22 Places to Experience Christmas in Canada
In the winter, Canada is truly a winter wonderland. It’s the epitome of what we all imagine a white Christmas to be. Most landscapes are covered in soft white snow while sparkling snowflakes fall from the sky to create a magical atmosphere that many only see in the movies. Sure, the summers are beautiful and warm, but the winters are truly unique and special.
Growing up in Fort.McMurray, Alberta, a small Northern Alberta town, we had long cold winters that felt like forever at times. However, we also had some of the best Northern Lights displays in the world, and walking home underneath the Aurora made the long winters worth it. Even when it was -40 Celcius and truly too cold for comfort, I enjoyed seeing the air sparkle.
In contrast, my family-in-law is from Mexico City. They aren’t from the coast but still, they only get the dry season and the rainy season. It never snows. When they visited us during the Christmas holidays, however, they loved it. It was so different for them. One day, it began to snow and my mother-in-law caught a snowflake in her hand. She almost cried. She didn’t know that snowflakes actually do have the shape that we see in movies and TV commercials. Each snowflake really is unique.
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Where to Spend Christmas in Canada
We get lots of people asking us about the winters in Canada, so we decided to write about some of the best places to experience Christmas in Canada. We’re not just talking about the actual Christmas holidays though. We’re talking about that “Christmas vibe”. You know – snow, colourful Christmas lights, skating rinks… that sort of thing. But since we haven’t been everywhere during the winter months, we reached out to more than 15 other bloggers to see what they had to say as well.
Whether you’re looking for the best Canadian Christmas destinations or just looking for somewhere to find that winter magic, here are 22 places to consider.
Christmas in Banff, Alberta
Let’s start the Christmas in Canada extravaganza with Banff, Alberta. Possibly the best Christmas town in the world, this amazing little slice of mountain paradise looks like it was made for a movie. The main street is dotted with shops and restaurants and Christmas lights abound, not to mention dozens of hotels, restaurants, and bars. Towering all around is the Rocky Mountains, which tower over the town in all directions. There’s also an outdoor skating rink, a variety of world-class ski resorts, lots of snow, and plenty of things to do in Banff, making this is the perfect place to spend Christmas.
Christmas in Canmore, Alberta
The Canadian Rockies are the only place to be in Winter. But, you don’t have to endure the flocks of tourists who descend all over this region when it becomes a snow-filled winter wonderland. You can find some lesser-known towns to visit, which can truly be the highlight of your trip.
While most travellers are heading to the jewel in the Rockies crown, Banff; towns that are just as quaint – or are maybe even more so, deserve a detour and a night spent in them too.
Canmore, Alberta is the town not to miss when visiting the Canadian Rockies. Smaller in scale, but not lacking in charm, Canmore is a real hidden gem. With endless scenic views on every street corner, cafes and restaurants that will please any foodie and endless winter activities: dog sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, caving and a Winter Carnival every February – it’s the feeling of walking around a local town which really makes this a favourite place for all.
A visit here must include a coffee at Beamer’s, poutine and a cider at The Wood Restaurant and Lounge and a stay at the Windtower Lodge. If you want a scenic and cozy escape, Canmore has it all. You won’t get the crowds of Banff and Jasper – and that’s exactly how locals and visitors like it.
Christmas in Jasper, Alberta
Just like Banff, Jasper is a scenic mountain town in Alberta, Canada. It’s a very busy spot in the summer, not only because it’s so beautiful but because it’s also at one end of the world-famous Icefields Parkway, making it one of the world’s most scenic road trips starting at Lake Louise.
Unlike Banff, however, Jasper is not that busy in the wintertime. It still sees its fair share of visitors, but due to its smaller size and more isolated location, it remains a relatively quiet town surrounded by mountain peaks and full-blown wilderness. This is part of the appeal. Not only will you find Christmas lights and charming stores, but you’ll have a peaceful atmosphere to browse as you wish and partake in the various outdoor activities that make the place so great. From world-class skiing to winter hiking, Jasper has something for anyone seeking adventure.
Christmas in Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise may be best known for amazing Instagram posts of turquoise, glacier-fed water during the summer, but the lake transforms into a true winter wonderland during the winter months. The beauty of this area in winter really comes from the natural surroundings. The Canadian Rockies rise up on both sides of the lake with the glacier in the distance. The lake completely freezes during the winter, setting the stage for a vast assortment of outdoor activities. You can start with just walking around the lake because there aren’t too many places where you can literally walk across a frozen lake! You can also take laps around the lake ice skating or even enjoy a game of hockey set up by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The annual Ice Magic Festival brings the world’s best ice sculptors to the area to create inspiring ice sculptures along the lake’s banks. If you can’t visit during the festival, you can still enjoy the sculptures weeks later as the wintery weather keeps the lake and its surroundings in pristine condition. Many people visit the area for skiing since the lake sits in the largest ski area in North America. Regardless of the activity you choose, your time at Lake Louise is sure to feel
like you stepped right into a wintery fairytale.
Abraham Lake, Alberta
When it comes to winter wonderlands Alberta has more than its fair share in Canada. However, nestled halfway between Banff and Jasper is a gem that a lot of people pass by – Abraham Lake.
When I was on a road trip through Alberta, I couldn’t wait to visit Abraham Lake. First, Abraham Lake is one of the only places in Canada where you can see frozen bubbles. This is where rising methane gas rises and becomes frozen once it reaches the top of the lake creating this kaleidoscope effect of solid bubbles. Hard to describe but it’s such a fascinating sight. Also, another cool thing about Abraham Lake is you can skate there – such a Canadian thing to do during the winter!
Another reason I was really keen on visiting Abraham Lake was to go on a helicopter tour over the Rocky Mountains there. I had never been in a helicopter before, so I think this was the activity I was most looking forward to while travelling through Alberta, and wow, what an experience. Our Rockies Heli helicopter ride took us over the Rocky Mountains where we followed frozen rivers till we made it to a clearing in the middle of nowhere and the views were just unreal. This is genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever done while in Canada and I can’t recommend it enough!
Christmas in Calgary, Alberta
Canada’s fourth-biggest city is a real treat for people looking to experience a Canadian winter. Due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, not to mention the beautiful city skyline, Calgary is a great place to visit in the winter. While the winters can be just as cold as any other major Canadian city, Calgary benefits from Chinooks, a natural phenomenon that changes the weather quite drastically. While one day the weather can be a chilly -20 Celcius, the next day can be +10 Celcius. This means that snow comes and goes from time to time, but that gives locals and tourists a nice break from the cold weather every now and then.
There are so many things to do in Calgary. Whether you go for a scenic walk down Stephens Avenue, pay a visit to the Calgary Zoo to see Zoo Lights, or admire one of the inner-city parks like Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary is a wonderful Christmas holiday destination to experience the winter. Plus, when you’re done with the city, beautiful Banff is just 1.5 hours away.
Christmas in Edmonton, Alberta
Written by Mayuri and Salil of tosomeplacenew.com.
Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta. During the winter, the city turns into a winter wonderland. The legislature building is decorated with lights and it attracts hundreds of visitors. There are celebrations of all kinds in the Downtown area, including Winston Churchill Square and the North Saskatchewan River Valley. The months of December and January are truly special times to visit. The holiday season is here, so you’ll find a lot of free and paid winter lights shows and activities. Candy Cane Lane, the Ice Castles display, winter lights at Castrol Raceway, and the Luminaria Lights show at the Devonian Botanical Gardens are just some of the key winter and holiday highlights in Edmonton, Alberta.
