It comes around at the same time every year but, just like an elaborate magic trick, somehow it seems to creep up on us out of nowhere. Christmas. And if you’re wanting a winter getaway, you need to start thinking about the best places to go for Christmas holidays and New Year holidays now.
As the jingle bells and tinsel begins to festoon the shops, it’s your prompt to plan your escape – perhaps a mini festive break or two weeks of winter sunshine.
Get your festive trip plans off to a flying start with this guide to luxury places for Christmas and New Year holidays.
We’ve collected some seasonal options from cool breaks in ice hotels to glass igloos providing a window on the Northern Lights, through to Antarctic cruises and Christmas markets.
But as we know not everyone likes the cold, we’ve also got plenty of ideas for warm winter breaks, and ways to discover a new you in the New Year. This guide will provide plenty of Christmas holidays information and also the inspiration for New Year holidays.
So whether you like to embrace the season or escape it – we believe in a balance of both – here are 30 breaks in which you can join in the festivities, or indulge in your very own pure ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ holiday escapism.
This guide is sectioned into various types of festive breaks, click headings here to jump to your favourite. Also look out for this symbol and you will find places to stay for Christmas that we recommend:
Places to go for Christmas and New Year holidays
This is a more than 6,000-words guide to 30 places to go for holidays over Christmas and the New Year. If you want to hone in on one of these options instead of reading about all 30, click one of these links to jump to the section of your choice:
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European markets are the spirit of Christmas
We’ve visited a few Christmas markets in our years of travel, and find there’s always something unique at each of Europe’s festive events.
Here are Christmas markets we’d recommend from our travels – plus a few we still have on our wish list – that will wrap you in the comforting aromas of glühwein and gingerbread.
The traditional German Christmas markets
Reportedly the birthplace of the Christmas tree and home to one of the oldest markets in the world (started in 1628), Nuremberg is high on our German Christmas markets wanderlust list.
The city in northern Bavaria is distinguished by medieval castles, broad squares and gilded fountains which have the look of having been plucked straight from the imagination of a fairytale writer.
The markets start from December 1 in the main market square. To get a real sense of its scale, head to the top of the Church of Our Lady to be rewarded with stellar views and twinkling lights emanating from red booths and its merry-go-round.
It’s very much a traditional market, but it also has an international feel to it. Alongside the main market, the Market of the Sister Cities sells handmade crafts from around the world – from Scottish kilts to French marmalades.
And don’t leave without sampling a serious local delicacy – the original Nuremberger sausage. The dish is taken so seriously, in fact, that to be classed as an original, it must be produced within the city limits, weigh no more than 25 grams and be a maximum length of nine centimetres.
Enjoy one hot off the grill and let the marjoram and mustard do its work to warm you up.
There are many good luxury hotels in Nuremberg, try the NH Collection Nurnberg City, Nuremberg-Mitte, Nuremberg, Germany for express check-in, fresh interiors and a glorious outdoor terrace.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Nuremberg
All round attractions of an Austrian Christmas markets
Winter in Austria isn’t only about skiing. There are so many great markets to discover there, and we have explored quite a few on our previous Austrian advent adventures.
If you’re a food and wine connoisseur, Graz, Austria’s second city, offers up 14 markets within a walkable distance of each other. There’s one featuring crafts, another which raises money for local charities, one for children, as well as very traditional ones too, where glühwein, bratwurst and lots of other treats can be expected.
The grandeur of Salzburg has drawn us back on numerous occasions, to explore the city of the Sound of Music and wander the Old Town, famed for its history of brewing and as home to composer, Mozart. But Christmas in Salzburg is also magical. Salzburg’s Christmas markets, particularly the one in Residenzplatz tick off every great seasonal stereotype.
The Salzburg region is perfect if you are seeking variety. After picking up gifts for family and friends – from kitsch baubles to creative ceramics – make sure you take those all-important refreshment stops to sample the alcohol and chocolate-infused treats, before making time to visit Winterfest, showcasing some of the world’s best circus acts.
You know you’re on for something of a Christmas spectacular when you visit a place dubbed the ‘Advent Town of Austria’. The town of St Wolfgang, near Salzburg, throngs with visitors on Sundays running up to Christmas, and for very good reason.
With artisan creations, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (really!) and a life-sized nativity scene, it’s the epitome of a traditional Austrian Christmas Markets.
