Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or desperate for some winter sun, December offers plenty of travel opportunities for an unforgettable Winter getaway. Here’s our list of the hottest (and coldest) places to go this December.
Austria – Kerala (India) – Utah (USA) – Krabi (Thailand) – Finnish Lapland – Rwanda – Chile
Visit Austria in December and immerse yourself in its famed Gemütlichkeit (coziness). The twinkling lights and spiced aromas of a traditional winter market to the chocolate box villages nestled in the Tyrolean Alps, nowhere quite does winter like Austria.
Visit the Alpine resort village of Alpbach in the Inn Valley, voted Austria’s prettiest village. Famed for its traditional wooden houses, great ski runs and peaceful atmosphere. Another superstar of Austria’s picturesque villages is Hallstatt, which nestles between a glass lake and sweeping mountains. Take the funicular railway to the world’s oldest salt mine and onto the Skywalk viewing platform for panoramic views of this World Heritage region.
For festive markets head to Innsbruck where the UNESCO World Heritage listed historic center twinkles with festive lights against the mountain backdrop. Sip Gluwhein as you explore the gift-laden chalets of the market under the famous Golden Roof or take a trip up to the highest Christmas market at Hungerburg where you can shop with views of the illuminated city below.
Capital city Vienna is festive music heaven with advent concerts taking place throughout December in the majestic St Stephen Cathedral. The annual Mozart concert takes place on Xmas eve and the Schoenburg place orchestra performs their annual Christmas concert. The historic buildings of the museum quarter come alive with ice pavilions, light shows and video projections.
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect Austria get-away?
In December the monsoon season gives way to bright sunshine. Verdant tea plantations, evergreen forests, coconut groves and fragrant spice fields robe Kerela’s Western Ghat mountains. In Munnar you can hike through the tea gardens from Mattupetty Dam to Top Station for 360-degree views of the ghats, or take a 4×4 tour to the lesser-known and quieter fields of Chinnakanal. The hill stations get cold at this time of year so wrap up for the higher altitudes. Take a trip to Eravikulam National Park where the residents include tigers, leopards, elephants, lion-tailed macaques and, most famously, the endangered Nilgiri Tar.
Take a houseboat through Kerala’s famous, scenic and serene backwaters. Kumarakom on the western shore of Vembanad Lake boasts more exclusive resorts and a lakeside bird sanctuary. Popular neighbour Alleppey, ‘The Venice of the East’ has the greatest number of canals and a wide range of accommodation options.
Explore Kochi’s historic fort before taking a sunset stroll along Kochi Fort beach to see the famous Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against the blazing horizon. Fort Kochi hosts the two-week end of the year festival with colourful cultural performances, music, dance, sporting competitions, food festivals and decorations. The celebrations culminate with the burning of a 35-foot statue of an old man named, Pappanji.
Interested in India? Check out this great article on Rajasthan by travel writer Stanley Stewart.
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect Kerala get-away?
With ten world-class ski resorts within an hours’ drive from Salt Lake City’s international airport, powder snow and epic canyon scenery, Utah should be high on every ski enthusiasts list. Park City resort has a wide range of runs for every level of skier, the world’s only ski-in/ski-out distillery and gastro saloon, plus a ski through mining museum. Brighton Ski resort sits on top of Big Cotton Top Canyon and boasts its powdery slopes have “the greatest snow on earth.” Other winter activities include snowmobiling; take the Nebo Loop to the top of Mt Nebo for panoramic views of the Wasatch range.
Warm up cold bones at the Mystic Hot Springs where you can admire the desert vista from the comfort of a mineral rich hot spring bath tub. For Insta-envy inducing photography head to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the wet season rains transform the flats into vast mirrors, or catch a sunrise shot through the Mesa Arch in monument valley. In Salt Lake City, the annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir christmas concert at Tabernacle Square is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit.
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect USA winter get-away?
