It may only be October, but we’re already turning our attention to the Christmas season. The run-up to December 25th is a magical time, so why not truly make the most of it by escaping on a cozy Christmas getaway. So without further adieu, we’ve found the 15 best places to visit at Christmas time.

1. Lapland, Finland

If you’ve got young children, there is no better way to feel Christmassy, than by visiting the home of Father Christmas himself. You can meet the big man –  and his army of elves – on a magical pre-Christmas break to the towns of Levi, Yllas, or Saariselka. You’ll find cozy log cabins, huge Christmas trees with sparkling lights, sledging opportunities, and reindeer rides. You can even go to Elf School if you want to. It is a real trip of a lifetime.

Don’t make the mistake of taking a 24-hour trip; it will only leave the little ones exhausted and irritable. Instead opt to spend at least three of four days there, anytime from the second week of December when snow is usually always falling. Stay at the 4-star Lapland Hotel Ounasvaara Chalets for an essential log cabin experience, complete with a roaring fire.

2. Vienna, Austria


Advent market, which is held on Rathausplatz in front of the stunning 19th-century City Hall decorated in dramatic lighting, is a truly mesmerising experience that will immediately give you the warm and fuzzy Christmas vibe. It’s probably the most beautiful Christmas market in the world there are more than 150 stalls selling pretty much everything you need for your Christmas shopping. Don’t forget to indulge in a warming drink and delicious Viennese pastry.

The market is one of the 12 main ones located in the city, the majority being in the old town so you won’t need to walk far. After an afternoon of shopping, head to a Christmas concert at one of Vienna’s many music venues for festive experience you’ll never forget. We also recommend taking a tour bus to the baroque Upper Belvedere palace which has a Disney-princess feel with lights and also a water illumination display during Advent.

3. Bruges, Belgium


We all know Bruges looks like it’s a fairytale town, so where better to spend Christmas than a place where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your own personal Christmas card. Bruges hosts its Christmas Market from the end of November until early January, but if you don’t fancy the crowds, immerse yourself in Bruges history by walking its cobbled streets, drinking its excellent beer, and trying some of its finest chocolate. The perfect Christmas getaway and only a few hours from the UK by Eurostar or plane.

4. Iceland


As the name suggests, you’ll find a winter wonderland here with icy rivers, snow-capped mountains, and lots of Christmas fun. Set up base in Reykjavik where you’ll find busy Christmas markets serving mulled wine, cozy eateries, and a vibrant atmosphere.

The city isn’t very big so everything is located close by. By night you can head out to try and spot the Northern Lights and by day enjoy trips to the lava pools and dramatic landscapes such as the Snaefellsjokull glacier. If you fancy getting warmed up you can head to the famous Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters and cover yourself in silica clay, which has deep-cleansing effect on your skin. What’s not to love!

5. Colorado, USA


Think sprawling log cabins with open fires, hot chocolate and a huge emerald pine Christmas tree at your front door, with the backdrop of the iconic snowy Rockies; Colorado is a long-haul adventure that’s magical at Christmas time.

You’ll find lots of small towns dotted throughout the mountain peaks but the town of Breckenridg has to be the most Christmassy. Based at the bottom of the iconic Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range and is famous for its ski resort – as well as its annual Santa race! Unearth your inner cowboy and go horse-riding or enjoy incredible mountain biking and hiking opportunities.

Durango is also famous for it’s Polar Express train ride which children – and the big kids! – will love as it takes you on a journey to meet Santa. The town is also really beautifully decorated too.

6. Edinburgh, Scotland


It’s mad to think that Scotland only made Christmas Day a public holiday in 1956 as the locals really love a party. They certainly are making up for lost time now! The Edinburgh Winter festival runs from mid-November to January every year with lots of events taking place throughout the city. Marvel at the sparkly lights on the Christmas light-trail at The Royal Botanic Gardens, check out the Edinburgh Castle light show, or ride the big wheel above the Christmas markets.

7. Strasbourg, France

Although famous for its Christmas Market, which has been running since 1570, there’s a whole host of cosy winter things to do in Strasbourg. We recommend taking a peek at ‘Little France’, a beautiful and historic section of Strasbourg, and trying out Alsatian delights at the food market.

8. New York City, USA

New York is one of the best cities to visit for the Christmas – period. There are a plethora of movies, TV shows, and books set in New York for Christmas, and it’s easy to see why.

