With December temperatures hovering around 6°C here in Ireland, and plenty of wet and windy weather too, isn’t it about time you took a trip away?
People are getting into the Christmas spirit in countries right across the globe, and New Year celebrations are on the horizon too. Whether you’re a culture vulture, a sun worshipper or simply in search of some Christmas spirit, here are 10 of the best holiday destinations in December.
FOR SUN WORSHIPPERS
As one of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is somewhere you should consider if you want sunshine without a long-haul flight. With average highs of 21°C in December, it’s certainly shorts and t-shirt weather. A four hour flight will see you sunbathing on the beach, exploring volcanoes and sipping cocktails in one of the island’s vibrant bars – so don’t be surprised if your friends and family back home are more than a little jealous! Papagayo is well worth a visit while you’re in Lanzarote – its soft white sand and towering cliffs warrant the extra effort of hiring a car to get there.
Another of the Canary Islands, Tenerife should also be up there on your bucket list of destinations for winter sun in December. While it’s the coolest month of the year for this beautiful island, temperatures still hover around 20°C. Throw down your towel on the golden sands of Playa de las Teresitas and be sure to try the black sand beach at Playa Jardín with Mount Teide towering in the background. And, La Laguna had its first Christmas market in 2016 – so don’t be surprised if you see market stalls selling festive fare against the backdrop of blue skies and flip flops.
Want some serious winter sun? The average temperature in Cancun is 28°C, meaning you’ll still be pretty comfortable but guaranteed to need some sun cream. Sea temperatures tend to average around 27°C which is perfect if you fancy dipping in and out of the waves while you’re relaxing on the beach. Take a trip to Coba to see the Mayan ruins and make memories you’ll never forget diving beneath into the ocean to explore the Underwater Museum.
FOR CHRISTMAS CHEER
There’s no better time to visit Hungary than December. Wrap up warm and head straight to Vörösmarty Square to explore the city’s oldest Christmas market; you’ll have a maze of stalls to explore, perusing everything from Christmas tree decorations to steaming mountains of mouth-watering goulash and sauerkraut. The nearby Opera House is the perfect place to see a performance (ballets including the Nutcracker are performed over Christmas), and don’t overlook the magic of simply strolling the streets with a mugful of mulled wine to keep you in high spirits.
For a very Merry Christmas, you couldn’t do better than heading to the Big Apple. New York is extra exciting at this time of year, with gigantic Christmas trees illuminating the city’s streets and decorations making the department stores of 5th Avenue look even more enticing. Press your nose against the glass of Barneys, Saks and Macy’s before going ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park and do a spot of Christmas shopping at Union Square Holiday Market.
FOR CITY SLICKERS
If it’s a romantic getaway to an iconic location you fancy, Paris is well and truly the best holiday destination in December. The city sparkles with thousands of fairy lights, with artfully decorated trees lining the boulevards, and the scent of cinnamon and other Christmas spices scent the air around Paris’ boulangeries. Book tickets to the Notre Dame Cathedral to listen to the most goosebump-inducing performances from world-class choirs, and twirl your way around the ice rink at the Champs-Elysées.
As one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milan is a sophisticated city to visit at any time of year. Bring a sizeable amount of spending money with you if you fancy dressing yourself from head to toe in the stylish threads this Italian city is famous for, or simply wander the streets and treat yourself to various trinkets on offer at the O Bej! O Bej! festive market. You won’t want to miss a visit to Duomo Cathedral on the run up to Christmas (the Italian Gothic building is breathtakingly beautiful), and you’ll certainly enjoy eating your way around this magnificent city too, filling up on cheesy panzerotti and melt-in-the-mouth pizza.
While Dubai is an excellent location for year-round sun, it’s actually its credentials as a glistening city that make it such a good idea for a December getaway. It’s a shopping mecca for those who are serious about snapping up some of the best quality products in the world, making it the ideal place to get a jump-start on your Christmas shopping for friends and family. December also sees the stars arrive for Dubai’s International Film Festival, and of course, Dubai’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are truly spectacular – so time your holiday here to take part in arguably the best fireworks display on the planet… a grand way to welcome in 2020 indeed.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES
Despite what you might imagine about walking around Rome in the sunshine, December is actually the best time to see Rome. That’s because the low-slung sun softly illuminates the Colosseum and other breathtaking pieces of architecture, and the restaurants are filled with locals tucking into hearty pasta dishes and Italian soups. Walk through spacious museums such as the Musei Capitolini, boldly explore the Catacombs beneath the ground, marvel at the Sistine Chapel and sit quietly in the Church of St Louis of the French.
This city is somehow both cosmopolitan and quaint, with cobblestone streets and ancient castles and palaces partnering with art galleries, museums and shopping boutiques. Pay a visit to Christiansborg Palace, stroll through the Open Air Museum (one of the oldest open air museums in the world) and check out the Copenhagen Contemporary – an international art centre displaying works on the harbour front. You’ll feel a million miles from home and want to come back for more, that’s for sure.