16 Best Places to Visit in December

December brings crisp air, festive events, and the perfect weather for exploring some of the world’s top destinations. As approaches, start planning your perfect December vacation to experience seasonal magic across the globe. These 10 spots promise holiday wonder for travelers seeking everything from beachside relaxation to winter thrills. Table of Contents Show 1 Best…

16 Best Places to Visit in December [year]

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December brings crisp air, festive events, and the perfect weather for exploring some of the world’s top destinations. As 2025 approaches, start planning your perfect December vacation to experience seasonal magic across the globe. These 10 spots promise holiday wonder for travelers seeking everything from beachside relaxation to winter thrills.

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Best Places to Visit in December

1. New York City, USA

New York City, USA

December turns iconic New York City into a true winter wonderland. Between the twinkling holiday lights and festive events, the city sparkles with seasonal magic.

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Take in the Famed Holiday Decorations

Famed Holiday Decorations

New York decks itself out to impress each December. Catch a glimpse of the massive Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center with its thousands of lights.

Gaze at the holiday window displays along Fifth Avenue, especially the magical scenes at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

The light shows at Saks Fifth Avenue and at Dyker Heights Brooklyn glow with over-the-top holiday cheer. Don’t miss the menorah lighting for Hanukkah in Grand Army Plaza either.

Experience Festive Events

Rockefeller Center

December overflows with events to put you in the holiday spirit. Attend Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular” featuring the high-kicking Rockettes.

Ice skate at one of the city’s outdoor rinks like the one at Rockefeller Center or at the Winter Village at Bryant Park while sipping hot chocolate.

Watch or join the crowds cheering on runners at the TCS New York City Marathon. Celebrate the season along with locals at annual parades like the New York SantaCon Pub Crawl or the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Indulge in Seasonal Treats

The Big Apple tantalizes taste buds with sweet and savory holiday eats in December. Warm up with a hot pretzel or chestnuts from an NYC street cart.

Try the holiday desserts popping up on menus, like the pumpkin pie cannoli at Caffé Palermo or the Christmas Morning Cocktail with eggnog and peppermint at Baker & Co Steakhouse.

Book a spot at pop-up Christmas-themed bars like Miracle on Ninth or Sippin’ Santa serving festive cocktails. You can’t leave the city without trying the famous holiday window display treats too, like the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity-3.

2. Lapland, Finland

Lapland, Finland

 

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Surround yourself with Christmas magic by heading north to the wintry wonderland of Lapland. Family-friendly adventures, holiday markets, and maybe even a chance to meet Santa Claus himself make this a perfect December destination.

Meet Santa in His Hometown

According to Finnish folklore, Santa Claus lives with his elves and reindeer above the Arctic Circle in Lapland. Get into the holiday spirit by visiting the Santa Claus Village theme park on the edge of Rovaniemi to meet Joulupukin (or Santa Claus in Finnish) as he greets guests from his house.

Don’t forget to explore Santa Park, a subterranean theme park, or mail a letter from Santa’s Main Post Office where he receives wishes from children across the globe.

Ride Through a Snowy Forest on a Reindeer Sleigh

Ride Through a Snowy Forest on a Reindeer Sleigh

Glide through snow-covered woods the traditional way by riding in a sleigh pulled by Santa’s own reindeer. Reindeer safaris take you high up into the hills surrounding Rovaniemi for magical views as you dash through the snow.

For reindeer connections year-round, stop by the Ranua Wildlife Park to visit and even feed friendly captive reindeer.

Watch the Northern Lights Dance Across the Arctic Sky

December presents prime viewing for the dazzling northern lights with long nights and clear skies. Take an aurora safari via snowmobile or minibus away from the city lights to increase odds of glimpsing the otherworldly display.

For your best shot at seeing the show, splurge on a night or two at the glass-roofed Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Rovaniemi offering wraparound views as the aurora borealis lights up the heavens above.

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

December summer heat makes an ideal backdrop for Rio’s vibrant energy and famous beaches. Soak up the lively atmosphere leading up to Rio’s world-famous Carnival happening in late February.

Party at Carnival-Style Blocos

Party at Carnival-Style Blocos

Get a taste of Carnival early by joining the crowd at street parties called blocos. At these boisterous parades, costumed musicians beat drums while dancers whirl to samba rhythms.

Spontaneous dancing often breaks out amidst the thousands of attendees strolling the route. Some of the most popular blocos happen along streets in the historic Santa Teresa neighborhood.

