15 Epic international Destinations to experience in December

December is a magical time of year when the world transforms into a winter wonderland, and cities across the globe come alive with festive lights, holiday markets, and a palpable sense of cheer.

While many people associate December with staying home for the holidays, it's also an ideal time to explore international destinations that offer unique experiences during this special season.

Read More: Tripzilla/ Explore The World

In this article, we'll take you on a detailed journey to 15 epic international destinations to consider for your December travels.

1. Prague, Czech Republic:

Prague, Czech RepublicPrague, Czech Republic

Prague, often referred to as the "City of a Hundred Spires," becomes even more enchanting in December. The cobblestone streets of the Old Town Square are adorned with twinkling lights, and the iconic Charles Bridge offers breathtaking views over the Vltava River. Don't miss the delightful aroma of Czech pastries and mulled wine wafting through the air at the Christmas markets.

Things to do:

  • Visit Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral.

  • Explore the historic Old Town Square and its Christmas market.

  • Enjoy a traditional Czech meal in a cozy restaurant.

  • Take a Vltava River cruise to see the city's landmarks from the water.

2. Quebec City, Canada:

Quebec City, CanadaQuebec City, Canada

Quebec City, a slice of Europe in North America, transforms into a winter wonderland during December. The charming Old Town is adorned with snow, and the historic Château Frontenac looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. Explore the Petit Champlain district for unique shopping and dining experiences.

Things to do:

  • Wander through Old Quebec's cobblestone streets.

  • Visit the iconic Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace.

  • Experience the Quebecois culture at the German Christmas Market.

  • Go ice skating in Place D'Youville.

3. Vienna, Austria:

Vienna, AustriaVienna, Austria

Vienna's classical charm takes center stage during December. The city's numerous Christmas markets, such as the famous Christkindlmarkt in front of City Hall, offer exquisite handcrafted gifts and delicious treats. Enjoy classical concerts that pay homage to Vienna's musical heritage, and indulge in the city's famous pastries, including Sachertorte.

Things to do:

  • Explore Schönbrunn Palace and its Christmas market.

  • Attend a classical concert at the Vienna State Opera.

  • Try Viennese pastries at Café Central.

  • Stroll along the Ringstrasse and admire the architecture.

4. Reykjavik, Iceland:

Reykjavik, IcelandReykjavik, Iceland

Experience the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights in Reykjavik during December. While the days are short, the nights offer a chance to witness this incredible natural phenomenon. Afterward, warm up in one of the city's geothermal pools, such as the Blue Lagoon, and savor Icelandic cuisine.

Things to do:

  • Chase the Northern Lights on a guided tour.

  • Relax in the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

  • Explore the Golden Circle, including Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.

  • Visit the striking Hallgrímskirkja church.

Read More: How to Capture the Northern Lights in Iceland

5. Kyoto, Japan:

Kyoto, JapanKyoto, Japan

Kyoto's temples and shrines take on a serene ambiance in December. Visit Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) or Fushimi Inari Shrine and marvel at their beauty in the winter light. Enjoy seasonal kaiseki meals, featuring traditional Japanese dishes made from fresh local ingredients.

Things to do:

  • Admire the seasonal beauty of Kinkaku-ji and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

  • Experience a traditional tea ceremony.

  • Explore Gion, Kyoto's historic geisha district.

  • Savor kaiseki (multi-course) meals at a traditional restaurant.

Read More: Travel Guide to Japan from India 2023

6. New York City, USA:

New York City, USANew York City, USA

The Big Apple comes alive with holiday spirit in December. Rockefeller Center's iconic Christmas tree, towering over the ice-skating rink, is a must-see. Stroll along Fifth Avenue to admire the extravagant holiday window displays, and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa at the Bryant Park Winter Village.

Things to do:

  • See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

  • Ice skate at Rockefeller Center or Central Park.

  • Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

  • Enjoy a Broadway show or holiday performance.

7. Salzburg, Austria:

Salzburg, AustriaSalzburg, Austria

The birthplace of Mozart and the setting for "The Sound of Music," Salzburg is a magical destination in December. The city's historic streets are adorned with Christmas lights, and traditional markets like the Christkindlmarkt offer handcrafted gifts and delicious Alpine treats.

Things to do:

  • Take a Sound of Music tour to see filming locations.

  • Explore Hohensalzburg Fortress.

  • Attend a Mozart concert in a historic venue.

  • Visit the Baroque Mirabell Palace and Gardens.

