Are you hoping to make this holiday season as magical and memorable as possible? Who says you have to stay home in order to enjoy the winter festivities? Book a winter holiday vacation this year and enjoy the holidays like you never have before. There are destinations that will hearken back to the old days with holiday lights, carols and cocoa. Or you could plan a winter escape and spend your holidays laid out on a sun-soaked beach with a cocktail in hand.

Whichever your preference, make this season merry with these perfect holiday destinations!

If you’d like to grip nostalgia by the shirt collar, you can’t beat these holiday destinations that really know how to do it up every December.

Where to go for a winter holiday?

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Mtn.

Photo by Murray FoubisterCC BY-SA

If your idea of the perfect Christmas is the quintessential “White Christmas,” look no further than Whistler, Canada! This quaint town embraces the holidays every year with all of their fun Christmas traditions and old-time charm.

Beyond the sparkling Christmas lights that transform Whistler into a real-life snow globe, the town offers a winter sports extravaganza for enthusiasts of all ages. From world-class skiing and snowboarding on the powdery slopes to enchanting ice-skating rinks and thrilling dog sledding adventures, Whistler is a paradise for winter sports lovers.

And after a day on the slopes, enjoy the cozy fireside lounges and charming cafes, inviting visitors to warm up with indulgent hot cocoa or mulled wine. Don’t miss out on the festive atmosphere at local markets and events, where holiday-themed crafts and seasonal delights add to the magic.


Photo by peanutianCC BY-SA

For families, Whistler goes beyond skiing – embark on a magical sleigh ride, build snowmen in the heart of the Christmas village, or explore family-friendly activities that capture the true essence of the holiday spirit.

As the sun sets, the snowy scenery becomes a winter wonderland, with frozen lakes, evergreen forests, and mountain vistas creating a picture-perfect backdrop. Whether you choose a cozy cabin or a luxury lodge, accommodations in Whistler offer a winter charm that complements the holiday season.

And for those seeking relaxation, indulge in winter-themed spa retreats that provide the perfect blend of serenity and snowy scenery. With its combination of thrilling winter sports, festive events, and breath-taking landscapes, Whistler transforms into a holiday haven, ensuring an unforgettable and magical winter escape for all.

Charleston, SC, USA


Photo (left) Robert NewmanCC BY-SA and (right) Justin LeonardCC BY

There is no hospitality like southern hospitality. If you’re looking to recreate the days of yore when the whole town celebrated the holidays together and everyone felt life family, head to Charleston. Charleston’s historic charm adds an extra layer of enchantment to the holiday season.

Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets of the Historic District, where antebellum architecture and beautifully adorned mansions transport you to a bygone era. Many of these historic homes open their doors for special holiday tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the elegance of Christmas past.

The scent of magnolia and pine fills the air as the city’s gardens and parks, such as the iconic Waterfront Park, showcase holiday foliage in full bloom. Charleston’s mild winter weather makes it perfect for leisurely walks, and you may even find yourself serenaded by carolers dressed in period costumes, adding a touch of theatrical magic to the festive atmosphere.


Photo by North CharlestonCC BY-SA

In addition to the traditional Southern flavors of spiked egg-nog and roasted pecans, Charleston’s culinary scene takes holiday dining to a new level. Indulge in Lowcountry feasts featuring festive dishes like shrimp and grits with a holiday twist, or savor the flavors of a classic Southern Christmas dinner at one of the city’s many renowned restaurants.

For a unique experience, consider a holiday-themed food tour, where you can sample seasonal treats while learning about the rich culinary history of Charleston. The local markets also come alive with holiday spirit, offering handmade crafts, artisanal gifts, and locally sourced holiday ingredients.

Charleston’s commitment to preserving traditions while embracing innovation makes it a winter holiday destination like no other, where the warmth of Southern hospitality meets the magic of the season.

Edinburgh, UK


Photo by Rob SchulzeCC BY-SA

One highlight is the world-renowned Edinburgh Castle, which stands majestically atop Castle Rock, providing a picturesque backdrop for the city’s holiday celebrations. During the winter months, the castle transforms into a beacon of light, creating a fairy-tale ambiance that complements the historic architecture.

Visitors can partake in special holiday tours of the castle, delving into the rich history and traditions that have shaped Edinburgh over the centuries. The castle’s Great Hall, adorned with seasonal decorations, offers a glimpse into the grandeur of medieval Scottish festivities, creating a truly immersive experience for all who enter.”

Edinburgh Christmas Market, 2014

Photo by Graham CampbellCC BY-SA

While the Street of Light Festival and the spectacular firework show are unmissable highlights, Edinburgh’s winter magic extends to its vibrant arts and cultural scene. Attend enchanting performances of classic holiday tales at the city’s theaters and concert halls, where the festive spirit shines through captivating productions and live music.

