Travel Advent Calendar – 25 Amazing Places You Need to Visit

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It’s the time of the year where we all let our inner childhood take over our emotions and remember what it was like to count down the days until December 25th. Do you remember having an advent calendar and every day in December opening a different window to reveal a delicious piece of chocolate? We want to take a similar theme and create our very own travel advent calendar where we reveal 25 awesome destinations around the world that we should all think about experiencing.

Christmas is all about celebrating and preparing for the “big day” where we all hope that Santa Claus will bring us something we have always dreamed of. We are delighted to collaborate with a number of our travel blogging friends from around the world to create this awesome advent calendar of destinations.

If you have a love for travel and need some inspiration, be sure to keep reading. If you are getting a little tired of the long, dark days in the heart of winter, be sure to keep reading because there are a few destinations that may inspire you to get away from the freezing cold winters.

Travel Advent Calendar

A travel advent calendar is exactly how it sounds in the traditional sense…a series of 25 breathtaking and inspiring locations around the world waiting to be uncovered. Why not consider bookmarking this post and revisiting every day to reveal the next day’s destination.

Don’t worry, we will be featuring each destination on our Facebook and Twitter accounts every day in December and perhaps you will be inspired to book a trip to one of these spots in 2017!

travel advent calendar

Some of these destinations are great to enjoy the Christmas festivities. Or perhaps you just want to get away from all the Christmas celebrations and relax in a secluded location full of solitude. This array of destinations covers pretty much everything you could wish for in an amazing Christmas bucket list.

Let’s dive straight in and see where we are heading first. December is here and that can only mean one thing…it’s time to start traveling the world!


Zipolite, Mexico, is an amazing hidden paradise. The entire town rests on the beach, while the whole beach is also clothing optional. It’s always good fun, and the town attracts a very open minded, fun type of crowd.

travel advent calendar zipolite mexico

Shy? Don’t worry, you can totally swim with clothes on too – anything goes in Zipolite! A normal day for me consists of lying in my hammock watching the ocean while drinking a Corona with salt and lime – perfection!

Thanks to Danielle Ditzian from Like Riding a Bicycle.


Ukraine must be the most misunderstood country these days. While in the news it appears as a battlefield, the truth is only the east part of Ukraine must be avoided, the rest of the country is perfectly safe to travel to and offers so much for every traveler’s taste.

lviv ukraine

From beautiful Central European architecture of Lviv or Chernivtsi to golden domes and impressive Soviet buildings in the capital Kiev, from Black Sea beaches to lush Carpathian mountains – Ukraine has it all!

travel advent calendar kiev

Now, due to the unstable economic situation, Ukraine is a huge bargain and going there might be your cheapest holidays ever! Don’t hesitate and visit Ukraine!

Thanks to Kamila Napora from My Wanderlust.


I love Vietnam in general, for its culture and food. On Con Dao, all that is combined with stunning nature. Con Son, the main island of the Con Dao archipelago, is remote enough to be fairly untouched but developed enough to provide you with anything you need for a week of exploring.

con dao vietnam

Discover stunning beaches, ride a scooter around the island or go hiking through the jungle in search of monkeys (it’s not much of a search really, they’re everywhere). Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear!

con dao vietnam

Thanks to Edwina Dendler from Traveling German.


Martinique is a magnificent year-round destination for every type of traveler, but it is especially magical during Christmastime! Martinique has a time-honored tradition called “Chante Nwel,” where people gather together and sing traditional Christmas hymns at the top of their lungs to the rhythm of a creole band.

travel advent calendar martinique

If singing isn’t your thing, then you can skip the parties and head straight to the beach instead. With volcanic black sand in the North and white sand like powdered sugar in the South, the options are endless!


Thanks to Francesca from One Girl One World.


It’s a snowy wonderland all year round amongst Austria’s highest mountains in the Hohe Tauern National Park and numerous cable cars take you up to 3000m. The Kitzsteinhorn is a must for the best views in Austria and my all-time favorite attraction.

travel advent calendar austria

Summer unlocks the most exhilarating drive on the Grossglockner high alpine road to the country’s highest mountain and glacier, as well as Werfen Castle, star of film ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and an abundance of gorge walks such as Kitzlochklamm.

austria at christmas

Top resorts of Zell am See and Kaprun provides delicious favorites of gluhwein, schnitzel, and apple strudel: it’s all totally scrumptious!

Thanks to Tilly Horseman from Travel Junkie Girl.


Although we have to admit that we still can’t spell it without thinking twice (even after two visits and six weeks spent traveling around the country), Kyrgyzstan is easily our favorite destination in Central Asia.