My personal favourites are Candy Cane Lane and the Ice Castles Display. Candy Cane Lane is a free drive-through or walking tour of Christmas decorated lanes in the north and northwest end of the city. It is a voluntary activity, which is brought to perfection by the community residents. They also take food bank donations, which is always a great cause at any time of year. The Ice Castle Display is one of a kind in Canada. There are ice castles, sculptures set up at Hawrelak Park for everyone to enjoy.
Winters in Alberta can be dry and very cold. Please wear appropriate clothing when you are out and about exploring the city. Most winter light displays are drive-through options, so come with your vehicles (with winter tires) and bring your friends and family as tickets are cheaper with a car pass.
Christmas in Whistler, BC
World-famous Whistler has been attracting Canadians and non-Canadians for decades. Located close to Vancouver, it’s one of the only places in the world where you can go skiing while enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean. For this reason and the fact that Whistler Village is so beautiful, it’s one of the most scenic places to spend Christmas in all of Canada. While it can certainly be an expensive place to go during the holidays, it’s one of those places that feels like you’ve stepped inside a Christmas movie. There are so many things to do in Whistler. You can go ice skating, shopping, tobogganing, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding just to name a few. It can also be a romantic place for a couple, an adventurous place for a solo traveller, and a fun place for families with various white Christmas family holiday packages.
Christmas in Kelowna, BC
Written by Micki of thebarefootnomad.com.
With its famously warm climate, and a reputation as Canada’s premiere up and coming wine region, Kelowna, BC, may not be the first place you think of as a Canadian winter destination. That’s too bad because this lake city in British Columbia’s interior has a lot to offer in colder months.
The outdoor ice rink at Stuart Park is one of the most popular family things to do in Kelowna in the winter. It’s free to join in, with skate rentals and snacks available, and a lovely view of the waterfront. If you’re up for a day of activity, it’s only a 45-minute drive to one of Canada’s best ski and snowboard resorts at Big White. Even wine lovers won’t be disappointed in Kelowna, as several of Kelowna’s big-name wineries offer winter wine touring packages. When you’re done skiing, skating, and taking in the wineries, stop in Kelowna’s bustling downtown for some great food and drink, featuring local distilleries, breweries, and farm to table restaurants. If you still have the energy to spare, don some snowshoes and spend some time at the scenic Kettle Valley Trail, where you’ll wander through wooden train trestles and take in spectacular mountain views.
Christmas in Grouse Mountain, BC
We visited Vancouver with our three young children in a wet, grey January. In the hope of seeing snow, we decided to take a trip up Grouse Mountain on the outskirts of the city. Easily accessible from the city centre by public bus, the journey is completed by an eight-minute cable car ride, which rises to over 1,200 metres. As the cable car rose, the noise of the city disappeared, and a still silence descended while the snow we had been hoping for materialized. The breathtaking view of Vancouver from Peak Chalet is not to be missed.
There are seasonal activities available on the mountain during whatever time of year you visit – such as wildlife movies, seeing the bears at the refuge and a visit to the Eye Of The Wind – but we had come to have fun in the snow. Our children attempted outdoor ice skating for the first time, we had a fun trip in a sleigh pulled by a caterpillar track vehicle, and we indulged in delicious hot chocolate. Leaving the busy ski slopes behind, we went snowshoeing for the first time, trudging through pristine snow on peaceful trails through Douglas Firs glistening with snow. We made a snowman and had snowball fights! As dusk fell, gold twinkling lights illuminated the trees and statues, such as the giant reindeer. The highlight for our city-dwelling children was renting a sled and whizzing down a slope into a mound of snow at the bottom.
Descending the mountain at the end of a fun-packed day, our tired, rosy-cheeked children chatted non stop about their ‘magical day’ in the snow.
Christmas in Golden, BC
There are not many more beautiful Canadian sights than the Rocky Mountains. One of the best places to experience these amazing natural wonders is from the tiny British Columbia town of Golden. As the snow slowly started to descend from the caps of the mountain peaks into Golden, it truly becomes a winter wonderland of Canada.
During the wintertime, Golden is full of exciting activities and stunning sights to see. Snowboarding or skiing is one of the best reasons to love the chilly climate in wintertime. Kicking Horse mountain is Golden’s answer to those fresh days when you’d rather stay indoors. With diverse terrain to suit any skill level, it’s always a great time!
Walking around the quiet streets is relaxing and beautiful with the backdrop of white mountains. With the main street covered in lights to illuminate the popular bars, locals and tourists love to visit. There is also plenty of activities to do around the area as well. Snowshoeing through the forests covered in a blanket of snow is another fantastic way to appreciate this gorgeous area of Western Canada.
Winter in Canada can be cold and painful, especially for an Australian like myself, but finding enjoyable activities and inspiring sights makes it all worthwhile. With so many things to do in Golden BC in all seasons, this winter wonderland is my favourite place to visit in Canada.
Christmas in Revelstoke, BC
Written by Philip and Thea of zentravellers.com.
Situated 7-hours east of Vancouver, British Columbia and 5-hours west of Calgary, Alberta, Revelstoke is a far-flung winter wonderland nestled against the Selkirk Mountains. Flanked by the Columbia River, the picturesque small town shines in every season but even more so in winter when snow banks pile up almost as high as the buildings nearby. The Revelstoke Mountain Resort famously receives epic dumps of powder and features the most vertical run in North America, as well as the opportunity to go cat, helicopter, and backcountry skiing from the base. Other activities offered at the resort include dog sledding, paragliding, and guided snowshoeing tours. You can even get a free legal marriage or renew your vows at the top of the gondola on Valentine’s Day. For real, I’ve been skiing there and saw people go up in their wedding finest.
If alpine skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, there is also the opportunity to try out cross-country skiing at the nearby trails at Mount Macpherson. The nearby parks, including Glacier National Park with its famous Rogers Pass, allow for endless backcountry ski touring and snowmobiling opportunities. Lastly, for those who love to relax in a beautiful setting, the Halcyon and Nakusp hot springs are only a short drive away. With all of these fun options, Revelstoke is a wintery delight to be enjoyed by all.
Christmas in Fernie, BC
This small beautiful mountain town is located in Southern BC, close to the Alberta border. It’s home to world-class skiing and some of Canada’s best snow. What makes Fernie a special destination for Christmas or for the winter in general, is that you can stay at the ski resort and enjoy ski-in-ski-out accommodation while being surrounded by mountain scenery and snow-covered pine trees. It’s an absolutely stunning place and nothing quite beats stepping out on to your balcony and marvelling at the breathtaking views Fernie offers.
In addition, there’s also a Vodka Ice Bar in Lizard Creek Lodge, which allows you to go inside a freezing handcrafted ice room (-13 Celcius) and try vodka the way it should be enjoyed. Trust me, it tastes better there! Don’t worry, warm jackets are provided. If you’re looking for great Christmas destinations in Canada as well as some world-class skiing and snowboarding, this is one of the best places to go.
Christmas in Panorama, BC
As someone who lives in Calgary and regularly gets out to the mountains, Panorama is easily one of my favourite places to go. It’s a little further than places like Sunshine Village or Lake Louise, but the small village atmosphere and the ski-in-ski-out accommodations make the drive more than worth it. If we had to pick just one ski resort to call home, it would be Panorama. Every time we’ve visited Panorama Resort, it snows and snows and snows. This makes for excellent skiing and a true winter wonderland paradise. What makes it extra special is the ski-in-ski-out accommodation, the on-site restaurants and cafes, and the on-site outdoor hot pools. I’m telling you, there’s nothing quite like sitting in a hot pool surrounded by snow and mountains. There are other activities as well, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and helicopter tours. Go skiing, have a beer, sit in the hot tubs, and do it all again the next day. That’s my idea of a Christmas vacation in Canada.
