Christmas time is full of chocolate, gifts and travel…and not just for Santa. People everywhere are making trips and flights to visit family and friends all the time during the festive season but how about thinking outside the box this year when it comes to the choosing the holiday location.
If you’re in love with travel and new places, we have an early Christmas present for you- here’s some inspiration for a wanderlust winter!
Whether you’re looking for snow, sun or a surprise, we have something for everyone!
Create your own iconic blockbuster moment in the Big Apple
Who doesn’t feel all snuggly and warm inside when wrapped up in a blanket, eating treats and watching Christmas movies full of snow and Christmas cheer? But those moments don’t have to be exclusive for the movie stars; you can have a white Christmas as well.
New York is an amazing city to visit in any season, but it certainly manages to capture a unique Christmas spirit when the temperature starts to drop in November…and what’s best is that it doesn’t call for you to spend all your savings. Take a walk to the Rockefeller Center to see one of the largest and most famous Christmas Trees in the world that is decorated with class and sophistication and is just jaw-dropping!
Now one thing I just wouldn’t be able to resist is ice-skating in Central Park. With the tall, deep green trees around the rink and everyone wrapped up in big coats, this is a stunning place to slide through life for a couple of hours and feel the festive mood warm you up from inside to out (although I’d still wear gloves!).
I was going to advise a trip to the huge toy store that is featured in Home Alone to release the inner-child in you but unfortunately it has closed down. Instead, why not visit Macy’s which is a massive department store and is known for their incredible Christmas window displays at this time of year. If you’re struggling with present buying this might just have the thing you’re looking for but hadn’t thought of!
If you stay in the Big Apple until New Year it is hard to resist the infectious and fun-filled celebrations going on in Times Square to watch the ball drop, which is a one-of-a kind experience you’ll never find anywhere else in the world. It is crazy busy though and packed to the brim so if you want the best view you have to get there very early. However, if that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing and you are looking for a slightly less crowded start to the year, why not try out a small, intimate restaurant or bar instead to have a special and private midnight kiss!
Light up this Christmas
Yep, you guessed it, the Northern Lights. As a kid, I remember friends coming back after the Christmas break saying they’d gone to the North Pole and I was crazy jealous thinking they’d seen the real Santa and all the little elves making the presents. I may have grown up since then but I am still crazy jealous of anyone who has seen the Northern Lights from up there! It’s on my bucket list and it should be on yours too.
There are of course places to see the Northern Lights closer to home which you can read about in our Winter Vacations blog, but if you’re looking for something truly special this Christmas then Finland is the place to go. Letting you experience the colorful night sky with luxury and comfort is the Hotel Kakslauttanen, which is no ordinary hotel. They have built multiple luxurious, glass-roofed igloos surrounded by nature so you can lie back in a plush double bed and fall asleep under the waves of green moving across the sky. It is a natural phenomenon which Kakslauttanen has made cozy and romantic.
Chocolate, mulled wine and markets
Whilst we’re still on the side of the world in Europe, let’s jump down to Germany where the world wide German Christmas Markets originate from. These markets are often packed with delicious food (a lot of chocolate!), mulled wine or hot cider, and presents that you’ve never seen before. Berlin is one of the most popular cities in Germany to visit whatever time of year, but their Christmas market; Gendarmenmarkt,
holds a lot of prestige and reputation. The stalls offer a wide range of traditional gifts from food, drink and hand-made or unique presents and takes place in one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin.
The great thing about going to the markets in Berlin is not only the authentic, heart warming markets but also the other tourist attractions that are just as memorable and amazing, such as Brandenberg Gate, The Holocaust Memorial and Museum Island. Keep you eyes peeled for the street art and graffiti that is scattered throughout the city as well. You can get a walking tour if you’d like to learn about the stories behind this art that is so easily overlooked.
If you’d love to go to an authentic German Market but don’t enjoy the city vibe, then check out Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market instead. Located next to a gorge that weaves through the Black Forest with a magnificent viaduct towering over it, this is one of the most magical German Markets out there. It has over 40 stalls of hand-made and unique gifts and takes you to some of the most beautiful countryside to see in Germany.
This all sounds great but let’s face it, when it comes to Christmas and the present buying and the parties and buying new outfits or decorations, we can’t all afford to just fly off over the Atlantic. If you’re craving this European style you can find German Christmas markets in the US as well. Chicago in particular is the home to the Christkindlmarket which has done an incredible job capturing the festive spirit from all those thousands of miles away. It’s open from November 17th (so now!) till Christmas Eve, giving you plenty of time to get over there and enjoy the traditional stalls.
Take it to the beaches…
Some of us just weren’t cut out for the cold and however serene and magical it looks in films that is never the feeling we get when we’re wrapped up in so many layers we can barely move but still can’t feel our fingers. If you are one of those people would rather keep the snow covered roof tops in the films, than we have some gorgeous, relaxing and most importantly warm, Christmas holiday locations.
First of, we’ve chosen Belize and in particular the islands, also known as Cayes. Just of the coast of Belize is the Belize Barrier Reef which you can go and swim and snorkel around with various businesses offering the equipment and tour guide to ensure you get a great experience. There are other water sports around the island as well, but if you just want to rejuvenate and re-energize these islands offer beautiful sandy beaches perfect for relaxation and sunbathing.
If you are searching high and low for a fun-filled and action-packed holiday for the kids there are plenty of options. Honolulu, Hawaii is not a beautiful place with the sun shining nearly everyday, but it has many family-orientated resorts that have tons of things for the kids at all ages to do. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa in particular is brilliant for Children and has a Camp Penguin that offers plenty of exciting adventures for the little ones and a way to make new friends!
If you don’t fancy flying that far, then why not visit the Golden State California that is one of the warmest states in the US in December and can offer anything and everything you and your family could dream of. Of course there is Disneyland that brings all the childhood movies to life, but you can also explore the magnificent scenery the Sequoia or Joshua Tree National Parks. If you want sand between your toes Santa Cruz is just one of the beachy destinations to make you feel at home.
From frozen Europe to hot Hawaii I hope we’ve found the perfect Christmas retreat for you and your loved ones this year.
Whatever you end up going, make sure you pack your presents and stockings so you wake up to everything you put on your Christmas list (if you’ve been good this year of course!)
For even more ideas, check out our 5 Great Winter Vacations to Chase Away the Cold Weather Blues article.
If you need a few last minute essentials, whether that’s snow boots or sunscreen, take a look at the reviews on TopProducts to help you find what you need quickly and stress-free.
Eloise Bonney, TopProducts Staff Writer
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2016: By Michael Vadon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons