It's December and the middle of summer in Argentina's cool capital, Buenos Aires where the air is abuzz with the sweet melody of the bandoneon. For those who prefer salsa to tango, Cuba is the perfect alternative. Sashay in packed bars and embark on a different kind of Latina whirlwind. In Kenya, scratch your head over which activity to enjoy first...perhaps yoga on the waterfront of the peaceful Swahili town of Lamu, or getting up close and personal with the lions of the Masai Mara, or maybe even trekking the mountainous peaks of Aberdare National Park. With Christmas on the horizon, opt for a festive getaway. Head to Palestine’s Bethlehem, a place of mythical proportion, or head to Lapland for a magical snowy land full of elves, reindeer and, of course, Santa himself. Here are our top ideas for where to go in December.
BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN DECEMBER
It’s not possible to stay in the winter wonderland that is Finland in December without mentioning Santa. It is here, in the sparkling white forested lands of Finnish Lapland that the rosy-cheeked, white-bearded, always-jolly Father Christmas has taken up residence. The magic is tangible and children will be captivated from start to finish. In the twilight of the year, temperatures take a dive with averages around -6°C, but once it’s blanketed in snow, the natural beauty of Finland really comes into its own: endless white hills roll into the distance; glittering trees loom over landscapes populated by reindeer; and crisp, sunny days turn into sensational starry nights that dance with the captivating colours of the northern lights. Countless activities help you feel even more at one with nature from snowmobile safaris and ice fishing to sleigh rides and a night in an igloo. Finland is another world.
Parachute into Sri Lanka and we guarantee that you'll be utterly blown away by the island’s breath-taking beaches (they're up there with the best of them).And that’s not even all -every inch of the country is swathed in history and mystery, beauty and allure.A jewel-shaped island and a true gem of the Indian Ocean, you'll discover a wealth of treasures: famous tea plantations, delicious food, cheery people, ancient Buddhist temples and lofty mountains. It’s truly a year-round holiday destination, but you have to know which side of the island to land on to avoid the rain. In December, while the north and east coast experience rains, the sun shines bright in the southwest and the atmospheric capital of the island, Colombo, where the mercury never strays far from 27°C.
There’s no better time to visit Vietnam than in December. Days are balmy and sunshine-filled and there’s something to delight all manner of travellers: ancient temples and war museums for history buffs, miles of pristine sandy coastline for beach bums, hot and fresh taste sensations from street stalls for foodies and mountains and rainforests aplenty for intrepid adventurers. Escape Hanoi’s frenzied pace at the water’s edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, go looking for the hidden caves of Halong Bay or learn about Vietnam’s past in the war museums of Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam is an assault on the senses that’s become one of Asia’s biggest rising stars. With so much to see and do, the country offers a formidable cocktail for the perfect winter getaway.
The pinnacle of island paradises, the queen of honeymoon holidays and the chief of faraway utopias – Mauritius has a lot to live up to, but boy does it just. A tropical treasure dropped in the Indian Ocean, the country is known for its magnificent white sandy beaches, exclusive resorts and sapphire waters, but venture a little further from the shoreline and you’ll discover excellent wildlife, a forested and mountainous interior ripe for hiking and fascinating cities. Back on the coast, there are numerous coral gardens providing next-level diving and calm lagoons that are home to millions of darting tropical fish to spy while snorkelling. December is just before the arrival of hurricane season so the days are hot and humid but still pleasant. Spend Christmas under the shade of palms and it’ll be one of your best ever.
From one hemisphere to another, swap the chill of a UK winter for the warmth and splendour of a South African summer this December. It’s Christmas at the end of the month (as if you didn’t know) and the prospect of celebrating it under the sun's sizzling rays is a delicious one. Oh, and did we mention the animal life here? Wear a Santa hat to give a festive spin to your wildlife watching at the many natural parks – while animals are slightly more elusive during December, it’ll make the thrill of tracking one down all the more sweet when you do. The great rainbow nation is a land of open play; from Cape Town to the savannah, the vast, thriving oceans to the colossal wine route – a winter holiday in South Africa is an adventure between natural wonders, wild creatures, ancient cultures and a brave new world.