13 Best Countries to Visit in December (2024)

by Jen
Best Countries to Visit in December
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Searching for the ultimate December destinations? You’ve hit the jackpot! We’ve lined up 13 top spots that are perfect for anyone looking to make the most out of the final month of the year. Consider this your ultimate guide to embracing the diverse wonders December has to offer, from snowy retreats to sun-kissed shores. These best countries to visit in December may surprise you!

December is a month of contrasts and celebrations. It’s when the northern hemisphere wraps up in cozy layers to welcome winter’s chill, while the south basks in the warmth of summer sun. Whether you’re craving a snowy adventure, a cultural extravaganza, or just a peaceful beach getaway, December has something special in store. Adventurers, culture enthusiasts, and sun-seekers, gear up.

So, what’s on the agenda? We’re diving into the magical Northern Lights in Lapland or exploring the festive streets of New York, among others. December’s calling – let’s embark on this journey!

The top countries to visit in December right now

Best Places to Visit in December

Ready to discover the most magical places to visit in December? Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland or a sunny escape, this is your passport to finding the perfect December vacation spots. Let’s get started!

1. Lapland, Finland – A winter wonderland like no other

Heading straight to the top of our December travel list, let’s venture into the heart of Lapland, Finland. This beautiful place in Finland is cool in every sense of the word. Imagine a land so magical, it’s where Santa Claus himself hangs his hat.

How about strapping on some skis and exploring the wilderness? Or better yet, taking a reindeer sleigh ride? Yes, reindeer are not just for Santa here. They’re your ticket to exploring the Arctic Circle in style. And for the adrenaline junkies, snowmobiling across the frozen landscapes offers a rush like no other.

Let’s not forget the main man of the season—Santa Claus. A visit to Lapland wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Santa Claus Village. It’s a place where the Christmas spirit lives year-round, and in December, it’s absolutely buzzing. Meet Santa, cross the Arctic Circle line, and send a postcard from Santa’s official post office. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’ll make you believe in magic again, no matter your age.

From the awe-inspiring auroras to the warmth of a Finnish sauna after a day in the snow, Lapland invites you to embrace the season in all its glory.

 Lapland, Finland is one of the best countries to visit in December.
Let’s explore Lapland, Finland—where Santa Claus himself hangs his hat.

2. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Where the holidays meet the heat

Next on our December adventure list, let’s jet off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the holiday vibe meets tropical heat. Imagine a city where Christmas lights twinkle against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers and palm trees.

This Malaysian gem is a melting pot of cultures, and come December, it’s like everyone’s invited to the party. You’ve got Christmas, New Year’s, and hey, even bits of Diwali and Chinese New Year vibes all rolled into one. It’s a cultural extravaganza, making it one o f the top places to live and visit in Asia.

Stroll around the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, all lit up  like giant Christmas trees. The shopping malls? They’re on another level, decking their halls with boughs of holly and then some, turning your holiday shopping spree into a festive outing.

Head into the heart of Chinatown or the colorful streets of Little India, and you’ll find the soul of the city. The bustling markets and the street food stalls serve up dishes so good they’ll make you forget about your holiday diet plans.

And when it comes to welcoming the New Year, KL puts on a show that’ll make your jaw drop. Whether you’re partying it up at KLCC Park or taking in the sights at Merdeka Square, ringing in the New Year in Kuala Lumpur is once-in-a-lifetime.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: holiday vibes meet tropical heat, with Christmas lights against skyscrapers and palm trees.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: holiday vibes meet tropical heat, with Christmas lights against skyscrapers and palm trees.

3. Phuket, Thailand – Sun, sea, and festive spirit

Now, let’s switch gears and head over to Phuket, Thailand. Here, the vibe in December is all about soaking up the sun, and getting into the island-style festive spirit. Phuket in December is the perfect escape for those looking to dodge the cold without missing out on the holiday cheer.

Step onto the soft, white sands of Kata or Patong Beach, the warm sun kissing your skin. December is when Phuket truly shines, offering sunny days and cool evenings, ideal for beach lovers and adventure seekers alike.

