Where to Travel in December – 7 Must-See Holiday Destinations!

Where to Travel in December – 7 Must-See Holiday Destinations!

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A beautiful winter landscape of Finland in December - snowy forest on a sunny day
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December is such a magical time of year that choosing where to travel in December becomes a difficult job! No matter where you are in the world, there’s something about the month of December that makes it feel exciting. Perhaps it’s the festive cheer of the holidays or the eager anticipation of the new year and all the fresh starts and resolutions that come with it.  Whatever the case may be, there is no denying that it feels like a month where anything and everything is possible. What better way to celebrate the spirit of December than by embarking on a magical holiday! So, here are some of our top picks for must-see holiday destinations in December 2018 for travellers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia!

Where to travel in December 2018 – Our top 7 holiday recommendations:

1. Finland

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If you’re looking for a quaint yet strikingly memorable December vacation, then look no further than the whimsical, wonderful and resoundingly chic country of Finland! The holiday season in Finland is a time when traditions of the past meet the modern world and combine to perfection. Everything from the decorations to the parties to the grand dinners radiate a palpable and unflinchingly magnetic old-world appeal.  We wouldn’t expect anything less from a place that is the home of Saint Nick otherwise known as Santa Claus!

The pride of a Finnish Christmas according to the Finns themselves is the inherent charm of their climate. While certainly cold, the pristine white of the winter ice contrasts beautifully with the warm, orange glow of Finnish households, offices and shop windows. Jovial groups of carolers wander the streets belting out songs at the top of their voices! Restaurants, pubs and cafes all emit their own respective siren songs, beckoning would-be travelers into their cozy interiors. Like everywhere else in the world, food is a focal point of a Finnish Christmas, with roast meats being a particular delicacy along with fish and a variety of different casseroles. Spend your December holiday in Finland and be treated to an experience you will truly cherish for a lifetime!

Things to do in Finland in December:

  • Take part in exhilarating winter sports like skiing and snowboarding
  • Unwind at a Finnish winter spa
  • Sample “Glögi”; a Finnish mulled wine
  • Meet Santa Claus himself and visit his office in Rovaniemi in Lapland, northern Finland
  • Visit the magnificent Helsinki Christmas Market

Also read: Best Christmas Markets In The World

2. London

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The brightly lit up and busy Oxford Street in London

Another ideal pick for a December vacation is London which is barely a 4-hour flight away from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. While travelling to London is always fantastic, London during December promises to be particularly delightful for all you would-be travelers! The British tend to forgo their stereotypical stiff upper-lip demeanor and loosen their ties during the holidays season.  Very few places in the United Kingdom personify this as well as cheery old London and its dazzling city lights. Indeed, London is a city transformed during December with every shop, restaurant, business and home going out if its way to celebrate the festive season via elaborate decorations, promotional offers and delightful free giveaway goodies!

While certainly more than a little nippy in December, London makes up for its weather in December by being possibly one of the most vibrant and lively cities in the world! People from all walks of life happily run around, busy with their Christmas shopping lists; arms laden with bags of treats they’ve already bought for their loved ones. Shopkeepers bellow welcoming calls to action to all who pass; jubilantly advertising their wares as eager school children play in the snow fashioning snowmen and snow angels with so much enthusiasm that you’d think their lives depended on it!

There’s no dearth of things to do in London during this time with everything from art shows to musical performances taking place practically every night! Restaurants serve up some of the most mouthwatering Christmas menus you’ll ever lay your eyes on and pubs stay open till the wee hours of the morning, beckoning night owl adventurers in search of refreshment! Watch an exciting Boxing Day Premier League Match, witness a show on the West End or pay a visit to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. The sky is well and truly the limit if you’re in London in December!

Things to do in London in December:

  • Browse, shop and haggle at London’s numerous Christmas Markets
  • Visit the stunning Botanical Gardens
  • Unwind at the Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Festival
  • Watch one of West End’s numerous Christmas productions

Also read: 20 Things To Do In London For Free

3. Maldives

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The Maldives is the perfect December destination for those who detest the vast crowds as well the hustle and bustle that comes with spending the holiday season in a big city. If you want to skip the Christmas traffic rush or the endless queues at the mall, head to the Maldives! It is a destination that will allow you to spend your December in paradise with a cocktail in your hand as a soothing island breeze wafts through your hair. If that sounds appealing, then Maldives is the place for you this December!