Later, as night descends, the Lake of St Wolfgang lights up with a giant lantern and a sea of golden stars, while the region’s swans glide on by. It’s one of the most magical Christmas experiences, and one you will remember forever.
There are some fabulous hotels in Austria for a luxury stay. In St Wolfgang check in at Romantikhotel Im Weissen Roessl for a romantic Christmas adventure. If you’re planning on visiting Salzburg, Arthotel Blaue Gans is a cool boutique design hotel you won’t want to miss – and it’s very centrally-located.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Salzburg
Foodie favourites in the Strasbourg Christmas markets
There are plenty of Marchés de Noël to delight in France, but there’s something particularly special about the region of Alsace, and its capital of Christmas – Strasbourg.
Strasbourg Christmas market, is the largest of all the French Christmas markets and the oldest one in Europe, dating back to 1570, is also considered to be one of the most beautiful. Over 300 chalets are dotted in and around the town. Start out at Christkindelsmärik, where you can watch talented artisans at work.
And when in France, there are naturally a wide range of delicious foods and wines to sample, including the wines of La Couronne d’Or, local beers, fresh produce from local bakers and more at the Market of Christmas Treats.
Hotel Hannong is a four-star option in the heart of Strasbourg just a short stroll from key attractions. Rooms are elegant and spacious, and the bar is the perfect place to retreat to after a day exploring the markets.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Strasbourg
Fairytale markets of the Czech Republic
Prague’s Christmas markets in the Old Town and Wenceslas Square are open every day from around December 2 to January 6, and are even open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day if you’re planning to celebrate there over Christmas.
Pick up some traditional gifts, including glassware and embroidered items, before finding a welcoming café in which to take a rest and enjoy delicious pastries and meats indigenous to Prague, including barbecued sausages, klobása, and trdelník, a hot sugar-coated pastry for a sweet kick. Or try one of our favourite drinks – hot chocolate with Czech rum, topped with whipped cream. Many of the cafés are themselves rather grand and have a history as rich as their delectable dishes, having been the meeting places of some of Europe’s greatest intellectuals and writers, such as Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein, in their past lives.
A mighty Christmas tree stands in the Old Town Square draped in lights which blaze brightly against the dark velvet of the night sky, dramatically framed by gothic buildings glowing ghost-like, all of which transform the square into an intriguing masterpiece.
Once you’ve soaked up the magic of the Prague Christmas markets, and marvelled at the array of ornate buildings on both sides of the river, treat yourself to tickets to the opera or ballet which are in full swing during the winter months. For a Czech-style theatre experience, catch a marionette black light performance for some bizarre family entertainment from Alice in Wonderland to Mozart-themed shows.
The upscale Grand Mark Prague is modern with plush interiors a spa and restaurant, but comes in at a competitive price.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Prague
Mixing it up in Hungary
If you want to mix your Hungary Christmas markets break with relaxation then Budapest is the place to head for in Europe. Plus it’s very accessible and served by relatively inexpensive flights.
Join in the hustle and bustle around the Baroque market squares, before paying a visit to one of the city’s therapeutic baths for some restorative healing and chill out time.
Gellért Spa & Thermal Baths’ numerous medicinal pools and treatments are popular, especially during the festive season and a little spa time is an innovative way to warm up for the celebrations or to recover.
You can mix revelling and recovery together at a sparty at Széchenyi Thermal Baths. With 18 pools, 10 sauna/steam rooms and more, it’s a haven for spa-goers.
On November 10, the Budapest Christmas Markets opens its doors on Vorosmarty Square, with the mulled wine flowing and a rainbow of colourful crafts on display.
In between your yuletide saunters around the spectacular squares, book a Christmas cruise to lose yourself in a completely different kind of seasonal experience. It will be hard to forget the absolute enchantment of the city shining out across the River Danube, its myriad of glittering lights twinkling on the water to warm up the chill of the winter night.
Alternatively, if you’re all tinselled out, you can also book a Budapest Folk cruise. Varying in length from an hour to a full evening, on the longer cruise you can sit back at your own table to watch the Hungarian dancers whirl about in traditional costume, performing dances from the many different regions of the country. And, to quite literally get a taste of Hungary, you can opt to dine on board with a sumptuous traditional dinner.
