The 20 Best Christmas Holiday Destinations [2024]

James Allsopp
James Allsopp 36 Min Read

There are few things more magical in this world than a Christmas holiday.

While the actual process of travelling around Christmas can be somewhat nightmarish, once you reach your destination, you’re in for a week or two of pure joy thanks to the celebrations around the holiday season.

Of course, that depends entirely on where you go. Some places are more determined to celebrate Christmas and the holidays in style than others are, after all.

Some of the best Christmas holiday destinations in the world are fairly obvious places that you might guess at if you were compiling your own list, while others are out-of-the-way gems that far too few people visit, making them excellent for those who prefer fewer tourists.

Let’s take a look at the 20 best Christmas holiday destinations you can visit during the most wonderful time of the year!

1. New York City, USA

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate to high
  • Average Temperatures: 3°C to 9°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting is an iconic event.

If you’ve seen Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, you’ll know just how magical a holiday destination New York City (remember, the state is also called New York!) can be around Christmastime. Of course, if you didn’t like that movie, don’t worry – it’s a lot better in real life!

The dizzying, dazzling urban metropolis of New York City comes alive during the month of December, when you’re likely to see beautiful Christmas decorations, as well as the magical Winter Village, where you’ll see lots of local goods on sale and an ice rink that will give you your very own “movie moment”.

Since New York City can get pretty cold during the winter months, there’s also a good chance that you’ll see some snow, so if you’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas, this is probably the best place to go to get one.

Whether it’s mouthwatering local winter delicacies, handmade crafts, or just the atmosphere of a city soaking up the Christmas spirit you’re after, New York City will provide in spades.

Just make sure to book your trip ahead of time, because you might well find that many hotels and local accommodations are booked up entirely around the Christmas period if you’re not careful.

2. Birmingham, UK

  • Chance of Snow: Low to moderate
  • Average Temperatures: 3°C to 7°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: The Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham is one of the largest outside of Germany and Austria.

Don’t sleep on Birmingham, as the kids say. Well, we might be diabsed with this one, we live near to Birmingham! And most wouldn’t put it 2nd on a Christmas destinations list, but yea… While this might not seem like one of the most obvious Christmas holiday destinations in the world, it actually has some of the best celebrations of the holiday season you’re likely to find.

The main attraction when it comes to Christmas in Birmingham is the Frankfurt Christmas Market, which draws thousands upon thousands to its stalls every single year. 

Birmingham had a somewhat gloomy 2023, with its council declaring bankruptcy, but that didn’t stop the market rolling into town and delighting Brummies (and tourists!) with its selection of goods and delicious food.

Wander a little further up towards the cathedral and you’ll find some more independent stalls selling everything from sweet treats to hot drinks and more local crafts, too, so there’s plenty to see even if the main body of the market doesn’t take your fancy.

The Christmas lights in Birmingham are a joy to behold, and you might even spot a Wild in Art trail, which the city sometimes plays host to around the holiday season. These trails give you the chance to explore the centre of Birmingham and spot some statues with beautiful decorations, so they’re not to be missed.

3. Reykjavik, Iceland

  • Chance of Snow: High
  • Average Temperatures: -2°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Iceland has 13 “Yule Lads,” mischievous characters who visit children during the 13 nights leading up to Christmas.

As one of the most perennially underrated capital cities in the world, Reykjavik really deserves more love, but that’s especially true around Christmastime, as the city transforms into an even more beautiful version of itself.

As with many other capital cities, Reykjavik plays host to Christmas markets galore during the holiday season, giving you the opportunity to buy delicious hot and cold food, local produce, and much more.

You’ll also find plenty to do in Reykjavik even if you’re not a fan of the markets; you can simply take a walk through the city streets and enjoy its lights, for instance, or enjoy a skating session at an ice rink.

Famously, Reykjavik is also one of the best places you can view the aurora borealis, a beautiful natural phenomenon that’s also known as the Northern Lights. If you’ve never seen this shimmering spectacle, then why not set aside some time this Christmas to go see it?

Iceland may be dark for most of the day during the winter time, but that just makes it feel even more magical when the holidays roll around, so consider Reykjavik for your next Christmas jaunt.

4. Lapland, Finland

  • Chance of Snow: Very high
  • Average Temperatures: -16°C to -3°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Lapland is considered the home of Santa Claus, with a Santa Claus Village open year-round.

You knew this was going to be on the list, didn’t you? Lapland, which is in Finland, is one of the most Christmassy places you’re likely to find, largely because it’s often considered to be the home of Santa Claus himself.

