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Christmas Top 10 of Best Places to Visit


It's Christmas time! When on December the 25th, we will be celebrate this great Christian Holiday - the birth of Jesus Christ. If you have decided to make a trip during Christmas Holidays - is a good time to discover countries and join to celebrations!

Christmas Nativity scenes - top places to visit on ChristmasChristmas Nativity Scenes | Top places to visit on Christmas. Image by © Jeff Weese / CC BY 2.0

Here are our list of Top 10 Best Travel Destinations which will be interesting to visit while traveling on Christmas. Every country has its own traditions of celebrating along with a common style of decorations and holiday atmosphere, because it is well known that on Xmas every city looks especially festively and attractive, like in a fairy tale!

1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna or cultural capital of Europe, which is the second name of Vienna, cozy and comfortable, this city is just perfect for Christmas days. It saves the traditions, full of folk and romantic events. The city is well decorated with Xmas lights and trees. The main Christmas Tree of Vienna is erected in front of the townhall.

The famous Christmas markets, which are very popular in Austria and Germany, are another required part of the Holiday. The biggest one, "Christkindlmarkt", is open at Rathausplatz, between Rathaus (city hall) and Burgtheater, - a place with the aroma of freshly baked biscuits and Pine tree needles. Here you can buy any present or gift, handmade jobs, sweets and toys. Also, worth to visit the Christmas Market in front of the famous and beautiful Schonbrunn castle.

"Gluhwein" (mulled wine) -is another famous Viennese attribute for winter. Ice skating in front of the City Hall (Rathaus) on Rathausplatz will be unforgettable time spending for whole family. And, of course, visit St. Stephen's Cathedral at the heart of Vienna, at Stephansplatz.

Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria (Rathaus Christkindlmarkt)-Top 10 places to visit on Christmas -Travel Europe GuideChristmas market in Vienna (Rathaus Christkindlmarkt), Austria. Image by © Tsui / CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Paris, France

Paris - the city of Romance, is especially beautiful during Christmas holidays. Just imagine, the Elysian fields covered with a thousand lights, Triumphal Arch is shining with a special illumination, and of course the Eiffel Tower, wearing with a holiday lights, is just beautiful ! Ice rinks are open for free around all Paris with 4-5 euro charge for skates (free for kids).

Disneyland Paris will be interesting for kids and their parents across December, with Christmas programmes and markets. Visiting Christmas market is a great winter stroll with a chance of get an interesting Gifts which are handmade Presents, traditional foodstuff, etc. Visit Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées - the biggest one in Paris, open this year from November 11th till January the 2d.

3. New York, United States

In New York you will find everything you are looking for on Chrismas - place for your Xmas Dinner, hundreds of Events and Performances, or Shopping. Everyone has seen in a photo or in a movie the Christmas tree of the Big Apple city. And it is one of the the most famous and beautiful Xmas trees, which is located in New York, in the Rockefeller Center Plaza, also known as the Capital of NYC Christmas.

Fantastic skating, which is lying right under the Tree, is available for around $30. A bit cheaper skating at the Central Park, about for $17. Another site to see is the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden which is about 150 miniatures of NY landmarks. At Lincoln Center will be interesting to watch The Nutcracker in the performance of the New York City Ballet (November 28, 2014 - January 3, 2015)

Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center Plaza, New York -Top 10 places to visit on Christmas-Travel Europe GuideChristmas Tree in New York, Rockefeller Center Plaza, US.

4. London, Great Britain

London is a perfect "Christmas city", with a lot of decorations, lights, Christmas trees, Christmas markets and ice rinks. Famous British traditions! Start your observation from Trafalgar Square, and you will find there a beautiful Christmas Tree, which is an every year present from Norway, over 20 meters high and 50-60 years old.

Ice skating - is a tradition for London, the ice rinks appears all over the city. Visit one, near London Eye, open daily on December from 10am to 9pm; also, Ice Rink at Somerset House - the most glamorous in London, set in the spectacular 18th century courtyard; and Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink on banks of the River Thames.
Another Christmas tradition in London is the Nutcracker for over 50 years in the English National Ballet based at Markova House in South Kensington.

Christmas in LondonChristmas in London (Trafalgar Square), UK. Image by © David Iliff / CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Rome, Italy

If you are planning your trip on Christmas in Europe, write down to your list the capital of Italy. The Eternal City will welcome you with lots of Decorations and Markets. Go to saint Peter's Square for the big Christmas Tree erected every year, which is always a gift of some country to Pope's capital and the whole Rome. And every year it is a huge, beautiful tree!

Also worth to visit the famous square of Piazza Navona, where starting from December is placed a huge Christmas market. Any hand-made and other gifts you will find here, with lots of sweets and toys. Near the church of St. Angelo you will find nice ice rink - open daily from 10am and till midnight.

6. Kiev, Ukraine

Almost always with lots of Snow, these days the center of the Ukrainian capital turns into the beautiful fairy tale, with a Colorful Illumination everywhere, Christmas trees, Snow and Ice Rinks. While travelling in Kiev, you could see one of the nicest Cristmas Tree in Europe which will be on the Sophiivska (Sophia) Square. Fluffy 20 meters tree, brought from the mountains of western Ukraine will be set from 16 December as a central part of holiday composition - Christmas Village with Christmas Maret, Santa House, Ice Rink, gingerbread houses and impressive golden saint Sophia Cathedral on the background. The theme in 2014 is Homeliness on Christmas.

