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With so many magical places to visit in winter, it can be difficult narrowing down the best White Christmas destinations around the world.
There are so many beautiful places that snow in December. There’s a good chance you will want to experience more than one of these places with the family, so start planning your next few white Christmas holidays!
THE BEST WHITE CHRISTMAS DESTINATIONS FOR 2019
Knowing where to go for a white Christmas can be a big decision. So much of the northern hemisphere becomes a snowy wonderland during December. For this reason, it’s near impossible to name the best place for a white Christmas.
Instead, with the help of some fellow travel writers and their personal experiences, we have put together some of the most incredible destinations around the world for a Christmas with snow.
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When considering countries with snow in December, Europe has many that come to mind. Especially those within the Arctic Circle. There’s no doubt about it, you have endless options for a White Christmas in Europe.
From snow-capped mountains, sleigh rides and Christmas markets, a European Christmas is always a magical experience. Here are some of the best snowy places in Europe:
While surrounded in breathtaking scenery all year round, there is something extra special about seeing snow-capped mountains. Zakopane is situated at the base of the Tatra Mountains, giving you plenty of opportunity for sightseeing and day trips.
For kids, there is plenty to see and do in Zakopane, such as skiing or snowboarding lessons. Or grab a toboggan and have a blast sliding down the hill near the Mt Gubawoka ticket office. Make sure you take the funicular up the top for great views and delicious local food.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to skip the swimming – visit Chocholow Thermal Baths and have fun on water slides and heated thermal pools. With incredible mountain views, this is fun for the whole family.
For accommodation, we recommend finding a private home rental on Airbnb in the centre of Zakopane so you can enjoy a family Christmas in a home away from home.
The official town of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, is the ultimate city to spend a white Christmas. As a city completely dedicated to all things Santa, snow, reindeer, huskies and the holidays, you can’t possibly get into the holiday spirit any more than in Rovaniemi.
Santa Claus Holiday Village, is the top accommodation for visitors, particularly families. The village has hundreds of little houses for guests, restaurants on-site, a husky park, and reindeer that pull sleighs. The arctic circle also runs through the village and makes for a great photo opportunity.
There is an abundance of activities to do in and around Rovaniemi as well. We did Lapland with kids and we made sure to do the husky and reindeer rides, which are among the most popular excursions for visitors.
These excursions can be booked online beforehand or at several hotels during your trip. The excursions are especially popular during the holiday season so it is best to book in advance.
Other activities such as ice fishing, saunas, chasing northern lights, snowmobiling and ski excursions are also available. No matter what you choose to do, make sure you are properly dressed for cold weather. Time your activities with the sun, as the days are much shorter in the wintertime, though the sunsets are quite amazing.
-Diana from The Elusive Family
Oulanka National Park, Finland
Finland is the perfect location for Christmas with kids. In the far north, on the border with Russia, near Kuusamo is a small national park called Oulanka. From here you can explore a frozen lake on skis or snowshoe through the forest looking for elk on your way to a massive frozen waterfall.
At night the northern lights can be seen dancing across the sky above a traditional snow shelter.
Basecamp Oulanka is a small hotel within the national park on the shores of the lake. Just a short walk through the woods takes you to an old mill that is surrounded by snow with rapids thundering over the rocks below.
The hotel organises activities and has all the equipment you need so you don’t need to spend hours shopping for single-use clothing. They also make Christmas magical for children.
On Christmas Eve the children make gingerbread cookies and paper decorations before going out in the dark to choose their tree, cutting it down (legally and under supervision) and dragging it through the snow back to the hotel and decorating it ready for the feast on Christmas Day.
The landscape, activities and hotel really do make it a magical Christmas.
-Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Zermatt in Switzerland is the best place to go for families who are dreaming of a white Christmas. A kid-friendly destination, there are many activities in store for you and your loved ones at the Matterhorn, like skiing, ice skating, and sledding.
When it gets dark, hop on a horse and carriage to see the small town light up like a Winter Wonderland town in a snow globe.
It rarely rains in the lovely town of Zermatt, however, when it does, you will find many indoor activities to keep your children busy. You can take them to indoor swimming pools and museums. Within the town, you will also find facilities for indoor golf and an escape room.
For a sweet, worry-free family vacation, book your stay at the Hotel Mont Cervin Palace. It’s equipped with a Kids’ Club for ages 3 to 8, an indoor heated pool, and suites for big families.
-Karolina from Lazy Travel Blog
Bettmeralp in the Valais region of Switzerland has to be one of the best places to have a white Christmas with kids – young or old. Christmas with our three boys was full of festive Swiss charm and special memories.
