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19 of the best places to visit during the Christmas season

This post is for everyone who wants to travel at Christmas. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… And I’m so ready for it!

No matter where you are in the world, the festive season is always a time that fills me with joy, happiness and contentment. It’s a time for spending extra quality time with your loved ones, reflecting on the previous year, and projecting dreams, goals and ambitions for the year ahead.

Many people choose to spend Christmas snuggled up at home, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve spent quite a few Christmases in Australia, embracing their summer to escape from the dreaded UK winter. But, in the name of exploring somewhere new and spreading my wings even further, I’ve put together a bucket list of places to spend the Christmas season, to inspire you to get away at the most wonderful time of the year...

Here are 19 places you should visit at Christmas time…

1. Germany

Germany is Christmas market central! I really enjoyed exploring the Christmas markets in Munich, and would love to go back and see the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg and Cologne too! Think of all the glühwein you could drink if you did a trip combining all three…!

Check out my Christmas market road trip through Germany & France here. 

2. Italy & Vatican City

Imagine midnight mass in The Vatican… all the Christmas feels! Combine it with a weekend of sightseeing in Rome, pizza and pasta and it sounds like a great alternative Christmas weekend!

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do

Top tip: Want to save money and only take carry-on luggage? Check out my carry-on packing guide here.

3. London, England

If you haven’t experienced London at Christmas, you must. With lights everywhere, little huts selling mulled wine, and the perfect place to start your Christmas shopping (if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle), it’s the most magical place to be at Christmas!

Check out my top 24 festive things to do in London this year here.

A complete guide to exploring London during Winter
A complete guide to exploring London during Winter

4. Prague, Czechia

With some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Prague is the perfect destination for travellers on a budget – it’s so cheap!

Top tip: Check out the flight deals on Skyscanner here.

5. Lapland, Finland

Home to Santa himself, Northern Finland is a beautiful place to explore at this time of year. Chalets, snow, husky rides & even the chance of seeing the northern lights will make this the trip of a lifetime.

Check out my winter guide to Levi, Finland here.

6. Dublin, Ireland

Every year thousands of swimmers take a frosty dip at Forty Foot in Dublin! Why not join them, and then toast to a very merry Christmas with a Guinness?

15 OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DUBLIN, IRELAND

7. Kiruna, Sweden

Located in the Arctic Circle, Kiruna is the perfect snow adventure destination! Snowmobiling, spas, ice hotels and more give you the perfect opportunity for a winter adventure!

  • KIRUNA SWEDEN
  • The ultimate best friend bucket list

8. Vienna, Austria

This city is full of culture every day of the year, but add in some Christmas markets and festive cheer and it looks like a great weekend away! Good for a solo travel weekend too because Vienna is so safe.

9. The Alps

A chalet in The Alps would be the perfect cozy holiday for Christmas! Ski by day and snuggle by night (after a cheeky après-ski drink of course). Spanning Austria, Switzerland and Germany, there are plenty of chalets to cozy up in! I loved skiing in La Plagne and Val D’Isere in France, as well as my favourite road trip through the Alps. 

Check out winter sport holidays on my blog here.

For the ultimate French and Swiss road trip itinerary, check out this post for the French Alps and this post for the Swiss Alps!

10. Bath, UK

Bath holds an award-winning Christmas market every year which attracts thousands of visitors. Explore the markets and picturesque side-streets followed by a cuppa in a local cafe – bliss!

11. Bruges, Belgium

Another stunning city with an amazing Christmas market, make sure you wash some typical frites down with a large glass of mulled wine! I spent an amazing day in Bruges and would happily go again when it’s lit up with Christmas magic!

Check out my day trip to Bruges and Ghent here.

Top tip: If you’re extending your stay in Belgium beyond Bruges, check out my guide to Brussels here.

12. New York, USA

Just like the movies! While you’re Christmas shopping, try and find a Christmas miracle on 34th street or go ice skating at the Rockefeller Center.

