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Where to Travel in December: 20 Top Destinations

Winter sun or Christmas fun? Let us help you decide

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A close up of snow on the Pont Alexandre III bridge in front of a cathedral in Paris in winter, France

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

A bridge in Central Park covered in snow on a December evening, New York, USA

A bridge in Central Park covered in snow on a December evening, 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.

Talkin' New York, Plum Guide home in New York

Talkin' New York, Plum Guide home in New York

2. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Large green rocks in a blue lagoon in December, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Large green rocks in a blue lagoon in December, 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

People walking on a snow-covered street by the Eiffel Tower on a misty December day, Paris, France

People walking on a snow-covered street by the Eiffel Tower on a misty December day, 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.

Acapulco Beach, Plum Guide home in Paris, France

Acapulco Beach, Plum Guide home in Paris, France

4. The Bahamas

Two white boats in a small stretch of blue water between banks of pink sand, The Bahamas

Two white boats in a small stretch of blue water between banks of pink sand, 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

An aerial view of a snow-covered hill with green trees at a ski resort in Aspen, USA

An aerial view of a snow-covered hill with green trees at a ski resort in 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.

Terra Blizza, Plum Guide home in Aspen, USA

Terra Blizza, Plum Guide home in Aspen, USA

6. Melbourne, Australia

A building with Christmas decorations on Princes Bridge, Melbourne, Australia

A building with Christmas decorations on Princes Bridge, 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

A view of terraced buildings covered in Christmas lights and decorations by the canal, Copenhagen, Denmark

A view of terraced buildings covered in Christmas lights and decorations by the canal, 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?

The Magic Flute, Plum Guide home in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Magic Flute, Plum Guide home in Copenhagen, Denmark

8. Cuba

A row of colourful terraced buildings in Havana, Cuba

A row of colourful terraced buildings in Havana, Cuba

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

The Brandenburg Gate next to a tall Christmas tree on a dark December evening, Berlin, Germany

The Brandenburg Gate next to a tall Christmas tree on a dark December evening, 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).

Café Latte, Plum Guide home in Berlin, Germany

Café Latte, Plum Guide home in Berlin, Germany

10. Lapland, Finland

A field full of snow-covered trees at sunrise in December in Lapland, Finland

A field full of snow-covered trees at sunrise in December in 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.

Forest Fold, Plum Guide home in Lapland, Finland

Forest Fold, Plum Guide home in Lapland, Finland

11. Maldives

A bird's eye view of the blue sea, white sand, and green trees in the Maldives

A bird's eye view of the blue sea, white sand, and green trees in the Maldives

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

Large mountains standing over Lake Marian, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Large mountains standing over Lake Marian, Fiordland National Park, 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

A bird's eye view of people at a beach in Antalya, Turkey

A bird's eye view of people at a beach in 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.

Kalkan Dreaming, Plum Guide home in Antalya, Turkey

Kalkan Dreaming, Plum Guide home in Antalya, Turkey

14. Japan

A red bridge over a large river in a snow-covered forest in December, Japan

A red bridge over a large river in a snow-covered forest in December, Japan

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

A large lake by snow-covered trees and hills, Cumbria, England, UK

A large lake by snow-covered trees and hills, Cumbria, England, 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.

Woodland Hide Away, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, England, UK

Woodland Hide Away, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, England, UK

16. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

An illuminated Christmas tree in a large lake in front of a mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

An illuminated Christmas tree in a large lake in front of a mountain, 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

An aerial view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on a December evening, London, England, UK

An aerial view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on a December evening, London, England, 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.

Luxury Outlook, Plum Guide home in London, UK

Luxury Outlook, Plum Guide home in London, UK

18. Costa Rica

A bird's eye view of a beach on Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica

A bird's eye view of a beach on Isla Tortuga, 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

A red train driving through snowy mountains in December in Grisons, Switzerland

A red train driving through snowy mountains in December in 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.

Glacier Cherry, Plum Guide home in Grisons, Switzerland

Glacier Cherry, Plum Guide home in Grisons, Switzerland

20. Canary Islands, Spain

Footsteps on a sandy beach looking out to distant islands, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Footsteps on a sandy beach looking out to distant islands, Fuerteventura, 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.

Never Up Never In, Plum Guide home in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

Never Up Never In, Plum Guide home in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

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