The Danubius Hotel Gellert is home to the impressive Gellert baths and spa and the opulent rooms are an ideal slice of luxury for a Christmas break.
Want more options? Check for hotels in hotels in Budapest.
Celebrate at the world’s seasonal festivals and events
We find that one of the best ways to get under the skin of a destination is through its local festivals and events – and this is especially the case in December. Here are some festivals which reveal a different side to the season.
Christmas with a twist in Spain
Every country has its festive traditions but Christmas is quite a different experience in Spain. Celebrations start with Belén Viviente, or the Living Nativity, when the Christmas story is re-enacted in towns across the country by locals.
Your perceptions of carol singing will be changed forever with a super-charged, flamenco-infused zambomba, featuring drums, Spanish guitars and lashings of excitement in the air, and as an Andalucian tradition, the city of Jerez is one of the best places to catch a show. They’re a great evening of entertainment taking carol singing to new heights.
It wouldn’t be yuletide without sherry, and you’re in the perfect place, as the southern city of Jerez is the sherry capital of the world. Look out for the impressive tree made entirely from sherry bottles proudly stationed in the centre of the town.
According to Spanish tradition, it’s actually the Three Kings who deliver gifts to children on Twelfth Night. The Feast of the Three Kings, on January 6, is the major event of the season, with Melchor, Gasper and Balthasar taking to the streets, throwing sweets to all the children. It’s a fantastic festival and if you head to Barcelona or Seville you will see some of the biggest processions in the country.
For laid-back luxury, spacious rooms and sleek decor look no further than Hotel Villa Jerez, a five-star option with a rooftop terrace.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Jerez.
Lighting it up in Italy
From the end of October to mid-January, Turin in the Piedmont region of Italy is transformed into an open-air art gallery. Luci d’artista, features light installations created by local artists which cast the industrial city in all manner of rainbow shades.
And once you’ve experienced the bright lights of Turin, you can hit the slopes of Sauze d’Oulx, skiing down the snow-laden mountains in a perfect picture of a winter wonderland.
Stay in modern elegance in the heart of Turin at Town House 70 Suite Hotel which is also well placed for exploring local vineyards.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Turin.
Where to find your own winter wonderland
There’s nothing like the Christmas movie classics to get us in the mood for carols, gift buying, goodwill to all men, and perhaps devouring the odd mince pie or two.
But sometimes it would be nice to step into the movies, from ice skating in New York’s Central Park to enjoying a reindeer sleigh ride in Lapland.
Here are our favourite snow and ice-laden lovelies to will transport you into the movie magic of Christmas.
Shopping and ice skating in New York
If you have a long weekend to spare in the run-up to Christmas, hot foot it to New York for a few days to take in the sights and stock up on gifts for those stockings.
The window displays of Manhattan’s major stores are among the Big Apple’s Christmas attractions. Who wouldn’t be tempted to flex the plastic on some gorgeous gifts before hitting the New York ice skating rink?
Much-used film location, the Rockefeller Center is transformed in winter with its very own ice rink, and is blessed by a beautiful backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers. But you can also enjoy ice-skating in Central Park’s Wollman Rink, close to the Central Park zoo.
And after an exhilarating time gliding around the rink, what better way to unleash your inner Carrie Bradshaw, than with a Cosmopolitan cocktail, Sex and the City style in the Meatpacking District.
Holidays to Lapland for lovers and families
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas guide without Lapland making an appearance – it is the home of Father Christmas after all. Jet off to Finland’s snowy wilderness, for a break all the family would love. Alternatively, you could book a romantic break for two and sneak off together.
The resort of Levi Fell is a popular family-friendly one, with 43 ski slopes to be tested, while Ylläs is a real wilderness resort, hidden in the forest, making it the perfect relaxing retreat to simply be at one with nature, and each other.
There are so many things to do here in the wilderness, such as husky sledging, reindeer rides, snowmobiling and tobogganing. And if the little ones are in tow, Rovaniemi is a must visit as you’ll be able to see Santa’s Post Office and watch his hardworking elves making toys in the workshop at Santa Claus Village.
But if you have romance in mind, where better to head to than the land where nature’s greatest show on earth – the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis – is staged? Book a stay in one of the glass igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort to ensure you don’t miss a minute of this light fantastic.
