The best Christmas destinations for families in 2023

This is that time of the year when we are looking for the best Christmas destinations, right?

Starting end of November, it is time for some Christmas trips full of magic for the entire family.

I feel like this year everybody started thinking about the festive season while still on the beach, right?

But if you’re a just a bit like me, as the year draws to a close, you’re still not quite sure where to go.

So, I’m here to help and share with you some of our all-time favourite destinations for a super magical Christmas!

Whether you prefer the traditional charm of European Christmas markets, the snowy serenity of the mountains, or the warm days of tropical destinations, I have something for everyone.

I’m sure these destinations will welcome you with open arms and will make this Christmas unforgettable!

1. Christmas Markets

This season gets even more magical with all the Christmas Markets, isn’t it?

Though nowadays we can find amazing Christmas Markets all over the world, this tradition goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe.

These markets were first created to allow people to stock supplies for the winter ahead and producers to sell their handmade products while enjoying some decorations, sweets, and toys. A little bit of joy before the hardest season of the year.

Today Christmas Markets continue to bring joy and warm moments and are a great opportunity to stock beautiful handmade gifts for family and friends.

These are our favourite Christmas Markets:

Alsace, France:

Nestled in the north-eastern corner of France, Alsace seems pulled straight out of a fairy-tale. More so during Christmas time.

Its Christmas markets are renowned and for a good reason. No doubt about it!

Think wooden chalets decorated with twinkling lights, local vendors selling handcrafted goods, toys, and ornaments. And don’t forget the delicious treats like gingerbread and mulled wine.

Strasbourg hosts one of the oldest Christmas Market in Europe, dating back to 1570, and its towering Christmas tree is a sight to behold.

The authenticity of Alsace’s celebrations, immersed in tradition and local culture, makes it a must-visit destination for families.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • Thought Strasbourg displays one of the best Christmas Markets we have ever been, don’t forget to take time to discover Colmar and other smaller villages.  
  • Renting a car is by far the best option.

Oslo, Norway:

The festive season in Oslo is a marvel of light and nature. And the best part? Oslo starts its Christmas Markets slightly early than the rest of European cities, as soon as November 10th this year.

The city’s Christmas markets are joyful and welcoming with a distinct Nordic flair, so different from the Germanic markets.

The crisp air and falling snow definitely add to the magical atmosphere and families can explore the array of stalls featuring Norwegian handicrafts, unique Christmas decor, and local delicacies like krumkaker.  

The Jul i Vinterland market famous, transforming the heart of the city into a winter wonderland complete with a Ferris wheel, ice-skating rink, and endless opportunities for warm, family moments against the backdrop of Oslo’s snowy scenery.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • For the ultimate Christmas experience in Oslo consider attending to a Christmas show in the Opera House.
  • Another amazing experience is a day cruise in the Oslo Fjords.

South of England, UK:

The South of England is one of our favourite destinations for Christmas.

It greets visitors with its charming towns and rolling countryside, all the more charming under the light of Christmas spirit.

Towns like Bath and Winchester host some of the most picturesque Christmas markets in the UK.

Here you will find artisanal crafts, homemade British pies so yummy, and unique holiday gifts.

And the best of all, the streets are briming with the enchanting chorales echoing through the crisp air.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • Love ice skating? The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, set against the historic cathedral, is definitely your top destination.

2. Christmas Magic is in the air.

At this time of the year Christmas magic is definitely in the air and some cities just put on a little more glitter!

From decorations out of this world to giant Christmas trees, the Christmas spirit seams more present and alive!

We had the chance to enjoy Christmas in all of these cities more than once and I’m pretty sure you and your kids won’t be disappointed. 

Paris

The iconic City of Lights, glistens with an unparalleled glamour during Christmas time.

Paris come alive for the year’s most magical season.

The streets are adorned with impressive light displays, and the scent of fresh brioche and chocolate fills the air in the morning.

