The Best Christmas Vacation Ideas for 2020

christmas vacation ideas around the world

The best Christmas vacation ideas around the world! From the US to South America and Europe, these are my top picks for holiday travel destinations to explore.

If you dislike Christmas, you may want to pass on this post because it’s all kinds of gooey hot chocolate goodness and holiday fun.

I’m here to tell you about the best Christmas vacation ideas around the world. No matter what type of holiday trip you’re looking for, I’ve got you covered!

I’ve always been a fan of Christmas and winter in general.

There’s something about curling up with a good book by the fire, the Mariah Carey Christmas album blasting, and the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

The holidays may be too obnoxious and materialistic for some, but I really appreciate the family time and Christmas cookies that come about this time of the year.

Sadly, I won’t be at home this Christmas, but I’ll be tuning in with a Skype call to still spend time with the family, and hopefully enjoy my own Christmas feast in Myanmar.

Since I can’t be home this Christmas, I may as well daydream about some other Christmas destinations that I’ve either already been to or really want to visit one of these Decembers.

So, curl up with a hot chocolate and put on your favorite Christmas album, these are my recommendations for the best spots to spend the holidays!

New York City, USA

Christmas vacation ideas - New York City

One of the most classic Christmas vacation ideas, but still a winner every time – New York City!

My first trip to New York was just after Christmas to ring in the New Year. However, I was still able to appreciate all of the glittering decorations and holiday cheer.

New York in December is the coldest weather I’ve experienced, but it was worth it to see the Rockefeller Tree lit up and the city in so many lights and colors of red and green.

New York is a pretty cliché place to spend the holidays, but it’s cliché for a reason – it’s a magical and iconic spot to celebrate St. Nick and ring in the New Year.

Just make sure to dress warm and bring a good pair of gloves!

Related: How to do New York City on a Budget

Lapland, Finland

Christmas in Lapland, Finland - Scandinavia Travel

Although the official residence of Santa Claus is the North Pole, it doesn’t keep Lapland, Finland from claiming their town as the unofficial home of Santa. They have a world famous Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, where you can indulge in all things Christmas.

Go on a sleigh ride, watch Santa’s elves, and even get your mail stamped from Santa’s post office. To go all out, make sure to stay in the Arctic SnowHotel! All of your winter wonderland dreams come true here.

Just make sure to know what to pack for winter in Europe because it gets real cold up north. 

Nuremberg, Germany

Christmas in Nuremberg, Germany - Europe Travel

Germany is a stunning place to spend the holidays and one of my top picks when it comes to Christmas vacation ideas. The country has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and plenty of ‘White Christmas’ vibes to keep you happy through the New Year.

Nuremberg is where the famous Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt (Nuremberg Christmas Markets) is! It brings in more than 2 millions visitors a year, and will probably spoil other Christmas markets around the region for you.

There’s even an official Nuremberg Christmas Market Council to make sure that only traditional handmade toys and holiday treats are being sold, none of that fake plastic or factory line goods.

Quebec City, Canada

Christmas in Quebec City - Canada Travel

Quebec in winter in the ideal holiday destination if you’re looking to visit Canada over Christmas.

Quebec City, especially, is a  winter wonderland. 

Quebec City is also a great place to find old Europe vibes in North America. Old Quebec is made into a Christmas village during the holidays, and there are plum pudding tastings, roasted chestnuts, and nativity scenes from around the world to enjoy.

If you want to get outside, you’re in luck because this is Canada after all. The Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix offers hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and even snowmobile adventures.

Related: 101 Things to do in Montreal

Medellin, Colombia

Why Medellin, Colombia is a Destination to Visit this Holiday Season
Photo by Medellin Travel

One of the more unique Christmas vacation ideas on this list, I actually wrote a whole post about Medellin’s fantastic Christmas celebrations and light displays. Medellin is a good pick if you’re looking to escape to nicer weather but still want to feel the holiday spirit.

Medellín is the only city in South America that is part of LUCI, or Lighting Urban Community International. The city’s holiday celebrations include 41 million LED bulbs and 950 kilometers (590 miles) worth of Christmas lights.

They also create 42,000 Christmas figures that revolve around a different theme each year and that can be found throughout the city. As an added bonus, if you hate the cold, the weather in Medellín is warm and nice this time of the year.

Santa Claus, Indiana

Christmas in Santa Claus, Indiana - USA Travel

That’s right, there’s a town called Santa Claus in the USA. As you can probably guess, Christmas is their forte. The town goes all out during the holidays, which makes it one of the best Christmas vacation ideas for those who want to go all out in their holiday travel this year.

Santa Claus, Indiana calls themselves America’s Christmas hometown, and the town receives thousands of letters each year from children who write letters to Santa. There’s a group called Santa’s Elves that have been in action since the 1930s, and who reply to every letter.

How adorable is that?

Edinburgh, Scotland

Christmas in Edinburgh, Scotland - USA Travel

Everyone knows that Edinburgh has some of the best festivals and cultural attractions throughout the year, so it’s no surprise that they go all out for the holidays.

You can expect many festivals, concerts, and holiday celebrations from the end of November to the beginning of January. They also have a traditional Christmas market, Santa Land, and an ice rink on East Princes Street Gardens Terrace.

And the real reason you want to come to Edinburgh for Christmas? The after party. Hogmanay is seen as one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in the world, and it also celebrates Scottish history and traditions – so really, it’s a win-win.

California, USA

Christmas in California - USA Travel

I may be a bit biased since it’s where I grew up, but my absolute favorite place to spend the holidays is none other than my home state of California. I grew up just south of San Francisco, which has a ton of fun Christmas decorations and festivities in December.

I really love my California Christmases because of my mom’s home cooked vegan food, my family, and the fact that I can walk down to a beautiful beach on a sunny day in the middle of winter.

Related: 101 Things to do in California

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska | Christmas | US Travel

And of course, I couldn’t finish off this list without mentioning the North Pole! As you could probably imagine, the North Pole has Christmas decorations up 365 days of the year and it’s the place for all things red, green, and white.

Take a stroll down Kris Kringle Drive, Mistletoe Lane, or Santa Claus Lane. Every December they have an ice sculpture contest that brings together some of the best ice sculptures from around the world.

I’d love to know – where’s your favorite place to spend the holidays? Would you want to visit any of these places next December? Happy holidays!


The Best Places Around the World to Celebrate Christmas - Holiday Travel

Christmas Vacation ideas

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Mimi McFadden
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