Top 8 places to spend Christmas overseas

Our favourite travel bloggers and writers share their thoughts on where you should take your Christmas holiday...
Santa at Surfers Paradise Queensland Australia beachfront, one of the best holiday spot on the planet.
Santa at Surfers Paradise Queensland Australia beachfront, one of the best holiday spot on the planet.

Santa at Surfers Paradise Queensland Australia beachfront, one of the best holiday spots on the planet. Photo: Shutterstock

From barbecues on the beach to cruises down the Mekong, your Christmas doesn’t have to be twinkling lights and decorated trees at home. A few of our favourite bloggers share their favourite places in the world to spend the December holidays

1. Rome, Italy

"Ask any local about the best way to spend the Christmas day in Rome and they’re likely to recommend il dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing," explains Lindsay Stein of "The best way to experience Rome on the 25th of December is to spend a day wrapped-up and wandering the streets decorated with Christmas lights, enjoying hidden gems and lively piazzas in the historical core of the city: sites like the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and St Peter's Square are all relatively tourist free."

Spend your Christmas Day in the Italian capital by booking Insight Guides' Eternal Rome for the Weekend trip.

2. Argentina

Anthony, from The Travel Tart, has spent Christmas overseas in New Zealand, Argentina, and Spain: "Spending it outside of your hometown is always an interesting experience. I live in Australia and it's always hot (summer time) so it's a novelty for me to have a cold Christmas. In Argentina, I spent the Christmas holiday in Ushuaia, at the very southern tip of South America. Even though it was summer, it's still cold and you have almost 24-hour daylight. Christmas lunch was a rather large steak (of course!) at a parilla, a typical Argentinean steakhouse. 

"Regardless of where you are, everyone gets into the Christmas spirit and I think that as a traveller, you're welcomed even more than normal because you're away from home."

Fancy spending your Christmas at the end of the world? Talk to our local expert today about creating your ideal December holiday in Argentina or browse suggested itineraries online now

3. Costa Rica

"One of my best Christmas trips abroad was in Costa Rica," shares Sarah Schewitz from "They have "bull fights" in these tiny little towns all around the country and the whole village comes out to watch. It's a real community event. Essentially, it is just a bull in a dirt arena with a rickety wood fence surrounding it and a bunch of men inside the arena running from the bull. Lots of them get clobbered by the bull and it seemed like the bull was going to come through the fence half the time when it chased a man to the edge. All the women and children stand on or around the fence and cheer the men on. It's quite the experience!"

Want to take on an adventurous trip to Costa Rica this Christmas? Try Insight Guides' Costa Rica: Coast to Coast holiday or our Tropical Costa Rica trip

4. Australia

Skyler Jackson Reep, from Stay Alfred suggests a trip Down Under: "My family spent a Christmas in Melbourne, Australia, when I was a teenager. December is the height of summer there, which was disorienting at first. All the images of Santa there showed him in shorts and no shirt! We stayed with a local family, and they were enthusiastic to show us a true Aussie experience. We spent the week bouncing around the outback, looking for exotic animals. One evening we hiked to the top of a rock formation and cooked lamb chops over the fire."

View of Kremlin and Cathedral of St. Basil at the Red Square decorated for New Year and Christmas. Photo: ShutterstockView of Kremlin and Cathedral of St. Basil at the Red Square decorated for New Year and Christmas. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Moscow, Russia

"Moscow offers a magical mix of traditional and modern," explains Jacqueline Lewis, from World Gratitude Map. "It's an enchanting place to experience Christmas. Be warned: it will snow and it will be cold!" 

"You'll also experience two Christmas holidays for the price of one: the Western Christmas is celebrated as usual on the 25th December, while the Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on 7th January." She adds. "You'll find plenty of Christmas Markets around the city to get your shopping on, including handmade Russian gifts, Matryoshka dolls, sumptuous scarves and crocheted lace."

6. Cambodia

As founder of, Elizabeth Avery generally spends the Christmas holidays abroad. Her favourite way to spend Christmas? 

"A Mekong River cruise with solo travel before and after, around Cambodia and Thailand. The weather is perfect at this time of year. Prices are extremely low. People were warmly welcoming. In Bangkok, even in early January, there were still Christmas trees galore and lots of festive spirit. Although both destinations are Buddhist countries, there are resorts and restaurants galore that have Christmas dinners the week of Dec 20 in anticipation of tourists.

Explore Cambodia during Christmas on one of Insight Guides' holidays: from uncovering temples at Angkor to learning to cook in Siem Reap, touring the capital Phnom Penh to cruising the Mekong, you'll find activities to suit your interests. 

7. Vietnam

"I had a unique Christmas in Hoi An, Vietnam. My girlfriend and I bought each other small gifts at the local markets. She ended up buying me the unusually pungent tropical fruit durian so I could try it for the first time. We had to eat it before Christmas morning because of its strong scent!" explains Danny Bamboat of BAMtravels

"After dinner, we went for a boat ride on the river before lighting a traditional lantern and letting our Christmas wishes float away. It was a warm, relaxing, and charming holiday."

Spend your Christmas in Hoi An on Insight Guides' Very Vietnam holiday, which includes Halong Bay, Hanoi and Hue too. 

8. Paris

The French capital city takes on a magical atmosphere around the festive season, as Roni The Travel Guru knows: "In Paris, there are literally THOUSANDS of beautiful lights on the Champs Elysees. There are all kinds of Christmas concerts in amazingly beautiful churches that bring tons of people out. The city is always phenomenal but it seems to be extra pretty around Christmas time."

What are you waiting for? Take a trip to see the luxury side of Paris with Insight Guides this Christmas. 

Avenue Champs-Elysees with Christmas illumination and ferris wheel at horizon in Paris. Photo: ShutterstockChamps-Elysees, complete with Christmas illumination and Ferris wheel in Paris. Photo: Shutterstock

This article was originally published on 30th September, 2016

Ready to book your Christmas holiday? 

Talk to our local experts today by submitting a trip request or browse alternative holidays online

Looking for more information?

Where to travel in December

13 trips for an end-of-year escape 

Top 5 places to spend Christmas in Thailand

5 trips to extend your summer with