The The Best Places to Visit in December for Couples: Weather & Travel Guide
December is a special time of year, and it can also be one of the best months to travel. There are all the festivities of the holiday season, plus a bit of sentimentality as the end of another year approaches. A December vacation is a welcome reprieve, especially for couples who want to reflect back on the year and partake in merriment.
The best places to visit in December are scattered across the globe, whether you're looking for a ski resort, the sunny Caribbean, an all-inclusive in Hawaii, a well-being resort (hello, 2024 travel trend), or towns that go over the top with holiday festivities. Choosing the best cities or countries to visit in December for your anniversary trip, honeymoon or romantic getaway is a task that will put a smile on your face and get you through a routine day at the office. Here's fodder for your fantasy.
Vienna transforms into a winter wonderland in December, and the spirit of the holidays is vibrant with the city's infamous Christmas markets. If you're a couple not bothered by a bit of chill in the air, this European escape is for you.
Things to Do: Shop 'til you drop at the Christmas markets with stalls full of art, crafts and local goodies like lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread cookies). You will surely find yourselves in one of the many cafes and coffee houses warming up with a melange, a Viennese coffee that will remind you of a cappuccino. Come evening, head to St. Stephen's Cathedral for classical music at an Advent concert. Another night, attend a performance at the Vienna State Opera House. Visit the city's many museums, like the Albertina or Belvedere. Shake off any stress by indulging in Vienna's 2,000-year-old bathing culture and hitting one of the spas.
Western Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, is a holiday playland. The list of festivities is long and all-but-guarantees a good time. For those who prefer the countryside, Nemacolin is its own standalone destination: with 2,200 acres of resort grounds to take in, couples will find everything from ice skating to gingerbread house competitions (really though)… all against the ornate decorations and architecture that make this place memorable around the holidays. Plus, Pittsburgh is a 90-minute drive away. When you think of where to travel in December, put this entire region on the map.
Things to Do: Downtown in Market Square of Pittsburgh, you'll find the Peoples Gas Holiday Market that might make you think you're in Europe. You can also skate at the downtown ice rink. GLOWLAND, in the city's Oakland neighborhood, boasts interactive installations, music, art and more. The Walk the Burgh holiday lights tour will give you insight on the city's history and architecture, with a chance to peep all of the area's lights and decorations. The Pittsburgh Botanic Dazzling Nights is 65 acres of lights, plus seasonal beverages and bites. If you don't want to get out of the car, the Zoo Lights Drive-Thru will let you see the animals and lights from your car. Beyond holiday happenings, take in a show in the Cultural District and finish the day with a romantic dinner at one of many top restaurants in town.
Basseterre, St. Kitts
You might be craving sand, sea and sun for your romantic getaway. If so, one of the best countries to visit in December is St. Kitts, with its steamy and perfect honeymoon weather. This tiny Caribbean island comes alive in December when it celebrates its national Carnival, also called Sugar Mas, as well as the holidays. Expect music, dance, folklore, food, beach parties and more.
Things to Do: For adventure, there's hiking through rainforest and volcanoes; diving; and ATVs. Care for something more serene? Soak up the sun on the beach or take a ride on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway for a three-hour tour that makes a 30-mile circle around the island—18 miles on train and 12 miles on sightseeing buses.
Pacific City, Oregon
December is a magical time to visit the Oregon Coast. Pacific City is where forested cliffs and tall dunes meet the Pacific Ocean. You'll see whales and exceptionally high tides showcasing the power of the Pacific Ocean. The natural beauty sets the stage for romance, and the chilly weather is a perfect excuse to cuddle around a beach bonfire.
Things to Do: Whale watching is a must. If you're adventurous, December ushers in the arrival of King Tides, a natural phenomenon that occurs just a few times a year with extreme high tides and crashing waves. You'll always remember taking a guided King Tides hike where you climb to the top of the Great Dune at Cape Kiwanda. Horseback ride on the beach. Explore the boutiques and eateries downtown. Not only can you quench your thirst at the Pelican Brewery, but the ocean views are also stunning.
Places to Stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa, Hart's Camp, Inn at Cape Kiwanda and Surf and Sand Inn.
London knocks itself out of the park during the holidays. Expect holiday lights everywhere. The holiday spirit is infectious, and in the city, you'll find famous Christmas markets and the must-see 60-foot Covent Garden Christmas tree.
Things to Do: Shop the Christmas markets and enjoy all the holiday lights. Be sure to hit Oxford, Regent and Carnaby Streets for their legendary holiday light displays. Catch a show in the theater district, go ice skating and find out the dates for Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. You can't be in London and not have a spot of tea—an afternoon tea experience is not to be missed.
The thought of pink sand beaches probably sounds good as you're thinking of where to go in December, especially if your hometown is likely to be covered in snow. Plan to go early in the month of December, as that's when you can catch the Bermuda Christmas Boat Parade through Hamilton Harbour. Boats are decked out with lights and holiday characters will stream by, topped off with grand finale fireworks. It's tradition for some on Christmas Day to go to Elbow Beach to watch the sunrise.
Things to Do: Find out when the MarketPlace Christmas Parade is, as it's something you won't want to miss. Another December event to look out for is the City Art Fest featuring gallery tours, workshops, music and poetry. Beyond the holiday festivities, enjoy cliff jumping, diving, snorkeling and Blue Hole Park for a swim.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Nobody in the Caribbean (maybe, besides, Anguilla) does the holiday season like Puerto Rico. Festivities start in November and continue into the middle of January. From December 15 through 24, churches hold masses with aguinaldos—a folk genre of Christmas music—at dawn. The parranda (carolers) travel around neighborhoods singing Afro-Indigenous Christmas aguinaldos.
