Where to Travel in December: 20 Top Destinations
Winter sun or Christmas fun? Let us help you decide
If you’re asking yourself “where is the best place to travel in December?”, you’re not alone. Given the time of year, everyone’s either looking to get away for some much-needed winter sun, or create some special festive memories over Christmas. After the obvious months of summer, there’s no better time in your calendar to travel. But where to go? Fortunately for you, you’re in the right place to answer all of those burning queries. Here at Plum Guide, we know a thing or two about travel - our experts are here to make the very most out of your December holidays. Below, we’ve laid out 20 top destinations from around the world, so read on for our opinion. You won't be stuck wondering where to travel in December for long.
1. New York, USA
If you’re looking to get festive, raising that Christmas magic to the next level, there can be no other place for you. From ice skating around the iconic rink under the Rockefeller Center, to shopping on 5th Avenue or exploring the Columbus Circle Holiday Market with all its festive treats. The self-proclaimed 'greatest city in the world' will have you feeling as though you’re starring in a festive film from the second you arrive.
2. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Christmas films aside, if one of David Attenborough's renowned wildlife documentaries is more your thing, Raja Ampat is a strong contender for your December travels. It’s at this time of year that the diving conditions are at their best. Surrounded by lush green jungle-dotted islands, plunge beneath the waves to experience some of the most incredible coral reefs in the world.
3. Paris, France
As if Paris wasn’t already magical enough, December offers up an extra layer of Christmas festivity throughout the French capital. Whether you’re there to target the bucket list with trips to The Louvre and The Eiffel Tower, or you simply want to sample the underrated delights of the many cafes and bakeries hidden down narrow cobbled streets, Paris is the spot for you. You’ll find the city in a jubilant, bustling mood, with dazzling lights and decorations accompanying a rich list of cultural events.
4. The Bahamas
If you’re serious about escaping for some winter sun, we think you’ll agree that the Bahamas deserve to be very high up your list of considerations. December is one of the best times to visit this hard-to-believe-it’s-real definition of tropical paradise. Sunshine, crystal clear blue waters, swaying palms, and golden sand. Yes please.
5. Aspen, USA
With December heralding the peak of winter, you can expect plenty of snow. Therefore, why not centre your Christmas and New Year plans around a ski holiday? - Aspen is a world class ski destination, after all. Aside from tearing up the mountains (or tumbling down them), the town itself turns into an ambience of merriment throughout December. Expect ice skating, Christmas markets, magical lights, and much, much more.
6. Melbourne, Australia
The beauty of Melbourne is that it’s in the southern hemisphere, meaning that while you may freeze in winter temperatures across the US and Europe, Australia is irresistibly hot and sunny. So, if you’re looking for some winter sun and warmth, but still want to sample that special Christmas spirit, this city is perfect - a place where culture, food, and shopping abound. Ever worn a Christmas hat at the beach? Well this is your chance.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
While it may not hold the sway of other European destinations at this time of year (we’ll talk about those soon), Copenhagen is an underrated gem. Despite the cold temperatures, the festivity of the city throughout December is heartwarming. The Danes embody the concept of hygge - enjoying the little things in life with good company. Isn’t that what December holidays are all about?
If you’re freezing just thinking about a lack of December sun, perhaps Cuba could be more suitable. Juxtaposed with the Christmas festivities throughout the US and Europe, Cuba offers up sun and warmth amongst the endearing streets of Havana, where time seems to have stood still since the 1960s. Take a dip in the sea (swimming conditions are perfect in December), and kick back on the beach with a Christmas cocktail or two.
9. Berlin, Germany
Of course, it’s hard to look past Berlin when it comes to where to travel in December. The German capital oozes cool throughout the year, but in December you’ll find it simply irresistible - the much-adored German Christmas markets are second to none. If you visit just one, we’d have to recommend the Weihnachtsmarkt at Charlottenburg Palace. Among the brightly-lit stalls, you’ll find festive treats galore - think Bratwurst, a pint or two of pilsner, and a soothing cup of Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate).
