Rather than do another winter travel guide this Tuesday I thought I’d do a bit of a Christmas travel round up of the most festive places I’ve ever been. Travel has been almost non existent this year, but I’ve actually enjoyed looking back over my old photos at the Christmas trips I’ve done in the past. After last year I began the year saying I could do with less travel this year (be careful what you wish for!) but I do miss going somewhere new.
My bucket list is never ending, and the winter destinations far outweigh the spring or summer. I was going to share all these festive places via a return of my virtual travel weekends on instagram like I did in the summer, but it just felt a bit off over Christmas with all the tier restrictions and people unable to get to places they want to be. It’s different to the summer where we were full of hope of it ending this year.
But there’s no harm in future dreaming is there? So if you’re looking for winter or Christmas breaks in the future here’s the most festive places I’ve been, and a few I haven’t but really want to.
If nothing else I hope the photos provide some Christmas spirit for you and hope for what we have waiting for us in future!
Edinburgh & York, UK
Let’s get these two out the way early on, as I don’t know anyone who doesn’t go to Edinburgh or York, or both even over the festive season under normal circumstances. Getting on the train at Newcastle, and heading straight to the nearest mulled wine stall once you get off is usually how those trips start. Nobody remembers how they end….
The food stalls in the Edinburgh market are amazing, and there’s some lovely bars and restaurants to go to in York. The highlights for me are just wandering around Edinburgh taking it all in, and the Christmas shop in York that you usually have to queue to get inside. I can not WAIT to do these trips again in future with friends and family.
Bars to go to in Edinburgh: Copper Blossom, Tigerlily’s, The Dome, The Three Sisters
Bars to go to in York: Lendal Cellars, House of Trembling Madness, The Botanist, Evil Eye, Bora Bora
Nowhere does beautiful cosy bars with winter warmers quite like Copenhagen. Nyhavn may be a tourist trap but despite this, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the atmosphere at Christmas time. The cobbled street opposite the coloured buildings is lined with tiny market stalls, there are fairy lights everywhere that reflect off the canal, and there are so many little bars to sit in under blankets, or courtyards to duck into for a drink.
Tivoli is quite possibly the most festive place I have ever been. The quaintest, non tacky theme park anyway but at Christmas it reaches a whole other level. There are rides for kids, but the gardens, shops, stalls cafes and bars are beautiful if rides aren’t for you. Grab a glogg, the Swedish equivalent for mulled wine and walk around. It’s importable not to feel Christmassy.
Bars/Restaurants to visit: Tivoli food hall, Madklubben Vestebro, Union Kitchen
Read my full post on Tivoli at Christmas here.
I actually went to Tallinn in February not December, and it still felt festive in one of the most boring months of the year, as they don’t take their decorations down as early as we do. I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos of Tallinn Christmas market in the square of the Old Town, and it’s somewhere I would love to go back to for a Christmas trip.
The Old Town is like a fairytale storybook around every corner you turn, with pastel coloured buildings in the main square, windy cobbles streets, red rooftops, a lot of spires and turrets, and incredible viewpoints across the city. Even in February with it covered in snow you could see how festive it had been at Christmas.
It is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been and I was fascinated by it.
Restaurants and Cafes to visit: Pierre Chocolatier, Olde Hansa, Controvento
Read more on a fairytale winter in Tallinn here.
New York, US
My favourite time of year to visit New York has to be December. It’s busy, chaotic, and freezing cold but so so Christmassy. The window and facade displays across the whole city are incredible, shopping on 5th or Maddison Avenue is an experience in itself, ice skating in Central Park and the oversized decorations on 6th Avenue can’t be missed and of course the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree.
If you have a trip to New York booked for December I think you look forward to it all year, that you actually forget a bit about Christmas, until you’re thrown into it over there and come back fully in the spirit.
Bars/Restaurants to visit: The Old Rose, The Spotted Pig, Ralph’s Coffee Shop, Del Frisco’s – to name a few.
If you’ve already read my Blogmas post from last Tuesday you’ll know all about how much I adore Paris at Christmas. A real surprise as it’s not always the first place you’d think of to visit at this time of year but the Paris Christmas market is brilliant, and so are the Christmas lights all across the city.
It’s a slower pace than New York, but just as Christmassy and there are just as many good shopping opportunities. And don’t forget the amazing French wine.
Read all about visiting Paris at Christmas here.
Bars/Restaurants to visit: Le Village Royale, Flottes, Cafe de la Paix, Angelinas.
My first travel Blogmas post was on Amsterdam, as we enjoyed a brilliant trip in December with some friends last year. Ice skating in front of the Rijksmuseum was the biggest highlight, and the beautiful canals all lit up at night.
Read more on a winter trip to Amsterdam here.
Bars/Restaurants to visit: Bar Moustache, Pluk Amsterdam, Ree7, Mama Kelly’s, the W rooftop bar.
Oslo is another place I’ve been to in winter, but not in December. Norway is absolutely stunning covered in a blanket of snow, and I’ve seen some beautiful photos of it from some of my colleagues who went in December. It’s a good one if you enjoy winter sports, as obviously there are opportunities to do them everywhere. Some people I work with even ski to work. The fjords are also jaw droppingly beautiful. It’s expensive though, very expensive.
Bars/Restaurants to visit: Pincho Nation, Dognville Burger, any bar along Aker Brygge
Read more about visiting Oslo in winter here.
You can’t talk about Christmas markets without mentioning Germany. Cologne is one of the first that spring to mind, with the traditional market stalls sprawling out in rows under the Cologne Cathedral. The old town is my favourite part of the city, with some great beer halls to enjoy good food and Kolsch beer when it’s cold outside after a browse round the market.
The Lindt chocolate museum can also be found in Cologne, so it’s a good one to visit for chocolate lovers.
Read more on Cologne here.
The festive places I haven’t been to but are on my list…
For the gingerbread and Christmas decorated houses…
Rothenburg on der Tauber
The most picturesque German town…
For an alpine ski and spa trip…
For a snowy treehouse retreat…
For the Christmas market…
I’m desperate to get to some of these places in the future. Where are the most festive places you have been? Anywhere I haven’t mentioned?
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