When you currently reside in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (hint: anywhere except the US and Canada) and you like to spread Christmas cheer for all to hear, there is absolutely no reason to refrain from decorating until the end of November! Your friends and neighbours can say, “Isn’t it a little early?” but they can’t say, “Wait until Thanksgiving!” That said, I stretched the decorating boundaries even further this year by decorating, wrapping Christmas gifts, and listening to Christmas music in mid-October.
Halloween is celebrated here, but not nearly to the extent as in America. Rest assured, I did carve a pumpkin. Like the year I studied abroad in London, I served as the “American pumpkin carving expert” and helped a friend carve her first pumpkin.
I recently blogged about how the entire town ofStykkishólmur, Iceland belongs under a Christmas tree. Here are additional towns that desire a spot on your Christmas travel list. Some of these towns I travelled to at Christmastime, others were at other times in the year, but they still had Christmas cheer for all to hear all year!
10) Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a city like no other. As soon as I arrived, I felt like I had been transported back to the 1970s Soviet Union. Even during the sweltering heat of my May 2015 visit, the city held a Christmas vibe.
9) Vienna, Austria
Even though my most vivid recollection of Vienna is the sleep-deprived state I was in when I wandered about the city, the gorgeous architecture would lend itself well to Christmas time. I've also been told they have excellent markets!
8) Stockholm, Sweden
With its gorgeous harbour, the charm of Old Town, and Scandinavian design, hints of Christmas were already popping up when I visited in October 2014. Some of the stores had started selling Christmas ornaments and other decorations.
7) Prague, Czech Republic
Prague: the Fairy Tale city. With its Gothic Architecture, cozy bonfires, candles, and the smell of cinnamon everywhere, Prague is a dream destination for Christmas time. There are amazing Christmas markets on every corner and I could have spent the entire Christmas season just wandering around one of them! I've been lucky enough to visit Prague twice, once in December 2014 and once in May 2015.
7) Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken is one of those places that drew me in immediately and is also home of the Baby Brown Swiss Dairy Cow Incident. Christmas is in the Swiss spirit year round, with the wooden buildings and log cabins. The wood carver shop I visited specialized in wooden nativity scenes, which are available for purchase year round.
6) Copenhagen, Denmark
Scandinavian countries generally excel at celebrations. I visited Denmark over Easter this year and loved its markets and cycling culture. With its colourful buildings and cobblestones, I am sure it is lovely at Christmas time as well.
5) Akureyri, Iceland
Nothing beats a Christmas shop that looks like a real life gingerbread house! Except perhaps a gingerbread house with the world’s largest Advent Calendar and a location geographically close to the Arctic Circle and, presumably, Santa’s workshop and the North Pole!
4) Oxford, England
The historical, charmingtown of Oxford and I go way back. (Or only a couple of years really, but it feels so familiar). I've lost count of the number of timesI've visited. Oxford knows a thing or two about markets with its Covered Market and various pop ups throughout the year. The charming buildings and bright lampposts lend themselves well for Christmas cheer.
3) Berlin, Germany
Though I visited Berlin in the spring, I did make a stop at the Christmas store. Germany is well-known for its Christmas markets, decorations, and traditions and I can only imagine how incredible it must be in the winter!
2) London, England
Oh, London. This city is so deeply intertwined with my identity and love of travel that it would be impossible to omit it from this list. Right now, Londoners are enjoying light up nights across the city. With a large amount of Christmas markets, window decorations, mince pies, Christmas themed high teas, traditional carol services, and holiday plays, there is an endless amount of Christmas cheer. And shhh don’t tell anyone, but I just might be making an appearance in London just before Christmas again this year!
1) Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
I firmly believe this is the most underrated town in Europe, especially at Christmastime. When I arrived by the castle, I was greeted to a view of the sun dipping behind the town. Little lights glowed across the market and town and I felt like I had walked into a Christmas fairy tale. The market featured a glowing bonfire, a nativity scene, cinnamon roasted nuts, hand carved toys, and traditional ornaments. This town is one of those places that just has a special magic to it!
Leave a comment below about other towns have you visited that had a special Christmas magic to them, no matter what time of year!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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