The island comes alive with festive decorations and celebrations, blending Thai culture with a touch of holiday magic. From the twinkling lights of the beachfront resorts to the markets filled with crafts, there’s a sense of joy that fills the air.

Lush jungles and hidden temples offer a break from the beach and a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. And when it comes to dining, Phuket’s culinary scene is a festive feast in itself.

Phuket in December is where your holiday season can be as chilled or as adventurous as you like. So, pack your flip-flops, your favorite swimsuit, and a sense of adventure, and dive into the warm embrace of Phuket, a gem in Thailand.

Phuket, Thailand: where December vibes mean soaking up the sun and embracing island-style festivities.

4. Strasbourg, France – The Christmas capital

Next up, let’s take a magical journey to Strasbourg, France, affectionately known as the Christmas Capital. In December, this charming city transforms into a fairy-tale setting. Complete with twinkling lights, festive markets, and an air of enchantment, Strasbourg in December is a dream come true.

Witness the cobbled streets of the Grande Île, Strasbourg’s historic center, surrounded by half-timbered houses with decorations and lights. Follow scent of mulled wine and gingerbread to the Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market in France. Here, you can browse through hundreds of stalls offering everything from handmade ornaments to local delicacies.

And let’s not forget about the food. Alsace, the region where Strasbourg is located, is known for its culinary delights. From hearty dishes like choucroute (Alsatian sauerkraut) to sweet treats like kouglof, the local cuisine is a celebration in itself.

It’s a top place in France where tradition, beauty, and the spirit of the holidays come together to create something truly magical.

Let's journey to Strasbourg, France, known as the Christmas Capital
Let’s journey to Strasbourg, France, known as the Christmas Capital

5. The Bahamas – Sun, sand, and Junkanoo vibes

Alright, let’s shake off the cold and dive into the warm embrace of The Bahamas. Swap your winter coat for a swimsuit and celebrate the festive season with a coconut drink in hand. Welcome to December, Bahamas-style!

Whether you’re chilling on the pink sands of Harbour Island or snorkeling in the waters of the Exuma Cays, The Bahamas in December is your perfect winter getaway (minus the snow).

December here means Junkanoo – the heart and soul of Bahamian culture. Think Mardi Gras meets Carnival, but with a unique Bahamian twist. Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are when the streets of Nassau explode into colors, music, and dance. It’s loud, proud, and absolutely mesmerizing. Picture yourself dancing to the beat of goat-skin drums, surrounded by folks in elaborate costumes. It’s an experience in The Bahamas that’ll pump your adrenaline and fill your heart, all at once.

The Bahamas is ready to show you how to do the festive season right – island style!

Shake off the cold and dive into the warm embrace of The Bahamas in December.
Shake off the cold and dive into the warm embrace of The Bahamas in December.

6. Dubai, UAE – Winter sun and spectacular celebrations

Next up, let’s jet off to Dubai, a gem in the Middle East where the winter sun shines bright and the celebrations are as grand as the skyscrapers. In December, Dubai is the place to be if you’re looking for a warm and dazzling holiday season. Imagine a city where futuristic architecture meets traditional souks, set against the backdrop of the Arabian Desert.

The weather is just perfect – warm enough to enjoy the stunning beaches but cool enough to explore the city comfortably. You can start your day sunbathing at Jumeirah Beach, then cool off skiing at Ski Dubai.

New Year’s Eve in Dubai is something out of this world. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet, lights up with fireworks in a jaw-dropping display. The whole city comes alive, from lavish parties in luxurious hotels to joyous gatherings on the beaches.

It’s where tradition and innovation come together to celebrate the end of the year in style. So, pack your sunglasses and your party spirit, and dive into the warmth and wonder of Dubai. It’s a holiday season you won’t forget.

Experience Dubai in December, where winter sun, grand celebrations, and a dazzling holiday season await.
Experience Dubai in December, where winter sun, grand celebrations, and a dazzling holiday season await.

