Some dream of a white Christmas, others of sand between their toes. Whatever your choice, here are this year’s top destinations, where you won’t have to sell all your possessions to enjoy a well-deserved vacation.

North America

Cancun, Mexico

Bridge over the sea in Cancun for Christmas
Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash

Tropical climate, white sandy beaches, THIS is probably one of the most perfect destinations for people looking for a stress-free place, far from the cold, wind and Christmas hustle and bustle we’re usually used to.

Besides, Mexicans are known for their festive spirit, so if you’re worried about getting bored after a few days on the beach, you’d be wrong! Here, Christmas is celebrated not just one day, but nine. Yes, you read that right! Las Posadas is a religious festival that takes the form of candlelit processions during which people dressed as Joseph and Mary re-enact their journey in search of shelter.

But that’s not all: Christmas trees, decorated streets, festive carols, delicious meals and much more await you!

Greater Antilles

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico as a Christmas destination
Photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash

If you thought nine days was a long time for a celebration, how about 45? As the festivities begin after Thanksgiving and last until mid-January, you can already see that this is an ideal place for your next Christmas vacation.

From “Parrandas” where friends or neighbors sing at your door to wake you up, to traditional meals, fun and excitement are guaranteed.

Puerto Rico is much more than a small tropical Caribbean island. And you’ll have plenty of time to discover its vibrant lifestyle and breathtaking nature if you choose it for your Christmas getaway!

Central America

Costa Rica

Mountain in Costa Rica as a Christmas destination
Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash

Festival of lights, parades and manzanas escarchadas (the famous candied apples) – that’s what’s in store for a Christmas in Costa Rica.

Head to the capital, San José, for all the festive and lively events, or to Manuel Antonio National Park, for its magnificent beaches and abundant wildlife.

And if you love volcanoes or hot springs, you should head to Arenal for a relaxed Christmas closer to nature.

South America

Medellín, Colombia

Medellin in Colombia as a Christmas destination
Photo by Juan Saravia on Unsplash

Renowned as one of the best in the world, Medellín’s Festival of Lights attracts locals and travelers alike every year. Millions of lights are hung everywhere, to the delight of all.

And candles are not forgotten: they are lit on every street corner, in windows, in front of houses… on December 7 to celebrate the Immaculate Conception.

As for the city itself, there’s plenty to discover. Whether you like nature, art or shopping, Medellín has it all. Don’t forget to discover salsa music and try to keep up with its frenzied rhythm in one of the city’s many bars.

Europe

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk in Poland as a Christmas destination
Photo by Krzysztof Maksimiuk on Unsplash

No white sand beach here, but a place where you can feel and enjoy the Christmas spirit in its market! Situated on the shores of the Baltic and offering many specialties (Polish cake, spiced mulled wine…), the city is the ideal getaway if you love the cold and traditional festivities.

Go ice-skating, eat delicious food and warm up by the fire without the crowds!

You might even be lucky enough to spend a white Christmas here!

Budapest, Hungary

Christmas market in Budapest
Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

I can’t pronounce it, but here’s the name of Budapest’s famous Christmas market: The Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market, where you’ll find food, lights, gifts and the special atmosphere that the square and its people exude.

Have you ever tried thermal bathing in cold weather? If not, now’s your chance! This is also where you can enjoy an organ concert in St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Prague, Czech Republic

Bridge in Prague as a Christmas destination
Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Christmas carols, markets and snow await you in Prague. Feel the magic, buy the traditional vànočka (braided bun) and have a merry holiday.

And once your stomach is full of all the delicacies you’ve tried, walk to the Charles Bridge surrounded by the Vltava River and enjoy the view.

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest's street
Photo by David Pupăză on Unsplash

Romania’s capital city, Bucharest is all about tradition! From carols and dances, to illuminations, tree decorations and, of course, the slaughter of pigs (because pork is generally eaten at Christmas), you’ll discover how the Romanians celebrate one of their most important holidays.

And why not include a scary experience, since Dracula’s castle is only a few hundred kilometers away!

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb tram with Santa Claus during Christmas

If you know anything about Croatia, you were probably expecting a beach landscape, but that’s not the case with Zagreb. Instead, the capital is known for its monuments, art and history, making it the best city for your urban vacation.

In fact, Zagreb has won the prize for Europe’s best Christmas market several years running. If you’re still not convinced, the Medvednica nature park or one of the city’s many museums will do the trick.

Or take a stroll through the city streets and enjoy the wonders of winter!

Asia

Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle's Fort in Sri Lanka as a Christmas destination

Back to hot destinations! If you don’t really like traditions and white Christmas snow, Galle, Sri Lanka, is the ideal place to spend a vacation that’s both historic and filled with idleness.

Stroll along its ramparts, lie back and relax, enjoy the sunny weather, watch the fishermen on stilts and party to the rhythm of the fireworks.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City as a Christmas destination

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Ho Chi Minh City. From illuminated streets and shopping malls to festivals, there’s plenty to do here! Oh, and don’t forget to check out the river at night, as it becomes quite magical.

What’s more, this is one of the best times to visit the city, as the weather isn’t too hot or humid.

Of course, you have to like busy cities, as this one can be rather overwhelming if you’re the country type!

San Fernando, Philippines

Cliff in La Union as a Christmas destination
Photo by Fates on Unsplash

If I tell you that San Fernando’s nickname is “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”, you’re probably already trying to book your ticket, aren’t you?

Located in the province of Pampanga, the city is best known for its Giant Lantern Festival, a testament to the festive spirit and talents of the Filipino people. Color, twinkling lights and fun guaranteed!

As if all that weren’t enough to lure you to the city, the night markets, music and friendly locals are just some of the other reasons to visit.

> Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends and family, you’re sure to have an unforgettable vacation. These destinations are all economical and perfect for discovering the traditions of other holidays. So summon your Christmas spirit and let’s hope you’ve been good this year!

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17 Comments

  1. I’m thinking Philippines or Cancun….but while I often think of going away for it all I would miss spending my time at Liturgy and with family. But what wonderful ideas. Maybe one day close to the holidays I’ll try one of these lovely destinations.

  2. My husband and I will look into lots of these places. We try to take a trip close to Christmas and experience Christmas in another area in lieu of gifts. I like the budget friendly option of Puerto Rico and already love the island!

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