For your own private holiday to Lapland hideaway… we can’t think of anything better at Christmas than to escape the family bustle to enjoy some quality time, cuddling up together, with just the woodland and the sky for company.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers the perfect view of the Northern Lights – we’re not sure you need many more amenities than that!
Want more options? Check for hotels in Rovaniemi.
All aboard for Antarctica holidays
For a guaranteed white Christmas, an Antarctica Christmas Cruise with Aurora Expeditions is a memorable, if not unusual, way to spend the holidays. And with the southern hemisphere enjoying the long days of summer it’s the perfect time to visit.
Watch penguins and seals in their natural habitats, spot minke and humpback whales; make the most of the Midnight Sun with visits to historic sights and science stations to live like a real intrepid adventurer.
This 12-day Antarctica holiday starts in Ushuaia, Argentina, and finishes up in Punta Arenas, Chile. Cruise prices include all meals, excursions and a host of other extras, making it the perfect gift to yourself.
Ice Hotel Sweden
The Ice Hotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi is the original ice hotel Sweden, created in 1989. The beauty of this place is that each winter it takes on a new look. And 2017 saw the creation of ICEHOTEL 365.
Open year-round, ICEHOTEL 365 will include luxury suites, private bathrooms and relaxation areas, art suites, a large bar serving champagne, and an ice gallery.
It lies 200km north of the Arctic Circle, and huge blocks of ice are harvested from the river to sculpt and construct the ice palace, once a host of art sculptors arrive in November to turn dreams into reality over a six-week period.
Pack for warm, and cold nights, and on your cold nights, dress appropriately. With low temperatures of -5 to -7 degrees, the expedition-style sleeping bags will be much-needed! Discover more about this real winter experience.
Where to find winter sun at Christmas
Don’t let its name fool you. Christmas Island is an Australian territory set adrift in the Indian Ocean. It’s also a world away from mulled wine, mince pies and the chill of winter.
You could easily spend a few weeks exploring the natural wonders of the island under a warming sun. From the intriguing red crab migration in mid-November and December, to take a dip in the cool waters of the Grotto – one of its many natural attractions, this is one of the hottest winter holidays you’ll take.
With beach trails, nature walks, bird watching, diving and snorkelling all waiting to be enjoyed, you’ll delight in being able to enjoy a sunset toast to a Christmas well-escaped.
Accommodation on Christmas Island is pretty basic but you’re really going there for the experience and total escapism. The Sunset is among the best of the island’s offerings with gorgeous views of the coast.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Christmas Island.
Family beach fun in the Canary Islands
If you are averse to cold climes, the Canary Islands are among the great places to visit for Christmas if you are looking for guaranteed sunshine, with temperatures rarely falling below 18 degrees.
Their many stretches of sand are certainly a refreshing alternative to the sofa and TV after Christmas dinner! You can still celebrate Christmas the traditional way with good old-fashioned Christmas menus if you want to, though it would be a shame not to throw in some of those rich Spanish customs while taking time out on one of these tiny Spanish islands.
Head for Gran Canaria to admire nativity scenes carved out of the sand at Belén de Arena, and enjoy its open-air markets and concerts, where you can swap your mulled wine for a tropical cocktail, something far more refreshing under the heat of the Canarian sun.
The cool decor of Lopesan Baobab Resort is the ideal place to retreat to at the end of a day’s adventures. Plus with its own bowling alley, outdoor pool and lazy river, the whole family are well catered for.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Gran Canaria.
Chill out in the Caribbean
The soft lilt of steel drums, swaying palm trees and warm, aquamarine waters to languish in is certainly a tantalising winter escape.
But with so many spectacular islands to choose from, picking which one to spend your days on, indulging in your every whim and fancy, might take you a little time to decide. So, the earlier you start your holiday planning, the better.
You won’t be bombarded with baubles in Barbados but you will have a lot of rum-fueled fun. St Lawrence Gap is your place for a festive party, but if you fancy a more relaxed time there are any number of beaches in the west and south coast on which you can land on. Our favourites are Holetown beach for a dip after a spot of shopping, peaceful Alleynes Bay, Turtle Beach for its nature – it’s where turtles come to nest, and the dazzlingly white sands of Worthing and Maxwell beaches in the south.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s Caribbean Sea coast destination of the Riviera Maya brings the festivities with Los Posadas, from December 16-24. It features a candlelight procession re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter, culminating in a fiesta with carols and the breaking of a piñata. It’s Christmas, but not as we know it, and we’d be all too happy to swap our port for a tequila-infused creation.
