Whether you want to kick back on a beach, get your festive shopping sorted in style or have a white Christmas on the ski slopes, there are plenty of great places to visit in December. Here’s a round up of where’s good to go in the twelfth month, and why.
The Cotswolds, United Kingdom
It may be the height of winter in the UK, but people travel from all over the world to spend Christmas in the Cotswolds. Imagine long pub lunches in front of cosy log fires and wellington-booted walks through quintessentially English countryside (with friendly farmyard animals greeting you along the way).
There are quaint towns packed with Christmas markets where you can stock up on locally-made festive knick-knacks, and there are fantastic local shops offering all kinds of quirky gifts. You won’t struggle to find fresh ingredients for your Christmas dinner as the region is full of farm shops selling local fruit and vegetables. And don’t forget to visit the amazing Cotswolds bakeries for some of the tastiest mince pies in the country.
There are so many things to do throughout the month, whether you want to hit the dry ski slopes in Gloucester, enjoy the nightlife in Cheltenham, or enjoy a traditional Christmas service in the many beautiful churches and cathedrals. The Cotswolds is also home to one of the most exclusive vacation home resorts in the UK, complete with a full-service spa and a host of on-site activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
In December, Chamonix boasts the kind of snowy mountain scenes that Christmases are made of. There are pretty alpine villages aglow with twinkling lights, Christmas markets selling every kind of trinket and a buzzing après-ski scene that’s perfect for festive parties.
Chamonix is one of Europe’s highest ski resorts so it’s more reliable for snow than most other ski destinations in France. The region has 11 separate ski areas covered on its lift pass so there’s almost always good skiing somewhere in the valley. The resort’s other advantage is that it’s a proper town so there’s plenty going on, and it has a bustling car-free center so it’s pleasant to stroll through.
There are nursery slopes for novices, and fast-cruising pistes for the more experienced, plus there’s plenty of cross-country terrain for skiing and other snow sports.
The slopes do get busy in December, especially around the Christmas week, so make sure you plan for long lift lines and a steady stream of skiers and snowboarders. Chamonix’s smaller resorts offer the same top-quality slopes, and are better if you want a more peaceful Alpine retreat.
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The start of the high season in the Caribbean, Jamaica is one of the best places to visit in December for winter sun. Christmas is on the horizon, and school is out at the end of the month, so there are some great vacation options to choose from.
If you visit in early December you’re likely to get long days of warm sunshine and less tourists in the resorts and around the beaches. While if you visit later in the month the island may be busier, but it will also be at its festive best.
Christmas is a very special time in Jamaica and there are tons of parties and celebrations throughout December. On Christmas Eve, most towns and cities hold a ‘Grand Market’ where you can shop during the day and party all through the night. At the end of the month there’s the Kingston Harbour Fest party featuring live music, a huge craft market and a world-class fireworks display.
The average daytime temperature in December is around 78F, so it’s one of the best times to visit if you want pleasant conditions, as opposed to the oppressive heat of summer.
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No list of December vacation destinations would be complete without including Florida. Also known as the Sunshine State, Florida stays warm pretty much all year round, so it’s one of the best places to visit if you want to escape the frigid northern climates.
December is the dry season in Florida, and in general, temperatures in December and January tend to be cooler than other times of the year. The average December high is around 75F however winter temperatures in Florida can soar into the 80s, or occasionally dip down into the 60s.
If you’re thinking of visiting Florida in December, be aware that the week between Christmas and New Year is one of the most crowded weeks of the year, especially in Orlando and its theme parks. The first few weeks of December are generally the quietest time of the year in Florida, so if you aren’t keen on the tourist crowds this is one of the best times to visit.
If you want to make sure the weather is warm enough for sunbathing, it’s a good idea to head as far south as possible. The city of Naples on the southwest coast is a popular place to visit in December and has great shopping, golf courses and beaches. Cape Coral is a top choice too, and has miles of waterways, numerous golf courses and plenty of family friendly things to do.
If it’s awe-inspiring Christmas entertainment you’re after then Orlando is the place to head. Other top vacation destinations in December include the laid-back area of Marco Island, the hip city of Miami and the beach hotspot of Destin.
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With more than 16 million visitors every year, Thailand is Asia’s most popular travel destination. The country offers great weather through the winter months, and is one of the best places to visit in December for a beach vacation.
Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, is a favorite destination for all kinds of travelers, whether you want a romantic getaway, a family vacation or to get down with the party-going crowd. Located in southern Thailand, along the west-facing Andaman Coast, Phuket is home an array of upmarket beach resorts. It also has a great shopping and dining scene, some first-rate golf clubs, good spas and plenty of bars and nightlife.
High-rise buildings abound in the main resorts, but they don’t detract from the island’s beautiful beaches and natural attractions. For a taste of traditional local life head to Phuket City, the island’s capital, which has busy markets and old shophouses to explore. If it’s shopping, dining and nightlife you seek then the party hub of Patong is the place to head.
The more relaxed areas of of Kata and Rawai are located in the south and are generally favoured by families. They have beautiful palm-lined beaches where you can go snorkeling or kite surfing, and they have good shops and restaurants, and low key nightlife. The northern area of Nai Yang is another great place for relaxing. It has a quaint town and a lovely beach where you can easily hire a long boat to take you to neighboring islands for a day trip.
Wherever you decide to stay in Phuket you’re likely to get great weather if you go in December. The monsoon season is over and the average temperature is a pleasant 80F. With the end of the monsoon season, humidity has dropped too making conditions more comfortable than in the roasting summer months.
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With reliable snowfalls and every imaginable terrain to explore, Colorado is a top spot for a winter ski vacation. December is midway through the ski season in Colorado, and visitors flock to the area in droves, especially around the school holidays for a guaranteed white Christmas.
Colorado’s most famous ski resort is Aspen, a scenic mountain town which is known for its skiing, its scenery and its lively vibe. There are in fact 4 Aspen ski areas known jointly as Aspen Snowmass, and they are all linked by a free shuttle bus making it easy to get around.
Aspen town itself is located at the foot of Aspen Mountain, with Aspen Highlands to the west and Buttermilk immediately after. Snowmass Mountain is larger than the other 3 put together, and is located by Snowmass Village, a 20-minute drive from Aspen.
Over the 4 mountains there is plenty of skiing and boarding for everyone, no matter what your skill level. You’ll also find some fantastic cross-country terrain which brings a whole other dimension away from the regular lift lines.
Aspen town center has an array of facilities including a leisure center and a number of great shops and restaurants. It also has a legendary apres ski scene with plenty of buzzing bars and trendy nightspots.
Families with younger children will love the new Hideout Children’s Center located at the base of Buttermilk. It offers kiddie ski and snowboard programs, with easy drop-off and pick-up access for parents.
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If you’re looking for the best places to visit in December you need advice on where to stay then contact us today. Additionally, our dedicated concierge team can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.