The Skating rink and Christmas Tree in NYC's Rockefeller Plaze

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12 Best Places To Travel For Christmas Around the World

If you are looking for some amazing places to spend the Christmas holiday around the globe, here is a list that covers it all, from the best destinations filled with Christmas Spirit to places with incredible Winter Activities to Tropical Holiday locales. We can help you find the best places to travel for a Christmas getaway.

When you start looking for the best Christmas vacations, you need to figure out what you want your holiday to look like. Is it an escape from snow and cold? Would you like to embrace the cold and get outdoors? Or do you visualize that Hallmark moment, filled with Christmas spirit? The first step in planning your holiday adventure is determining what you want from it.

In this list, I have selected four great destinations in each category that should fill everyone’s needs. I have included why it’s a great Christmas destination, the must-see and do things in each, and the top places to stay, along with a tour/activity suggestion. This will help you find the best places to travel for Christmas!

Christmas tree in Old Town Square Prague

Destinations With Quintessential Christmas Spirit

This is the Hallmark Movie section. It features destinations that scream Christmas. These are picturesque, highly decorated destinations filled with great holiday food, shopping, local traditions, and tons of holiday spirit. Think of a winter wonderland filled with Christmas decorations. It’s like you just stepped into your favorite Christmas movies.

Prague

Christmas Spirit: Prague is a magical city to visit at any time of the year and is one of the top Christmas market destinations in Europe. What makes it perfect during the holiday season is the magical feeling the city gives visitors. 

Must See & Do: No visit to Prague is complete without a stroll around the Old Town Square. At Christmas time, you will find the largest Christmas Market in the city to explore, in addition to the Astronomical Clock. You will find an incredible Christmas tree in the town square, amazing street food, and vendors selling holiday decorations. 

Where To Stay & Top Tour: Check out the Boho Prague Hotel. It’s a charming boutique hotel perfectly located for exploring the city. When exploring Prague, a must-do tour is the Prague Foodie Tour. It’s a great way to explore the amazing food found in Prague.

New York City

Christmas Spirit: Sometimes, it seems like New York City is the center of the Christmas universe. Rockefeller Center, window shopping along Fifth Avenue, and The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall make the holiday season in NYC magical.

Must See & Do: NYC hosts some of the country’s top Christmas Markets, so explore; the most famous is the Bryant Park Market. You might think the skating rink at Rockefeller Center is the place to be, but if you want to skate in New York at Christmas, head over to Wollman Rink in Central Park. The lines are not as long, and the view is fantastic. Rolf’s is a must during your New York City holiday visit; the restaurant is decked out in lights and décor for the holidays and will put you in the Christmas mood.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: While NYC is filled with excellent hotels, the best location to experience all the holiday festivities is Midtown. The Whitby, located two blocks from Central Park, is a great choice, especially if you plan on taking in the NYC art scene. If you want a fun and unique Christmas lights tour, check out one that explores Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. It’s a Christmas special!

Wintery streets in Quebec City during the Christmas holiday.

Vienna

Christmas Spirit: When you see photos of Europe’s top Christmas Markets, you very well may be looking at the markets in Vienna. This city hosts over 20 advent markets all over town. Add a little bit of snow, and you won’t be able to escape the feeling of Christmas. Vienna really is one of the best places to travel for Christmas in Europe.

Must See & Do: When in Vienna for the holidays, be sure to visit some of the most famous markets: Christkindlmarkt (Rathausplatz), Karlsplatz, Schönbrunn Palace, and my favorite, Spittelberg. Also, while you tour the city, be sure to take a tour of the Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg. Have a coffee or hot chocolate in a Viennese cafe, and don’t pass up Tafelspitz at Plachutta. 

Where To Stay & Top Tour: To stay in the center of all the action in Vienna during the holiday season, head to the Boutique Hotel am Stephansplatz. It’s right in the middle of one of the city’s busiest Christmas Markets. Vienna is famed for its classical music history. A great way to enjoy both the music and holidays is to attend one of the many classical music concerts held nightly around the city. First-time visitors to Vienna should read Top Tips For First-Time Vienna Christmas Market Visit.

Quebec City

Christmas Spirit:  If you dream of a holiday in a charming old-world European city but don’t want to fly for 8+ hours, stay in North America and head to Canada. Quebec City is an incredibly charming destination at any time of the year, but it looks like it was plucked out of a Dicken’s Christmas Carol in December. And there is a very good chance you will experience the classical white Christmas here.