It’s got fantastic horse riding, remote trekking routes, sublime lakes, off-the-beaten-track adventures and even a decent dose of concrete in Bishkek and Osh for lovers of Soviet-era architecture.

travel advent calendar kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is also tourist-friendly: quite a few nationalities can now visit visa-free for up to 60 days and the level of accommodation, be it yurt, hostel or homestay, is improving all the time.

travel advent calendar

It’s what we call a quality destination – somewhere that has a bit of everything. And if that’s not enough, just think of the points you can earn if you manage to land Kyrgyzstan on a Scrabble board!

Thanks so much to Kirsty and Mark from Kathmandu and Beyond.


Sun Moon Lake is a big surprise for visitors to Taiwan. Known for its thermal hot springs, the area is popular with locals as a getaway and for weddings. The lake is reachable from Taipei by high-speed rail in about 2 1/2 hours.

sun moon lake taiwan

My favorite sites are the magnificent Wenwu Temple, with its two gigantic red stone lions guarding the gate, and also a lovely restaurant that specializes in healthy, tasty fruit-enhanced dishes.

Thanks to Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels With Carole.


Whisky and waterfalls, fairies and fishing villages, haggis and the world’s biggest new year’s eve festival, Hogmanay – these are a few of my favorite things about my home country, Scotland. Scotland is a country known for rain and native men that wear skirts, I can tell you now that one is more common than the other!

travel advent calendar scotland

2017 is a great year to visit us here in Scotland as Edinburgh Festivals (it’s not just about the Fringe!) celebrate their 70th anniversary so the annual program promises to be even bigger and louder than previous years. Been before? Haste ye back!

Thanks to Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad.


Cappadocia, Turkey is unlike any other place on earth and in fact, you may feel like you have left this planet and landed on the moon. The landscape is quite surreal with the bizarre rock formations formed by centuries of erosion of the volcanic ash and basalt columns.

travel advent calendar cappadocia

You can explore dwellings, churches and caves dug into the rock or you can soar above the “fairy chimneys” in a hot air balloon…something not to be missed. You can even stay in a hotel built into these unique rocks. For all these reasons and more Cappadocia should be on everyone’s list!

cappadocia turkey

Thanks to Sarah Hughes from Live, Dream, Discover.


Known as “the land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda’s location in the volcanic Virunga Mountains makes it one of the most stunning countries we’ve visited. Most people visit to see the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas of Volcanoes National Park, which were made famous by Dian Fossey.

travel advent calendar rwanda

But there are also Chimpanzees and several monkey species in Nyungwe Forest National Park, the picturesque scenery of Lake Kivu, and uncrowded wildlife safaris in Akagera National Park.

travel advent calendar rwanda

More than 20 years after the horrific genocide that divided the nation, Rwanda has been rebuilt to become one of the world’s brightest emerging ecotourism hotspots.

Thanks to Bret Love from Green Global Travel.


Where to even begin listing the awesome features of Iran?

Home to one of the greatest ancient empires on Earth, now an archaeological gem; a country of fierce cultural pride and continuity; beautiful and widely varied landscapes with unique features such as the sculptured sand “kaluts.”

iran landscape

Spectacular architecture in mosques and former palaces; fascinating bazaars; a culture obsessive about picnicking and tea-drinking; delicious food; nomads living traditional lifestyles; gardens and reflecting pools everywhere you turn; unparalleled friendliness and hospitality; it’s a bit off the beaten track.

travel advent calendar iran

I could go on, but surely my adoration has been sufficiently explained.

Thanks to Shara Johnson from SKJ Travel.

The Azores

The Azores is Europe’s answer to Hawaii. With its lush landscapes, beautiful water, and friendly people, the Azores is truly a magical place to visit. Add to that the affordable prices to fly, stay, and dine in the Azores and you can’t go wrong.

the azores

A visit to the Sao Miguel’s Terra Nostra Botanical Garden with its incredible volcanic thermal spas are worth the trip alone!

travel advent calendar the azores

Thanks to Cathy and Frank from RoarLoud.


The town of Chiang Mai, in Thailand, is a special place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Not only is it the home of hundreds of ornate Buddhist temples, but also the famous Loy Krathong Lantern Lighting Festival. The local Thailand culture will humble you with their gracious and kindhearted attitudes.

thailand lantern festival

Upon arrival, you will be struck by the breathtaking beauty of the tropical lush landscapes. There is a mystical quality that is emphasized by the morning sunrise that peeks through the mist framing the sprawling rice fields throughout the area.

travel advent calendar thailand

To maximize the experience, a stay at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai is a luxury splurge you will not regret. The level of service and luxury will astound you and the resort is committed to creating memories that will last a lifetime. Between nature, culture, cuisine, and the hospitality of Thailand you will leave feeling you gained an unbelievable experience that will be forever be cherished.

Thanks to Pam from Always 5 Star.


