Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or would prefer to spend the holidays lying in a hammock on a secluded beach, the festive period is the perfect time to get out into the world and explore some exciting destinations.
With the long-awaited return of international travel, tickets to favourite Christmas holiday destinations like Europe are at a premium, the ACCC revealing earlier in the year that ticket prices were reaching dizzying new heights.
Even if you booked your tickets way back in August, they still would have been 56 per cent higher than they would have been in April. Most destinations will be very busy this Christmas holidays and booking six months ago was the safest bet.
In the US, travel booking app Hopper found that domestic airline tickets are as much as 40 per cent more expensive than last year. Amid allegations of profit chasing by airlines, many flights are full nonetheless and any tickets still available are exorbitantly expensive.
We’ve found some of the best, and most unexpected, places to enjoy Christmas this year and if you had the foresight to book tickets six months ago, we also included some old favourites for those of you who got in early.
Prague, Czech Republic
Dotted with Christmas markets serving Svařák, Czech mulled wine, Prague is about as picturesque as it gets if you’re looking for a white European Christmas this year. The famously beautiful architecture of the old town provides a stunning backdrop for snow, colourful lights and festive cheer.
There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained in the Czech capital. First and foremost is a sampling of trdelník, a hollowed-out pastry filled with soft-serve ice cream that is served in the chilly Christmas air. To indulge in the popular Czech treat, head to the Good Food Coffee and Bakery at 8 Karlova in the Old Town.
Visit one of the many Christkindlesmarkt or just take a stroll around this compact city, small enough that you only really need a few days to be able to experience the best Salzburg has to offer. The birthplace of Mozart is a must-see for any music lover and a screening of The Sound of Music is on the itinerary of most visitors, especially at this time of year.
The Austrian Alps provide a magnificent backdrop of snow-capped mountains from just about everywhere in the city and make for gorgeous happy snaps. Christmas trees, lights and festive decorations abound; there are not many winter wonderlands as magical as Salzburg.
For a tropical paradise with weather about as far from the idea of a typical Christmas as possible, the Barbadians seem to have an impressive selection of traditions, celebrations and, of course, local foods for visitors to try over the holiday season.
At Christmas, great cake or rum cake, jug jug and baked ham are extremely popular dishes at Christmas time and resemble an enormous variation of the Christmas fruit cake, pineapple glazed ham and a kind of haggis-like dish made with cornflour, paying homage to many of the residents’ Scottish roots.
There are lights, trees and a midnight mass on Christmas eve, but Barbados’ gorgeous beaches are a good place to spend Christmas sunbathing, pina colada in hand and turquoise water at your feet.
The black rock of Edinburgh Castle is both stunningly beautiful and ice cold at this time of year. Scotland reaches just above zero in the festive period, so if you plan on actually exploring the castle or walking to the top of Arthurs’s Seat, a hill near the old city, bring a very warm jacket.
The Scots put on an impressively beautiful winter wonderland during the holiday season and there are also the ubiquitous Christmas markets to wander through. Stick around a few weeks after Christmas, however, and you’ll be able to witness what was once the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the world. This effigy-burning party attracted over 300,000 revellers in its heyday, but nowadays numbers are at a less exciting but more manageable 30,000.
If you’re chasing winter sun, a holiday in Oman might just tick many other boxes as well, including bearable maximum temperatures hovering around 22 degrees. The capital of Muscat is famously beautiful thanks to its gorgeous mosques and Arabian architecture.
Other unexpected activities in Oman include swimming with dolphins and taking a tour of the arid, but incredibly beautiful mountains near Muscat. The country has gorgeous beaches in the south, helpful locals and delicious traditional fare, including shawarma and mashuai, a local dish made with roasted kingfish and savoury lemon rice to satisfy your festive appetite.
Perhaps you have younger children who wish to meet the man himself, or maybe you’re looking for some wild reindeer to feed. Inari village, located in the heart of snow-blanketed Lapland and home to the Sami culture, is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a very festive Christmas experience.
The Sami people speak three languages and, as the heart of the culture, it’s possible to hear all three spoken in Inari. Abundant nighttime in Finland during the festive season means the Northern Lights give the gorgeous snow-covered landscape a spectacular glow.
New York, USA
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 50 years, you’ll be able to picture iconic New York Christmas landmarks like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, snowy Central Park and glittering Times Square from famous American movies like Home Alone and Miracle on 34th Street.
This year will see the return of Onederland at One World Trade Centre. The mountaintop display will be located on the 100th floor and with the backdrop of the most famous skyline on the planet, a cosy gingerbread cafe will be serving piping hot chocolate and other festive treats.
Need some gift inspiration for this year’s Christmas shopping? Take a look at our Ultimate Gadgets Christmas Gift Guide, The Best Beauty Gift Sets to Buy for Christmas 2022 or The Best Christmas Gifts and Experiences to Buy Him in 2022.
This article originally appeared on Fancy and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com