The calendar doesn’t lie. The holidays are fast approaching, and that may have you wondering: should I stay or should I go? Well, if you want to go and still get the Christmas feeling, we have some suggestions for you. Some are snowy. Some are sandy. Some are nearby. Some require a long flight. But all of them will provide you an incredible experience that you’ll remember forever. Now, isn’t that a nice gift to yourself?
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1. Tromso, Norway
If you want a destination that all but guarantees you a Northern Lights show, head to Tromso, Norway. Travel+Leisure magazine says that Tromso offers more than just the aurora borealis. You can try your hand at a myriad of outdoor activities including dog sledding or take a cable car up the nearby mountain for an amazing view.
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2. Prague, Czech Republic
Travel+Leisure suggests walking around Prague to get a good view of its Gothic and Baroque architecture. There's a big holiday market in the Wenceslas Square and if you want an evening of culture, take in a performance at the National Theatre.
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3. Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
The website TripstoDiscover says Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland may be the best place to celebrate Christmas. Located way up north, Finns say it's likely the real home of Santa Claus. Regardless, you can spend your holidays strolling in the woods, gazing in awe at the Northern Lights and take the kids to make cookies with Mrs. Claus. There's also a hotel made from, you guessed it, ice and snow.
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4. Zurich, Switzerland
Travel+Leisure recommends Zurich for its cultural offerings, ranging from the Conelli Christmas Circus to the traditional holiday concert in the Grossmunster Church.
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5. Cologne, Germany
TripstoDiscover picks Cologne as a great destination for its 'Christmas vibe'. There are eight Christmas markets to explore and if you get a bit chilly from all that outdoor shopping, grab a hot cup of mulled wine (gluhwein).
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6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Why would anyone go to Iceland for Christmas? Well, TripstoDiscover points out that there are many reasons to go: unique holiday traditions that include scruffy Santas, a fabulous Christmas market, and day trips to see the island's geological attractions. Flights from Canada are surprisingly cheap.
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7. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is another spectacular Christmas destination. One of the most beautiful cities in the world is all dressed up for the holidays. Enjoy the many markets, the many glasses of mulled wine and, says TripstoDiscover, make sure you experience a Vienna Boys' Choir concert.
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8. Boston, Massachusetts
Travel+Leisure praises Boston's old-world ambiance. Of particular note is Beacon Hill with its cobblestone streets. Take in a Christmas play over the holidays, and if you're hungry, you can't go wrong with anything seafood.
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9. Grindelwald, Switzerland
TripstoDiscover says Grindelwald looks like the setting for a Christmas tale. And it should. The magical town is nestled amongst the peaks of the Swiss Alps and turns on the charm over the holidays. You'll find all the important things here: from Christmas markets to mulled wine.
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10. Riga, Latvia
Another beautiful old-world destination is the Latvian capital, Riga. According to TripstoDiscover, the Old Riga Christmas Market is a must see, especially if you're travelling with kids.
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11. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is a Christmas wonderland, says TripstoDiscover. The Belgian city hosts the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival where this year dozens of artists will carve works based on the theme 'land of the hobbits'.
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12. Quebec City, Quebec
Most Canadian cities are pretty amazing places to be over the holidays, but Quebec City is simply charming. Wandering around the old city as the snow falls will transport you back in time and perhaps, to Europe! Also, there's great skiing close by.
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13. Victoria, BC
For a warmer Canadian Christmas head to the West Coast. Victoria comes alive over the holidays. If the rain holds off, you can stroll around town, peeking into the shops. If there's a sprinkle, head to the Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. You'll have no trouble finding Christmas-themed events, like the Annual Gingerbread Showcase where bakers from across Canada show off their best creations.
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14. Amsterdam, Netherlands
According to TripstoDiscover, Amsterdam lights up over the holidays with festive decorations across the city. There are 26 different markets to explore. If you've got a sweet tooth, you'll love Dutch treats. Give the olibollen a try and, as legend has it, you'll ward off evil spirits.
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15. Sydney, Australia
Christmas down under? Why not! While it's winter up here, it's glorious summer in Australia. You'll find all the big city Christmassy things to do, with one big difference: it's warm. For a treat, join all the Sydneysiders on one of the local beaches for Christmas Day.
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16. Caye Caulker, Belize
Sometimes you want to spend the holidays on a tropical island far from all the hustle and bustle. Caye Caulker is just what you need. Located in the warm, clear waters off the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is a place to go slow — which also happens to be the island's official motto.
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17. Strasbourg, France
Christmas is big in Strasbourg. According to TripstoDiscover, the city goes all out with a series of themed Christmas Villages. You'll find mouthwatering food offerings from foie gras to Christmas biscuits. There's also a full slate of holiday-themed concerts to take in.
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18. Tallinn, Estonia
Another Baltic city on our list, Tallinn is lauded by TripstoDiscover for its medieval old town and holiday spirit. The first Christmas Tree was erected in the Estonian capital in 1441. There are plenty of shopping opportunities around town, and you can go for a skate on an outdoor ice rink. There's a Christmas Village to explore, too.
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19. Churchill, Manitoba
How about Christmas in Churchill, Manitoba? Fly in from Winnipeg and hang out for a few days learning about northern Canada, watching the Northern Lights and maybe do a little dog sledding. If you're lucky, you might even see a polar bear. It gets cold, so make sure you pack your long johns!
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Another great place to spend Christmas is in your own home surrounded by friends, family, and the fur kids. Sure, it's familiar, but it's cheap, easy and if you need to relax, sometimes you can't beat your own sofa.