At an altitude of 2000 metres, you can almost guarantee a white Christmas in Bettmeralp. This magical winter wonderland in the swiss alps is incredibly family-friendly. Bettmeralp can only be reached by cable car. Therefore, being car-free means you can easily ski to the local supermarket and pull kids along on toboggans without worrying about traffic.
Picture perfect Alpine cabins set the scene for all types of winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoe walking. There are dedicated kids ski slopes and family lessons available. All equipment can be hired at the local ski shop which is open over Christmas – even on Christmas day.
There is plenty of ski-in/out chalets for rent or hotels to stay in – but we would recommend booking early (maybe a year ahead) to get the best deals over the Christmas period.
Bettmeralp makes for the perfect family Christmas. One that you will remember long after the snow has melted and your children have grown.
-Shelley from Life Journey 4 Two
Copenhagen is a great location for a white Christmas. While the snow isn’t always heavy, there are many ways to make it a while Christmas in the Danish capital.
The Christmas markets in Copenhagen are fantastic. My personal favourite is at Byretten Nytorv (City Court Square). One of the best ways to spend a chilly afternoon is at a Copenhagen Christmas Market sipping glogg. Gløgg is a Scandinavian mulled wine with raisins and almonds stirred in. After finishing the drink, you’re left with a warm and delightful snack. It’s also served without alcohol for a warm, kid-friendly beverage.
Once you’ve walked through the Christmas Markets head to Tivoli Gardens. It’s a must-see Christmas attraction in Copenhagen. They have their own Christmas Market and their year-round rides are running with festive holiday decorations. In case there is no real snow, Tivoli always has decoration-snow to ensure you get the look of a white Christmas.
If you’re looking for some guaranteed real snow, head to CopenHill. Set to open October 2019, CopenHill is Denmark’s first indoor ski slope. Head there for the only real skiing in Denmark or at least pop in for some apres-ski gløgg.
Denmark has a lot to offer all year long, but there’s just something magical about Copenhagen at Christmas.
-Derek from Everything Copenhagen
St Petersburg, Russia
What makes this imperial city stand apart during Christmas is the wonderful atmosphere with plenty of things to do in St. Petersburg Russia with kids.
The city is beautiful in the snow as locals prepare to celebrate the festive season. Think spiced glintwein, troika rides, and snow-capped domes.
Considered the cultural capital of the country, it has a long history, dating back to the early 1700s and it has gained a multitude of artistic and architectural treasures. There are also plenty of outdoor activities, cultural events, and Russian celebrations during this time.
If it’s too cold to be outside, there’s still a lot to keep you busy indoors. No visit to the city is complete without a stop at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace, housing one of the world’s largest collection of historic items.
–Rai from A Rai of Light
Paris at Christmas time is a great place to spend with kids. It is not uncommon to see snow in Paris during the winter months and although it is not as spectacular as in other places in Northern Europe it gives cool photo opportunities with the main Paris tourist attractions in the background.
What to do in Paris during Christmas with kids? Visit the Christmas Markets and taste some yummy delicacies typical of the holidays. Admire the Chrismas lights and decorations, places like Vendome Square or Montmartre have beautiful Christmas trees.
Visit vintage funfairs exceptionally open for the Christmas holidays or enjoy ice skating on the Eiffel Tower or under the beautiful glass cupola of Grand Palais.
Do you want to leave the hassle of the city for one day or two? Disneyland Paris is already preparing its awesome Disney White Christmas and the snowy peaks of the French Alps are not far from Pars, giving you plenty of opportunity for some wonderful Paris day trips.
Find family-friendly Paris accommodation for your white Christmas in France.
-Elisa from World in Paris
Les Arcs, France
Les Arcs is part of the Paradiski ski area, the second-largest ski resort in the world. Accessible from Lyon and Geneva, the resort is unique as it has several sites ranging from 1600-2000 metres all in one destination.
For those looking for a white Christmas, Les Arcs is perfect. There’s plenty going on to keep the whole family happy, and each of the 5 villages holds apres ski events. Everything from firework displays, sledge rides, snowman building contests, and reindeer visits. There is a Christmas Marshmallow party, followed by a street parade and the opportunity to visit an igloo ice bar.
The most unique event, however, has to be the traditional torchlit descent. Up to 100 children ski down the floodlit slopes led by instructors to meet Santa Claus at the bottom. For the parents, expect hot chocolate, vin chaud (mulled wine), candy canes and gingerbread whilst you wait for your excited children to return.