Must See & Do: Tour the German Christmas Market in Quebec City, then stroll the old town streets decorated for Christmas. This is sure to put you in a Christmas mood. Known for its concentration of art galleries and fine restaurants, Petit‑Champlain is the perfect place to do a little Christmas shopping. This neighborhood is ideal for shopping for unique souvenirs, visiting Santa Claus, and enjoying the outdoor fire pits that line Petit-Champlain.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: For a magical holiday hotel, consider the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, located in the heart of Old Québec.  On the Combo Historical and Food Tour, visit top restaurants and historical sights as you take in the best of Quebec City.

Park City Utah at Christmas time

Destinations Filled With Winter Activities

If you’re not dreaming of a Hallmark Christmas but instead looking for outdoor fun and activities, here is a list of 4 great spots to spend your holiday.

Park City

Christmas Spirit:  World-class skiing is the first reason to visit Park City, Utah, in the winter. But a close second is the festive atmosphere the town takes on during the holidays. From Main Street Snow Globe Stroll, featuring seven giant snow globes lining Main Street, to several Torch Parades, including the 58th annual Torchlight Parade at Park City Mountain Resort, where skiers glide down the mountain in formation with giant flares.

Must See & Do: In addition to the torch parades and the snow globe stroll, book your ticket for the Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express train ride. The 90-minute trip includes hot cocoa, cookies, and a special gift from Santa.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: To stay in the center of the action, try Main & SKY, a modern 33-suite hotel. The Ultimate Park City Tour: Olympic Park, Hike, Historic Main Street gives you a little of everything. Learn about the Olympic history of this mountain town, wander its Main Street, and snowshoe a mountain trail.

Wengen

Christmas Spirit: Wengen is a magical small town to visit any time of the year, but it’s a winter wonderland around Christmas. At this elevation, you are almost guaranteed snow, and wandering the streets of this car-free town will feel like stepping back in time. 

Must See & Do: The town offers world-class skiing and is also perfect for non-skiers. The tiny town square near the train station hosts a lovely European Christmas Market. Make the journey to the Top of Europe, the Jungfraujoch. It’s a spectacular adventure to the highest rail station in Europe. When in Wengen you will want to explore Switzerland further, try Switzerland Travel – A Visit To Mountains, Lakes & Cities.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: My favorite hotel in Wengen is the Hotel Schoenegg. For the most amazing views, book the Penthouse Apartment. It’s the entire top floor, and the views are spectacular. Book a private tour from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch. It’s an 8-hour experience that allows you to customize your adventure.

Luminaries on adobe in Santa Fe
Farolitos on the Loretto Hotel

Santa Fe

Christmas Spirit: Get outdoors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the holiday season. Not only will you find skiing in the mountains of northern New Mexico, but you will also find hiking opportunities in the area. It’s also a great place to visit if you have art lovers and shoppers in your group. 

Must See & Do: Santa Fe has a great outdoor vibe and is home to one of the United States’s most acclaimed art communities. Explore the galleries and boutiques along Canyon Road. Another holiday happening is the concerts held at the Loretto Chapel leading up to Christmas.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: My preferred hotel in Santa Fe is the Drury Plaza Hotel. Become an artist yourself; even if you can’t paint at all, take a Santa Fe Art Class. It’s great fun, and who knows, you might find out you have a talent you never knew about.

Banff

Christmas Spirit:  Banff National Park in Canada is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The town of Banff is the perfect place to spend an active holiday. Skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking are all perfect holiday activities. Then head to the nearest roaring fire and warm up!

Must See & Do: There are many things to see and do in Banff during the winter months. One of the best is the ice walk at Johnston Canyon. Put on some ice cleats and set out on a 1-2 hour adventure through a natural cave to look down at the waters of the lower falls. Then, continue to the upper falls, which are frozen into towers of ice. 

Where To Stay & Top Tour: The perfect holiday hotel is the Fairmont Banff Springs. The setting is incredible, and the holiday decor will put you in a Christmas mood. Experience the incredible scenery of the Rocky Mountains on a full-day tour of Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway

Destinations To Travel For A Tropical Christmas

Sometimes, all you want for Christmas is sunshine and warm weather. Check out these destinations to turn your Christmas vibe upside down.

