“On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me”…it’s a traditional song that I am sure you are all familiar with around the world. Known collectively as the Twelve Days of Christmas, this Christmas song is built cumulatively on the previous verse, creating a series of increasingly beautiful gifts.
We decided to put together our own version of this song and create series of twelve awesome activities and destinations around the world that we would all love to experience as avid travelers. When you think about gifts to offer the travelers in your family, I’m convinced that all of these experiences would intrigue everyone.
Forget two turtle doves or five gold rings and instead, think about dog sledding in Estonia or snowshoeing in British Columbia. These magical encounters are something that I’m sure we will all be inspired to try in the future but at the very least, they provide a great way to celebrate Christmas this year from a traveling perspective.
Twelve Days of Christmas for Travelers
If you read our recent post trying to get all of you in the Christmas spirit by sharing our very own travel advent calendar, I’m sure this post will just increase your festive mood.
Let’s take a look at how our very own unique version of the infamous Twelve Days of Christmas song. How does this sound for twelve awesome experiences to celebrate Christmas either this year or perhaps in the future?
- Snowshoeing in British Columbia;
- Entertaining at the Rockefeller Center in New York City;
- Skiing at Blackcomb in Whistler, British Columbia;
- Enjoying Christmas in Iceland;
- Wandering around Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London;
- Charming Christmas experiences in Copenhagen;
- Building snowmen on the beach in Bali;
- Dog sledding in Estonia;
- Shopping Christmas markets in Berlin;
- Experiencing a Czech Christmas in Prague;
- Celebrating an Australian Christmas;
- Enjoying Christmas in Austria.
Snowshoeing in British Columbia
Soft, white powder as far as the eye can see, dotted with white trees that look like otherworldly sculptures. It is silent except for the occasional flurry of snow falling off the branches above and the faint tread of snowshoes moving through the snow. Quiet, calm and as picture perfect as any Christmas card.
Snowshoeing in the wilderness of British Columbia at Christmas is a magical experience and almost guaranteed to get you in a festive mood. It can be pretty romantic too; my brother proposed to his now-fiance last year while on a pre-Christmas snowshoeing trip!
One of my favorite things about snowshoeing is how easy it is; if you can walk, you can snowshoe. Best of all, you can really feel like you’ve earned that turkey dinner with all the trimmings as snowshoeing also provides an awesome cardio workout alongside a lot of fun.
We would like to thank Gemma Taylor from Off Track Travel for sharing this awesome experience of snowshoeing in British Columbia. What a cool way to explore such beautiful scenery!
Rockefeller Center in New York City
Rockefeller Center is an iconic location in NYC at any time of year. But in December, when a giant 80-foot-tall tree is decorated with 45,000+ lights and the ice skating rink is active, it becomes Christmas central.
I visited last year and felt the excitement in the air as thousands of people gathered to view the spectacle. And after, you can easily walk south along Fifth Avenue to enjoy the magnificent window displays in the town’s big department stores.
Thanks so much to Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels With Carole for sharing what I’m sure you will all agree is an amazing experience in New York City! Christmas in the Big Apple is one of the best times to be there and we cannot wait to have the opportunity to go back and enjoy the NYC celebrations.
Skiing in Whistler
Where are all the Vancouverites in December? They’ve headed for the hills with their skis, boards, and friends in tow. Skiing at Blackcomb in Whistler is one of the coolest winter activities to do in British Columbia.
Climb to high heights with the ski lifts and gondola then swoosh your way down to a hot chocolate or well-deserved beer at one of Whistler’s cafes and bars. The resort is bustling at the weekends (look out for the discounted weekend special at the start of the season) but quieter during the weekdays.
If you really are snow mad, why not work there for a season, with the rest of Australia!
WOW, skiing in Whistler is certainly an epic experience and a great way to celebrate Christmas! Thanks to our friends, Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad, for sharing this inspirational experience in the heart of Canada.
