Looking for the perfect Christmas getaway? Explore our list of the best Christmas vacations, featuring Prague, Vienna, Taos, New Mexico, London, New York City, Zurich, Munich, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam.
The Best Christmas Vacations List, also known as the Best Christmas Holidays List, is a curated compilation of top destinations or experiences considered ideal for spending the Christmas season. This list typically highlights places or activities that offer a festive and memorable atmosphere during the holiday period. It focuses on various factors such as unique traditions, stunning decorations, special events, winter activities, cultural significance, and overall holiday spirit. The aim of the list is to assist individuals or families in finding the perfect destination or experience to celebrate Christmas, regardless of their location or city.
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is renowned for its enchanting atmosphere and rich history, making it a popular destination for Christmas vacations. With its picturesque architecture, cobblestone streets, and charming Christmas markets, Prague offers a magical experience during the holiday season. Here are some of the reasons why Prague often features on the Best Christmas Vacations List:
- Christmas Markets: Prague’s Christmas markets are a major highlight, with the most famous one located in the Old Town Square. These markets are adorned with beautifully decorated stalls selling handmade crafts, traditional Czech food, and warm drinks like mulled wine and hot chocolate. The festive ambiance, accompanied by live music and performances, creates a wonderful atmosphere.
- Stunning Decorations: The city comes alive with stunning decorations during Christmas, with festive lights illuminating the streets and buildings. Prague’s main squares, such as Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge, are adorned with festive ornaments and Christmas trees, adding to the city’s charm.
- Traditional Czech Customs: Christmas in Prague offers an opportunity to witness and participate in unique Czech customs and traditions. This includes the lighting of the Christmas tree on December 24th, the Czech Christmas dinner featuring dishes like carp and potato salad, and the exchanging of gifts.
- Nativity Scenes: Prague is known for its intricate and elaborate nativity scenes, which can be found in various churches and public spaces. These displays showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of Czech artisans and add to the festive spirit of the city.
- Ice Skating: Several ice rinks pop up around Prague during the Christmas season, allowing visitors to enjoy a classic winter activity. The most popular ice rink is located in Ovocný trh, near the Old Town Square.
- Concerts and Performances: Prague’s music scene comes alive during Christmas, with numerous concerts and performances taking place in churches, concert halls, and even on the streets. From classical concerts to choral performances, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy festive music.
Overall, Prague’s combination of stunning architecture, festive markets, cultural traditions, and a lively atmosphere make it a top choice for those seeking an unforgettable Christmas vacation.
Vienna, the capital city of Austria, is another destination that often features on the Best Christmas Vacations List. Known for its grand architecture, rich cultural heritage, and festive traditions, Vienna offers a delightful Christmas experience. Here are some reasons why Vienna is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Christmas Markets: Vienna is famous for its enchanting Christmas markets, known as Christkindlmärkte. The most renowned one is located in front of the City Hall, called the Wiener Christkindlmarkt. These markets feature beautifully decorated stalls offering a wide variety of crafts, gifts, and culinary delights, including gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, and glühwein (mulled wine). The aroma of festive treats fills the air, creating a magical atmosphere.
- Decorations and Lights: Vienna gets transformed into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city is adorned with dazzling lights, festive decorations, and giant Christmas trees. The most iconic locations for admiring the decorations include the Graben, Kärntner Strasse, and the Ringstrasse boulevard.
- Classical Music Concerts: Vienna, renowned as the City of Music, hosts a range of special classical music concerts during the holiday season. Concert halls and churches throughout the city showcase performances by renowned orchestras, choirs, and soloists. Attending a Mozart or Strauss concert in Vienna adds a touch of elegance to the Christmas experience.
- Advent Singing: Vienna has a rich choral tradition, and during Advent, many choirs perform special concerts of Christmas carols and sacred music. The melodious voices echoing through the historic churches create a serene and festive ambiance.
- Ice Skating: Vienna offers various ice skating opportunities during Christmas. The ice rink at the Rathausplatz, set against the backdrop of the City Hall, is particularly popular. Skating enthusiasts can enjoy gliding on the ice while surrounded by the beautiful architecture of Vienna.