Christmas in Whitehorse, Yukon
Written by Christina Pfeiffer of travel2next.com.
One of the top reasons that Whitehorse, Yukon is attractive during the winter months is because it’s one of the most accessible places to see the Aurora Borealis. The Yukon Northern Lights experience is one for the bucket list. Staring up into a glowing curtain of green and blue is something you’ll never forget. Wander around the snow-covered streets of Whitehorse during the day and warm up with a hot chocolate in one of the many local cafes and learn about the region’s history in a museum.
Then head to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve to get a close look at northern animals such as wood bison, Arctic fox, Thinhorn sheep, and Snowy owls. For an enchanting winter wonderland atmosphere, plan your trip around the Yukon Quest or the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival for a bunch of quirky events, such as wood-chopping, log-tossing, and axe-throwing. The Yukon’s brand of winter wonderland is perfect for outdoorsy active travellers. Don’t miss the crowning of the Sourdough Queen, the Queen’s Fashion Show, Her Majesty’s Royal Feast, and the Queen’s Coronation Ball. These events turn Whitehorse into a winter wonderland with a royal twist!
Christmas in Ottawa, Ontario
When most people think about Winter Wonderlands, Ottawa doesn’t always come to the forefront of their minds. However, Ottawa is the perfect Winter Destination for those looking for interesting and winter-like things. Yearly, the city hosts its famous Winterlude with some incredible ice sculpture artists arriving from all over the world. In addition to ice sculptures, the two-week festival features holiday lights, concerts, cultural performances, and games.
Beyond that, you can go ice skating on the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll share the canal with tourists as well as locals who are commuting to work via ice skates. It’s also great because cities in Canada are so adept at handling snow and cold that the city doesn’t go to sleep during the winter months. You’ll still see lots of activity going on in all the usual places, such as the Byward Market, which is known for its great restaurants and shops. Be sure to try Beaver Tails, the iconic pastry that is a mainstay of the Market.
In addition, the city is home to the Canadian Parliament, as well as engaging museums such as the Canadian Museum of History (technically, the museum is located across the bridge in Quebec). In the areas surrounding the city, visitors can also enjoy both alpine and cross-country skiing, as well as dog sledding and ice climbing.
Christmas in Uxbridge, Ontario
When you think of a winter wonderland, I doubt that Uxbridge, Ontario comes to mind. Uxbridge is a town approximately one-hour northeast of Toronto and is located on the Oak Ridges Moraine. It’s close enough to Toronto to be a day trip but there’s enough to keep you there for a longer visit if you choose to stay in one of the local Bed and Breakfasts. The area is an active farming community with rolling hills home to livestock and the sounds of harvesters in the summer. Once the snow falls, however, it’s a totally different landscape.
Uxbridge has been recognized as the Trail Capital of Canada for the more than 220-km of maintained trails through 8000-acres of protected land. In the winter, these trails are open for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. If you want a little more thrill on the hills, there are three ski resorts a short drive from Uxbridge. For anyone that wants to explore with a snowmobile, a separate trail system stretches across southern Ontario. Some large hills on the outskirts of town are open to the public if you want to ride a toboggan or inner tube. Once the centrally-located Elgin Pond freezes, the snow is cleared from several rink areas and it quickly has a steady stream of people young and old breaking out their ice skates.
Once you’ve tired yourself out on the snow and ice, head over to the York-Durham Heritage Railway station and hop onto the Santa Train where kids can ride the rails with Santa. Luckily, the station is next to a brewery for the parents to either prepare for or recover from, the ride with Santa.
After the sun goes down, the town lights up. From early December to January, Elgin Park is home to the Fantasy of Lights and the park is bedecked with strings of brightly-coloured lights. From there, it’s a short walk to the historic downtown, stopping for a hot drink and a lovely meal to warm up and refuel for another day.
Christmas in Blue Mountain, Ontario
If you love to ski and you’re from the Toronto area, then you are frequently visiting Blue Mountain to hit the ski slopes. This winter wonderland is located approximately 2-hours north of Toronto and has an extensive list of winter activities. Although I don’t ski, I love visiting Blue Mountain during the winter as it looks beautiful with the white powder covered mountains.
Some of the other winter activities offered are snowshoeing, caving, snowshoe the vineyard, mountaintop skating, go chasing waterfalls, ski lessons, horse and wagon rides, ride the ridge runner ride or pamper yourself at the popular Scandinave Spa. Make sure to stroll the streets in Blue Mountain Village where you can shop at many of the stores.
There are many restaurants to choose from and something for everyone but I would highly recommend trying the famous Beaver Tails (no, we don’t really eat beaver tails!) and some of the local cider beer. If you’re looking for something more upscale, head to the chiv Oliver and Bonacini’s for a wonderful dining experience.
There is an assortment of different types of accommodations from the Westin Blue Trillium house set at the foot of Blue Mountain and steps away from the village with hot tubs and heated outdoor pools to chalet rentals to fit your entire family.
Christmas in Kingston, Ontario
Written by Eric and Lisa of Ontario Away.
If you want to experience a classic Canadian winter destination, Kingston is the place for you. As the first capital of Canada, the city is rich with history and culture. Located right on Lake Ontario, Kingston is no stranger to huge amounts of snow and cold winter weather. But, if you can brave the cold, Downtown Kingston is definitely a winter wonderland.
At Springer Market Square (right behind City Hall), you’ll find an outdoor public ice skating rink that is lit up at night for skating. The main street downtown – Princess Street – is a hub of wintery charm. As you walk along the decorated street, you’ll find local shops, restaurants, and traditional pubs. If you need to warm up, you’ll also find cozy cafes where you can grab a tea, specialty coffee, or hot chocolate!
Close to downtown, you can wander the streets like King Street, Bagot, and William Street which weave through the oldest neighbourhood in the city. The limestone and brick houses feature historic plaques from when they were built – many stating the 1800’s! These houses are always decorated for the holiday season and photograph really well!
Down at the lakefront, you can check out the old Kingston train station – now the Tourism Centre offering Canadian souvenirs. To see the icy, rocky shoreline you can walk the waterfront trails through wintery forested areas. If you’re lucky, the lake freezes over before the snow falls and you can join dozens of skaters skating as far as the eye can see.
Christmas in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Luxury travellers looking to sip themselves silly on a road trip of Ontario wine country find happiness in postcard-perfect Niagara on the Lake. Located just a stone’s throw from the infamous Falls, Niagara on the Lake’s high season is traditionally in the Summer and Autumn, when carefree cyclists peddle past award-winning wineries, music festivals offer al fresco entertainment, and pretty patio’s buzz long after the sun has set.
However, there are plenty of reasons to visit the region in the winter! Boutique hotels offer great off-season deals, last minute reservations can be nabbed at buzz-worthy restaurants, winery staff has more time to give you one-on-one attention, and the annual Icewine Festival offers a seriously sweet program…not to mention the sublime landscape is blanketed in soft white snow, which makes it one of the best white Christmas holiday destinations.
One of the newest additions to Niagara on the Lake’s happening beverage scene, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery has crafted an innovative winter program that has the property bustling all hours of the day and night. From 12-6 pm, hockey fans can be found lacing up their skates at the winery’s al fresco rink.
On weekends a DJ plays 90’s pop hits and a giant screen plays hockey games live in the evening. Let the kids zip around the rink and watch from the sidelines while sipping a duo of cool cocktails: the cherry hibiscus and Red Cask Whisky muddled Rusty Skate or Triple-Spiced Mulled Wine featuring Gretzky’s own Chardonnay and Ice Cask Whisky.
