There’s something special about traveling in December: a winter chill sets in, and the festive spirit fills the air. And December itself unveils a world of wonder and wanderlust. It’s a month that beckons travel. Whether traveling home to visit loved ones or embarking on a magical holiday vacation, December travels hit differently. If you’re ready to plan an unforgettable journey this winter, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn all about some of the best places to travel in December!
As the year draws to a close, these destinations offer a variety of experiences for every traveler’s taste. December brings a sense of anticipation and joy, making it an ideal time to create beautiful memories. Whether you’re seeking the magic of the Northern Lights in Lapland or the rich cultural traditions of Tokyo, each place is unique.
While summer is one of the most popular seasons for travel, don’t overlook a winter holiday! There are many perks to traveling in the offseason. One of the benefits of traveling in December is the chance to escape the crowds. As the peak travel season subsides, these remarkable destinations can be explored at a more relaxed pace. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in authentic experiences with a little more intimacy.
So, as winter slowly creeps toward us, start planning your December getaway! Whether you’re yearning for snowy landscapes, vibrant celebrations, or warm escape, these remarkable places offer a world of possibilities.
Get ready to unwrap the gift of travel and embark on an unforgettable journey to one of the seven best places to travel in December!
How to save money on the best places to travel in December
Looking to score cheap flights on December travel destinations? Before diving deeper into the best places to travel in December, I want to share a quick tip on saving BIG on airfare.
For the past three years, I’ve been using Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to find the best flight deals. Every time I’ve booked a round-trip flight, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars. The best part? It’s easy to use, and it’s 100% free! Simply sign up, select your home airport, then receive free email alerts about cheap flight deals. They also send out alerts regarding mistake fares and other too-good-to-be-true savings.
Last year alone, I saved THOUSANDS of dollars on airfare. On average, I save about $300 roundtrip on selected flight routes. Suffice it to say, I am a huge fan and can’t recommend them enough!
While the free tier is a great way to save money on occasional flights, I recommend looking into the premium-level membership if you travel often. For just $49 a year, you’re the first to know about exclusive deals and incredible savings. It pays for itself after 1 or 2 times. If you like, you can use my discount code Jon20 to save 20% when you sign up!
7 best places to travel in December 2023
When it comes to choosing the best destination for your December travels, there are a few remarkable places that stand out above the rest. These enchanting locations blend breathtaking landscapes, cultural festivities, and delightful experiences, making them perfect for a memorable winter getaway. Whether you seek a tropical escape or a snowy wonderland, these destinations cater to every traveler’s desires.
Let’s explore the top picks for your December adventures!
1. Lapland, Finland
Indulge in the pure magic of the holiday season by venturing into the enchanting landscapes of Lapland, Finland. As winter casts its frosty spell, Lapland emerges as the unrivaled destination for an unforgettable December adventure. It’s a world straight out of a fairy tale, filled with snow-covered forests, glistening frozen lakes, and the shimmering aurora borealis in the sky.
Ready to ignite your sense of wonder? Embark on a dog sledding expedition through the wilderness, guided by a team of huskies. Or, embark on a reindeer safari like the indigenous Sámi people, gliding through the Arctic landscape in a traditional sleigh. For a modern adrenaline rush, snowmobiling through the untamed wilderness will leave you breathless with excitement.
Lapland is one of the most magical places to travel in December.
The wonders of Lapland extend beyond thrilling adventures. For the young and young at heart, visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is a must. Step into a world where the Christmas spirit thrives year-round, and meet the jolly man himself as he greets visitors from around the globe. Be mesmerized as the village comes alive with festive decorations, cheerful elves, and the chance to send your loved ones a special letter stamped with the official Arctic Circle postmark.
And then, as night falls, prepare to witness nature’s most breathtaking spectacle—the Northern Lights. In Lapland’s pristine darkness, the dance of vibrant colors across the star-studded sky will leave you in awe of the wonders that lie beyond our everyday reality. Chase this celestial phenomenon, and allow its ethereal beauty to paint your memories with shades of enchantment.
In Lapland, December becomes a symphony of winter delights, blending adventure, cultural immersion, and the joy of the holiday season. If this is your dream holiday adventure, book a flight to Rovaniemi Airport (RVN). Located in the capital of Finnish Lapland, it’s the busiest and most popular airport in the region.
Looking to save BIG on airfare? I recommend signing up for the free version of Dollar Flight Club. Thanks to DFC, I’ve saved THOUSANDS of dollars…so I couldn’t recommend it more!