Families can wander along the Champs-Elysées, wondering at the dazzling lights, or visit the elaborate window displays at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Christmas Markets are also gaining popularity and increasing quality. As locals we always preferred visiting other markets, but things are really changing.

We definitely recommend you visit La Magie de Noël at Tuileries Garden and Christmas Market at Hôtel de Ville.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • When visiting the window displays at Galeries Lafayette don’t skip checking the Christmas Tree inside the mall and going up to the rooftop. The views are just amazing and if you’re lucky enough you’ll enjoy one of the best sunsets in Paris.

New York City

There’s nothing quite like Christmas in New York City. That I can assure you!

The Big Apple transforms into a cheerful wonderland and the usual electric atmosphere gain a whole other level. 

New York is home to some world famous Christmas classics, magical for kids and grownups alike: the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree, ice skating beneath the sparkling skyline, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes.

Families can enjoy the nostalgia at the Holiday Train Show finally back and all-new at the New York Botanical Garden.

Every corner of the city, from Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights with its over-the-top light displays to the classic holiday markets of Bryant Park, radiates a compelling energy that makes Christmas in NYC an unforgettable experience.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • Hotels can be quite expensive in New York during Christmas season. Consider booking a hotel in Brooklyn or even New Jersey. There are ferry boats running regularly to Manhattan.

London

Christmas in London is a joyous season that balances royal tradition with contemporary festivity.

The city is shining with stunning light installations, notably in areas like Oxford Street and Covent Garden. Definitely our favourites.

But let’s not forget the towering Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. Did you know that this is an annual gift from Norway standing as a symbol of enduring friendship and holiday spirit?

Families can enjoy theatrical performances in the West End, partake in the festive afternoon tea with a seasonal twist, or embark on a magical journey through the Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • London can be rainy; we all know that. A very funny way to explore the city’s Christmas magic is a Night Bus Tour. Book yours here
  • It has the ultimate advantage that you can do it even if it’s raining and without tiring your kids’ small legs. 

Lisbon

With its mild weather and radiant winter sun, Lisbon offers a Christmas experience full of warmth.

The city’s decorations are really beautiful, with Praça do Comércio showcasing a monumental Christmas tree. Be prepared to stroll along the paved streets. You don’t want to miss Rua Garrett decorations and Praça Luis de Camões also puts on a show.

But it’s in the very centre of Lisbon that you’ll find Wonderland Lisboa, located in Eduardo VII Park.

Personally, the big hit is definitely the Ferris wheel from where you can have a great view over the Tagus. Don’t skip that if you have the time.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • For the best view of the Downtown Christmas decorations, you must go up the Rua Augusta Arch. It is one of the most original belvederes in the city. Still an undiscovered gem even for locals. Don’t miss it out.

3. Our favourite snowy destinations

If you have small kids like ours, maybe you’re thinking about a Ski Initiation. Or maybe even just a cozy stay in a charming chalet watching the snow falling outside.

I have some amazing suggestions for you.

The last couple of years we’ve been coming back to these two destinations for they are super kids friendly and not so expensive compared to other Ski domains. 

You should definitely check them out.

Andorra

Tucked in the eastern Pyrenees and bordered by France and Spain, Andorra is a gem for families looking for a snowy Christmas.

This tiny principality is a wonderland of skiing, snowboarding, and sledding with ski domains like Grandvalira and Vallnord offering slopes for all skill levels, set against panoramic mountain vistas.

This is where our kids got their first ski lessons, and we couldn’t recommend it more!

Off the slopes, Andorra’s picturesque villages are a delight to explore, with their Romanesque churches and festive markets.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • For more affordable accommodation consider booking outside the ski domains or check out the available local apartments. 

Chamonix

At the foot of Mont Blanc lies Chamonix, a picturesque alpine town that’s nothing short of a winter wonderland.

Known for hosting the first Winter Olympics, Chamonix offers world-class skiing and snowboarding, along with opportunities for ice climbing, paragliding, and husky sledding — unforgettable adventures for the entire family.

