Akumal beach - paradise bay Beach in Quintana Roo, Mexiko - caribbean coast

The 5 Best Christmas Holiday Destinations Revealed

05 Dec 2018 By Danielle Gunner
Akumal beach - paradise bay Beach in Quintana Roo, Mexiko - caribbean coast

Warm up this festive season and swap Christmas trees for palm-lined beaches and soaring temperatures with our sun-soaked destinations. Say goodbye to winter woolies, Christmas dinner mania and switch it up for poolside cocktails, spa days and unique cultures. And with December being one of the cheapest months to travel, you’ll save a fortune on winter sun destinations.

Tis the season to be jolly, so holiday-hunters check out the 5 best Christmas destinations and let the jet-setting begin.

The Canary Islands

Sunset along the lunar landscape and golden shoreline of Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Why spend Christmas here? The Canary Islands year-round climate will win over any holidaymakers’ heart with hot temperatures stemming from its African neighbour. Just a short flight away, choose from the volcanic islands of Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, each boasting their own unique festive traditions and one-of-a-kind natural wonders.

Spend Christmas Eve climbing Spain’s largest mountain Mount Teide, Christmas Day swimming the lava caves of Jameos del Agua and Boxing Day on a jeep safari over the Maspalomas Dunes. Who needs stocking fillers when you’ve got the azure Atlantic Ocean and rugged mountainous landscapes of these Spanish archipelago islands?  

How hot? Topping up your tan has never been easier with temperatures in December  hitting 20°C or higher. When dusk falls, so does the climate but you’ll still find night time highs reaching 18°C.

Local Christmas traditions: Don’t worry, you can still celebrate the festive season in this Spanish spot. Some All Inclusive hotels or British-style pubs will serve up a tasty Christmas dinner much like at home.

Alternatively, take part in Canary Island traditions such as Ranchos de Pascua which resembles carol singing but accompanied with string instruments and only played in church.

There’s also the Dance of La Cunita which is a folk celebration performed in major resorts in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. You’ll  find a handful of delicious Christmas specialities and nativity plays throughout each country too.

Things to do at Christmas:

  • Jeep safaris – Fuerteventura
  • Camel riding – Gran Canaria
  • Mount Teide – Tenerife
  • Siam Park – Tenerife
  • Timanfaya National Park – Lanzarote

Where to stay:

  • Elba Carlota Beach: Situated along Fuerteventura’s Caleta De Fuste beachfront, this four star hotel offers a wealth of entertainment and activities.
  • Labranda Isla Bonita: 300 metres from the beach and based in the bustling resort of Costa Adeje in Tenerife, Labranda Isla Bonita puts you in the heart of all the must-visit spots.
  • Blue Sea Costa Teguise: With two swimming pools, tennis courts and a wide selection of watersports this Lanzarote establishment has it all.
  • Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity: This 5 star hotel lies among the sand dunes of Gran Canaria with 313 rooms and a first-class spa – you’re sure to be impressed.

Best for: Families and things to do

Need to know: On Christmas day the majority of shops will be closed.

Top tips:

  • Check the opening times on all major attractions on Christmas Day in the Canary Islands.
  • Many bars host Christmas Eve parties if you want to get into the holiday spirit.
  • Head up Mount Teide for snow-capped peaks and stargazing.

Egypt

The clear blue sea of Hurghadas dramatic coast in Egypt with palm-tree lined stretches.

Why spend Christmas here? Holidays to Egypt won’t break the bank, as one of the cheapest destinations to visit in December and one of the warmest – what’s not to love? Its luxury All Inclusive beachfront hotels are full equipped with top-notch facilities, allowing you to leave your wallet at home.

Hurghada in particular is impressive with a coastline decorated with dessert-like golden sands, colourful coral reefs and Red Sea views. Exchange present buying for exciting excursions with a bucket list trip to Luxor the Valley of the Kings or ride a quad bike over the epic sand dunes.

How hot? The weather won’t disappoint as Egypt welcomes temperatures in the mid 20s throughout the winter season. Unlike many other sunny destinations in the cooler months, this delightful destination enjoys 10 hours of sunshine a day, meaning more time on the beach.