- Christmas Spectacles: Vienna hosts captivating Christmas events and spectacles. The Belvedere Palace often presents a stunning display of lights, projections, and installations. The Winter Market at the MuseumsQuartier combines art, culture, and culinary delights, creating a unique and festive experience.
- Traditional Treats: Vienna’s patisseries and coffee houses are renowned for their delectable Christmas treats. Indulge in traditional delights like Vanillekipferl (crescent-shaped almond cookies), Lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread), and Sachertorte (famous Viennese chocolate cake).
Vienna’s combination of Christmas markets, festive decorations, classical music, cultural events, and culinary delights make it an exceptional choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s elegance and old-world charm add to the enchanting atmosphere of the holiday season.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico, is a unique and culturally rich destination that offers a distinct Christmas vacation experience. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos boasts stunning natural beauty and a vibrant artistic community. Here are some reasons why Taos is often considered a great choice for a Christmas vacation:
- Traditional Pueblo Christmas Celebrations: Taos is home to the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. During Christmas, the Taos Pueblo holds traditional festivities, including processions, dances, and bonfires. Visitors can witness Native American customs and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the pueblo.
- Luminarias and Farolitos: Taos is known for its enchanting display of luminarias and farolitos during the holiday season. These small paper lanterns are lit with candles and placed along pathways, rooftops, and adobe walls, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Walking through the luminaria-lit streets of Taos is a magical experience.
- Skiing and Winter Sports: Taos is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially during the winter season. Taos Ski Valley offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities for all levels of experience. The region’s beautiful mountain scenery and snowy slopes provide a picturesque backdrop for winter sports activities.
- Festive Arts and Crafts: Taos has a vibrant artistic community, and during Christmas, the town showcases its creative spirit. The Taos Plaza and surrounding galleries feature holiday-themed art exhibitions, craft markets, and special events. Visitors can explore unique and handmade gifts while enjoying the artistic ambiance of the town.
- Cozy Lodging and Fireplaces: Taos offers a range of cozy accommodations, including charming bed and breakfasts and rustic lodges with fireplaces. Enjoying a cup of hot cocoa or relaxing by the fire in a traditional adobe-style room adds to the cozy and festive atmosphere of a Taos Christmas vacation.
- Hot Springs and Relaxation: After a day of outdoor activities, visitors can unwind in the natural hot springs located near Taos. Soaking in the warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by snow-covered landscapes is a rejuvenating experience during the winter season.
- Cultural Events and Performances: Taos hosts various cultural events and performances during the Christmas season. The Taos Center for the Arts and local theaters present holiday-themed plays, concerts, and dance performances, showcasing the region’s artistic talent.
Taos, New Mexico, offers a blend of cultural traditions, outdoor adventure, artistic charm, and relaxation, making it a captivating choice for a Christmas vacation. Whether witnessing the Pueblo celebrations, exploring the arts scene, or enjoying winter sports, Taos provides a unique and memorable holiday experience.
London, the vibrant capital city of England, is a destination that is often featured on the Best Christmas Vacations List. With its rich history, iconic landmarks, and festive atmosphere, London offers a wide range of activities and experiences during the holiday season. Here are some reasons why London is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Christmas Lights and Decorations: London’s streets and landmarks come alive with dazzling lights and festive decorations during Christmas. The most famous displays can be found on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, and Covent Garden. From beautifully lit Christmas trees to elaborate window displays, London’s decorations add a magical touch to the city.
- Winter Wonderland: Hyde Park transforms into a Winter Wonderland during the Christmas season. This popular attraction offers a variety of festive activities, including ice skating, fairground rides, a Christmas market with unique gifts and food stalls, and a giant observation wheel. Winter Wonderland is a hub of entertainment and a must-visit destination for Christmas enthusiasts.
- Christmas Markets: London hosts numerous Christmas markets that provide an array of unique shopping opportunities. The Southbank Centre Winter Market, the Leicester Square Christmas Market, and the Greenwich Market are just a few examples where visitors can find artisan crafts, food stalls, and festive treats.
- Festive Shows and Performances: London’s West End theaters feature a range of festive shows and performances during Christmas. From classic pantomimes to heartwarming musicals, there are entertainment options for all ages and tastes. The Nutcracker ballet performed at the Royal Opera House is a beloved Christmas tradition in London.