The Royal Mile, decorated with festive lights, becomes a hub of activity, featuring street performers, carolers, and a delightful array of seasonal treats. For a taste of Scottish holiday traditions, explore the Christmas markets offering locally crafted goods, warming Scotch whiskies, and traditional treats like mince pies.

The blend of historical resonance and contemporary celebrations makes Edinburgh a truly magical winter holiday destination, where every corner of the city tells a story of festive joy and cultural richness.

Where is warm in the winter for the holidays?

If your idea of the perfect holiday vacation encompasses the complete opposite of Christmas – warm weather and sandy beaches – look no further than these 3 great spots.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico


Photo (left) cplbasiliskCC BY and (right) Nan PalmeroCC BY

While Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, the holiday season adds an extra layer of festive charm to this Mexican paradise. The city is lit up with the traditional Mexican Christmas celebrations and the laid-back, beachy atmosphere that Cabo is known for.

Walk the streets of San Jose del Cabo, where the scent of tamales and other Mexican holiday delicacies wafts through the air. The local markets burst with color, offering handmade crafts, piñatas, and vibrant textiles, providing a unique opportunity to take home authentic souvenirs that capture the spirit of a Cabo Christmas.


Photo by tour geekCC BY

For thrill-seekers, Cabo San Lucas offers a host of water-based activities with a festive twist. Consider taking a Christmas Eve sunset cruise, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline while sipping on festive cocktails and indulging in traditional Mexican holiday treats.

The underwater wonders of Cabo’s marine life can be explored through holiday-themed snorkeling or diving excursions, adding a touch of adventure to your Christmas escape. Whether you’re looking to relax on the sun-drenched beaches or dive into the vibrant local culture, Cabo San Lucas provides a Christmas experience like no other – a perfect blend of tropical paradise and festive cheer, creating lasting memories for holidaymakers seeking a unique and sun-soaked celebration.

Kaikoura, New Zealand


Photo by Sheila ThomsonCC BY

Kaikoura offers a refreshing alternative as a summer haven for those looking to celebrate Christmas in a completely different setting. The town’s coastal beauty is complemented by the remarkable marine life that graces its shores. Kaikoura is renowned for its whale watching opportunities, providing a chance to witness majestic sperm whales, dolphins, and fur seals.

For a truly unique experience, consider taking a Christmas Day boat tour, where you can bask in the sunshine while surrounded by the awe-inspiring presence of these marine giants, creating a holiday memory that combines adventure and natural wonders.”


Photo by Sid MosdellCC BY

The eco-tourism emphasis in Kaikoura offers a variety of outdoor activities that showcase the region’s stunning landscapes. Explore the rugged Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, which not only provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean but also serves as an ideal vantage point for spotting seabirds and observing the coastal flora.

The region’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its local cuisine, with seafood harvested from the pristine waters taking center stage in holiday feasts.

Whether you’re lounging on the sun-soaked beaches, embarking on wildlife adventures, or savoring the local flavors, Kaikoura stands out as a unique and picturesque destination for a summer holiday escape, offering an unforgettable experience for those seeking a break from the traditional winter festivities.

St. Martin and St. Maarten


Photo (left) Heather Hagans DiMasiCC BY-SA and (right) Jeff SargentCC BY

While St. Martin and St Maarten pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters take center stage, the island’s multicultural influences create a unique blend of holiday traditions that set it apart as a captivating winter escape. With Dutch and French sides contributing to the island’s cultural vibrance, visitors can indulge in a diverse range of holiday experiences.

Explore the French administered St Martin’s Capital, Marigot for a taste of Caribbean chic, where boutique shops offer one-of-a-kind gifts and festive French pastries.

On the Dutch side in St Maarten, Philipsburg’s Great Bay transforms into a holiday shopper’s paradise, with vibrant market stalls showcasing local crafts, artwork, and holiday-themed souvenirs.


Photo by Stefan KrasowskiCC BY

The island’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage while embracing the spirit of the season makes for a dynamic and enriching Christmas celebration.”

Immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife that St. Martin and St. Maarten are known for. Beachfront bars and seaside lounges come alive with the sounds of live music, offering a unique Caribbean twist to traditional Christmas tunes.

Indulge in holiday-themed cocktails crafted with locally distilled rum and enjoy jerk-flavored delights as a festive twist on classic Christmas meals. For a memorable evening, embark on a sunset cruise along the coast, where you can witness the sky ablaze with colors as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea. St. Martin’s blend of tropical beauty, multicultural festivities, and laid-back charm creates an unparalleled holiday experience, inviting visitors to escape the winter chill and embrace the warmth of the Caribbean spirit.

Where to escape for winter?

If you now want to book a getaway yourself after all that travel inspiration but want to stay in the US, why not find your perfect winter vacation destination with our brilliant US Travel Calculator – a great way to discover destinations that match your favourite things to do when on holiday.

If you’re planning a home vacation, then you could also take a look at our ideas for Christmas events and activities across the US. Wherever you end up going make sure to reserve your airport parking in advance so that you get the best deal.