Naturally, that means that there are several places in the region where you can find ornate Christmas grottos in which to meet Santa, as well as his array of beautiful reindeer. He’s got magical powers, so he can be in several places at once!

Of course, Lapland is also a beautiful snowy paradise in and of itself, so not only will you find Santa here, but also warming log cabins where you can avail yourself of local refreshments, as well as some beautiful nature and hiking trails to try out.

Finland is also well-known for its saunas, and Lapland has more than its fair share of those too. There’s something curiously addictive about sitting in a hot room and sweating it out while the snow falls around you, and while this isn’t a uniquely Finnish experience, it’s certainly something everyone should try at least once in Lapland. 

5. Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Chance of Snow: Low to moderate
  • Average Temperatures: 1°C to 7°C
  • Cost: Medium to expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and festivities are spread across the city, offering a unique historical backdrop.

Many people who aren’t from Scotland have a misconception that Glasgow is the country’s capital. That’s not the case, though; Edinburgh is actually the capital of Scotland, and if you’ve ever been during Christmas, you’ll know the city earns that title and then some.

Much like Birmingham (and, indeed, many other cities), Edinburgh has some gorgeous Christmas markets you can wander around, and they’ve got lots of wintry goods for you to peruse, so this is an ideal destination if you’re looking for some unique gifts this holiday season.

There’s also a massive big wheel that lets you take in not only the markets below you, but also the city as a whole, so if you’ve never seen Edinburgh from an aerial perspective (and why would you?), this Christmas is the perfect time to rectify that.

This being Scotland, you’ll also be able to avail yourself of local whisky blends (never, ever spell it with an E, as any self-respecting Scot will tell you), and there’s nothing quite like a whisky to warm yourself when the temperatures drop, as they often do in Scotland during the holiday period.

6. Bangkok, Thailand

  • Chance of Snow: None
  • Average Temperatures: 20°C to 31°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: Despite not being a Christian country, Bangkok is known for its elaborate Christmas decorations, especially in shopping malls.

Bangkok is actually a great place to go if you’re someone who doesn’t like the way everything grinds to a halt when Christmas rolls around. The country is predominantly Buddhist, which means that Christmas isn’t a public holiday.

As such, if you’ve ever wanted to browse the shops and see what you can get on Christmas Day, Bangkok is definitely the place to go, although if you’re a humbug about Christmas in general, we definitely wouldn’t recommend this destination.

That’s because the many shopping centres, walkways, and buildings of Bangkok get decorated in Christmas finery for the holiday season. It’s truly something to behold; Bangkok can easily rival some of the most Christmassy cities in the world for sheer beauty.

Whether you want to take a stroll around some of the Christmas villages, take in the dazzling light arrangements, or grab some local food while Christmas music plays, Bangkok is the perfect destination for anyone who truly loves Christmas.

This is also the ideal place to go if you want to celebrate New Year’s, as Bangkok often holds events to celebrate the occasion, even though the city doesn’t technically celebrate its own New Year until the spring. 

7. Bruges, Belgium

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 3°C to 7°C
  • Cost: Medium to expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Bruges’ Christmas market is set in the historic Market Square, adding to the medieval city’s charm.

If you want to step away from the hustle and bustle of Belgium’s capital Brussels, but you still want to maintain some of that Christmas city cheer that’s peculiar to bigger urban environments, then we’d heartily recommend Bruges.

It’s a beautiful town that has more than its fair share of picturesque vistas; seriously, just try spending a few hours in Bruges without taking any pictures, and you’ll see that it’s virtually impossible.

However, around Christmastime, the decorations and markets make Bruges look like a picture postcard town from a Christmas movie, so delightfully are they arranged and presented.

Of course, Bruges’ Christmas markets sell a great variety of local goodies, both edible and non-edible, but you can also just walk the town’s streets and get a sense of its atmosphere without needing to immerse yourself in festive cheer.

Make no mistake: Bruges is a beautiful town all year round, but it truly comes to life during the holiday season, although you will need to book ahead of time because this is another city that gets seriously busy around Christmas. Don’t leave it too late – book as early as you can!

8. Dublin, Republic of Ireland

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 4°C to 8°C
  • Cost: Medium to expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Dublin’s “12 Days of Christmas Market” is a popular event, reflecting the famous Christmas song.

One of the most famous Christmas songs of all time, The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York”, was performed by an Irish band (although singer Shane MacGowan was actually born in Kent in England).

If you want to honour the Pogues’ legacy, as well as the legacy of the recently-departed MacGowan (rest in peace), then travelling to Dublin for the Christmas period is definitely a good idea.

There, you’ll find exactly the kind of traditional Irish bars you’d expect, but you’ll also find a wealth of other Christmas activities to enjoy, including a Christmas market that runs for just a couple of weeks (so make sure to book early again!).