For divers and snorkelers, it’s also the perfect place to enjoy the colour of the ocean depths – the region also sits on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the second largest in the world.
Barbados has more than its fair share of luxury resorts but one we recommend is the boutique Coral Reef Club for its tropical gardens and spa alongside a white sand beach, near Holetown. With its own nightclub and beauty salon, is an all-inclusive option with everything you need for a luxury stay.
With its own 326-acre nature park mangrove forest, and spa, all-suite resort Hacienda Tres Rios Resort Spa & Nature Park is an all-inclusive option with everything you need for a luxury stay.
Where to escape it all
You may prefer to put a complete ban on the festivities and look at where to go for Christmas holidays that offers pure escapism, and the opportunity to kick back, rest and relax without pomp and ceremony.
If so the exotic shores of Asia and the Middle East may prove the ideal tonic. Here are two options for escaping sleigh bells and every trace of festive traditions.
Away from it all with an Oman holiday
Wandering in the dunes and tracing the intricate swirls of windswept grains; sipping on herbal tea, spending evenings gazing at the stars. It’s not your average Christmas. In fact, it’s not Christmas at all at this time of year in Oman.
Add lashings of sunshine, glorious beaches and mountain vistas, and a winter break in Oman is a most attractive distraction for those with an aversion to baubles and brandy sauce. And with temperatures at a comfortable 22 degrees, it’s a fabulous time of year to explore mysterious Muscat and more.
Muscat has plenty of great luxury options, including the Chedi, Shangri-La and Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel. Beyond the city, head for the Al Hajar Mountains. In northeastern Oman, these are the highest mountain ranges on the Arabian peninsula and afford some of the most spectacular scenery.
Indeed enjoying an Oman holiday throws up so many landscapes to fill your Instagram profile. Book a dhow trip to spot dolphins, haggle in the souks, revel in the dunes at Wahiba Sands, or explore the ancient city of Niwza.
The Chedi Muscat is an opulent taste of Arabia. Every luxury is catered for in this property with views of the shimmering Arabian Gulf, indulgent spa and fine dining restaurants.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Oman.
Have a cultural adventure in Penang, Malaysia
To completely escape all the trappings of Christmas head East to Penang, where the festive spirit extends to friendly smiles and exchanges with locals.
There’s a diversity of faiths in Malaysia and a tour of Harmony Street, along the Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, reveals a host of temples serving many different beliefs, each in their own fascinating way.
Heritage buildings and museums are a great way to drink in the culture and history of this ancient land, while the street art and culinary scene will add plenty of flavour to your break.
In fact Penang is regularly ranked as a food lover’s paradise. Start on Gurney Drive for an introduction to staples such as Char Koay Teow – a popular local noodle dish and street food, to scrumptious broths like Penang Laksa – all a nice change from roast turkey and all the trimmings!
If you like plenty of entertainment, check in at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang for an extensive range of music-led things to do, while rooms provide cool and low-lit surroundings to relax in.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Penang.
Where to go for New Year
New Year’s resolutions are, well, so last year. But if there’s one resolution we should all stick to, it’s making more solid plans for our New Year celebrations. However, or wherever you want to see in the New Year, make it special and a statement as to how you intend to spend the year ahead. Start as you mean to go on!
You could keep it traditional and enjoy the bright lights of the city while joining in the festivities – but always in luxury. Here are some ideas to get the party started.
Bright lights, big city: where to party at New Year
If you’re looking for a party, the world’s most iconic cities and their landmarks are great places to start, but it’s always nice to drop in a little twist on tradition. Here are some ideas from the UK and beyond to toast the new year.
United in the UK
If you’re thinking of heading to London new years eve to join the celebrating crowds and catch Big Ben’s bongs against a vibrant firework display, why not do so in warmth and comfort. Expand your panorama by booking a stay on one of London’s numerous floating hotels to admire the New Years Eve show from afar, with fewer crowds and a lot more wonder.
Hogmanay Edinburgh is the essence of a Scottish New Year, with people hitting the streets for a three-day street party of Scottish music, performances from acrobats and fire eaters, complete with torchlit processions, all around Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. With tickets already selling fast, get in now to make sure you’re guaranteed an event to remember.