Christmas in Iceland
Some people love spending Christmas in the sunshine, not me! My best Christmas ever was in Iceland when I woke up to 3ft of crisp white snow! I couldn’t resist making snow angels and throwing snowballs. It was magical, the stuff kids’ dreams are made of … and mine!
Iceland is a special place at any time of year, but at Christmas, with it’s larger than life decorated trees and shop windows adorned with lights, it’s even better. For the true Icelandic Christmas spirit, head up to Hallgrimskirkja Church for 6pm mass but be warned – it’s very popular so standing room only!
Christmas Day is one for families, so there are not many people are about, making it the perfect day to experience the “The Golden Circle” tour and visit Gullfoss, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park.
If you want to bring the magic back to Christmas and feel like a child again, then head to Iceland!
Thanks so much to Simon and Angie Briggs from Feet Do Travel for sharing these amazing experiences in Iceland. We have been fortunate to visit this gorgeous nation in December and we have to admit, it’s right at the very top of our list of favorite countries around the world…it’s that spectacular!
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
When you’re caught out being Australian while in London, Christmas can be a little bleak. It’s cold, endlessly dark and a far cry from the festive season we’re used to. But there’s a cure and it involves pop culture and nostalgia.
Sure we’re enjoying the summer months as Chrissy rolls around Down Under but that doesn’t mean that our TV (and laptop) screens aren’t filled with images of snow, ugly jumpers, and roaring fires. So dig out your beanie and mittens, wrap a scarf around your laughing gear and get yourself down to Hyde Park in London for the Winter Wonderland.
Fall over multiple times on the ice rink while kids half your age skate circles around you, shop the European Christmas markets, eat all the delicious German potatoes and sausage, then get on the rides till you’re sick.
There aren’t enough words to explain how fantastic it is…and that’s why it’s a Winter Wonderland!
Our twelve days of Christmas post wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the Winter Wonderland experience in Hyde Park, London. We have visited here on a couple of occasions and it’s a really awesome setup. We would like to thank Katherine Fenech from Bright Lights of America for recommending this spot.
Charming Christmas in Copenhagen
Danes are crazy for Christmas and Denmark’s capital Copenhagen is chock full of charm this time of year. It starts the first Friday in November with the delivery of special Jul beer from Carlsberg. Shortly thereafter streets are suddenly festooned with swaths of twinkly lights and bright red hearts gleaming out in the dark.
How to make the most of the cozy Danish Christmas hygge? Don’t miss Tivoli, Copenhagen’s amusement park in the middle of the city. Even if you aren’t up for the rides, enjoy the lights and savor the displays. Try the gløgg – Danish warm spiced wine while you wander the Christmas market.
Enjoy a traditional julefrokost (Christmas lunch) along the classic and colorful Nyhavn canal. Stroll the Strøget with shops full of Danish design. Munch æbleskivers or brunkager and cuddle in close. Christmas in Copenhagen is all about candles and cozy corners in cute coffee shops.
Thanks to Erin Gustafson from Oregon Girl Around the World for enlightening us with these awesome experiences that you can expect in Copenhagen at Christmas. We can certainly imagine what it is like here in December after our visit to the Danish capital but hopefully we will have the opportunity to experience this for ourselves in the next few years.
Snowmen Building in Bali
Who says Christmas has to include snow? An epic way to spend Christmas is on the beach building snowmen in the sand! There are a ton of things to do in Bali and it’s a great place to spend Christmas.
One of my favorite Christmas memories was spending it on the beach with my family. I am originally from Wisconsin which is always freezing and covered in snow, so sunny and 80 degrees was something magical to me.
Can you imagine building a snowman on the beach in Bali? I mean that’s pretty cool right! Thanks to Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped for sharing this seriously cool experience and we can all spend the rest of this year thinking about relaxing on these gorgeous beaches.
Dog Sledding in Estonia
Animal lovers and adventurers will love the wild side of Estonia, especially during Christmas time when the snow falls and the lush green landscapes turn pearly white. It’s during this time that you can also enjoy a wild ride through the snow while dog sledding with Alaskan Malamutes.
