News / Would you like your Christmas served hot or cold? Booking.com shares a selection of festive destinations
Explore diverse climates for holiday getaways
The festive season is prime vacation time for families, couples, friends or solo travelers seeking an exciting trip away to celebrate the holidays. With over three-quarters (78%)* of global travelers reporting their motivation to travel is to boost their mood, it’s the ideal time for an incredible trip away to end the year on a high. Whether travelers want to turn up the heat or chase cooler climes this Christmas, we have delved into its top searched global destinations this festive season** to uncover a selection of the best festive getaways in differing climates around the world. From sunbathing on golden sands in Brazil to stepping into a winter wonderland in Poland, travelers can decide if they want Christmas served hot or cold this year.
Turn up the heat
Situated on the northeast coast of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, the best time to visit the tropical utopia of Cancún is between November and March when the rainy season has passed and the hurricane season is yet to begin. Cancún hosts its own local Christmas traditions and nine days before December 25, celebrates the festival of Las Posadas with carols, processions, and even a piñata to conclude the exciting event. Home to the vibrant Boulevard Kukulcan, a 15-mile (25km) sandbar buzzing with hotels, restaurants and bars overlooking the Caribbean sea, those seeking live beats to celebrate the festive season in style can head to one of the city’s many nightclubs to dance the night away. To discover the surrounding area’s history, an Amazing Chichen Itza and Cenote Mayan Experience Tour gives travelers the opportunity to visit one of Mexico’s most visited archeological sites and a treasured UNESCO World Heritage site. To make the most of the spectacular weather and sunny skies, book an Isla Mujeres Catamaran Cruise with Snorkelling to swim with colorful fish around the vibrant coral reefs.
Where to stay: For travelers seeking a luxurious stay on the beachfront, the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun - All Inclusive is an impressive resort and home to Cancún’s largest and most decorated Christmas tree. This striking stay has everything guests could want including six unbelievable dining options, a gym with a seaview to motivate fitness fanatics, and a luxe spa offering relaxing treatments and beauty services. A Booking.com Travel Proud property, this inclusive resort is welcoming for every traveler, and even organizes a kids club so parents can enjoy some ‘me time’ ahead of the Christmas festivities.
For those seeking warmer temperatures during the festive season, a trip to Chiang Mai with its balmy Thai climate and spicy cuisine could be just the ticket. Located in the atmospheric north, this laidback city hosts beautiful candlelit Christmas services and Santa Claus meet-and-greets, and travelers can relax and recharge against the backdrop of a peaceful valley. Turn up the heat with a Half-Day Chiang Mai Cooking Class: Make Your Own Thai Foods, ideal for the 61%*** of travelers who are interested in learning about the origins of a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies, and learn how to make pad thai and green curry on an organic farm. Chiang Mai is famed for its bustling markets that line its streets, crammed full of fresh ingredients, antiques and goods created by talented local craftsmen, and ideal ground for those in need of some last-minute Christmas shopping. Steeped in rich history, this sacred city can be explored on a Half-day Guided City Temples Tour where travelers will discover enchanting underground tunnels and monks performing ceremonies, and ascend the Doi Suthep Golden Temple to witness panoramic views of the city at sunset. For the ultimate relaxing Christmas, visitors can indulge in a traditional Thai massage to unwind.
Where to stay: Located just a short walk from the historic Wat Chedi Luang temple, Chala Number6 is a charming hotel with traditional and opulent decor that houses a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the lobby during December. Guests can bed down poolside in a comfy cabana with drinks service, or indulge in the hotel’s daily afternoon tea with delicious sweet treats and Thai delicacies to celebrate the festive season. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property offers free bike rental so guests can easily explore the city, and invests a percentage of revenue back into community and sustainability projects.
Maceió is the stunning capital and largest city of the coastal state of Alagoas, located on the picturesque shores of northeastern Brazil. With glorious turquoise waters meeting palm tree-lined shores, this destination is perfect for travelers seeking a sunny Christmas in a tropical paradise. Visitors can enjoy twinkling light installations and live Christmas concerts which the city hosts each December, featuring local songs and celebrations for travelers to uncover Brazilian culture. Beloved by locals and domestic travelers, Maceió is a hidden gem on the international map, yet its chilled vibe and exciting food and drink scene serving the freshest seafood will take Christmas to the next level. The city is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mundaú Lagoon and visitors can toast the festive season with a seafront drink where traditional seaboats, known as ‘jangadas,’ float along the water. Those seeking a more relaxed affair can lounge on the soft-sand beaches, while adrenaline seekers can experience Brazil’s exhilarating surf scene or partake in a plethora of watersports from diving to water skiing.
Where to stay: Situated just a few steps away from the idyllic Garça Torta Beach and a short drive to the center of Maceió, the Flor de Lis Exclusive Hotel offers a relaxed stay for a special Christmas in the South American heat. Laidback beach chic is the vibe, with rustic interiors, a spectacular garden and a cooling outdoor pool for guests to enjoy the climate. The restaurant at this Booking.com Travel Sustainable hotel serves delicious Brazilian and French cuisine from dishes such as crispy tempura shrimp to grilled steak for an untraditional but exquisite Christmas dinner, and uses locally sourced food to be more environmentally conscious.