Christmas in Yellowknife, NWT
If you were to look up “winter wonderland” in the dictionary, I wouldn’t be surprised to see photos of the Northwest Territories. While it is considered an arctic desert, there is still plenty of snow to go around for over half the year. It truly is a winter lover’s paradise!
What’s there to do so far north in Canada? Well, besides being the northern lights capital of the world, the Northwest Territories has so much to offer. As the territory’s capital, Yellowknife is the natural destination of the Northwest Territories. Here they seriously do winter well. From amazing winter festivals like their Snow King Festival to exploring ice caves to frolicking on ice roads, the winter fun is endless. You’ll be fuelled for early mornings and late nights with a number of delicious eats (including the largest egg roll you’ve ever seen) and you can indulge in the territory’s one and only brewery!
What really sets this destination apart, however, is the hospitality. Every person you meet is incredibly generous and you’ll feel like part of the family. Even if you’re only there for a few days, you’ll leave with friends and memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Christmas in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Written by Mayuri and Salil of tosomeplacenew.com.
The city of Saskatoon dances into joyous moods during the holiday season. Saskatoon’s Downtown, malls, and parks are all decorated with Christmas lights. There is a Christmas parade that takes place in Downtown right in front of the popular Mid Town Plaza mall, which happens during the day and lasts about 1- 2 hours. You can enjoy the parade for free, and it is a real delight for kids and adults alike.
Another must-see activity in Saskatoon during winters is the Enchanted Forest light show, which is hosted at the Saskatchewan Farm and Forestry grounds. It is a light and sound Christmas show, which is an ideal evening to late-night activity in Saskatoon and a way to enjoy a white Christmas in Canada. It is a drive-through show (no walking is allowed) and tickets are sold in most drug stores as well as at the event entrance. As always, dress well for winters. Winters in Saskatchewan are severe and on some days, temperatures drop to -45 degrees Celsius. Make sure to carry ear-muffs, gloves, and your long johns while enjoying the Christmas parade.
Christmas in Quebec City, Quebec
Québec City is one of my favourite winter destinations. Yes, it’s super cold and snowy but that’s all part of the appeal. As long as you’re wrapped up warm, you’ll find plenty of reasons to love Québec City in the winter!
I’ve never seen such a picture-perfect city. It’s an old city, especially for North America, and dates back to 1608. It sits on the banks of the huge Saint Lawrence River in the French-speaking province of Québec. The city is made up of stone buildings, and cobbled streets and it’s all the more picturesque due to constantly being decorated in wreaths and Christmas lights during the holidays.
When you’re exploring the city, you might choose to warm up with a steaming bowl of poutine, a hot chocolate or head into a bar in the evening to watch some live music. Outside you’ll find ice fishing on the river or you could easily spend some time watching the ice crack apart and float down the river. I’ve never seen anything quite like it!
It also has a romantic vibe, which makes it one of the best Christmas holiday destinations for couples.
Rocky Mountain Train Ride
Written by Sherrie of travelbyasherrieaffair.com.
One of the most fun and beautiful experiences in Canada’s wintertime is to take a train ride through the snowcapped Canadian Rockies. The adventure begins by hopping on the train in Vancouver for an overnight excursion to Jasper.
I recommend getting a private sleeper cabin for your overnight accommodations. The cabins are small but comfortable and come with a private bathroom. At the time of booking, you will also be choosing meal times that are to be enjoyed in the dining car with other passengers. With tourists from all over the world, there is no shortage of conversation and meeting new people.
However, the best part of our trip was the observation car with clear glass ceilings and windows. The views are spectacular! Everyone in the car is on the same page as they all keep their voices down and just take in the surrounding beauty as the sound of the train makes its way through the mountains. The tall pines covered with undisturbed snow was so beautiful that it took my breath away. It was a true winter wonderland and easily one of the best Christmas getaways for couples as well.
Canada for Christmas
As you can see, there’s no shortage of Christmas destinations to visit in Canada that gives off that winter wonderland Christmas vibe. This list isn’t exhaustive either. I’m sure there are plenty of places that weren’t mentioned in this article, including all the Eastern provinces. However, whether you’re looking for some ideas for Christmas trips or places to visit in January or other cold months, this is a great place to get started.
Travel Insurance for Christmas Vacation in Canada
As always, we recommend travel insurance when visiting another country, especially if you’re partaking in activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and so forth. However, make sure you ask your insurance company if those kinds of activities are covered. If it’s a short trip, your credit card might include travel insurance for these purposes, saving you hundreds of dollars. If not, we recommend World Nomads, as they offer everything above and can easily be done online in less than 10 minutes. Getting the correct travel insurance will give you peace of mind, even if you don’t need to use it. Click here for more tips for your next ski vacation.
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About Matthew G. Bailey
Matthew G. Bailey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Must Do Canada. Growing up in Alberta to a mother from Quebec and a father from Newfoundland, Matt spent his childhood playing hockey under the Northern Lights and hanging out in the forest before moving to Calgary and travelling to more than 250 cities spanning 42 countries and 6 continents. He loves travel, learning new things, playing sports, writing, making videos, photography, and scuba diving. You can also find him at LiveLimitless.net.
Canada in December: A Perfect Winter Destination
Canada is a great place to visit in the winter. The country is home to many different Christmas markets, light shows, winter sports, and festive activities. You can find everything from Christmas cheer, a Narnia-like winter wonderland to snowy adventures in Canada in December.
It is also a great place to spend New Year’s Eve, as there are many celebrations and fireworks displays to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a winter holiday destination, Canada should be at the top of your list!
Canada in December: A perfect winter destination
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What season is December in Canada?
December is the first winter month. Anywhere you go, for the majority of the Canadian destinations snow and cold temperatures are normal.
Some of the west coast cities might be warmer than most of Canada, but it is winter in the country as soon as we enter December.
Canada experiences the coldest temperatures in January and not December.
When is winter in Canada?
The months from December to February are the official winter season in Canada.
Canada seasons: Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The monthly breakdown is as follows
Canada in December weather and temperatures: What is the weather in Canada during December?
The weather in December in Canada is cold with single-digit temperatures, even minus degrees are the norm.
You will see snow on the ground, experience snow showers, and cold wind chill – so it definitely feels colder than the assigned temperatures.
Here is what temperatures look like in various places in Canada in December,
Canada December weather
Pack the following items for visiting Canada in December,
- Long sleeve tops and T-shirts: Pack long sleeve tops and blouses to layer on.
- Bottoms: Warm leggings are a must along with jeans.
- Parka or warm packet: Carry a warm winter jacket, preferably a parka with waterproof or water repellent material.
- Long johns: Pack 1-2 pairs of thermal tops and bottoms for the duration of your trip.
- Cardigan: Cardigans and sweaters to layer on. Pack merino wool cardigans as they are super warm, breathable, and lightweight (for packing).
- Winter boots: Wear waterproof and sturdy winter boots. Ensure they are comfortable for walks, and hikes.
- Warm socks
- Warm accessories: Bring your colorful beanies or toques, scarves, and gloves to stay warm and toasty!
- Travel documents: Pack all the travel documents like tourist visas, any permits, tour and hotel bookings, insurance, etc.
Remember you will only need 1 winter jacket, and 1-2 boots/shoes to start with. Depending on the duration of your trip, we recommend packing the required number of lightweight thermal wear (or long johns).
You can surely add some colorful beanies to add a pop of color to your winter wear.
Once again, layering is key to staying warm outdoors.
What can you expect to see in Canada in December?
Canada comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy.
