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Enjoy stunning views like these on the Tenerife Bluetrail  | © hjrivas/Pixabay
Enjoy stunning views like these on the Tenerife Bluetrail | © hjrivas/Pixabay
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These Christmas and NYE Escapes Will Make You Want to Pack Your Bags

Picture of Alex Jordan
Travel Editor
Updated: 15 November 2017

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are even more magical when celebrating abroad. Here’s our guide to treating loved ones to a festive season they’ll never forget!

Winter sun

Sunglasses, beach towels and a refreshing cocktail. Surely there’s no better way to ring in the new year than on a sun-drenched beach listening to the waves. Why wait until summer to have fun in the sun?

Essaouira, Morocco

Two surfers carrying a surfboard on the beach near Essaouira | © LukaKikina / Shutterstock | © LukaKikina / Shutterstock

Swap your sledge for a surf board and hit the beach on Christmas day on Morocco’s most famous stretch of coastline. Snow is overrated anyway.

Crete, Greece

Avoid the crowds and experience a more authentic way of life while still being warm enough to leave the knitted jumpers and ear muffs at home.

Canary Islands, Spain

Beaches of Tenerife | © Piotrus / Wikimedia Commons

Beaches of Tenerife | © Piotrus / Wikimedia Commons

The black volcanic beaches of Tenerife are way more inviting than the snowy, sludge-lined streets of London. Get 2018 off to a flier with a cheeky trip south.

You might also be interested in: The Best and Cheapest Winter Sun Destinations in Europe.

Christmas markets

If you really want to enter the festive spirit then head to one of Europe’s famous Christmas markets. You’ll be carolling in no time!

Bolzano, Italy

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Visitors attends next to a carousel at the traditional Christmas markets of Bolzano | © Simone Padovani/Shutterstock

Set against the dramatic Dolomites mountain range, Bolzano Christmas market is famous for its Tyrolean food (a mix of Italian and Austrian influences) including kaspressknödel, flat-bread dumplings with a mountain of cheese and strauben, a Tyrolean version of churros – maybe even tastier!

Lindau, Germany

Lindau Christmas market | © Wolfgang Schneider / Courtesy of Kulturamt Lindau City

Lindau Christmas market | © Wolfgang Schneider / Courtesy of Kulturamt Lindau City

With its dramatic lakeside setting, Lindau is surely one of the most romantic Christmas markets in Europe. Explore its enchanted forest, which comes alive with thousands of fairy lights, and take a guided tour through the astounding medieval city.

Lausanne, Switzerland

Marche-Noel-©-LT-mano

© Lausanne Tourist Board

Take a trip to one of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets, which this year coincides with Lausanne’s Festival Of Lights. Visit installations by 15 local artists, and enjoy some Swiss favourites (think cheese, chocolate and fondue!).

You might also be interested: 11 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe including Bruges, Bath and Bolzano.

Ski Resorts

The best thing about winter? It means the start of ski season, so whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or an aprés professional, grab your salopettes and hit the slopes!

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Skiing in Bansko | © Shutterstock

This charming resort in Bulgaria has a good mix of gentle and steep runs to keep everyone happy. Even better, you can aprés for half the price on great local beer and party the night away at one of Bansko’s many mountain bars.

Cervinia, Italy

Often overlooked, Cervinia has everything you’d expect from a top-quality Italian ski resort. Dramatic runs that weave between boulder fields, breathtaking views of the imposing Matterhorn and, at the end of the day, some amazing food that’ll keep you.

Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

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View from above on the Kranjska Gora and Alps in Slovenia | © MitjaM/Shutterstock

You’ll find Europe’s best-value ski resort tucked away in the Julian Alps. With 18 different slopes there’s enough to entertain skiers of all abilities, a snow beach to catch some winter rays and igloos that you can actually stay in!

You might also be interested in: The Best Budget Ski Resorts Across Europe.

City Breaks

Escape reality if only for a weekend with a festive city break. Try one of these on for size!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Snowy Copenhagen | © Bjoern / Flickr

The Danish art of hygge was made for dark Scandinavian winter months. Stop into a cosy little café and enjoy a traditional meal and glass of Danish beer by candlelight. Better yet, stop for snaps and open-topped sandwiches at a canal-side restaurant. Don’t forget to pick up a little gnome (nisse) – a popular decoration in Danish homes at this time of year.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

People skating on Amsterdam frozen canals | © MrTopper007 / Flickr

The Dutch capital is even more magical during winter, especially when local and international artists transform the city for the annual festival of lights (December until mid January). Go ice skating in front of Amsterdam’s most famous museums and tuck into the deep fried oliebollen and appelbeignets for the full experience.

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg in winter | © dimbar76/Shutterstock

Where better to watch a performance of Christmas classic The Nutcracker than at the Mariinsky theatre? Take a sleigh ride through the snow-lined streets and marvel at the bauble-like domes of the city’s monumental Russian Orthodox churches.