The best destinations to visit from the U.K. this December
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December travels are poised to be some of the best: European weekend escapes to ski or peruse holiday markets, sunny getaways in lieu of the cold Christmas madness or snowy road trips to cozy cabins with family.
The beginning of the month is best for those looking to pick up a deal or off-peak award redemption in low season, and those wanting to take advantage of Christmas and Boxing Day can warm up in spots like the Caribbean, southern U.S. or Australia. Whether it’s sunshine, snowboarding or Christmas cheer, here are the destinations to visit from the U.K. this December.
Miami in December is a dream, with abundant sunshine and average daytime temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. And while an afternoon of sandy beach bliss is a given, lately, Miami’s intrigue lies beyond the typical too-trendy South Beach haunts. Consider exploring some of the more up-and-coming neighbourhoods like the Miami Design District and Little Havana, both seeing an uptick in new hotels and buzzy restaurants like Cafe La Trova alongside revered relics like Máximo Gómez Park and Versailles.
You can take in a little culture in addition to warm rays during Art Basel, which comes to Miami 4 December to 8 December. This year, expect to see art installations, including paintings, sculptures, film and photography from more than 4,000 artists at 200 different galleries throughout the city.
Millennials will love the new Life House in Little Havana, a hotel that pegs itself as a “culturally curated tropical mansion”, complete with a courtyard, library and rooftop. And back toward the beach, the new Arlo property Nautilus features a sleek pool, beach club and free bikes.
For those wanting a truly epic New Year’s Eve celebration under the stars, plan to attend Pitbull’s Worldwide New Year’s Eve at Bayfront Park on 31 December.
This tiny nation is nestled between France and Spain — and has some of the best skiing in the Pyrenees. Resorts like Vallnord, Arinsal and Grandvalira are some of the most popular. With ski season opening on 30 November, this year, December is the perfect time to visit.
Whether you ski or not, you might as well get a start on your holiday shopping. Andorra has a low tax rate of 4.5% on most items, so consider taking along an empty suitcase. With more than 2,000 shops in a country of just over 460 square kilometers, there really is a store on almost every corner. You may also find souvenirs to take home at one of the principality’s many Christmas markets, such as the Christmas Village in Andorra la Vella which runs from 1 December to 30 December.
Warm up after skiing with a spa visit at Caldea, an expansive spa in the the tallest building in Andorra. Expect to spend at least a few hours enjoying the natural thermal waters in the spa’s baths, pools, hydromassage showers, sauna and more.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This Middle Eastern hub has guaranteed December sunshine and plenty of luxury spots to rest your head. And on 1 December, another luxury hotel option will be available on The Palm Jumeirah: the Andaz Dubai. Located on a 300-meter private beach, the hotel will have 217 guest rooms as well as private residences, a pool, fitness center and yoga terrace.
Dubai is probably one of the few destinations in the world where you can spend time soaking in the sunshine poolside and skiing later in the afternoon, thanks to one of the world’s largest indoor ski facilities. Catch fireworks, concerts and cultural events and performances if you visit over National Day (2 December and 3 December).
Those wanting to get post-holiday shopping deals should go on Boxing Day, when the shopping festival begins. The event includes the best retail discounts and deals plus other fun activities and events like fireworks, fashion shows, concerts, raffles, prizes and more.
If you want to enjoy some serious holiday cheer — think more than 700 Christmas trees, five million lights and more than 70 stalls selling festive wares and seasonal delights like marzipan and mulled wine — plan to visit the Liseberg Christmas Market in Gothenburg.
The market is the perfect place for families, considering it’s inside an amusement park with added Christmas activities such as “A Christmas Carol” on ice or Santa’s workshop visits. The market is open 1 December, 4-8 December, 10-23 December and 26-30 December.
You can still catch the holiday market at nearby Tjolöholm Castle through 1 December, where the entire estate is covered in twinkling lights and holiday decor. Activities range from Santa and elves and games for children to fire shows, caroling and holiday-inspired dining.
Cross-country skiers and ice skaters can also enjoy these prospective winter activities in and around the city. As soon as the snow falls, Gothenburg begins maintenance on its many horizontal trails. Skaters can enjoy the ice at Heden Ice Rink during the month of December and beyond.
Although Lyon’s Christmas market may not be as popular as its northern neighbor, Strasbourg, it’s still a sight to behold in December, as it occurs during the Fete des Lumiéres, the city’s historic lights festival. The sparkling event, which goes from 5-8 December consists of more than 40 magical light installations in streets, squares and parks around the city. The Christmas market can be found at Place Carnot, where more than 140 stalls offer mulled wine, holiday treats and Christmas wares.
And British Airways’ seasonal route from London Gatwick (LGW) to Lyon (LYS) beginning 15 December makes it easier than ever to arrive, especially for a quick, two-day hop, as the route operates on Saturdays and Sundays. And there’s also a nonstop route that runs daily between London Heathrow (LHR) and the French hub.
If you have even just a small number of British Airways Avios, the route costs just 4,000 Avios off-peak and one-way in Euro Traveller, 7,750 in Club Europe or 4,500 in Euro Traveller and 9,000 in Club Europe during peak dates.
Considering the first part of December falls during British Airways’ off-peak dates, you can happily wander through the shimmering lights of the Fete des Lumiéres for just 8,000 Avios return.
Luxury travellers can experience brand new opulence at the riverside Ritz-Carlton Perth on Elizabeth Quay. The hotel, which officially opens 15 November, has a river-view infinity pool and a rooftop bar overlooking the river and Perth’s skyline. For the ultimate splurge, stay in the 280-square-meter Ritz-Carlton Suite, which has a large balcony overlooking the river and glittering skyline, a massive standalone tub and a living room complete with floor-to-ceiling windows. December rates for a deluxe room start at £194 or 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Beach bums will love Western Australia in December. This is the region’s summer season, with warm temperatures, light breezes and very little rain. Beautiful sandy shores are within easy reach, starting with the crystalline waters of Mettams Pool, just a 20-minute drive north to the tranquil coves of nearby Rottnest Island, an easy ferry ride away from the mainland.
Heading south, make a stop to frolic in the white sands of Yallingup Beach before heading to the rolling greenery of the Margaret River wine region, where you’ll taste some of the country’s best chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons. If you don’t love wine, it’s OK: The region also has several breweries and distilleries where you can sip cider, craft beers and spirits — even kombucha.
No matter what you’re looking for this December, there’s a destination that can fill that wanderlust. Whether it’s holiday markets and skiing or getting some sun in the Southern Hemisphere, use this guide to help you choose.
Featured photo of South Beach by Pola Damonte/Getty Images.