Christmas is coming! Travelling during the holidays can be stressful but if you plan ahead then it can be the perfect time of year to travel.
Some of the best places to visit in December in the world might surprise you – there are plenty of destinations you’ll be adding to your winter travel bucket list!
It’s one of the best times of year to travel whether you love to discover how other cultures celebrate the festive season or you’re trying to avoid Christmas altogether!
There are hundreds of places to visit in December that you’ll fall in love with, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top 17 to make your vacation decisions easier.
Check out the best countries to visit in December 2020 and let us know if you decide to stick with some cold winter fun or escape to a sunny beach somewhere!
The Best Places To Visit In December 2020
Whether you’re into jumping around in the snow and looking out for Father Christmas, or temple hopping and swimming in waterfalls, we’ve got you covered!
Click on the table of contents to take you the specific destinations you’re interested in.
Or, you can browse through the whole list and take your pick from the varied places around the world! Don’t forget to check out our accommodation recommendations too.
We always use Booking.com to find the best deals on hotels, hostels and apartments so we’ve shared some great options from them.
Christmas Island, Australia – Make Time To See The World
Christmas Island, an Australian External Territory is an eco-travellers paradise.
Home to several endemic crab and bird species, the Island is over 65% National Park, is surrounded by amazing diving opportunities and is home to less than 2000 people.
Whilst it is beautiful to visit at any time thanks to it’s tropical, year round climate, if you really want to see something special, visit in December when you will have a chance to witness 50 million red crabs migrating from the rain-forest to the coasts to mate and spawn.
David Attenborough described it as one of the most spectacular migrations on the planet, and he was not wrong.
The migration closes almost all roads on the Island (and there are not many to start with!) as locals and visitors give the crabs the space to what they do naturally.
It is truly and incredible sight and one I was incredibly lucky to witness.
If you’d like more information about how to plan a visit to Christmas Island and see this incredible natural wonder for yourself, this guide has everything you need.
Try something different this year and experience a sunny holiday destination in December!
Where To Stay On Christmas Island
Bagan – Stories by Soumya
One of the best places to travel in December is Bagan in Myanmar. And that is because of three very important reasons – the weather, the balloons, and the photographs.
December is a particularly pleasant time in Bagan. The weather is mild with temperatures ranging between 15° – 25°C. Days are sunny but not hot. You can escape the wetness of rains as well as the scorching heat of summer: a perfect time to explore.
Bagan has a short ballooning season from October to April with December being quite popular. Cooler temperatures and calmer winds ensure that you can float closer to the temples and get a detailed look.
December also comes with multiple layers of fog during dawn and dusk. If you are looking for that perfect picture of Bagan enveloped in a shroud of mist, December is the perfect time to go.
Home to more than 2000 ancient temples, Bagan is one of the most mesmerizing, yet relatively unexplored, archaeological sites in the world.
Many of these temples contain well-preserved frescoes and carvings that are a treat for sore eyes.
It is easy to get lost in the beauty of Bagan – it really is one of the best places to visit in December.
Where To Stay In Bagan
Located in New Bagan:
- On-site restaurant
- Free WiFi
- Complimentary breakfast
- Sun terrace
Laos – Life of Doing
If you want a laid-back and relaxing country to have a vacation, then Laos is the perfect place for you. One of the best time to visit Laos is in December.
The weather is perfect with the dry season and also has sunshine throughout the day.
Temperatures range between 15-26℃ (59-79℉) depending on your location. It’s a popular place to visit so you will encounter larger crowds at the tourist locations but that shouldn’t deter you from visiting.
Want to know where to travel in December?
Luang Prabang is a UNESCO Heritage site and is highly recommended with temple hopping and seeing museums, eating delicious street food, swimming in Kuang Si waterfalls, and more.
If you like big cities, visit the capital, Vientiane, and relax along the Mekong River.
We also can’t forget about Vang Vieng where you can de-stress along the Nam Song River, go caving, rock climbing, and encounter adventures.
Have an amazing time in Laos, especially if you’re going to travel in December.
Where To Stay In Laos
Mini S Hotel
Located in Vientiane:
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Free WiFi
- Complimentary breakfast
- Air conditioning
Swedish Lapland – Becky The Traveller
One of the best European destinations to visit in December is Swedish Lapland.
Although the cities in Sweden are very pretty during the winter months, the best place to visit for a really spectacular experience is Swedish Lapland.
