Top Festive Destinations for Sun Seekers
As the days grow shorter and travel deals start appearing, it’s time to start planning for a dose of winter sun.
Many holidaymakers look to spend the holiday season in hotter climes, a far cry from traditional mulled wine and snowmen. Not just for some welcome respite from relentless winter weather, but also because many of these destinations are in fact just as, if not more, festive than home.
To help you find the best places to spend the holidays on the beach, Booking.com has decided to use the recommendations of its customers to compile a definitive list*.
So if you’d like to see the sun in December, as well as open presents, feast and celebrate, these destinations are the place to be.
Australia at Christmas is surprisingly festive, so you don’t have to sacrifice any seasonal spirit in return for spotless sandy beaches and royal blue skies. Carols are sung in the shade of fragrant eucalyptus, Christmas trees are bedecked in tinsel and plenty of people will have a traditional Christmas lunch, trimmings and all. But should you fancy a barbecue instead, there are over 100 city beaches to choose from and yet more sensational sandy stretches just outside Sydney.
Coming from freezing cold climes and stepping off the plane into a tropical haze feels like stepping into a dream. Once you’ve experienced Thailand at Christmas, you’ll want to go back every year. Its gloriously sunny weather certainly feels festive when you realize you’re somewhere so paradisiacal in the depths of December. Have dinner under the light of lanterns hanging between palm trees and be dried by the sun after diving into the calm, crystal clear waters.
The real appeal of Tel Aviv lies in its lifestyle. It boasts the kind of fun-loving, laidback vibe that comes from living in a sun-drenched, cosmopolitan beach city. And even in the winter months this attitude prevails so you’ll always be able to get a taste of what makes the city great. Though the beach at this time of year may be better for strolls than swims, it’s pretty amazing to be in the Holy Land for Christmas. Trips to Jerusalem can be arranged if you’re feeling super festive. But Tel Aviv has more than enough to keep you entertained. Its pulsating creative scene is manifested in a multitude of galleries and quirky cafés serving up light and crunchy falafel, houmous and other Israeli specialties.
December in Rio is both hot and very festive. The city is in celebratory mode for the summer season, with Christmas followed by Carnival in February. Every year things kick off with a huge floating Christmas tree being lit up on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon along with a fireworks display overhead. Decorations go up all over the city and cheerful vendors sell their wares on the beach while dressed as Santa Claus. A Christmas swim on Copacabana beach before lazing in the tropical sun with a Caipirinha is surreal bliss. As is sipping on a sundowner from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, watching the city lights start to sparkle as the sun disappears.
December in Miami Beach is much like a European summer, with mild and sunny days to help you get some mid-winter vitamin D. There’s a lot going on here for the festive season, not surprising given that the city is known for parties and glitz. A sort of Art Deco wonderland with a strong Cuban heritage, it’s worlds away from anywhere else; the ultimate Christmas escape. For those used to a chilly climate, it’ll still be warm enough to swim. If not, you can bask in the sun beneath towering palm trees on the white sands of South Beach. Or grab an ice-cream and people-watch on the glamourous Miami Beach Boardwalk.
Though it’s certainly not a swim and sunbathe in December option, Bournemouth’s beach still makes the cut for a Christmas break. Its seven-mile stretch of soft sand started attracting holidaymakers in the Victorian era, keen to lap up the revitalizing effects of a trip to the seaside. And its two Victorian piers are now a major draw, photogenic structures gracefully stretching out into the sea. Expect bracing walks on the beach that’ll leave you windswept but refreshed, plus picture-postcard waterfront views.
*The destinations selected met the criteria of having more than 100 beach endorsements from Booking.com customers for the month of December 2015.