If you’re looking to skip town for the holidays but still want to enjoy that Holiday Cheer these five cities have you covered.
- Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik was a runner-up for one of the 10 best cities to celebrate New Year’s but it squarely makes the list when it comes to celebrating Christmas! Reykjavik just seems to embody the holiday, not only in appearance (you can scarcely turn a corner without seeing a holiday decoration of some sort), but in a myriad of unique traditions. The days leading up to Christmas has a smattering of concerts and local events, including a Christmas market that is perfect for your last minute holiday shopping. The 23rd is particularly notable for its Christmas feast, which includes such specialities as mulled wine, seasonal brews, smoked and cured meats, and fermented skate.
But if you want to enjoy some truly killer sights, try Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon for an unforgettable boat ride around a surreal landscape… followed by a road trip around the Golden Circle, where you can see sights unique to Iceland.
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- Key West, Florida, US
Maybe I’m a bit biased, but my husband spent a recent Christmas in Key West and loved it. Not only can you relax on the beach or go biking around the island city, there are some truly unique events to take part in.
In mixing beach fun with the holiday spirit, one annual tradition in the Lighted Boat Parade where boats are bedecked in Christmas lights and decor for the pleasure of the thousands who come out to see them every year.
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- San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico Christmas is a big deal, with the whole country getting into the Christmas spirit long before Ol’ Saint Nick begins his flight. Travelers seeking to enjoy themselves will have no shortage of festivities to join in on, including parranda — caroling Puerto Rican style. And you can’t miss out on Nochebuena, Christmas Eve, where the dancing and drinking will go on all night.
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- Cologne, Germany
Cologne is best known for is six Christmas markets, which draw in two million visitors from around the world each year. The markets compete with one another to put on the best show for potential shoppers, and one market is actually floating on the Rhine river. If you come to Cologne you must sample the local delicacies these markets offer, or take home of the many beautiful, hand crafted keepsakes. For LBTQ travelers, there’s even a gay friendly Christmas Market between Rudolfplatz and Shaafestraße, which offers a distinctive party atmosphere.
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- Santa Claus Village, Finland
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Europe’s Christmas Capital! Santa Claus Village is actually an amusement park in Rovaniemi, Finland and if you want a kid-friendly trip this will be one your family will remember forever! You can visit Santa’s Post Office, and peruse the half-million letters Santa receives each year from around the world… and of course, visit Santa himself, who is reported to be a bit of a polyglot. In terms of activities, you can visit Husky Park and have the sled dogs take you on a romp, or have a reindeer take you on a sleigh ride. Then retire to Snowman World, a restaurant and hotel where you can dine (or sleep!) in beautiful ice accommodations.
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