Best places to travel to for Christmas 2018

20

NOVEMBER, 2018

Christmas

We have introduced about Malta in the previous post as one of the best places to travel in 2018. In this post, let’s discover the next six great destinations for Christmas 2018.

The view from The Shard, London, United Kingdom

Photograph by Benjamin Davies via Unsplash

England

There are plenty of locations in the UK which are worth visiting during the festive season. To top the list there is Bath, where you will be able to find one of the best festive markets while enjoying the iconic sights and unique architecture of this city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bath Christmas Market is well-known particularly for the British handmade crafts. While you are here you will also have to go to the Bath on Ice and the Thermae Bath Spa. If you like musicals and concerts, there is also the Theatre Royal to visit too, and at this time of year there is bound to be a great program prepared.

Apart from Bath, you should also check out Cardiff to experience the famous Winter Wonderland, a premier event for Christmas time, and of course the city centre’s Christmas market.

For unique light displays you just have to go to the Mousehole, a Cornish village which is renowned for the kaleidoscopic way it is illuminated during the festive season. Another Christmas event worth visiting is the Christmas Tree Festival which showcases some 80 different Christmas trees in Worcester. And you just have to go to London of course! Here there are countless festive events to savour with your loved ones, including ice skating rinks, Christmas markets, and an innumerable number of shops! Hogwarts in the Snow is a must if your kids are Harry Potter fans. Then there is Christmas Kew, the Trafalgar Square tree and Leicester Square.

In England, you will just have to go for a dinner prepared in English style, with turkey and all the trimmings, roast potatoes, accompanied by gravy or cranberry sauce, and Yorkshire pudding. Mince pies are very popular as is the Christmas pudding and Christmas cake.

England is not the cheapest option but it offers a nice variety of Christmassy events and makes for a great getaway if you plan well. You can travel by train or long-distance buses, which are typically referred to as coaches in England. Services between major cities and towns are quite good and rates are not that high. For instance, the Brit Xplorer Pass by National Express starts from GBP79 for a whole week. By coach trips are typically cheaper than by train, and when it comes to sightseeing, they are better too.

England travel information summary

Transportation

  • Brit Xplorer Pass: GBP79 (per week)

Places/events to visit

  • Bath – Bath Christmas Market, Thermae Bath Spa, Theatre Royal
  • Cardiff – Winter Wonderland
  • Mousehole
  • Christmas Tree Festival
  • London – Hogwarts in the Snow, Christmas Kew, Trafalgar Square tree, Leicester Square
  • Scottish Highlands

Cuisine

  • English style turkey
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Mince pies

 

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Helsinki, Finland

Photograph by Alexandr Bormotin via Unsplash

Finland

If your kids have their heart set to go to the North Pole you can make their wish come true to a certain extent. How? Well, you could go to Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland, where they can have the time of their lives at the Santa Claus Village, baking cookies with Mrs. Claus, attending Elf School or work in Santa’s Post Office! There is the Ranua Wildlife Park close by where your kids will surely love watching the baby polar bears, reindeer and moose among other animals.

In Finland you will also be able to visit the Arktikum science centre and the Arctic Snow Hotel. Finland can offer you an unforgettable family Christmas. In the heart of Helsinki you will be able to spend some time at the famous ice-skating rink while being a few steps away from numerous winter markets.

Traveling by public transport is easy, reliable and safe in Finland. You can buy single tickets on board or from ticket machines, but to save more there are day tickets as well as travel cards. Day tickets are the most convenient for tourists. They vary between one day and seven days with prices ranging between Euro8 and Euro32. Buses cover nearly 90% of the country and the network is considered to be really good when compared to other European countries. Buses are comfortable and punctual. Then there are also trains, which are relatively competitively priced. A long distance trip of about 200km will cost you about Euro25. In Helsinki you can travel by tram or by metro.

