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Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

Best places to travel in December 2022

In December, you can relax in a natural hot spring in Japan before visiting snow monkeys that do the same, enjoy a private tour of the Louvre without the usual crowds or nibble king cake in Portugal. The month offers a wealth of options across the globe, so we’ve listed some of the most popular destinations. We’ve also suggested a few you might not have thought of, where you can take advantage of quieter cities to enjoy sights that are often very busy.

Hike through caves in Vietnam, ply the Amazon’s tributaries by boat in Peru or just relax under sunny skies in Australia or the Algarve.

Festivals and events around the world in December

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1. Germany

December sees Germany in full festive mode as Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) set up shop in even the smallest town squares, and snow often falls. It’s cold, yes, but manageably so, and as long as you plan your visit well in advance, you’ll likely still have your first choice of places to stay and visit during this busy period. The Christkindlmarkts in Germany are some of the finest in Europe, with seasonal food and drink for sale, along with many handmade gifts and handicrafts. The German countryside is also often a spectacle in December: you might be treated to the sight of Bavarian castles and valleys draped in snow.

Christmas market, Munich
Christmas market, Munich

2. Dubai

Dubai offers a chance to escape the harsh temperatures of a Northern Hemisphere winter. Sunlight and warm weather make it an ideal time to lounge around hotel pools or sunbathe, although the seawater can sometimes still be a little too cold for swimming. It’s also a time when the emirate erupts with a host of festivals catering to many different interests, including the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Dubai International Film Festival. On and around the annual anniversary of the UAE’s independence, known as National Day, there are fireworks and often visual art shows.

Dubai beach
Dubai beach

3. Vietnam

Though there’s still the chance of rain in central Vietnam, the rest of the country is dry in December. This does mean there are more visitors at this time, especially in the south. In the northern areas, temperatures can get cool in the evenings, but the southern coastal areas are balmy and bright — ideal weather for beach relaxation. Plan to book early, especially if you’re visiting popular destinations like Phu Quoc, Mui Ne and Phen Thiet or want to travel near the end of the month — Christmas and New Year are busy times in Vietnam.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Phu Quoc, Vietnam

4. Italy

Italy enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, which means winters here are cool rather than cold, though sometimes wet. This means December is a good time to explore the cities, where you’ll be able to visit popular sights and explore museums with few other visitors. Areas like the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany will be very quiet, and you may find that some attractions have limited opening hours. The lead up to Christmas in Italy is celebrated with nativities, special markets and squares decked out in lights, while churches fill with worshippers, especially in Rome, where the Christmas Eve Mass is particularly popular.

Doge's Palace, Venice
Doge's Palace, Venice

5. Spain

Though the northern reaches of Spain can get chilly and wet in December, Andalusia usually boasts mild temperatures and sunny skies, as well as the fragrant scent of orange trees blooming. Regardless of where you go, you’re likely to be one of just a handful of visitors, making this an excellent time to see otherwise crowded sights like the Alhambra in Granada or the Mezquita in Córdoba. The cities are decked out for Christmas and you’ll find elaborate nativities as well as special foods for the season such as pestiños, little golden balls of fried dough rolled in aniseed or sesame seeds.

Alhambra, Granada
Alhambra, Granada

6. Peru

December is a wet, warm month in Peru, and you’ll encounter few other visitors. The rains create verdant scenery, and birds and orchids flourish in the cloudforests. If you’re visiting the Amazon, the waters will be higher than during the dry season, which means you’ll be able to explore the smaller tributaries that are too low in other months. If you’re in Cuzco for Christmas Eve, the Santurantikuy Market bustles with people drinking hot chocolate and vendors from the high Andes selling grasses and plants for the nativity manger.

Macaws clay lick, Peruvian Amazon
Macaws clay lick, Peruvian Amazon

7. Portugal

Throughout Portugal you’ll generally find more sun than rain and warmer temperatures than elsewhere in Europe. The Algarve tends to have particularly sunny skies and warm temperatures, attracting visitors to its sandy beaches. Excepting the week around Christmas, you’ll find hotels offer excellent value for money. Every town and village is decorated for the holiday and you can enjoy seasonal treats like bolo rei, a king cake that’s made from rich dough and studded with dried fruits and nuts.

Sandstone cliffs, Algarve
Sandstone cliffs, Algarve

8. France

Though the temperatures are cool and the weather sometimes wet, December is an exceptional time to visit Paris. You’ll enjoy shorter lines and fewer visitors at popular destinations like the Eiffel Tower, while a large collection of Christmas markets pop up around the city. Merrily lit cafés make a welcoming retreat from any wintry weather and, if you’re lucky, you might get to enjoy a dusting of snow. The countryside is much quieter, with many places closed for the season — if you’re looking for a secluded retreat, you can usually take advantage of steep discounts at those hotels that remain open.

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris

9. India

December is one of the most popular months to visit India. Temperatures drop, creating more comfortable conditions for exploring, though early mornings and evenings can be chilly. It’s a good time to take in the sights of Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra without the summer heat, although be prepared for some fog in the mornings, which tends to clear to crisp blue skies. We also recommend staying in the south of the country, where it’s sunny and warm, although you’ll need to plan in advance as many people flock here for a festive break.

Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal, Agra

10. Thailand

With good weather wherever you are, December is one of the best months to visit Thailand. Unfortunately this is a well-known fact, and you won’t be the only one heading to its shores. We recommend visiting toward the start of the month to avoid the busy festive period. It’s a great time for diving and snorkelling along the southwest coast, where you’ll find the water clear and calm, with fewer visitors than the west coast. Koh Samui can see rainfall at this time of year, but everywhere else is warm and dry without being too hot.

Longtail boats, Thailand
Longtail boats, Thailand
Last Updated: 22/06/2021 09:02:11