The uber cool Good Hotel London, not only has affordable rooms right on the river – it is a converted barge after all – but it’s social good projects give back to the local community, ensuring that you start the New Year doing good and feeling great.
Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh at the top of Princes Street offers modern, intimate surroundings and fabulous dining options to see in the New Year in style.
Want more options? Check for hotels in hotels in London and hotels in Edinburgh. And don’t miss our guides to the best places to go in Edinburgh and features and guides on London, from travel tips to theatre tours and the best afternoon teas.
Paris for New Year is perfect
If you’re spending New Year’s Eve with your other half, Paris ticks all the boxes. As the crowds of tourists and locals gather around the Eiffel Tower, along the Champs de Mars and Champs-Élysées (the latter for the official celebration), we think a dinner cruise is a unique way to see in the New Year and shout ‘Bonne Année’ when it midnight strikes.
Board one of the Bateaux Parisiens cruise boats to enjoy a six-course French gastronomy menu, champagne and entertainment, and party into the night. As it glides past key Paris attractions, you’ll feel part of the city’s celebrations and, at the same time, very glad you skipped the crowds.
The quirky interiors of the Buddha-Bar Hotel are mesmerising, and with 24-hour room service, a wellness studio and a lounge bar, you’ll never get bored here.
New York for New Year
New York is home to the world-famous New Year ball drop in Times Square, and with a host of celebrities to preside over the proceedings, New York is a glitzy place to spend December 31. Pre-book a BallDrop Pass for admission to a range of venues around Times Square for a change of scene throughout the evening, plus free food, drinks and live entertainment in each venue.
If you’ve had a number of disappointing New Year’s Eve celebrations, we think if you head for Times Square this year, you’re bound to have a spectacularly good time and, at $189 a head, a BallDrop Pass is good value.
But sometimes luxury and crowds don’t really go together. And it’s nice to be waited on rather than spending time queuing. Haven Rooftop is close to the excitement of Times Square, but you’re free to enjoy the heated and tented rooftops, with a free-flowing bar from 8pm to 2am. And $250 gets you table service, leaving you to soak up the views, the bubbly and the atmosphere – we think it’s worth every cent.
The Sanctuary Hotel is a stylish four-star hotel with chic surroundings and amenities for a luxurious break in the city.
Be dazzled by New Year in Dubai
Dubai exudes opulence, pulling out all the stops with every detail, and New Year’s Eve is no different. And on December 31, you can book your own private party for ten at the Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel for £530 per person.
Choose your own menu and be entertained by your own private band as part of the secluded Al Bayt party, tucked away in the Arabian-styled hotel, with views of the shimmering Dubai Fountain and Burj Lake, plus the splendid Burj Khalifa firework display to light up your night.
Atlantis The Palm is an iconic option with elegant Arabian-inspired décor to world-class cuisine, but it’s also great for families and groups.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Dubai and don’t miss our guides and affordable luxury travel tips for Dubai.
New Year in Sydney lights up the celebrations
It’s a long way to travel for a party, but New Year in Sydney is an unforgettable experience. There are an overwhelming number of vantage points from which to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks, but our top tip is to stay on the same side of the bridge to your accommodation. Traffic across the bridge will be jam-packed and sitting in a traffic jam is a tedious way to spend the first few hours of the year.
To shake off the crowds to some extent, book a ticket for Midnight at the Oasis hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. The party is held at Fleet Street Steps, Mrs Macquairies Point and The Domain.
With live music, a three-course meal at your reserved table and breathtaking views, sometimes the best vantage points are worth paying for. At $415 a ticket, it’s not the cheapest, but if you check out our Sydney travel tips guide, it will be worth saving money elsewhere to enjoy an experience of a lifetime.
Get a ringside seat to the festivities at Park Hyatt Sydney right on Circular Quay next to the Harbour Bridge and opposite Sydney Opera House. It’s also in The Rocks – the most historic part of the city, and our favourite area.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Sydney.
Thai smiles and style in Bangkok for New Year
The bright lights of Bangkok are another excellent long-haul party option. With gatherings across the city and plenty of rooftop bars with a view, there’s much to recommend it.