Ecuador may not sprawl across the map like Brazil or host the wonders of Peru, but the tiny little country is nothing short of amazing. With high-altitude treks to crater lakes, endemic wildlife like you’ll see nowhere else in the world, and low cost of travel, you can experience nearly all the best of South America with just a couple of months in Ecuador.

travel advent calendar ecuador

Thanks to Taylor and Daniel from Travel Outlandish.


If you’re into hiking you’ll want to add Patagonia to the top of your “places to visit” list. This vast land is full of granite peaks, turquoise lakes, and giant glaciers — nature doesn’t get much more dramatic than this.

travel advent calendar patagonia

The W Trek, on the Chilean side of Patagonia, is one of the world’s most highly rated multi-day treks. It’s well worth the effort but it’s pretty tough, especially if you have to carry all your camping gear and food!

travel advent calendar patagonia

Thanks to Jon Algie from


Jamaica is home to white sandy beaches, reggae music, great food, and lots of rum! Local Jamaican food is cheap and delicious. You can’t go wrong with Jamaican food, especially the jerk chicken! Lush greenery, windy mountains, cascading waterfalls, and crystal Caribbean water; Jamaica has it all!

travel advent calendar jamaica

Interacting with the locals was one of our favorite parts of our trip, as they are so friendly and inviting. Take a trip to the mountains, to the waterfalls, go cliff-jumping or just enjoy the gorgeous beaches with the local beer, Red Stripe.

Thanks to Tarah from Fit Two Travel.


Is Tokyo a good idea for December? Definitely! First of all – it’s completely different than you may expect. When Europe is having fun drinking mulled wine on colorful Christmas Markets, Tokyo turns into the city of lights. There is fantastic light and music shows (thanks to the LED technology they are also eco-friendly) all around the city, where you can see icy gardens, faraway galaxies and anything you can ever imagine.

tokyo japan light festival

Tokyo is also a very romantic city because the Japanese treat Christmas a little bit like St Valentine’s Day. Traditional Japanese Christmas meal – a cream cake with fresh strawberries is a must-eat!

Thanks to Izabela Krawczyk from Love Traveling Blog.


Jordan is an oasis, surrounded by conflict in the Middle East. Although its neighbors struggle with civil war and religious conflicts, Jordan is a safe-haven and a wonderful place to visit.

travel advent calendar jordan

Experience its diverse landscapes, marvel at the wonder of Petra, float in the Dead Sea at the lowest point on Earth, and ride camels across Wadi Rum desert as the sun sets. Go for the history, but fall in love with the culture and the Jordanian people.

travel advent calendar jordan

Thanks to Lindsay Nieminen from Carpe Diem Our Way.


Turquoise blue waters and powder white sand backed by lush palm trees, the San Blas Islands (yes, there is more than one!) are some of the world’s most beautiful islands. Set in the Caribbean coast of Panama, these idyllic islands offer raw beauty – no water villas, no fancy resorts, no distractions.

travel advent calendar panama

Owned by the local Kuna people, many of the islands in San Blas are uninhabited – like virgin islands that are rare to find nowadays. The best part, you can island hop across these stunning islands on your way from Panama to Colombia.

Thanks to Gia Kristel De Guia from Mismatched Passports.


If someone asked me to name a place I love, instantly Lombok, Indonesia would come to mind. Bali’s lesser-known neighbor is full of culture, beauty, friendly faces and countless places for relaxation. For these reasons, this is a place I have visited numerous times and will continue to visit.

travel advent calendar lombok indonesia

Whether I want to snorkel in pristine waters, hike to waterfalls, surf on epic breaks or relax by a quiet pool Lombok has this covered. It is cheap and less crowded than Bali and provides me with the place I go to disappear and get away.

lombok indonesia

Thanks to Lauren from The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo.


Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is magical for me. Alaska represents fauna and true wilderness, an environment for viewing with a startling backdrop of mountains, rain forests, and glaciers. The greenest, greens of old growth trees, the bluest turquoise of floating ice approaching on a river.

As I sailed the Inside Passage aboard the historic MV Westward, all of this magic came to life: humpback whales, the largest concentration of grizzly bears in the world and more seals than I had ever hoped to see in my lifetime.

travel advent calendar alaska

I realized how appropriate it was to be called The Last Frontier and how important it was to keep Alaska unspoiled and protected for all to enjoy in the future.

Thanks to Alison Abbott from Green With Renvy.

South Africa

Imagine a perfect city with an obstinate mix of natural and man-made landmarks competing for the tourist mind space. Stretch that imagination to include a city which is the historical locus of the country and still remains glitzy and glamorous enough to become a cultural hotspot. That’s Cape Town in a nutshell.

cape town south africa

We were warned of it being unsafe but discovered a sea of amazing warm people some of whom went out of their way (literally) to help us out. The food and music scene is vibrant, the open spaces beautiful and towering above them all, Table Mountain, a breathtaking sight. A city to lose oneself in for sure.

table mountain south africa

Thanks to Rishabh Shah from Gypsycouple.


