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Christmas is a great time to travel with your family. Most places around the world seem to come alive in a whole knew way during the holidays. So even if you’ve been somewhere before, you feel like you’re in a whole new world during Christmas. Everyone has a different opinion on where is the best places to go for Christmas, but I’ve put together a list of places I’ve personally been or places I’ve been told I NEED to visit.
Best Places to Spend Christmas Around the World
When most people think of Christmas they think of buying presents. And maybe that’s in a department store. But you should experience the magical Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market), in Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. With over 180 stalls offering toys, trinkets, candles, gingerbread and sweets to shoppers warmed by sizzling bratwurst and mulled wine you will definitely feel the Christmas spirit. Visit after dark, when the colored lights create an amazing fairy-tale feel that will bring you back to your childhood.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Christmas in Tokyo is a fairy-lit sight to behold. Traditionally, celebrating New Years is more important in Japan than Christmas because Japan is not Christian but the non-religious aspect of Christmas means over-the-top decorations and lights. Tokyo turns the voltage up each year with its winter illuminations, with different districts competing with each other to create some truly sensational displays. While the lead-up is dazzling, Christmas Day itself is a fizzer as it’s not a holiday. Christmas Eve is the big deal, resembling Valentine’s Day in activity — a night for couples and romance. Christmas meals in Japan mean fried chicken from KFC (yes you read that right) followed by sponge cake topped with cream and strawberries. You can read more about Christmas in Japan in the next few days!
See our list of the best places to visit in Japan in Winter for more ideas.
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is like a picture-perfect Christmas card. There is something extra special about Edinburgh during the festive season. The streets are laced with markets, parties pop up everywhere, indescribable seasonal aromas are around each corner, and spirits are high.
4. Santa Claus Village, Finland
In Finland’s Arctic Circle. The jolly man in the red suit is this neighborhood’s most famous resident. Still, the deep wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests go a long way toward off-setting the touristy atmosphere, though there’s an amusement park called Santa Park not far from the village. You’ll need deep pockets, but you’d have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile.
5. New York City
I’m sure you know what Christmas in the Big Apple looks like, thanks to countless movies: Christmas lights, cheesy music, preferably a light dusting of snow. The world’s tallest Christmas tree is lit at the Rockefeller Center in early December. Ice skating below it is a must for wintertime visitors, as is checking out the window displays in New York’s largest department stores. You can round of your trip with a performance of “The Nutcracker.”
6. Sydney, Australia
You haven’t seen Christmas lights until you’ve seen Sydney’s Christmas lights. Plus, the holiday season lasts an entire month herewith “Sydney Christmas,” an aptly named festival taking place from November 24 through December 25. The celebrations start with a tree lighting at Martin Place and continue with Christmas markets and nightly concerts.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
The Christmas markets in Prague are some of the best in the world and run a full month, with locals and travelers passing through for a bit of mulled wine, sticky pastries, and roasted ham. The main markets take place in the Old Town and Wenceslas Squares, just five minutes apart by foot—and set to the backdrop of some of the best Gothic architecture around.
8. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is Europe’s best-preserved medieval city. It radiates charm year-round, but is especially charming during the holidays. It’s hard to imagine a place more magical as you wander the cobblestone streets, admire the shimmering lights, and warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in cafes.
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavík shines on the streets and in the sky in December. Strings of glinting Christmas bulbs illuminate the city during its very long nights; and on the clearest evenings, the Northern Lights can be seen from the city’s darker streets.
10. Rome, Italy
The streets around town will be festively alight, sure, but the home to the seat of Catholicism is an excellent option for folks seeking a more sacrosanct Christmas experience.
And that’s our list! Let us know if we should add anything to our list for the future!
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