While many choose to stay at home for a traditional Christmas with the family over the festive period, there are tons of exciting destinations to try out over the Christmas holidays, especially in Europe.
Travel booking platform Kayak.fr collected data for Business Insider on the return flights searched for on its website between September 1 and December 4 for trips between December 22 and January 1.
According to the platform, these are the 15 most sought-after destinations for the Christmas holidays.
15. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai Marina Walk and Park Island turn into a massive performance ground around this time of year, featuring a magician, jugglers, stilt-walkers, and musicians.
There’s also a carnival parade, including winter-themed performances.
14. Montréal, Canada
Montréal’s chilled outdoor rink has excellent views of the city and hosts a “Fire on Ice” event, with music and fireworks.
13. Paris, France
Alongside the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame cathedral is another Parisian landmark worth visiting over the festive period when it holds midnight masses that are free and open to the public.
12. Porto, Portugal
Alfândega do Porto hosts an indoor space dedicated to Christmas, with ice-skating, toy displays, VR games, and a coffee shop that serves hot chocolate and cookies.
11. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is home to a number of thermal baths — some of which are open-air — and are sure to provide a unique winter experience.
10. Rome, Italy
Around this time of year, you’ll find stacks of boxed Panettone cake all over Rome.
Available only around Christmas, this “sweet bread” is the perfect accompaniment to a hot chocolate when visiting the city.
Bangkok may not exactly be the first place you’d think of going if you’re after a “traditional” Christmas market, however they do have a number of markets offering festive food, homeware, and presents.
8. Berlin, Germany
While Berlin does boast excellent mulled wine and Christmas markets, the city also has a lot more to offer.
Near Anhalter Bahnhof, there’s a circus with horses, stunts, and entertainment for the whole family.
7. Barcelona, Spain
In Spain, presents are traditionally given out by the Three Kings; not Father Christmas or Santa Claus.
La Cabalgata de Reyes — a procession where the “Three Kings” parade through Barcelona — sets off from the city’s port on the evening of January 5, with lights, fireworks, and music too.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
In the Old Town Square, you’ll find Prague’s Christmas Market.
As well as an official Christmas tree, the market offers art, crafts, drink, and traditional foods such as the Trdelník bread and “halusky” bacon dumplings.
5. Marrakech, Morocco
Morocco might not be the first place you think of as a Christmas vacation destination — but in addition to hotels and restaurants in larger cities offering holiday menus, there are sometimes special holiday-related events too.
One of the bonuses of being in Marrakech over the holiday period is that the city’s restaurants and cafés are all open.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
While in Lisbon over the Christmas period, it may be worth paying a visit to the Christmas Market in Campo Pequeno to find some “bolo-rei” cake — it’s a staple treat at Christmas in Portugal.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
At Christmas, Amsterdam’s Museum Square transforms into a Christmas Village where you can enjoy Dutch treats such like “Speculaas” cookies and Marzipan, visit the Christmas market and go ice-skating.
2. New York, United States
Exploring the holiday decor in hotel lobbies and checking out the window dressings in the Big Apple should be enough to get you feeling festive.
There are also New York landmark miniatures to check out at the Botanical Gardens, and a visit to the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center is a must for any Christmas visitor!
1. London, United Kingdom
As well as the traditional charming markets, you can find many huge and impressively decorated Christmas trees around London. The tree in Trafalgar Square is donated to London by the city of Oslo in Norway – a tradition that has been held since 1947 as a way of thanking Great Britain for their help during the Second World War.