• 22 November 2022

We all know how stunning the European Christmas markets are and how lovely Christmas in Canada can be. But how often do we think of less obvious destinations that are just as – if not more – festive as the popular December holiday spots?  If you’re looking for a unique Christmas trip, it may be time to start looking off-the-beaten-track! It’s time to take a look at less common destinations for an unusual Christmas holiday experience! 

There are lesser-known spots all over the world that offer some of the most unique and best Christmas getaways. In no particular order, here is Expat Explore’s pick!

5 Unusual getaways for a Christmas holiday:

1. Amman, Jordan

Although Jordan has many Muslim residents, many Christians call Jordan home too. For those who don’t celebrate Christmas itself, the holiday is still celebrated as a day for family and fun. The capital city of Amman is especially festive over this period. 

There are many Christmas lights throughout the city to enjoy, as well as festive events for the whole family. A popular activity for locals and tourists is bazaar market shopping. You can find food, drinks, and decorations in the many different market stalls around the city. December is the first of Jordan’s winter months. However, temperatures vary between 10 °C and 20 °C, so you won’t be uncomfortably cold. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the first of the country’s snowfall towards the end of the month!  

Travel tip: December is also one of the best times to visit the warm Red Sea, as it’s shoulder season and there are fewer tourists crowding around. 

Christmas displayed in Boulevard in Amman, Unusual Christmas Holiday
Christmas decorations in Amman, Jordan.
2. Bethlehem, Israel

Quite possibly the most Christmas-y place you’ll find, Bethlehem, Israel is a must-visit for anyone looking for Christmas joy! Bethlehem is home to the Church of Nativity, which is said to be the very place where baby Jesus was born. This church’s initial structure was built in the year 357 and has been expanded on through the years. Throughout the town, the holidays are celebrated with lights, decorations, and religious processions. It’s quite a sight to behold!

Since Israel and Jordan share a border, the weather is very similar in both regions. It won’t be freezing cold, but you’ll definitely need a jacket. And you may just enjoy a white Christmas!

Travel tip: Bethlehem radiates Christmas spirit from early December all the way into January. So you don’t necessarily have to be here on the 24th or 25th of December to enjoy the festivities. 

Bethlehem Nativity Church, Unusual Christmas Holiday
The Bethlehem Nativity Church, the reputed birthplace of baby Jesus!
3. Girona, Spain 

Christmas in Spain is an interesting cultural experience. The period begins mid-December and ends on the 6th of January when the children finally receive their presents. The Christmas season in Spain is full of delicious treats, special traditions, and lots of cheer. 

The festive spirit in Spanish towns like Girona is contagious, especially when it comes to the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. There are several nativity scenes to view, and the traditional Christmas markets are definitely something to write home about! Mainland Spain in December is quite chilly, so you’ll need to dress warmly. Unless, of course, you decide to head to the Canary Islands for some December sun. If you’re a sucker for a white Christmas, many ski resorts will offer you more than enough snow and mulled wine at the fireplace. 

Related: Take a look at the best places to visit in Spain for winter sunshine!

Girona's Eiffel Bridge with Christmas lighting, Unusual Christmas Holiday
Girona’s Eiffel Bridge with Christmas lighting.
4. Bogota, Colombia

After ringing in the festive season with fireworks and cheer at the Alborada festival, on the 30th of November, Colombia sees some impressive Christmas spirit each December. The entire country is decorated with candles and lights throughout the holiday month. And there are so many exciting things to look forward to. 

Colombians have many traditions that accompany this holiday season, each of which holds its own special sentiment. From the novena gatherings that bring friends and families together, to the mouth-watering traditional dishes served, Christmas in Bogota, Colombia is magical and festive. A must-see during your visit would definitely be the Ruta de La Navidad, otherwise known as the Bogota Christmas Route. This goes through the city and is made up of Christmas markets, decorated streets and loads of lights. 

Travel tip: The weather in Colombia during December is mild, averaging between 18 °C and 25 °C. So while you could still show off your Christmas sweater at night, you’ll mostly enjoy pleasant days. 

Christmas lights at night in Bogota, Unusual Christmas Holiday
Christmas lights at night in Bogota.
5. Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa offers many Western Christmas traditions, with the benefit of enjoying it all in very warm temperatures! With a diverse mix of religions, Cape Town sees a mix of traditional Christmas and more modern views of the holiday. 

The festive season is often busy and bustling, with shops offering sales, plenty of festive events and schools on holiday. Most people here celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family, enjoying large meals and exchanging gifts. 

Cape Town experiences its summer in December, so this is the ideal beach Christmas vacation. You’ll find shopping malls decked with brightly coloured decorations, playing catchy carols and serving up absolutely delicious mince pies and Christmas cookies. Locals and visitors alike will be flocking to the stunning soft-sand beaches to enjoy their holiday time in the sun. 

Christmas in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, unusual Christmas holiday
Christmas in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Whether you’re looking for a quaint, traditional experience, a romantic Christmas getaway, or a busier, warmer city break, there are many places that don’t often come up on Christmas getaway bucket lists. If you need a little help planning your fun Christmas trips, have a look at Expat Explore’s Christmas tours for 2022 and 2023We promise lots of celebration and cheer with new friends!

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