Tag Archives: Winter travel

Top Christmas Trips – USA, Canada, Central + South America

Wollman Rink in Central Park with ice skaters

Cocktails by the beach or shopping splurges in cities – there is no right way to celebrate the festive holiday in the Americas. If you are looking for ideas to change up your Christmas trips in the Americas this year, look no further! We (Gemma and Craig) have asked fellow travel lovers and experts where the best places to spend Christmas in the USA, Canada, Central and South America are. If you’ve been nice, Santa will still find you even if you are by the pool, at the poker table or pulling crackers in a winter wonderland!

» Planning on a festive road trip? Here’s our all-season packing list (free)

Note: Check individual locations for updates on their proposed Christmas event plans for 2020.



Pull on some skates and spin around Millenium Park at the Mccormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink then visit the famous bean to take a Chicago selfie! Millennium Park is where many of the festive events take place in the city including the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Other hotspots include the 45-foot Christmas tree in the Walnut Room at Macy’s and the European style Christmas market at Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile (Mag’s Mile) also puts on a great show with lights and Disney characters to celebrate the start of the holidays.

There are a few spots for sledding, check out Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor, Palmisano Park in Bridgeport, the Dan Ryan Woods and Soldier Field. Lots of choice during your trip to Chicago this Christmas.

Christmas in Las Vegas

No matter what time of year you visit Las Vegas, you’ll find loads of fun things to do. But Christmas in Vegas really is one of the hottest times to holiday. Although the temperature drops to 60 degrees Farenheight, the fun does not stop. 

On the first night of your visit, grab a hot chocolate to go, and head to Lake Bellagio to catch one of the famous fountain shows. It is so much fun to see the water dance to the sounds of familiar holiday tunes! Enjoy the attractions with fewer people, Vegas is noticeably quieter during the holiday season. 

Another delightful holiday-time activity in Vegas is viewing the extravagant displays set up many of the resorts.

You definitely should not miss the lobby of the Wynn Resort and the Conservatory at the Bellagio Resort, where you will find classy depictions of winter and holiday scenes.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without seeing the Nutcracker, but reserve in advance if you want to bag the good seats.

Check out the one million annual holiday lights at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden.

Next, head to the Town Square, where man-made snow flurries create magic each night during the holidays!

Just because you are holidaying in Las Vegas, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a traditional Christmas meal. Book a table for a holiday meal at any one of several fine dining restaurants or enjoy a buffet but expect long lines. Almost everywhere is open on Christmas Day.

Bundle up, because average temperatures in Vegas can drop from a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to a near-freezing 32 degrees at night.

Dhara | It’s Not About the Miles

Las Vegas sign blue skies

Miami Christmas

One of the good things about holidaying in Miami is the weather. With an average temperature of 80 F (26.6 C) Miami definitely appeals to winter-weary travelers looking for a weather respite.

There is a lot more to the self-proclaimed “Magic City” than the weather. You know the holidays have arrived when you see the blazing, colorful holiday lights at Santa’s Village off Palmetto Highway. Every year it seems the decorations get more and more elaborate.

One of my favorite holiday activities is visiting the Christmas markets that sprout up all over the city like colorful mushrooms.

Miami being the capital of Latin America, there is definitely a heavy Latin – particularly Cuban – flavor that permeates the holidays.

Signs pop up in food stores advertising ingredients for “Noche Buena”  the holiday meal celebrated by many Latin Americans on December 24.

The traditional dishes include lechon (roast pig), moro (black beans and rice) and fried plantains all washed down with Spanish cava. And the music is non-stop! Every club, bar or restaurant with even a couple of square feet of space transforms itself into a dance extravaganza and everyone participates.  

It’s about this time that the announcements for New Year’s Eve parties start hitting the airwaves. And nobody does New Year’s Eve like Miami (well, except for NYC, of course).  On December 31st many streets close and restaurants pour onto the sidewalks festooned with balloons and streamers.

Many restaurants charge an additional 15% holiday fee on this day. The hours count down and, close to midnight, people start heading to the beach where they know the exhilarating fireworks display won’t disappoint.  And they don’t!  

Talek | Travels With Talek

Christmas in New York

Maybe I’m biased as a local, but I think one of the best places to celebrate Christmas is in New York City.

With the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree all lit up, the department store windows decked out in full holiday cheer, and the bustle of the winter markets and ice skating rink at Bryant Park and Rockefeller, you just might find yourself skipping down sparkly Fifth Avenue while humming Deck the Halls!

I love seeing the Radio City Rockettes or the Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet. A pre-theater glass of wine at the holiday wonderland, Rolf’s, is a great way to round up a festive night in the Big Apple.

Just remember, December weekends in NYC are crowded. Plan extra time to get around and, when possible, travel via the subway underground. It’s by far the quickest way to avoid NYC’s legendary holiday traffic and maximize your time.

If you’re lucky, you just might get some snowfall, which only adds to how pretty the city looks! And, a coating of white absolutely warrants a stroll through fairy tale Central Park. Just be sure to dress for the weather!

Temperatures in NYC in the winter can range from the comfortable 40s and 50s to the downright wicked in the teens and single digits. The best way to make sure you keep that holiday spirit as you walk around the city is by covering your ears, wearing a heavy winter jacket, and warm, waterproof shoes or boots.

Jackie Sills-DellegrazieThe Globetrotting Teacher

» Don’t miss | How to spend 4 days in NYC

Iceskating in New York with skyline

Vermont, New England

There is really nowhere better to spend Christmas than Vermont, USA. I may be biased, having lived here for more than half my life, but Vermont (and the New England region in general) are the ideal spots for a classic Christmas.

First of all, this state is where you want to go if you’re searching for a White Christmas.

Climate statistics point to the chance of snow on the ground in Vermont on December 25th is somewhere around 75% or more. Pretty good odds!

Vermont is like a Christmas village, with quaint main streets, charming steepled churches, and an abundance of Christmas trees.

One of the best traditions for the holidays in Vermont is to pick and cut your own Christmas tree. We recently discovered a Christmas tree farm not far from Vermont’s biggest city (Burlington) where you can ride in a horse-drawn sleigh up to find your tree.

Once you’ve chopped it down, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies by a wood-burning fireplace.

Aside from that, in Vermont, you can enjoy tons of wintry sports and activities, including sledding, skiing, ice skating, and much more. Simply put, Vermont is the Christmas dream here in the USA.

Amy |  Two Drifters

Vermont Horses Snow Christmas

Portland’s Christmas

Portland, Oregon is one of the USA’s coolest cities and as the temperatures drop (and the rain pours), it maintains its core values: craft beer, respect of the city’s makers, and community action.

There are plenty of opportunities to see Christmas lights in Portland. Oregon Zoo puts on a big seasonal show, Pittock Manion is decked out by volunteers and there is even a ship parade where boats sail the Willamette and Columbia River all lit up. The locals at Peacock Lane also light up their houses for you to see.

All of that festive cheer works up a thirst! Don’t miss your chance to try 50 ales at the Holiday Ale Festival at Pioneer Square (image credit).