In the far north of this Scandinavian country in the Arctic Circle, you’ll find a winter wonderland with snow-covered trees, frozen lakes and glistening icicles.
But for me, on my Lapland trip, there was one thing I wanted to see, nope not Santa, although I did him too! It was the Northern Lights.
During the winter months, there are limited hours of sunlight, which means a greater chance of seeing the Northern Lights so that makes December the perfect time to visit Lapland.
I spent five days in Abisko National Park which is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights due to the huge lake which creates a unique micro-climate.
Abisko National Park is also stunning to explore during the daytime as well, with sledges and snowshoe tours there’s something for everyone.
Where To Stay In Swedish Lapland
Elite Stadshotellet Luleå
Located on the main street, Storgatan:
- Breakfast included
- British pub on-site
- Shared lounge area
- Free WiFi
Doha – Dotted Globe
Are you looking for an off the beaten path destination that promises the culture of old Arabia, the amenities of a developed nation, multicultural culinary delights, and the luxury of world-class spa resorts?
Then consider a trip to Doha, Qatar in the Middle East.
Qatar is one of the safest Middle Eastern countries and offers lots of things to do for all types of travellers.
Most of the tourist attractions in Qatar are concentrated around the capital of Doha. Doha is also perfect for a short or long layover; even with a day in Doha, you can take in the most popular sites of Souq Waqif,
Museum of Islamic Arts, the Doha skyline and Katara Cultural Village.
For a longer holiday, you can indulge in dune bashing, visit the UNESCO Site of Al Zubarah, kayak in the mangroves or see camel races.
December is perfect to visit Doha since the hot and humid summer comes to a close and the cool weather is pleasant enough to explore the desert environment.
It really could be the best Asian country to visit in December!
Click here for a great desert safari tour experience. We don’t recommend choosing a tour with a camel ride included as there is no guarantee of the healthy treatment of the animals.
Where To Stay In Doha
Located in Bin Mahmoud:
- Barbershop on-site
- Spa & gym
- Rooftop pool
- Restaurant on-site
Austria – Travel Tyrol
Centuries-old traditions and beautiful winter mountain scenery make the central European country of Austria one of the most magical and best places to visit in December with family.
It starts with Saint Nicholas and Krampus making their rounds on or around 5 December.
Saint Nicholas awards children for good behaviour while the devil-like Krampus scares the hell out of the naughty ones!
Austria is especially famous for it’s authentic Christmas markets. Whether in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck or a small village – Christmas in Austria is the real thing.
In the beautiful setting of historic old towns, you can wrap your hands around warm mugs of Glühwein, taste traditional treats like Kiachl, listen to atmospheric music, and shop for original hand-made gifts.
In the mountainous Alpine villages, skiing and other fun winter activities await in the snow.
Or you can simply check into a spa hotel for some winter pampering.
Whether you’re visiting with a family or as a romantic breakaway, there are many unique things to do in Austria in December to ensure an unforgettable holiday.
Austria definitely is one the the best European countries to visit in December.
Don’t forget too that you can click here for a Salzburg Card, which gives you FREE admission to the city’s main attractions and FREE transportation! Or, if you’re travelling to Vienna, click here for the discounts and free transportation card there.
Where To Stay In Austria
Jugend- und Familiengästehaus Heiligenblut
Located in Heiligenblut:
- Ski runs directly outside
- Meals available
- Swimming pool nearby
Oslo – Rachel On Route
Back in 2014 I decided to travel on my first solo trip! I’d never done anything so adventurous so I wanted somewhere safe, quiet and cultured.
I opted for Oslo, Norway, and December was the perfect time to be there!
As it was in the run up to Christmas they had an ongoing Christmas market – which was far less busy than others I have visited around Europe.
It was so lovely not being pushed/elbowed around in a big crowd, and I spent each evening having a browse (and tried a lovely Elk burger!)
The city was also perfect for wandering and discovering beautiful architecture (I’m looking at you, Opera house) art in the Munch museum and Astrup Fearnley Museet, and the views of the harbour at sunset.
But for me the absolute highlight was the Nobel Peace Prize museum.
The Nobel Peace prize ceremony is held in December, so if you are lucky to be there, you may gain a peep of the celebrations. The year I visited was when Malala received her prize, and I was lucky to see her in person.
The exhibitions there are a wonderfully poignant testament to the people being honoured.