For over half (56%)*** of travelers who want to use their vacation to chase cooler climes, and for those who just want to get into the festive spirit, New York is crisp, cold and very Christmassy come December. The scene of many beloved holiday movies treasured all over the world, the ‘city that never sleeps’ exudes festive vibes for those who prefer wrapping up in a winter coat over a swimsuit, and who want to ice skate in Central Park and mosey around Manhattan for a quintessential experience. The city is adorned with twinkling lights and a New York City Christmas Holiday Lights and Markets Walking Tour is highly recommended to see the Big Apple at its most magical. After browsing the Christmas markets, visitors can cozy up with a steaming cup of cocoa or a festive tipple in the countless bars and cafes in trendy neighborhoods from the West Village to Soho. The city bursts to life with festive and joyful shows in winter whether at the New York City Ballet or Radio City, or head to Broadway where travelers can book to see Moulin Rouge to enjoy a fantastic performance during the season.
Where to stay: Located in the heart of downtown Manhattan and just a short walk from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown offers guests a luxurious and comfortable Christmas stay. Guests can feast at onsite steak restaurant, CUT, by renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck which hosts a fantastic Christmas brunch, or nurture their well-being at the state-of-the-art lap pool, spa and gym, warming up from the east coast chill in the sauna or steam room. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property also offers tours organized by local guides so guests can enjoy the city through the eyes of a true New Yorker.
The Scandinavian capital of Denmark turns into a magical winter wonderland during the festive period as locals and visitors alike immerse themselves in ‘hygge,’ an untranslatable term symbolizing coziness, comfort and well-being. Travelers can indulge in some of the best food and drink Copenhagen has to offer, from crispy roast pork to traditional glögg (warm spiced red wine) and delicious open-faced sandwiches known as Smørrebrød. The atmospheric city experiences a brisk winter with a good chance of snow showers, and travelers can challenge themselves like the local Danes to a dip in the canal’s freezing freshwater followed by a well-deserved warming sauna, or step into a festive fairytale by admiring the grandeur of Denmark’s royal castles and palaces sprinkled with snow on a Christiansborg Palace Tour. For a fun family day out, book a Tivoli Gardens Admission or Unlimited Ride Ticket to experience the thrilling rides of the world’s second-oldest amusement park. During the holiday season, it transforms into a Christmas wonderland with snow-covered houses, a gingerbread castle and delicious food stalls, with fireworks and a dinner party on New Year’s Eve.
Where to stay: Located in the welcoming neighborhood of Vesterbro, Bohr Apartment Copenhagen offers a homely apartment to cozy up in. The stay features sleek and stylish Scandinavian interiors with panoramic views of the city and even a telescope for guests to take a closer look at the Christmas lights across the city. Free bicycle rental allows visitors to experience the city like a true local around its maze of safe cycling paths, while this Booking.com Travel Sustainable property also provides information on local ecosystems, heritage and culture, as well as visitor etiquette to ensure travelers enjoy a relaxing Christmas.
Located in southern Poland, the charming capital of Krakow takes Christmas to the next level. Undoubtedly the most important festival in the Polish calendar and, with a 50% chance of snow in December, it’s ideal for those seeking a cool Christmas. A huge Christmas market adorns the main square serving up delicious food including the local delicacy of roasted pork knuckles lathered in sweet honey, as well as stalls selling unique crafts and decorative gifts. Local artisans create intricate and beautiful miniatures of the festive scene that are featured in festive-dressed shop windows for travelers to admire. Visitors can explore the cobbled streets from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage for a special tour of the city. For a memorable and traditional evening, book a Kraków Dinner with Drinks and Polish Folk Show where, after being welcomed with a glass of cherry brandy, a three-course feast is served followed by regional songs and dances performed by a Cracovian folk ensemble in traditional costumes.
Where to stay: Situated in the heart of the picturesque old town, the Fragola Apartments Old Town offers accommodation perfect for a city break in Krakow with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the space with light. With homely and modern decor and some boasting a fabulous balcony, each apartment also features a flatscreen TV so guests can enjoy their favorite holiday movies from the comfort of a cozy sofa or bed. The apartments also have access to a fantastic sauna where travelers can warm up after embracing the crisp Polish air.
Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.
**This report looks at search sessions on Booking.com between 18 September 2023 and 1 October 2023, with check-in dates between 1 November 2023 and 31 January 2024. For comparison figures we looked at search sessions on Booking.com between 19 September 2022 and 2 October 2022, with check-in dates between 1 November 2022 and 31 January 2023.
***Travel Predictions 2024 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total, 27,730 respondents across 33 countries and territories were polled (including 1008 from Argentina, 1012 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 1001 from Belgium, 1002 from Brazil, 1009 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1002 from Colombia, 508 from Croatia, 504 from Denmark, 1011 from France, 1011 from Germany, 1016 from Hong Kong, 1004 from India, 510 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1014 from Italy, 1004 from Japan, 1009 from Mexico, 1014 from The Netherlands, 1015 from New Zealand, 500 from Portugal, 502 from Singapore, 1010 from South Korea, 1009 from Spain, 502 from Sweden, 507 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 1003 from Thailand, 502 from the UAE, 1007 from the UK, 1005 from the US and 1007 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2023.