Washington DC

Often overshadowed by nearby NYC, Washington is one of the most underrated places in the US to celebrate Christmas. Having grown up just outside of the city, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year in the nation’s capital.

For one, there are two national Christmas trees. That’s right, TWO! One of them is located in front of the U.S. Capitol Building and provides one of the most picturesque DC Christmas settings. The other tree is located in front of the White House. That tree is also surrounded by 56 smaller trees, one for each US state and territory.

Speaking of the White House, it gets a makeover each holiday season. The President’s home is open to public tours all year, but Christmas is the best time to visit. The entire building is decorated with a multitude of trees, fresh pine garland, twinkling lights, and a gingerbread replica of the White House itself.

My favorite DC Christmas tradition is the performance of Handel’s Messiah at the National Cathedral. The Messiah was written to be performed in just such a venue, and the annual performance is always a highlight of the season.

Weather in DC in December is usually on the chilly side, but mild. High temperatures are typically in the 30s/40s F. Many restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but a number of them do offer special holiday meals on those days.

Maggie McKneely | Pink Caddy Travelogue



Excitement and preparation for Christmas in Toronto starts right after the American Thanksgiving.

For me, Christmas in Toronto starts when the Hudson Bay Company puts up its colorful window displays and Eaton Centre in the adjacent building puts up its gigantic Christmas tree which is covered in red twinkling lights. I visit every year to check them out. They instantly put me in a festive mood.

This is also around the time when the Christmas tree at Nathan Phillips Square is illuminated. The illumination ceremony includes some great fireworks display and performances by Canadian artists.

I also look forward to the Christmas market in Distillery district which opens in mid-November and lasts up to the big day. This gives people an entire month to do their shopping. This year the newlywed couple, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin also showed up to celebrate. Tip to save money – visit during weekdays when there’s no entrance fee.

If you are looking to enjoy Christmas on a budget, then visit Toronto Waterfront. This is one of my favorite free things to do in Toronto any time of the year. However, during Christmas, the spectacular light display near Toronto’s Music Garden and the Natrel skating takes my sense of awe, for the waterfront, to a whole new level.

Other popular things to do during this season is to visit the flower display in Allan Garden conservatory, joining the festivities and having a traditional Christmas dinner at the Black Creek Pioneer village, seeing the winter wonderland display at Yonge-Dundas square just to name a few.

Pari | Traveling Pari

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Christmas tree TorontoCentral America

Mexico City

Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, however, it feels homely during the winter holidays.

The population of Mexico, in general, is very religious, thus, it’s common to celebrate Christmas with the family. Also, families in Mexico are quite big, so it’s not unusual to see the gatherings of 30, 50 or even 80 people.

When we visit Mexico City (my husband is Mexican/Spanish), we always have a family gathering with a large Christmas tree and a Christmas nativity set up at home.

On Christmas Day, Mexicans usually go to their local church and later stay at home with the family.

Mexico City is a lovely destination for Christmas holidays because it gets decorated for Christmas, but at the same time, it’s very warm in winter (during the day it could easily be 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s quite a unique and unusual situation especially for Europeans and Northern Americans (from Canada and the Northern states in the US).

There 3 major holidays around the Christmas time in Mexico: Christmas, NY and the last one is the 3 King’s Day on the 6th of Dec. It’s common to gather together and eat a special sweet bread called Rosca.

New Year is usually quite calm in Mexico City, however, there are fireworks in the downtown and parties around Zocalo and Angel.

Liza | Tripsget

Ometepe, Nicaragua

One of the most unusual places to spend Christmas is Balgue, the smallest village on the island of Ometepe, in Nicaragua. Famous for the presence of two volcanoes and its natural beauty, Ometepe isn’t exactly a happening destination in terms of Christmas celebrations, which in a way is what makes it completely charming and worth it.

If Ometepe keeps Christmas celebrations low key, in Balgue they almost go unnoticed. It’s all about staying in the family, sitting together playing the guitar and singing traditional tunes.

What I loved about it is that it’s not commercial at all, but it truly is about sharing the moment with people you love and care about and welcoming others into your home. 

As the smallest village in Ometepe, Balgue doesn’t have many sleeping options, most visitors stay at Finca Magdalena, a very modest hostel kind of place at about 30 minutes walk (there is no road access) through the forest. Travelers hardly venture to the village during the night, because walking back means crossing the forest in the dark.

Celebrations at Finca Magdalena are thus very similar to those in the village: a bottle of Nicaraguan rum, a guitar or two, and people gathered around the table for an impromptu jam session. It’s completely free, and a lot of fun.

Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Around The World

Maderas Volcano, Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

South America

Christmas in Medellin, Colombia

After backpacking South America for many years, my favourite place to spend Christmas in Medellin, Colombia.

Medellin has one of the most elaborate Christmas celebrations on planet earth. Not only visible on the streets through the 26 million Christmas lights, but also there are other festive traditions that are religiously celebrated.

The most important tradition of all is spending time with the family. Families celebrate by watching the Alumbrados annual Christmas light display and during Novenas (16th – 24th December), we all get together to eat, pray and recite prayers from a book that is passed around between the family.

Why wait until Christmas day to open presents? Here in Medellin, we open presents on the 24th of December and it’s normal to do secret Santa style gifting.

For Christmas in Medellin, expect a moderate 75c temperature. The Paisas, people from the Antioquia region of Colombia, love to celebrate so you will not be disappointed by this special event. 

Daniel James | Layer Culture

Christmas in Santiago, Chile 

My favorite place to spend Christmas is Santiago de Chile. 

The best part about spending Christmas in Chile is that it is summertime so days and nights are warm which means you can wear light clothes and spend lots of time outside.

There are not huge events for Christmas in Santiago as its mostly a private celebration with family.

People who are very Catholic go to church before having dinner with the family on the 24th of December. 

Then, at midnight Santa Claus, “Viejo Pascuero” brings gifts and the family opens them around the Christmas tree.

We prepare a traditional drink for the season called “Cola de Mono” or literally Monkey’s Tale made out of milk, sugar, coffee, and alcohol, served cold with some cookies or Christmas cake.

If you are not invited to spend dinner with a local family, make sure you make reservations in your favorite restaurant, many actually close for the festive holidays so it could be hard to find a place to spontaneously have dinner.

There’s public transportation running the whole night as well as Uber so you won’t be stuck when trying to get home like in other destinations. 

If you stay until New Year’s Eve you will see beautiful firework shows in several points in the city but my suggestion would be travel to the coastal city of Valparaíso, where they throw one of the best and biggest firework shows in the world. 

Gloria Apara | Nomadic Chica

Christmas Santiago

Final Words

Whether you are looking for a white Christmas in the States or a beach trip to Central America, there are many ways to celebrate Christmas in the Americas! This guide has shared expert advice from travel bloggers on their favourite places to spend time in December.

Where will you be this Christmas?