Sunbathe on World-Famous Beaches

Famous coastline dots glittering Guanabara Bay inviting endless lounging under the warm summer sun. The 4-kilometer-long Copacabana features golden sand backed by high-rise hotels, sidewalk cafes, and oceanside walking paths.

Nearby Ipanema Beach offers excellent people-watching thanks to its status as Rio’s hippest stretch of sand. Watch locals play volleyball, soak up the scene from a rental chair, or sip coconut water beachside.

Party at New Year’s on Copacabana

Party at New Year’s on Copacabana

Rio rings in 2023 with one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties centered on Copacabana Beach. Over two million dressed-in-white revelers pack the coastline for free concerts and fireworks shows around midnight.

Arrive early to claim a spot and stay late to keep the festivities going into the early hours. The crowd may seem overwhelming but the electric energy promises an unforgettable way to welcome the New Year.

4. Prague, Czechia

Prague Czechia

December brings enchanting Old World holiday charm to already picturesque Prague. Wintry weather adds extra magic as colorful architecture pops against snowy backgrounds and cheery markets line lively public squares.

Wander Through Festive Christmas Markets

Fill up on hot wine, roasted ham, and trdelník pastries as you browse Prague’s charming Christmas markets. One of the most popular and traditional, Old Town Square hosts over 50 wooden huts selling holiday gifts, ornaments, and decorations from early December through early January.

For magnificent castle views while shopping, climb to Stare Mesto’s hilltop to explore Hradcany Square’s market.

Marvel at Historic Architecture on a Winter’s Night

Historic Architecture on a Winter’s Night

Prague’s astonishingly preserved medieval core looks like something from a fairytale dusted in snow and lit by lampposts.

Cross Karlův most (Charles Bridge) under twinkling lights for picture-perfect views of Prague Castle perched over the Vltava’s banks.

Wind through narrow cobblestone lanes to emerge onto Old Town Square under the towering, 14th-century Old Town Hall’s astrological clock.

Catch a Show at a Christmas Concert or Ballet

Spend an afternoon immersed in holiday music or dance with Prague’s array of festive performances. Attend an instrumental concert at one of the city’s ornate churches, like St. Nicholas Church in Malá Strana, for classics like Handel’s Messiah or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

For a touch of theater, watch the Nutcracker Suite or similarly themed show at a venue like the National Theatre or State Opera House.

5. Vienna, Austria

December shines on regal Vienna with brightly lit trees, charming markets showcasing Austrian treats, and festive balls perfect for dancing away snowy nights.

Indulge in Holiday Sweets & Pastries

Indulge in Holiday Sweets & Pastries

Tempting sweets fill bakery windows for the holiday season in a city already famous for its imperial pastries and coffeehouses.

Try festive specialties like lebkuchen (gingerbread), vanilla crescents, chocolate tortes, mulled wine, hot chocolate, and eggnog. Before you leave, don’t forget to pick out a richly iced holiday cake like the traditional sachertorte chocolate cake or kranzkuchen ring cake.

Twirl Through a Sparkling Imperial Ball

Twirl Through a Sparkling Imperial Ball

Get swept up in Vienna’s glittering ball season running from November through February. Ball season peaks on New Year’s Eve with the biggest event being the opulent Imperial Ball at Hofburg Palace.

Attendees don period costume as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra accompanies hours of whirling waltzes. For a taste of a traditional public ball without buying full tickets, pop by to watch professional dancers glide across the polished dance floors.

Sing Along with a Vienna Boys’ Choir Concert

Hear young voices ring through stunning sanctuaries during one of over 300 December concerts performed by the famed Vienna Boys’ Choir each year. Dating from the 13th century, the choir carries forward medieval traditions of boys singing sacred songs during the Advent season.

Attend their Christmas & Advent Concert at either the Hofburgkapelle (Imperial Chapel) decorated lavishly for the holidays or the medieval Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) in the city center.

6. Quebec City, Canada

December holiday magic overtakes Quebec City when German-style Christmas markets pop up, snow glitters atop 17th century buildings, and festive lights glow across the city.

Shop Local Handicrafts at German-Style Marché de Noël Holiday Markets

Shop Local Handicrafts at German-Style Marché de Noël Holiday Markets

Québec Scandinave vibes shine through at the city’s handful of festive open-air Marché de Noël (Christmas Market) pop-ups open from late November into December.

