December is when the holiday season arrives for many across the globe. While hitting the road to visit family and friends or hunkering down at home for the holidays is often the usual plan, it’s worth fitting a trip into this last month of the year. You can even skip the usual holiday fanfare and celebrate in your own style – by discovering a new part of the world.

    How about strolling through a magical Christmas market in a fairytale setting? Or taking in the snow-capped mountains up in the Canadian Rockies? How about relaxing on an exotic tropical beach lapped by the waves of the Andaman or the Caribbean? Here are some great ideas on the best places to go in December.

    1

    Nuremberg, Germany

    Celebrate Christmastime with a touch of history

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Food

    Nuremberg is one to tick off your ‘winter wonderland’ bucket list, especially for its famous and magical Nürnberger Christmas Market known as Christkindlesmarkt. The German city’s historic streets light up with candy cane-striped tents filled with vendors hawking their wares – from fragrant Christmas snacks and handmade gifts like prune men (Zwetschgenmännle) to warming beverages like mulled wine. A glowing Christmas tree towers above it all, lighting up the grey days and the frosty nights.

    If you’re not a fan of all the Christmas hoopla, you can still find fascinating sightseeing places where you can learn more about Nuremberg and its intriguing history. These include the Germanisches National Museum for German culture and art, the medieval St. Sebaldus Church and Memorium Nuremberg Trials with its post-WWII exhibitions.

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    2

    Koh Lanta, Thailand

    Bask away on some truly beautiful beaches

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Koh Lanta is a top pick on December travel lists for those looking to escape the cold of winter. The weather around these islands in the Andaman Sea is wonderfully balmy, but not sweltering at this time of the year. This destination is all about the beaches, so be sure to set aside enough time to enjoy them, whether you prefer to take to the waves, simply stroll across the sand or see it all as you zip around Koh Lanta on a rented scooter.

    When you need a break from the beach, you can visit Koh Lanta’s Old Town where the buildings remain in the past, with stilted houses, shops and restaurants overlooking the water.

    To the beach

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    3

    Cartagena, Colombia

    Enjoy bar hopping, then cure your hangover at a mud volcano

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Adventure

    Cartagena is a where you can live your tropical Caribbean dreams in December. It’s great for escaping from the cold of winter as Colombia’s dry season actually begins this time of the year, leaving behind the daily monsoons that are common from May through November.

    December is also part of Cartagena’s peak tourist season. For some, that’s actually a plus. The restaurants, bars and streets are filled with merry revellers looking for a good time and you’ll be more than welcomed among their throngs. Beyond the pumping nightlife, bask on Cartagena’s famous beaches like Playa Blanca, Castillogrande or Isla de Pirate (Pirate Island). Check out the famed mud volcano, El Totumo Mud Volcano where you can take a hot mud bath, covering yourselves head to toe in a mix of healing minerals.

    Take me there

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    4

    Melbourne, Australia

    Don’t let the heat stop you from seeing the city's fun side

    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Melbourne Decembers are typically hot – but that doesn’t only apply to the weather. The city offers you loads of urban fun. It’s a top go-to, whether you’re looking for a dose of retail therapy, culinary adventures with a wonderful mix of Asian and Mediterranean flavours, or simply looking for the vibrant scenes of the second largest city Down Under.

    Shop ’til you drop at The Big Design Market, a fest that takes place over 3 days and delivers all of the country’s best independent designers in one, easy place. Winter night markets light up the sky at Queen Victoria Market in December, for an unbeatable mix of street food, live entertainment and bargain hunting. Outdoor events are at every turn, too, whether you prefer live music, outdoor film showings or the city's famed street art.

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    5

    Banff, Alberta, Canada

    Combine adventure and luxury in one amazing trip

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Luxury
    • Adventure

    December is a great month to experience Banff, especially for its magnificent winter landscapes and world-class skiing. While it does thrill travellers in the summer with its mountain hiking, those summery, flower-dotted mountain slopes turn into an in-demand ski spot at this time of the year.

    Even if you’re not the type to fancy hitting the slopes for all the popular snow-based activities in December, Banff is a luxury destination that’s filled with 5-star hotels and resorts to cater to your yearnings for fine dining, high-end spa treatments and hot springs. For sightseeing through the Canadian Rockies, you can ride the Banff Gondola and head for a mountaintop Christmas, or tour the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield and brave the soaring glass-floored platform of the Glacier Skywalk.

    Hit the slopes

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    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

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