Where to go on holiday in December
The way we see it, there are two real options for a December break. You can either escape the winter entirely and opt for sunny beach holidays with cocktails, watersports and blue skies, or you can seek out some serious winter weather. Whether you’re after a winter wonderland, where roasting chestnuts and festive cheer abound, or sandy beaches and warm seas, we’ve got your December holidays covered.
Best for a Short-Haul Holiday
Iceland in November is bathed in a soft pastel light for most of the day, and the sunrises and sunsets seem to last hours. Your Instagram feed will be at its finest with all that gorgeous light to snap. Once night falls, people flock to the bars and clubs, and without the chirping of birds and a boldfaced sunrise to worry about, it’s not unusual to see people spilling into the streets at 5.30am when the venues finally close.
You could choose to spend your evenings a little more quietly. Outside of the cities you’ll be treated to stars like you just don’t get back home. The Milky Way is like a bright cloud emblazoned across the sky. Wait it out, be patient, and you may be lucky enough to see one of Iceland’s most viscerally beautiful attractions: the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights dance and shimmer across the sky in glowing shades of yellow, green, blue and purple. It’s an experience that’s moved some travellers to tears, and December is prime time for viewing this magical celestial display.
Even if you don’t catch the Northern Lights, it’s a winter wonderland out there. The towns are bedecked in Christmas lights, and the landscape is astonishing, with glaciers, volcanoes, hot thermal springs and ice caves to explore.
Want to know more? Check out our full Iceland destination guide
Paris feels like it was made for the festive season. It’s even nicknamed “the City of Lights”, and around Christmas time it lives up to that moniker in style.
Everything, from the tiniest shopfront to the Eiffel Tower, is set ablaze with Christmas lights, and the whole city seems to twinkle. The shelves in the chocolateries and patisseries groan under the weight of festive treats, and around the city outdoor ice-rinks and Christmas carousels pop up. The streets are chilly and filled with the aroma of roasting chestnuts and warm vin chaud, a spicy mulled wine.
The famous Parisian Christmas markets are worth checking out too. There are aisles of food, drink, trinkets and gifts to browse, and everything is red and green and washed in twinkling golden light.
Although there are enough visitors at this time of year to warrant booking in advance, the rates are cheaper than the summer peak season.
Check out our favourite Paris hotels, many of which offer exclusive perks for Travelzoo members
Best for a Long-Haul Holiday
At this time of year, visiting Colorado is like stepping into a Christmas postcard. Everything is blanketed in thick snow, and almost every town springs to life with festive lights and events. There are tree-lighting ceremonies, festivals, and live theatre and music shows that fill the air with festive spirit. Many towns also host Christmas markets, where the scent of roasting nuts drifts on the cold air, and mugs of spiced glühwein warm your fingers and your soul.
It’s also prime time for skiing. Colorado is the mecca of winter sports, and it’s home to some of the USA’s most prestigious ski resorts. By December, you’re guaranteed powdery slopes for all levels of skier. It can get really busy, but if you’re willing to do some digging, you’ll be able to find smaller resorts that offer fantastic slopes without the holiday crowds - or the holiday prices!
If you’re going to have a cold Christmas, you might as well make sure it’s as Christmassy as it gets.
There’s no beating the Caribbean while it's winter back home. Hours of sunshine beat down on the gorgeous beaches every day, the hurricane season has petered out, and the storms are now few and far between. Early in the month, you’re still likely to catch the occasional shower. By late December, visitors are starting to arrive in higher numbers as the country enters peak season.
Grenada doesn’t have the same polished, package-tour feel that other islands in the Caribbean tend to have. The accommodation options cater for every budget, from little self-catering chalets to luxurious hotels. In early December, there are still deals to be had on accommodation, so you won’t need to spend a fortune.
The diving and snorkelling conditions are fantastic at this time of year, and you can explore reefs and shipwrecks. One of the country’s most unique attractions is the eerie underwater sculpture park. The sculptures are gradually turning into an artificial reef, as a diverse marine ecosystem starts to anchor itself to the works.
See our latest deals on holidays to Grenada and the Caribbean
Other Destinations to Consider
Prague: The city comes alive with Christmas cheer, and there’s not much precipitation. It has been known to snow, but not regularly. The Christmas market is the city’s biggest attraction this month.
Berlin: It’s cold and there’s a good chance of snow, which leaves the city looking beautiful and mystical. The Christmas markets range from tiny and charming to huge and flashy, so there’s something for everyone.
Krakow: It’s snowy, beautiful, and almost devoid of tourists in December. There are some great Christmas events and markets, and everything is running on low-season rates.
Budapest: The city is bitingly cold at this time of year, with frosty winds and plenty of snowfall. The Christmas lights make it a beautiful place to spend the festive season, and enjoy a cup of hot spiced wine while you browse the markets.