20 Things to do in Chicago at Christmas

Chicago Christmas Winter December Skyline Snow

The city of Chicago is known to flex its majesty during the Christmas season. Chicago comes alive with anticipation as temperatures drop and it is truly a magical place to spend Christmas with loved ones, new travel friends or even alone. From popular Christmas activities to lesser-known winter events, here’s your guide to things to do in Chicago at Christmas for all ages and budgets.

While Christmas activities might look a little different this year, there are still lots of options for Christmas cheer. 

You may also like our guides to 3-day Chicago itinerary, free things to do in Chicago, unique activities.

Christmas Things to do in Chicago

1. Christkindlmarket Christmas Market

For a European Christmas experience that can be found in Chicago, check out the Christkindlmarket Christmas Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop and Wrigleyville at Gallagher Way.

Pick up the perfect Christmas gift from November at the shopping experience inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, Christkindlmarket Chicago is an authentic partnership between the city and Nuremberg, Germany and has been running since 1996.

In the past, vendors such as Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store have traveled from Germany to take part in the Christmas holiday market!

It continues to be one of the most popular things to do in Chicago at Christmas.  

2. The Bean Selfie

One of the most recognisable symbols in Chicago is that big silver bean at Millennium Park.

Just because the ground is dusted/covered in the white stuff it does not stop winter lovers taking a reflection shot with the number one attraction in the city!

Officially called Cloud Gate, this stainless steel figure is the work of Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor and is made up of 169 polished plates, that’s a lot of cleaning! If you are doing it for the ‘Gram, you might want to get a picture of Lake Michigan completely frozen up with the Chicago skyline standing behind.

Cloud Gate silver Chicago Bean with reflections of skyline and skyscrapers behind it

» You may also likePortland winter tips

3. Sledding In Chicago

Sledding is a great way to bond with family and friends during cold winter days.

Every Christmas holiday, sledging enthusiasts head to Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor, Palmisano Park in Bridgeport, the Dan Ryan Woods and Soldier Field.

These hills offer the perfect sledding places and they are safe for kids too. For people looking to sled away from the city, they can head out to the suburbs where places like James Park (Evanston’s “Mount Trashmore”) and Polar Peak at Frozemont (Rosemount MB Financial Park, 20 mins from Chicago Downtown) reign supreme.

4. Ice-Skating In Chicago

Just because it is winter it does not mean that you cannot enjoy outdoor activities this Christmas. Chicago has a number of one-of-a-kind ice skating rinks all over the city.

There are both indoor and outdoor rinks where thousands of people visit during Christmas.

One of the most visited rinks in Chicago is the Mccormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink at Millennium Park. It is open from November to March every year.

Look out for the 2-4-1 offers which let you skate both Millennium and Maggie Daley Park.

If you are new in town, you can hire ice-skating gear. One of the family-friendly things to do in Chicago in winter.

5. Have Glogg At Simon’s Tavern

Looking for the perfect night spot to spend quality time with friends?

The Andersonville neighborhood dive bar, Simon’s Tavern was recently voted as the most loved bar in all of Chicago.

The place has been open since 1934 and is perfect for people looking to enjoy a night out during the Christmas period.

You can cozy up with friends, knock back the tavern’s famous spiced wine and feed the jukebox all night long.

During the holidays, a special neon sign is put up on the front window proclaiming “Its glogg time!”

If you are looking to drink by an open fire, head to Broken Shaker or Drumbar for outside fire with the classy twist.

6. IO Godfrey Igloos

Climb inside the heated igloos of the Godfrey Hotel’s rooftop winter scene!

These dreamy see-through igloos keep you warm while you drink and enjoy the views.

Back by popular demand, these rooftop igloos seat six people, one bottle per group must be purchased.

Bookings live from end of October, deposit is taking to secure it.

You may also like our guide to hidden gems in Chicago.

7. Frosty’s A Christmas Bar

Head to 809 W Evergreen (Goose Island) for Frosty’s pop-up Christmas bar which has heaps of Instagrammable props like swings, giant soldiers and candy canes.

Get ready to party at Frosty’s! Check out the official website for this winter updates.

8. Polar Express Pulls Into Chicago

Hop aboard the CTA’s holiday train which is decked out in over 60,000 lights, tinsel and a visit from Santa!

Check out the official CTA website for this winter updates.

9. Wrigley Building Christmas Tree

Stunning tree at Wrigley Plaza which pops against the glazed terra-cotta on Magnificent Mile.

9. Christmas Shopping in Chicago

Looking for a special gift for a loved one? How about you head to one of the many holiday markets in Chicago.

As you browse the markets, you will experience the wintertime magic while having a blast shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone on your list.

The seasonal market circuit offers a variety of merchandise from Chicago-themed gifts to sugary confections to vintage clothing.

You are free to enjoy a boozy beverage as you shop. Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago is where you will find the European inspired Christmas market stalls and lights to boot.

If like me, you prefer vintage shopping head to the Lower West Side for Knee Deep Vintage, Richard’s Fabulous Finds at Wicker Park (I love this area) and Encore Resale Clothing at Hyde Park.

Christmas Tree Magnificent Mile Chicago

10. Visit Chicago’s Toy Stores

Chicago has a number of toy stores.

During the Christmas season, the shops are open until late hours to accommodate the number of last-minute shoppers.

The toys available at these stores aren’t just for kids.

You will find all sorts of toys including rare collectables.

One of the places to visit in Chicago during winter is Macy’s (the old Marshall Fields) to see the 45-foot tree in the Walnut Room.

11. Check Out The Latest Christmas Movies

Every year, there are Christmas themed movies that get released in cinemas.

Chicago is home to one of the best cinemas equipped with the latest technology to provide a thrilling experience to movie buffs. There are several movies released each year with different ratings.

Instead of staying home and enjoying the same Christmas films, you have watched over and over, why not head to one of the cinemas in Chicago and catch the latest Christmas movies. Bring along the whole family to make the experience memorable.

Alternatively, what about Christmas date night? AMC Dine-in Theatres Block 37 lets you eat a freshly prepared meal, have a drink in hand and watch a movie!

Logan Theatre (2646 N Milwaukee Avenue) is an old-school cinema with crushed velvet seats and cheap show tickets. You can expect new movies, throwbacks and late-night movies.

12. Christmas Shows in Chicago

Do you enjoy watching live plays?

Every year, local theaters in Chicago present both old favourites and new plays on stage.

Venues also host festive orchestras and ballet shows.

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Chicago in December in Winter_

13. Adler Planetarium

Not specifically a Christmas activity but a unique point of interest in Chicago for those who like all things space-related – Alder Planetarium (1300 S Lake Shore Drive).

Many of the shows start at midnight for obvious reasons.

You can expect educational shows, hands-on activities and expert exhibitions. In 2020, you can watch a show online.

Check out our guide to unique things to do in Chicago for more alternative ideas.

Christmas Festivals

14. Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

You will not have properly experienced Christmas in Chicago unless you do the things listed in this post, especially the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Every year, the city of Chicago erects an official 50-foot+ Christmas tree in the majestic Millennium Park. 

It won’t just be the tree that is glowing as Christmas-lovers capture the event on their phones.