Things to Do: In addition to the holiday happenings, enjoy a bioluminescence bay tour, and visit sites like Castillo San Cristobal, and the San Juan Cathedral. Do not miss Old San Juan, with its cobblestone streets, cafes and shops.
Hope Town, The Bahamas
Considering a visit to the Bahamas in December? Think beyond the much-traveled Nassau and Freeport to under-the-radar locales like Hope Town, which has beautiful beaches, tons of sunshine and a slower pace.
Things to Do: Rent a bike or golf cart to tool around town. Snorkel, dive, fish, paddleboard or kayak. Climb to the top of the Hope Town Lighthouse, and you'll be rewarded with epic views. Some other hot spots include Cap 'n Jacks, the Cantina at The Island Retreat and Firefly Bar and Grill.
The Madeira archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 280 miles from the Canary Islands and 310 miles from the Moroccan coast. Madeira is lovely any time of year, but the holidays are something special, with Madeira spending millions on its Christmas lights and decorations. Plus, the area has a legendary New Year's Eve fireworks celebration.
Things to Do: For the thrill-seeking couple, there's canyoning, paragliding and hiking. Take in the view at Cabo Girão, which at over 1,900 feet tall is the highest sea cliff in Europe. Venture out on the skywalk's suspended glass floor for views of the Atlantic that are beyond spectacular. Visit Câmara de Lobos and consider a tour of Rabaçal, a three-hour walk exploring an evergreen forest, valleys, waterfalls and natural springs. Ride the cable car to reach the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
The end of the year is a good time to visit Sedona—it's when fewer tourists are around, so you're likely to score discounts on hotels with less people in town. That means you also stand a better chance of getting a reservation at that restaurant you absolutely must dine at (Mariposa, anyone?).
Things to Do: Hike those gorgeous red rocks. The trails will be less crowded in December. If you're not game for action by foot, rent a jeep and drive the off-road trails. Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad train. Relax and pamper yourselves in one of Sedona's much beloved spas.
Big Sky, Montana
For the outdoorsy couple who loves winter fun, Big Sky might be the best place to travel in December. Skiers will think they've died and gone to heaven with the abundance of trails. This place is for foodies too–hint, if you need bach party inspiration. You'll get everything from a gourmet hot dog stand, sushi and street tacos to barbecue and a slope-side dinner in a yurt, accessed by snowcat.
Things to Do: While skiing is the big attraction, the action doesn't stop there. Go for a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride, or go dog sledding or ice skating. Take a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone National Park.
You know they do everything bigger in Texas, and that goes for the holidays, too—especially in Grapevine, which is nicknamed the Christmas Capital of Texas. Between November and December, there are 1,400 holiday events, including markets, parades and the Christmas Wine Train.
Things to Do: Browse Grapevine's historic Main Street District with its boutiques, restaurants, winery tasting rooms and art galleries. Catch a show at the Palace Arts Center. Take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Hike or bike the nine miles of wilderness trails at Lake Grapevine.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
If you want to celebrate the holidays like a local in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, you'll need to forget about sleep—the Nine Mornings Festival is for those who like to party. Nine mornings before Christmas, folks wake up at 4 a.m. to enjoy concerts, cultural performances and games. The final morning of the festival ends with a steel band "jump up" (party).
Things to Do: After you've recovered from the early morning festivities, visit one of the black sand beaches. St. Vincent is home to an active volcano, waterfalls, hiking trails and fishing villages. Explore the historic capital city of Kingstown, with its cobblestone streets and majestic churches. Spend a couple of days in nearby Bequia basking in the sun on the beautiful beaches.
Port Antonio, Jamaica
For a slightly quieter holiday season in Jamaica, go to Port Antonio, as you won't find the crowds of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Port Antonio is lush, awash in greenery, jungle and beautiful beaches. This city is ideal for the couple seeking scenery and serenity.
Things to Do: Take your pick of beaches, whether it's Frenchman's Cove, Winnifred Beach or San San Beach. Each has a different vibe, so you might want to go to all three if you have time. Raft on the Rio Grande. Browse the Portland Art Gallery and check out the Folly Lighthouse and Folly Ruins, the remains of an early 1900s mansion.
If you've already done Barcelona and Madrid, December is a good time to go beyond familiar locales in Spain. Explore the Spanish island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic islands. The city of Palma is romantic with its 18th century homes, cathedrals and castles… and even dreamier with holiday decor and sans summertime crowds.
Things to Do: Palma's Old Town has landmarks like La Seu, a sandstone cathedral that took nearly 400 years to build (it's one of Europe's tallest Gothic structures, noted for its massive rose windows). The Golden Mile is the spot for shopping and eating. You'll believe in fairytales with a visit to Bellver Castle from the 14th century—it's about a 10-minute drive west of Palma, located atop a pine-forested hill with awesome views of the Bay of Palma and the Tramuntana Mountains. Mercat de l'Olivar is Palma's largest covered market. See what treasures you can find. If you want a more laid-back experience, consider staying a couple of days in Grand Portals Nous, located about 20 minutes from the city's center on the Mediterranean shore.