While similar to Dubai in the sense that it provides a temperate climate for your December break, Maldives offers a much more laid-back experience. The best part is that December to March is the high season in Maldives, so expect all tourist attractions to remain open for longer hours. While there is certainly the expected variety of Christmas themed celebrations, there is a signature island touch to all the festivities. On top of all the holiday festivities there are plenty of additional things to do, from exploring local island bazaars, to sailing, snorkeling and scuba-diving to fantastic eateries that offer the most scrumptious sea food you’re likely to ever eat in your life! If all that excitement isn’t quite up your alley you can always partake in a relaxing and rejuvenating spa session or even laze about on the beach and work on your tan. Take that, city slickers!

Things to do in Maldives in December:

  • Snorkel, scuba-dive and sail across oceans of the deepest blue
  • Kick back and relax at a rejuvenating spa
  • Partake in Christmas feasts and celebrations across the islands
  • Visit historical museums and landmarks steeped in history

4. Georgia

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The snowy peaks of the Gudauri region

Come December and Georgia transforms into a winter wonderland with the towering, snow-covered Caucasus mountains putting up an impressive, dreamy back-drop! Its beautiful winter resorts like the Gudauri Ski resort apart, Georgia in December offers many snow-laden, incredible sights like the frozen-over Shaori lake in the Racha region and the Martkopi Monastery on the snow-clad Mount Ialno, Gardabani district.

Georgia is a majestic country whose jovial people truly embrace that unmistakable holiday spirit of brotherly love and camaraderie. This makes it a wonderful place to spend your December! And while December certainly isn’t the peak of the tourist season in Georgia, December is said to be the zenith of the cultural season there. The Georgians take it upon themselves to fully immerse tourists into their festivities as well as the their cultural practices. Everything from street fairs, to plays to music performances are all found in plenty along with countless traders and hawkers plying their handmade crafts.

Christmas day in Georgia takes place on the 7th of January due to their adherence to the Julian calendar but celebrations are nonetheless more or less in full swing from the middle of December onward.

Things to do in Georgia in December:

  • Explore museums, churches and wineries
  • Take part in raucous and jovial Christmas parties and feasts
  • Participate in winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing
  • Sample unique Christmas delicacies such as chichilaki, gozinaki and Gurian Christmas pie
  • Trek through in the magnificent caucus mountain range
  • Find adventure and excitement at the Gudauri Ski Resort

5. Dubai

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If you’re looking for a fun filled December break that is relatively close by then look no further than our very own Dubai! Decembers are when malls, stores markets and restaurants turn their charm to 100 and go into overdrive as the result of the Dubai Shopping Festival! The commercial spirit of Dubai is especially emphasized during the holiday season and this makes it an absolute no-brainer for all of you with an insatiable desire to shop!

Not-to-miss experiences in Dubai in December

Dubai in December has all of the big city holiday trappings we’ve come to expect including Christmas fairs, Christmas buffets and extravagant building decorations.

The Madinat Souk goes as far as to completely transform itself into a winter wonderland, with everything from a North Pole train ride to a gigantic area filled with artificial snow!

Special Christmas themed shows and productions are also put on across the city and all of this culminates in a fantastic firework show on New Year’s Eve!

If the shopping and holiday festivities weren’t enough, Dubai also presents extremely comfortable weather in December especially when compared to places in Europe. While the days are still hot by any standard, the nights are comfortable, temperate and occasionally crisp and chilly.  Indeed, there are very few big cities in the world that allow you to spend your Christmas soaking up the sun on a beach!