There might just be another bright surprise for you too.

15. Morton Arboretum Illumination

Morton Arboretum Illumination, 30 minutes outside of Chicago, is day trip worth taking for the Illumination: Tree Lights.

The two-mile-long driving event along Arboretum’s 1,700 acres has more than lit up 10,000 trees!

Open from Thanksgiving through to New Year’s Day. A great family-friendly driving experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAKAJBenuEE 

16. Museum of Science & Industry

It is the tradition that the Museum of Science & Industry plays host to the Christmas around the World event each year from the second week in November until January.

Expect a floor to dome sized Christmas tree surrounding bother small (but in no means small) trees decorated by volunteers.

Each tree represents the different ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world, hence the title. Museum of Science & Industry can be found at 5700 S Lake Shore Drive.

17. Chicago Christmas Lights Festival

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile (Mag’s Mile) is home to many hotels, shops and restaurants but for one night in November, the street comes to life with music, light and a few Disney characters thrown into kick-start the festive feels.

18. Santa Hustle Chicago

Whack on the red suit, beard, hat and sneakers – it’s time to compete for the gold medal during the Santa Hustle!

Volunteers pass out goodies and keep spirits high as you run through The Windy City.

The course includes at 5K route and a kids dash for families. Cookies included!

19. Gorge on Monster Hot Chocolates

Did you even go on a winter city break if you didn’t get a pic of you and your bestie cheersing an overflowing hot chocolate packed with giant marshmallows?

Indulge your sweet tooth while warming up at with killer hot chocolates at Bombobar (832 W Randolph Street) or XO Marshmallow (6977 N Sheridan Road).

20. Book a Snug and Eat Fondue Until You Puke

OK, don’t puke but you can reserve a cozy nook at Geja’s Cafe where the menu calls for fondue and fine wine.

For over 50 years, Geja’s Cafe (340 W Armitage Avenue) has been encouraging visitors to play with their food, over an open fire.

This award-winning restaurant has won the title of one of the most romantic places to dine in the US by USA Today!

» Going on a winter road trip? Here is our road trip packing list

Downtown Chicago winter view with frozen lake

Getting Around Chicago

It’s really easy to navigate downtown Chicago, like Glasgow in Scotland it uses a grid system.

Downtown is divided by Madison Street (North and South) and State Street splits up East and West.

There is an extensive transport system for those who prefer not to walk and/or want to squeeze more in.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs the train and bus system in the city.

You can pay with cash for single trips or invest in reloadable Ventra Transit Card or Unlimited Ride Pass for multi-use savings. The ‘L’ train covers 144 rail stations and two of the links operate 24 hours a day.

The Blue Line links the airport (O’Hare) to downtown and the Red Link hooks up the North and the South. Some of the buses are also run 24 hours a day.

You need the exact change for buses. You can plan your journey use the Chicago route planner.

Weather in Chicago

You can expect temperatures of around 21°F (-6.1°C) to 35°F (1.7°C).

Prepare for ice and snow from December. Wrap up, wear layers and invest in a good quality waterproof coat.

Here are the best places to spend the winter in the Americas.

What to Wear in Chicago in Winter

  • Layers, keep warm outdoors but get ready to remove items when indoors 
  • Thermals if you plan to be out for a long time 
  • Padded outerwear
  • Wool outerwear is warm but not great when it gets wet
  • Hat, gloves, scarf to keep cozy 
  • Extra socks, consider pantyhose under your pants 
  • Comfortable waterproof or snow boots, especially if you plan to walk a lot
  • Sunshades for winter glare
  • Tote bags for shopping
Chicago panoramic view in the winter. Woman in red coat.

Bookmark for later! Pin to your Chicago Christmas board

Things to do in Chicago at Christmas. Christmas activities in Winter in Chicago, USA

Final Words

If you are new to the city, visiting Chicago in December is an exciting time full of festivals and markets. If you are a local, I hope you’ve discovered something new to try out this winter. Please do tell us your favourite Christmas activities in Chicago below!

» Read next – how to spend 3-5 days in San Francisco

What to Pack for Ski Trip: 25+ Sno’-Joke Essentials

What to Bring on a Ski Trip

Undeniably, one of the best travel experiences for every adventure lover is waking up each day to fresh snow and that crisp Winter air. But what to pack for a ski trip? This guide will detail what to pack and how to save space while keeping costs down.

Craig and I (Gemma) have had the pleasure skiing at Whistler in Canada, the Cairngorms in Scotland, and Mayrhofen in Austria so feel equipped (boom boom) to offer advice during this ski trip packing list.

For ease, most recommended products are available on Amazon Prime. Check out their free 30-day trial clicking here for US Prime or here for UK.

 » » Check out our European Christmas getaway guide « «

Ski Trip Packing List – Gear Travel

Option 1: Hire on Holiday

Whether you take your own ski equipment with you or not is a personal preference. We opt to hire onsite to keep airfare costs down and for a smooth transit between countries (like us catching a train between Germany and Austria).

Airlines charge between £30/$38-£60/$76 depending on the size of the sports equipment and if you book online or at the airport. Naturally, if you can keep within the baggage measurements and weight you don’t have to pay an additional fee.

Option 2: Carry Your Own Kit

Our friends travel with their kit, not wanting to waste the investment or rely on the potentially lower quality equipment at the resort. They state that it can work out cheaper regardless of additional ski gear charges.

Option 3: Pack the Essentials, Hire the Rest

An ex-colleague and committed skiing friend recommends investing in boots, packing them and then hiring skis (or boards) on holiday. He says this puts the onus on the hire company to ensure that the skis and boards are safe but lets you skip the boot queue which can take the longest.


Wheeled Ski Bags

If you do decide to travel with your own ski or board equipment you will need a durable wheeled ski bag. Wheels are ideal for pulling through the airport, train stations and streets. The awkward length of skies makes carrying on your shoulder a no-no.

The 5th Element ski bag (U.S only) is padded and has a grab handle at the side.

There’s a larger handle at the top which can be thrown over your shoulder. A smaller pocket for items like wax and gloves etc is located at the bottom of the bag.

The padding is ideal for air travel – airlines really aren’t known for delicately handling our luggage!

A helmet is one of the skiing essentials for beginners.

Go for one that is adjustable.

Craig doesn’t ski with poles but I do. It’s entirely up to your skiing style but I like using them to help me turn (or get up during the occasional fall when I’m exhausted!)

They are another thing to pack but should fit in your ski/board bag. You can’t go wrong with lightweight Salomon ski poles (or gear) but they can get pricey.  

What to Pack for Ski Trip

1. Footwear

As mentioned in the evening wear section of our guide, footwear is required to give the feet a rest!

Pack a pair of trainers for the bar, snow boots or just do what Craig does and wear your hiking boots with a good grip if there is snowfall in the town and leave the heels at home.

If staying in shared accommodation with communal showers, pack a pair of flip-flops to avoid verrucas.

Pack enough ski socks for every ski day or one less if your feet aren’t prone to smelly sweat.

