Charming Christmas getaways

Some cities are just better during the holidays. Whether you think Christmastime isn’t as fun without snow or you just like a place with phenomenal shops in which to check everyone off your gift list, we’ve put together a list of our top cities with that Christmas charm that just gets you in the mood every time.

For serious department store shopping, New York City can’t be beat. With the exchange rates working in our favour, your money goes a little bit further here. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get everything home in a suitcase, so you’ll have to be careful about just how much you buy. Top stores include Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman’s. The basic rule is if New Yorkers shop there, it’s got to be good.

Of course, there’s a lot more to do than just shop. You can see a Broadway show, ice skate in Rockefeller Center,  hang out at the Carlyle Hotel (maybe spot a celeb or two), indulge in frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, while away the hours at MOMA or the Empire State Building. Bottom line is the Big Apple is chalk full of choices! If you like variety, this is a do-not-miss destination.

On the other side of the pond, Paris can give New York City a serious run for the money. The City of Lights really comes alive during the Christmas season with top stores like Galeries Lafayette and Le Mon Marche’ going the extra mile with festive decorations and lights.

Walking down the Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe provides a wonderful photographic opportunity as the trees on either side of the thoroughfare are lit up with fairy lights. There is also a Christmas market nearby from Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde filled with goodies from near and far, yet still so very French. The French way of celebrating Christmas is a much more laid back affair, and Paris can be a refreshing alternative if you are more fond of holiday atmosphere.

What would Christmas be without a traditional German-style Christmas market? Two of the best are situated in two of the most charming towns in Europe: Salzburg, Austria and Cologne, Germany.

Salzburg, also known as the home to The Sound of Music film, is just as charming in the summer as it is in the winter. If you’re fortunate enough to visit when there is snow on the ground, it’s even better. In the centre of Salzburg, you’ll find their Christmas market packed with food stalls and local artisans. It’s not large, but you can easily spend a few hours eating and shopping your way from one end to the other.

Salzburg sits near the Flachau ski area, home to nearby ski areas of Obertauern, Skiwelt Amade, Gasteinertal and Großarl. Salzburg makes getting to these resorts easy with their Snow Shuttle that runs from December to March and costs 14 Euros pp. The Shuttle operators can wrangle ski passes and other excursions on your behalf.

Lastly, Cologne is a quite a gem. Germany’s fourth largest city plays host to a monster of a market that fills up almost every walkway and alley with food, crafts and decor stalls. There are even a few open air ice rinks if you’re keen to try. Cologne makes a stunning backdrop to a winter getaway with the market just being a bonus. Christmas really gets the star treatment in this city all December long.

The city centre is stunning with most views being dominated by the Gothic “Kölner Dom” Cathedral. You have your pick of museums, theatre, opera with the old combined with the modern. Cafes, bars, restaurants are plentiful, everything for a city dweller to relish and much more!

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