Local Christmas traditions: In the home of the legendary pyramids, Father Christmas is referred to as Baba Noel. The festive period lasts from the 25th November until the 6th January, during those 43 days many of the locals will fast on a vegan diet.

But don’t worry, you can still fill your face. In fact, you can sample an Egyptian Christmas dinner for yourself. One of the most popular dishes is fatta, which is a lamb soup containing rice, garlic and served with bread.

Things to do at Christmas:

  • Camel rides
  • Amun Temple Enclosure
  • Temple of Horus
  • St Catherine’s Monastery
  • Valley of the Kings  

Where to stay:

  • Jasmine Palace Resort: A top choice for a lavish break along the Red Sea, this 5 star hotel and its private beach will have any holidaymaker feeling relaxed.
  • Panorama Bungalows: The perfect spot for families, the Panorama is accessorised with heated pools, a waterpark, sauna and hot tubs.
  • Hawaii Riviera Aqua Park Resort: Spanning over six floors, this fancy hotel is home to four pools, a kids’ club and provides daily entertainment.

Best for: Culture and beaches

Need to know: January 7th is actually Christmas Day in Egypt.

Top tips:

  • Time your holiday just right and witness the New Year fireworks.
  • Jump on a Nile cruise where lavish buffets of food and fancy wines are part of the festive celebrations.

Cyprus

The stunning backdrop of Kyrenia Harbour in Cyprus with its quaint boats and waterfront restaurants.

Why spend Christmas here? Instead of gift-giving, create memories that last a lifetime with a cultural escape to Cyprus. Alongside its Blue Flag beaches and wild nightlife, this Mediterranean gem has a selection of medieval castles and fascinating archaeological sites – history buffs will be overjoyed.

While others are cleaning and tackling the shopping crowds, spend your Christmas swimming with the turtles, plunging down waterslides or horse riding across lush landscapes.

How hot? Factor 50 at the ready! With the Mediterranean climate on your side, Cyprus is a scorcher in December with highs of 20°C during the day. However, the nights can be a little cooler so pack yourself a jacket with lows of 14°C creeping in when dusk falls.  

Local Christmas traditions: This culture-rich destination celebrates Christmas in style. Find towering Christmas trees in city centres and hotels bursting with decorations and stockings hung on fire places. In Cyprus children used to receive their presents on New Year’s day instead of Christmas and Santa Claus would climb through windows instead of down chimneys.

It’s also a tradition to leave cake and a goblet of wine out for Father Christmas for those travelling with little believers. Like Egypt, the festive season is extended until 6th January and money is often given as a gift at the end of the holiday month.

Things to do at Christmas:

  • Troodos Mountains
  • Timios Stavros Monastery
  • Limassol Zoo
  • Wine tour
  • Paphos Archaeological Site

Where to stay:

  • Elysium Resort Hotel: This accommodation is centrally located and is surrounded by the most luxurious backdrop of Paphos. Take advantage of its many sports courts, pools, spa and children’s facilities.
  • Ascos Coral Beach Hotel: A firm favourite among holidaymakers for its secluded beach, sunset views, theme nights and lagoon-style swimming pools.
  • Avlida Hotel: This 4 star hotel is directly opposite the Tomb of the Kings, one of the most visited sites in Cyprus. This All Inclusive wonder also boasts a free-form pool area, a la carte restaurants and fitness centre.

Best for: Families and history

Need to know: There’s only five hours of sunshine in December.

Top tips:

  • Watch the most amazing Christmas lights at Nicosia.
  • Enjoy the best of both worlds, the Troodos Mountains are covered in snow in December.
  • Check out the only indoor ice skating rink in Cyprus at MY MALL shopping centre, Limassol.

Mexico

Playa del Carmen - relaxing on chair at paradise beach and city at caribbean coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico

Why spend Christmas here? Nothing screams holiday like the Caribbean Sea, and in Mexico you can’t get enough of it. Cancun is a tropical mix of powder-white sands and coconut-filled palm trees. Nestled in the Riviera Maya region is the bustling resort of Playa del Carmen, where tranquility comes in the form of hammocks and spa days.

Who needs hot chocolates, when you’ve got colourful cocktails! Start the festivities in Coco Bongos one of the most prestigious nightclubs in the world, where dancing acrobats soar above your head. Send season’s greetings from one of the Seven Wonders of the World Chichen Itza, just a sample of what this Spanish hotspot has to offer.  