As Thailand’s most famous beach, Maya Bay, closes its doors indefinitely to tourists in 2018, winter sun seekers still have plenty of options on the Andaman sea islands and Krabi mainland. December is peak season due to perfect post-monsoon weather and festive holiday makers so book well in advance to avoid high charges and limited accommodation options. Families and couples enjoy the laid back vibe of Koh Lanta. Most beach bars and activities are on Long Beach, the 5km stretch of golden soft sand with sunset views across to PHi Phi island. More exclusive resorts are on the smaller beaches further up the island. For 5 star luxury try Pimlai Resort and Spa on Kan Tiang Beach.
For a castaway feel hop off the ferry between Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta at tiny Koh Jum. With nothing to do except kick back in a hammock and enjoy the paradise beaches even the busiest minds will be forced to relax. For a more active break head to Railay Beach on Krabi mainland, a premiere rock climbing spot. Other activities include deep water soloing, hiking, kayaking, scuba-diving and snorkeling.
Interested in an add-on to Thailand? Why not take a look at 6 days in Luang Prabang, Laos?
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect SE Asia Winter get-away?
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, then a trip to Finnish Lapland in December will give you guaranteed snow and a christmas spirit even Scrooge couldn’t resist. Ride a reindeer sled to Santa Park in Rovaniemi, Santa’s official home, where you can explore underground caves packed with christmas activities including the elves toy factory and Santa’s post office. Try your hand at traditional klondike husky sledding through Lapland’s beautiful, snow covered countryside or hunt the northern lights on a snowmobile safari before raising the temperature in a traditional Finnish sauna. For a not-so-traditional sauna try out the world’s only sauna gondola life at Yllas, where you can sauna in the sky with views across the slopes.
Sleep in a luxurious glass igloo at the Golden Crown Igluts at Levi for panoramic snow vistas and the opportunity to witness the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of your bed. Perhaps not so cosy but equally unique, try a snow hotel where the rooms and beds are made entirely of snow but the artic quality sleeping bags and duvets ensure a comfortable night.
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect Lapland Winter get-away?
December marks the end of the wet season in ‘the land of a thousand mountains’. It’s a great time to take a mountain gorilla trek in Volcano National Park in the Virunga Mountains and meet some of the last mountain gorilla families in the world. The latter half of December is peak season so book accommodation and permits in advance, particularly if you want to visit the gorillas on Christmas day.
To see more of Rwanda‘s impressive wildlife, head to Akagera National Park to photography the ‘big 5’ (lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard) on a game drive before taking a boat safari on Lake Ihema, home to hippos, crocodiles and a variety of bird life. Nyungwe National Park is home to 13 primate species. For a monkey-eye view of the valleys and surrounding rainforest, try the suspended canopy walk or take a guided chimpanzee tracking trek.
Interested in other not-so-visited countries in Africa? Why not check out our example itinerary for Malawi?
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect African Winter get-away?
Escape the wet, winter weather of Europe and North America with a trip to Chile’s Atacama desert, the ‘driest place on earth’. Drift over the unforgettable martian landscape of great red canyons, salt lakes and spitting volcanoes on a hot-air balloon tour, or explore the extraterrestrial Lunar valley on horseback. Get there early to watch the El Tatio Geysers erupting. The high altitude, lack of light pollution and vast skies make this one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Whether you camp under the stars or take an organised star gazing tour, you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views of the Milky Way. Visit Salar de Atacama, Chile’s largest salt lake flats just before sundown for incredible landscape photography opportunities and to see the rare Chilean Flamingo. Float weightlessly in the Laguna Cejar, a lake with a higher salt concentration than the dead sea.
For an unforgettable New Year celebration head to the colourful City of Valparaiso. The celebrations last for 3 days from the 28th December and culminate in the second longest NYE fireworks display in South America.
Why not contact us at Curious Travel to help design your perfect South American Winter get-away?
Sam Roberts is a creative content writer, web designer and travel enthusiast currently based in Malaysia.