We can still dream, can’t we? Even though it’s looking like many city attractions might be closed this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some others that will still be open at set hours, for limited crowds. Make your aspirational list and look online to see what’s open over the holidays. To get you started, here are some Christmas city break ideas that jingle-bell-rock!
If travelling this year looks unlikely, save them up for next year, or hit the links below for day trip ideas instead!
Best Christmas city breaks for solo travellers & singles
Get your skates on for an ice-skating date at the locals’ favorite ice rink, Frederiksberg Runddel. Indulge yourself in Julefrokost and if you’re wondering what to do on Christmas day, why not munch on smørrebrød at the Christmas markets? Check out the colorful houses, chat to strangers and drink hot gløgg around a fire in Nyhavn at night, too (just remember to social distance!) Either way, Copenhagen is one of the snuggliest Christmas city breaks!
Discover Tivoli, the Danish theme park that’s been enchanting visitors for almost 200 years! Spot some modern and medieval masterpieces at the National Gallery of Denmark, or climb the 400 steps to the top of Our Saviour’s Church Tower for 360-degree views of Copenhagen at Christmas.
The sound of bagpipes blends with Jingle Bells on the cobbled streets of Edinburgh at Christmas, which always makes for a bagpipe-tastic Christmas city break. See the nativity scene in St. Andrew Square Gardens. Shop the Christmas markets at Princes Street Gardens and George Street, or get your fake beard on for the Edinburgh Santa Run.
Take a barrel car ride at The Scotch Whisky Experience and learn about Scotch whisky history and production. Make new mates on a tour round Scottish highlights like Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the National Royal Yacht Britannia, and more with a ticket to the Hop-on Hop-off Bus.
Christmas is a great time to treat yourself in Helsinki and experience the luxury of a white Christmas city break – hopefully – from start to snowy Finnish! What to do on Christmas Day? Soak up the Christmas illuminations along Aleksanterinkatu – the official Christmas street. Sip on some traditional Glögi, or go ice-skating in The Ice Park in the Railway Station Square.
Feast your eyes on Helsinki’s scenery and landmarks from 40 meters in the air on the SkyWheel Helsinki. Spend some time with Santa’s reindeer at Nuuksio Reindeer Park or get to the museums cheaper and faster with the Helsinki City Card.
It’s hot and not traditionally Christmassy at all, but if you’re going solo for the festive season, fall in love with yourself in Bali’s spiritual city, Ubud. As the epicentre of yogic wellness and health, it’s one of the most zen Christmas city breaks you can indulge in. Feast on Indonesian treats instead of turkey and get yourself to Lombok’s Gili islands for sunny island escapism at its best.
Elsewhere in Bali, why not get a new dating profile photo in one of Bali’s most beautiful locations with a trip to the Bali Swing? Six swings range from sky beds to bird nests, all with amazing views. Or take a private tour to the stunning Tegenungan Waterfall, Ubud Monkey Forest, and more.
Best Christmas city breaks for couples
Iceland & Reykjavik
Iceland and specifically Reykjavik is one of the best places to go for Christmas as a couple and one of the best Christmas city breaks. Join a food walk in Reykjavik for the lowdown on Icelandic specialties, or for a unique thing to do on Christmas Day, put your masks on, brave the cold and spot the 13 hidden hologram Santa Clauses hiding on buildings and in windows on a romantic walk through downtown Reykjavik.
See Iceland’s biggest glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls in all their winter glory on a tour of South Iceland. Snuggle up on a Northern Lights Cruise, feel the heat between you in a secret geothermal lagoon, or see what the whales do for Christmas on a whale-watching tour.
London is a great place for couples and always makes for an action-packed Christmas city break. Somerset House has one of the most beautiful ice rinks in the city, and from bustling Christmas markets to double-decker bus rides, to museums, festive theater shows and more, there’s a new way to say “I love you” around every corner.
Step into the festive magic at Kew Gardens this Christmas. One of the world’s largest botanical gardens offers a romantic after-dark extravaganza with over one million Christmas lights. Cuddle up on the London Eye, or eye up some jewels together in the Tower of London.
New York City
The Big Apple, aka New York City, is one of the best places for couples to visit at Christmas. Looking to shop? Christmas city breaks don’t get much better for shopping than New York! Shop in the glitzy stores on 5th Avenue. Watch the Rockettes kicking up a storm at the Radio City Music Hall, and don’t forget a romantic horse and carriage ride around Central Park!
Fast track into the Met and the Guggenheim for some art and culture. See America’s symbol of freedom at the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Or get high above it all on a romantic Empire State Building mission. Manhattan’s Christmas lights look amazing from above!
Pucker up in Paris — the architecture here is some of the most romantic in all of Europe. Start your own love affair with the city of love at Christmas. As for Christmas city break sightseeing, when the markets are out, the Eiffel Tower is twinkling more than ever, and the Seine just calls for a romantic river cruise.
There’s nothing like saying those three little words at the top of the Eiffel Tower at Christmas time (get the rings ready for your proposals!). Pretend to be kids at Disneyland Paris or take a Christmas champagne cruise on the Seine. Can you feel the love tonight?
Best Christmas city breaks for families
The Christmas tree in Tallinn’s Town Hall Square has been put up every year since 1441, making it the first-ever Christmas tree on public display in Europe! It’s the best Christmas city break for storybook beauty, too. Explore the fairytale-esque medieval town center, visit the reimagined Soviet-era factories, and try some local delicacies — black bread and gingerbread are musts!
Get your ticket for the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tallinn and the whole Estonian capital is your oyster for 24 hours. You’ll also get the lowdown on Tallinn’s and Estonia’s medieval history as you go on an audio tour, and nosy around some cultural quirks at the Kumu Art Museum.
If it’s sunshine you want, look no further than Cancún, one of the best destinations for families at Christmas. There’s white sandy beaches, zipline adventures in the jungle and zero chance of snow, but if you want a real Christmas dinner, try Casa Rolandi Restaurant. Cancun itself is not especially large but for sun in the holidays it’s a pretty good Christmas city break option.
Stun your senses with over 50 cool experiences in the air, on land and in the water at Xenses, Xcaret’s new playground for thrillseekers. Snorkel around life-sized sculptures in the ocean, or why not go for a Christmas Day zipline adventure at Parque Maya Cancún?
Think cosy boozy cruises, sipping hot spiced wine. Ice-skating surrounded by giant museums, and canals that flicker with Christmas lights. Amsterdam is a charming fairytale destination for families at Christmas, from markets to bustling squares and Santa Claus. As a Christmas city break souvenir, how about some Edam cheese, or wooden clogs?
Cruise the canals for the Amsterdam Light Festival. Get hands-on at NEMO Science Museum, or see what the animals are up to at Christmas at ARTIS Royal Zoo. Do try the local delicacies, oliebollen at the Christmas markets, and catch the Christmas carols at Vondelkerk.
Dubai might be one of the best places for a family Christmas city break, even though the UAE doesn’t get involved too much in Christmas traditions. Make your escape under blue skies. Think beach days, dune-bashing in the desert, great food and no tantrums on Santa’s knee!
They might be in the desert, but that didn’t stop Dubai building an ice-skating rink or a ski slope. Get some action-packed snow fun in, indoors, or see the world’s biggest choreographed fountain from a boat on the lake. And don’t forget to look for Santa from the top floor of the Burj Khalifa!