Key West

Christmas Spirit: Key West at Christmas is basically palm trees with Christmas lights and flamingos with Santa hats. It’s a great place to escape for the holiday. It can be a family-fun vacation or a week-long holiday office party. How you experience Key West is your choice. The tiny island town is filled with fun and quirky holiday decorations and takes on a South Florida holiday vibe. For a tropical destination, it is really one of the best places to travel for Christmas.

Must See & Do: The top things to do in the Florida Keys at any time of the year center around the water. Take a snorkeling trip, head to Fort Zachary State Park for a day at the beach, or lounge by the pool. A great day trip is a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park. 

Where To Stay & Top Tour: Check into the Marquesa Hotel, just a block from Duval Street. It’s a classic Key West conch-style house turned into the island’s premier hotel. Then, hop on a Conch Train Tour of the holiday lights.

Sydney

Christmas Spirit: Head to summer for a Christmas under sunny skies in Sydney. December is the start of summer in Australia, located in the southern hemisphere, but Christmas is on everyone’s mind down under. The entire month of December is one long holiday celebration in Sydney, filled with amazing light shows and a huge Christmas tree. You can enjoy all of this in shorts and a T-shirt.

Must See & Do: Thousands of twinkling lights at the Strand Arcade and the Pitt Street Mall set the tone. Then, head to one of the 100 beaches in the area. And if you can, extend your stay through New Year’s Eve. Sydney hosts the first major celebration of the holiday on the planet each year, and it’s a big one!

Where To Stay & Top Tour: The Fullerton Hotel Sydney, located in the historic former General Post Office Building, is right in the middle of all the holiday festivities. Choose one of the heritage rooms to view the famous tree and Martin Place. A great way to spend Christmas is learning to surf; take a lesson on Bondi Beach.

Hawaii

Christmas Spirit:  Christmas in Hawaii is more than Santa in an outrigger canoe, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” is one of the top times of the year to visit the islands. It’s a mix of traditional holiday decorations and the Aloha spirit. 

Must See & Do: Each island has its own Christmas events. One notable spectacle is the Honolulu City Lights, a month-long celebration on Oahu. Hawaii is filled with great things to see and do. From water sports such as snorkeling to outdoor activities such as hiking, you will find endless ways to enjoy your vacation. 

Where To Stay & Top Tour: My favorite island is Kauai and a top hotel right on the water is Ko’a Kea Resort in Poipu Beach. The best way to explore Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is on a half-day snorkeling adventure.

Orlando

Christmas Spirit: Christmas in Orlando is fun for the whole family. But it doesn’t only mean amazing light displays at Walt Disney World or Christmas celebrations at one of the many theme parks. There is so much more to Orlando, and you will certainly find lots of sunshine.

Must See & Do: Beyond the bright lights of the theme parks, other must-see holiday spectaculars, including ICE! at Gaylord Palms, feature your favorite Christmas classics carved from over two million pounds of ice. Venture to Bok Tower Gardens for a bit of nature in Orlando, with a “singing” tower, a 60-bell carillon, and a 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion decked out in Christmas decorations. You will also find theme and water parks galore to occupy your days.

Where To Stay & Top Tour: The Alfond Inn in Winter Park is a beautiful option located outside the Orlando theme parks. Try a food tour while in Orlando; you will be surprised by what you find outside the park.

Snowman and lights on snowy night at Vienna Christmas Markets
Night Scene at Rathaus Market

Planning your next Christmas getaway is a little easier with this list of 12 incredible destinations. They offer a diverse array of experiences to suit every type of holiday dream. Whether you are seeking the nostalgic charm of Christmas, the thrill of winter activities, or the warmth of a tropical escape, there is something here for everyone.

From the enchanting Christmas markets of Prague, Vienna, and Quebec City to the festive energy of New York City, these destinations immerse you in the season’s magic. For those who prefer outdoor adventures, Park City, Wengen, Santa Fe, and Banff provide breathtaking landscapes and exhilarating winter sports. Alternatively, if sunshine and relaxation are what you crave, the tropical paradises of Key West, Sydney, Hawaii, and Orlando offer unique and memorable holiday experiences.

The key to a perfect Christmas vacation is identifying what kind of holiday you envision—a cozy, traditional celebration, an active winter wonderland, or a sunny retreat. With this carefully curated list, your ideal Christmas destination is within reach.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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