2. Tokyo, Japan
If you’re looking for the best places to travel in December, head to Tokyo! This capital city of Japan transforms into a mesmerizing wonderland during December. This vibrant metropolis, where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with modern marvels, offers an unparalleled experience that will captivate your senses and ignite your spirit of adventure. To save money on your Tokyo excursion, the Narita International Airport (NRT) will be the cheapest airport.
In December, Tokyo is adorned with a symphony of lights illuminating the city with a dazzling display of colors. Witness the city’s transformation into a shimmering spectacle as you stroll through Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown, and Caretta Shiodome. Meticulously designed illumination festivals will transport you into a whimsical world of enchantment!
Experience Japanese culture firsthand by exploring Tokyo’s historic temples and shrines. From the iconic Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa to the serene Meiji Shrine, these sacred sites offer a glimpse into Japan’s ancient traditions. You can also participate in a traditional tea ceremony, where you can savor a moment of tranquility. Of course, no visit to Tokyo is complete without its world-renowned cuisines like sushi, sashimi, and ramen.
December also brings the opportunity to experience the Japanese love for hot springs. Soak in the therapeutic waters of an onsen, allowing the warm embrace of mineral-rich baths to melt away the chill of winter and rejuvenate your body and spirit. While Tokyo is always an ideal destination for adventure and discovery, it’s even better when visiting in December!
3. New York City, USA
When it comes to US winter hotspots, it’s hard to beat the Big Apple. New York City transforms into a captivating wonderland during December, making it one of the best places to travel and experience the holiday spirit. From dazzling lights to iconic attractions and festive traditions, the city offers a magical atmosphere that comes alive in winter.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands as a globally-recognized symbol of holiday enchantment. Standing tall and adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, it creates a mesmerizing sight that draws crowds year after year. Ice skating beneath its majestic presence in the heart of Manhattan is an iconic experience not to be missed. The rest of the city comes alive with elaborate decorations and window displays, particularly along Fifth Avenue. Strolling through these enchanting scenes is like stepping into a real-life holiday movie.
NYC also hosts various festive markets, such as the Union Square Holiday Market and the Winter Village at Bryant Park, where you can find unique gifts, tasty treats, and handcrafted items. These markets offer an opportunity to enjoy the joyous atmosphere and pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Want to be dazzled while staying warm? Catch special holiday-themed performances on Broadway or see the Rockettes live during the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Additionally, you can experience New Year’s Eve in Times Square, depending on when you visit. Watching the iconic ball drop is a bucket list experience when millions gather to ring in the new year!
4. Cape Town, South Africa
Looking for the best places to travel in December to beat the winter chill? Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of Cape Town, South Africa! While the Northern Hemisphere embraces winter, Cape Town welcomes the summer season, offering a delightful escape to warm weather, natural beauty, and memorable experiences.
One of the main attractions is Cape Town’s stunning beaches. From the popular shores of Camps Bay and Clifton to the picturesque Boulders Beach, there’s a beach for every preference. December is the perfect time to bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the ocean, and indulge in beachside activities and water sports.
Nature lovers will find themselves in paradise in Cape Town. The iconic Table Mountain provides breathtaking panoramic views of the city and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, exploring the Cape Peninsula offers the opportunity to visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, marvel at the stunning Cape Point, and encounter diverse wildlife.
Cape Town’s multicultural heritage and vibrant culinary scene are not to be missed. Explore the colorful streets of the Bo-Kaap neighborhood with its distinctive Cape Malay architecture and cuisine. Visit the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, offering a mix of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Indulge in a wine-tasting experience in the nearby Cape Winelands, renowned for its picturesque vineyards and world-class wines.
December also brings festive energy to Cape Town. Join in the local celebrations, markets, and outdoor concerts that add to the lively atmosphere. The Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, held in the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, offer a magical setting to enjoy live music against the backdrop of the setting sun.
5. Sydney, Australia
Prepare for endless sunshine, vibrant festivities, and breathtaking coastal beauty as you embark on an unforgettable December adventure in Sydney, Australia. This iconic city combines natural wonders, cultural richness, and a lively spirit that make it one of the best places to travel in December.
December in Sydney marks the beginning of summer, setting the stage for a sun-soaked escapade. Bask in the golden rays on the world-renowned Bondi Beach, where pristine sands meet crystal-clear waters. It’s the perfect oasis for relaxation and water sports. Enjoy beachside barbecues, sip cocktails at trendy waterfront bars, and let the carefree coastal vibes rejuvenate your soul.
Sydney is one of the best places to travel in December.
Of course, no visit to Sydney in December would be complete without witnessing its world-famous New Year’s Eve fireworks. Prepare to be mesmerized as the night sky erupts into a symphony of color, lighting up the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the sails of the Sydney Opera House. Join the joyful crowds and be part of an electrifying celebration that marks the beginning of a new year in the most spectacular fashion.