It is also a great place to visit in the winter for snowy adventures. The country is home to many different parks and trails. You can go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating in Canadian winters.
No matter what you choose to do in Canada during the winter, you are sure to have a great time.
There are beautiful ski resorts that open up endless winter opportunities for fun. Even if you are not into skiing you can take lessons, admire mountain views and more.
Canada in the winter is perfect to go ice skating, snowshoeing, hiking, ice walking, and tobogganing.
Not into winter sports? Stay in a lovely resort with views of the snowy landscape.
Plus Canadian cities brighten up the cold weather with holiday festivities – Christmas markets, seasonal sales and menu, and lights festivals.
New Year’s Eve is celebrated with displays and get-togethers.
Events and festivals in December in Canada Winter
We have compiled the list of popular lights and festive events in popular Canadian destinations below
- Kensington Market: Enjoy festive markets and Christmas food tours in December in Kensington Market.
- Cavalcade of Lights: This is a month-long lights festival that takes place in Nathan Phillips Square.
- Glow Toronto: This is considered to be one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in the world.
- Toronto Christmas Market: This is a month-long street festival dedicated to traditional Christmas.
- Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls: This winter lights festival is one of the most delightful events in Canada. In this event, over 125 animated lighting displays are showcased, with around three million trees and lights creating a wonderful Narnia-like winter wonderland. You will also see illumination on the waterfalls.
- Noël dans le Parc: This is an annual tradition in Montreal in which the Christmas in the Park festival allows you to experience the magic of Christmas village. You can enjoy free entertainment and warm up by the bonfire.
- Railway Christmas: Known as the Exporail, this festival transports you to the Magic of Christmas inside a train. They are all decorated in festive colors in the Grand Gallery. You can also meet Santa along the way!
- Nutcracker Market: The Nutcracker Market starts at the end of November through December, and this is a great opportunity to buy rare items and take them back home as souvenirs from Canada. Items include dinnerware, jewelry, local products, and toys. : This festival showcases amazing musical fireworks over the Old Port of Montreal, making everything look magical and beautiful. This is one of the must-do urban experiences in winter in Canada.
- Vancouver Christmas Market: Enjoy the European-themed Christmas market at Jack Poole Plaza. This event starts in November.
- Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge: This is our favorite lights festival in British Columbia. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is all decorated with twinkling lights and it looks stunning in the evenings! This event starts in late November/December and continues into the early weeks of the following year.
- Bright Nights: Another lights event that takes place in an iconic spot at Stanley Park.
- Festival of Lights: This lights event is held at VanDusen Botanical Garden.
- Dundarave Festival of Lights: Christmas trees and related setup in West Vancouver.
There is at least one statutory holiday in December in Canada, and that is Christmas Day. Most restaurants and retailers will close early on Christmas Eve, and many museums and attractions will be closed on the 25th.
December 26 (a day after Christmas) is regarded as Boxing Day, and in certain provinces (or states) it is considered a stat holiday. This day is every shopper’s dream – tons of seasonal sales and retail offers and bargains to take advantage of.
Best things to do in Canada in December: Where to travel in Canada in December
Here are some of the top things to do in Canada in December,
Alberta in December
Alberta is a province in western Canada. Its landscape includes mountains, forests, and prairies.
The cities of Edmonton and Calgary are located in the province. Alberta is well known for its winter festivals and activities. There are winter light shows and festivals like ‘Lights Up at the Legislature’, Drive through Christmas lanes, Ice Castles, Xmas market, and more.
Alberta in winter is cold – like very cold, which is perfect for a snowy getaway, white Christmas, ice castles, winter sports, and activities.
Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies are the major crowd pullers to Alberta. Banff and Lake Louise are all decorated for the festive season, and almost all the ski resorts are open and taking in visitors.
The second half of December is better for winter sports when lakes are solidly frozen, and there is enough snow in the valley for skiing.
Other than skiing, you can go snowshoeing, winter hikes, and ice walks in the canyons.
Expect lakes to be frozen, and snow everywhere with wind chill in Alberta.
British Columbia in December
British Columbia on the west coast has milder winters as compared to its Alberta neighbor. But you can still enjoy winter sports in places like Grouse Mountains (near Vancouver), Whistler, Squamish, Revelstoke, and Yoho National Park.
Whistler is perfect for those looking to ski. This cute resort town is just 2 hours away from Vancouver, and it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. You will love Whistler for snowy adventures!
Places like Squamish, Revelstoke, and Yoho National Park are where you can enjoy winter hikes and snowshoe along with skiing.
Vancouver and Victoria are great to escape the white landscape but still ring in the festive mood. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is all lit up for the holiday season, and it is a must-visit.
Both the cities and their iconic hotels are jazzed up with decor, seasonal menus, and holiday cheer. You must take the time to check out different Christmas markets.
There is also a lot of great shopping to be had in the province during the holiday season. You can find everything from traditional Canadian souvenirs to high-end designer items to take back home.
Ontario in December
If you are looking for a winter getaway that is not as cold as Alberta, head to Ontario. The province is home to some of the best ski resorts in Canada.
The province has a population of over 14 million people and is home to Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls.
There are many different ski resorts to choose from in Ontario. If you are looking for a family-friendly ski resort, head to Mount St. Louis Moonstone. This ski resort is located near Barrie and has over 35 trails that are perfect for all levels of skiers.
If you are looking for a more challenging ski resort, head to Blue Mountain Ski Resort. This ski resort is located in Collingwood and has over 200 trails.
No matter what ski resort you choose, you are sure to have a great time skiing in Ontario.
In addition to skiing, you can also go snow tubing, snowmobiling, and ice skating in Ontario. There is no shortage of things to do in the province during the winter.
Toronto and Ottawa are delightful with Christmas lights and ice skating rinks. Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is a must visit in the winter. This is the longest skating rink in the world at 7.8 km or 4.8 miles – now don’t miss this!
You must also head to Niagara Falls in December for a different perspective of this natural wonder!
Quebec in December
Quebec is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to Montreal, Quebec City, and Gatineau.
Montreal is a popular destination in Quebec during the winter. The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, and festive illuminations like the underground tunnel (perfect to escape the cold for a bit).
Quebec City is also a popular destination during the winter. The city is home to many different winter festivals and night walks.
(Quebec Winter Carnival takes place in February though. This festival is one of the largest in the world and features parades, ice sculptures, snow baths, and more).
If you are looking for a winter getaway that is a little different than the typical ski resort, head to Gatineau. This city is located on the banks of the Ottawa River and is home to many different parks and trails.
You can go cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating in Gatineau during the winter.
Ski resorts in Quebec include Mont Tremblant, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Le Massif de Charlevoix to name a few.
No matter what you choose to do in Quebec during the winter, you are sure to have a great time.
Yukon in December
The Yukon is a territory in northwest Canada. It is home to the city of Whitehorse and is the smallest of the three territories in Canada.
The Yukon is a great winter destination – in December. The territory has a population of just over 33,000 people and is home to many different ski resorts.
One of the most popular ski resorts in the Yukon is Mount Sima.
In addition to skiing, you can also go dog sledding, fat biking, snowmobiling, and ice skating in the Yukon. There is no shortage of things to do in the territory during the winter. Temperatures can drop to -40 degrees C or – 40 F, making it one of the coldest destinations to visit in December.
You can also chase northern lights, and enjoy an epic drive along the Alaska Highway. Driving in winter in Yukon is safe, as long as you have winter tires on.
Prince Edward Island in December
Prince Edward Island is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to the cities of Charlottetown and Summerside.
Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island and is a great place to visit in the winter. The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy.
