Basle Christmas Markets Switzerland
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5 alternative destinations that capture the Christmas spirit

Christmas is a magical time of year wherever you are but some places capture the Christmas spirit better than others.

You could always go to meet Santa Claus in Lapland and I’ve written about Christmas markets getaways in Europe and the best ways to experience Christmas  in London before.

But if you’re tempted to leave the stress and cooking of a Christmas at home to travel somewhere straight out of a greeting card, read my top alternative picks for places alive with festive cheer:

Vermont, USA

Vermont really starts to come into its own in fall, when the leaves turn rusty gold and carpet the streets, and the scent of maple syrup and pancakes wafts through picture perfect villages. However, as winter encroaches the state just gets better and better. Christmas brings with it blankets of snow, crackling log fires, warm spiced drinks in cosy bars and a typically American exuberance for the season. Head to Vermont for a Christmas straight out of the movies….

Basel Christmas decorations in the Old Town, Switzerland

New York City, USA

New York is not the star of numerous Christmas films for nothing: the city is pure Christmas. Yes it’s loud, yes it’s flashy, and yes it’s hopelessly commercialised; but Christmas in New York is also very, very, fun. From ice-skating in the world’s largest outdoor ice rink to taking a moonlit carriage ride around Central Park, New York is Christmas at its glorious, tacky, best.

NYC New York City

Bruges, Belgium

Often regarded as the ‘Vanilla’ Amsterdam, Bruges shares the Dutch city’s quaint architecture and beautiful canals but avoids red light sleaze and suspect ‘coffee shops’ Bruges is a traditional and popular Christmas destination, the main draw being its famous Christmas Markets. Chocolate box buildings and quirky shops make Bruges impossible for even the most hardened Scrooge to resist. Be sure to sample the local ghluwein: spiced wine which is drunk warm to chase away the chills. All this and more makes Bruges really worth visiting.


Dublin, Ireland

Full to the brim with Irish charm, Dublin embraces Christmas. December is a month for riotous Guinness induced Christmas sing-alongs and cosy meals in quaint pubs.  Christmas in Dublin is drunk with music: festive tunes spill forth from the traditional performers in bars, the buskers on the cobbled streets, the groups of friends arm in arm in the early hours of the morning and cheer and friendliness abound. Dublin makes a particularly great break for couples or friendship groups who can take full advantage of the fantastic pubs and clubs. If at all possible get out of the city for at least a day and take a bracing walk in Ireland’s beautiful countryside.

Banks of the Liffey in Dublin

Sydney, Australia

Who says Christmas needs to be cold? Head down under and celebrate the festive season with beach barbeques and surfing Santa’s! Though temperatures can hit 38 degrees Celsius the Aussies still embrace the traditional Christmas spirit and that means Santa, roast turkey with all the trimmings and fir trees strewn with baubles and tinsel. The novelty of a traditional Christmas on a sun-kissed beach is hard to beat!

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge photo, Australia

By Natasha von Geldern

Where is your favourite travel destination that really captures the Christmas spirit?

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