Year-end Travel: 10 best cities to celebrate Christmas | Travel

Estimated read time 6 min read

December is here and the calendar is fluttering fervidly towards Christmas. The festive cheer has set in. And you are all prepped to sing hallelujahs to the New Year. But wait! Have you thought about what Santa is doing at the moment? That stout fella who wears red, sings a guttural hohoho and has the world’s best job – he packs gifts in his red goodie bag, checks driving directions, pulls the sleigh out of the attic and travels the world in one night. But if you had a few free nights, where would you go for Christmas? Here are the 10 top cities to celebrate Christmas.

Where would you go for Christmas if you had a few free nights? Here are the 10 top cities to celebrate Christmas.(Freepik)

  1. Lapland (Finland)
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Cruise through the frozen wilderness on a reindeer sleigh. Hop across the Artic Circle. Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.(Freepik)
Cruise through the frozen wilderness on a reindeer sleigh. Hop across the Artic Circle. Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.(Freepik)

Best Things to do: Meet Santa Claus in his village. Post a letter from Santa Claus’ Post office. Go husky sledding. Visit a sauna. Cruise through the frozen wilderness on a reindeer sleigh. Hop across the Artic Circle. Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Ride on a frozen river at night on a snowmobile. Dine at a snow hotel. Dig your own amethyst in an amethyst mine. Visit Ranua Wildlife park, the world’s most northernmost zoo.

Must-eat: Gingerbread, Joulutorttu (Christmas pastries) and glog (mulled wine)

2. Prague (Czechia)

Best Things to do: The Old Town Square Christmas Markets. Walk the Vltava River at night. Climb to the top of the Old Town Tower & Charles Bridge Tower. Christmas markets at the Castle Hill. Indulge in a Hot Chocolate from Cafe Slavia. View the Vrtba Gardens from Hotel Aria.

Must-eat: Fried Carp; Potato salad; Christmas Bread; Mushroom Soup; Jaternice (Czech sausage); Pečená Kachna (roast duck); Medovník (Honey Cake). Tdelník (hollowed out pastry dough covered in cinnamon sugar).

3. New York City (the USA)

Bryant Park. Visit the GingerBread Lane, the world's largest gingerbread village. Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Holiday Train Show at Grand Central terminal. (Freepik)
Bryant Park. Visit the GingerBread Lane, the world’s largest gingerbread village. Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Holiday Train Show at Grand Central terminal. (Freepik)

Best Things to do: See the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. Dyker Heights Christmas lights. The Winter Village at Bryant Park. Visit the GingerBread Lane, the world’s largest gingerbread village. Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Holiday Train Show at Grand Central terminal. Grand Central Holiday Fair. Bronx Zoo Holiday Light show. Frost Fest at Luna Park in Coney Island.

Must-eat: Pigs in a Blanket; Roast beef; Christmas cookies – chocolate chip, sugar, fudge, M&M, and snickerdoodle; Coffee from Ralph’s Christmas-themed Coffee Truck; meal at a Christmas Market.

4. London (the UK)

Best Things to do: See the Christmas lights (start at Oxford Street, then up to Regent Street and Carnaby Street). See the 60-foot Christmas tree at Covent Garden Christmas Market. Christmas Carol at St Paul’s. Southbank Centre Winter Festival. Christmas Day hop-on hop-off bus tour. Skate in Hampton Court Palace ice rink. Christmas Day traditional lunch cruise on the River Thames.

Must-eat: Christmas chicken; British ploughman’s lunch; Traditional British Christmas Pudding; Cranberry orange Relish; Foggy Pudding; Mincemeat Tarts; British Brandy Butter.

5. Dublin (Ireland)

Best Things to do: Visit Dublin Castle & the 18th-century style Neapolitan Crib in the heart of the Chapel Royal. Head to the Liberties for the Stillgarden Christmas Market. Christmas Craft market at National Botanic Gardens. Window displays of Brown Thomas, and Arnotts, A Christmas dip in the sea might sound daunting but it is a wildly popular activity in Dublin. Christmas Wonderland in the courtyard of the Guinness Storehouse.

Must-eat: Roast turkey and stuffing; Clove-studded baked ham; Crispy goose fat potatoes; Steamed Brussels sprouts; Buttery sweet carrots; Crispy parsnips.

6. Vienna (Austria)

Visit Hofburg Palace & the Giant Christmas Bow(Freepik)
Visit Hofburg Palace & the Giant Christmas Bow(Freepik)

Best Things to do: Visit Hofburg Palace & the Giant Christmas Bow. Visit Demel Bakery that was founded in 1786 as a tea salon. Step inside the Vienna State Opera House. See Vienna by the night. Christmas Market at Rathausplatz. See the city by horse & carriage.

Must-eat: Knödel (bread dumplings); Maroni (roasted chestnuts); Kletzenbrot (Austrian fruit bread); Sachertorte.;Traditional apple strudel.

7. Nuremberg (Germany)

Best Things to do: Stagecoach tour of Christmas markets. Christmas Market Smartphone Game. Walk through the Old Town. X-Mas Crime Game Self-guided Tour. Visit the Imperial Castle.

Must-eat: Nuremberg Lebkuchen (gingerbread); Feuerzangenbowle (red wine and rum punch); Mulled wine. Do not miss Feuerzangenbowle, a rum-soaked sugar cube is set on fire, and the melted sugar drips into the mulled wine below. Nuremberg is home to the largest feuerzangenbowle in the world – it holds 9,000 litres and takes two days to heat up.

8. Rome (Italy)

Best Things to do: Pope’s message in the Vatican City – the papal urbi et orbi is delivered in Vatican City at noon on December 25 (entry is free). Christmas market at Piazza Navona. Take a bus tour to see the city’s Christmas lighting. Attend the Mass in Pantheon. Take a picture at the Colosseum Christmas tree. Go ice skating at Castel Sant’Angelo.

Must-eat: Abbacchio, a dish of lamb roasted with garlic, rosemary and ham, served with potatoes and vegetables; Christmas Eve, dinner typically known as the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes; Pangiallo, a sweet bread stuffed with walnuts, dates, chocolate, and honey; Pandoro, a star-shaped sweet bread; Panforte, a fruit cake flavoured with cloves and other spices.

9. Hong Kong

Attend Hong Kong WinterFest at West Kowloon Art Park which is on till January 1, 2024(Freepik)
Attend Hong Kong WinterFest at West Kowloon Art Park which is on till January 1, 2024(Freepik)

Best Things to do: Hong Kong WinterFest at West Kowloon Art Park (on till January 1, 2024). Fairytale Christmas at Pacific Place and Starstreet Precinct. Polar-bear mountain at Landmark Atrium. Sai Kung Hoi Arts Festival. In-Between the Sky: A Festive Beacon (digital light show). Discovery Bay & Stanley Plaza Christmas Markets. Disney-themed Be@rbrick figurines at Harbour City. China Hong Kong City Car Boot Market.

Must-eat: Pumpkin soup; Lobster bisque; Maple-glazed roasted turkey; Slow-cooked beef Wellington; Honey-glazed Gammon ham; Christmas buffets in various hotels.

10. Montreal (Canada)

Best Things to do: Christmas market at the Atwater Market. While at the market, stop by the Kingdom of the Elves, featuring an assortment of activities for people of all ages. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s famed adaptation of The Nutcracker. Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Charlie Brown Christmas at Bourgie Hall. Carols by Candlelight at the historic Church of St Andrew and St Paul.

Must-eat: Traditional Christmas turkey; Meat pie; Ragoût de boulettes; Ragoût de pattes de cochon; Deep-dish Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean made with cubed meat, wild game and potatoes.

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