Summerside is also a great place to visit in the winter. And if you are looking for a winter getaway that is a little different than the typical ski resort, head to Prince Edward Island. This province is home to many different parks and trails.
You can go snowshoeing, and ice skating on Prince Edward Island during the winter.
No matter what you choose to do on Prince Edward Island during the winter, you are sure to have a great time.
Newfoundland and Labrador in December
Newfoundland and Labrador is a province in eastern Canada. St. John’s is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and is a great place to visit.
The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy.
Corner Brook is also another place to visit in the province. The city is home to many different winter festivals, including the Corner Brook Winter Carnival. This festival is one of the largest in the province and features parades, ice sculptures, and more.
Nova Scotia in winter
Nova Scotia is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to the cities of Halifax and Sydney.
Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and it lights up in December. Starting with the gorgeous Halifax Waterfront that is decorated for the Christmas season.
The city comes alive with not only Christmas cheer during the month of December, but also opens up stargazing opportunities in the heart of Halifax.
The province is also home to many charming towns that are worth visiting. In December you can still explore museums, go on road trips, visit places like Cape Breton Island, Peggy Cove, etc.
New Brunswick in December
New Brunswick is home to the cities of Fredericton and Moncton.
Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, and there are seasonal events and festive activities to enjoy. Moncton is another place where you can ring in the cold winter season, with light festivals, ice sculptures, and more.
If you wish to explore New Brunswick beyond December you can participate in Dieppe Winter Carnival (in February).
Or check out the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock town. Both these events are held annually in February. You can also enjoy ice fishing from January onwards, including their Winter Fish NB Days that go on until March end!
Provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba are also some of the coldest in Canada, and their cities have festive celebrations – Christmas Lights, markets, and ice festivals in December and January.
More Canada Travel Tips: Canada December Guide
Canada in December is cold, typically very cold in comparison to Europe or other winter destinations. It can be a good time to visit for snowy-related activities – think ski resorts, snowshoeing, dog sledding, etc.
There are unique light festivals in Canada in December like drive-through ice festivals, ice castles, and more!
Yes. It is cold in Canada in December. Minus degree temperatures are the norm (typically low single digits in Celcius, or 23 F). Expect negative degrees in northern and higher altitudes. Wind chill in the air makes it colder than the temperatures (feels like temperatures).
100000% Yes. Canada is worth visiting in the winter. There is no place in the world with a guaranteed white Christmas, stunning snowy landscapes, cozy cabins, and unlimited winter activities to enjoy in the lap of nature!
December is a great time to visit Canada. The weather may be chilly, but the holiday cheer and festive activities are sure to warm you up!
Spend your Christmas holidays in Canada, stay here until the New Year and escape into Narnia’s wonderland with the snowy landscape and some outdoor winter fun.
30 BEST Places To Travel In December
In need of an end-of-the-year holiday and looking for the best places to visit in December? We got you covered! Whether you are seeking warm or cold, Christmas cheer or beach time, Europe or Africa, we are delving into the best places to travel in December.
Being a winter snow bunny, December is my favorite time to travel. If it involves Christmas and holiday cheer, it’s even better. There is something about being cozied up, next to a roaring fire, with a hot cappuccino in hand that never gets old.
If you’re looking to escape all that cold nonsense, don’t worry! There are plenty of travel destinations listed here that will have you reaching for a bathing suit, sunglasses, and a cold drink instead of hand mittens.
The Best Cold Places to Travel in December
Florence, Firenze, is the capital of Tuscany and a highlight of any trip around Italy. You have to add this city to your Italy itinerary if it’s not already. The city is famous for its world-class cuisine, museums, works of art, and surrounding countryside. The architecture in Florence pulls you in and begs you to get lost in its historic heart.
History nuts will go nuts as Florence is known for being the birthplace of the Renaissance period and packed full of treasures. Say “hello” to David! Walking the narrow cobbled stone streets appears as if little has changed over the centuries with marble basilicas, dark chapels, gas lanterns, and enchanting frescos. You have the opportunity to get lost in time.
It’s one of the best places to visit in December since the streets are alive for a holiday, but the weather is still comfortable. December is the beginning of winter in Italy, and the average temperature drops to 13°C nationwide. You’ll need a packable down jacket, but it’s still an excellent time to visit a famous city without the crowds.
There aren’t many cities in Europe quite like Innsbruck. It’s coined the title “Capital of Alps,” and easy to understand why once you set foot in the town. Flanked by the impressive Nordkette mountain range towers over the city, nature never feels far away.
It’s the only city where you can ski, explore a grand palace, window shop, and savor a strudel all in one day. Making it the perfect place to visit in December – especially around the holidays. No one does Christmas markets like the Austrians!
There are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck with the Austrian Alps and a city rich in history. In many ways, it’s everything we love about Austria, all packed into a modern city and historic city. We love that you can be in a beautiful medieval old town and then place yourself in the heart of the Alps within minutes with cowbells ringing and fresh Alpine air.
Salt Lake City, Utah
If you like skiing, snowboarding, and chasing fresh powder, you can’t go wrong with Salt Lake City in the winter. Resorts like Snowbird, Brighton, Park City, and Solitude get endless amounts of fluffy fresh pow that is a dream to ski on.
All are close to Salt Lake City, meaning you can enjoy the city restaurants and breweries at night and venture into the mountains by day! Book your trip well in advance. Rates around the holidays in this winter destination might make your eyes water.
Tallinn is one of the most well-preserved old towns in all of Europe and well worthy of a stop in December. There are many sights to see in Tallinn and to make the most of a trip we recommend at least two days. However, we were able to have a fun time for only a day.
You can head to the buzzing Christmas market with folk dancers in December. The closer to Christmas, the more lively it gets! Eat your way around the Medieval old town, check out the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, walk the city walls, ice skate, and more! The city center is very compact and easy to walk around.
Vienna has been voted the most liveable city in the world several times over, and it’s known for its abundantly happy citizens. It’s a beautiful city full of historic buildings and palaces. Most notable is the Habsburgs Palace, a stunning example of Baroque architecture and awe-inspiring gardens.
Vienna opera house is known for being one of the best in the world, and don’t forget to try the famous Sachertorte (chocolate cake).
Vienna also hosts great Christmas markets during December, which only get better and better as the holidays roll around. In our opinion, everyone should experience Vienna during the winter at least once in their lives!
Few cities in Europe feel as forward-thinking as Helsinki. The Finns have pushed into the modern era and embraced design, food, and art. No place is this more evident than in Finland’s capital. It’s a marvelous city that delighted us with plenty of things to do.
For such a modern city, you never seem to be too far away from nature, though. The town features an extraordinary amount of green space as it’s spread across a series of islands in the Baltic Sea. You have a brilliant mix when you add in the city’s delicious restaurants and Finn’s apparent affinity for having a good time. The Finns know how to live life with “kalsarikannit,” a word to describe sitting at home in your underwear drinking with no intention of going out – that made us laugh.
Helsinki is a beautiful city to explore, full of things to do and delicious food to eat. We spent a week here around Christmas and could not have had a better time exploring a city. Helsinki may not be your typical European city break destination, but it is well worth a memorable trip to Finland.
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
The city and country embody many quintessential European cities and countries. It’s a great place to visit in December as the Christmas cheer is everywhere. We were lucky enough to see it during the Christmas season, catch one of the first snowfalls of the season, and even participate in Luxembourg’s wonderful Christmas markets.
Luxembourg City is a mix of the old and new, with highrises rising all over the city and a pleasant old town located in the heart of the city. It’s a melting pot of nationalities, and you’ll often hear English on the streets as many foreigners come to work for banks and tech companies based in the city. It brings a pleasant expatriate vibe to vibe to the town and adds to its character.