Merino wool-based socks are the best bet (see base layer section for more information). Be careful, some socks are not 100% merino. 

Stock up on fresh cotton socks too for the post-shower evening outfit.

Don’t forget your swimming gear if there’s a hot tub or the potential of an invite to a hot tub!

2. What to Wear Skiing

Base Layers

Choosing the best tech apparel will keep you warm and dry.

Although we are inclined to go all out on our snow outerwear, the base layer is actually one of the most important because it controls your temperature and sweat.

You are likely to find that it’s not actually the snow that makes you feel cold but a sweaty layer on your skin. You want your base layers to allow air to circulate throughout (breathable) so the need to avoid sweat drying cold and sticky is essential.

That’s where the materials come into play.

They work because they wick water away from your body to the surface of the layer so it can then evaporate. 

General polyester is cheaper than merino but not as comfortable and if you sweat it will smell quicker!

Personally, for skiing (and hiking) I go for merino options such as I wear Icebreaker Merino wool base layer USA / UK.

A good base layer will keep you warm in cold conditions but cool in hot climates so you don’t have to pack it away come summer outdoors trip time. A great investment.

Sports bras

If you are top-heavy adventure lover like me, don’t forget a comfortable but shockproof sports bra.

Ski-Themed Clothing

Magically, Craig was the only punter in this Piste Again.

It’s a really lovely fit, 80s style jersey. I went for grey with the white writing for his Christmas present.

The print also comes in Ts and other text variations like ‘Snow Board’

3. Outerwear

A quality outwear coat is one of the ski trip essentials you should invest in.

There are two options for outerwear coats. You can either go full ski jacket with a hard shell which is great for all temperatures and conditions or an insulated down puffy jacket with a waterproof softshell.

The latter is ideal for skiers who get hot easily and/or travellers who are packing for a multi-season trip.

I love my Marmot Precip US / UK as it is bright (blue) and folds away into its own pocket.

If you fall into the last category, consider packing thin trousers/leggings and a quality pair of over the overtrousers USA / UK. Saves space and money.

I did this in Whistler, Canada as I didn’t have my full kit with me.

For Austria, I wore slim-fitting O’Niell’s ski pants, the brighter the better.

If you have space go for the first option for a ski coat and enjoy the flexibility of hood adjustments, wrist gaiters and vents. I also like a snow pass clip so I don’t have to remove my gloves when leaving the chairlift (I get cold hands).

Alternatively, go 80s and splurge on a crazy one-piece number.

4. Toiletries and Medical

First up – travel insurance. Make sure your insurer covers adventure winter trips. We use True Traveller, I had to claim in Vancouver and they paid out fast. Check to see if they are right for your trip here.

Regardless of the snow, you still burn!

Buy a high factor face moisturiser like the lovely La Roche-Posay US / UK.

Go eco-friendly and pack soap instead of gels – if you travel with only a cabin bag this saves more space in the 100ml restrictions bag too. Consider solid shampoo and conditioner too.

Ladies, a good tangle teezer is recommended. Why does our hair get so tuggy on the slopes?

Lip salve/chapstick for dry lips. Avoiding licking them if you can.

Blister pads for rubbing, pack just in case.

Hydration tablets US / UK for the next day. Believe us, they work. It was actually a British doctor that recommended them in Cuba after too many rums.

Deep heat or Biofreeze US / UK for achy muscles.

If, like me, you really feel the cold, buy heat pads for your hands.

I’m never one to promote single use but if you are staying in a hotel it is unlikely you will have access to hot water for reheating. Little Hotties state that they are biodegradable. 

5. Ski Accessories

Insulated Gloves

The best investment I made was splurging on these three-finger leather US / UK.

The internal mitten separates from the external leather outer so you can dry the fleece mittens without melting the outside.

The three-finger glove retains the heat because the heat stays circulating around your three-fingered section I made my own mitten straps to ensure I didn’t lose them but they also come with wrist clips.

I only had cheap gloves in Whistler and was left feeling sick with the pain from the cold whenever we stopped skiing (chair lifts, waiting on friends, fixing gear).

If you don’t want to invest, buy cheaper waterproof gloves and also mitten liners.

Shades aren’t just about looking suave, they also block out the glare from the sun but glasses are useless when caught in heavy snow (every day, 3pm in Austria).

You need goggles to help with visibility at this stage.

The best goggles have adjustable head straps and correctly coloured tint (dark colours for bright sunny use, yellows for low light weather).

When wearing a helmet, a headband works best to keep the nip from your ears. Keep a hat in your day bag for lunch stops. Avoid a woollen hat, they get heavy when wet (and ruin).

A headband with pony hole is perfect for long-haired skiers.

Neck warmers are great when they are dry but can get moist when active on the mountain.

The wet just turns cold and is pretty unpleasant! The more expensive versions like the Airhole range have mouth holes to let you breathe, this would resolve the wet issue. 

Snot! Steal some toilet roll from your accommodation or buy a hanky for a more environmentally friendly answer.

Waterproof phone covers, don’t lose the incriminating photos from the bar the night before.

Record the ride, don’t forget your GoPro, body harness and selfie stick.

6. Baggage

Laugh all you want but I like a bumbag (fanny pack) for ski trips so I can easily access my phone/camera, lip salve and some cash.

There are no loose straps to get tangled with either. Handy for the pub at night too.

Craig tends to ski with a day bag so he can clip our JBL speaker US / UK to it. He’s all about the tunes. It’s waterproof  

He’s also the chief controller of the water bottle and sun cream.

You may also like our guide to backpacks with wheel

Mayrhofen Austria

What to Wear at Night on a Ski Holiday

The apres-ski outfit is something that I thought a lot about before packing for Austria in March.

From my experience, skiers and boarders don’t get dressed up for dinner and drinks after a day on the slopes.

There definitely is a lot of socialising going on but this is done in jeans or leggings, casual tops, flats like trainers and hats.

Pro tip: go for black trainers as they look dressier. I wear black trainers with dresses and jeggings during travel trips.

Surprisingly, there was no snow on the ground in the village at Mayrhofen but there was ankle deep at Whistler so winter boots are recommended for grip. Heading to Whistler? Here’s our affordable accommodation guide

If you are attending a ski festival – pack the glitter, stock up on the superhero capes and look out for the themed night shoutouts!

Snowbombing Mayrhofen Austria

Ski Packing List

  1. Own kit or hire?
  2. Wheeled ski bag with own kit
  3. Helmet
  4. Ski goggles
  5. Gloves
  6. Hat
  7. Buff
  8. Day bag/bum bag
  9. Shades
  10. Outerwear jacket
  11. Ski trousers
  12. Trainers/waterproof snow boots
  13. Flip flops for communal shower rooms
  14. Merino based socks
  15. Merino base layer
  16. Sports bra
  17. Casual night gear
  18. Swimming gear
  19. Toiletries and medicine
  20. Suntan lotion
  21. Heat pads

Final Thoughts

Creating a packing list for ski trip doesn’t have to be daunting. This guide has detailed the essentials and some extras depending on your Winter travel needs.