An array of Christmas lights make Dublin a gorgeous city to visit during the festive period as well, and, of course, since this is Ireland’s capital city, there’s a veritable treasure trove to be gotten from the city’s many shops while you’re there.

The castle also gets transformed over the holiday period into a winter wonderland, and you can wander its grounds free of charge, so you don’t need to worry about emptying your wallet to enjoy Christmas in Dublin. 

9. Sydney, Australia

  • Chance of Snow: None
  • Average Temperatures: 18°C to 26°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Christmas in Sydney is celebrated during the summer, with beach gatherings and barbecues being common festive activities.

Are you someone who absolutely loathes the cold weather when Christmas comes around? If so, then you should head to Sydney in Australia, which usually enjoys much warmer weather during the festive period.

If you’re used to chillier climes, then heading to a beach in Sydney and watching as the sunbathers drink in the rays while wearing Santa hats can be something of a surreal experience, but you’ll quickly get used to it.

Naturally, Sydney still loves Christmas, and the city gets dolled up for the occasion with Christmas lights, beautiful decorations, and ice-skating rinks, giving you the chance to enjoy a traditional Christmas without the obligation to freeze.

Christmas in Sydney also involves a glorious marketplace that gives you the chance to buy some delicious local food, as well as artisan crafts and fashion that will give you something truly unique to talk about when you return home.

If you’ve ever found yourself sitting at home and grumbling while trying to stay warm by the fire when it’s Christmastime, then you might want to consider spending this Christmas in Sydney, as it’s almost certainly the perfect place for you.

10. Nuremberg, Germany

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate
  • Average Temperatures: -1°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: Nuremberg hosts one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world, dating back to the 16th century.

It doesn’t get much more festive than Germany, and Nuremberg is one of the most picturesque cities in the country when it comes to Christmas festivities, so it’s the perfect place to go to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

The city’s Christmas market, or Christkindlesmarkt, is one of the world’s oldest festive markets, and you’ll find a host of wooden stalls, each selling something delightfully different.

Whether you want traditional German fare like almond cookies or gingerbread or you’re more partial to local crafts and artisan decorations, Nuremberg is the perfect place to go for Christmas treats both food-related and otherwise.

It’s not just the markets, though. Nuremberg is also home to some fascinating local tours that will tell you all about the history of this famous city, as well as live events to give you something to enjoy while you digest those almond cookies.

This is a truly historic and beautiful city, and so it’s the perfect place to spend your Christmas if you want to get away from home for the festive period. Again, as with many other cities on this list, just be aware that you might struggle to book accommodation if you don’t get in on the ground floor early, so to speak.

11. Paris, France

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 3°C to 8°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: The Champs-Élysées is famously lit with thousands of lights and decorations, creating a stunning Christmas ambiance.

Ah, another gorgeous capital that plays host to some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations and events the world has to offer. Paris is arguably the cultural capital of Europe, so it stands to reason that Christmas would be magical there.

Indeed, that’s the case; wherever you go in Paris, you’re likely to see a gorgeous light display, a chance to buy some local Christmas goodies, or an ice skating rink to get you in the mood for the holiday.

You’ll find that many hotels and restaurants deck themselves out in Christmas garb for the holidays, too, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in a French Christmas the likes of which must be seen to be believed.

In particular, you’ll want to check out the Champs Élysées, where you’ll see hundreds of thousands of lights adorning the streets and causing Paris to light up like its very own giant Christmas tree.

When you’re looking at the Paris Christmas lights set against the backdrop of the darkening sky during the depths of December, you’ll realise that there really is no more magical sight than that, and it’ll warm your heart.

12. London, UK

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 4°C to 8°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: London’s Hyde Park hosts Winter Wonderland, a massive festive event with rides, markets, and shows.

Birmingham naturally doesn’t have a monopoly on the UK’s best Christmas sights and sounds. While the second city is certainly a wondrous place to spend the holidays, London, as the country’s capital, is arguably just as good.

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ll probably be able to imagine the capital lit up by glorious Christmas light displays and flanked by massive trees, and indeed, you’ll see just that as you walk the streets of the city centre.

Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and carol concerts abound in London during the Christmas period, so whether you prefer something a little flashier or a more traditional Christmas celebration, you’ll find it here.

If you decide to stay in London for the New Year’s celebrations, you’ll also find amazing firework displays and beautiful cruises to enjoy, giving you the chance to enjoy this city as it rings in a new and hopefully prosperous year.

Let it never be said that the UK can’t keep up with its European cousins when it comes to Christmas celebrations, for London is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the world, and that’s a fact! 