Also read: 5 Best Beaches in the UAE

Things to do in Dubai in December:

  • Indulge in a sumptuous Christmas lunch at venues such as like the Irish Village and The Bread Street Kitchen and Bar
  • Explore the curated winter wonderland that is the Madinat Souk
  • Experience a Christmas high tea at the Sheikh Zayed Road Shangri La hotel
  • Witness vibrant multimedia shows at Festival City
  • Shop till you drop and make the most of all the Christmas discounts and the Dubai shopping festival

6. New York City

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The snow-laden Central Park and Bow Bridge in midtown Manhattan New York City in winter

No city in the world looks as stunning during December as the enigmatic ‘Big Apple’! Blanketed in layers of snow, New York City (NYC) almost appears to take on a life of its own. From the magnificent Christmas lights of the big buildings in downtown Manhattan to the cheery sounds of glee from revelers in suburban boroughs like Queens, there is a palpable luminescence to the city that you simply will not find at any other time of year. New York almost appears to slow down, if only by a handful of milliseconds. For just a few short weeks in December the breakneck-paced, cut-throat world of New York City finds its human side and showcases the true essence of the Christmas spirit – peace, love and goodwill towards your fellow citizen.

It goes without saying that there is no dearth of things to do and see in a city that is among the most culturally, artistically and socially vibrant on the entire planet. Everything from plays, to musical performances to poetry slams are found in abundance. Restaurants, cafes and pubs while incredibly busy, try to be as accommodating as possible and it’s rare that you’ll leave disappointed no matter where you decide to eat or drink.

Not-to-miss experiences in New York in December

Rolf’s – one of the most famous out of all of these restaurants, serves traditional German Christmas fare such as schnitzel and platters of sausage as well as more than generous tankards of lager!

Those of you looking for the perfect Christmas experience while in New York City should certainly consider staying at the Lotte New York Palace. The hotel is best known for its towering 30-foot Christmas tree and beautiful lobby decorations.

The fabled New York Philharmonic are also a must-see while in New York as they put on a show that utilizes a unique holiday themed setlist almost guaranteed to stir even the most tired of souls.

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art should also be a must-visit due to the quality of its exhibits, specifically the magnificent 18th Century Neopolitan nativity scene displayed at the foot of its equally beautiful 20-foot blue spruce Christmas tree!

Things to do in New York in December:

  • Take in the cultural richness and diversity of bohemian suburban New York City
  • Indulge in delectable dishes and desserts at local establishments such as Rolf’s and Betony
  • Witness Christmas themed Broadway productions, plays and musicals
  • Walk through Times Square on New Years Eve and witness it’s famed ‘Ball Drop’
  • Visit Carnegie Hall and listen To spectacular renditions of famous Christmas carols

7. Austria 

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It’s often said that no country celebrates Christmas quite like Austria does.  Although they’re relatively fun loving and jovial during the rest of the year, the Austrian people are at their hospitable best during the festive period in December. No matter which city you choose to visit you will be absolutely blown away by their dedication to the spirit of the season as well as the lengths they go to make people feel at home. Streets, shop windows and buildings shine as bright as the son as beautiful decorations and lights hang both on their exterior facades as well as inside. Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes line city centers as carolers and revelers march through the streets; their cheery hymns reverberating loud enough to be heard in Germany! If you’re the sort of person who wants a big grandiose Christmas melded with small town charm and canny then Austria is the country for you!

Top December destinations in Austria

Every city in Austria has its own particular charm but if you had to pick the top Austrian cities to visit for a short December trip they would without doubt be Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna. While Innsbruck offers the quietest, most serene December experience away from the cacophony of a city Christmas, Vienna offers all of the lavish excesses you’d expect from a capital of a major city. Salzburg offers a delightful combination of the two. Whichever you choose, you’ll be spoiled by the sheer number of things to do.

Austria in December = The Best Christmas Markets!

The top of your must-see list however should certainly be the traditional Austrian Christmas Markets that offer everything from musical performances, to dance, to fine intricate handicrafts and towering tankards of ale and mead! The Salzburg Christmas market with both the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Salzburg Cathedral serving as its backdrop is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the country and features a special concert dedicated to Salzburg’s favorite son – the one and only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!

Besides the Christmas markets Austria has a number of fantastic shops, restaurants and pubs to visit not to mention beautiful museums and fortresses that you could spend an entire day exploring!  All of this along with your usual selection of winter sports means that a visit to Austria almost guarantees you memories that you will cherish for a lifetime!

Thing to do in Austria in December:

  • Visit their world famous Christmas markets
  • Explore museums and fortresses
  • Sample delectable Austrian Christmas delicacies
  • Watch a captivating Advent Concert
  • Ski and snowboard in the delightful Austrian winter
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