7. Kerala, India – Serene backwaters and lush landscapes

Now, let’s take a serene turn to Kerala, India. Known as “God’s Own Country,” Kerala in December is a haven of natural beauty and peaceful vibes. You’ll find a stark contrast to the bustling cities and chilly winters, making it one of the top places in South India.

Glide through the backwaters on a traditional houseboat, surrounded by palm trees and the gentle sounds of water. The backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom offer a unique experience, where life moves at a slower pace.

The tea plantations of Munnar turn into shades of vibrant green, making it a perfect time for trekking and exploring the hills. The cooler weather adds to the charm of the tea gardens, where misty mornings reveal breathtaking views.

And let’s not forget the festivals. Though Kerala’s festival calendar is year-round, December has its own special charm, with Christmas celebrations adding to the festive spirit. Kerala’s diverse religious communities come together to celebrate, making it a time of joy and unity.

Kerala in December is an invitation to unwind, explore, and immerse yourself in a world of natural beauty and cultural richness.

In December, Kerala, India, offers serene beauty, contrasting bustling cities and chilly winters.
In December, Kerala, India, offers serene beauty, contrasting bustling cities and chilly winters.

8. Queenstown, New Zealand – Summer thrills and natural beauty

Switching gears and hemispheres, let’s zoom over to Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown in December is an exhilarating mix of long days and breathtaking landscapes, set against the backdrop of the stunning Southern Alps.

Wake up to the crisp, fresh air of a Queenstown morning, with Lake Wakatipu glistening under the summer sun. Don’t forget the Remarkables mountain range inviting you to explore. December is the perfect time to enjoy everything from bungee jumping and skydiving to leisurely hikes and bike rides.

Queenstown is a gateway to some of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Cruise through the fjords of Milford Sound or explore the vineyards of Central Otago, sampling some of the world’s best Pinot Noir.

Queenstown in December offers an unforgettable blend of adventure, beauty, and summer fun. So, pack your sense of adventure and your sunscreen, and get ready for a December like no other.

Queenstown, New Zealand, offers long days, breathtaking landscapes, and the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps.
Queenstown, New Zealand, offers long days, breathtaking landscapes, and the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps.

9. Reykjavik, Iceland – Northern Lights and winter wonderland

Now, let’s take a chilly but thrilling detour up north to Reykjavik, Iceland. The days are short but the nights are electric, lit up by the mesmerizing dance of the Northern Lights. Reykjavik in December is for those who love their winters cold and their landscapes dramatic.

Bundle up and stroll through Reykjavik’s streets, where the snow dusts the colorful houses and the air is crisp and clear. The city’s cozy cafes become havens of warmth and cheer, offering the perfect spots to taste traditional Icelandic cuisine, like hearty lamb soup or freshly baked kleinur.

But let’s be real, you’re here for the Northern Lights. The auroras, with their swirls of green, pink, and purple, light up the sky in a breathless display. It’s a bucket-list experience that’s just as much about the journey—the quiet, the anticipation, the cold nipping at your nose—as it is about the awe-inspiring destination.

The city is a gateway to Iceland’s rugged natural beauty. Think geothermal hot springs like the Blue Lagoon or the Golden Circle route, offering geysers and waterfalls.

Reykjavik in December is for the adventurers, the dreamers, and anyone who’s ever wanted to experience the magic of winter at its most enchanting.

In December, Reykjavik, Iceland, offers electric nights illuminated by the Northern Lights.
In December, Reykjavik, Iceland, offers electric nights illuminated by the Northern Lights.

10. Banff, Canada – A Snowy paradise for winter enthusiasts

Next on our list, let’s bundle up and head to Banff, Canada, where December transforms the landscape into a snowy paradise. Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff in December is a postcard come to life and cozy fireside evenings.

Hit the slopes at one of the world-class ski resorts that surround Banff, like Sunshine Village or Lake Louise. Here, the snow is just right for skiing, snowboarding, or even snowshoeing. The thrill of the downhill paired with the breathtaking mountain vistas is an unbeatable combination.