If one Santa visit isn’t enough, get in contact with the tourist office and they may even be able to arrange for Father Christmas to visit you at your hotel!
For great accommodation in Les Arcs, try The new Club Med Les Arcs.
– Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
I still remember the first time I played with the snow. Armed with a bag instead of a sled, I slid for hours on a hill with my brothers. Well, all the fun of that day is not comparable to what I felt the first time I was in the French Alps as a teenager. Because before me a new world opened – snowboarding.
Be it to slide with a sled, ice skating, improve your skiing and snowboarding skills, explore snowshoe mountain routes, spend the afternoon in one of the thermal centres, or try some of the world’s most acclaimed cuisines; Morzine is the ideal destination for the whole family.
At the foot of the great ski area of Les Portes du Soleil, with ski resorts in both France and Switzerland, this town is full of dreamy and cozy Alpine chalets to spend some quality time with your family next Christmas. !
-Inma from A World To Travel
Courmayeur, in the Italian Alps, is the perfect place to spend Christmas if you want to be surrounded by snow and picture-postcard alpine views. It is also an outdoor enthusiasts paradise.
If you would like to introduce your children to skiing for the first time, the slopes around Courmayeur would be a great choice. There are lots of gentle, easy runs and they are kept in pristine condition. There are plenty of restaurants on and off the slopes, and a great ski school too.
Even if you don’t plan to ski, there will be lots to keep the kids entertained. You could take them snowshoeing or fat biking through beautiful Val Ferret, ice skating in an Olympic-sized rink, or up the amazing rotating Skyway Monte Bianco Cable Car for views of Mont Blanc.
On Christmas Eve in the village square, Rhémy de Noel, Courmayeur’s very own Santa Claus, will visit, and there is a fantastic atmosphere with lots of additional events organized.
There is plenty to do in the surrounding area too. You could head through to nearby Chamonix to go dog sledding, or head visit the region’s capital, Aosta. During December there is a large Christmas market in the grounds of the ruined Roman Amphitheatre.
Book your Courmayeur accommodation early to avoid missing out.
-Gemma from A Girl & Her Dog On The Road
Budapest is one of the most colourful cities in Central Europe that offers a large variety of activities for all ages. The winter season around Christmas is one of the best times to visit since this is when apart from the usual things to do in Budapest there are a lot of interesting activities only available in the Christmas period.
Let’s start with one of the all-year activities, the world-famous thermal baths in Budapest. They are great during the whole year, but in winter you can often enjoy the warm pools with snow outside them. You can play snowballs and then warm yourself up in the thermal water. Sounds great?
Kids also love the City Ice Rink, where you can ice-skate on the pond that freezes during the wintertime. The rink is situated in one of the loveliest areas of Budapest, in the City Park, just next to Vajdahunyad Castle.
Although you can have a lot of fun in Budapest in winter, sometimes you will need something to warm you up. For the adults, mulled wine is the best option that is sold in many places, and is very typical to drink it in this part of Europe, while for the kids there are many places with great hot chocolate.
Finally, you shouldn’t leave Budapest without strolling in the main Christmas Market in Vörösmarty Square. Although it has become quite touristic recently, you can still enjoy the atmosphere with beautiful Christmas lights and great food.
If you look for a really fascinating hotel in Budapest, don’t miss out on the Aria Hotel near the Basilica, which was recently voted as one of the most beautiful hotels in Europe.
-Gábor from Surfing the Planet
Families love visiting Austria for Christmas ski holidays. The village of Alpbach near Innsbruck is especially popular among those looking for a magical white Christmas in a quaint Alpine village atmosphere.
Alpbach has been named the prettiest village in Austria on more than one occasion. One of the reasons is that all buildings must be constructed in the same style with stone at the bottom and wood at the top.
Together with a mountain backdrop and festive Christmas decorations, Alpbach is a winter wonderland at Christmas.
Even if there’s no fresh snow down in the village, families are guaranteed a white Christmas on the slopes of the Ski Jewel Alpbachtal Wildschönau. There are a variety of blue and red runs to keep all members of the family happy.
After a day on the slopes, you’ll return to a village decorated in Christmas lights. Imagine sipping on a hot drink while listening to local musicians playing Christmas carols, going on a hike by torchlight, or attending Christmas Eve Mass in the church at the centre of the village.
I can recommend the Gasthaus Jakober for families travelling on a budget. The rooms are basic, but clean and spacious. The best part is that it’s right in the centre of the village, with an excellent breakfast being served in the Pizzeria Messner.
–Linda from Travel Tyrol
Kiruna, Sweden is a fantastic destination for Christmas, especially with kids. You can pretty much guarantee snow – after all, this is where they build the world-famous Ice Hotel every year!
