By Lottie Gross
Want to get away for Christmas? These Christmas getaways will have you and the family feeling festive in no time…
Forget the traditional turkey in the oven and presents under the tree. For a truly special festive season, take the family on one of these magical Christmas holidays. From amazing, winter-wonderland destinations to unusual ways to spend December 25th, these are the best places to go for Christmas this year.
1. Sleep in a hotel made of ice
We’ve all dreamed of sleeping in an igloo, right? The idea of bedding down amid furs and getting cosy inside an ice-bedroom is quite the novelty. It’s the stuff of childhood dreams, in fact. But now you can do it – and you don’t have to be a child.
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Sweden’s Icehotel is unique. Made from frozen river water (which melts back into the Torne at the end of the season), it encompasses more than 1,000 tonnes of ice in its bedrooms, bar and grounds. Each year, its suites bas are designed by artists from around the world and are themed on anything from theatre (think giant ice-carved curtains) to fairground rides.
The 2019-2020 season is the Icehotel’s 30th, and they’re celebrating with a photography exhibition of its history and an ice-carved viewing platform offering views of the surrounding countryside.
The cost for a Christmas holiday? Approx. £1,225pp
Set in the wilds of Sweden, it’s not easy to get to alone, so travel with Discover The World who run the ‘Iceflight’ direct from London Heathrow to Kiruna. A three-night stay at the Icehotel over Christmas (from 24-27 December) is available from £1,225 per person based on two sharing an Ice Room for one night and a warm Kaamos Room for two nights on a B&B basis including a morning sauna, a torchlight procession to the local church for a carol concert, a Santa visit on Christmas Eve, airport transfers and direct flights from London Heathrow-Kiruna on board Discover the World’s exclusive IceFlight. Find out more about Icehotel holidays here.
2. Go mushing with mutts in Canada
Canada is a nation that really knows how to embrace winter, so what better place to spend Christmas? It’s an incredibly safe country, so perfect for family Christmas holidays with little ones. But practicalities aside, it’s also a spectacular Christmas adventure.
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Head to Ontario, where the Winterlude festival in capital Ottawa is a spectacular celebration of all things chilly, then drive out to quaint Montebello to visit the world’s largest log cabin – a Fairmont hotel. One of the main draws in Canada, though, is mushing. Not the mushing of snow underfoot, but the mushing of dogs – huskies to be precise!
These working dogs are bred to help humans get out and about on the snow, and many are bred for racing across this vast country too. They’re energetic, strong and – most importantly – adorable, and they will whisk you through the Canadian countryside at eye-watering speeds.
This Trailfinders trip ends in Quebec and Montreal, where more festive fun can be had and there’s plenty of maple taffy and hot cider to go around.
The cost for a Canadian Christmas holiday? Approx £2,000pp
Trailfinders offer a 12-night trip in three and four-star accommodation – including an ice and snow hotel and the Fairmont log cabin – for around £2,000 per person. Lots of activities, including the dog sledding, ice skating and snow shoeing are included but international flights are extra. Find out more here.
3. Spend Christmas on the Danube
A Christmas holiday with a difference, this river cruise along the Danube takes in some of Europe’s finest cities. Starting in Engelhartszell in Germany, the A-Rosa Donna river cruise boat will glide along to Durnstein and Vienna in Austria. The former is where the ruins of a castle that was once the prison of Richard the Lionheart, and the latter is one of Europe’s prettiest, most captivating cities.
At Christmas time, Vienna is enthralling. Decorations and lights adorn almost every building, and great, tall Christmas trees stand high above the squares. The cruise goes on to Melk, where a stunning Baroque monastery sits on a hill above the town and you can explore pretty cobbled streets lined with old architecture. Don't fancy this but inspired by the concept? Check out some of our favourite river cruises around the world.
The cost for a Christmas cruise? Approx. £1,399pp
This five day Christmas river cruise by Newmarket Holidays starts from £1,399 and includes four nights all-inclusive accommodation, return travel from the UK to Germany, all meals, on-board activities and transfers, as well as excursions on the shore. Book the Christmas river cruise here.
4. Seek out the aurora in Iceland
Have you always wanted to see the northern lights? This Christmas could be the time to go! Iceland is a stunning country, with intriguing volcanic landscapes, pounding waterfalls and some spectacular natural hot spas. Summer in Iceland is busy, so a Christmas holiday is a perfect way to see this country without all the crowds.
Spend four nights exploring Iceland’s spectacular natural wonders, from geysers to waterfalls to the Blue Lagoon – a gorgeous milky-blue geothermal pool with mineral rich waters. There’ll be snowmobile tours available – Iceland is almost guaranteed a white Christmas – and take a jeep tour out to the wilderness to search for the aurora borealis.
How much for a Christmas holiday? £1,425pp
This five-day tour with Nordic Visitor includes all the activities listed above, plus a Christmas eve dinner with traditional Icelandic foods. Departures are on 21, 22 and 23 December and accommodation. Flights are not included but can be purchased from Wizz Air, Icelandair or easyJet from £75 each way. Find out more about the tour here.
5. Spend some time with Santa in Lapland
If you’ve got kids in tow this Christmas, why not take a holiday to Lapland – the home of Santa? Truly a Christmas to remember, a trip to Lapland will bring all those childhood dreams alive: the snow-dusted landscapes, cosy log cabins in the woods and, of course, Santa’s grotto and elves.
A Christmas holiday to Lapland isn’t all about Santa, though… There’s snowmobiling, horse-riding and husky sledding to be done. Plus, good chances of seeing the northern lights mean staying up late is obligatory for all.
How much for a Christmas holiday? £860pp
A seven-night trip to Lapland for Christmas costs from £858 per person with Inghams, including flights, self-catering accommodation and transfers. Find out more about Lapland holidays with Inghams here.
6. Take a Christmas city break in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is gorgeous at any time of year, but Christmas in Amsterdam is extra special. The pretty network of canals will be lit up with Christmas lights, Yuletide markets will line the streets across the city, and an ice rink outside the striking Rijksmuseum is a romantic place for a skate.
There are plenty of wonderful, cosy hotels to choose from – we love The Dylan, a canalside mansion with stunning rooms and an exception Michelin-starred restaurant onsite – and Amsterdam’s easy to reach. If you don’t mind flying, there are cheap flights from many of the UK’s airports, but the best way to travel is by train.
How much for a Christmas city break? £785pp
For four nights at The Dylan and return Eurostar tickets, the total cost per person is around £785 based on a departure on the 23 December 2019. Find Eurostar prices here.
7. Try affordable skiing in Bulgaria
If you’re a skier but don’t want the hefty price tag that comes with visiting the elite French Alps, try a Christmas ski holiday in Bulgaria. This little-known skiing gem is not only less crowded, but is also far more affordable way to take to the slopes.
Head to Borovets in the Rila Mountains, where cable cars and ski lifts will take you to the top of all manner of runs, from the easy greens to the harrowing blacks. It’s perfect for beginners, with a good number of easy and intermediate slopes, and some solid accommodation options.
How much for a Christmas ski holiday? £363pp
With easyJet holidays you can get a real bargain: seven nights half-board accommodation plus return flights will set you back just £363 per person.
Transfers are not included, nor are lift passes (though these tend to be between £10 and £20 only).
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