- Ice Skating: London offers several picturesque ice skating rinks where visitors can glide across the ice against iconic backdrops. The ice rink at the Natural History Museum, Somerset House, and the Tower of London are popular choices that provide a memorable skating experience in a magical setting.
- Christmas Carols and Services: London’s historic churches, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, hold special Christmas carol services that are open to the public. These services provide an opportunity to experience the joyous atmosphere and listen to beautiful choral performances.
- Festive Dining and Afternoon Tea: London’s restaurants and cafes embrace the Christmas season by offering festive menus and traditional British treats. Indulge in a delicious Christmas feast or enjoy a festive-themed afternoon tea at iconic establishments like The Ritz or Claridge’s.
London’s combination of stunning decorations, festive markets, world-class entertainment, and culinary delights make it an exceptional choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and historical charm create a unique blend of traditions and modern festivities.
New York City
New York City, often referred to as the “Big Apple,” is renowned for its iconic holiday celebrations and is frequently featured on the Best Christmas Vacations List. The city comes alive with festive cheer, dazzling lights, and a myriad of holiday activities. Here are some reasons why New York City is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: The lighting of the massive Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is a beloved annual tradition. The towering tree, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, serves as a symbol of the holiday season in New York City. Visitors can marvel at its beauty, watch ice skaters glide across the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
- Holiday Window Displays: New York City’s famous department stores, such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s, create extravagant window displays during the holiday season. These intricate and imaginative displays attract crowds of onlookers and add to the city’s magical ambiance.
- Radio City Christmas Spectacular: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes, is a legendary holiday show held at the Radio City Music Hall. With high-kicking dancers, stunning costumes, and festive music, this spectacular performance has become a cherished Christmas tradition for many visitors.
- Holiday Markets: New York City is home to several enchanting holiday markets, such as the Union Square Holiday Market, Bryant Park Winter Village, and Columbus Circle Holiday Market. These markets offer a wide array of artisanal crafts, delicious food, and unique gifts, creating a perfect opportunity for holiday shopping.
- Ice Skating: Skating in New York City is a quintessential winter activity. The city boasts several iconic ice rinks, including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Skating amidst the stunning cityscape is an unforgettable experience.
- Holiday Shows and Performances: Broadway theaters in New York City offer a range of festive shows and performances during the Christmas season. From classic productions like “A Christmas Carol” to modern holiday-themed musicals, there are entertainment options for everyone.
- New Year’s Eve in Times Square: While technically after Christmas, New York City’s Times Square is world-famous for its New Year’s Eve celebrations. Watching the iconic ball drop at midnight is an exhilarating experience that draws millions of people from around the world to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one.
New York City’s combination of iconic holiday traditions, stunning decorations, world-class performances, and a contagious festive spirit make it an exceptional choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s energy and grandeur during the holiday season create an atmosphere unlike any other, making it a dream destination for many.
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, offers a charming and festive atmosphere that makes it a delightful destination for a Christmas vacation. Known for its picturesque setting, cultural attractions, and vibrant Christmas markets, Zurich offers a range of experiences during the holiday season. Here are some reasons why Zurich is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Christmas Markets: Zurich is renowned for its enchanting Christmas markets, known as Christkindlimarkt. The most famous market is held in the city’s main train station, known as the Hauptbahnhof, where visitors can find an array of beautifully decorated stalls offering handmade crafts, traditional Swiss treats, and warm drinks like mulled wine. Other popular markets include the Christmas Village in Sechseläutenplatz and the market at Bellevue Square.
- Stunning Decorations: Zurich’s streets and buildings are adorned with festive decorations, creating a magical ambiance throughout the city. From sparkling lights to elaborately decorated Christmas trees, the cityscape becomes a winter wonderland during the holiday season.
- Singing Christmas Tree: Zurich is home to a unique attraction known as the Singing Christmas Tree. Located in Werdmühleplatz, it features a large Christmas tree adorned with a choir of singers who perform festive songs. Visitors can gather around and enjoy the live music in a charming outdoor setting.
- Ice Skating: Several ice rinks pop up across Zurich during Christmas, offering opportunities for visitors to enjoy ice skating. The most popular ice rinks are located at the Dolder Sports complex and the rink in front of the Zurich Opera House, providing a joyful and active experience for all.