Oslo has a 24/48/72 pass that you can buy, which gives you free entry to over 30 attractions and museums, as well as FREE transportation around the city. You’ll even get discounts on your shopping and meals! Click here to get yours now.
Where To Stay In Oslo
The Apartments Company
Located in Bislett:
- Private kitchen + bathrooms
- Communal laundry area
- Free WiFi
- Studio & family rooms
New York – Travelling Collecting
December is my favourite month to be in New York City because it is a Christmas holiday/ winter-in-the-city fantasy land.
There are three iconic ice skating rinks – Bryant Park (free with your own skates), Rockefeller Centre at the base of the giant tree, and Central Park with views of Midtown and the Plaza Hotel.
After skating, do a self-guided tour of the department stores’ holiday windows. Start at Macy’s then pass the lions in front of the New York Public Library that are decorated with Christmas wreaths.
Walk up Fifth Avenue and see the enormous real Rockefeller Centre tree and enjoy the light show at Saks before seeing their windows.
As you pass the Lindt chocolate store, pop in – they usually have free samples for the holidays. Finish at the over-the-top Bergdorf windows.
The kids (or your inner kid) will enjoy another self- guided tour of all the Christmas trees.
Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park, and Bryant Park all have enormous trees. The Natural History Museum has a tree that’s covered in origami animals.
St John the Divine cathedral has a flock of origami cranes flying on and around their tree, and the Met’s tree is covered in angels.
Then venture into Brooklyn for the crazy decorations in Dyker Heights, where neighbours all try to outdo each other with over-the-top lights and decorations.
And, of course, don’t miss the annual Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in Radio City Music Hall and the Nutcracker ballet at Lincoln Centre.
It’s impossible not to get into the holiday spirit in New York in December.
Where To Stay In New York
Located in Manhattan:
- Free WiFi
- Free toiletries
- Shuttle service
- Breakfast options available
Taipei – Chloe’s Travelogue
Winter is the best time to visit Taipei, Taiwan. In particular, December is a great month for travel because of three reasons – the weather, low season, and festivity.
Taipei observes the subtropical climate year-round with the hot and humid weather, except its short winter. In December, the city cools down with temperatures ranging between 15-21°C (59-70°F).
The pleasant weather makes it much comfortable to explore the city day and night, and to enjoy the outdoor activities.
Besides the mild winter, December also is a low season with considerably fewer tourists in the city.
You can enjoy the popular tourist sites with less crowd. It might also mean you can score more affordable hotel rooms.
Lastly, Taipei gets into the holiday mood in December. The Xinyi District streets near Taipei 101 and shopping malls are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights all month.
Christmas markets and festival sporadically pop up where you can buy unique handcrafted souvenirs.
But the crème de la crème of the festivity is the New Year Count Down Party. On New Year’s Eve, the city closes off many blocks of Xinyi District to throw a massive party to watch the spectacular fireworks from Taipei 101.
Before you plan your trip to Taipei this December, steal ideas here on how to see the best of Taipei in 3 days.
Click here to book a handy private Taipei tour now.
Where To Stay In Taipei
Inn Cube – Minquan
Located in the Zhongshan District:
- Capsules, bunks and private rooms available
- Shared bathrooms
- Laundry facilities
- Adults only
Prague – Just A Pack
What is the best thing about December in Prague? Cozy pubs? Mulled wine? The chance of seeing the beautiful Baroque and Gothic buildings covered in a light dusting of snow?
While all of these things are great, Prague in Decmeber is all about Christmas markets.
And in case you didn’t know, nothing screams Christmas joy like a Prague Christmas Market.
While the Czech Republic isn’t necessarily a religious country, they are indeed a traditional people and they sure know how to get into the Christmas spirit when the season rolls around.
Prague’s Christmas markets are unlike anything you’ve seen before, even if you’ve explored other Christmas markets around Europe.
With traditional Czech food and drink, handmade souvenirs and gifts, and, of course, seasonal alcohol galore, Prague’s Christmas markets will show you a whole new side of the city.
So if you are looking for a December destination and you love feeling festive for Christmas, we highly recommend Prague!
Explore the Christmas markets with this guided walking tour.