But if you are not big fan of extreme adventure, the town itself is immersed in festive joy, with twinkling lights, carol singers, and the scent of fresh-baked pastries wafting through the streets.

The Mont Blanc Christmas market is a must, with its artisan crafts and local produces.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • The last time we went to Chamonix we just rented out a beautiful mountain chalet for the weekend. This is one of the coziest and memories making experience a family can have during the winter time.

4. For a warm and sunny Christmas

Looking for an original way of spending Christmas? Sunny destinations may be just what you need to surprise your family!

After the chilling autumn days everyone will be super happy at the beach, discovering new cultures and flavours while sun is shining. An amazing way to delay the arriving of winter.

We usually spend Christmas in Europe with our extended family, but we had the chance to visit these destinations right before or just a little bit after Christmas and they are just perfect. 

South of Thailand

For those dreaming of a Christmas with sandy feet and a gentle sea breeze, the southern islands of Thailand are calling you.

Places like Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi offer everything you need for a tropical Christmas: stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical landscapes.

The Thai people celebrate Christmas with a spirit of joy, adorning streets with lights and decorations. A beautiful way to blend this season magic with a tropical flair.

Families can enjoy traditional Thai performances, beachside barbecues, and even Christmas Markets.  

A Thai Christmas is a blend of relaxation, cultural immersion, and natural beauty, providing a warm respite from the winter chill.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • South of Thailand offers a lot of opportunities to visit Elephant Sanctuaries. Unfortunately, not all so-called sanctuaries have the right motivations and make justice to this tittle.
  • Informe yourself before your visit and choose wisely.
  • The number one rule: a true sanctuary doesn’t allow animal ridding and doesn’t offer any type of performance.

Singapore

Singapore is without a doute a cosmopolitan and contemporary city. It blends tradition and modernity in a seamless way responding to the needs of its international population.   

When it comes to the festive season, imagine a Christmas where cultures blend, culinary delights are abundant, and celebrations are splendid — that’s Christmas in Singapore.

The city-state puts up a dazzling show during the festive season.

The famous Orchard Road is decorated in elaborate light installations and thematic displays.

Families can dive into a world of fun at Universal Studios Singapore, which hosts incredible Christmas events, or explore the seasonal flora at Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome.

And don’t miss the Christmas Wonderland at Marina Bay Sands for a real Christmas festival with a Southeast Asian twist.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • If you’re looking for some beach days, head to Sentosa. Easily accessible and very well equipped, this is undoubtedly the best option for families.
  • Palawan Beach is a famous choice, but it truly deserves it. Siloso beach is also a good option.

Panama

If your family is in the mood for a Christmas filled with vibrant culture, tropical scenery, and warm, sunny days, Panama is the destination for you.

Christmas in Panama is a lively event, marked by colourful parades, folk dances, and music.

Panama City is a hub of festivities, with the Cinta Costera waterfront hosting fairs and fireworks.

If you have time, do a road trip to Bocas del Toro or Guna Yala.

Between the country’s rich history, diverse ecology, and the Panama Canal’s modern marvel, a Panamanian Christmas promises to be the perfect mix of sun, culture, and lasting memories.

♠ Pro – Tip:
  • Panama is a paradisiac destination, but not so touristy as you could imagine. You will of course find all the commodities in Panama City but as soon as you adventure out of the capital or the coastal resorts, you will find the raw and untouched side of the country. Plan your trip accordingly.

Each of these destinations, with their unique traditions and landscapes, presents families with the opportunity to create new and original Christmas memories.

We tested and approved all these Christmas destinations and I’m obviously available to answer all your questions. Feel free to drop a comment our DM me via our Instagram account.

Christmas is a magical season to travel and explore the wonderers of this world. The perfect time to some unforgettable family travel. I hope I Inspired you to find that special trip!

Safe travels!

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