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Hidden Gems Around the World

11 of the Top Places To Spend Christmas Around the World

Santa Claus Village, Lapland
Hallo, mein Name ist Helen!

South Londoner on the loose in Switzerland, with a cat and baby in tow. Trained teacher, student, and travel writer, with a passion for drama, drag, and adventure.

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Hi, I'm Helen!

South Londoner on the loose in Switzerland, with a cat and baby in tow. Trained teacher, student, and travel writer, with a passion for drama, drag, and adventure.

Mehr anzeigen

Whether you’re hankering for a taste of Christmas outside the jolly season or simply after some inspiration for your next December vacation, these international Tinsel Towns (not that one) have you covered. From meeting Santa Claus in his Arctic home to soaking up some Christmas sun in the southern hemisphere, here are 11 of the best Christmas towns in the world to spend the festive season.

North Pole, Alaska

Santa Claus House at the 'North Pole' in Fairbanks.
Get festive at the Fairbanks Santa Claus House. | Bildquelle: Kit Leong / Shutterstock

What could be more Christmassy than the North Pole?

Just outside Fairbanks and close to the Arctic Circle, this small Alaskan town has become a year-round Christmas treat, thanks to its themed streets, resident reindeer, and Santa Claus House. When the winter brings its seasonal snow, the Chena Lake Recreation Area becomes a festive playground with Christmas trees, dog sledding and snowmobile tours. And if you’re lucky, you might even see the Northern Lights.

Rovaniemi, Lapland

Rovaniemi reindeer in the snow.
Rovaniemi is the place to be for a reindeer-drawn sled ride. | Bildquelle: Andrei Kobylko / Shutterstock

The home of Santa is the perfect place to pass the festive season.

Capital of Lapland and official home of one Mr. Claus, Rovaniemi is a place of pilgrimage for Christmas enthusiasts of all ages. Meet the man himself at the SantaPark Arctic World or Santa Claus Village or borrow his reindeer for [sleigh rides around snowy Lapland] (

Basel, Switzerland

A Basel Christmas market in a square.
Basel's Christmas vibes (and markets) are exemplary. | Bildquelle: ecstk22 / Shutterstock

Switzerland is one the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.

Basel’s award-winning Christmas markets take place every year between late November and December 23 over two town squares. Highlights include the Christmas Tram, Christmas Ferry, and traditional 42-foot (13-meter) mulled wine pyramid. Basel’s location close to two international borders also makes it easy to tick off several European markets in just a few days.

Related: Where to Find the Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Atlixco, Mexico

Atlixco Christmas lights strung across the streets.
Atlixco sparkles at Christmastime. | Bildquelle: Angel H / Tripadvisor

This destination is one of the most unexpected winter wonderlands.

Atlixco celebrates not one but two winter festivals in close succession. From November, the city is illuminated by larger-than-life light features, sky lanterns, and funfairs as part of the Festival de la Iluminación. Then, in early January, the Festival de la Ilusión rings in the Epiphany with a float parade and balloon launch. Day trips from Puebla are a convenient way to immerse yourself in the city’s festive spirit.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague's Christmas market lit up at twilight.
Prague is an unrivaled European Christmas destination. | Bildquelle: Balate Dorin / Shutterstock

Prague is one of the best Christmas towns in the world.

From the first Saturday of Advent, Prague transforms into an enchanting Christmas enclave with multiple holiday markets springing up around the city’s squares and castle complex. Learn about Czech traditions including the Golden Pig, savor trdelník pastries, and admire the vibrant Vánoce decorations on a walking tour of the city’s markets.

Birmingham, England

A Christmas market in Birmingham in England.
Don't skip the Christmas markets in Birmingham, England. | Bildquelle: Shanae Ennis-Melhado / Shutterstock

Swap London for this Midlands favorite—you might just be surprised.

Often overlooked in favor of the UK capital, Birmingham boasts seasonal charm of its very own. The Frankfurt Christmas Market—the largest such market outside the German-speaking world—takes place every year from early November to December 23. Sample glühwein, bratwurst, and schnitzel or ride the Big Wheel for Christmassy views of the Midland metropolis.

Dresden, Germany

Dresden Christmas market in the day.
The Dresden markets are quite the sight. | Bildquelle: Marina Datsenko / Shutterstock

You could consider this German city the home of the Christmas market.

Though Christmas markets have been taking place for millenia, it’s thought that Dresden’s 1434 Streizelmarkt was among the first proper Christmas markets in the world. Today, the traditional market can still be visited all through Advent, along with several others around Prager Strasse, Dresden Castle, and Frauenkirche.

Bethlehem, Palestine

Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity in daytime.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a stellar place to celebrate Christmas. | Bildquelle: majeczka / Shutterstock

A favorite for Christians and non-Christians alike, this is the OG Christmas city.

Editor's note: Travel to Israel or Palestinian Territories may not be recommended due to the ongoing armed conflict and serious safety risks in this area. Please follow your government's guidance and travel advisories.

Where better to immerse yourself in the Christmas story than the original setting? Bethlehem is a year-round nativity attraction, with tourism reaching its peak in December. Attend Christmas Eve mass in the Church of the Nativity or visit off-season and combine with a tour of Jericho.


Singapore's already striking light shows only get even brighter in winter. | Bildquelle: MU YEE TING / Shutterstock

Singapore glitters over the holidays, making it a great place to spend Christmas.

Singapore’s Christmas lights are a spectacle not to be missed. The Gardens by The Bay hosts a Christmas Wonderland every year, which features incredible illuminations, plus a market, funfair, and Santa’s Grotto. Other Christmas crackers include the Orchard Road and Chinatown window displays.

Medellín, Colombia

Medellín's extravagant Christmas lights make it one of the best Christmas towns in the world. | Bildquelle: oscar garces / Shutterstock

Colombia might not immediately spring to mind, but its illuminations are legendary.

Medellín’s famous El Alumbrado festival sees millions of colorful Christmas lights and enormous glowing figures illuminate the city’s streets, parks, and river. The festival traditionally begins on December 7, Colombia’s Día de las Velitas (Little Candle Day), and is best viewed on an afterdark tour of the city.

Sydney, Australia

Sunny Sydney knows how to put on a seasonal show. | Bildquelle: C de la Cruz / Shutterstock

The southern hemisphere summer sees all sorts of Christmas festivities in Sydney.

Experience a quintessential Christmas down under in sunny Sydney. Don’t miss the city’s annual light display, now at the Royal Botanic Gardens, which includes choir performances, festive projections, and artisanal markets. Other festive highlights include Darling Harbour’s Christmas weekenders and Christmas Day cruise tours.

Related: Holiday Lights Tours Around the World

Explore more festive tours and activities

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Hidden Gems Around the World |
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