Christmas is special and magical and, although I love a traditional white Christmas, there are years when I just can’t stand the cold anymore! There are years when I dream of a sunny Christmas holiday without wool mittens, scarves and thick boots, even though this means giving up on the fluffy snow, yummy mulled wine and ice skating. That’s fine with me!
If you feel the same, you’re lucky to be in the right place! Below I have made a hand-picked selection of my favourite 15 HOT destinations to celebrate Christmas without freezing! Regardless if you want to get an envy-inducing tan while lying on the beach, going on a boat trip and visiting some islands or simply enjoying some warm walks, I’m sure you’ll find something to love down below.
TIP #1: Although 90% of the places I’m mentioning below are not celebrating Christmas in the “traditional” way, this doesn’t mean the prices are always low for December! This means that my #1 recommendation is to book your flight tickets and hotels as much in advance as possible. Sooner than November, preferably!
TIP #2: Should you book last minute? Yes, if you like to live the crazy way, but it’s risky and it depends on your luck! You may find awesome last-minute deals for super cheap flights, only to realise that there are no beautiful hotels left. Or the other way around. But it’s still doable if you want to be spontaneous this December!
Okay, let’s proceed! Here are my top 15 picks for that special time of the year, in no particular order:
1 - Bali, Indonesia
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Bali is a perfect choice year-round, and I’m not just saying this because I spent the last year and a half there, during the pandemic! Bali is as close to “heaven on earth” as it gets and if you’re sick of cold European winters, this is the place to be. This is where you’ll find superb beaches, lush rainforests, ancient temples, a rich culture, unforgettable gastronomy and everything in-between!
Visiting Bali in December means you can take a splash and lay on the beach all day long, surf at Kuta Beach, dive in Amed, visit some rice fields, see some gorgeous temples and trek to some waterfalls as well!
The only downside of this destination is the rainy season. The month of December is part of the rainy season in Indonesia, which means you can expect a few quick but heavy rain episodes. Nothing too scary, but it’s something to keep in mind – you might want to be flexible with your itinerary in case you won’t be able to do certain activities some days because of the weather conditions.
REASONS TO CHOOSE: beaches, spa retreats, infinity pools that overlook the rainforest and, most of all, affordable prices!
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 27-30ºC
2 - Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands are a gorgeous coastline destination (1.500+ km is really something!) with 300 days of sunshine per year. In short, it’s one of the warmest places in Spain and a perfect beach spot year-round, including December. This is where you can enjoy both the sun and the sand, as well as volcanoes, postcard-like landscapes, delicious wines, and unforgettable experiences for all pockets. Yes, one of the best things about the Canary Islands is that they’re a great choice for budget travellers and luxury seekers alike!
Okay, the Canaries might not be as hot as Indonesia, Thailand or Brazil, but they still make a pleasant choice, especially for Europeans looking to get away from the winter blues: it’s warm and it’s close by!
RELATED READ: 15 Best Cities for Christmas in Europe
Here are some of the best places to go in Canary Islands:
- Tenerife – one of the most popular places around where you’ll find tons of resorts, shops, restaurants and bars. Plus many day trips and boat excursion possibilities! Tenerife is where you can go hiking, dolphin watching and where you’ll find no less than 17 Blue Flag beaches!
- Gran Canaria – This popular island is where you’ll find more than 80 beaches to choose from as well as lots of gorgeous towns waiting to be explored. Plus friendly locals and lots of nature waiting to be explored!
- La Palma – one of the tiniest and most laid-back options out of all Canaries, which makes it an excellent choice for those looking for a calm getaway. You can go dolphin and whale watching, admire the volcanoes, walk along the narrow cobblestone streets and more.
- Fuerteventura – another popular island scattered with gorgeous beaches, nice hiking trails, surfing opportunities in El Cotillo village and rustic craft markets with lots of food and souvenirs.
- Lanzarote – palm trees, soft sand, natural parks and world-lass vineyards – this is what Lanzarote is all about!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: many island options to choose from depending on your budget and preferences, very close to the UK compared to other places on this list, not too hot, lots of English-speaking locals, especially in Tenerife
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 25ºC
3 - Phuket, Thailand
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Thailand is all about incredible islands, delicious dishes and a rich culture that can be seen everywhere you look. If you were to only visit one place in Thailand this Christmas, do yourself a favour and choose Phuket.
Phuket is one of the most well-known islands in Thailand and with good reason: this is where you will find 12 stunning white sand beaches, more than 1.000 hotels, lots of parties and an overall good vibe. In case you get bored, you’ll also have TONS of day trip options to nearby islands and destinations such as Krabi, Khao Sok National Park and more.
Plus, you’ll get to see Christmas trees everywhere while you’re working on your tan and indulging in a delicious Pad Thai – how trippy is that?!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: one of the most incredible islands in the country, unforgettable food, lots of hotel options for all budgets, lively nightlife and parties
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 30°C
4 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Christmas in Puerto Rico is all about rum, joyous festivities, the sun shining through palm trees and lots of dancing. Puerto Rico is really an eclectic resort that caters for all types of travellers. So regardless if you want to party all night long, do some water sports or spend your days relaxing on the beach, you’ll surely find something to do here.
Puerto Rico is sunny and hot all year long, but the Christmas decorations in Old San Juan town (especially at Plaza de Armas) are something to witness only in December and early January.
