Where to Travel in December

Antigua, Guatemala

Surrounded by three ancient volcanoes and imposing, tree-blanketed mountains, Antigua in southern Guatemala has both breath-taking views and a thriving cultural scene. Rarely does a city throb with so much activity, as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site where colourful colonial architecture meet ancient Mayan ruins, juxtaposed with an emerging food scene. If you've got time, take a short flight to Nicaragua for surfing and seafood.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's endless sights and opportunities mean you can't fail to be enchanted. From the lush plains and temples in Sigiriya, to tea plantations and crystalline waterfalls in the mountainous town of Ella, whale-watching in Mirissa, surfing in Argugam Bay, traditional fishing villages in Trincomalee and Yala National Park, there's something to suit whatever your travel whim may be.

Kerala, India

If you're in need of some winter sun, India is a cheaper option than Thailand and a less obvious choice than Goa. Begin your trip in the historic port of Kochi, in the atmospheric Mattancherry quarter famous for its spice bazaars. The gateway to the backwaters of Kerala, from there you can explore the vast network of lakes, lagoons and canals on a traditional houseboat - a different way to experience village life firsthand.

Salzburg, Austria

The closest you'll come to experiencing a fairytale, Salzburg is a tiny city filled with old castles and cathedrals, while it's also the birthplace of Mozart. Drink mulled wine and buy traditional wooden gifts in the Christmas markets and take in the surrounding Alpine mountain scenery - you'll be overjoyed at how few tourists there are. Vienna is also a lovely option at this time of year.

Santiago, Chile

Our new favourite South American destination offers nearly 4,300km to explore from north to south. The capital now offers boutique hotels and top-notch dining, while pretty port towns like Valparaiso channel a quirky character and carefree attitude - particularly when it comes to dancing until the morning. If you're lusting after adventure, the Atacama Desert should keep you occupied.

Tofo Beach, Mozambique

If you're looking for winter sun but aren't the kind of person who sits on a could-be-anywhere beach, this little-known pearl of Africa a true find. You won't find any big resorts here, but you will find stellar surfing spots, sweeping vistas and heart-warming locals. The area is not geared up for tourists, so the beach itself is incredibly peaceful - get there before everyone else does.

Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India

Beyond the hustle and bustle of India's crowded cities, Havelock Island provides a tranquil haven of peace and quiet. Those willing to make the long trip are rewarded with a desert-island feel; beachfront properties are prohibited and there is no nightlife on the island. Sat in the Bay of Bengal, its dense forests, verdant rainforest and active volcanoes line empty, blonde beaches stretching for miles, luring travellers from the mainland. Spend days hopping between beaches, sunbathing, snorkelling and, if you're lucky, watching elephants gleefully splashing in the shallows. The island's rainy season is during the summer months, so go in December for some winter sun and temperatures in the mid-20s.

Bad Gastein, Austria

In a deep mountain valley just south of Salzburg, Bad Gastein is a Wes Anderson-esque wonderland of belle-epoque buildings, powdered slopes, steaming springs and cascading waterfalls. Come in December for a winter retreat in which you'll spend days skiing down Bad Gastein's steep slopes that lead to the valley, tracing cross-country trails through the silent winter forest, rejuvenating in thermal waters and wandering through winding streets etched into steep mountainsides.

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