10 Best Places to Visit at Christmas

quebec city christmas photoPhoto by Bruno Lévêque

What better way to get into the festive spirit than with a last-minute getaway to somewhere picturesque for a Christmas adventure? From winter wonderlands to fairytale villages; here’s the top places to get Christmassy this season.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn Christmas photo
Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

The medieval Old Town of Tallinn is beautiful year round, but at Christmas, it transforms into something truly special. The UNESCO-protected streets are straight out of an old romance, with enchanting narrow lanes and cobbled pathways lit up for the season. Raekoja Plats, the Town Hall Square, is lined with small wooden huts and old-world streets lamps, and through each doorway there are local sellers offering hand-made gifts and traditional produce to pick up for your stocking fillers. A gigantic Christmas tree rises from the centre of the square sparkling against the backdrop of freshly powdered snow throughout the month. Of course, Tallinn’s Christmas Market is worth wandering; authentic unique gifts and warming Estonian food and drinks sold from classic wooden stalls. Perhaps not an primarily an obvious choice for everybody but charming Tallinn should be top of your list this Christmas.

New York City, USA

New York Christmas photo
Photo by JMS2

There’s a reason New York is the setting for so many of festive films. Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone 2, Elf, Scrooged; they all recognise the unsurpassed Christmas spirit that flows through the Big Apple. Visit the famous tree at the Rockerfellar Centre and go ice skating. Wander the winter wonderland of Central Park or any of the charming markets dotted throughout the city. Make the most of the fashion capital of the world and shop for all your presents, checking out the magical window displays as you go. See a Christmas show on Broadway or one of the big city theatres. There is literally too much to do in New York at Christmas so you’ll never run out of festive activities. Our top recommendation would be to see the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: every year the residents of Dyker Heights Brooklyn decorate their homes with elaborate light displays that match Whoville’s dazzling displays. Some houses are decorated professionally and cost up to $20,000, so it’s worth the trip to see the area in all its Christmas glory.

Rome, Italy

rome Christmas photo
Photo by Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com)

Rome brings to mind summer getaways not festive trips in the colder climate. However, the city is a top place to visit at Christmas as the strong presence of faith and tradition here make the city buzzing with festive activities. The colder climate and lesser crowds make it a perfect time to wander the ancient city and take in its iconic sights. The architecture provides a stunning backdrop for the sparkling lights and in particular the Christmas Tree in Saint Peter’s Square is a must-see. This year, with the Pope holding environmental issues at heart, the 21-metre high tree will even have energy-saving lights. Make sure you try Panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas cake, and if possible get tickets to the Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica – it is bucket list worthy.

Reykjavik, Iceland

reykjavik northern lights photo
Photo by FlickrdeChato

Iceland’s dark days and relentless snow makes it a winter wonderland. The small city is thriving with an amazing atmosphere throughout the day as people pick up local gifts or head out on tours, and at night in bars lit up with sparkling lights and the sound of live music. Iceland Christmas traditions are fascinating: leading up to the big day the thirteen Yule Lads come down from the mountains to visit people in their homes. Find out more about the local traditions in the museums and by wandering the streets adorned with elegant decorations. Go ice skating in the main square, head out on a trip to see some of Iceland’s spectacular landscape, and try and catch the Northern Lights dancing in the sky above the snow-capped mountains.

Nuremberg, Germany

nuremberg Christmas photo
Photo by charley1965

Nuremberg is a city in the northern Bavaria region of Germany. It’s historic beauty comes from the medieval architecture of the old town and the striking Kaiserburg castle. There’s no better time to visit Nuremberg than during the Christmas season, when the city looks like it’s been take straight out of a fairytale book. It’s home to one of the oldest and most spectacular Christmas markets in the world and celebrates the festive traditions like nowhere else. The stalls offer everything from lebkuchen (famous local gingerbread) to handmade candles and decorations. Famed for its history of toy making, Nuremberg is also wonderfully kid friendly and the city’s Toy Museum is fantastic to visit during this period.

Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen Christmas photo
Photo by Thomas Rousing Photography

Like anything in Scandinavia, Christmas is at its most stylish in Copenhagen. The legendary Danish coziness ‘hygge’ and the inventive contemporary design of the locals make a stunning combination for a festive trip. The entire city radiates a special atmosphere, with bright lights and bustling markets, but still manages to keep its laid-back vibe. Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest theme park in the world, is transformed during the season with spectacular light displays and a packed calendar full of entertainment. Walk through the iconic district Nyhavn, visit the Christmas markets and even take part in the Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas table tradition – an annual event featuring six designer Christmas tables with individual stories. With any luck, there’ll even be drops of snow in the city this Christmas.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende isn’t everyone’s first choice when it comes to Christmas travel, but that’s mainly because they don’t know how big its festive celebrations are. Located in Mexico’s central highlands, this colonial-era city is stunning, with a historic cobblestoned centre and and famous Neo-Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel church rising from the other traditional buildings. The amazing thing about Christmas in Mexico is that it’s a giant celebration of parties, parades, food, dancing, music and tradition. As in the rest of Mexico, posadas take place evening of the nine days preceding Christmas. Candle-lit processions move through the different neighbourhoods with musicians, animals and singing. There is literally a party every night in San Miguel de Allende, making it perfect for those who love the spirit of Christmas and experiencing something a little different from their own culture.

Rovaniemi, Lapland

lapland photo

Rovaniemi is quickly becoming one of people’s favourite destinations at Christmas. It’s guaranteed sparkling snow, dense forest with brightly lit trees, elaborate ice sculptures, and, of course, Santa Clause in very close proximity. The vibrant Santa Clause village is like a picture of the North Pole. Plus, there’s snowmobile safaris, reindeer, husky rides, and Northern Lights tours, making it an ideal destination for groups with a big age range,

Quebec City, Canada

quebec city christmas photo
Photo by Bruno Lévêque

With its cobblestone streets and picturesque snowy surroundings, Quebec City is a beautiful Christmas setting. The 400-year-old walled city is lined with twinkling lights, decorations and a traditional market selling roast chestnuts and other festive treats. There’s also a giant exposition of nativity scenes from around the world, and plenty of shops and incredible restaurants to enjoy. The nearby Sentier des Caps de Charveloix offers hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and other winter activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Quebec City offers a harmony of cosy indoor chills and snowy outdoor adventure.

Malta

malta christmas photo
Photo by ChristSim
Voted number 1 for a Christmas vacation by CNN Traveler this year, Malta is alive with the spirit of Christmas. The visiting presepju, or nativity scenes, are displayed by residents across the entire islands. The Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem is particularly spectacular: a life-size nativity spread over 2,000 square metres of fields. Over 15o actors, including entire families, bring the nativity scene to life and take you on a journey through time with oil lamps, animals, folklore, storytelling, crafts, and a grotto with baby Jesus. It’s a unique way to celebrate Christmas. If you’re there at the right time, try to catch a show of the Christmas pantomime at the Manoel Theatre which is perfect for the whole family.
Here’s some holiday essentials for your trip away:

Miu Miu Contemporary Cateye Glasses

MU 50RV Glasses in Pale Gold Ivory Blue
MU 50RV Glasses in Pale Gold Ivory Blue by Miu Miu

Miu Miu, Prada’s so-called little sister brand, create eyewear infused with the chic Italian glamour but each of their designs is also always completely quirky. Miu Miu takes the timeless cateye design and transforms it, with pale gold metal wings complete with blue wingtip detailing.

Timeless Round Levi’s Glasses

Metal Round Glasses in Gold
Metal Round Glasses in Gold

Round metal glasses are timeless. The simple sophistication they bring to everyday wear makes them a top choice every season. Levi’s bring a slight twist to the style, with a black front frame adding an extra bold finish.

These glasses are also in our special Christmas sale at only £20. In the Festive Spirit we’re offering free delivery right up until after Christmas, with Free UK Next Working Day delivery on all orders over £50 so you can get a pair in time for your last-minute getaway.