- Bahnhofstrasse: Zurich’s famous Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping streets, takes on a special charm during Christmas. It is adorned with elegant decorations, including sparkling lights and festive window displays. Strolling along Bahnhofstrasse offers a luxurious and festive shopping experience.
- Swiss Chocolate: Switzerland is renowned for its delicious chocolate, and Zurich is no exception. Christmas time provides an opportunity to indulge in the delectable Swiss chocolate specialties, including festive truffles, pralines, and seasonal treats. Exploring the city’s chocolate shops and sampling their creations is a must for chocolate lovers.
- Cultural Events and Concerts: Zurich’s cultural scene thrives during Christmas, with a variety of concerts, theatrical performances, and exhibitions taking place. The Zurich Opera House and Tonhalle Orchestra offer special holiday-themed performances, while museums and galleries showcase festive art and exhibitions.
Zurich’s combination of enchanting Christmas markets, festive decorations, winter activities, and cultural events make it an excellent choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s Swiss charm, combined with its lively holiday spirit, creates an atmosphere of warmth and celebration that visitors can immerse themselves in during the holiday season.
Munich, the capital city of Bavaria in Germany, is a fantastic destination for a Christmas vacation. Known for its rich history, charming architecture, and Bavarian traditions, Munich offers a memorable and festive experience during the holiday season. Here are some reasons why Munich is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Christmas Markets: Munich is renowned for its beautiful Christmas markets, known as Christkindlmärkte. The most famous market is the Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz, in the heart of the city. This market features numerous stalls offering traditional crafts, gifts, and delicious food and drinks, such as roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, and glühwein (mulled wine). Other popular markets include the Tollwood Winter Festival and the Christmas Market at the English Garden.
- Festive Decorations: Munich is adorned with festive decorations during Christmas, creating a magical atmosphere. The city center, including Marienplatz, is beautifully decorated with lights, Christmas trees, and ornaments. The famous shopping street, Maximilianstrasse, also features stunning displays and window decorations.
- Christmas Music and Concerts: Munich offers a variety of concerts and music events during the holiday season. The Bavarian State Opera, the Philharmonie am Gasteig, and various churches host special Christmas performances, including classical concerts, choir performances, and traditional Bavarian music.
- Winter Tollwood Festival: The Winter Tollwood Festival takes place at the Theresienwiese, the same location as the Oktoberfest. This multicultural festival features live music, performances, art exhibitions, and an array of international food stalls. It offers a unique blend of entertainment and a festive atmosphere during the Christmas season.
- Ice Skating: Munich has several ice skating rinks that pop up during winter. The most popular one is located in the Olympic Park, where visitors can enjoy ice skating against the backdrop of the iconic Olympic Stadium. Other ice rinks can be found at Karlsplatz/Stachus and in the English Garden.
- Traditional Bavarian Cuisine: Christmas in Munich is an excellent time to savor the region’s delicious Bavarian cuisine. Indulge in hearty dishes like roasted goose, dumplings, sausages, and festive treats like Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Stollen (fruitcake). Many restaurants and beer gardens offer special Christmas menus and traditional Bavarian dishes.
- Winter Sports in the Bavarian Alps: Munich serves as a gateway to the picturesque Bavarian Alps, which offer a range of winter sports activities. Within a short distance from the city, visitors can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and hiking in beautiful alpine surroundings.
Munich’s combination of festive Christmas markets, Bavarian traditions, culinary delights, and cultural events make it an exceptional choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with its rich history and traditions, ensure a joyful and enchanting holiday experience.
Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a captivating destination that offers a unique and charming Christmas vacation experience. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively cultural scene, Edinburgh transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Here are some reasons why Edinburgh is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Edinburgh Christmas Market: The city’s famous Christmas market, located in East Princes Street Gardens, is a highlight of the festive season. The market features a variety of stalls offering crafts, gifts, and delicious food and drinks. Visitors can enjoy traditional Scottish fare, mulled wine, and treats like gingerbread and roasted chestnuts. The market also hosts a festive carnival with rides and attractions.
- Christmas Lights and Decorations: Edinburgh’s streets and landmarks are adorned with beautiful lights and decorations during Christmas. The Royal Mile, Princes Street, and George Street are particularly enchanting, with their sparkling lights and festive displays. The iconic Edinburgh Castle is often illuminated, creating a stunning backdrop for the holiday celebrations.
