Travel: Best Christmas family getaways

Karen Beddow

Karen Beddow

BritMum’s travel guru Karen Beddow at Mini Travellers blog rounds-up the best festive travel experiences from cool Christmas markets to skiing trips for those yearning to get away from it all this yule and those planning to escape next year. 

Lots of us like to escape at Christmas, whether that be for a last-minute getaway or a planned longer break. Research even shows that it’s about now that people start to book a Christmas break for next year as they decide a Christmas at home is not for them.

So where do you, our readers, recommend?

Lapland

For the ultimate Christmas getaway, you can’t beat Lapland – Cathy at Mummytravels tells us that after going to Levi in Finnish Lapland last year with her daughter, it was as magical as she could have hoped. Quite apart from getting to meet Santa where her daughter stood open-mouthed as he produced her Christmas letter, the huge drifts of snow and icy branches were straight from a fairytale. They hopped into a sleigh drawn by reindeer, whizzed through the forests in a sled pulled by huskies, pulled on a balaclava and helmet to drive a snowmobile across the icy white landscape. Throw in elves, snowballs, gondola rides to their hotel by a ski slope and endless hot chocolate she has lost count of the number of times her daughter has asked to go back…
 
Lapland

Mummy Travels visits Lapland

 
If you are planning a Lapland trip then we, at Mini Travellers, also have a huge post on our 20 Top Tips for Visiting Lapland with Kids

Skiing

What could be more chilled than a family Christmas in the French Alps? Kirsty tells us they’ve swapped the UK drizzle for the alpine snow for several years now and no one ever votes to stay at home with turkey for Christmas. That doesn’t mean you have to forgo Christmas dinner! In La Clusaz they sent out for a takeaway fondue package which was delivered to their door in the evening. Last year in Meribel they spent the day doing some of the most extensive linked skiing on the planet, and then finished off Christmas with a pizza on the slopes. (Ski resorts stay open on Christmas day.) This year they will be scooping their son up from university and heading back to France again. And the best thing about it? NO brussel sprouts!    

New York

Celebrating Christmas in New York City has got to be on most people’s travel bucket list, right? Spending the most wonderful time of the year in one of the most iconic cities in the world is an unforgettable experience.

From Christmas lights to magical Christmas markets to iceskating and sledging in the famous Central Park and onto a traditional festive theatre show and indulging in the famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity’s 3 – there is something for everyone in New York at Christmas.  

Rome

Rome is a wonderful destination for a winter getaway in Europe. During the holiday season, Rome’s famous piazzas see the arrival of tall Christmas trees and nativity scenes and the city shops show off impressive window displays, adding a festive touch to the city’s many sightseeing opportunities. The most beautiful thing about Rome at Christmas is that here, you can find something for everyone: first time visitors can visit the city’s main landmarks (all open at this time), returning visitors can indulge in Rome’s wonderful Christmas food and there are many festive things to do in Rome with kids too, making it a perfect destination for the whole family. 

Piedmont

Il Magico Paese di Natale in Piedmont, Italy – there is so much for kids to do at this traditional Christmas festival and the setting is incredible for a winter holiday. Known as ‘the magical Christmas village’ in Govone, northern Italy. There we go blog’s favourite part was the Christmas market, which is basically an excuse to eat your way around the Piedmont region (and as you can probably tell from the video, we dutifully obliged).

Bruges

Bruges is the perfect place for a Christmas visit, it’s oh so festive and beautiful! The great thing about it is that it’s a short ferry ride over from the south and then just 45 minutes drive right to the heart of it. You could even do it in a day if you so wish but it makes for a perfect winter getaway. Sip on a velvety hot chocolate whilst watching the world go by from outside one of the chocolate box buildings in the main square. Or why not indulge in a steaming hot cider while wandering around the Christmas markets looking at little trinkets to take home with you. By night the city is lit by twinkling fairy lights which makes it feel so romantic if you’re looking for a couple’s mini break. Or why not visit the chocolate museum and take a boat tour if visiting as a family.
 
Bruges is very small and it’s perfect to explore by foot – make sure you wear comfy shoes and don’t forget your hats and gloves!

Zakopane

Holly recommends “a magical white Christmas in Zakopane in Poland. The town itself is a popular winter destination in Europe, situated at the base of the Tatra Mountains and only a short way from Krakow for easy transport. With traditional wooden homes topped with snow and decorated for the holiday season, you will feel like you stepped into a winter wonderland. Zakopane has Christmas markets and special events throughout December, making it a wonderful family-friendly getaway in Europe.

