I have compiled a list of the 16 best places to travel for this December. Now is the time to book your last minute vacations before prices rise too high. This list includes many out of country trips so make sure your passport is still valid. If you live in a cold area you’re in luck as most of these are in warm climates. Enjoy!
- Israel has become a very popular travel destination to spend the holiday season. Tourists have the option of visiting revered sights such as the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. December in Israel begins with Hanukkah, which this year runs from November 27th – December 5th, but if you’re in the country on Christmas Eve, don’t miss the carol singing and public broadcast of Midnight Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square and the Christmas Parade and market in Nazareth.
- With the hurricane season over, now is the time to dodge the January crowds and make the most of sunny Belize. This time of year provides the perfect weather for taking in the country’s sights, from a Mayan history tour of ancient Xunantunich and the vast Caracol archaeological site, to relaxing on a beach along the Caribbean coast. Belize is also well-known for its adventurous activities, so make sure to visit the island of Ambergris Caye where you can snorkel, zip line, and tube, or go scuba diving at the incredible Great Blue Hole.
- Guatemala is also a hot location for holiday travels where visitors discover sights like the grand Mayan city of Tikal, cruise along the Rio Dulce, or scale the peak of an active volcano. December also brings a number of celebrations in the including the Burning of the Devil on December 7th, when Guatemalans burn waste paper and unneeded household items in large quantities, in preparation for the holy weeks ahead, and the unique St Thomas’ Day festival held in the highland city of Chichicastenango on the December 21st.
Rio de Janeiro
- Nowhere in the world knows how to party like Rio and the festive season means palm trees lit up with flickering illuminations, surfers riding the waves in Santa suits, and the world’s largest floating Christmas tree lighting up the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. If you are still in Rio for December 31st, Copacabana beach hosts an one of the best New Year’s parties with over 2 million revelers to the white sands for a night of live music, excellent street food, and fireworks, which of course is paired by plenty of champagne.
- As one of the most romantic cities in the world, one would expect nothing less than a wonderland of festivities and decorations throughout the city. Paris certainly doesn’t disappoint with the Eiffel Tower flanked by Christmas trees and the gorgeous Champs-Elysées shopping street glowing with over 150,000 twinkling lights, few European cities are as magical as Paris at Christmas time. Discover the spectacular display of the City of Lights with a Christmas lights tour around Paris, collect unique souvenirs at one of the seemingly infinite Christmas markets, or learn to cook festive delicacies like pumpkin soup and Bûche de Noël cake with a Christmas cooking class in Paris.
- With fewer crowds and cheaper prices, December can be a good month to travel to Fiji and with more than 330 tropical islands to choose from, you have plenty of options to choose from. From island-hopping cruises to scuba diving to Christmas picnics on the beach, there’s plenty to do.
- December is the very beginning of the peak season for Malaysia, so visitors should make the most of the ideal weather by going on a wildlife tour in the Taman Negara rainforest, hiking in the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands, or summiting Mt. Kinabalu. Visiting Kuala Lumpur is an absolute must, where the famous Petronas twin towers provide the perfect background for the New Years Eve fireworks.
- Known as the ‘Las Vegas of the East’, Macau is as famous for its casinos as it is for its sandy beaches and infamous landmarks. The best reason for visiting Macau this month however is for celebrating the New Year. The city’s 33 casinos will be throwing lavish parties to mark the countdown to 2015, but the main attraction will be the fireworks display over Nam Van Lake.
- Hurricane season is over in the Bahamas so you can once again enjoy the Bahamas without dealing with checking the weather forecast. The Junkanoo is one of the biggest parties and is held on Boxing Day and New Year’s day. The festival is comprised of riotous street parties and colorful carnival-esque parades held all over the county. The largest and most vibrant parade is held in Nassau, but Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Exuma host similarly flamboyant events.
Lake Tahoe, CA
- You’re guaranteed a very white Christmas at Lake Tahoe! With the lakeside lined with snow-dusted pine trees, bright light displays, and atmospheric Santa’s villages, there’s plenty of festivities to be had. Feel the Christmas spirit with a horse-drawn sleigh ride around Lake Tahoe, then get active with a snowmobiling, sledding or ice skating trip. It goes without saying but wintertime is also ski and snowboard season and enthusiasts will be have a tough time deciding one of the many mountain resorts surrounding Tahoe.
- Los Cabos will be in a celebratory mood this holiday season. With whale watching, scuba diving, and zip lining oas some of the many options, it’s safe to say this won’t be a traditional Christmas for visitors. During December tourists can also see the Sabor a Cabo culinary festival sweep the city. Don’t worry – you can burn off the extra calories horse riding on the beach, mountain biking in the desert, or kayaking around the bay.
- Escape mainland Australia for a trip to the shores of ‘Tassie’, where you can take a scenic drive around the Bay of Fires, hike through the Huon Valley, and come face to face with Tasmanian devils. There is also a lot of ways to celebrate the festive season in Hobart. Popular events include the Taste of Tasmania Festival, which fills the waterfront with gastronomic goodies, local wines, and entertainment over the New Year. There is also the legendary Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day, one of Australia’s greatest sporting events, culminating in the Hobart prize giving ceremony.
- With temperatures hovering in the 90’s it can be quite different in terms of getting in the holiday mood, but Singapore’s extravagant Christmas light displays and New Years Eve fireworks over Marina Bay show. Even if you’re not there for the main celebrations, December is an amazing time for sightseeing. Be sure to see the views from the Singapore Flyer, try the street food in Chinatown, or get your adrenaline fix at Universal Studios Singapore.
- Technically it summertime in Australia, but that doesn’t stop Sydney-siders from getting in the Christmas spirit. From enormous inflatable Santas in Darling Harbour and a spectacular light show illuminating Sydney Town Hall, to nightly carol concerts and turkey BBQs on the beach, there’s no more atmospheric time to be in Sydney. Stick around for after Christmas too – the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race launches as huge crowds watch on Boxing Day and the gigantic New Year celebrations in Sydney Harbour feature a glorious fireworks display, boat procession, and street party.
- New Zealand’s capital of adventure sports is the ideal location for the adrenaline junkie on holiday with whitewater rafting on the Shotover River, the country’s highest bungee jump, or looking out into the wild with the views from the Skyline Gondola. For New Year’s Eve there is a dramatic firework show that kicks off the biggest event of the summer – the month-long Summer Daze Festival.
- With thousands and thousands of Christmas lights all over Oxford Street, a gigantic Winter Wonderland taking over Hyde Park, a reindeer petting zoo in Covent Garden, and a massive open-air ice rink beneath the Tower of London, London does not skimp on Christmas season. Once you’ve bought all the gifts you can at the city’s many Christmas markets, spent Christmas with Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio, and visited Harrods’ spectacular Santa’s grotto, make sure you save some time for the legendary January sales, and the world renowned New Years Eve fireworks display, held over the Thames River with the London Eye and Big Ben in the background.