I’ve also provided some do’s and don’ts of looking cool without feeling cool while skiing and boarding. Ski trips are honestly one of my favourites and nothing tastes better than that first cider after a day’s ski (or maybe just the one on top of the mountain)!

If you are driving to the slopes, scroll to the winter packing list section of our road trip guide.

Ski Holiday Checklist

Feel free to save the following skiing checklist to your Pinterest board

How to pack for a ski trip - Ski packing list

Any questions or comments?
Tell us below


20 Christmas Europe Breaks For Every Budget

Christmas in Europe, Edinburgh Market

Ski, sun and Christmas markets! There are a variety of reasons to visit Europe during Winter. I’ve found myself (Gemma) drawn to the Skyscanner app… confession, I’ve set a few email alerts for flight price drops in the hope that we can squeeze in one of the following sensational Christmas Europe breaks recommended by fellow tinsel-loving travel bloggers. Whack the heating up, get your onesie on and get ready to be whisked into some serious winter wanderlust with the following tried and tested winter holiday ideas for Europe.

Note: A decision about Europe’s Christmas markets and events will be made by each country individually. Please keep us updated if you hear of any decisions. Thank you.

Christmas Europe Breaks

1. Alsace, France

Wine, Wine, and More Wine!

France’s Alsace region in the east is a dream when December comes around. The joint German-French influence creates an area that offers incredible food, stunning architecture, local beer and wine, and a true appreciation for Christmas.

Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are bustling, the entire town is dressed up, and there is holiday cheer everywhere. Then, as you leave Strasbourg and head into the smaller villages along the wine route, the Christmas markets are smaller but absolutely packed with locals and tourists alike. Colmar is second to Strasbourg in terms of popularity, it looks like a fairytale Christmas village.

In all the towns, the stalls sell everything from pretzels and mulled wine to handmade ornaments and home-wares. Each one has its own cup that you have to purchase in order to get mulled wine or beer at the stands (our favourites were the glass mugs from Kayersberg) – you can return them at the end to get your money back.

Oh, and did we mention that this is all located along the wine route, meaning there are plenty of wineries to pop into along the way? Our recommendation is to fly into Basel and hire a car – driving through all of the villages is the best way to see the area and remember to visit the Christmas markets. Joyeux Noël! <—- White, red, rose, hot, chilled… I love wine!

 By Kelly & Sean | A Pair of Passports

Alsace Region, France Best Christmas Europe Breaks

Does mulled wine make a city one of the best European winter breaks?

2. Andermatt

Snowy Swiss Alps

One of the more expensive winter destinations in Europe is the Swiss Alps but it is worth saving up for.

In 1864, a local hotelier in St Moritz, in the Swiss Alps, offered a money-back guarantee to a few British holidaymakers, offering a winter trip to his local hotel that would be just as rewarding as the summer trip they were enjoying.

The bet was placed, the visitors enjoyed their trip and the hotelier never had to make payment.

Like this, winter ski vacations in Switzerland and St Moritz as the capital of the wealthy and glamorous world of alpine skiing holidays became popular.

But rather than crowded and expensive St Moritz, consider Andermatt for your next Christmas vacation. One of the best places for Christmas in Europe if you are a ski fan.

A tiny village after the Oberlap Pass, Andermatt has remained the choice of adventurous and off-piste skiers instead of the après-ski fans.

The village is all walkable, reachable by train and now features a fabulous and sleek hotel The Chedi complete with ski school, in-room fireplaces and the most stylish spa with an outdoor pool.

The investment will soon change the face of this speck of alpine beauty so go now before that happens and enjoy Christmas markets, skiing and the postcard-perfect landscapes of a snow-capped mountain.

—-> Sounds like one of Europe’s perfect winter snow breaks to me! Has anyone skied here? Share your experience in the comments below.

By Mar | Once in a Lifetime Journey

Andermatt | Austria | Best Christmas Europe BreaksAndermatt: snug & snowy Xmas breaks in Europe!

3. Austria, Vienna

20 Christmas Markets

Austrians take their Christmas markets seriously making it one of the best European cities to visit in December.

During the festive season, every city and town has a Christmas market. As the capital, Vienna tops them all with a profusion of markets.

The city has 20 official Christmas markets and lots of other smaller neighbourhood markets. It’s enjoyable to see the city – warming yourself with a cup of gluhwein and shopping for traditional handicrafts and ornaments. For non-drinkers and children, there is a non-alcoholic version of the gluhwein.

The biggest of the markets is held in front of Vienna’s City Hall, the Christkindl Market.

The festive cheer spills out into the nearby park, Rathaus Park, where the trees are decorated with giant ornaments and there is entertainment for the children. <—- Nice to hear of a kid-friendly city. Sounds like an ideal place to take them for their Christmas holidays in Europe.

By Shobha | Just Go Places 

→ Read more: our guide to three days in Vienna, you’ll need more!
Also, check out our guide to Vienna in Winter.

Vienna in Winter December Christmas World on Rathausplatz

4. Barcelona

& The Yuletide Poo

Barcelona is beautiful at Christmas time.

The entire city is decorated with Christmas lights. Some shops and hotels also go all out with lights and decorations – Corte Ingles on Plaza Catalunya usually looks amazing! I also love the unique and somewhat strange Catalan Christmas traditions.

At the city’s biggest Christmas market, the Fira de Santa Llúicia, you’ll find plenty of really cute looking little logs with faces and hats on the Caga Tió – literally: “the poo uncle”. Kids cover him in a blanket and feed him in the time leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Eve the poor log gets beaten until he, err… releases… the presents! Find out more in Two Scots Abroad’s Barcelona winter guide.

It’s a cute souvenir to take home, with quite a story to tell.

For fans of classical music, there’s usually a concert of Händel’s Messiah at the magnificent Basilica Santa Maria del Mar a few days before Christmas Eve.

Christmas time in Barcelona lasts until January 6th (King’s Day), and there is a huge parade on the evening of the 5th.

Bonus points that make Barcelona a great destination for a Christmas break? The weather. It’s much warmer than in most parts of Europe, and just cold enough to make ordering a hot chocolate with churros feel right. —-> Still laughing at the Christmas poo. Oooohhh, this must be where South Park Mr Hankey originated from?!

By Edwina | The Traveling German

Caga Tio Poo Tide Spain

5. Berlin in December

If you are looking to enjoy a short break in Europe just before Christmas and want the stereotypical experience, Berlin is the perfect place to visit. Strolling through Berlin’s Christmas markets is the epitome of a Berlin visit in December.

Small, wooden booths decorated with idyllic ornaments including sparkling stars and snow-covered fir branches provide a memorable experience for all the family as you enjoy an evening stroll with the sound of your favourite traditional Christmas music echoing around the city.

Berlin is home to a number of traditional markets that occur annually across the city.

We stayed in the Alexanderplatz district of the city and were a short walk from the market, though it’s safe to say that the majority of this neighbourhood turns into one large Christmas celebration throughout December.

The Berliner Weihnachtszeit is a short distance from the Alexanderplatz and offers a romantic and nostalgic experience with gorgeous, historic architecture providing the perfect backdrop to the skating rink.