Edinburgh

Eastside Cottages are a stunning set of cottages set in the Pentland Hills to the West of Edinburgh.

They are the perfect place to cosy up and enjoy Christmas together with plenty of walks in the surrounding hills for after that big Christmas dinner. However it’s only a short journey from Edinburgh itself, so you can enjoy the Christmas markets and visit the Castle of Lights in the lead up to the big day.

It really is a magical location for Christmas in Scotland with both countryside and city.

Cotswolds

Bruern Cottages are set in the heart of the Cotswold countryside. It really does make the perfect Christmas retreat which is an easy drive from London.

Bruern is a small complex of 12 stunning cottages, each varying in size, with a style that can only be described as ‘English Country Living’ with log fires and four poster beds in every house. They are elegant, yet completely family friendly offering cots, highchairs, and stair gates in all their cottages.

Despite their elegance, Bruern boasts a host of other child friendly facilities including 3 outdoor play areas a play cabin, two storey playhouse, an array of ride-ons and bicycles for all sizes as well as a heated indoor swimming pool. Massages are also on offer – a true treat anytime of the year!

Northumberland

Sam recommends Christmas in a Northumberland Cottage.  They booked a cottage for Christmas a few years ago, it was only 40 minutes from their house but probably their most relaxed Christmas ever! They had castle views and direct beach access and there is something special about spending Christmas day in a hot tub.

Christmas Markets

The perfect Christmas getaway for many is a festive Christmas market trip. But what about if you are traveling with kids? In this guide Leona rounds up the best Christmas markets to visit for kids.

Sarah also suggests that river cruising is the perfect way to explore European Festive markets, with River Ships stopping in central city locations, families are able to walk off and explore Christmas Markets. This also allows you to embrace cultures throughout Europe, including visiting Santa in another country. 

UAE

Looking to head for a sunny escape at Christmas?  The UAE is an increasingly popular winter escape with its stunning weather and beautiful beaches.  But do they even celebrate Christmas in a Muslim country? Will you be getting your roast turkey and brussel sprouts on Christmas day?

Fear not! British expat Keri shares with us exactly how Christmas is celebrated in her adopted home of Abu Dhabi.  From carols in the desert to Christmas tree lightings and the inside scoop on where to get the best Christmas Day feast – delivered or indulgent brunches in 5 star hotels, with Santa on a camel, of course!

Goa

The palm-fringed beaches of Goa are twinkling with fairy lights over the Christmas season (the Portuguese religious influence is strong here) and if you’re looking for a tropical paradise for the festive season, Goa is a fantastic choice. Indeed expected temperatures hover around 30 degrees this time of year, and the sea is beautifully warm.

The beaches of this Indian coastline offer an eclectic mix catering to the raver, the yogi, the package sun-seeker and everything in between. So it can be a bit tricky finding the best beach to suit you. But if you’re looking for something quiet, away from the crowds, and especially if you’re visiting Goa with kids, I recommend Agonda.

Do note that you will be very lucky to find turkey and brussels sprouts for dinner. Instead it’s more likely to be grilled goat (a Christmas speciality here) or a good South Indian curry.

Morocco

If you’re thinking of the whole turkey-and-tree day with the horrors, why not think about Morocco for Christmas?

Out of season you can enjoy lower prices, warm days, and a definite lack of other tourists to allow you to explore the sights without the jostling.

Marrakech is a Muslim city, so December 25 and 26 are normal working days. There’ll be no sitting around the tree or eating mince pies – instead go shopping for slippers, lanterns & leather goods, stock up on spices in the souk and simply soak up the night atmosphere in Djemaa el-Fna square.

More Christmas travel ideas for families

 
 
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About Karen Beddow

Karen Beddow is the Editor of Mini Travellers, a multi award winning Family Travel blog. Karen left her full time role as a commercial litigation solicitor when her three children were then 6 and 5 (twins) to concentrate on her Family Travel blog so that she could spend more time with the children and travel a lot more. From camping to five star resorts, from Welsh beaches to African plains there isn’t many places the Mini Travellers won’t travel and they are determined to enjoy every moment of it. Mini Travellers is all about proving that travelling anywhere with kids is possible.