Christmas is the most magical time of the year. Spending the New Year’s Eve in a new exotic place is a great way to start the next 12 months cycle in a mood of adventure and discoveries.
In the past 10 years, I have been celebrating December 31st at many different places and this year will not be different. It’s my way of saying – Hey, Universe, I want more happiness, adventure opportunities, and great encounters! And I’m ready to work for it (i.e. make the effort to take myself in somewhere new and out of my comfort zone).
If you want to do the same, here are my suggestions for exotic places to travel for Christmas and New Year.
1. Moscow & Saint Petersburg, Russia
There is no doubt; Russia is the ultimate Christmas destination! The reasons for this are two.
The Russians have a “winter culture” that involves traditional dishes, unique clothing styles and Christmas decoration you will never see somewhere else. To dare to go to Russia in winter is to allow yourselves to see the real face of the country.
The good news is – Christmas in Russia is AFTER New Year (January 7th) and you can spend Christmas at home with family and friends and after that travel to Russia for celebrating the Russian way. Don’t forget to take your warmest clothes and boots; buy from those beautiful fine wool traditional scarfs to keep you warm; drink a lot of tea and every day eat borscht. And include at least these two wonders in your itinerary – Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
2. Merzouga, Morocco
Morocco is for those who don’t like at all cold and love to visit exotic countries. The country has a lot of interesting places to offer to visitors of all kinds. There are the cities like Marrakesh for those who have a shorter stay.
But to those of you who want to have a real Moroccan experience, I would recommend spending the New Year’s Eve somewhere around Merzouga, the Morocco’s tourist capital for visiting the Sahara Desert. There are many hotels and Kasbah around, you just have to decide are you going to travel by yourselves or joining a tour. The day spent in the Sahara Desert will always stay in your memory as one of the most special moments.
3. Trinidad, Cuba
To celebrate New Year’s Eve in Trinidad means to have a lot of fun dancing with tourists and locals in Casa de la Musica in the heart of the former colonial town. Trinidad is part of World’s UNESCO Heritage and for a good reason. Its atmosphere hasn’t changed much in the past centuries and the architecture consists of aligned in rows one-story houses whose front doors open directly to the streets.
The greatest thing of my New Year’s Eve in Trinidad was the possibility to walk the streets at night, and looking throughout the open windows how the Cuban people celebrate. There was a lot of music and dancing, not so much food but a lot of laughter and playful mood.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
The two reasons to spend the winter holidays in Cape Town are obvious. Good weather and a lot of sightseeing possibilities. The region of Cape Town is abundant with natural, cultural, wine and food tourism activities. The city itself is an interesting mix of ethnicities and one of the most popular but worth visiting parts is the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap. Take a day or two to explore the amazing wine lands not far from the city – Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch. Get on a morning walk to the white sand beach Dolphin Beach. You will have one of the best views of the Cape Town’s landmark – the Table Mountain.
What a better way to start the new year by visiting the southernmost part of the African continent?!
5. Paris, France
If you haven’t been to Paris, now might be the time. Winter in this part of Europe is cold and gray. But this should not stop you from your winter travel plans. This is the best time to visit Paris. It is a nightmare to be a first-time visitor in summer. All the world-famous sites like The Louvre and Versailles are packed with thousands of tourists waiting to enter. And once you are in, you can’t really enjoy your visit.
Go to Paris in the fairy time of Christmas and New Year. It is named The City of Lights for a reason. Don’t be afraid of the cold. In Paris, there are hundreds of interesting, out of the tourist way places that you can spend your time on.
My suggestions are: for a special dinner, go to the oldest restaurant in Paris, Le Procope. For a real window shopping or shopping experience, get lost in some of the many Passages of Paris. And for a real book-reality experience, go to the famous Galerie Lafayette. You don’t need to spend a cent to enjoy the atmosphere from the “The Ladies’ Paradise” by the French classic Emile Zola.
6. Dublin, Ireland
You might never think about Dublin as one of the best Christmas and New Year’s destinations. The truth is Dublin is always a good idea. But in this most festive period of the year, all the typical features of Ireland that we all enjoy so much reinforce. The local friendliness is always welcome, the warmth of the Irish pubs much needed, and the universe of music that Ireland is brings so much more to the festivities.
Don’t miss on trying as many beers as you can. The soups of the day are always served with a slice or two of a delicious brown bread served with a generous quantity of local butter. In especially cold days, indulge in the soul-melting Irish stew.
Many of you might have just two opportunities per year to take long vacations. Don’t miss the opportunity to go somewhere new and interesting for Christmas or New Year. It is a period of deserved endings and earned new beginnings. Celebrate it accordingly!
About the author:
Geri Vladeva is a freelance travel writer and blogger that focuses on
female travel. She shares travel tips and ideas to help women stay stylish
and travel more.