Read More: 5 Imperial Palaces in Austria to Live Out Your Fairytale Dreams

8. Bruges, Belgium:

Bruges, BelgiumBruges, Belgium

Bruges' medieval architecture and cobbled streets make it a fairy-tale destination during December. The town square, Markt, is transformed into a Christmas market with an ice rink. Don't forget to try Belgian chocolates and waffles from the local vendors.

Things to do:

  • Wander the medieval streets of Bruges.

  • Visit the Church of Our Lady and its Michelangelo sculpture.

  • Take a canal boat tour of the city.

  • Sample Belgian chocolates and beer.

9. Copenhagen, Denmark:

Copenhagen, DenmarkCopenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens amusement park is transformed into a dazzling Christmas extravaganza during December. The park is adorned with millions of lights, and you can enjoy thrilling rides, entertainment, and delicious Danish pastries. Explore the city's cozy cafes, where you can savor gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (Danish donut holes).

Things to do:

  • Experience the Tivoli Gardens Christmas market.

  • Visit the Little Mermaid statue.

  • Explore Nyhavn's colorful waterfront.

  • Discover the history of the Danish monarchy at Rosenborg Castle.

10. Cape Town, South Africa:

Cape Town, South AfricaCape Town, South Africa

Experience a unique December by visiting Cape Town, where you can enjoy the Southern Hemisphere's summer. Relax on stunning beaches like Clifton and Camps Bay, explore the Cape Winelands, and discover the vibrant cultural scene in the city.

Things to do:

  • Relax on the beaches of Clifton or Camps Bay.

  • Visit the Cape Winelands for wine tasting.

  • Explore Table Mountain National Park.

  • Discover the local art scene at the Zeitz MOCAA museum.

11. Edinburgh, Scotland:

Edinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations are world-famous. The torchlight procession, street parties, and a fireworks display over the historic Edinburgh Castle are unforgettable experiences. Explore the city's historic Royal Mile, where you'll find traditional pubs and shops.

Things to do:

  • Attend the Hogmanay New Year's Eve celebrations.

  • Explore the historic Royal Mile.

  • Visit Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

  • Hike up Arthur's Seat for panoramic views of the city.

12. Seville, Spain:

Seville, SpainSeville, Spain

Seville's mild winter temperatures make it a perfect destination to explore its historic neighborhoods in December. Visit the Alcazar Palace and the Seville Cathedral, and savor delicious tapas at local bars.

Things to do:

  • Explore the Alcazar Palace and its lush gardens.

  • Visit Seville Cathedral and the Giralda Tower.

  • Experience a traditional Flamenco show.

  • Wander through the historic Santa Cruz neighborhood.

13. Budapest, Hungary:

Budapest, HungaryBudapest, Hungary

Budapest is a hidden gem in December. The Hungarian capital boasts grand thermal baths, an enchanting Christmas market at Vörösmarty Square, and beautifully illuminated landmarks along the Danube River. Don't forget to try traditional Hungarian dishes like goulash and chimney cake.

Things to do:

  • Relax in the thermal baths, like Széchenyi or Gellért.

  • Admire the Hungarian Parliament Building illuminated at night.

  • Explore Buda Castle and Matthias Church.

  • Shop for souvenirs at the Váci Street shopping district.

14. Sydney, Australia:

Sydney, AustraliaSydney, Australia

Celebrate Christmas in the sun on one of Sydney's beautiful beaches, such as Bondi or Manly. Enjoy beachside barbecues, water sports, and the spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour. Visit the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden for cultural experiences.

Things to do:

  • Enjoy a beach day at Bondi or Manly Beach.

  • Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge for stunning views.

  • Explore the Sydney Opera House and its surroundings.

  • Visit Taronga Zoo or the Royal Botanic Garden.

Read More: Travel Guide to Australia from India 2023

15. Zurich, Switzerland:

Zurich, SwitzerlandZurich, Switzerland

Zurich's twinkling Christmas markets, stunning Alpine scenery, and the opportunity to hit the slopes in nearby ski resorts make it a top December destination. Explore the Old Town, take a boat ride on Lake Zurich, and indulge in Swiss chocolate and cheese.

Things to do:

  • Shop for Swiss watches and chocolates on Bahnhofstrasse.

  • Explore the Old Town (Altstadt) and Grossmünster.

  • Take a scenic train ride to the Swiss Alps.

  • Visit the Swiss National Museum for cultural insights.

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