There’s nothing like strolling through Christmas markets, sipping mulled wine in adorable medieval villages, going ice skating, doing last-minute shopping and gazing up at enormous Christmas trees to put you in the proper holiday spirit. Here are Vacation’s top five picks for where to visit during the holiday season.
1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
This perfectly preserved medieval town on Germany’s Romantic Road gears up for the Christmas season year-round. Browse through the walled city’s charming half-timbered shops, including Käthe Wohlfahrt, a winter wonderland brimming with traditional Christmas decorations such as nutcrackers and angels. And be sure to sample regional sweets such as snowball pastries while meandering through the city’s famous centuries-old Christmas market.
Vacation Holiday Tip: Visit the Christmas Museum on the second floor to see decorations and advent calendars over the ages.
2. New York, New York
Sip hot chocolate while gazing at the enormous 100-foot-tall Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center or go ice skating at the adjacent outdoor rink to get you in the Christmas spirit. If you’ve got some last-minute shopping to do, stop inside some of the world’s most famous department stores—including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s—where you can have your presents wrapped on-site. When you need a break from shopping, head down to Rolf’s German Restaurant near Gramercy Park and enjoy Alsatian food and mulled wine while admiring the famously over-the-top Christmas decor. And, of course, don’t miss a performance by the world-famous Rockettes, a New York City tradition.
Vacation Holiday Tip: You can’t leave New York without checking out the amazing window displays at stores on West 34th Street and along 5th Avenue.
3. Quebec City, Canada
Quebec City’s historic district, Quartier Petit Champlain, is one of the oldest cities in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico. Stroll through the narrow winding cobblestone streets lined with Christmas trees while sampling some of Quebec’s famous maple syrup products. Since French is the official language, you may feel as if you’ve crossed the Atlantic – just without the jet lag.
Vacation Holiday Tip: Get a map of the city’s best holiday decorations and see the holiday spirit come to life on Rue de Petit-Champlain and Place-Royale and at Place de l’Hotel-de-Ville and Place D’Youville.
4. Vienna, Austria
Austria’s elegant capital comes to life in the wintertime with a series of classical music concerts at the Schönbrunn Palace, where the local orchestra performs works by classical composers such as Mozart, Strauss and other Austrian composers. The fairy-tale-like Christmas market out front, with its imperial backdrop, is a Viennese tradition.
Vacation Holiday Tip: Sample strudel and mulled wine while meandering among festively decorated stalls.
5. Strasbourg, France
Referred to as “The Capital of Christmas,” this adorable Alsatian town is renowned for having the oldest and most famous Christmas market in France, dating back to 1570. Browse the more than 300 chalets, wooden stalls that sell decorations, crafts and sweets, while listening to bands play Christmas music.
Vacation Holiday Tip: Try traditional Alsatian holiday gingerbread cookies, then stop to admire Strasbourg’s impressive Christmas tree on Place Kléber.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an amazing trip for the holidays? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a specialist to plan your next vacay.