Where To Stay In Prague
Hotel Aura Design & Garden Pool
Located in Prague 9 -Čakovice:
- Free toiletries
- Free WiFi
- Garden & terrace
- Pets allowed
Stockholm – Wandermust Family
For me the best time of year to visit Stockholm is actually in December! Yes, the weather is cold, and the daylight hours are limited but the city is very special in the run up to Christmas.
Although not the large sprawling Christmas markets of Germany and France, Stockholm has a quaint and very traditional market at the living history museum – Skansen.
It’s one of the top things to do in Stockholm no matter when you go!
You can pick up lots of traditional Swedish fare and arts and crafts, wander round buildings that recreate traditional Swedish life and warm yourself up with gluh wine around roaring fires places!
There is also a smaller market in the old town of Gamla Stan which is a great place to wander round, or perhaps take a walking tour to learn more about the history of the city!
If you can time your visit for the 13th December I would recommend this as this is the festival of St Lucia! On this date there will be a procession of St Lucia where a young adult will be elected to represent the saint and will wear a traditional crown of candles!
So yes, it might be cold in December but you will be rewarded if you brave the cold and visit Stockholm in winter.
Click here for an unmissable ABBA experience whilst you’re in Stockholm.
Where To Stay In Stockholm
Biz Apartment Hammarby Sjöstad
Located in the Hammarby Sjöstad district:
- Kitchen w/ dishwasher + microwave
- Private bathroom
- Nearby ski slopes
- Free WiFi
Zanzibar – Off Goes Annie
Zanzibar is paradise, with that bit extra. Think bright white sandy beaches, lapped by crystal clear ocean, whilst also providing so much interesting culture.
Where Tanzanian, Arab and Indian cultures meet with world-class beaches in Nungwi, Zanzibar really does have it all.
You can enjoy incredible food as you wander between around the gorgeous old streets of Stone Town, before spending your days sunbathing in pure bliss further north of the island.
December is the perfect time to visit Zanzibar, as part of the region’s shoulder season. Promising temperatures between 24 and 32 centigrade, December brings Zanzibar’s ‘short rains’.
At this time, brief downpours relieve the humidity, promising clearer skies immediately after. Many people are put off by the idea of rain, but since it only lasts for such short periods, it makes for an ideal and crucially, quieter, time to visit.
The beaches around Nungwi and Kendwa will have far fewer people on them, giving it that extra special feel.
What’s more, if you’re visiting towards the end of December, it’s well worth lingering longer to celebrate New Year at Kendwa Rocks, famous for its annual New Year’s Eve party.
Click here to organise your day trips in Zanzibar.
Where To Stay In Zanzibar
Located in Paje:
- Private beach area
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor pool
- Complimentary breakfast
Nice – Ms Blissness
If you like the idea of sparkling sea, wine, warmth, and winter sunshine, then Nice, in the south of France, is one of Europe’s greatest cities to visit in December.
No matter the time of year, Nice is a buzzing and vibrant city. It’s not only a wonderful place for a winter family holiday, but there’s also still a lot to do here in the cooler months.
The French Riviera is made up of three key locations; Nice, Cannes, and Saint Tropez. They’re all in fairly close proximity to each other and you can easily make day trips from Nice to visit these other areas.
A definite must when in Nice is to visit Monaco! It’s only about a 30 minute bus ride away and the bus ticket only cost us 1.50 EUR! This was one of my favourite parts of our trip.
Many of Nice’s main attractions are within walking distance from the central point of the promenade.
One of the best attractions is the viewpoint from Castle Hill. It’s a short 10 minute walk up a view stairs and the views are incredible.
Other things to do include; exploring the quaint old town, checking out the Lascaris Palace, and wandering around the city squares – Place Massena and Place Garibaldi.
Also, don’t forget about all the cute little cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the old town.
December in Nice is a magical time. Between the amazing lights, winter sunshine, and many activities, it’s a fabulous winter destination in Europe.
Click here to book an awesome French Riviera boat tour from Nice.
Where To Stay In The French Riviera
B&B Villa Du Roc Fleuri
Located in Cannes:
- Fantastic complimentary breakfast
- Free toiletries
- Garden + terrace
- Pets allowed
Jebel Akhdar, Oman – Verses By A Voyager
Oman is a pretty hot and humid country and even in December the average temperature remains around 16-18° C. However, the second-highest mountain peak in the region, Jebel Akhdar, is one of the best destinations to enjoy December in Oman.
Standing 2000 metres above the sea level, Jebel Akhdar, also known as the “Green Mountain” is the part of Al-Hajar mountain range.