There are plenty of places that offer breathtaking landscapes but there is something quite spectacular about Iceland. Whether it’s the amazing natural features such as Gullfoss and Geysir or perhaps the quirky yet beautiful architectural design of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland is a destination that everyone should consider exploring.

travel advent calendar iceland

It’s no surprise to hear that Iceland is one of the most popular up and coming destinations around the world. When you visit Iceland for the first time, it’s fair to say that the majority will fall in love with this place. We visited during the winter where that was very little daylight each day but even during those short windows, we were able to admire the beauty around this island.

gullfoss iceland

Did I mention that Iceland is the proverbial hotspot for seeing the Aurora Borealis aka the Northern Lights? If you are not yet sold, just take a chance and take a cheap flight to Reykjavik and you will soon realize what we are talking about.

northern lights iceland


If you love history, architecture, and delicious cuisine, there are not many places better than Barcelona to experience all of these. Not only is Barcelona a beautiful city with a myriad of amazing attractions, there are a number of destinations within a short drive that makes this part of Spain the ultimate European vacation spot.

travel advent calendar barcelona

Having spent a few days wandering the historic streets of the Catalan capital, sampling the best tapas and admiring Gaudi’s finest works, we realized that there is much more to Barcelona than you may imagine.

travel advent calendar

It’s no surprise to hear that Barcelona locals wish tourism would cease to exist in their city given that much of the metropolis is now devoted to this concept that clearly helps boost the economy yet has a negative impact on the overall feel and appearance of the city.

travel advent calendar barcelona

A short drive outside of Barcelona leads you to the rural landscapes of Catalonia. Montserrat is a popular location and for good reason, with a mountain-top monastery providing the iconic attraction in the rugged range outside of the Catalan capital. If you are seeking a coastal beach adventure, why not head across to the Costa Brava and sample the gorgeous terrain at Lloret de Mar.

travel advent calendar


The Mighty 5 national parks make Utah a destination that you can’t help but fall in love with. We have been fortunate to explore three of these and we cannot wait to head back to experience the other two. Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef are five distinctive areas in Utah that have been deservedly designated with national park status.

arches national park

Arches National Park is possibly the most unique in terms of iconic geological features. As you drive through this park, you are surrounded by arch shape sandstone formations in addition to other quirky landmarks such as Balanced Rock which is one of the most popular attractions inside the park.

bryce canyon national park

Bryce Canyon is typified by hoodoos or tall spires that group together creating a gorgeous amphitheater that you could admire for days. Hiking trails offer up close and personal encounters with these hoodoos but it is the breathtaking views from the various overlooks that make this such a popular national park.


If this collection of 25 amazing destinations around the world doesn’t inspire you to take a trip somewhere in 2017, nothing will! We are delighted to have the opportunity to share such an amazing variety of diverse locations thanks to our friends from all corners of the globe who have visited these breathtaking destinations.

As we look forward to what lies ahead in 2017, we can look back and reflect on an amazing 2016 and we hope that this travel advent calendar will give you that little bit of inspiration to travel somewhere in the near future.

Which of these epic destinations are you most intrigued by? How many of these spots have you already visited?


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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]


  1. Yep I want to go to quite a few of those next year starting with Thailand!

    Glad South Africa is in there – Cape Town is so lovely I wish I was there for Christmas this year!

  2. Those are all fantastic photos from around the world! It certainly does inspire traveling more! And you certainly picked some wonderful, unique places to visit! #WeekendWanderlust

  3. This is such a fun idea for a post. I’ve been to a few of these but my all time favorite is Ecuador. It continues to be up at the top of my list of favorites. I’m most intrigued by Scotland. It has been up near the top of my bucket list my entire life. But Iceland is getting higher and higher as well. #weekendwanderlust

  4. Great to see Utah on there. Arches and Zion are my favorite parks in the state. I’d love to visit Jordan, not sure when it will happen. Hopefully soon. Thanks for the great list!

  5. Hi Chris!

    What a great idea featuring all of these awesome destinations! Hopefully we’ll be visiting the Mighty 5 next summer along with Alaska. As for the rest, we’ll get around to them! Thanks for writing this up – great post!


    • Thanks so much for collaborating with us and highlighting why Jordan is such a spectacular place that we need to our to all our “Must See” lists!!

  6. I’m planning a trip to Bali in 2017, but was intrigued by those comments about Lombok. I will need to do a bit more research on Lombok to see if I would prefer travelling there for a couple of weeks instead on this trip.

  7. What a fabulous collection. So many I want to do, especially Iran! I agree regarding Ukraine. I was lucky enough to visit Crimea too – not sure what that is like at the moment.


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