You’ll feel like a modern day Santa Clause as your little dog pack, in their lines of two, hurtle you across the icy snow and through the snow-capped forest. The dogs are extremely energetic and enthusiastic to get out and run, so hold on tight and let them steer you through the trails.
But be sure to pack some warm clothes as the cold winter air whips at your face and leaves your fingers frozen to the handles. If you’re planning on traveling to Estonia then dog sledding is one Christmas time activity that can’t be missed.
We had an awesome experience watch dog sledding in Denali National Park, Alaska, so I can only imagine what it’s like to see these huskies in action in Estonia. Thanks to Jules from Don’t Forget To Move for sharing this cool encounter with these lovable dogs.
Christmas Markets in Berlin
Germany is home to a number of amazing festivities at Christmas but none more so than the markets that line the squares around Berlin.
In fact, Germany is just one of many nations around Europe that present the typical Christmas market experience throughout December.
Whether you want to pick up a locally handcrafted Christmas ornament or perhaps sip a glass of mulled wine, Berlin is the perfect location to appreciate everything amazing about European markets.
We have been fortunate to stay in the Alexanderplatz district of Berlin which is home to a gorgeous market but regardless of where you are staying in the German capital, the likelihood is that a market won’t be too far away.
Enjoy a Czech Christmas in Prague
If you have the opportunity to experience Christmas in Prague, we highly recommend grabbing this chance. We were fortunate to explore the Czech capital a few days after Christmas and we were still able to admire and appreciate all of the Christmas celebrations that were taking part throughout the city.
The Old Town Square is the perfect setting to celebrate Christmas. A tall tree decorated in all its glory among a myriad of market stalls is a gorgeous place to relax with a picture-perfect Disney castle (Tyn Church) in the background.
Why not enjoy a sweet or savory Trdelník while taking a stroll around the city and then head over to the historic Astronomical clock to watch this great treasure in action every hour.
Christmas in Australia
When thinking about celebrating one of the most popular holidays in the world, most people may get visions of snow, Christmas markets, and Santa Claus. I mean, who doesn’t love a stereotypical White Christmas? I know I do, as it has always been a norm for me growing up on the cold Estonia.
Why not join other travelers from cooler climates living out their fantasy of spending Christmas in Australia and relaxing on the beach under the hot summer sun? It has become a tradition for international visitors who are in Sydney at Christmas to go to Bondi Beach where up to 40,000 people visit on Christmas Day.
Whatever your motive is for visiting Australia during their summer break, experiencing Christmas on this side of the equator is a must for everyone at least once. So if you are wondering where to go this Christmas, Australia has got you covered!
Christmas in Austria
It’s no surprise to hear that Austria shares many of the same Christmas traditions as neighbors Germany. Consider a visit to Austria during the Christmas season and explore the quaint markets throughout the country while enjoying the stereotypical delicacies of Gluehwein and cookies.
Christmas is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Austria and this is noticeable throughout cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. Decked in full festive decorations, the towns offer the perfect setting for visitors to get in the Christmas mood while enjoying the local flavors and festivities.
For those wishing to enjoy Christmas in the Austrian Alps, a stereotypical sight involves families descending from high in the mountains to the valley below, while illuminating the night with torches held high.
Regardless of where you choose to visit in Austria, you can be assured that the delicious looking “Sachertorte” will be readily available along with the seasonal Austrian Christmas cookies known as “Weihnachtsbaeckerei.”
Whether you are an adventure seeker or just want to relax amongst the ambiance of Christmas festivities, there are destinations all around the world ready to inspire you to visit this Christmas season. As you can see from our twelve days of Christmas travels, there are countless amazing destinations and experience awaiting you if you are ready to get out and explore.
We would like to reiterate our appreciation to all our friends around the world for sharing such awesome experiences. Regardless of where you will be spending Christmas this year, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Have you experienced any of these destinations at Christmas? Where are you planning on celebrating the Christmas season this year?