Christmas is this time of year when everything is covered in snow, Christmas trees & decorations all over the place. If you go anywhere in Europe be it a small village, or the biggest city be sure that you’ll feel that Christmas is in the air, however if you head to the South you might not feel the same atmosphere as the weather is not as cold, and Christmas time has a totally different taste.
Relatively Cheap & Warm Cities
You can escape the cold winter of Christmas time, & insanely high prices by going to…
Sharm El-Sheikh – Egypt
is undoubtedly one of the most appealing destinations in the whole world. Not only that it offers swimming, snorkeling and diving in crystal clear waters, but hiking, desert safari and nightlife at its best. One of the best features about Sharm is the fact that it could be visited all year long; in summer if only you apply sun block around the clock and in winter as it remains sunny & warm, and the water is very refreshing.
Sharm El-Sheikh beaches by Ernie R
Cape Town – South Africa
Another example showcasing the beauty of an underrated destination, a haven for nature, wildlife, outdoors, foodies & extreme activities enthusiasts. Cape Town is Africa’s Rio de Janeiro. In fact, several big Hollywood stars were spotted on its beaches and Leonardo Dicaprio was no exception ;).
The perfect place to do all sorts of extreme sports be it shark cage diving, abseiling, bungee jumping, sky diving, what else can you ask for?
African Penguins in Cape Town by JenniKate Wallace
While it’s winter in Egypt, it’s summer time in Thailand, put your vacation goggles on, it’s time to get your swimsuit ready, and hop on the next flight going to Phuket. People Mistakenly think that Thailand, specially Phuket is a honeymooners only destination, which is totally untrue, as the island has lots of museums, aquariums, temples, even a crocodile farm. You can easily get a flight to Bangkok for a chance to experience its floating markets, along with its grand Buddha temples, and get a sense of the Thai culture and street food.
The heavenly beaches of Phuket by Earth-Bound Misfit
Bali – Indonesia
Another summer getaway but this time in Indonesia, with an average air temprature of 26C which makes it the perfect escape from winter time -though our winter is not as cold, but let’s pretend it is-, although warm but visitors can expect heavy rains which give Bali a christmas-ey feeling. Not only it has great beaches, but rain forests, and temples, actually all components for a perfect vacation.
Ubud in Bali by Jorge Sanmartin Maissa
Cold & Very Christmasey Cities
Most Famous Christmas Markets
Christmas markets originated in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy and many French regions such as Alsace, Lorraine, & Savoy. However the oldest, most traditional and famous are those in Germany & Austria.
Nuremberg Christmas markets are a no-joke business -the staff of the Christmas Market Council always keep an eye on the goods being sold by vendors, to make sure they are traditional, and none of them is modern, plastic, or mass produced- with more than 180 wooden stalls offering all sorts of Bavarian traditional toys, arts, craft products, Christmas ornaments, goodies and above all spicy gingerbread. The markets are visited by more than 2 million tourists per year. The Christkindlesmarkt on the Hauptmarkt square in the old quarter is connected to the kids market “Kinderweihnachtsmarkt” hosting an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel and steam train to maximize the fun.
Open from: November 28th till December 24th.
Video by Nürnberger
Munich – Germany
Not only one of Germany’s major cities, but one that hosts a Christmas market dating back from the 14th century. The market is held on Marienplatz in the heart of the city centre, offering a wide selection of Bavarian goods and unique gifts, such as -but not limited to- wood carvings, gingerbread from the capital of gingerbread Nuremberg and some exquisite glassware from the Bavarian Forest.
Open from: November 28th till December 24th.
Video by München
Vienna – Austria
Christmas markets are spotted nearly everywhere in Vienna, easier to say that the whole city is turned into a huge Christmas market from mid November till Christmas eve. Each market is offering a different experience; dancing, singing, and a special program tailored for kids, in addition to a wide selection of goods, foods, drinks, seasonal items, ornaments, wood carvings, souvenirs & traditional artifacts. Vienna’s Christmas Markets are the oldest in Europe dating back to the 13th century.
Open from: November 15th till December 24th. (depends on the market that you are going to, some open later or close earlier)
One of Vienna’s Christmas Markets by Tony Hisgett
Photo from wien info
New York – U.S.A.
Having around a 30 meters high Christmas tree, decorated as part of an 80 years old tradition, with about 30,000 lights attached to it, surrounded by a 70 something years old ice rink, one can tell that New York hosts a big Christmas celebration. Across the street, be ready to attend the annual Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at Radio City. On the southwest corner of Central Park around 100 vendors are standing there selling clothes, gifts, snack, drinks, you name it!
Photo at Rockfeller Center by Wally Gobetz
San Miguel de Allende – Mexico
The cobblestoned city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of grand churches, and well-preserved architecture, a cultural center in central Mexico,and a place to celebrate Christmas differently; live music is played, numerous reenactments, fireworks, and dancing in the main square.
Interior of the Catedral del Oratorio by Geoff Livingstone
Tromso – Norway
Tromso not only gives you the rare treat of witnessing the unbelievable phenomenon of the “Northern Lights“, but a chance to spend days that have longer evenings, and only a couple of hours of twilight. As dreamy as the Northern Lights look like, be aware that spotting them requires patience, so stay there for at least a week to maximize your chances.
That’s how the Northern lights look like by Jokull Masson
Castleton & London – England
Castleton: The English countryside is totally worth visiting, and each part offers a different Christmas experience. What’s special about Castleton is the practice of caroling inside candlelit caverns.
London: Not only Christmas decorations in London speak for themselves, but the whole spirit of Christmas, the seasonal coffee and hot chocolate flavours sold around the city, the Ice Rink near Victoria & Albert Museum & Winter Wonderland -funfair- in Hyde Park both specially built for the occasion, which makes it too difficult not to fall in love with the city. Those into shopping will completely lose it as the sale is crazy in London, you can get yourself a decent pair of shoes for as cheap as 7 British Pounds.
Christmas decorations in London by Ludovic Landery
Though it’s freezing in winter, but it is the best escape for those wanting to have a snowy vacation full of outdoors fun activities, namely hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and much more.
The City of Quebec in Christmas by Matt Tanquay-Carel
Still too soon to wish you a Merry Christmas, but not too soon to book for your Christmas vacation ;).