The winter holidays are the most popular time of year to hop on a plane and visit family…which also makes them the best time of year to ditch your family and catch less expensive flights to less populated tourist spots around the world.
Family is great and all, but if they’ll let you make it up to them another time, these opportunities for cheap, easy travel are not to be missed – and if you have a loved one to share them with, they can be especially romantic, too. Whether you want to escape to warmer weather, or embrace all of the most magical elements of winter, get ready to bring a little adventure into your holiday season with these extra special vacation suggestions.
If Iceland isn’t already on your list, it especially should be during the holidays. The Northern Lights are at their annual peak of visibility, making for a spectacular show that you’ll be happy to just sit under for hours on end. On top of that, the rustic landscape of this massive island features incredible (and need we mention, photogenic) geology not found in many other parts of the world, plus a geothermal hot spring that will have you feeling relaxed for the rest of the year.
One of France’s best-kept secrets, this little French town near the German border of Germany is home to the country’s oldest holiday market. So not only can you go ice-skating and get lost in the tiny winding streets that seem to be straight out of the past – you can also knock out your holiday shopping in one go.
The Hawaiin Islands
Any island will do with its pristine weather, but Kauai specifically is nicknamed ‘Garden Island’ which is why it makes for a delightfully picturesque vacation. During the winter season in particular, Hawaii sees a lot fewer tourists, and the prices to this little paradise go way down. Here, you can still enjoy Christmas markets, but in summer clothes under tropical skies – and after some snorkeling in the clear water, or hikes in the lush forests.
Christmastime is in the very soul of Vienna. Come here, and you will see a city truly brought to life for the season. With Christmas markets on almost every corner, you’ll be well-fed with roasted chestnuts and well-satiated from the gluhwein stalls . Don’t miss the classical Belvedere Palace Christmas Village, an advent concert, and lights aglow all over the city.
The Finnish Lapland
As each year comes to a close, angel-white snow blankets in Finland’s Lapland. But the magic doesn’t end with what you see; common activities around this time of year include visiting reindeer in their natural habitats while sledding around with husky pups and visiting ‘Santa’s Cabin,’ – all underneath the bright-lit Aurora Borealis sky.
Often called ‘the gingerbread town’ in winter, Bruges is practically built for holiday decor – and the locals take full advantage. With its cobblestone streets and dark burnt red, orange, and brown architecture, it looks like a fairytale. One thing that makes it extra unique is the annual Ice Sculpture Festival, which brings viewers in awe from all over Europe and the rest of the world to see the sparkling art.
St. Martin, Caribbean
If you want to escape the cold and lend people in need a helping hand, then St. Martin is your ideal destination this winter. The tourism and hospitality industries have led the efforts for recovery after recent hurricane damage. So enjoy those picture-perfect walks along the beach and surrounded by green instead of white – and know that your holiday savings are going to a good cause.