Modeled off the traditional German-style, these outdoor markets fill wooden chalet stalls with local culinary treats and artisanal products from mittens to soaps to maple candy while shoppers huddle around firepits and nibble hot sandwiches.

Ice Skate at Place D’Youville Outdoor Rink

Ice Skate at Place D’Youville Outdoor Rink

Lace up your skates for a few frosty loops around downtown’s free outdoor rink near Old Québec’s 18th-century historic district.

Twinkling string lights reflecting off the ice makes Place D’Youville a scenic option for skating day or night against a backdrop of gorgeous French colonial architecture. Skate rentals available onsite make the rink easily accessible for visiting guests too.

See Neighborhoods Glow During the Festival of Lights

From late November into January, Le Festival des Lumières brightens dark nights across 11 neighborhoods glittering with over 700,000 sparkling lights and decorations.

Walk, drive, or catch a horse-drawn carriage ride to view creative light installations along designated routes like giant candles lining narrow Saint-Jean-Baptiste, neon reindeer prancing across Limoilou, or the traditional crystal-covered tree in Place de l’Université du Québec.

7. Marrakesh, Morocco

December brings cooler weather, thinner crowds, and plenty of holiday cheer to Marrakesh without dampening its vibrant energy.

Dive into Moroccan Christmas traditions with cookie workshops or chase winter chill away sipping mint tea inside cozy riads.

Bake Moroccan Christmas Cookies

Roll up your sleeves for a hands-on baking session to make perfect chewy ghriba cookies, an integral part of Moroccan Christmas celebrations.

Workshops through companies like Traveling Spoon or with local nonprofits like Al invalid teach how to properly stir together traditions of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures into rich honey-drenched cookies. Once finished, package up plenty of the treats to share the holiday spirit at home.

Wander Through the Jemaa el Fna Square Market

Wander Through the Jemaa el Fna Square Market

Weave through narrow lanes crammed with booths and food stalls at Marrakesh’s main market around Djemaa El Fna Square.

The spot buzzes with street performers, musicians, henna artists and some of the best street food options in the city ready to satisfy those drawn in by mouthwatering aromas of grilling kebabs, simmering tagines or sizzling snail stands.

Admire Intricate Architecture of Ancient Riads

Architecture of Ancient Riads

Step back in time by stepping through ornately carved doors into riads, traditional Moroccan mansions built around interior courtyards.

Striking details like colorful geometric tiles, carved stucco panels, and gurgling central fountains showcase why these private residences served as architectural inspiration for scores of restaurants and hotels.

For the ultimate riad stay, book a room at Relais de Marrakech nestled inside a 400-year-old palace for a December 2023 opening.

8. Barbados

Easygoing luxury and stunning scenery make Barbados a heavenly holiday getaway for unwinding on sugar-soft sands or reveling late into the night.

With festivities aplenty but fewer visitors in December, now is the perfect time to explore this Eastern Caribbean island gem.

Lounge poolside at a Ritzy Beachfront Resort

Ritzy Beachfront Resort

Claim a prime poolside chaise lounge at an oceanfront resort along the island’s platinum west coast strip to soak up panoramic Caribbean views framed by swaying palms.

New hotspot The Sound at O2 Beach Club woos jetsetting guests with infinity pool vibes, cabana dining, and DJ beats bumping into the night.

Mingle with locals during Happy Hour at old school favorite The Crane Resort perched dramatically atop an actual sandstone crane cliff.

Savor Bajan Cuisine from Fine Dining to Street Food

Savor Bajan Cuisine from Fine Dining to Street Food

In Bridgetown’s dynamic food scene, tuck into dishes that riff on native Bajan flavors starting with the national staple of flying fish alongside rum cocktails of course.

Splurge on a multicourse tasting menu from star chef Damian Leach at his newly opened Dishers restaurant space celebrating Caribbean cuisine.

For cheaper, more casual options, queue up to snack on fish cakes and pudding & souse from food trucks clustered around Cheapside Market or in Pelican Village.

Celebrate Barbados-Style During Crop Over Festival Events

While the raucous summer Crop Over Festival culminates in August on Grand Kadooment Day, Crop Over-themed fetes pop up year-round and especially come December.

The popular annual Barbados Reggae Festival dominates mid-December with concerts from reggae icons new and old happening across Bridgetown.

J’Ouvert-style jump-ups bring Carnival energy via steel pan bands, riders on decorated mobility scooters, and plenty of rum libations no matter the season too.

9. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town glitters Exceptionally bright during December celebrations making it an ideal time to soak up vibrant culture against gorgeous harbor views.

