Best places to travel in December 2021
December brings celebrations of all shapes and sizes across the world. Embrace a wintry yet magical Christmas in Russia, where Gorky Park turns into an ice rink and sleigh rides are offered throughout the month. Top off your year joining in a New Year’s celebration in another part of the world. Travel to Brazil and watch the cariocas (Rio’s locals) dressed in white as they gather on a sunny Copacabana in tribute to the goddess of the sea. Or head to Australia for a New Year’s celebration of a lifetime in Sydney. Witness fireworks exploding off the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, while enjoying the summer temperatures.
Popular countries to visit in December
Our specialists share their ideas, personal recommendations and inspiration about the best places to visit in December
As well as the legendary festive celebrations in New York, Rio and Sydney, it’s well worth seeking out smaller events such as the Festival of Lights in Villa de Leyva, Colombia or the annual Franschhoek Champagne Festival in South Africa. See Japan’s scenic hot springs and snow monkeys, try a safari in Malawi or Zambia, or opt for romantic sleigh rides and ice skating in Moscow’s Gorky Park.
Tours we recommend in December
Trip suggestions that we know capture a route at its best if you’re planning to travel in December.
Explore Arenal Volcano, a spectacular setting for some of the country's best activities.
Visit the Monteverde Cloudforest: a cool, lush climate with excellent birdwatching.
Try zip-lining or tackle the Cloudforest canopy walkways.
Relax on the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Enjoy the museums, restaurants and shops of Cape Town.
Take a cable car up to the top of Table Mountain for incredible views of the city below.
Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during apartheid.
Enjoy a full day guided tour of the Cape Point and Peninsula and see the jackass penguin colony on Boulders Beach.
Indulge in fine food to accompany the great wines of Franschhoek and the surrounding vineyards.
Drift among stunning limestone karst scenery on a traditional junk in Lan Ha Bay (a quieter alternative to Halong).
Unearth Vietnam's modern and ancient history in imperial Hue.
Shop and relax in charming Hoi An.
Explore the French influence in the bustling cities of Hanoi and Saigon.
Enjoy a shared tour of the magnificent Cape Point and Cape Peninsula.
Take a private tour of Robben Island to learn about South Africa’s apartheid history.
Go wine tasting at the various estates in and around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
Enjoy game drives in a private nature reserve, looking for zebra, wildebeest and antelope.
Relax and stroll on the beach in the laid-back coastal town of Paternoster.
Experience the contrast between Old and New Delhi.
Enjoy the breath taking views of the Taj Mahal.
Take a guided tour of Gwalior's little-visited Fort.
Explore Khajuraho's quirky temples.
See the evening pooja (prayers) in Varanasi.
Explore the historic streets of Old Havana in Cuba's pulsing capital.
Visit a traditional Cuban music hall in Trinidad.
Admire the views in the peaceful valley of Viñales.
Experience life in the artistic rural community of Las Terrazas.
See a different side of Mumbai at dawn as the city wakes.
Visit the bustling, entrepreneurial Dharavi slum with a local.
Relax on the palm-fringed beaches of Goa.
Sample freshly-caught seafood in Goa's old town.
Soak up the art and culture of Durban and sample local Afro-Indian delicacies.
Relax at a countryside retreat in the Midlands, taking leisurely strolls along the river.
Find out about the history of the Battlefields, touring the sites with a knowledgeable guide.
Go hiking, horse riding or mountain biking in the Drakensberg Mountains.
Spend a few days navigating the mesmerising city of Saigon.
Explore the kingdom of coconuts, Ben Tre.
Enjoy two nights at a charming riverside lodge in Vinh Long province.
Discover the hidden charm and culture of one of the few remaining Khmer communities in Vietnam.
Journey along the Mekong and Bassac River on board a traditionally styled sampan.
End the trip in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.
Visit the Golden Temple for the nightly religious ceremony.
Experience the Closing the Border ceremony between India and Pakistan.
Visit the Dalai Lama's residence.
Ride on the 'Toy Train' to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shimla.
Get a taste of British Raj in Shimla.
Get to know Cuba’s vibrant and historic capital, Havana.
Visit the colonial city of Trinidad and its surrounding sugar cane plantations.
Go walking and explore caves in the valley of Viñales.
Relax on one of Cuba's beaches in the northern cayes.
Salt cathedral of Zipaquira.
Historical centre of Bogota.
Fortified city of Cartagena.
The lush countryside in the coffee region.
Explore the canal networks of Tortuguero National Park.
Zip line through the cloudforest and relax in a natural hot spring.
See a huge array of wildlife from tiny frogs to sloths and tropical birds.
Trek in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano.
Relax on the beach, or take a surf lesson instead.
Comprehensive tours of Uxmal and Kabah Mayan ruins.
Staying in the heart of the beautiful colonial city of Merida.
Staying a night near Chichen Itza - the most famous of Mexico's Mayan ruins.
Mayan Riviera - long stretches of soft sandy beach.
Enjoy the vibrancy and buzz of Rio de Janeiro.
Step back in time amongst the whitewashed buildings and coloured shutters of colonial Paraty.
Enjoy relaxing days on Ilha Grande's many beaches.
Explore the monasteries around Leh, and admire their stunning locations.
Drive to the top of Khardung La, one of the world's highest driveable passes.
Ride a camel through the high altitude dunes of the Nubra Valley.
See the life of the monks who live at 4,000m.
Enjoy a ride on a 'Toy Train' to the colonial hill station of Shimla.
Visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Enjoy the spectacular 'Closing the Border Ceremony' at Waga border.
Explore Tibetan culture at Dharamsala.
Witness an evening aarti ceremony in Rishikesh.
Four full days to explore the iconic temples of Angkor and some time to enjoy the town of Siem Reap.
Head out to the Tonle Sap lake and explore the floating village of Kompong Khleang.
Explore Cambodia's turbulent history and haggle at the Russian market in Phnom Penh.
Take a boat trip from Kep to the idyllic Rabbit Island where you can relax on the beautiful beach.
Drive along the Panorama Route for incredible views over the Drakensberg Escarpment.
Stay in a luxurious lodge in the private Sabi Sand Wildtuin reserve.
See the Big Five on morning, afternoon and evening game drives in the Kruger.
Head out on bush walks with a knowledgeable guide to learn more about the area's wildlife.
Take in the views from Kowloon over to Hong Kong Island.
Enjoy some of the best dim sum in the world with the locals Hong Kong style.
Soak up the atmosphere of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's up and coming capital.
Visit the awe-inspiring temple complex of Angkor Wat and bring out your adventurous side exploring Ta Prohm.
Relax in Kep and experience the flavours of Cambodian cuisine.
Soak up the view of the Shore Temple at sunset.
Enjoy France in India in the former colonial enclave of Pondicherry.
Stay in a village of 19th century merchants' homes.
Witness the ceremonies in Sri Meenakshi temple with hundreds of pilgrims and the smell of incense.
Tour the Cape Peninsula with a private guide - explore Cape Point and spot African penguins on Boulders Beach.
Drive through incredible scenery and visit charming towns along the Garden Route.
See whales off Plettenberg Bay (July - November) and spot seals and dolphins all year round.
Enjoy guided game drives on an Eastern Cape safari, looking out for the Big Five.