There are almost too many things to do, but some must-sees include the Bergdorf Goodman holiday display on Fifth Avenue, wandering to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to see the rival lighting displays of houses, and ice-skating in Central Park.

9. Nuremberg, Germany


Nestled between the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in the heart of Bavaria is the historic city of Nuremberg. It’s an impressive display of medieval fortified buildings and Gothic brick architecture surrounded by plush, rich forest – perfect for a Christmas getaway.

Generally agreed as one of the best European cities for Christmas, the market is its star attraction. Chow down on bratwurst and drink mulled wine until your heart’s content.

10. Budapest, Hungary


Ice-skating and Christmas go hand in hand and there is no where better in Europe to go skating than at the Városliget (City Park) ice rink. The majestic Vajdahunyad Castle overlooks cheery skaters as they come to have a great time and soak up the festive atmosphere.

For great views of the Danube river and seasonable exhibits and events you should put a trip to the Buda Castle on your list. Follow winding steps and discover hiding spots as you learn about the history of the castle. If you want more thrills you can go to Normafa to sledge during the later part of December when snow is the norm. Afterwards you may wish to visit one of the city’s thermal baths. Széchenyi is the largest and most beautiful but expect crowds. Discover a love for classical music as you listen to award-winning musicians plays Bach and Beethoven at a Christmas concert at St. Stephen Basilica too if you want more festive cheer.

11. Copenhagen, Denmark

Inventors of the Hygge concept (the idea that being cosy makes you happier), Copenhagen is awash with things to do at Christmas. The Tivoli Gardens are well known for hosting the best Christmas market around, complete with rollercoasters, crafts, beer, cabaret, and foodie goodies – what’s not to love?

12. London, UK


Okay, it’s a tad cliché, but if you haven’t experienced Christmas in London, you haven’t truly experienced Christmas. It’s the best place in the UK for festive vibes. Go ice-skating at the Natural History Museum, listen to carols in Covent Garden, shop at Harrods, and browse Fortnum and Mason with its giant advent calendar – the list of legendary London hallmarks that pull out all the stops around the Christmas period goes on and on. In addition Winter Wonderland – a huge festive event in Hyde Park with an ice slide, Ringo’s circus, and an ice sculpture display – just seems to get bigger and better every year. Board a traditional London bus in the West End and take in the amazing Christmas lights that shine across the wondrous city.

13. Colmar, France

This picturesque corner of France is the perfect Christmas holiday destination for those who want to get away from the crowds in the more touristy destinations. Lit up in a million fairy lights during December, the historic town of Colmar is completely pedestrianised, making it perfect for walking around. Do a tour of local delis for wine and bread tasting before warming up beside an open fire at a bar.

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14. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden


If you fancy taking things further and actually staying in an igloo, head to the ethereal surroundings of the IceHotel Winter in Sweden, which is hand-sculpted out of ice blocks every winter. Located 200km north of the Arctic Circle in the village of Jukkasjarvi, the innovative hotel is not only a place to rest your head (on ice by the way!) but also an ever-changing art exhibition of snow and ice which is turned into amazing new designs each year after the spring and summer has melted the ice. You can sample try your hand at ice sculpting yourself, enjoy Scandinavian cuisine, go dog sledging, meet reindeers or enjoy a Northern Lights safari. There is also a more permanent ICEHotel 365 if you wish to stay in the spring or summer…

15. Barbados, Caribbean


And if you fancy trying something a bit different, why not head to…Barbados? Mingle with the rich and famous on the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados. It’s going to be hot, hot, hot but you can don a Santa hat on the beach if you want to. Lots of celebrities flock to Barbados to escape the cold and enjoy festivities with a difference. Barbados is the food capital of the Caribbean so expect all the trimmings – and then some – at Christmas lunch. There will still be plenty of decorations alongside the sun, sand, and palm trees, just with a much more relaxed vibe.

About the author

Beci WoodFormerly the Digital Showbiz Editor of The Sun Newspaper, Beci is a mum-of-three with a passion for sport, photography, desserts and Mickey Mouse! In fact Next up Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, remains top on her Bucket List. Beci's 9-5 often involves juggling work with the school run, watching (but not always enjoying) Manchester United and lifting weights at the gym. Follow Beci on Twitter or Instagram for more travel inspiration.

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