- Ice Skating: Edinburgh boasts a few outdoor ice rinks where visitors can enjoy ice skating in a picturesque setting. The ice rink in East Princes Street Gardens offers panoramic views of the city, while the ice rink at St. Andrew Square is surrounded by charming festive decorations.
- Christmas Shows and Performances: The city’s vibrant arts scene comes alive during Christmas, with a variety of shows and performances taking place. The Edinburgh Festival Theatre, the Usher Hall, and the Playhouse Theatre present festive productions, concerts, and ballet performances, including the popular “The Nutcracker” ballet.
- Hogmanay Festival: Although technically after Christmas, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival is a world-famous New Year’s celebration that draws visitors from all over the globe. The festival includes street parties, live music, fireworks, and traditional Scottish customs, creating an unforgettable New Year’s experience.
- Festive Walks and Tours: Edinburgh’s historic streets and landmarks take on a special charm during Christmas. Visitors can take guided walks or tours to explore the city’s history and festive traditions. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and the charming Dean Village are particularly captivating during the holiday season.
- Festive Dining and Traditional Scottish Cuisine: Edinburgh’s restaurants and pubs embrace the holiday season by offering special Christmas menus and traditional Scottish dishes. Visitors can indulge in hearty fare like haggis, neeps, and tatties, as well as festive treats like cranachan and shortbread.
Edinburgh’s blend of festive markets, stunning decorations, cultural events, and traditional Scottish charm make it a fantastic choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with its rich heritage and captivating scenery, ensure a magical and unforgettable holiday experience.
Amsterdam, the vibrant capital city of the Netherlands, is a charming and lively destination that offers a delightful Christmas vacation experience. Known for its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and cultural attractions, Amsterdam embraces the festive spirit during the holiday season. Here are some reasons why Amsterdam is considered one of the best Christmas vacation destinations:
- Amsterdam Light Festival: The city comes alive with enchanting light installations during the Amsterdam Light Festival, held from late November to mid-January. The festival showcases illuminated artworks placed along the canals, creating a magical atmosphere as visitors stroll along the waterways.
- Christmas Markets: Amsterdam hosts several festive Christmas markets, offering a range of unique gifts, crafts, and delicious food and drinks. The most popular market is the Winter Village at the Museumplein, where visitors can enjoy ice skating, browse the stalls, and savor traditional Dutch treats. Other notable markets include the Funky Xmas Market and the Pure Winter Market.
- Ice Skating: Amsterdam offers several outdoor ice rinks during Christmas, providing a fun and active experience for visitors. The most iconic ice rink can be found at the Museumplein, surrounded by the city’s renowned museums and festive decorations. Ice skating is also available at other locations, such as Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein.
- Festive Canal Cruises: Exploring Amsterdam’s picturesque canals is a popular activity, and during Christmas, special festive canal cruises are offered. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely boat ride while admiring the city’s illuminated bridges, buildings, and floating Christmas decorations.
- Winter Wonder Weeks: Amsterdam’s Winter Wonder Weeks feature various events and activities, including live performances, music, theater, and exhibitions. The Royal Concertgebouw and the Dutch National Opera and Ballet host special Christmas concerts and ballet performances, adding to the cultural richness of the city.
- Dutch Christmas Cuisine: Amsterdam’s restaurants and cafes embrace the holiday season by offering traditional Dutch Christmas dishes and festive menus. Visitors can indulge in specialties such as oliebollen (deep-fried dough balls), speculaas (spiced cookies), and kerststol (a festive sweet bread with dried fruit and marzipan).
- Festive Shopping: Amsterdam’s diverse shopping scene offers an array of opportunities for Christmas shopping. From famous department stores like De Bijenkorf to charming boutique shops in neighborhoods like the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes), visitors can find unique gifts, designer items, and Dutch souvenirs.
Amsterdam’s combination of illuminated canals, festive markets, cultural events, and delicious cuisine make it an excellent choice for a memorable Christmas vacation. The city’s unique charm, combined with its welcoming atmosphere and artistic spirit, create a joyful and enchanting holiday experience.