Sydney’s cultural scene is equally captivating, offering a diverse range of experiences. Learn about Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at the renowned Australian Museum. Explore the dynamic art galleries of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, showcasing both local and international masterpieces.
Sydney’s outdoor markets and food festivals also come alive in December. Explore the vibrant stalls of the Rocks Markets or indulge in delectable treats at the Night Noodle Markets, featuring a fusion of Asian street food delights.
While flights to Australia will not be the cheapest option for a budget-friendly holiday, finding great flight deals is still possible, especially if you book in advance. For flights to Sydney, Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport (SYD) is your best bet. It’s the busiest airport in Australia, so you have a higher chance of scoring great flight deals.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, the captivating capital of Iceland, is an extraordinary destination that offers an enchanting winter experience, making it one of the best places to travel in December. With its unique blend of natural wonders and festive atmosphere, Reykjavik promises a truly unforgettable adventure.
One of the main reasons to visit Reykjavik in December is the chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The long winter nights in Iceland provide ideal conditions for this celestial spectacle, and Reykjavik serves as an excellent base for chasing the dancing lights across the darkened sky.
December in Reykjavik also means a delightful winter wonderland. The city is adorned with festive decorations, including charming Christmas markets like the Reykjavik Christmas Village and the Winter Festival at Harpa Concert Hall. These markets offer an opportunity to celebrate the holiday spirit, shop for unique gifts, and savor traditional Icelandic treats.
For adventure seekers, Reykjavik is a gateway to thrilling outdoor activities. Explore the stunning landscapes on snowmobile or super jeep tours, hike through icy landscapes, or embark on glacier walks. The famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is just a short drive away, allowing you to relax and soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters amidst snowy surroundings.
December in Reykjavik also offers a unique opportunity to experience Icelandic Christmas traditions. Join locals in indulging in festive feasts, try traditional dishes like fermented shark and smoked lamb, and partake in yuletide customs that are deeply rooted in Icelandic heritage.
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Get ready to experience a world of infectious energy, pulsating rhythms, and sun-drenched beaches of Rio de Janeiro. This vibrant Brazilian city, known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), beckons you with open arms, promising an unparalleled experience that will ignite your senses and leave you forever captivated.
December in Rio de Janeiro marks the beginning of summer, offering a tropical paradise that will awaken your spirit of adventure. Sink your toes into the golden sands of Copacabana or Ipanema Beach, where you can swim or surf in the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Join in the lively beachside soccer games and revel in the festive atmosphere along the coastline.
But Rio de Janeiro’s allure extends far beyond its breathtaking beaches. Prepare to be dazzled by the city’s iconic landmarks, most notably the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. Ascend to this majestic monument and be rewarded with panoramic views that showcase the city’s sprawling beauty, with the sparkling coastline on one side and the lush Tijuca Forest on the other.
Rio is a captivating destination in December.
Rio de Janeiro hosts a range of cultural and music festivals in December. The “Reveillon” (New Year’s Eve) celebrations on Copacabana Beach are legendary, featuring stunning fireworks displays and lively live performances. The city also hosts the Rio Jazz Festival, which attracts renowned musicians from around the world, offering unforgettable nights of jazz performances.
Experience the cultural richness of Rio de Janeiro by exploring the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa. You’ll find colonial charm and contemporary art galleries, charming cafes, and colorful street art. Visit the iconic Maracanã Stadium, the temple of Brazilian football, and feel the passion of the sport that unites the nation. Before you head home, indulge in the flavors of Brazil by savoring mouthwatering churrasco (barbecue), feijoada (traditional black bean stew), and refreshing caipirinhas, the country’s signature cocktail.
When flying into Rio de Janeiro, the best airport to consider is Galeão International Airport (GIG), also known as Rio de Janeiro International Airport. Located about 20 kilometers from the city center, it is well-connected with domestic and international flights, making it convenient for travelers to reach their holiday destination.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the best places to travel in December
Are you ready to plan your great end-of-year escape? Here are some of the most common questions (and answers) regarding traveling in December.
Why should I travel in December?
December presents a unique opportunity for travel due to its blend of winter wonderlands, festive celebrations, and pleasant weather in many parts of the world. It’s an ideal time to escape the routine and embrace the joy of exploring new destinations while immersing yourself in cultural festivities and unforgettable experiences.
Families often prefer to travel in December because children are off from school. With the holidays, it presents a great opportunity to visit loved ones or plan a family holiday abroad. Depending on your destination, December may be considered off-season, which increases your likelihood of finding cheaper flights and accommodation.
Where is the warmest place in America in December?
