Where to Travel in December

Where to Travel in December

From Austria’s snow-capped peaks to Saint Lucia’s sandy coves, these are the destinations we can’t wait to visit this month

keep calm: the festive season has officially entered
the chat. As we prepare to feast, celebrate and reunite with loved
ones this December, the idea of one last 2022 getaway is seriously
appealing. Or multiple getaways, even – we’re not judging. Whether
you’re seeking a shot of winter sunshine or planning a thrill-seeking
adventure on the slopes, we’ve got your back. From the sunny
shores of Saint Lucia to the snow-capped Austrian peaks, these are
the destinations we can’t stop thinking about.

Dazzling December: the best destinations to visit this

Minusio, Switzerland



We love a border destination. The Swiss village of Minusio sits just next door to
Locarno (itself well worth a visit for its history and art), along
the manicured edge of Lake Maggiore, which shares its waters with
Italy. It’s perhaps churlish of us to pit lakes against each other,
but we think Maggiore’s really got it going on. Hop on a bike to
explore the many restaurants, private galleries and independent
shops with screensaver-style vistas that speckle the lakeside. If
you go far enough, you’ll reach the municipality of Gambarogno,
which is threaded with canals and day-trip-sized settlements. Pedal
a little farther and you’ll be in the market for a cracking pizza
and authentic gelato.

Sofia Bulgaria



Bulgaria’s capital has all the ingredients for
an all-star winter getaway: one of the biggest open-air ice rinks
in Europe, a skiable mountain within easy reach and enough museums
and markets to throw a stocking at. Days are best spent whistling
through the city’s iconic landmarks – Independence Square, the
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the National Palace of Culture – or
snowshoeing up Vitosha mountain for sensational views of the city’s
twinkling Christmas lights. After dark, Sofia transforms into an
unexpectedly wild party town: night owls will find everything from
jazz clubs to techno warehouses, with a generous scattering of
rakia (grape brandy) bars in between.

Guyana, South America


South America

One of South America’s smallest countries, Guyana remains
something of a well-kept secret. But, as the continent’s only
English-speaking country, blessed with diverse coastal plains,
towering mountains, arid savannahs and expansive rainforests, it
deserves consideration when seeking an active winter escape.
Despite being sandwiched between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname,
the former British colony has more in common with nearby Caribbean
islands than with its South American counterparts. A toe-tapping
music scene, colourful architecture and vibrant culinary hotspots
can be found in the capital, Georgetown. Further inland, it’s easy
to see where the country’s “Land of Many Waters” moniker comes
from, with cascading waterfalls and vast rivers punctuating verdant
landscapes. Take a day trip to Kaieteur Falls, the largest
single-drop waterfall in the world.

cagliari sardinia


Sardinia, Italy

It’s no secret that some hotspots are better visited outside of
peak season: step forward, Cagliari. Drawing in a huge summer crowd for
its postcard-pretty beaches, the city tends to fall off the tourist
radar come winter. But, with its slower pace of life and mild
temperatures, there’s a lot more to this destination than
beach-hopping. Stroll through the narrow passageways of the
historic quarter, checking off some of the city’s impressive
archeological sites (including its Roman theatre) along the way,
then either hightail it to one of the prime vantage points from
which to catch a wintry sunset or make a beeline for the bustling
Christmas markets.

Bad Gastein, Austria

Bad Gastein


In a deep mountain valley just south of Salzburg, Bad Gastein is a Wes Anderson-esque wonderland
of belle-époque buildings, snowy mountains, steaming springs and
thundering waterfalls. Once a favourite of European royalty, who
found its curative waters and restorative mountain landscapes
suitably de-stressing, it’s now where in-the-know Austrians and
Germans head to hit steep, relatively empty slopes and carve up
scenic cross-country routes. Bad Gastein is higher than most
Austrian resorts, so you can count on the powder to be
uber-reliable – and considerable snowfall is expected across the
region for the 2023 season, too. Be sure to try The Blonde
, a Swedish-owned café serving coffee made from
Malmö-roasted beans and Gastein mountain water. The sticky homemade
kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) are a bonus.

Uvita, Costa Rica


Costa Rica

In search of a slow, peaceful, sun-dappled getaway? Life doesn’t
get much more laid-back than in Uvita – a tiny, ramshackle village
around 16km south of Dominical. A honeypot for yogis and surfers,
the area’s main drawcard is Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, a
marine reserve known for its migrating pods of humpback whales,
jungle-shrouded waterfalls and empty beaches. Those planning a trip
for 2023 should be sure to bookmark Uvita’s Envision Festival – an
annual, week-long knees-up at the end of February akin to a
miniature Burning Man on the beach.

Anse La Ray, St Lucia

Anse La Ray

Saint Lucia

Lush, green and ripe for outdoor adventure, St Lucia beckons for a few days of cloudless,
fitness-fuelled R&R – read: scampering up the Pitons (the
island’s hiking trail-laced twin peaks) and back down again to
open-plan sanctuary Jade Mountain. Between sunbathing sessions,
make tracks to Anse La Ray. Once a sleepy fishing port, the town is
now on the cusp of island-wide dominance thanks to its blossoming
hotel and foodie scene. If you’ve got time before poolside
sundowners, stop by Valelse Sports Bar & Soup Kitchen for the
island’s finest jerk chicken, rice and peas, then nip next door to
its brilliant bean-to-cup coffee shop – a first for the town.