It’s also one of the best places in Europe where you can see the Northern Lights. Despite the snowfall, the unique location of Kiruna means it has a surprisingly high number of clear nights- resulting in more chances to see the Aurora twinkling overhead.
There are many other activities to do in Kiruna which kids will love- husky sledding, snowmobiling and a visit to a nearby Sky station, where a cable car takes you up a mountain to an observation lounge and restaurant.
Kiruna also isn’t far from the home of Santa Claus in Lapland, so you can be sure that the festive season is well celebrated. Expect beautiful decorations, trees everywhere and plenty of opportunities to enjoy some warm, spiced, festive wine.
-Kat from Wandering Bird
Christmas was always a white holiday for me all my childhood. I couldn’t imagine a Christmas without snow, until I got older and started to travel. And I want also my kids to have beautiful memories about this time of year, so we either spend Christmas at home, in Bucharest or at our relatives, in Transylvania.
Surrounded by mountains, Transylvania is usually covered in snow in December. The idyllic landscape with peasant houses buried under the heavy snow and smoke coming out their chimneys invite you to warm up in front of their fireplaces.
In Romania, people associate this holiday with a decorated Christmas tree and a table full of traditional dishes. On Christmas Eve, children are singing carols from house to house to receive candies, apples or even money.
The day of Christmas is for visiting family and friends, for receiving gifts and for playing outside, in the snow.
Transylvania is a region where children and adults can experience old traditions. And the guesthouses usually include these traditions in their Christmas holiday packages, so you can see them even if you don’t have relatives in the area.
Andorra is a microstate and the sixth smallest nation in Europe. Despite its small size, there is a lot to do, and it is a real paradise for outdoor lovers. During Christmas, the country turns into a winter wonderland. Snow covers the mountains and Christmas decorations appear.
Skiing in Andorra is a very popular activity and provides entertainment for the whole family. Grandvalira ski resort has good slopes for beginners and The Mon(t) Magic Program is specifically designed for children who are learning to ski.
Of course, you can also go tubing, ice skating and even mushing in the mountains.
But probably the most fun thing for the children during Christmas is a local tradition. You can find nativity scenes in most towns. In the nativity, children have to spot “The Caganer” for good luck.
The Caganer means “The Shitter”. This figure wears a traditional Catalan red cap and has his trousers down, showing a bare backside. This sight is always very amusing for small children.
-Eniko from Travel Hacker Girl
Other Places To Spend A White Christmas In Europe
There is no end to beautiful winter cities for Christmas in Europe. Pretty much everywhere you go there is a high chance of experiencing snow during Christmas. Plus they have some of the best Christmas markets in the world!
Here are some other favourites of ours of where to spend Christmas day in Europe:
A white Christmas in the USA has been high on my dream holiday list for a few years and one that we hope to have in the next couple of years. I think Christmas movies are partly to blame for this. There are many options in North America for a memorable winter Christmas. Not just in the USA.
Big White, Canada
Big White is nestled in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada. It is a winter wonderland that brings out the magic of Christmas. Although Big White is mostly knowing for their world-class downhill ski resort there is much more to enjoy in the snow here to help celebrate a white Christmas.
They have Canada’s highest outdoor skating rink, tube riding, ice climbing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and fat biking.
Almost anything you can imagine to do in the snow can be done at Big White and your family will have no shortage of ways to help celebrate a white Christmas. Including a horse-drawn sleigh ride with hot cocoa, not too much can get more Christmasy than that!
They also have skiing with Santa and extra special events going on during the week of Christmas including a kids’ carnival with games, cotton candy and popcorn at their main building.
The resort and hotels are all decorated with Christmas lights that sparkle against the snow. Our kids favourite is watching the fireworks go off down by the skating rink surrounding a warm fire and roasting marshmallows.
If you are looking for a place that lets you enjoy all the aspects of being somewhere for a white Christmas, Big White has it covered.
-Nicole from The Passport Kids
When looking for the best white Christmas destinations with your family, look no further than Quebec City, Canada. This quaint town is full of old-world charm and turns into a winter wonderland once snow falls on the ground.
Watch the faces of your children light up as you walk through the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec. Located along the St Lawerence River, the winding roads of shops are decorated in holiday garland and glow with thousands of Christmas lights at night.
For quick day trips to enjoy the snow, head south to test your family’s skills dog sledding through the Quebec forest at Chenil la Poursuite. Or if you’re a family of skiers, check out the Village Vacances Valcartier for ski hills, snow tubing and one of the few Ice Hotels in the world!