The town itself, with its charming streets and welcoming locals, offers a peaceful retreat. Sipping hot cocoa or a mulled wine by a crackling fire, you’ll feel the warmth of Canadian hospitality melting the winter chill away.

For those who love the magic of winter, Banff in December offers an unforgettable escape. Pack your warmest gear and get ready to discover the winter wonder of Banff.

 Banff, Canada, becomes a snowy paradise amidst the Rockies, with cozy fireside evenings in a postcard-perfect setting.
Banff, Canada, becomes a snowy paradise amidst the Rockies, with cozy fireside evenings in a postcard-perfect setting.

11. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Summer vibes and festive cheer

As we continue our global December journey, let’s heat things up by heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. December marks the beginning of summer, making it the perfect destination for sunshine and celebration. Rio in December is a vibrant mix of sun-drenched beaches and preparations for one of the world’s most famous New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Lounge on the iconic Copacabana Beach, where the golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see. The spot in Brazil buzzes with energy as you soak up the sun and enjoy a caipirinha under the shade of a palm tree.

The city is adorned with festive decorations, and the air is filled with the anticipation of Réveillon, Rio’s massive New Year’s Eve party. Picture millions of people dressed in white, gathered on Copacabana Beach, ready to welcome the new year with fireworks, music, and an unforgettable party atmosphere.

And let’s not overlook the cultural experiences. Rio’s museums, galleries, and cultural centers offer a deeper dive into Brazil’s rich history and vibrant art scene. From the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue to the colorful Selarón Steps, every corner of Rio tells a story.

It’s a place to dance in the streets, relax on the beach, and ring in the new year in a way you’ll never forget.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, welcomes summer with vibrant beach days and famous New Year's Eve celebrations.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, welcomes summer with vibrant beach days and famous New Year’s Eve celebrations.

12. New York, USA – The city that never sleeps lights up

Next, let’s take a bite out of the Big Apple during one of its most magical times of the year. New York City in December is a spectacle of lights, holiday cheer, and endless activities. From the iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center to the window displays along Fifth Avenue, NYC in December is all about embracing the holiday spirit.

Ice skate at the Rockefeller Center or stroll through Central Park as the first snowflakes of the season turn it into a winter wonderland. The city’s streets buzz with energy, as holiday markets pop up, offering unique gifts, crafts, and delicious treats.

Broadway shows put on their holiday best, with classic productions that are perfect for the spirit of the season. And let’s not forget about the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, where the ball drop has become a global symbol of welcoming the new year.

New York City in December also offers a unique opportunity to explore its world-class museums and vibrant neighborhoods. Whether you’re admiring the holiday lights in Dyker Heights or enjoying a hot chocolate in Greenwich Village, there’s a sense of holiday magic that permeates the city.

New York City dazzles with lights, holiday cheer, and endless activities, embracing the holiday spirit at its finest.
New York City dazzles with lights, holiday cheer, and endless activities, embracing the holiday spirit at its finest.

13. Marrakech, Morocco – Warm days and cultural nights

Finally, let’s wrap up our December journey with a trip to Marrakech, Morocco, where the days are warm and the city’s vibrant culture comes alive in a spectacular way. December in Marrakech is about escaping the cold to a place where the sun shines year-round.

Imagine wandering through the Medina of Marrakech, where every corner reveals something new. From the intricate designs of the Ben Youssef Madrasa to the bustling energy of Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, the city is a feast for the senses. The air is filled with the scent of spices and the sight of stunning architecture.

Marrakech, Morocco is one of the best countries to visit in December.
In December, Marrakech, Morocco, offers warm days and vibrant culture, providing a sunny escape from the cold.

And let’s not forget the Atlas Mountains, just a short drive from Marrakech. December offers clear days perfect for hiking or visiting Berber villages, where you can experience the hospitality of the local people. It’s a chance to see a breathtakingly beautiful side of Morocco.

Marrakech in December is a place to relax, explore, and immerse yourself in a new world.

The top countries to visit in December for all types of travelers
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