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10 Best Countries to Visit in December

The best places to go on a winter vacation in December

December is the twelfth month of the year and, in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter; it is also the celebration month for Christmas and New Year's Eve. Now is the best time to tour the world as most places are vivid due to the Christmas celebrations. If you want to travel in December, here are the 10 best countries you should consider:

1. Austria

It is difficult to explain Austrian December: it seems as if the whole nation becomes the backdrop for a fairytale with well-known Christmas markets scattered throughout the cities. Regarding the Christmas markets, Vienna and Salzburg have some of the most beautiful marketplaces where one may purchase presents, decorations, and unique seasonal delicacies such as marzipan chestnuts and warm wine drinks scented with cinnamon. If so, skiing or snowboarding in the Austrian Alps will help you to have a great winter. Furthermore, do not undervalue the Christmas choir concerts housed in many outstanding Baroque buildings across Austria.

2. Switzerland

December is famous for its snow-covered Alpine peaks and attractive watching points of the charming Swiss mountain villages. Skiing destinations such as Zermatt and St Moritz are in peak season alongside resorts like Verbier as towns like Montreux, Lucerne, and Zurich have their Christmas markets and lights. Switzerland also boasts of its mouth-watering fondues, raclettes, and hot chocolates, which are ideal, especially after skiing or any other activity that would require one to spend time outside in cold weather.

3. New York, USA

Of all the months, New York City is perhaps most enchanting in December, or at least the trees and ice-skating rink in Rockefeller Center. There are also many other traditional holiday programs as well such as the Radio City Christmas Show with the Rockettes dancers, not to mention the great spectacle of the department store windows on Fifth and Madison Avenues. Also, December is one of New York’s winter months and therefore, watching the city’s Manhattan District decorated for the holiday season adds to the ambiance.

4. Paris, France

Paris goes all out with the Christmas decorations and beautiful lights along the streets during December to create the atmosphere for shopping and walking along the main avenues. Its chocolate shops and patisseries prepare seasonal confectionery and gifts, and stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps release grand window adornments. There are other attractions that tourists can cover other than the Hotel de Ville and this is through ice skating. Of course, one should not miss any of Paris’ renowned art galleries – although admittedly few art lovers would benefit from a visit to any art gallery.

5. Cape Town, South Africa

December is summer in the southern hemisphere, hence Cape Town will be fit for beach conditions. For the adventurous, one may travel to the Cape Winelands for a wine-tasting trip or to the V & A Waterfront for some wonderful seafood, or ride a cable car up Table Mountain to see the sun setting with a magnificent view. If that would be something you would like, December also marks the start of the holiday season in Cape Town, so there are plenty of concerts, cultural events, and parties. Most people agree that being outside and active is rather fun, especially in bright weather with a temperature of 20°C.

6. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is an artsy city at any other time of the year, but December is special in how it transforms into the capital of Christmas markets with over 60 of them taking place across the city. Drink Glühwein while being framed by the glow of Berlin’s famous landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and Charlottenburg Palace while you peruse handmade crafts and trinkets reminiscent of Weihnachtsmarkt German ornaments. After eating your fill in the markets of Berlin, go to the edgy neighborhoods of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg to witness the cool side of Berlin. The city is also lovely during the dark winter evenings, and the lights truly make it magical.

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

December in Reykjavik is a bitterly cold experience, but it is a wonderland for those who want to capture the frozen lava fields and if you are lucky, the Northern lights. Visit glaciers for guided tours or hike to lava caves, and enjoy geothermal pools – Blue Lagoon is famous, so do not miss traditional Icelandic winter foods such as harðfiskur (dried fish) and hangikjöt (smoked lamb). December also has only about four hours of daylight so, if one tires of gazing at the beautiful landscapes, it is also possible to enjoy the lively nightlife in Reykjavik, which offers musicians, artists, and other performers.

8. Prague, Czechia

For December – it is wonderful when Old Town is snowy and the Christmas markets are around Old Town Square with roasted hams and beer. Watch the city’s beautiful lights crossing the river Vltava, and the castle set upon the hill. There are many interesting museums and galleries one can visit in Prague in case the weather becomes rainy or cold or in case one simply feels like skipping walking. However, the best thing to do in Prague is to just get lost walking around on the little cobblestone roads.

9. Lapland

Finnish Lapland is a region in the Arctic that changes into a snowy fairytale landscape during December, to the background of the aurora borealis. Tours encompass husky sledding, reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile tours across the snowy valleys, and virginal forests of Lapland. If you have the chance to visit Rovaniemi, you can also even get to meet the man in red himself at Santa Claus Village. However, just scenic winter sights await those who cross the border to Sweden or Norway in Lapland. The only thing that one should prepare for is freezing weather, don’t let the climate fool you; it can be extremely cold.

10. Edinburgh, Scotland

Loved by its Europeans for its festivities, Edinburgh brightens up during December with attractions such as the Christmas markets, the European ice rink at St Andrew Square, and the Hogmanay New Year festivities. This is one of the best and most scenic viewpoints of Edinburgh Castle, followed by a leisurely walk along the Royal Mile and then some hearty Scottish pub meal after the sightseeing. From the plethora of intimate pubs to vibrant music halls and the charming Medieval cityscape illuminated by fairy lights, Edinburgh is rather magical during the winter months.

FAQ

What makes December a great time to visit these countries?

December is typically the month of festive celebrations, winter wonderlands, and unique cultural experiences such as Christmas markets and holiday traditions. These countries offer a special charm during this time.

Do these countries have good weather in December?

Many of these countries enjoy pleasant winter weather in December, ideal for winter sports, sightseeing, and experiencing local holiday festivities. However, climates can vary, so it's advisable to check specific destinations.

Are there specific events or festivals happening in December in these countries?

Yes, December often hosts a variety of events and festivals such as Christmas markets, New Year's celebrations, winter festivals, and cultural events unique to each country.

Are these destinations family-friendly for travel in December?

Yes, these countries generally offer family-friendly activities and attractions during December, such as holiday-themed events, winter sports, and cultural experiences suitable for all ages.

What kind of activities can visitors expect in these countries during December?

Visitors can expect activities such as skiing and snowboarding, visiting Christmas markets, experiencing local holiday traditions, exploring historic sites, and enjoying winter landscapes.