And this snow isn’t just ordinary snow; it’s a unique variety of dry, fluffy snow known among powder hunters as “Ja-pow.” Mid-December marks the start of ski season, though it may start sooner if the weather is favourable.
For your December ski holiday, Hokkaido offers a wide variety of ski resorts. Over 1,500 cm of snow fall annually in the ever-popular Niseko. Sahoro offers excellent tree skiing and treats foreign visitors nicely. Consider visiting Tomamu, a place that oozes cheesy Japanese culture, if you want to venture off the beaten road.
6. Destinations to visit in December at St. Lucia
St. Lucia, one of the most beautiful islands in the world, is a fantastic getaway in December from the chilly weather up north. A wonderful approach to unwind before the New Year will be to simply unwind at one of the area’s resorts, including Windjammer Resort & Beach Club. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, engaging in water sports, and going on excursions before settling in to enjoy the sunsets, which are framed by rainbows.
For more adventurous visitors seeking for some action on their December vacation, St. Lucia also has a tonne of activities to offer. Hikers with experience could set out on a difficult trek via the towering Pitons (although most tourists will simply want to admire their beauty from afar). Additionally, you could go scuba diving along the Anse Chastanet coral reef, hike the Tet Paul Nature Trail to witness views of Martinique and St. Vincent, and explore the laid-back fishing community of Soufrière.
No matter how pressed for time you are, make sure to block off an hour to soak in a mud bath at Sulphur Springs. Your skin will appreciate it.
7. London, United Kingdom
London literally glows in December. The entire city is decked out in holiday decorations and twinkle lights, giving it a lovely, almost magical vibe. This is especially true of Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Covent Garden. But London is one of the top destinations to visit in December because of the calendar’s abundance of activities.
Visitors can view the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the first Thursday of December. Locals and visitors alike enjoy Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park for its observation wheel, amusement park rides, ice skating, and gift market.
Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens offers visitors the chance to stroll a mile-long path that is illuminated by more than a million lights. Of course, on December 31 at the London Eye, the city stages its renowned New Year’s Eve Fireworks. To ensure a great view, purchase your tickets far in advance.
8. Banff, Alberta
Even if you hate winter right now, a trip to Banff in December will teach you to love it. This magnificent mountain town offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada, as well as a vibrant après ski culture, and amazing ice skating on Lake Louise.
But there are even more winter activities in Banff. Additionally, visitors can walk from hut to hut through the Wapta Icefields and enjoy husky sledding in the Rockies with a boisterous pack of huskies.
You can relieve your hurting joints and muscles in the renowned Banff Hot Springs if all that time climbing up and down mountains has left you feeling sore.
9. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
The lack of sunshine at this time of year is one of Jukkasjärvi’s appeals in Sweden. An incredible place to view the aurora borealis is the village, which is situated 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.
The original Ice Hotel is also located there, where guests can spend the night in an ice-only room. Don’t leave without visiting the Jukkasjärvi Kyrka, one of the oldest churches in the region and a well-known landmark of the city.
10. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, Dubai is large and vibrant. However, during the winter, Dubai does it really well. From November to January, Dubai experiences fairly uniformly warm temperatures, with daily highs between 19 and 26 degrees Celsius. Additionally, it’s festival season, with everything from film festivals to the Rugby Sevens, as well as the dazzling sparkle of countless Swarovski crystals during the holidays.
In Dubai, the superlatives rule. It is renowned for having the biggest and best of everything, and December in particular during the winter is an amazing time to explore this UAE treasure. Sunbathe on the shores of the Persian Gulf, indulge in its culinary gems, and schedule time for the mind-blowing sites that consistently rank at the top of visitor lists worldwide. With a trip to the indoor hill at Ski Dubai, you can even enjoy the ski season.
Dubai maintains its heritage as an old-world port town, complete with traditional wooden boats, traditional gold and spice souks, and traditional cooks serving centuries-old recipes, despite its modern wonders. When you travel to Dubai, you’ll discover the fascinating contrast between the ancient world and the modern world.