where to travel for Christmas southern and northern hemisphere

Top holiday destinations for Christmas in Australia and beyond

Our top spots for a magical Christmas

Think there’s no place like home when it comes to the festive season? These destinations prove a Christmas getaway can be just as magical.

Québec City, Canada

For a storybook Christmas reminiscent of a Dickens novel, Québec City is as fabled as they come. Blanketed with snow, the city is bedecked with layers of jovial cheer, nowhere more so than Old Québec City, which transforms into an enchanted Christmas village come December.

Amble down cobblestone streets from Petit-Champlain to Place Royale to see laneways lined with powdered Christmas trees, snowdrifts banked beneath shop windows aglow with festive ornaments, and garlands entwined with twinkling lights overhead.

Then, swap your boots for ice skates and embrace the frosty temperatures at any of the outdoor rinks, including Place D’Youville, where you can skim across the ice while enjoying the charm of Old Québec.

Top travel tip

For a unique ice-skating experience, head to one of the forest trails and glide your way along the frozen pathways that thread through snow-kissed pine forests.

Antarctica and the Weddell Sea

Keen to experience Christmas with a touch of luxury and a side of adventure? This once-in-a-lifetime cruise aboard the luxurious Scenic Eclipse will take you to the far reaches of the earth: the ice-capped lands of Antarctica.

Sailing through boundless expanses of gin-clear water, adorned with tabular icebergs, you’ll witness nature in its purest form. From whale pods dipping in and out of the crystalline water to the colossal breeding colonies of emperor penguins that call the Weddell Sea home, an array of creatures ensures Antarctica thrums with life.

This special cruise has just one departure date each year, in December, making Christmas the ideal time to venture into the unknown. You’ll need to make your way to Buenos Aires for the departure and drop off, so allow a couple of days either side of the cruise to explore Argentina’s vibrant capital (and soak up the warmer weather).

Top travel tip

Bring a good camera and know how to use it, so you can accurately capture all the incredible scenes you encounter.

Bremer Bay, Western Australia 

Wedged between Albany and Esperance, Bremer Bay is home to some of the most spectacular (and uncrowded) beaches in Australia. Spending your Christmas holidays here allows for a typical Aussie affair: beach cricket, an unfussy barbecue lunch and plenty of dips in the ocean. The rugged landscape is framed by turquoise water teeming with life.

Don your snorkel and fins to explore an underwater world awash with a kaleidoscope of colour. Venture offshore and you may encounter one of the ocean’s great apex predators: killer whales are known to frolic in the waters during the summer months. 

Top travel tip

Sink your toes into Bremer Bay’s best beaches, including Blossoms Beach, Dillon Bay and far-removed Reef Beach, where lofty sand dunes tumble into cerulean seas – best reached by 4WD. 

Tromsø, Norway

If Lapland has always seemed the perfect place to visit at Christmas time, let us introduce you to its unassuming cousin, Tromsø. Belted by the Arctic Ocean and soaring snow-capped alpine peaks, Tromsø is the gateway to an arctic adventure you’ll never forget. It’s considered one of the best places in the world to witness the aurora borealis.

December marks the middle of polar night season, plunging the city into darkness for 24 hours a day and leaving plenty of room for the natural phenomenon to illuminate the sky in shades of blue, green and purple. 

Top travel tip

Tempt your tastebuds with regional delicacies. Locals swear by dishes like reindeer sirloin and a traditional Christmas specialty, risgrøt (hot rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar).

Kyoto, Japan

Somewhat unconventional, a Christmas getaway to Kyoto is less about festivities and more about the destination. Decorations abound, but rather than recognising religious connotations, Japan offers the opportunity to see Christmas as a time to spread joy – and eat fried chicken. Like we said, unconventional.

Here, businesses remain open, Christmas Eve is more romantic than Valentine’s Day and togetherness is the prerogative. Wander lantern-lit alleyways in Gion, the city’s famous geisha district, and marvel at the ancient Buddhist temples peppered throughout the old capital.

Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines, but take extra time at Kennin-Ji, which is thought to be the oldest Zen temple in the city, dating back to 1202 CE. 

Top travel tip

Warm up at Ippodo, one of the oldest tea houses in Japan. Traditional favourites like sencha and matcha are served in the cosy confines of an 1860s machiya (townhouse). 

The Maldives

If lazing on the deck of an overwater bungalow and slipping into the surrounding azure seas on a whim sounds like the ideal way to spend Christmas Day, the Maldives is your idyllic paradise.

In December, temperatures hover around 30°C and rainfall is at a minimum. Here, you can while away the days watching the sun dip below the Indian Ocean while feasting on fresh seafood.

Top travel tip

The archipelago is a sanctuary for whale sharks, which gorge on plankton in the safety of marine-protected areas. December brings calm, clear waters and excellent visibility, so if you’re keen to see these gentle giants, this is an ideal time to visit. 

Northern Territory, Australia 

The Northern Territory might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re wondering where to travel at Christmas. Yes, it’s the wet season and the days can feel a little sultry, but, if you let it, this underrated territory will captivate you at this time of year.

Evenings are often marked by a storm, rolling in across a seemingly endless sky – the downpour that ensures an exhilarating reprieve. The muted tones of the dry season are transformed into vibrant and lush landscapes.

Waterfalls that remain stagnant in the winter months come alive in the wet season, a barrage of water rushing over lofty peaks like Jim Jim Falls.

Top travel tip

Take a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park for an aerial view of Jim Jim Falls. 

Tallinn, Estonia 

Tallinn has to be one of the best holiday destinations for Christmas. It offers the quintessential European white Christmas, with old town markets where you can sip mulled wine as you amble along snow-dusted streets, but without the crowds.

Taking you back in time, the medieval town is entrenched with a history so well guarded it now holds UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Hip restaurants, bars and an impressive arts scene meld seamlessly with holy places.

St Olaf’s Church, believed to have been built in the 12th century – towering above all other buildings at the time – still opens its doors in the heart of the city, while relics like Pirita Convent lie on the outskirts.   

Top travel tip

Visit Kohtuotsa viewing platform for sweeping views across Tallinn’s Old Town and out towards the Gulf of Finland.  

Whether you're dreaming of a white Christmas, or looking for some festive fun in the tropics, we think these destinations tick loads of boxes. Plus, we heard Santa stops by too, which is always a plus!

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