Do you want to regain some of that magical Christmas spirit? Or have you been longing to experience a different kind of Christmas holiday? These 5 bucket-list destinations will undoubtedly leave you feeling more Christmassy than ever.
Named as the official home of Santa Claus himself, Rovaniemi in the Finnish part of Lapland is probably the most magical place on Earth! It is located close to the Polar Circle and there is snow on the ground more than 180 days a year. Guests will also find beautiful snow-covered pine woods, reindeer safari and plenty of Arctic ice hotels, and if you want to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, there is a very good chance you will see it here! Since Rovaniemi is said to be the home of Santa, Christmas is big business here and thousands of visitors come to admire the scenery every year.
How to get here: there are direct flights from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, but if you want to go all in, take the Santa Claus Express (yes, it is very real!)
Vienna is always worth a visit, but there is no doubt that December is the most magical time a year! Visit the traditional Christmas market in the heart of the city (one of the oldest in Europe as well!) and grab a cup of mulled wine while admiring the countless lights and decorations. One can also buy delicious street food and handmade arts and crafts made by locals. If you like desserts, try a lebkuchen (gingerbread), or the speciality maroni (sweet chestnuts).
In front of the town hall there is a huge ice rink, which should not be missed or – if you would like to explore the cultural scene – order tickets to go see the evocative Christmass Mass at Hofburgkapelle, where Vienna’s world-famous boy’s choir welcomes Christmas in the most beautiful way.
How to get here: most major airline companies fly to Vienna. It takes approximately 15 minutes by train from the airport to the city center.
New York City
New York is a classic that never disappoints – and for many Americans, the lightning of the giant Christmas tree in front of the Rockefeller Center marks the beginning of the magical month! The famous tree captures everyone’s attention with more than 30.000 LED lights, and it is conveniently located next to the huge ice rink.
Go to Macy’s Santaland if you want to experience a real winter wonderland – this place has achieved cult status for being in a Christmas league of its own! Christmas elf’s and decorated trees taller than many buildings blends together with colorful toys in all shapes and sizes – a true paradise for children and childish spirits! Also take a stroll through the decorated streets of the city and experience American Christmas like it should be!
How to get here: it takes approximately 45 minutes by car and 1 hour by public transportation from JFK Airport to Manhattan.
The charming Medieval town of Bruges in the Western part of Belgium (one hour’s drive from Brussels), is worth visiting all year round, but there is no doubt that December is special – and very magical too. Everything is in walking distance and there are numerous waffle and coffee shops as well as charming Christmas markets. In fact, everything looks pretty much like a scene from a Christmas movie! Old, historical houses with jagged roofs, cosy cobbled streets and perhaps some of the best hot chocolate in the world – do you really need more reasons to go? Every winter, one can also experience the famous ice sculpture festival, where 40 artists are creating spectacular sculptures from 300 tons of ice.
How to get here: direct trains to Bruges from Brussels Central Station takes approximately one hour.
Germany is famous for its proud Christmas tradition including Christmas markets, which are both authentic and cosy. On top of the list is the Nürnberg version, which also happens to be one of the oldest markets in the world. Here, visitors will find more than 200 wooden stalls selling anything from homemade gingerbread and mulled wine to angels and other Christmas decorations. Take a stroll through the charming old part of Nürnberg or what about a visit to the old toy museum? Childish spirits will undoubtedly also enjoy the impressive two-storey carousel with reindeers and Christmas elf’s.
How to get there: Nürnberg is located approximately 1,5 hour by car from Munich and 2,5 hours from Stuttgart. Several airline companies offer flight to Nürnberg Airport, from where it takes only 12 minutes to the city center.
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