Partake in seaside soirees or escapes further inland to the Cape Winelands rolling vineyards nearby.

Toast The New Year at a Festival Across Town

Tens of thousands descend upon the V&A Waterfront to ring in 2023 during Cape Town’s mega open-air party featuring multiple live concert stages, DJ performances, food stalls and dazzling fireworks at midnight.

Or escape to Camps Bay for luxe dining and Champagne toasts with a front-row seat to watch fireworks explode over the Atlantic.

The next day, keep the festivities flowing by joining one of Cape Town’s lively, wonderfully wacky New Year’s Day carnivals like the Cape Minstrel one.

Sip Superb Cabernets in the Cape Winelands

Sip Superb Cabernets in the Cape Winelands

Cape Town rates as one of South Africa’s premier wine destinations thanks to the nearby Cape Winelands region’s 150 vineyards cultivating superb cabernets, syrahs and pinotages.

Boutique winemakers around Stellenbosch pour generous glasses for tastings and Franschhoek’s spectacular scenery supplies the stuff of daydreams.

Come December, vines heavy with ripe grapes paint the valleys in lush emerald green making especially Instagrammable backdrops for winery visits.

Plunge Into the Atlantic From the Sea Point Promenade

Cape Town knows how to celebrate summer by living life along its gorgeous seafront promenades whether letting loose at a seaside soiree or cooling down with a quick dip in the Atlantic.

From Sea Point’s paved walkway, watch women in bright head wraps and bold patterned fabric skirts gather to dance and drum to lively Afro-beats.

When ready to take the plunge, descend the prom’s built-in stone stairs leading right to the coolest waters around.

10. Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Skip chilly northern hemisphere Decembers by heading Down Under to sunny Sydney instead. Weather stays mild, and festivities center around Christmas in the summer heat making for an unforgettable holiday season.

Catch Surf and Sun on Iconic Beaches

Sydney, Australia

Famous golden stretches of sand like Bondi Beach and Manly Beach turn lively but relatively uncrowded in December, especially on workdays.

Learn to surf excellent breaks from instructors who promise first-timers can pop right up thanks to summer swells. Or simply stake out a patch of sand for lounging beachside while watching the pounding blue waves. Don’t forget sun protection though, as UV rays can still burn bright.

Ogle Over-the-Top Light Displays

Sydneysiders love to decorate, throwing massive amounts of energy and huge light installations into events like Vivid Sydney’s Lights Walk along the harbor tracing creative neon outlines onto bridge pylons and opera house sails.

Grab attention in The Rocks by the 30-meter-high Christmas tree dressed by over 100,000 lights synchronized to a continuous dance music soundtrack.

Topping it all, the Pitt Street Mall Christmas Tree dazzles as the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest at over 102 feet.

Experience an Aussie Christmas

December 25th falls in Australia’s summer months allowing Santa Claus to swap his sleigh for Santa surfing images instead. Christmas BBQs shift the holiday meal from hot roasts to chilled seafood spreads.

Rather than bundling up for snowball fights, locals head for the beach making Bondi an iconic Christmas Day spot for surfing competitions and informal outdoor family lunches overlooking the ocean. After, walk off the prawns and lamington cake while gawking at incredible residential light displays.

11. Phuket, Thailand

 Phuket, Thailand

December brings cooler weather and lower humidity to this exotic island in the Andaman Sea, making it ideal for relaxing and exploring.

Powder-soft sands, warm turquoise waters full of colorful marine life, and lush jungle-covered limestone peaks set the scene for a tropical getaway.

Lounge on World Famous Patong Beach

Soak up sunshine on popular Patong Beach stretching over 3 kilometers long with silky sand. Parasails dotting vibrant blue skies out over the water add to lively resort town energy.

Refuel beachside at open-air restaurants dishing up fresh seafood along Bangla Road’s atmospheric walking street behind the shoreline.

Snorkel or Dive the Similan Islands

Snorkel or Dive the Similan Islands

Venture offshore to explore the dazzling undersea world of the Similan Islands marine national park where rare manta rays glide through the waters from December to February.

Book a sailing tour for hassle-free transportation out across the smooth Andaman Sea waters to try snorkeling among colorful corals or opt for scuba diving vibrant reefs.

Jungle Trek to Hidden Bang Pae Waterfall

Trade beach lounging for jungle trekking through Khao Phra Thaeo National Park to reach this secluded waterfall and pool perfect for swimming located in the island’s verdant interior.

