20 picturesque Christmas destinations

blog image John Doe | 12/12/2018

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. A few things they all have in common – cosy corners, twinkling lights and a determination to let the Christmas spirit shine no matter how cold (or rainy) it might be. If you're inspired to book a festive trip for yourself, take a look at our new tailor-made travel service. We'll connect you with a local expert to plan every aspect of your Christmas adventure.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is Scandinavia's most vibrant and affordable capital. Small and welcoming, it's a place where people rather than cars set the pace, making its pre-Christmas activity a lot easier to navigate. The city’s Copenhagen are transformed annually by half a million lights and thousands of Christmas trees and form a magnificent centrepiece to your festive meandering.

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Copenhagen, Denmark


2. Dublin, Ireland

It might be a cliché but the craic really does flow in Dublin during December. The city’s streets are imbued with an irrepressible sense of festive cheer, and from the lights to the ice rinks and the carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Christmas is celebrated with gusto and glee.

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Dublin, Ireland

3. Salzburg, Austria

For many, Salzburg is the quintessential Austria, offering the best of the country's Baroque architecture, sub-Alpine scenery and a musical heritage derived from the city's most famous son, Mozart. Its festive market is compact and intimate and a frequent dusting of snow adds to its appeal.

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Salzburg, Austria

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4. Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremburg in Germany is renowned for its Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market), which sees 180 stalls stand side by side on the Hauptmarkt, offering toys, trinkets and gingerbread treats. It looks especially enchanting after dark.

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Nuremberg, Germany

5. New York, USA

The city that never sleeps inevitably rules the roost when it comes to Christmas. From the Rockefeller Center’s gargantuan tree to the awe-inspiring shop displays, December in the Big Apple is simply magical.

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New York, USA


6. Berlin, Germany

The German capital offers no fewer than fifty Christmas markets every year, set amid its varied districts. If the candles and consumerism get a bit much there are plenty of museums and cultural events to experience too.

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Berlin, Germany

7. Rome, Italy

An ancient place packed with the remains of over two thousand years of habitation, Romecould ensnare you for a month and you'd still only scratch the surface. The city is so much more than an open-air museum: its culture, food and people combine to create a modern, vibrant city. Faith and tradition play a key role in Christmas here, and there aren’t many more suitable places on the planet to attend Midnight Mass.

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Rome, Italy

8. Lapland, Finland

A fantasy come true for kids and any adults that refuse to grow up, Father Christmas’s hometown is a must-visit for anyone that still believes in the magic of Christmas. Of course the Santa Claus Village and Santa Park see most of the visitors, but nearby Rovaniemi also offers numerous delights.

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Lapland, Finland

9. Edinburgh, Scotland

The showcase capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is a historic, cosmopolitan and cultured city. The setting is wonderfully striking – perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags which rise from the generally flat landscape of the Lothians – and Christmas is done in style. Extend your stay for the world-famous Hogmanay a week later.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

10. Montreal, Canada

Canada's second-largest city, Montreal is geographically as close to the European coast as to Vancouver, and in look and feel it combines some of the finest aspects of the two continents. It’s a magical place at this time of year and a spin round (or tumble on to) the ice at the Patinoire du Bassin Bonsecours is a must.

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Montréal, Canada

11. Hong Kong, China

East Asia’s most extraordinary city, Hong Kong doesn’t let Christmas pass without a fanfare. Lights dangle from skyscrapers, shop fronts are bedecked in wrapping paper and Christmas music blasts from speakers everywhere.

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Hong Kong, China

12. Washington DC, USA

Although it can be bitterly cold during the winter months, Washington DC assumes a soul-warming aura in the pre-Christmas period. The Pathway of Peace leading up to the National Christmas Tree at the White House lights up daily from dusk until 11pm, and 56 trees – representing fifty states, five territories and the District of Columbia – are planted nearby.

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Washington DC, USA

13. Boston, USA

Boston is as close to the Old World as the New World gets, and this is more evident than ever during the holidays. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time as you navigate the gas lamp-lit streets of the historic city, working your way up to the huge tree in front of Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

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Boston, USA

14. Cologne, Germany

Cologne boasts eight different Christmas markets on both sides of the Rhine River. Offering all manner of gift ideas and plenty of glühwein stalls, it’s the perfect spot to pick up all those presents.

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Cologne, Germany

15. Prague, Czech Republic

With some 600 years of architecture virtually untouched by natural disaster or war, few other cities in Europe look as good as Prague. Straddling the winding River Vltava, with a steep wooded hill to one side, the city retains much of its medieval layout, and navigating the lanes in the run up to Christmas is a spellbinding experience.

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Prague, Czech Republic

16. Reykjavík, Iceland

In the Santa stakes, Iceland has one up on us; or rather, more accurately, twelve up. Their folklore talks of thirteen such characters, known as Yule Lads, who show up in town on the thirteen days leading up to Christmas. Head to the beautiful capital of Reykjavík and you may just spot one.

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Reykjavíc, Iceland

17. Dresden, Germany

Dresden has as many Christmas markets as the next German city, but the main reason to visit happens on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent, when a huge stollen (traditional Christmas fruit cake) is paraded through the city streets and into the market before being cut up and distributed among the onlookers.

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Dresden, Germany

18. Bruges, Belgium

Christmas was made for Bruges, which is a picturesque medieval treat at any time of the year. The usual markets and ice rinks are present and correct across the Belgian city but the place has a charm all of its own.

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Bruges, Belgium

19. New Orleans, USA

Unsurprisingly, New Orleans pulls out all the stops at Christmas. Riverboat caroling cruises and festive streetcars are among the key attractions in a city that goes hog wild for all things Chrimbo.

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New Orleans, USA

20. Aspen, USA

A white Christmas is guaranteed at Colorado’s famous mountain town and ski resort, Aspen. The place is jam-packed with alpine lodges and cosy spots to take refuge from the cold and share in some festive cheer.

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Aspen, USA


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At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Book through CompareAirportParking.com’