The views from the sky bar at Above Eleven Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, on the top floor of the Fraser Suites, get our vote. The vistas of endless twinkling lights laid out before you as you relax on plush sofas, and with live DJs, sumptuous dishes, a range of signature cocktails and Peruvian Japanese inspired options, it’s a trendy alternative worthy of the starring role in your life as your best night, ever.
Alternatively book now, and join one of the many river cruises which coast along the Chao Praya river in Bangkok for New Year’s Eve. You can go Thai traditional, have a dinner cruise or just go along for the party. The river is also one of the best places to see the fireworks at midnight.
The chic Lebua At State Tower boasts spectacular views especially as it’s home to yet another famed sky bar, Sirrocco. Plus it has a cosy lounge bar and a multitude of dining options and modern amenities.
Where to kick off a year of ‘me time’
Some of us love to party, while others much prefer a New Year centred on peace, quiet and relaxation. If you’ve spent too many a January recovering after over-indulging, maybe it’s time to treat your mind and body to a little healing time.
Soothing the soul at New Year in Cape Town
If you’re searching for something that’s soothing for the soul, Cape Town might just fit the bill.
The splendour of its mountain backdrops, stunning coastlines and of course its splendid wine lands are scenes made for discovery and a little me time.
Cape Point Nature Reserve is a great place for reflection on the new year ahead, while a historic or cultural tour will urge you to reflect on the past, and give you a renewed sense of self for the future.
And of course, that’s not forgetting the two major attractions, a safari and a visit to Table Mountain. Feel the calming effect as you observe the ‘Big Five’ at play at the Aquila Game Reserve, before finishing off the day with a little spa treat to unwind and restore – and here’s a selection of the best.
As part of your me time adventure, a little luxury will go a long way to indulge in your holiday goals. Look for hotels around the V&A Waterfront such as the One&Only Cape Town, so you can wake up to spectacular views of Table Mountain.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Cape Town
At one with nature in Germany
Baden-Baden Spa Resort is great for lounging a little longer in thermal springs.
Surrounded by the hills of the Black Forest, this resort is made for being at one with nature. There are three thermal baths at the resort. With harmonious spa experiences and 17 step bathing rituals, Friedrichsbad is said to be a temple to the art of bathing, while Caracalla Spa is is a modern option with spa jets, bubbling hot tubs and waterfalls, finally, the Spectaculum sauna features a themed infusion experience.
After leaving the stresses of the year behind, maybe some curative healing is in order. The thermal spring waters here are believed to promote good health and wellbeing.
You may be enjoying traditional treatments, but it doesn’t mean your hotel has to be. Roomers Baden-Baden has put the funky back into this old spa town, with eccentric, but exquisite interiors, a spa and popular restaurant and rooftop bar.
Want more options? Check for hotels in Baden-Baden.
Find yourself on the faraway shores of St Lucia
If you’re in search of a faraway shore on which to rest and rejuvenate, The BodyHoliday St Lucia is an all-inclusive resort that urges ‘give us your body and we’ll give you back your mind’ with a programme of relaxation, restorative beauty therapies, exercise and diet.
Set in a secluded cove, surrounded by rainforest and tropical gardens, from the renowned, and award-winning wellness centre to five-star dining, it’s hard to imagine not being able to find your own bespoke version of peace, wellbeing and serenity here.
And as your break is designed by you, you also have a range of activities you can build into your holiday, from hiking to yoga, so you can set your own preferred level from action to haven.
You just have to stay at The BodyHoliday St Lucia of course – who wants to travel beyond the beach and the spa?
Want more options? Check for hotels in St Lucia.
Which places to go for Christmas and New Year would you head to?
Have you decided where to go for Christmas and New Year? Do you regularly travel during the season? What are your favourite places to visit at Christmas time? Where in the world will you find the best New Year parties? And where would you recommend for a restorative New Year break?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Some images have been licensed under Creative Commons 2.0: francois schnell, frankieleon, elPadawan, Marajim, Jorge Franganillo, Loco Steve, Timo Newton-Syms Andreas Kambanis, David Stanley , El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía, fortherock, Andrew Moore, Nicolas Rénac, Jorge Cancela, Jonathan Lin, Jenni Douglas, miquitos, Ninara, Michelle Callahan, Anthony Quintano, Michelle Callahan, Christine Zenino, Ibolya, Fulvio Spada, Martin Fisch
Creative Commons 1.0: Alex Liivet