While you are spending Christmas in Finland you will surely try out some oven-baked ham (Kinkku) accompanied by root vegetable casseroles (Lanttulaatikko), or maybe some cured salmon, herring or roe. Christmas pastries such as the Joulutorttu and the Piparkakut are irresistibly good. Rice porridge is also popular here.

Finland travel information summary

Transportation

  • Travel card: €8 (per day) – €32 (per week)
  • Buses cover nearly 90% of the country
  • Train: €25 (200km)

Places/events to visit

  • Ranua Wildlife Park
  • Arktikum science centre
  • Arctic Snow Hotel
  • Helsinki

Cuisine

  • Kinkku (oven-baked ham)
  • Lanttulaatikko (root vegetable casseroles)
  • Joulutorttu
  • Piparkakut
  • Rice porridge

 

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Frontenac Québec castle, Canada

Photograph by Aurusdorus via Unsplash

Quebec, Canada

This is a wonderful destination for a Christmas trip. In fact Old Quebec is literally turned into a typical Christmas village at this time of year. With beautifully decorated streets and buildings, plenty of themed guided tours, concerts and shows, this is a really charming Christmas destination. Here you will be able to savour some awesome food including roast chestnut, sausage and other traditional dishes. There is a vast exposition of nativity scenes inspired from all around the world set up here too. Nearby there is the Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix. This is a perfect spot for the whole family where you will have a great time snowshoeing, skiing or hiking in a very beautiful setting. For the more adventurous ones there are the snowmobiles too.

Quebec is the ideal location for families and outdoor enthusiasts. The place literally bustles with Christmas inspired activities and if you want a varied program for Christmas time this is the perfect option as there is something for everyone and anyone.

Iconic foods here include the viande fumee, cretons, tourtiere and tart au sucre. Butter tarts, the yule log and mulled beverages are typically found at this time of year.

River reflection

Photograph by kwluth via Pixabay

Getting around is pretty simple. There are the city’s metro bus shuttles spread over six different routes. Prices start from about $2.40 per ride and there are discounted fares for kids, teens and seniors as well as one-day, five-day and unlimited weekend passes. There is also the funicular which can take you from the lower town to the upper ville for just $2.40. Old Quebec itself is best discovered on foot as as soon you go through the walls everything is within walking distance. There are also plenty of bike paths. Alternatively there is the leBus which operates several bus routes throughout the greater metropolitan area. Hiring a car is not recommended in this case as parking would be a problem in Quebec’s narrow streets.

Quebec, Canada travel information summary

Transportation

  • Metro bus: starts from $2.40
  • Hiring a car is not recommended as parking would be a problem.

Places/events to visit

  • Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix

Cuisine

  • Viande fumee
  • Cretons
  • Tourtiere
  • Tart au sucre
  • Butter tarts
  • Yule log
  • Mulled beverages

 

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Beach, ocean, mountain and black sand beach

Photograph by Norbret Van Niman via Unsplash

Iceland

If you would like to spend a frosty Christmas, then Iceland is your best bet. This time of year in Iceland is perfect to experience the lovely place. The landscape is just superbly beautiful, and you could consider hiking on a glacier as a highlight of your holiday here. There is also snowmobiling, skating on the Reykjavik Pond, or for a riding tour on an Icelandic horse over the icy plains. These horses are very friendly, and will make for an ideal treat for your kids. While you are here you cannot miss visiting a Christmas market of course. The one in Hafnarfjorour is particularly popular.
If you visit Iceland for Christmas you will get used to the thirteen Yule Lads, which are synonymous with Christmas here instead of Santa Claus. This tradition is quite funny as well as unique as these thirteen lads are actually pranksters.

Last but not least you just have to go to the Golden Circle, which is the most popular attraction in Iceland. You will be able to enjoy the lovely Gulfoss waterfall, the hot spring Geysir and the Pingvellir National Park.

Iceland is served by several bus companies, which offer tours around the whole country. There are hop on hop off buses which offer increased convenience and flexibility. You can also rent a car or an SUV if you want additional flexibility.