The trail crosses through emerald rainforest below towering limestone cliffs before opening up to reveal Bang Pae waterfall’s pristine pool shimmering down a sheer rock face.

12. Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, Thailand

December offers Thai island hoppers a lively atmosphere and drier weather for exploring Krabi’s iconic coastal landscapes like golden Phi Phi Islands beaches framed by jungle-covered limestone towers.

Kayak Sea Caves Around Railay Beach

Paddle a kayak through this slice of turquoise paradise to discover sea caves full of stalactites dangling overhead around stunning Railay Beach, only accessible by boat. Watch locals expertly steer boards over barreling waves in preparation for the King’s Cup, an international longboarding competition happening on Christmas Day.

Scale Phi Phi Viewpoint’s Steep Stair Trail

Trek 400+ steps straight up to soak in unreal panoramic views stretching from Phi Phi’s archipelago of six islands scattered across azure Andaman Sea waters all the way to the rocky mainland.

Snap that perfect vacation shot then make the careful walk back down to where longboats stand ready to taxi back those ready to put feet back down in the sand.

13. French Alps, France

French Alps, France

Ski some of Europe’s top resorts amid gorgeous alpine settings decorated like winter wonderlands once December snows hit. Apres ski by crackling fireplaces and sample Savoyard fare before cozying up under down duvets.

Carve Powdery Slopes in Val Thorens

Carve Powdery Slopes in Val Thorens

As part of Les Trois Vallées interconnected ski domains, Val Thorens offers access to over 600 kilometers of trails ranging from gentle beginner runs to steep mogul fields.

Come December, early winter snow transforms the tree lined slopes and chestnut chalet village into a true winter wonderland.

Feast on Fondue and Raclette

Warm up après ski by gathering around a table for classics of Savoyard cuisine from the French Alps region. Dip crusty bread cubes into a pot of melted cheese for fondue, or let melted cheese from a half wheel of raclette ooze over hearty boiled potatoes. Pair with charcuterie, pickles and local white wines.

14. U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands

Escape winter’s grip by fleeing to balmy Caribbean warmth across these three sun-soaked islands ringed by coral reefs in gorgeous shades of blue and green.

Snorkel Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas

Encircling St. Thomas, glittering Magens Bay impresses visitors with heart-shaped stretch of powdery white sand lapped by crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling. Come December, chances increase to spot magnificent sea turtles nibbling seagrass sprouting across the bay’s flat sandy bottom in shallower areas.

Hike Sage Mountain on St. Croix

This St. Croix highpoint towering over 1,500 feet offers superb panoramic views across two thirds of the island from its summit. Beat the heat by tackling the scenic two-hour hiking trail early. With sparse vegetation, scaling the steep slopes promises seriously scenic rewards year-round.

15. Cancun, Mexico

Cancun, Mexico

December entices Cancun visitors with balmy Caribbean breezes under sunny blue skies, perfect for reveling in resort relaxation or venturing inland to immerse in ancient Mayan history.

Marvel at Chichen Itza’s Archaeological Wonders

One of Mexico’s most famed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, magnificent pyramids, observatories and temples date from 600–1200 AD throughout this complex considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Come early when visitor numbers thin for prime Instagramming during the popular biannual equinox light display.

Swim with Whale Sharks Off Isla Holbox

These gentle giants glide through the waters surrounding Isla Holbox north of Cancun from mid-May through September. But come December, the last of the 30-40 foot whale sharks may still be spotted snacking on plankton. Local tour operators lead expeditions involving incredible up-close encounters with these incredible creatures.

16. Maldives

Maldives

December invites indulging in every oceanfront luxury the Maldives have to offer thanks to peak season weather and holiday revelry. Trade chilling temperatures for bath-like ocean waters and breathtaking overwater bungalow views.

Sip Sunset Cocktails Above Water Villas

Sip Sunset Cocktails Above Water Villas

Perched over impossibly blue lagoons, water villas at resorts like Hurawalhi Island feature glass cutouts in floor panels for gazing down at sea life. When the sun sinks closer to the horizon, head up to rooftop restaurants for festive cocktails alongside panoramic ocean vistas.

Feast on the Bounty of the Indian Ocean

The Maldives bountiful surroundings both above and below the sea shine on plates at restaurants like S.O.S. at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort. Sit outdoors to sample just-caught snapper or tuna done up flavored by regional spices amidst gently swaying palms.

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