13. Budapest, Hungary

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate
  • Average Temperatures: -1°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: Budapest’s Christmas markets are known for their thermal baths, where visitors can relax in warm waters amidst the cold weather.

Budapest is another wonderful place to visit at Christmas if you’re not a fan of the cold weather. While the city itself can get pretty chilly, hopping into one of Budapest’s hot spring baths will give you the chance to rejuvenate your body and mind.

The traditional Christmas markets that line Budapest’s streets open up in mid-November and usually run until the end of December, so if you’ve been disappointed by the abrupt way that some Christmas markets end before the day itself, this is the city for you.

If you want to soak up some local culture, you can take a tour down the river Danube, where you’ll find cruises offering a glance at Budapest’s history and its folklore.

Naturally, Budapest also offers the chance to take in some live entertainment around the Christmas period, although you may want to look into what’s playing ahead of time, because demand can get pretty wild around the holiday season.

This jewel in Hungary’s crown is a seriously beautiful city, and we think that everyone should experience Christmas in Budapest at least once in their lives.

14. Salzburg, Austria

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate to high
  • Average Temperatures: -3°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Medium to expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Salzburg is the birthplace of the Christmas carol “Silent Night.”

As you might imagine from such a historic city as Austria’s Salzburg, you’ll find plenty of wonderful Christmas events to enjoy if you decide to spend your holiday here, including markets, concerts, and much more.

Salzburg’s Christmas market is almost as famous as Nuremberg’s, and it brings delicious odours as you draw closer to the stalls, bedecked as they are by glorious lights and enticing-looking goods to buy.

Salzburg effectively transforms itself during the Christmas period, becoming a truly Christmassy city right down to its bone marrow. It’s not all festive fun, though, as you’ll find out if you’re lucky enough to spot one of the Krampus parades.

This traditional and mischievous Christmas figure often plays the central role alongside Percht, an Alpine goddess that makes up an inextricable part of Austria’s folklore traditions.

Considering Salzburg is the city in which “Silent Night” was originally composed, there’s a lot more going on here than the traditionally sleepy Christmas that song might imply to many people!

Other attractions in Salzburg include lots of live music to enjoy (of course), as well as Christmas-themed exhibitions and plenty of other winter wonders you’ll discover if you just take a wander around the city for yourself.

15. Stockholm, Sweden

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate
  • Average Temperatures: -3°C to 2°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Stockholm’s Christmas markets are known for their Swedish Christmas sweets and mulled wine, called glögg.

Unlike many other cities, Stockholm begins its Christmas celebrations around early to mid-November, when you’ll notice the Christmas lights going up around the city.

Walking around the centre of Stockholm will treat you to a glorious lightshow thereafter; many streets in the city are adorned with lights, illuminating your way as you discover the holiday delights of this beautiful city.

Perhaps one of Stockholm’s most iconic Christmas moments is the holiday display at the department store NK, which is a shortened form of Nordiska Kompaniet.

The theme for the display changes each year, but it’s always an elaborate and beautiful Christmas-themed window display that will make you want to walk into the shop just to meet the geniuses who designed it.

Of course, Stockholm also plays host to a Christmas market that’s full of the usual local goods to buy, and you can find plenty of restaurants and bars that serve seasonal variants of their usual fare as well, so no matter where you go, you’re bound to find yourself immersed in the Christmas spirit in Stockholm. 

Again, though, this is another city where you’ll want to book ahead, because Christmas makes the Swedish capital hugely popular.

16. Prague, Czech Republic

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate
  • Average Temperatures: -2°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: Prague’s Christmas markets are renowned for their beautiful setting in the Old Town Square, under the watchful eyes of the Astronomical Clock.

It’s very difficult to find another city that gets into the Christmas spirit more enthusiastically than Prague does, and that’s saying something considering some of the cities we’ve already featured on this list.

The Czech Republic is, in general, an extremely beautiful country, but Prague’s quaint, archaic streets and gorgeous old-school skyline lend it a retro atmosphere that makes Christmas feel all the more special if you spend time here for the holidays.

Naturally, Prague has the requisite Christmas market, which rolls into the Old Town for December and provides a chance to hunt for little-known local delicacies and crafts. Make sure to spend an hour or two browsing the markets, because you might not find that perfect bargain if you don’t!

Elsewhere, Prague offers up lots of chances to enjoy its architecture with well-lit strolls through both main streets and back alleys alike, and you’re like to find plenty of wonderful local restaurants serving delicious traditional fare and Christmas-themed variants on that fare.