Hokkaido is Japan’s Siberian north. Home to some genuinely polar temperatures that plunge way below zero, Hokkaido is home to prime snowboarding and skiing as much as some of the wildest, most small slices of nature to be found in Japan.
If you are wondering when the best time to visit Hokkaido is, it’s December through March (if you love powder, that is).
Winter has its full grip on Hokkaido at this time. Snow will be falling a lot – pretty much everywhere – blanketing the countryside and mountains.
It’s in mid-December that the ski season starts up again. Places like Furano, and local resorts around Sapporo, open their doors for the skiers and snowboarders among you.
The air is dry, and the rainfall is at its lowest in December. Gloves, hats, and scarves become a must once again, as the average high flatlines at about 3°C. Our tip? Head to an onsen (traditional Japanese hot springs) to warm up.
Banff, Alberta Canada
Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. Have you logged onto Instagram lately? In case you missed it, Banff, has been the hot place to go for the past few years. Imagine vast mountains, beautiful blue lakes, and a charming Canadian small town. If it sounds like the perfect place to spend Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, that’s because it is!
Banff is also surrounded by Mt. Norquay, Banff /Lake Louise, and Banff Sunshine to form SkiBig3. This whole area turns into a skier or snowboarder version of heaven in the winter. We spent a few weeks here mountain hopping around the Rockies in 2018 and have since moved to the Rockies and called it home (so there is no way it wouldn’t make this list). Seriously, it’s that good and is one of the most beautiful towns to visit during the winter.
However, keep in mind that it is COLD. If you were wondering, the average temperature is about -4°C; so yeah, it’s frigid. After dark, it plummets below -10.
Expect snow and fog and only a few hours of sunshine a day. However, it’s now full swing in December if you like cold weather activities and skiing and snowboarding. The crowds don’t hit the mountains until the holidays, so you can expect pretty quiet and powdery runs if you arrive anytime between December 1-20.
Banff and Canmore get busy around the holidays – it’s one of the most popular places in Canada so book your holiday early!
Lech Am Arlberg, Austria
If we were to pick one of our favorite ski resort towns in Europe, it would be Lech Zurs Arlberg. The village ambiance is tough to beat in the winter due to a wide selection of boutique hotels, all intimate in size due to strict ordinance laws. You won’t find mega hotels or foreign investments in this former farming village.
It’s distinctly Austrian, with local families running restaurants, hotels, bars, chalets, and B&Bs. Everything in the village is modern and luxurious but understated so you won’t be completely gobsmacked here. This charm is what continues to draw regulars from around the world year after year.
Norway in the winter is what fairytale books are made out of. Especially the more north you head. We found a fantastic winter home in Narvik where we could spot the Northern Lights and go snowboarding all in one day.
The first night of our tour outside of Narvik included a dog sled at night led by head torches and the Aurora Borealis above us. Our second night was followed up with the Northern Lights over the city of Narvik from atop the ski hill. Both experiences are ones to remember forever!
If you plan to see the Northern lights in Northern Norway, I’d advise you to rent a car to guarantee your chances. Northern Norway is mainly coastal and is comprised of a mix of mountains and islands. The result of the unique landscape and the sea create very localized weather and unpredictable weather.
Narvik is also where you can visit Narvikfjellet, one of Norway’s most famous ski resorts. Off-piste riding is a significant draw for Narvikfjellet as their brand new gondola provides access to some big terrain with views of the fjord below.
Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy
This is the jewel of the ski and winter scene in the Trentino region and one of the best places to travel in December. It’s a well-known resort famous for hosting many Italians looking for solid skiing, dining, and relaxation in a very posh environment. It still holds on to its claim to fame as the summer vacation spot of Austrian Royalty and Princess Sissi. The town is a beautiful little gem set at the base of the Dolomites and has all the charm of a mountain town.
Madonna Di Campiglio is nearly car-free, and it’s easy to take an evening stroll after a day on the slopes. We spent our evening window shopping while checking out the 19th-century architecture with a cappuccino in hand.
Charming wooden homes line the streets at the foot of the Dolomites. It is easy to see why the resort town is well cherished in Northern Italy and a great spot to travel to in December.
The little mountain village provides perfect access to two ski areas and numerous Swiss hiking trails. High above Grindelwald lies the Bernese Alps and a famous mountain face. That mountain is Eiger’s notorious North Face.
The village has a long main road and plenty of accommodation options to handle many tourists that make the journey up the valley from Interlaken. The town lacks the charm that the surrounding villages have, such as Gimmelwald, Murren, or Wengen, but it does provide amazing access to the mountains – great for skiers and those after a solid European winter holiday.
Switzerland, in general, is one of the best countries to visit in December. Zermatt in the wintertime can only be described as a magical winter wonderland. Under its blanket of snow, this chocolate box alpine village is set against the backdrop of the iconic Matterhorn and is a must on anyone’s Swiss itinerary.
Whether you’re into skiing or not, you can’t help but fall under the charm of this beautiful village. It will enchant you with its little back roads, traditional and modern chalets, lack of traffic (a car-free village), and the restaurants and shops that line the main street.
Skiers are spoiled for choice with the kilometers of slopes on offer. A trip up to the Klein Matterhorn or a journey on the train to the Gornergrat is a must for non-skiers. There is a lively après-ski scene and an abundance of restaurants catering to all tastes, from traditional Swiss fayre to Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and more. It is also an excellent resort for families visiting Zermatt, although it does come with a hefty price tag.
We’ve been on a mission to explore some of the smallest countries in the world. It’s what recently brought us to Luxembourg and took us through Swaziland. On our grand tour of the Alps, we visited Austria and Switzerland, so it only made a chance to stop by the country sandwiched right in between the two. Liechtenstein has an area of just over 160 square kilometers, making it the fourth smallest country in Europe, with a population of only 38,000!
Malbun is a small town in the alps that is great for a winter vacation in Europe. Here you can enjoy the best things to do in Europe in the winter – snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and fondue dipping! We even went for a winter walk in the woods with llamas!
We spent two full days in Liechtenstein and thought it was the ultimate place for families looking for winter travel during December. The mountain and town are big enough to have some fun in, but also small enough to let children run wild and free should you want to have some gluhwein.
New York, New York
On the ground, gritty New York may not be the most beautiful city, and there is no doubt plenty of ugly spots. Take a few rides on the New York subway, and you’ll see plenty of the ugly. However, no skyline in the world is more iconic than New York with its architectural feats, bridges, and Central Park.
It’s next to impossible not to be amazed by the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station, One World Trade Center, New York Public Library, Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty — the list could go on. New York’s world-class restaurants, bars, street food, museums, concert venues, art galleries, and neighborhoods.
There is no shortage of things to do in the city that never sleeps. It’s a city that assaults your senses and paints a vibrant tapestry before your eyes.
Around the holidays is, in my opinion, when the city truly shines. There is special holiday cheer in the air. The shops, coffee shops, and general street vibe are so magical. There are Christmas markets, parties, and then, of course, the lighting of the tree in Rockafeller Center. It’s a city one must visit sometime in their life.
Love or hate Venice; there is no denying its popularity. It is the most beautiful historic city on the planet, but it is also besieged by tourists, except in the winter.
The sinking city is a network of 118 islands connected by bridges. Buildings here are old, and if you manage to get away from the crowds, it feels like you’ve stepped back five centuries. It is surreal, and after several visits, we love Venice.
In our opinion, Venice is best visited on the shoulder and offseasons. December is a great time to visit Venice; we went around Christmas (when the above photo was taken) and barely experienced any crowds.