Icelandic food is quite good, and there is a nice variety too even though meat remains the most popular dish. The traditional smoked lamb is a must have and you will probably try out rice pudding, or marinated herring. You should also make sure to try out the leaf bread (laufabrauo). Fermented skate is commonly found here at this time of year although you may not be that inclined to try it out if you are not that adventurous in cuisine. The Brennivin and the Maltol are popular beverages found in Iceland, and you are bound to find some liquorice tops (lakkris toppar) for sale.

Iceland travel information summary

    Places/events to visit

    • Reykjavik Pond
    • Hafnarfjorour
    • Golden Circle

    Cuisine

    • Laufabrauo
    • Brennivin
    • Maltol
    • Lakkris toppar

     

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    Estonia Tallinn historic center

    Photograph by Makalu via Pixabay

    Estonia

    Estonia makes for a nice Christmas getaway, especially if you visit the capital Tallinn where there is the old town. This is known as the medieval pearl of Europe, and you can only imagine how lovely it looks at Christmas time. The cobblestone streets, the medieval churches, the old houses dating back from the 11th century, all covered with snow, will look simply magical in December. While you are there you should definitely take a bath in a sauna as this is one of their traditions at this time.

    Getting around in Estonia is quite simple as buses are very efficient and regular. Bus stops are conveniently marked by street name. It is best to purchase a travel card for Euro2, which can then be topped up and be used as much as you like, and it is not costly since it is just Euro6 for 5 days.

    Food in Tallinn is not that great when compared to other countries. In fact it for Christmas eve it revolves a great deal around meat, including pork with sauerkraut, blood sausages and jellied meat, accompanied by potatoes and other vegetables and pickled pumpkin. Dried fruit, nuts and gingerbread are served as snacks with homebrewed ale and mead being the most popular drinks.

    Estonia travel information summary

    Transportation

    • Travel card: €6 (5 days)
    • Bus stops are marked by street name

    Places/events to visit

    • Tallinn

    Cuisine

    • Pork with sauerkraut, blood sausages and jellied meat
    • Gingerbread
    • Homebrewed ale
    • Mead

     

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    Ancient Architecture Backlit Building

    Photograph by Rafael Guajardo via Pexels

    Mexico

    If you want to go somewhere rather unique for Christmas, then you may wish to consider Mexico, specifically San Miguel de Allende. This is a Mexican city where Christmas can be viewed from two different angles; either a really solemn and religious affair, or a totally celebratory one.

    You will surely come across several pilgrimages as here it is typical for them to re-enact the journey to Betlehem. These are known as posadas and they take place every evening for the whole nine days preceding Christmas day. You will be inspired by these interesting processions in the various neighbourhoods, as these are accompanied by children in costumes, animals, musicians and lots of candles and lanterns. There are numerous churches which are very grand, and with unique architecture, as well as elaborate haciendas and mansions in baroque styles. For those who love architecture there is plenty to see here. Visiting in Christmas time allows you to complement these unique views of this city with the way that the locals celebrate at this time of year, which is basically all about parades, parties, food and traditions.

    There are many Christmas treats to savour from outdoor markets such as the Tianguis de los Martes, and the main Mercado San Juan de Dios. Some traditional holiday foods in Mexico include the ensalada de noche Buena, the pavo, and the bacalao with romeritos. From the ponche, the homemade tamales, local cheeses and tacos to many other types of food that will make your trip here as invigoratingly interesting as can be. You can get here by means of a one-hour shuttle from Leon airport.

    Mexico travel information summary

    Places/events to visit

    • San Miguel de Allende
    • Betlehem
    • Tianguis de los Martes
    • Mercado San Juan de Dios

    Cuisine

    • Ensalada de noche Buena
    • Pavo
    • Bacalao with romeritos
    • Tart au sucre
    • Homemade tamales
    • Tacos

     

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