Best Places to Visit in December

It is now October. Which means we are only a few months from the December holidays and soon the sounds of Christmas will be booming over the speakers and the malls crowded with people buying holiday gifts. Oooh the joys of Christmas! While summer might be alluring with its sun and fun (well depending on where you live), December is actually the best time to travel. So why not give in to the seduction of the French Riviera and spend your December holidays in Nice or drink mulled wine in the Christmas markets of Berlin. If you are not too fond of snow, some of the warm places to visit in December include the beaches of Zanzibar or you can chill to the sounds of bossa nova and dance the samba on the streets of Rio de Janeiro! Winter vacation ideas are endless, so here is a few of some of the best places to visit in December around the world.

colmar

1. Colmar, France

First of all, the town of Colmar looks like it’s made out of gingerbread houses. It’s straight out of a fairy tale. Now add wreaths and Christmas ornaments and snow, you have all the ingredients for experiencing la magie de Noel. The Christmas markets run from the end of November until the end of December, and are all within a short walk of each other. Why not end the day by attending a Christmas concert in one of Colmar’s many churches or sample some of the wines in the Alsace region at one of the tastings. If you are a fan of Christmas, Colmar is where the magic lives. There is a high speed TGV train from Paris that takes about 3 hours.

Average Temperatures: 35°F (2°C)

| Season: winter

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2. New York City, U.S

New York City is one of the most popular and best winter vacations. Many people come to see the city’s bright lights, you can ice skate at Rockefeller Center, see a Broadway play or come just for the New Year’s Eve countdown and ball drop in Times Square. New York weather in December can at times be mild and sometimes snow doesn’t arrive until late winter but don’t forget to pack a sweater or 2. The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular are a popular holiday tradition, complete with their very own Santa. If you do intend on spending the holidays in the city where dreams are made, make sure you book very early because hotel prices and airfare can get high, as the city experiences peak travel time.

Average temperatures: 44°F (7°C)

| Season: winter

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3. London, England

There is something magical about London during December. The rates might be high, the streets packed with tourists and locals, but the city sparkles with twinkling lights and festive events to put even the grinch in a better mood. London can get chilly and damp during December, so don’t forget to pack a warm jacket and an umbrella. Catch the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland with food halls, rides for the kiddies, and mulled wine for the adults or The Spitalfields Music Festival. Download a map of the London Tube to your phone; it can get overwhelming especially with huge crowds but it’s a great way of getting around.

Average Temperatures: 48°F (4°C)

| Season: winter

cape-town

4. Cape Town, South Africa

Summers in Southern Africa are hot, and December marks the start of the summer season. The sun is not yet unbearable, but makes the beaches an ideal destination. Visits to Cape Point and Table Mountain are also ideal during this time of the year. On New Year’s Eve, the whole city really comes alive with celebrations on the beaches, restaurants, or rooftop bars, ending with the fireworks display at the V&A Waterfront to bring in the new year. Because Cape Town is a favorite destination during the winter holiday season, make sure to book your accommodation and flights early. Good news for North Americans: Starting December 15th, United Airlines will be offering direct flights from Newark, New Jersey to Cape Town on their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. And this is a good thing, because using direct flights is a simple and easier way to lower your carbon footprint while traveling.

Average temperatures: 68°F (20°C)

| Season: summer

berlin

5. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is an amazing city no matter what time of the year you visit, but nothing beats enjoying a bratwurst and drinking mulled wine while people-watching at Alexanderplatz. Peruse through the stalls of Gendarmenmarkt or go ice skating at the Berliner Weihnachtszeit, one of the oldest and popular Christmas markets in Berlin. And since December is the time to be jolly and giving, why not indulge in a Middle Eastern dinner cooked by refugees. About twice a month, Syrian refugees cook dinner and dine with guests for a small fee.

| Average temperatures: 34°F (1°C)

| Season: winter

6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Head down to escape wintertime for sun and beach in the cidade Maravilhosa and celebrate the holidays carioca style. It’s spring time in Rio de Janeiro and the only white Christmas you will see are the white sandy beaches. This is the beginning of the peak season in Rio, and although it will get crowded at the beaches, don’t forget your umbrella because it will also get rainy. Head to the Feira de Arte de Ipanema (Hippie Fair in Ipanema), a street market in the south zone of the city for souvenirs. Beach it out at Copacabana or Ipanema around Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day because the beaches will be less crowded as the locals celebrate at home. The city celebrates Reveillon (December 31st), the beaches are alive with samba beats and the good vibes are flowing. Combine this trip with another South American metropolis, Santiago de Chile, for more ideal outdoor activities.

Average Temperatures: 77°F (25°C)

| Season: spring

zermatt

7. Zermatt, Swiss Alps

The hills (or mountains in this case) are not only alive in the German Alps but also on the Swill Alps during wintertime. It’s the stuff Christmas dreams are made of. Zermatt sits high at 5,300 ft and is known for its most famous attraction; Matterhorn. This small Swiss village is completely car-free giving you a break from the congestion. There are plenty of things to dofor non-skiers, but if you do love winter sports, it is your Valhalla. Pack a heavy jacket because Zermatt has an alpine climate.

Average temperatures: 22°F (-5°C)

| Season: winter

8.  Zanzibar, Tanzania

Although the Zanzibari don’t make a big deal out of celebrating the December holidays, there will be plenty of tourists who find Christmas amid white sandy beaches, palm trees, and crystal blue waters a novelty. There are plenty of things to do on the island, such as diving the crystal-clear blue waters on the southern reefs. It’s the rainy season all over Tanzania so fresh fruits will be cheap and delicious, so hit the markets for some Vitamin C. Kendwa Rocks hosts the main party on the island, but there are plenty of New Year’s Eve parties on other beaches. What’s better than a beach, good food, music, and fireworks? Nada!

| Average Temperatures: 81°F (27°C)

| Season: short rains

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9. Amsterdam, Holland

Every December, Amsterdam turns into a winter wonderland with holiday markets, ice rinks, and stalls all over the city. Since the city is cold and wet during December, your packing priorities should focus on staying warm. Most tourists prefer to visit this Dutch capital between April and September, so expect to find low travel fares and huge discounts at stores in December. The rates will spike up around the holidays. Check out the Amsterdam Light Festival, an exhibition with about 25 light artworks that takes places from early December – late January.

| Average temperatures: 40°F (4°C)

| Season: winter

Downtown Dubai
Downtown Dubai

10.  Dubai, U.A.E

If you are looking for a white snowy Christmas obviously a place in the desert is not the place to find it. But with climate change making the impossible possible, who knows in a few decades. You might get your desert snow after all. Dubai averages about 8 hours of sunshine in December and with temperatures reaching up to 25°C (77°F), get your sunscreen and hit the beaches. If you must have snow at least on Christmas Day, there is ‘Ski Dubai,’ the first indoor ski area in the Middle East. Ski in the morning and soak up some sun in the afternoon. How about that for the best of both worlds. Also check out the Madinat Jumeirah, which comes complete with a German-style Christmas market, a North Pole train, and Santa. Enjoy a winter wonderland without the winter.

| Average temperatures: 25°C (77°F)

| Season: winter

SHOW COMMENTS

I’d love to go to Amsterdam! I heard it’s best in May, but my birthday is at the end of December so it sounds appealing.

The great thing is its great any time!! yeah beginning of May is good before the tourist season picks up!