When it comes to finding warm places to visit in December, look no further than the sun-soaked paradise of Hawaii. This tropical archipelago boasts the warmest temperatures in America during this time of year.
With average temperatures ranging from the pleasant mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to high 20s Celsius), Hawaii is one of the best places to visit in December, hands down.
What are the best dates to travel in December?
When planning a trip in December, avoiding crowded flights can significantly enhance your travel experience. Traveling can be stressful enough without the holidays approaching, and the holiday season adds to the chaos. So, you might wonder if there are better dates to fly in December.
Whether you’re heading home for the holidays or embarking on a vacation, selecting the right dates can help you navigate through bustling airports and ensure a smoother journey. To help you plan your trip with ease, I’ve gathered insights on the best dates to travel in December and avoid crowded flights. Here are some tips:
1. Early December: Consider traveling during the first week of December, as it tends to be less busy than later in the month. Many people postpone their travels until closer to the holidays, making early December a great time to secure less crowded flights.
2. Midweek Flights: Opt for midweek departures and arrivals instead of weekends. Tuesdays and Wednesdays often have lower demand, resulting in fewer travelers and a more peaceful journey.
3. Non-Peak Hours: Choose early morning or late-night flights. These less popular time slots tend to have fewer passengers, allowing for more comfortable travel and shorter wait times at security checkpoints.
4. Avoid Peak Travel Dates: Avoid peak holiday travel dates, such as the weekends before and after Christmas and New Year’s. These periods typically experience a surge in travelers, leading to crowded flights and higher ticket prices.
Where is it best to visit in December?
The best place to visit in December depends on your preferences and interests. When choosing a destination, consider some things you would like to do. And, more importantly, consider the weather. December can be a very cold month or a warm one, depending on the hemisphere. Do you want to embrace the cold and spend your vacation skiing? Or do you prefer to avoid the cold with a warm, tropical vacation?
Here are some of the best places to visit in December if you want to embrace the cold:
- Lapland, Finland
- New York City, USA
- Reykjavik, Iceland
Alternately, here are some popular December destinations for escaping winter:
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Sydney, Australia
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
What state has the best weather in December?
If you’re seeking pleasant weather in December, head to the Sunshine State of Florida. With its mild temperatures and abundant sunshine, Florida offers an escape from the winter chill up north.
Whether you’re relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Miami and Key West, exploring the vibrant city of Orlando with its world-famous theme parks, or enjoying outdoor activities in the Everglades or Gulf Coast, Florida’s favorable weather allows for a wide range of enjoyable experiences during the winter season.
Is it good to travel to Europe in December?
Traveling to Europe in December can be a magical experience, perfect for those seeking a festive and enchanting holiday atmosphere. Many European cities come alive with dazzling Christmas markets, adorned with twinkling lights, joyful music, and delicious treats.
Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, sipping mulled wine, exploring charming winter wonderlands, and indulging in seasonal delicacies. While the weather may be chilly, it adds to the cozy ambiance. This makes it an ideal time to visit historical sites, museums, and galleries without heavy crowds.
From the enchanting Christmas markets of Germany to the romantic charm of Paris in winter, Europe in December offers a unique blend of cultural delights and holiday cheer, creating life-long memories.
How can I make the most of my December travel experience?
Are you looking to make the most of your December travel plans? Whether you’re embarking on a winter getaway or seeking warm beach destinations, December is a great month to travel. To make the most of your December travel experience, I recommend thoughtful preparation and a flexible mindset.
Tip 1: embrace the festive atmosphere. December is a month filled with holiday cheer around the world. Immerse yourself in local traditions, explore Christmas markets, and witness dazzling light displays. Attend seasonal events, concerts, or festive performances to fully embrace the holiday spirit of your destination.
Tip 2: be mindful of the crowds. December is a popular travel time, and many tourist hotspots can be bustling with visitors. To maximize your experience, consider visiting attractions during off-peak hours or exploring lesser-known gems that offer a more authentic and uncrowded experience.
Tip 3: take advantage of the unique activities and events. From skiing in snowy mountains to enjoying warm beach weather, December offers a range of seasonal activities. Engage in winter sports, attend local festivals, or participate in holiday-themed events to create lasting memories.
Tip 4: try local winter delicacies. December is a time when various regions showcase their traditional holiday cuisines. Indulge in festive treats, sample regional specialties, and savor the flavors of the season. Exploring the local culinary scene adds a delightful dimension to your December travel experience.
Tip 5: embrace the spirit of giving back. December is a time of gratitude and generosity. Consider engaging in volunteer activities, supporting local charities, or participating in community initiatives at your travel destination. Contributing positively to the local community can enhance your travel experience and create a deeper connection with the place you’re visiting.