Regardless that Christmas in Ukraine celebrates on two weeks later, on January the 7th according to the Julian Calendar, starting from early December the city is full of Xmas Decorations.

Traditions of celebration Christmas in Ukraine goes to centuries ago, and they are full of dancing and folk music. Kreschatik -the main street of Kiev, is shining with Holidays lights, as well as the Independent Square and they are free from cars for weekends from morning till 22:00. Also, nice Ice Rink is planning to be set on Besarabska square, at the Arena mall center.

Christmas Tree in Kiev, Ukraine, Independent Square -Top 10 places to visit on Christmas-Travel Europe GuideChristmas Tree in Kiev (Independent Square in 2012), Ukraine. Image by © zn.ua / All rights reserved.

I have to note that despite of russian military aggression this year in the parts of two Ukrainian eastern regions, most of the country, including Kiev, is safe for traveling.

Necessarily visit the Kiev Cathedral (of saint Vladimir) at the Vladimirska Street, and mentioned above the UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous Saint Sophia Cathedral, which has recently celebrated its one thousand anniversary.

7. Athens, Greece

Christmas in Athens is a big set of festive events throughout all city. Hundreds of artists and volunteers made a Holiday season unforgettable, and especially magic for kids. Festivals continues for 30 days and evenings on the streets and squares of Athens, among them the central Syntagma, Kotzia and Klauthmonos squares. Singers and dancers, musicians and actors will made an event really colorful!

"At 3 main squares, in 17 neighborhoods and at 11 cultural centers, with 10 events and 700 artists for 30 days and 30 nights" - these are "Christmas in Athens" usual programme, according to organizers. Every festival is going to be different and aimed to represent the face of Athens, with a great thousand-year history, but modern and dynamic.

Especially wonderfully looks, this Holiday time, a dozen of "Natural" Christmas Trees, which are gorgeous Orange and Mandarine Trees - they looked fantastic!

8. Madrid, Spain

The capital of Spain is another fine place for Christmas holidays. Madrid is beautifully decorated, with a set of Christmas markets and Events for kids and adults. The holiday begins on December 15th, with a show in Plaza de Oriente (which is Metro Opera). Covered in Christmas lights, the city invites to numerous Xmas markets, and the biggest one is on Plaza Mayor, which opens in late 20s of November.

From December 5 until January the 8th throughout the city you can see and take part in the Nativity Scenes, or in Spanish - "Belenes". The biggest Belenes will be at the Centro de Turismo de Colon, also at The Basilica Pontificia de San Miguel, and at Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos in Moratalaz. Visit the Madrid Cathedral (Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena) near the royal palace, a perfect place for prays.

Also, go to Ice Rink at the The Buen Retiro Park - the biggest in Madrid, close to the Puerta de Alcala and not far from the Prado Museum. Beautiful and for royals only in the past, now Retiro park is public and it is a good place to rest and enjoy your Christmas vacation in Madrid!

9. Montreal, Canada

This Canadian city, which is one of the most comfortable cities for living, has its own unique Christmas offers. The lighting of the main Christmas tree, on Place Ville-Marie, is the beginning of the Holiday season in Montreal. The tree is artificial, with almost 20 meters in height and decorated with 13,000 lights. Christmas Nativity Scenes could be seen at St. Joseph's Oratory, which is a tradition since 1981.

Interesting to visit an annual Christmas parades - Parade de Noel Anjou and Santa Claus Parade(Defile du Pere Noel). Also, the Canadian Pacific Railways offers You to be a "Passenger" on the special Christmas Train aka Holiday Train.

10. Sydney, Australia / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This position shares already two cities - Rio de Janeiro and Sydney - both with a set of traditional celebrations and both has Summer during December. Christmas without snow is an exotic variant of celebration for most people. What snow? - there is Summer in Australia and Brazil! Summer and the Christmas time!

[Sydney]
Some snow can be found, though,- it's Sydney stores dressed up for Christmas with the white colors! Santa on the Beach, Seafood instead of traditional Chicken - that is the Cristmas in Sydney! Despite of the warm weather, the streets are decorated nicely, with a traditional, for western world, Xmas lights and illumination. Sydney's city gardens turns to the colors of Xmas - a lot of red blooming flowers among the green leafs. Especially symbolic looks the giant Christmas Tree in the center of Sydney. And it isn't a Palm or something - it's a traditional Christmas Tree with a hundreds of golden balls and a star on the top.

[Rio de Janeiro]
This city attracts tourists with its beautiful and the biggest in the world floating Christmas Tree is the place definitely worth to see. It placed at Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. Near, atop Corcovado mountain, "hovers in the air" the statue of Jesus Christ(Cristo Redentor), illuminated with a special Xmas lights, looks especially magically in the evening. To feel the spirit of the Chrismas in Rio - visit The Old Cathedral of Rio (Praca XV square) or modern styled Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, where Nativity Scenes could be seen.

That's it! Enjoy Christmas wherever you are! On a trip to one of our top 10 Xmas Destinations or travelling your country or just walking in your city!

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays!!!

© Alexander Theocharis
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