How is Christmas less than a week away!? This season has flown by (like it seems to every year) so while we're still technically "in season" I wanted to take some time to share the best destinations around the world to visit this time of year.
This list is strictly focused on the US and Europe (because, well- that's where pretty much all of my travel to date has been focused!) I'm sure there are will be other destinations around the globe that I'll write about in the future that are also worth visiting during the holiday season, but until then- here is where I recommend you plan a trip if you want to go somewhere magical that really turns things up a notch at Christmas time:
I've been spending this Christmas season here in Chicago and have absolutely loved it. I'm a fan of this city year-round, but it has been exceptionally magic this time of year. Not only is everything lit up, sparkling and festive, but there is even more to do than usual (and there is always tons to do here). Check out the Christkindlmarket downtown and the Christkindlmarket at Wrigley for fun, German-style Christmas markets boasting unique shopping, typical German food and drinks and diverse holiday entertainment. Up for ice skating? Head to Millenium Park to check out the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. And if you're wanting to see the city's most impressive display of Christmas lights? Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for ZooLights.
NEW YORK CITY
No surprise here... New York City has always been a famous Christmas destination. See the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, countless Christmas markets, go for one of the best hot chocolates in the city or have a drink in one of the heated igloos with stunning views of the city.
While I haven't done my travel guide to Banff, I can't recommend visiting this area of Canada at Christmas enough. Fly into Calgary and driving to Emerald Lake Lodge, then to Lake Louise and then Banff (working your way back toward Calgary). All of these bits are a winter wonderland during Christmas-- a forest of pine trees are blanketed in snow and twinkling Christmas lights are hung on the cabins. It's truly magical, even if you do nothing but take in nature's views. Stay tuned for more specific travel recommendations on this region in my upcoming Canada guides!
With beautiful architecture and idyllic canals, Amsterdam is picture-perfect year round. But at Christmas? There is even more that makes this destination magical. For ice skating, head to Museumplein (pictured above) or Leidseplein (where you'll also find some Christmas markets). You can also check out the Amsterdam Light Festival, which takes place from the end of November until mid-January every year.)
I actually haven't been to Austria (yet) but couldn't leave this destination off my list because I'm told it is one of the best destinations in the world at Christmas! Much like neighboring Germany, most towns in Austria will have a Christkindlmarket (Christmas market) anywhere from late November or early December where they sell Christmas decorations, festive food and Glühwein. The largest celebrations and festivities will be in cities like Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg, but there will be beauty to see all over the country!
I was in Brussels last year during Christmas and fell in love with this city. The fact that Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolate is plentiful any time of year makes this a great place to visit no matter when you decide to go, but it's exceptionally wonderful at Christmas. They also have an incredible Christmas market filled with delicious foods and drinks (probably my favorite options of any one I've ever been to!) Be sure to head to the Grand Place (the main square in Brussels) at night for an incredible light show that will blow you away!
Germany is kind of the OG when it comes to Christmas markets, so you have to pop in and see them for yourself sometime during this season! Haley and I visited Cologne last year in November and we were so sad because we had JUST missed their Christmas markets! (See above for photos- it looks stunning!) I'm told pretty much the entire country, everywhere form Berlin to Munich to Frankfurt is all lit up and bustling with some of the best Christmas markets in the world.
I already wrote an entire blog post on Christmas in London here, but it's worth repeating that you HAVE to visit this city at Christmas at some point in your life! It's simply the most magical place this time of year... I truly doubt there is any place that's more festive!
Have you been somewhere else around the world that does Christmas well? Let me know in the comments below.
Stay tuned because before the year ends, I'll be sharing one more post with my picks for the top trips of 2017!
Wishing you and yours a very, Merry Christmas and safe travels wherever you may be heading to celebrate!