Festive City Breaks – Our Top Twenty
Christmas mini breaks allow you to bask in the festive season with sparkling scenery, warming food and drink and fantastic shopping to help get your festive spirit in full swing. Whether you are seeking Christmas snow or yuletide culture, our guide will inspire you to turn your festive dreams into a magical reality.
Romance meets Christmas magic in Paris, the City of Light. Walk the Champs-Elysees, a dazzling array of over 2 miles of lights adorning the 200 trees, ice-skate in front of City Hall and enjoy incredible cuisine.
Germany is the home of the Christmas tree, as well as other traditions synonymous with the festive season. Sip gluhwein as you shop for exquisite and quirky Christmas gifts amid the scent of cinnamon and German sausages, for the ultimate Christmas break.
Believed to be the first city to celebrate Christmas mas and home to the first recorded nativity scene in 1300, Rome is the only destination for those seeking the definitive traditional Christmas experience. Rome’s huge square, Piazza Novena, is breath-taking all year around, but in December it is turned into a bustling Christmas market that is a true feast for the senses.
Chicago offers a little bit of everything festive, with a stunning backdrop. Drink in sight of the Magnificent Mile, alight with millions of fairy lights, wander through the German craft market, the Christkindmarket, and while away a few hours at Winter Wonderfest, a Christmas amusement park and skating rink on Navy Pier.
In typical Viennese style, Christmastime in Vienna shuns the excesses of tinsel and over-the-top decorations for an exquisite theatre of grace and elegance. Traditional decorations, simple lights, delectable hot chocolate and chestnuts roasted over an open fire will make you feel as though you have been transported to a Dickensian Christmas, with an added splash of luxury.
Copenhagen at Christmas is a unique experience. The relatively small city oozes charm, with its intimate feel and myriad markets, food stalls and concerts. Feast your eyes on the Tivoli Gardens, which are transformed into a dazzling Christmas market complete with half a million lights and thousands of Christmas trees.
Prague is one of the few European cities to remain relatively unscathed by two wars. The medieval layout of the city and its Gothic and Baroque architecture, combined with exquisite decorations, carols and markets make Christmastime in Prague a truly mesmerising experience.
The quintessential German Christmas markets reach stunning new heights in Nuremburg, where 200 handpicked vendors compete for the coveted award of most beautiful stall design. While you shop for original gifts and taste the obligatory gluhwein, you will be dazzled by the enticingly beautiful array of stalls on offer.
There is no doubt: you are never too old for Lapland, the home of Father Christmas. Children and adults alike will be mesmerised by the Lapland experience, which encapsulates the magic of Christmas. Visit Santa, meet the reindeer and take a skidoo ride through the snow for an unforgettable Christmas treat.
There is no denying that New York is the place if you want to capture the essence of Christmas. The sights and sounds, so familiar to many from countless Christmas films, guarantee to transport you to an enchanted place of Christmas cheer. Ice-skate outside the Rockefeller centre, gaze at incredible window displays and soak up an atmosphere that will make you believe, just for a little while, that miracles really can happen.
With its equal proximity to Vancouver and Europe, Montreal sources traditions from the two continents to offer a delightful combination of traditional Christmas fare. Time your trip for the Défilé du Père Noël, the Santa Claus parade that has been celebrated in Montreal for over 90 years, or the smaller but equally festive Défilé de Noël.
Light shows, fireworks, Christmas markets and a smattering of snow make Edinburgh a fantastic place to capture your festive spirit. Witness the Royal Mile transformed into a festive wonderland and drink in the undeniably vibrant atmosphere of Scotland’s second largest city.
Irish celebrations call to mind laughter, dancing, fun and light, and Christmas in Dublin doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy traditional yuletide activities, such as outdoor ice rinks and carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral, laced with lashings of traditional Irish craic.
Reykjavik really does have it all when it comes to festive fun. Markets, ice rinks, music and delightful decorations topped, if you’re lucky, with the most coveted of all natural phenomena: the Northern Lights. Reykjavik is the perfect location to absorb Yuletide magic – if you happen to visit in the two weeks before Christmas, look out for the Yule Lads.
Bruges features the festive fayre that we might expect, however it has an exquisite charm of its own that is undeniable yet hard to identify. The chocolate-box city features medieval architecture and winding streets, making it the perfect backdrop to its Christmas markets, ice rinks and carols.
If your ideal Christmas features icy snow, world-class skiing and delicious après-ski, head to Banff this winter. Enjoy the Christmas markets before taking to the slopes where tourists and locals alike celebrate the festive season with abandonment and joy, making Christmastime feel like a true community event.