Could you imagine any better way to spend a Christmas break than taking a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel while enjoying stunning panoramic views across Berlin with the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, and Reichstag just a few iconic landmarks that you will see?

A visit to Berlin wouldn’t be the same without sampling a fine German brew and what better time of the year to keep you warm as you nibble on your favourite Wurst and wash it down with a local beer. —> I do not need much encouragement to visit Berlin again. Like Christmas markets? Check out this post on more Christmas markets in Germany.

By Chris | A Brit and a Southerner

6. Bled

A True Fairytale Town

Everyone says Bled in Slovenia is one of Europe’s prettiest fairytale towns.

However, imagine that church on the lake and castle on the hill with snow on the mountains – that is the epitome of magic, making Bled one of the top, yet lesser-known, Christmas breaks in Europe.

Don’t think that Bled is just for looking at in winter, there’s lots of action in this normally sleepy town from skiing to skating and snowshoeing.

On December 25th you can watch a local tradition too. Click here to read more about the sunken bell of Slovenia.

Lake Bled Winter Activities

7. Budapest

Enjoy a hot bath as the snow falls around you in Budapest, Hungary, this winter.

Shop ’til you drop at the city’s shopping street, Váci Street (utca) or buy souvenirs at the two biggest Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market and Basilica Christmas Market.

Go skating under Buda Castle at Városliget (City Park) ice rink and take a ride in the festive streetcar. Wrap up though as the ride is cold.

Dine on traditional Hungarian stews and drink palinka at Hold Utcai Piac. This is the market the locals eat at.

» Read more: Festival things to do in Budapest, by a local

Christmas tree, decorations, Vaci Street shopping Budapest

8. Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania, is known for its lively Old Town and the fun ramps up a notch or two during winter.

Keep warm, bar-hopping down the busy streets at night and shop at Victoriei Street (Calea Victoriei) or in Baneasa Shopping Mall by day.

Catch a Christmas show at the National Bucharest Theater and the lights on Magheru Boulevard (Bulevardul Magheru).

Enjoy a snowy walk through Tineretului Park (Parcul Tineretului) then warm up with mulled wine at Bucharest Christmas Market at Universitatii Square (Piata Universitatii).

» Find out more: What to do at Christmas in Bucharest

Bucharest Christmas Market
9. Edinburgh

I’m biased but one of the best European cities to visit in winter has to be Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens is home to the bustling Edinburgh’s Christmas Market jam-packed with locals and visitors alike.

Eat bratwurst at the market and drink whisky cocktails at the Bothie before shopping your socks off at the high street stores on Princess Street.

Walk two streets back to George Street to see lights illuminating the dark skies.

Do as the locals do, and pop into The Dome for a Christmas cocktail under the massive tree. Avoid The Dome at the weekend or be prepared to wait in long lines.

Stick around after Christmas for the biggest NYE party in the world, Edinburgh Hogmanay.

» Find out more: Christmas itinerary for Edinburgh

Street of Light Edinburgh in the dark with crowds

10. Florence

Florence is the perfect city to spend Christmas time in.  First off Italy is a predominately Christian country, meaning when November and December roll around you can bet that you will see lights everywhere.

During Christmas time Italian hospitality is at its finest and everyone is out on the streets with giant smiles on their faces. The air, the decor, the people, the churches – everything just screams “It’s Christmastime!”

We were able to spend last Christmas there with family and it will always be a trip to remember. Check out Natasha and Cameron’s post on things to know about Italy if you are heading to Florence!

By Natasha & Cameron | The World Pursuit

11. Glasgow

Scotland’s biggest city is the best for live music, food and culture all year round but especially at Christmas.

Did you know that Glasgow is one of UNESCO’s music cities? Check out what gigs are on this December at the vintage Barrowlands or intimate Kings Tuts.

Swing by the Glasgow Christmas Markets which are spread over two locations at George Square and St Enoch Centre.

At both markets, you can dine on hot market food, including vegan options, and people watch while you sip on a beer or something harder.

Glasgow’s shops are the best in Scotland. Spread over three streets, Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall, busloads of locals arrive every weekend on the run-up to Christmas to buy gifts.

Looking for something more local or vintage? Get off the tube in the West End and check out the craft shops on Byres Road, Ashton Lane and Great Western Road.

Feeling fit? Join the thousands who take part in the Santa Dash each year. Glasgow is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for culture. 

Here’s how we’d spend 24 hours in Glasgow.

One day in Glasgow itinerary

12. Grindelwald, Switzerland

Top of Europe!

Switzerland is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited in all my travels, it is a magical country with the endless beautiful scenery.

Being an Australian I have always dreamed of having a white Christmas and beautiful snowy winters and I think everything truly looks more beautiful covered in a layer of snow!

We visited Grindelwald, a majestic village located high in the Swiss Alps a few years ago for our anniversary.

Grindelwald literally looks like the front of a Christmas card and the whole time we were there I couldn’t stop telling Dan how I felt like we were living in a real-life snow globe!

Grindelwald is perfect because it has everything; scenery, outdoor sports, adventure, accommodation for everyone whether you are seeking luxury or budget, fine restaurants and even a train that goes to the ‘Top of Europe’!

We spent our days exploring the mountains, strolling the snow-covered streets, eating excessive amounts of Swiss cheese and chocolate and relaxing in our outdoor hot tub in the snow. It truly is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and a short break we will never forget. <—– Grindelwald sounds likes one of the cutest Europe trips for couples! Snuggle up, guys.

By Simone | The Aussie Flashpacker

 » » Keep costs down: Cabin-sized backpacks review « «

Grindelwald, Switzerland | Christmas Europe Breaks

13. Krakow, Poland

Winter city breaks in Europe don’t have to break the bank and Poland’s cutest city is renowned for affordability.

Krakow is one of the most Christmassy destinations on Earth!

It is located in Poland, right between Eastern and Western Europe. It has an airport, so it is very easy to get there from anywhere in the world.

The city is beautifully decorated, with Christmas trees, lights and ornaments.

It is also one of the cheap winter breaks in Europe – you can find an apartment in the heart of Old Town for less than $60!

Krakow has a world-famous Christmas Market. It starts at the end of November and lasts until the end of Christmas.

If you go there, be sure to try Grzaniec Galicyjski. It is traditional Polish mulled wine with cinnamon, cloves and all the other warming spices. Yummy! Into festive booze? Check out this Christmas cocktails post.

By Karolina & Patryk | Karolina & Patryk – check out our 3-day itinerary here.

14. London at Christmas

Oxford Street and Regent Street, twinkling in the glow of a thousand of lights. Famous department stores, such as Harrods and Fortnum and Mason decked out in their Christmas finery, with stunning festive window displays (and each with their very own Father Christmas).

Children’s pantomimes and the giant Christmas trees at Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

There’s plenty to enjoy in London at Yuletide.

In 2016 the magical Winter Wonderland is celebrating its 10th year at Hyde Park.