It comprises of an area of a plateau with beautiful wadis and ancient houses around.
A drive to this mountain peak offers spectacular views of the surroundings and this mighty mountain depicts a story of Oman’s dark and rugged beauty.
This area is quite hot all year round but during the month of December, the temperature at the peak of the mountain falls till -5° C and hailstorms are common.
It is quite unusual to witness such low temperature in a hot country like Oman, but Jebel Akhdar provides this opportunity.
The best way to enjoy this place is to camp there. People opt for hiking and cycling too.
Beautiful sunrise and sunset are witnessed from the peak of the mountain and star gazing is a popular activity there during cold, winter months.
There are two very luxurious resorts built at Jebel Akhdar which add to the grace of this place.
Click here to enjoy an exciting tour before you reach the mountains!
Where To Stay In Jebel Akhdar
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Located near Nizwa:
- Infinity pool
- Complimentary breakfast
- 5 fantastic restaurants on-site
- Spa, massage + sauna available
Madeira Island, Portugal – Two Find A Way
Madeira Island is located in the north Atlantic ocean, southeast to continental Portugal.
Its unique location is in part to blame for the treasures you find on the island, regarding the stunning scenery and unique fauna and flora.
The weather is mild all year round, and while December is a time for low temperatures and rain or snow in most of Europe, in Madeira you’ll find an average of 18°C and plenty sunshine hours that allow for memorable beach days in the last month of the year.
If you want to avoid the crowds, the first few weeks of December are perfect as it’s low season. You can also visit at the end of the month for the famous New Year celebrations, which include the largest firework display in the world.
Although you can find plenty of attractions in the main cities of the island (especially Funchal), the truth is that Madeira is the perfect destination for nature lovers.
The diversity is astonishing, and there are countless ways to see and experience it yourself. There are plenty of Madeira hikes and walks for all preferences and levels of experience as well as easily accessible viewpoints across the island.
Book your city, walking or adventures tours here!
Where To Stay In Madeira
Solar da Bica
Located in São Vicente:
- Heated saltwater pool
- Relaxing lounge area
- Garden and terrace
- Massage + sauna available
Cape Town – Temples and Treehouses
December is peak summertime in Cape Town, South Africa. This is when the city is at its most vibrant.
With temperatures averaging 27 degrees celsius, the weather is perfect to explore its miles of amazing coastline.
Make sure you get outdoors and discover Cape Town’s natural beauty — picnic on the beach, take in a summer concert at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and ride the cable car up to Table Mountain.
Despite the fact that this is a cosmopolitan city with cute shops and great food and coffee, it’s also closer to wildlife than you might expect.
You can see seals playing in the water and sunning themselves on the pier at Kalk Bay, and visit the penguins at Boulders Beach.
One of my favourite things to do in Cape Town in the summertime is to spend a day wine tasting at one of the city’s beautiful historic wineries.
At Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa, you can sit outside in the sunshine with a backdrop of mountains and rolling hills of vines, and sample some of the best wine in the country.
Book your wine tour, shark cage diving or helicopter flight here!
Where To Stay In Cape Town
Si Si Studio
Located in Rondebosch:
- Tennis court
- Free WiFi
- Terrace + garden
- Room service
Tulum – Getting Stamped
It’s always a great time to visit Tulum but our personal favourite is in early December. There are many reasons why we love travelling to the Yucatan in December but here are a few.
The temperature is great and it isn’t quite yet high season. The hotel prices are lower and there are way fewer tourists in town.
Tulum is the perfect place to visit in Mexico for those who love beaches, adventure, culture, and food. We would suggest at least a 4-night trip; we often go and spend one week in Tulum.
There are tons of Tulum attractions to keep you busy. We suggest renting a car or bike to cover the most ground.
We like to spend a day on the beaches of Tulum soaking up the sun and gorgeous turquoise waters.
When you need a break from the beach, head to one of the nearby cenotes. Our favourite nearby cenote is Dos Ojos.
Make sure to head to the famous Tulum Ruins, but go early it gets really hot in the mid-day and is always busy.
If you are craving some real authentic tacos and a fun night out head into Tulum town.
Where To Stay In Tulum
Located in Tulum centre:
- Breakfast included
- Free WiFi
- Bike rental available
- Terrace and garden
Are you planning a trip this December, or even next year? Let us know where you go in the comments!
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