Ah December, last month of the year and first month really deep in the winter, month of Christmas and nativity matters: a very busy month indeed! Everything seems to be accelerating before the year closes in an avalanche of family dinners and present wrap. Some of you might want to skip the craziness and take some early winter holidays. Good news: if you skip the festive period, December is also the month when you can find great deals on flights and package holidays for some super exciting destinations. Here are some of them.
1. Crete, Greece
If you think Greece is a summer destination, you have not yet been in Crete. With temperatures above 30°C as early as May, Crete is barely sufferable in the summer. This is great news for you: December is off season for Crete, which makes it a great time for cheap flights and accommodation, but still has its share of sunlight with longer days than most of Europe and temperatures between 12 and 20 °C. It is also one of the rare moments where you can see the Cretan countryside green!
In addition to these pleasant weather conditions, the Island at the southern tip of Europe is Greece in a nutshell. It offers incredible landscapes and uncountable archaeological and historical sights, all of which you can enjoy almost all by yourself in December when the usual tourists are home worrying about work deadlines!
Uruguay is one destination that deserves more press! Result of a feud between the continent’s two giants – Brazil and Argentina – this much smaller corner-shaped country benefits from a similarly breath-taking coast. Uruguay makes no fuss and keeps a spirit of authenticity, all the while offering gorgeous beaches and a party scene that has earned the country the reputation of “Ibiza of Latin America”. December, right before the real peak season in January, is ideal to enjoy the already great weather and better prices, just when the fun atmosphere slowly starts settling in.
For the party-goers: hit Punta del Este for the shopping and go on to José Ignacio for surfing, stopping in between at your favourite beach. For the more free-spirited and borderline hippies, let yourself fall in love with the fishing town of Punta del Diablo, its dirt roads and barely touched beaches bordered by colourful cabins.
3. Montreal, Canada
If you like your Decembers cold (and your conversations French), here is a special pick for you. Ever charming Montreal gets hit hard by the cold in the winter, but the city certainly knows its way around it. The “Underground City” – wrongfully called so since most of it is covered but not actually under the ground – allows to visit the city without stepping outside. The multi-level network offers numerous connections between different areas of Montreal through more than 30km of tunnels spread between shopping malls, hotels, concert halls, metro stations, offices etc. In the “Underground City” you can make discoveries such as art galleries and a sinking church repurposed as a shopping mall.
If this is all making you a bit claustrophobic, note that December is also a big cultural season for Montreal: between the Christmas festivities, ice skating, light shows, concerts, fairs, there might even be too much to do at this time of year! Not to forget that December is the month with the lowest hotel and accommodation prices in the biggest city of Quebec.
4. Mexico City, Mexico
Although December is considered a cold month in Mexico because temperatures drop at night – still reaching 25°C during the day – it might be one of the best time to visit the Mexican capital. The December-January period is the one with the lowest price to fly in and rent accommodation, and it is probably the only time you can visit the many monuments without losing your travel companions in the hordes of tourists. Plus, there is simply too much discovery to do here to be stopped by the overly warm weather you can suffer from any other period in the year.
As a strongly catholic country and city, Mexico has a lot of Christmas-related events to offer this month, such as Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12th or Christmas Posadas from December 15th to 24th. You can also watch a representation of the Nutcracker in the Auditorio Nacional (remember to book your tickets way ahead) or admire the beautiful light mosaics in the main square!
If you are not looking to avoid the crowds but on the contrary seek the true summer experience right in the middle of the winter, come to Thailand in December for the full beach party atmosphere. The weather is simply perfect, and it is also one of the rare moments of the year when you can actually enjoy the company of local tourists. You can give in to the crazy parties, maybe even catch a full-moon festival if you are there at the right time, or opt for a quieter option and go hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Thailand is also a great place to fully feel the Christmas spirit without all the wintery hazards! The holidays have become really popular in this otherwise Buddhist country and are celebrated mainly the occidental way. How does a nice traditional Christmas dinner after a day at the beach sound? Perfect, we thought so too.