13. Australia

A typical destination for Brits escaping the dreary winter, Christmas time is the perfect time for backpackers to explore Australia! The sun is shining, the people are lovely… and who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas on the beach?! Sydney is an amazing city to explore: I think Manly would be an amazing place to spend Christmas! Byron Bay, Noosa or St Kilda would be equally as relaxing and chilled.

Top tip: Want to know how much you’ll spend when you’re in Australia? Check out my budgeting guide for Australia here!

6 walks to go on in and around Sydney, Australia
A complete guide to Manly, Sydney

Top tip: Don’t miss out on anything when you visit Australia: check out this East Coast Australia bucket list!

18 of the best places to visit during the Christmas season

14. Israel

One of the most cultural places to be at Christmas. If you want to learn more about the religious festival, rather than the commercial side, Jerusalem & Bethlehem should be on your Christmas travel bucket list!

Top tip: Long haul flights can be awful if you aren’t fully prepared. Here’s my survival guide for long haul flights, including everything you need to take in your hand luggage!

15. Tokyo, Japan

For a less religious experience, head to Japan. Most Japanese people aren’t Christian, but still celebrate Christmas in a commercial sense. They go absolutely crazy for lights and luminous displays here, so expect everything to be lit up! I personally love Tokyo – there are so many things to see and do there, and it’s so different to London!

Check out my complete guide to Tokyo here.

A temptation to visit Tokyo, Japan with KLM
A complete guide to Tokyo, Japan | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

Top tip: For the ultimate ski trip in Japan, check out my complete guide to Niseko here.

16. Cape Town, South Africa

Another place to chase the winter sun! What’s more, you can watch an outdoor screening of a Christmas movie at The Galileo in Kirstenbosch Gardens. Check what’s on here.

South Africa is also an amazing place for a budget safari experience, if you want to see the big 5 without spending too much money! Watch my South African safari come to life in my video below…

Top tip: Planning a luxury safari in Kenya? Check out my top tips, itinerary and planning guides here!

17. Queenstown, New Zealand

Another sunny destination for the time of year! Loads of restaurants open for Christmas dinner and the New Year’s fireworks attract thousands of people from all over NZ. Start the summer season off in New Zealand with a bang! There’s so much to do in Queenstown, from hikes and walks to skydives and more!

Check out my guide to Queenstown here.

A backpacker's guide to Queenstown, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

Top tip: Want to know how much you’ll spend when you’re in New Zealand? Check out my budgeting guide for New Zealand here!

18. Thailand

Why not try somewhere that doesn’t celebrate Christmas? As a predominantly Buddhist country, Christmas is only a national holiday in certain provinces. December is also a great time to visit Thailand weather-wise, with little to no rain and glorious sunshine! I absolutely loved my first backpacking adventure in Thailand. From volunteering in an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, to exploring Bangkok or holidaying in the islands, there’s so much to see and do here!

Top tip: Looking to add adventure to your winter without travelling so far? Check out my top tips here.

Top tip: Before you go backpacking, check out my top tips for solo travel in Southeast Asia here.

19. Bali

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I love Bali and the peace that it brings to me. It’s one of the best places for wellness,  and I know I’d rather be on a tropical beach in Uluwatu than staying in the grey UK! From the cultural hub of Ubud to the relaxed vibes of Canggu, Bali is a great place to go for a warm, chilled Christmas.

Check out my complete guide to exploring Bali here.

An Uluwatu Bali travel guide: The best things to do, see and eat

Top tip: If you’re looking at visiting Indonesia, but not Bali, check out my guide to Nusa Lembongan here.

Top tip: Before you go to Bali, make sure you check out my top tips for visiting Bali here!

Have you travelled at Christmas?

Where did you go? I’d love to know!

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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19 places to visit at Christmas
19 places to visit at Christmas
19 places to visit at Christmas
19 of the best places to visit during the Christmas season
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I’M MOLLIE AND I STARTED THIS BLOG BACK IN 2013 WHEN I HEADED OUT ON MY FIRST BACKPACKING ADVENTURE. I’D LOVE TO SHARE MY STORY WITH YOU…

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