The canals of Venice are notorious for harboring a lot of waste, and in the summer, the smell can get pretty bad; however, in the cooler months, there are fewer tourists, less waste, and the scent is at bay. If you were to ask us, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, except in the summer months.
Best Beach Destinations to Travel in December
Saint Lucia, Caribbean
For North Americans, the Caribbean is one of the most sought-after places to holiday in December. Breezy temperatures, sunshine, and beautiful water make it an ideal destination for those looking for a suntan rather than frostbite.
One of the best places to visit in the Caribbean is the stunning island of Saint Lucia. This country in the West Indies is regarded as one of the most beautiful islands to visit in the Caribbean. It’s the perfect travel destination for the holidays, but be forewarned – rates are at their highest around this time.
Portugal is a year-round destination where vacationers and locals can be found body-surfing, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, water skiing, and surfing. We spent November and December based in Lagos searching for the best beaches in the Algarve and enjoyed every sun-kissed day to the fullest. We now consider it one of the best places to travel in December.
The coastline around Lagos has some of the tastiest waves, cleanest water, and most dramatic landscapes. To top it off, Lagos boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine each year! We spent November and December here and only had TWO rainy days. Not only are the beaches around the Algarve fabulous, but the town is small, walkable, and sculpted by traditional architecture.
We would spend many days walking around Lagos, watching old Portuguese men play chess, enjoy their coffee, and soak in the sunshine without the crowds in December.
Cape Town, South Africa
If there is one city in the world I am dying to return to, it’s Cape Town. It’s a city too beautiful for its sound. Where one can get easily lost in the depths of nature and still have dinner at any sushi, tapas, or bistro, they want at night.
There are so many things to do in Cape Town that it’s hard to optimize your time there unless you have a full year. We spent two months there and felt we barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.
Cape Town will enchant you with activities like climbing the iconic table mountain to sipping some delicious Pinotage while overlooking the tip of Africa. If you find yourself in the South African city, don’t tell me because I will be jealous, have fun!
December in South Africa means summer, at least the start of it. Being the holiday season, it’s a time for tourists to visit the country and one of the best places to travel in December.
Cape Town has barely any rain, blue skies, sunshine, and rising temperatures; the daytime average is 25°C. It’s an excellent time to hit the beach; the Atlantic Ocean is about 19°C in December, so that you could be laying out on the sand and swimming on Christmas Day!
In northwest Morocco, situated in the beautiful Rif Mountains, is Chefchaouen. “Chaouen,” as locals call it, is a small city renowned for its charming streets of blue. Besides the blue streets, Chefchauoen is a popular tourist destination for its hashish, grown prolifically all over the region.
We went to Morocco’s blue city to escape the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities in Morocco. We had seen the photos online detailing all the shades of blue and knew we had to get to this Moroccan town.
It is as impressive as it looks on the internet! Most people wander around and take photos in the town, but there is also some good hiking through the Rif Mountains.
December is one of the most excellent months of the year… in Morocco. If you’re looking for winter sun, it’s an excellent time to visit the country!
Visiting Morocco in December is not really about the beaches and coast; Morocco in December is about seeing the sights and exploring a bit of nature.
Melbourne is one of the most exciting cities to visit in Australia. The buzzing city has nightlife, a great food scene, festivals galore, and outdoor activities. It is tough to hate on the city, bringing people in from all over the world.
People often make their way to Sydney to see the Opera House on their trip to Australia, but in my opinion, Melbourne is the better option as it has less of that big city feel. There may not be snow here during the winter, but it’s summer in Australia, making it the perfect place to visit in December if you are after a warm escape!
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is a great city/town on New Zealand’s South Island. It’s one of the most visited spots in the country and one of the main places everyone seeks to live in. The town sits on Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the Southern Alps. If you are lucky enough to score a lakeside Airbnb rental, you’ll have uninterrupted views of ” The Remarkables,” the mountain range around the lake.
Queenstown is dubbed the adventure capital of the southern hemisphere and is where you will find a wide range of travelers getting an adrenaline high. Bungee jumping, paragliding, and canyoneering are everyday things to do in Queenstown. The city also serves as a jumping-off point to the Milford Sound and Lake Wanaka.
Like in Australia, December means it’s summer in Queenstown. You can expect pleasant temperatures and long hours of daylight! It’s another one to hit up if you are after a warm place to travel to in December for some adventure.
December marks the start of the dry season in Costa Rica, and many North Americans are trying to escape the cold up north. There are plenty of flights running to San Jose during this month.
It’s a great time to travel to Costa Rica at the beginning of themonth, as the end of the month sees plenty of vacationers taking advantage of a Christmas in paradise.
Pay attention to your destination in Costa Rica in December. The Caribbean Coast is currently deep into its rainy season in Costa Rica. Flash downpours, rather than day-long rains, are par for the course in the coastal areas.
The Central Valley is starting to dry up this time of year. Even though it’s not scorching, that makes it a good time of year to try out some adventure sports in the great outdoors. We suggest heading to Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve to enjoy waterfall chasing and bird watching!
December marks the dry season in The Maldives, and if you’re forking out the cost for an epic Maldives vacation, you will likely want ideal weather. The only issue is that tourists start to flock to the Maldives towards the end of December. It’s Christmas, after all, and who doesn’t want to spend the holiday vacation in the Maldives? It’s sunny, it’s beautiful, it’s fantastic, and it’s one of the best times to visit the Maldives.
Make sure to book your Maldives trip well in advance to score the best deal on resort and airfare rates. During December, you can do anything in the Maldives; if you like scuba diving and snorkeling, it’s a fantastic place to visit. We have found The Maldives to have some of the best scuba diving in the world.
The best time to visit Patagonia may not be what you think. Since Patagonia is in the Southern Hemisphere, their spring and summer begin in September, with their summer season being in December!
Days now are long and warm, and there’s very little rainfall to contend with. It’s a fabulous time to enjoy all the best hiking Patagonia offers.
Thailand is always a fantastic destination; however, for ideal weather, it’s best in the dry season. The dry season in Thailand typically lasts from November to April, making it a fabulous place to travel in December. However, you will have to be careful of your Thai destination, as the Lower Gulf (Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, and Ko Tao) are pretty rainy in December.
December is when most of the country is excellent and has low humidity. It’s a great time to snorkel around Phuket, lay on the beaches of Khao Lak, or enjoy the mountains surrounding Chaing Mai!
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are always a dream destination, but there are better periods to visit than others. The best time to see the Keys is between December and April. This is when the Florida Keys are the dryest, and temperatures are bearable. You also miss hurricane season, which is always a relief.
We love starting our trip in Key Largo, staying a few days, and then driving the Overseas Highway to Key West. Some of the best stops are Islamorada and Marathon. When you reach Key West, try El Siboney, it’s one of the best Key West restaurants!
Of all the months to visit Antarctica, December is one of the best. It’s relatively warm (for Arctic standards) and sees long hours. Wildlife is also the most active time for wildlife and is a fantastic time to see whales, penguins, and perhaps even polar bears! If Antarctica is on your bucket list, make sure to pick the right time.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Scotts Cheap Flights to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit cardand how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.
Hopefully this helped you determine which of these best places to visit in December is right for you. For other great places to travel by month check out these other articles!
Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.
Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.
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Welcome to the world, as seen through the eyes of Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden. On this site, readers will find our experiences, gear reviews, photography, tips, and informative travel guides.
We love getting to off-the-beaten-path destinations and aren’t afraid to go it alone. We hope to inspire other independent travelers and provide them with the resources to do so.
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