I love wandering around the pretty wooden chalets, selling a myriad of Christmas gifts and decorations and tucking into tasty treats such as mulled cider, glühwein and bratwurst.

There’s always a funfair with a giant Ferris wheel and the ever-popular ice-skating rink and so much more.

Two new attractions this year are The Imperial Ice Stars’ production of the Nutcracker on Ice and The Magical Ice Kingdom, made from over 200 tonnes of snow and ice.

You’ll find many more ice rinks dotted around the city, including the Natural History Museum and Somerset House, and further Christmas markets include the Tate Modern, Leicester Square and the Southbank Centre.

London at Christmas is simply overflowing with festive cheer throughout its bustling streets and beautiful parks, and even its museums and art galleries. I can’t think of a more exciting city to spend a short break at Christmas.

By Kat | Travel With Kat

 » » Check out these London hacks to keep costs down « «

Apple Market, London | Best Christmas Europe Breaks

15. Malta

Winter in Europe doesn’t have to mean freezing temperatures.

December is one of the best times to visit Malta. Why? Let me list the ways… fewer crowds, mostly warm weather, cheap prices, and friendly locals.

Valletta also gets dressed up for Christmas and NYE Celebrations creating picture-worthy reflections with lots of colours.

Here are more reasons for you to visit Malta in Winter. <— Christmas breaks in the sun! I’m game for a tan and some tinsel.

By Inma | A World to Travel

16. Munich

Germany at Christmas time is a truly magical place. The whole country smells of mulled wine and bratwurst, snow is dusting every roof and tree, and it feels like there is a Christmas market around every corner.

Cities like Dresden or Nuremberg and their world-famous confectioneries instantly come to my mind.

Yet I recommend you to visit Munich instead – and not just because I live there.

You see, the perfect city break in winter should be about more than just a lovely Christmas market. You’ll want wonderful restaurants, excellent museums, a couple of good day-trip options and some shopping would be nice as well. Bavaria’s capital has all that and more.

There certainly is a lovely Christmas market in Munich, but you also got roughly 100 museums to visit, while the Alps and their ski resorts are barely two hours’ drive away. Not convinced yet?

Well then, Munich has one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe, a world-class opera (or a stationary circus for the kids!) and a gigantic thermal bath.

You could also attend a Christmas mass in one of the beautiful churches or go skating on one of the ice rinks.

The many fairy tale castles around Munich will look especially beautiful with a little snow covering their golden splendour, and if everything fails you, there is always the Hofbräuhaus and ancient Bavarian beer culture to get familiar with! <—- Yup, I’m sold!

By Norman | Annees De Pelerinage

 » » Our guide to 34 of Europe’s best cities for Xmas markets « «

Munich | Christmas Europe Breaks

17. Nuremberg

Nuremberg, Bavaria is the perfect Christmas city break in Europe.

It is centrally located, has excellent air and rail transportation connections, and it has what is arguably the best Christmas market in Europe. It is clearly one of the best visited – boasting over two million visitors in the four short weeks the market is open every year.

Dating from the early 1600s, Nuremberg’s Christmas market occupies the Main Square under the towering Frauenkirche (Chruch of Our Lady).

The stalls, with their candy-striped awnings, occupy in neat little rows. The stalls sell all manner of traditional handicrafts, including little “smoker” men (carved figures that hold smoking incense inside) and carved wooden toys.

A horse-drawn stagecoach takes visitors on a ride through the cobblestone streets of the medieval old city.

On weekends, the Nuremberg Christmas market is a throbbing mass of people huddling together to stay warm. During the week, you can explore the market in tranquillity, eat the local Nuremberg sausages (eaten three in a roll) and drink gluhwein (hot mulled wine).

We’ve visited many of Europe’s markets, but Nuremberg is one of the best. Whereas other markets in other cities focus only on tourists, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt still maintains its local flavour.

By Lance & Laura | Travel Addicts

Nuremberg | Christmas Europe BreaksWhere to go for winter holidays in Europe- Bavaria? 

18. Prague: Sip Svařák, See Snow

Prague is one of the most magical places you could spend a European Christmastime city break. Prague Castle sits on top of the hill and looks beautiful with a dusting of snow on it, and the Christmas markets in the Old Town have a festive, celebratory atmosphere.

My favourite thing to do there during the winter is to buy a cup of svařák (warm red mulled wine) from a booth for about a euro and take a wintry walk across Charles Bridge, marvelling at the old historical houses along the river’s edge.

Or you can curl up in a café with a view of the Vltava river with a cup of coffee and a Kafka book and watch the snowfall.

Ah, winter! <—- Yet another Christmas market break, so many to choose from!

By Allison | Eternal Arrival

19. Sinaia, Romania

Sinaia is one of my favourite destinations when it comes to Christmas destinations in Europe and winter holidays in general.

The small beautiful mountain resort has plenty of wonderful things to offer in the cold season. Located in the heart of Romania, The Carpathian Pearl is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.

Whether you choose to ride the gondola up to 2000 m, for breathtaking mountain views, or to practice skiing, the experience will certainly be an amazing and unforgettable one. Besides, you will surely wish to visit one of the most spectacular castles in Europe. Peles Castle is the main attraction in town, for good reasons. King Carol I of Romania fell in love with the surroundings of the place and decided to build a summer residence there.

Nowadays, his castle turned out into a museum, visited by more than half a million people annually.

The Neo-Renaissance architectural masterpiece is stunning! Add some snow to the image that you have already pictured in your mind and the fairytale landscape will be complete. The interiors of the castle will let you breathless, as well.

Each room has a different architectural style, such as Gothic, Venetian, German or Oriental.

Overall, Christmas atmosphere can be felt anywhere in town, no matter if you decide to go to ice skate in downtown, to admire the holiday decorations of the streets, or to simply enjoy a hot chocolate in a rustic restaurant with your loved one. <—– You all know how much I loved our summer European trip to Bucharest, maybe Sinaia will be next on our list!

By Bella | Whisper Wanderlust

Sinaia Romania | Christmas Europe Breaks Sinaia – one of the Christmas Europe breaks for architecture lovers 

20. Tallinn

One of our favourite Christmas getaways in Europe is Tallinn, the picturesque capital city of Estonia. Tallinn’s old town was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to completely preserve its medieval structure and therefore nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.

The cobblestone streets are all originals, which along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century.

It’s the perfect Christmas getaway in late December early January time because it’s all covered in snow, making it like something from a fairy tale – the perfect ideal Christmas image you dream of <—- Have you been good this year?

Maybe Santa will send you to Estonia on your Christmas Europe break!

By Stef & Seb | Nomadic Boys

Have you enjoyed this post of the best winter destinations in Europe?
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Final Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on the best European cities for Christmas.

Whether you are seeking snow, spas, sausages, and something to sip, there’s a  short winter break for every type of traveller and budget.

Don’t forget to check out our tips on where to go for New Year’s Eve abroad this year.

Thanks to my fellow well-travelled bloggers for sharing their top tinsel-clad tips. I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best European cities for Christmas.

Where is the best place to spend Christmas in Europe?