Oban, Scotland


Scotland, UK

Anchored on the sleepy west coast of Scotland, the remote town of Oban (Gaelic for
“The Little Bay”) is the gateway to the Scottish Hebrides. Home to
a saw-toothed coastline, soaring peaks and single-track roads often
frequented only by sheep, the surrounding area is a magnet for
adventurers keen to spend some quality time in the great outdoors,
but it’s right in the heart of Oban that we suggest you stay.
Historically a small fishing and trading hub, the arrival of a
distillery saw the neighbourhood start to evolve. Despite the
arrival of a stylish boutique hotel and a handful of farm-to-fork
eateries, however, a tranquil air remains. Read our feature for a full round-up of the coolest
spots for a drink and what not to miss while in town.

Havelock Island, India

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 to
speak of. Situated in the Bay of Bengal, the island’s dense
forests, wildlife-rich rainforest and active volcanoes make way for
empty, white-sand beaches that stretch for miles, luring travellers
from the mainland. Spend days hopping between coves, paddling in
gin-clear waters and, if you’re lucky, watching elephants gleefully
splashing in the shallows. The island’s rainy season is during the
summer months, while December’s balmy temperatures make this a
great time to visit.

Matera, Italy



Perched atop a rocky outcrop deep within the southern Italian
region of Basilicata lies Matera – oldest town in Italy, Unesco World
Heritage site and 2019’s European Capital of Culture. Less than an
hour’s drive from Puglia, this is a place as historic as it is
romantic. Crumbling limestone villas, narrow cobblestone
passageways and swathes of verdant terrain have seen it treasured
for its unique scenery – Bond fans will no doubt recognise the
location from its starring role in No Time to Die. While there are
many ultra-luxe snooze-and-spa lodgings in the maze of the Sassi
caves, we suggest staying at Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita. Bedrooms
feature stone floors, curvaceous walls and antique furnishings,
while private terraces flaunt undisturbed views across the Murgia
National Park. Come sunset, scrub and soak in a candlelit
freestanding tub, before hopping into a dreamy bed dressed in
handcrafted linen.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island

Georgia, US

Seen the newly released foodie thrill-fest The Menu yet? While
stars Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy serve up knockout
performances, it was the film’s spectacular Georgia location that
did it for us. Hello, Tybee Island. Located just a 27-minute drive
from the sun-drenched streets of Savannah, the easy-going town has long served as a
staycation spot for Georgia residents, but recently it has seen a
new generation of savvy travellers move in. Stroll along Tybrisa
Street, home to a huge variety of artisans and makers, to stock up
on souvenirs including jewellery, pottery, paintings and speciality
foods, making regular ice-cream stops along the way. Then,
adventure through sandy coves and dance along weather-beaten
boardwalks before slipping into The Original Crab
, where freshly caught shrimp and oysters await.

Grenoble, France



Surrounded by the Alps, Grenoble is a natural (yet surprisingly
underrated) choice for a winter weekend away. If you don’t have the
time for a proper ski holiday, this is the next best thing in terms
of getting close to nature. There are parks surrounding the city on
all sides, and the views of the mountains are spectacular. If you
like to travel by train, Grenoble is one of the easiest
destinations to get to from London. Simply hop on the Eurostar to
Paris, then zip across the country on the TGV, which will take you
there in under three hours.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio

Texas, US

You’d be forgiven for assuming that Texas is all BBQ platters
and Black cowboys, but step away from the cattleman hats and roper
boots and prepare to be dazzled by colourful San Antonio. Bordered
by Houston and Austin, the United States’ seventh-largest city
feels far removed from its American siblings. Founded as a Spanish
colonial outpost in the 18th century, there’s still a distinctly
European air about many of its neighbourhoods. The vibrant Pearl
District is a magnet for artists and creatives, while the San
Antonio River Walk sees foodie start-ups thriving alongside storied
eateries. Visit all-day-bistro Boudro’s for flame-cooked plates and seafood
platters: its colourful parasols and canal-facing seating make for
a great long, lazy afternoon.

Niseko, Japan



Pristine slopes, unbeatable Japanese food and a complete reversal of
everything you have ever associated with skiing await in Niseko.
With snowfall levels that put European resorts to shame, and powder
that stays fluffy all day, an exceptional snow experience awaits.
Shun the schnitzels and strudel in favour of king crab legs, ramen
and katsu curry, and replace the usual après-ski with a restorative
soak in natural hot springs. Make the luxury boutique hotel
your base and treat yourself to an extended stopover in Tokyo en
route to Sapporo airport.

Denver, Colorado


Colorado, US

Colorado’s capital has long been a mecca for outdoor
enthusiasts. Beyond the city limits, cutting-edge architecture
makes way for great swathes of greenery, jagged peaks and dramatic
rock formations, giving the place a uniquely hypnotic vibe. Spend
hours stomping between the bruised sandstone bluffs of Red Rocks
, where sweeping ripples absorb beams of sunlight and,
after sunset, the Milky Way lights up the sky. The park’s famed
amphitheatre is situated at the base of the mountains – check out
the programme of upcoming concerts and events for the ultimate
open-air gig. We’re recharging our batteries in high style at
The Ramble Hotel, before skipping to Snooze for
fight-size buttermilk pancakes and breakfast burritos.

This article was updated on 30 November 2022. It contains
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