10. Lapland, Finland
If you’re Googling December holidays, the chances are that Lapland is popping up time and time again. The home of Santa Claus and all his reindeer, beautiful villages nestled in ambient, magical light and metres of snow - it doesn’t get anymore festive than this. Just be sure to bring your winter jacket and gloves - temperatures don’t creep above freezing, even in the middle of the day.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience that strange sensation of a hot, sunny Christmas, there can be few places better to visit than the Maldives. You’ll be happy to hear that December constitutes the start of summer, here guaranteeing little rain and plenty of sunshine. Unlike Lapland, we’re recommending plenty of sun cream, shades, and a good beach book for this one. It’s paradise.
12. New Zealand
If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors in December but don’t really fancy plummeting temperatures, where better to visit than New Zealand as it heads into peak summer? The country boasts some of the most mesmerising landscapes in the world, which can be enjoyed in a variety of ways - road trips, hikes, kayaking, surfing, cycling, and so much more. You’ll return home the fittest you’ve ever been after Christmas.
13. Antalya, Turkey
If you’re chasing that December sun, you don't necessarily have to fly to a far-flung island in the middle of the ocean. Antalya is a great destination for your December getaways, with beaches galore and unforgettable cuisine. Known as the gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region (which is aptly nicknamed the Turquoise Coast), you’ll be able to enjoy more Mediterranean sunshine than you could possibly need.
If you’re looking for a ski holiday as well as a bit of an adventure for your December trip, look no further than Japan. With world-class resorts such as Niseko, Rusutsu, and Kiroro seeing up to 40 feet of snowfall each season, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to shred the powder. Once you’re done in the mountains, you can enjoy the wonders of one of the world’s largest cities - the famous capital of Tokyo.
15. Cumbria, UK
The thought of walking around a city with a population of nearly 14 million may not appeal to everyone, of course. So how about Cumbria? With the possibility of snow dusted on the fells, as well as myriad beautiful hikes around the many lakes and hills of the Lake District, December can be the perfect time to visit this beloved UK corner. Rest assured, there are plenty of cosy country cottages to choose from - keeping warm and relaxing in the evenings won't be a problem.
16. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Looking for something completely different? While Rio may not be top of many lists for a December holiday, we think it’s a fantastic option. The city’s eclectic samba beat and beautiful panoramic views are on offer all year round, but the weather is at its very best from December to March. Sun, warmth, and sand can be found in abundance alongside great food, drink, and people. Who’s turning their nose up at the thought of spending Christmas day on Copacabana Beach?
17. London, UK
If your type of keeping fit and active revolves around high street shopping sprees, then London is a prime for you - no more wondering where to travel in December. There’s nothing quite like the festive decadence of Harrods at Christmas, or the buzz and excitement as you make your way down Oxford Street. You’ll also find plenty of Christmas markets dotted around the city, as well as the many famous Cockney drinking establishments.
18. Costa Rica
Those of you chasing the winter sun will be pleasantly surprised to hear about Costa Rica. With the weather at its driest and brightest, you can enjoy some of the world’s most pristine nature in the many national parks. Experience cascading waterfalls, diverse rainforests, picturesque coastline, remarkable volcanoes, and world-class surf, all within very close proximity. It’s a nature-lovers paradise.
19. Grisons, Switzerland
This Canton in eastern Switzerland is renowned for its dramatic Alpine scenery. You’ll find numerous ski resorts and villages dotted amongst the towering Alps and icy lakes, including world-famous St Moritz. When it comes to December ski holidays, it doesn’t get any better than this. See you on the slopes.
20. Canary Islands, Spain
Situated off the North-West coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are renowned for both white sandy beaches and the black variety - thanks to intense volcanic action across the archipelago. With nearby lava, draping blue skies, and relentless warm sun, there are few destinations more appealing in December. You’ll find the warmest parts at this time of year located in the south of Gran Canaria - Maspalomas, Puerto Rico, and Puerto de Mogan.