Make sure your home base in Quebec City is accessible to all the city has to offer. As one of the most Instagrammed hotels in the world, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in the centre of Old Quebec City will make you feel like you’re staying in a castle. With its own toboggan slide, it’s the perfect hotel to keep the kids entertained on even the coldest days.
-Laura from Adrift Aesthetics
North Pole, Alaska
If you’ve never been to Alaska, you’d think that the only thing you could get here is freezing digits and darkness. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas destination with kids, North Pole, Alaska offers that and so much more.
Here, you’ll find the most elaborate Santa Claus House complete with all things Christmas and everything in-between. And yes, Santa and Mrs. Claus are on duty all-year-round. The little ones will have a blast exploring the goodness available here.
A short distance from the Santa Claus House is the Antler Academy (of Flying & Reindeer Games) with live reindeer that the entire family will love.
And if that’s not enough, Fairbanks and North Pole, Alaska are located in the auroral oval, a prime location to see the Northern Lights. A short drive to Pioneer Park will leave you engulfed in a winter wonderland.
Once you’re done taking it all in, you’ll need somewhere to rest your head. My recommendation is Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. Opt for an Alaskan inspired room or a cozy cabin overlooking the Chena River and a chance to see the awe-inspiring reflection of the aurora borealis on the river. Weather permitting, you might be able to stand on the frozen river too!
-Louisa from La Passion Voutee
Check out these things to do in Seward Alaska in case you have time to explore beyond the North Pole
Salt Lake City, USA
Salt Lake City is a fantastic place to spend Christmas this year. It has all of the perks of city life while surrounded by mountains. You can be at some of the best skiing in the world within 30 minutes of leaving the airport.
If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and get some great skiing in, check out Solitude Resort. You can stay right at their base village and on Christmas day, and the kids can get out and ski with Santa.
Downtown Salt Lake is close to just about everything, and a trip there would not be complete without seeing the iconic Christmas lights at Temple Square and the candy displays across the street at City Creek.
For the perfect night out with the kids, take the whole family to see Ballet West perform The Nutcracker and finish off the night with the best hot chocolate ever at Hatch Family Chocolates.
Salt Lake City is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the Western United States, and since it’s so easy to head up to the mountains, you’ll surely have a White Christmas there.
-Jessica from Bring The Kids
Other Places to Spend Christmas in USA
Every Christmas movie creates a sense of wanderlust at the thought of spending a white Christmas in Chicago or New York city. While you may be lucky enough to get snow during December in these beautiful cities, it isn’t guaranteed.
Yet that’s no reason to skip them from the list. The cities are alive with festive events and Christmas spirit during December, even if they aren’t covered in inches of snow. Christmas and New Years Eve in New York, Chicago or New Jersey would be holidays well spent.
Another popular Christmas destination in the USA is Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with some amazing mountain resorts to stay.
REST OF WORLD
When considering where to have a white Christmas, it’s usually images of Europe or North America that come to mind. However, there are some perfect white Christmas destinations outside of these continents as well!
Srinagar, also known as paradise on Earth is one of the most beautiful places in India. Snow-capped mountains, the shikara ride at Dal Lake, the floating markets, the Gondola ride of Gulmarg, the Betab Valley, living in a houseboat include some of the attractions that Srinagar has to offer.
A Christmas celebration in Srinagar isn’t like what you see in movies. It is peaceful, calm and serene and happens under the blanket of snow. A special prayer takes place at 110 years old St Mary’s Church where snow is believed to be a good omen. People from all over India come to attend this Prayer.
Skiing at Gulmarg is one of the best activities for kids. Apart from that pony rides, shikara rides and many fun activities to indulge and satisfy your adrenaline.
Snow festival also takes place, in which you can participate in snow cycling, ice skating rink and sledge racing during the day. At night you can enjoy a Gondola ride in moonlight.
I would recommend you to stay at the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa for the best experience.
-Shalini from Eager 2 Travel
Other Places To Spend Christmas In Asia
You may be surprised to know there are many places in Asia where you can celebrate Christmas. This may be a more budget-friendly option if travelling from the southern hemisphere like us down here in Australia! Plus it’s a chance to experience different Christmas traditions as well.
Here are some great White Christmas destinations in Asia:
- Seoul, South Korea
- Harbin, China
- Hokkaido, Japan
Time to start planning your perfect winter Christmas adventure with the family! Make sure you check out our Europe, Asia & North America travel inspiration to help you plan your next family holiday! For the rest of the year, check out the best places to travel in 2020.