For a particularly special sight, make sure to stroll along the Vltava River as the sun begins to go down. The magic of the lights shimmering atop the water is really something to behold.

17. Rome, Italy

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 4°C to 13°C
  • Cost: Medium to expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Rome hosts a grand Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, which is a major event for the Catholic Church.

You might think that Rome is home to a much more traditional type of Christmas where the religious origins of the holiday are fully on display, and in that assumption, you’d be entirely correct.

Thanks to its proximity to Vatican City, Rome offers lots of chances to hear traditional Christmas hymns and carols being sung by some of the most talented performers you’ll ever hear, and you might even happen upon a free opportunity to hear them doing their thing.

Even if you’re not big on the religious aspect of Christmas, though, Rome has lots for you to do; the stalls sell everything from delicious sweet treats through to toys and handmade items, and you’ll also find attractions like a massive Nativity to gaze upon (sorry, we did promise we’d move away from the religious aspect of Rome’s Christmas!).

Rome’s Christmas light display is also a sight to behold, illuminating the city and making it look even more beautiful than it usually does, if such a thing is even possible.

In short, whether you’re religious, agnostic, or avowedly atheist, Rome provides the perfect holiday backdrop. 

18. Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Chance of Snow: Low to moderate
  • Average Temperatures: 1°C to 4°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland with one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.

The Danish capital is a warm and welcoming place where Christmas is celebrated with aplomb, so if you decide to make this your holiday destination, you definitely won’t be disappointed.  

Copenhagen locals like to partake in a tradition known as “ice swimming”, where they dip their toes (and usually the rest of themselves as well!) in icy-cold water. Believe it or not, it’s a rejuvenating process that will invigorate you after a long and tiring day.

If you don’t fancy ice swimming (and, quite frankly, we can’t say we particularly blame you), then there are plenty of opportunities to wrap up warm and enjoy the rest of the sights Copenhagen has to offer the curious traveller.

These sights include a Christmas market (because of course they do), as well as ice rinks where you can enjoy the Christmas pastime of ice skating with other tourists and Danish natives.

You’re also never more than a few metres away from some delicious food in Copenhagen, whether that be a traditional Danish restaurant or a spin on fusion cuisine that will make you salivate just by looking at the menu.

19. Tokyo, Japan

  • Chance of Snow: Low
  • Average Temperatures: 5°C to 12°C
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Christmas Fact: Christmas in Tokyo is celebrated with illumination displays, with the city’s districts competing for the most impressive light shows.

Much like Bangkok, Christmas isn’t actually a public holiday in Japan, since the vast majority of the nation isn’t Christian (just 1% of the population identified as Christian in 2018).

This means that you’re likely to find many of Tokyo’s shops and public facilities still open on Christmas Day, so again, if you’re someone who doesn’t like the stillness and silence of a traditional Christmas, Tokyo could be the perfect place for you.

However, this doesn’t mean that Japan doesn’t do anything for the Christmas period. You’re likely to find lots of gorgeous winter decorations and displays that make Tokyo shimmer when the sun goes down, including lights on trees and above streets that will make your jaw drop.

In addition, it’s a Japanese tradition to eat at KFC on Christmas Day, so if you’re able to find a spot that isn’t taken up by locals and tourists, make sure to indulge in the local customs and get yourself some fried chicken for the holidays.

20. Warsaw, Poland

  • Chance of Snow: Moderate
  • Average Temperatures: -2°C to 3°C
  • Cost: Medium
  • Christmas Fact: Warsaw’s Christmas market is known for its traditional Polish Christmas delicacies and beautifully decorated Old Town.

Polish natives look forward to Christmas just as much as any other nation, and the capital city of Warsaw gets dressed up in its figurative Christmas best to welcome tourists and locals alike for the holiday season.

Like many other cities, Warsaw is host to some incredible Christmas light displays, particularly along Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of Warsaw’s most prominent streets.

There, you’ll find a light show that will make you want to photograph it until your phone’s camera runs out of space, as well as a lovely little walk that will give you the exercise you need to enjoy the Old Town’s Christmas market.

Of course, the market offers exactly the kind of treats you’d expect, including locally-made gingerbread, mulled wine, and hot chocolate, as well as clothing and decorations to make your Christmas complete.

You’ll have to wrap up warm to enjoy Christmas in Warsaw, but it’s a traditional experience that will infuse you with the holiday spirit.

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Hi there! My name is James and I am the creator of ClickTravelTips. Launched in 2012, ClickTravelTips was designed to provide travel tips, editorials and guides. Since, the website has continued to grow, providing interesting travel content from individuals who consider travel to be one of their passions. In my spare-time I enjoy to travel and blog about it, especially in Wales.
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