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Best Christmas holiday destinations

Christmas in Russia

The roast in the oven, presents under the tree and lashings of mulled wine — we all have an idea of what Christmas is like. But the reality is, you’re more likely to encounter drizzle for much of December in the UK, and argue over who’s going to do the washing up after Christmas lunch. Better, then, to make a break for it and head somewhere else for the festive season. Whether you’re keen to meet Santa Claus in Lapland, visit an authentic German market, or even treat yourself to some much needed winter sun, here are the best Christmas holiday destinations.

Iceland

Iceland is the perfect holiday destination for travellers in search of Christmas spirit. Here, the festive season pulsates with lively Christmas markets, where wooden booths brimming with food, drink and gifts glitter as imposing Christmas trees stand guard. Expect a true winter wonderland made up of wild lava fields and craggy mountains topped with snow for added sparkle. And, if things start to feel a bit chilly, there’s no better time to take a warm dip in the Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters than when temperatures hit sub-zero. Take a self-drive into the mountains and catch the northern lights glimmering in the dark sky and don’t forget other seasonal sojourns such as trekking near the Snaefellsjokull glacier.

Iceland Market
Germany

Christmas holidays are celebrated with gusto in Germany as its famous Christmas markets overflow with copious helpings of mulled wine and shining Christmas lights. Hip Berlin offers up a huge funfair and you can get straight into the Christmas spirit with a ticket to the Alexanderplatz show. There’s a high chance of snow: temperatures can slip well into minus figures in December and the average low is -1C.

Xmas Market in Germany
Salzburg, Austria

Revel in the unabashed schmaltz — this is the fantasy festive break. Dressed to the nines in baroque finery and surrounded by snowcapped peaks, Salzburg is the staunchly traditional, chocolate-box city of Mozart and The Sound of Music, and will cocoon you in comfort. Walk around the Old Town streets, dive into vaulted beer cellars and shop for lederhosen. To warm up? Climb every mountain, of course.
Make your first wander an atmospheric browse along the narrow Getreidegasse, Salzburg’s glitzy shopping alley, where five-storey Renaissance houses provide a bulwark against winter weather. Explore its dimly lit arched passages and within a few paces, you might stumble upon Balkan Grill Walter, a kiosk selling Balkan beef sausages since 1950. After, make a prosecco pitstop at Seppo’s intimate wine bar, or cosy up with the crowds in the hidden Sternbräu beer garden.

Austria - Christmas Fair
Edinburgh, Scotland

It’s not just gingerbread-scented markets and riotous Hogmanay parties that make wintry Edinburgh so appealing. Even under grey skies, you’ve got warm, world-class museums and restaurants and the icy North Sea winds are your excuse to duck into a snug watering hole for a soul-warming Scotch.
For bargains, go in early December when the Christmas markets are open, but the city is still relatively peaceful. Take a spin on the panoramic big wheel above Princes Street, bar crawl under the fairy lights of George Street and pop into the Scottish National Gallery to contemplate winter scenes. After dark, head to the Royal Botanic Garden to sip spiced cider and marvel at its Christmas illuminations. 
(Source: The Times Travel) 

Scotland

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