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.
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 Tivoli Gardens are transformed annually by half a million lights and thousands of Christmas trees and form a magnificent centrepiece to your festive meandering.
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.
3. Salzburg, Austria
For many, Salzburg is the quintessential Austria, offering the best of the country’s Baroque architecture, subalpine scenery and a musical heritage derived from the city’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Its festive market is compact and intimate and a frequent dusting of snow adds to its appeal.
4. Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremburg in Germany is renowned for its Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market), which sees 180 stalls stand cheek by jowl on the Hauptmarkt, offering toys, trinkets and gingerbread treats. It looks especially enchanting after dark.
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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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.
7. Rome, Italy
An ancient place packed with the relics of over two thousand years of inhabitation, Rome could ensnare you for a month and you’d still only scratch the surface. Yet it’s so much more than an open-air museum: its culture, food and people make up 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.
8. Lapland, Finland
A fantasy come true for kids and adults alike that refuse to grow up, Father Christmas’s hometown is a must 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.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
The showcase capital of Scotland is an 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.
10. Montréal, Canada
Canada’s second-largest city 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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