How hot? With next to no rainfall in December, you can say adios to the freezing British weather and hola to 28°C heat. The perfect climate for lazy days poolside or snorkeling the clear waters that Mexico is renowned for.

Local Christmas traditions: Did you know the largest angel ornament was made in Mexico? Made out of 2,946 old beer bottles, this fascinating decoration was 18 inches in height and almost 12 inches in width.

Be sure to visit this tequila-loving country on the 12th December to witness the street processions and other local fiestas as they celebrate the feast day of the virgin. Unlike its American neighbours, this beautiful destination doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. In fact, the tradition here is that the Three Wise Men bring the gifts.

Things to do at Christmas:

  • Tulum
  • Chichen Itza
  • Xcaret Park
  • Coba Mayan Ruins
  • Isla Mujeres

Where to stay:

  • Le Reve Boutique Hotel: Looking for a peaceful Christmas? This tranquil hotel is just for you! Perched on the white grains of Playa del Carmen beach, this chic spot oozes luxury.
  • Grand Sunset Princess: With a sensational 5 star rating, this All Inclusive accommodation is home to seven restaurants, six room types and eight outdoor pools.
  • HM Playa del Carmen: This modern hotel will kick your Christmas off to a brilliant start with a delicious buffet, lavish pool area and a winning location.

Best for: Weather and couples

Need to know: If you’re wanting to contact loved ones at home, remember Mexico has a five hour time difference from the UK.

Top tips:

  • Head to Mexico City to watch the legendary Christmas production of the Nutcracker.
  • Take the kids to see Father Christmas and the Three Wise Men in the Antara Fashion Hall.
  • Most clubs, restaurants and bars host end-of-year parties, reservations are required in advance – so, be quick!

Florida

The Sunshine State of Florida and its mighty Expedition Everest Rollercoaster at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Why spend Christmas here? When you’ve got Disney World, Universal Studios and Seaworld all on your doorstep – why wouldn’t you spend Christmas in Florida? No one celebrates the festive season like they do in America with gigantic Christmas trees and neon-lit houses decorated from top to bottom.

Join Mickey Mouse at the Very Merry Christmas Party, catch the fireworks and special effects fill Disney’s Hollywood Studios or watch the retelling of Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas tale The Grinch at Universal. Christmas has never been so magical.

How hot? There’s also the added bonus of the weather, enjoy 25°C of sizzling heat. The perfect temperature to get wet and wild at Volcano Bay! The nights tend to cool down and average at 16°C – what other excuse do you need for a hot cup of famous Harry Potter Butterbeer?

Local Christmas traditions: Festive celebrations play a huge part in Florida’s Christmas traditions. Alongside the carol singing, gingerbread making and turkey dinner, Orlando likes to celebrate with fireworks around Cinderella’s Castle, the Illuminated Boat Parade in Tampa Bay and three million twinkling lights at Seaworld.

Things to do at Christmas:

  • Universal Studios
  • Disney World
  • Seaworld
  • International Drive
  • Busch Gardens
  • The Everglades

Where to stay:

  • Park Inn by Radisson Resort: It comes as no surprise this hotel is a top choice with its kids’ theatre, arcade room and central location. Not to mention the onsite pizza express, Starbucks and sports lounge.
  • Enclave Suites: Next to Universal Studios, this hotel is not only in a prime location but boasts a lagoon-style pool, free Wi-Fi and kids’ club.
  • Cypress Pointe Grande Villas: A favourite among families for its thrilling slides, play areas and golf facilities, the Cypress Pointe Grande Villas will become your home-away-from-home.

Best for: Families, theme parks and events

Need to know: Some Christmas events will be free of charge as long as you’ve purchased park tickets. However, you may have to book a time slot in advance.

Top tips:

  • Book your tickets in advance for any of the festive events in the theme parks, this will avoid disappointment.
  • Stay at one of the park hotels for exclusive out-of-hours access to the rides.

Escape the turkey stuffing and gift wrapping with one of these winter warmer destinations. Instead create memories, embrace new traditions and explore fascinating cultures – make this Christmas unforgettable.

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