REASONS TO CHOOSE: it’s the place with the longest Christmas holiday in the world (from Thanksgiving ‘til the 14h of January), beautiful light decorations, delicious food and lots of traditions such as fireworks, parades and concerts. It’s basically a mash-up between spending a warm Christmas on the beach while still preserving some traditional elements
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 28ºC
5 - Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is the place where you’ll find clear blue skies and summer sun all winter long. One of the best things about this part of the world is that you get a little bit of everything: golden beaches, mountains, safaris, unique activities such as zip-lining or hot air balloon rides and everything in-between. Heck, you can even dive with great white sharks in South Africa, very close to Cape Town!
Few cities in the world are as varied and exciting as Cape Town and Christmas time here means Christmas markets, festive food, lots of wine and complete relaxation! Whenever you get bored of Cape Town, you can explore the coastline and go on the famous Garden Route. Recommended!
FUN FACT: Although it’s 13.000 kilometres away, Cape Town in South Africa has the same time zone as England. Which can only mean one thing: NO JETLAG! How awesome is that?
REASONS TO CHOOSE: super-diverse landscape (both beaches and mountains), amazing wildlife and natural parks, adventurous activities, Christmas markets, very good wineries, balanced temperatures
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 25ºC
6 - Dubai, UAE
Shopaholics, you’ll surely fall in love with Dubai! Dubai is the most lively city in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and the best place to go for endless shopping opportunities and lots of sun. No, really, this city is rated as the second most popular shopping destination in the entire world. But wait… Dubai is not only about this!
What I love most about this place is that it’s a very unusual yet equally charming combination of everything you can dream of: ice skating, nice beaches, huge landmarks (Burj Khalifa anyone?!), traditional markets, man-made islands, impressive cinemas and aquariums, infinity pools, spas, plus lots of day trip possibilities such as Abu Dhabi.
The only downside to keep in mind is that Dubai can get really crowded from late November to late December, but I don’t think this is a deal-breaker!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: endless shopping opportunities, decent beaches, impressive landmarks, balanced temperatures, lots of options for those that want to splurge in Dubai
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 25ºC
7 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Brazil is another place where December means the middle of the summer season. So if you LOVE the heat, there’s no better place to be than Rio de Janeiro for Christmas.
I’m sure you’re already familiar with the striking, famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, but what you might not know is that you can indulge in both Christmas food AND spend your day on the beach while in Brazil! Then you can dance the night away in one of the numerous, vibrant clubs and start again the next day. Or maybe take a trip to the Amazon rainforest? One thing’s for sure: there’s so much to see and do in Rio de Janeiro!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: varied landscapes, amazing beaches, delicious food and fresh fruit, hot temperatures
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 32ºC
8 - Maldives
Ahhh, the turquoise Maldives… What could be better than spending your day in your swimsuit while splashing at the pool in your private overwater bungalow while all your friends back home are freezing? Hehe! But in all honesty, Maldives is an excellent idea all year round, not just in December.
This unique tropical destination might not be on the budget side, but if you’re dreaming of literal heaven on earth, then it is totally worth it! Christmas in the Maldives means indulging in seafood at a restaurant in your best summer dress while hearing carols in the background – what a combo! And what Christmas celebration could be complete without a round of cocktails, am I right?!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: superb overwater bungalows, turquoise water, excellent seafood, unforgettably soft beaches, romantic getaway if you’re visiting as a couple, water sports
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 30ºC
9 - Barbados, The Caribbean
Barbados is very similar to the Maldives, only it’s in the other part of the world. This gorgeous destination in the Caribbean is all about intense, turquoise waters, incredible accommodations and soft sand. Still, you’ll get to see many places with Christmas decorations around when December comes, so it’s a strange mix of the best of both worlds and I’m all for it!
Barbados is the ideal place to indulge in complete relaxation during the Christmas season after a full year of working, so the only thing to keep in mind is to not forget your swimming suit and summer dresses!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: gorgeous beaches, no rain, Christmas decorations and festive food, great hotels, lots of road trip options if you rent a car
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 29ºC
10 - Morocco
RELATED READ: Complete Guide to Marrakesh, Morocco: 10 Things to Do and Reasons to Visit
In case you want some warmth but you’re not really a fan of the beach, I have your answer: Morocco! Morocco is an exotic paradise that’s both close to Europe and extremely different from it. If you still want to experience a little bit of Christmas decorations and food, you can visit the bigger cities such as Marrakesh. But if you want to completely escape everything you knew about this holiday, head over to the smaller towns where the Muslim locals enjoy their everyday life as if nothing special is happening at all.
Morocco is where you can enjoy the desert, the colourful towns and the warm weather while indulging in some incredible food and unique activities, but no Christmas markets!
Here’s where to go in Morocco to (not) celebrate Christmas:
- Marrakesh – for souks (traditional Moroccan markets), spices and souvenirs
- Taghazout – for yoga and surf retreats
- Essaouira – for beaches and the marina
- Casablanca – for gorgeous architecture
- Fez – for its leather tannery
REASONS TO CHOOSE: really good place if you want to really escape everything related to Christmas, rich in culture, lots of nature and hiking opportunities, pleasant temperatures without being too hot, cheap prices
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 20°C
11 - Sunshine Coast, Australia
Australia is another incredible place where December means nothing else but the first month of summer – how awesome is that?! Head to the “Down Under” for traditional Aussie barbecues, kangaroos, soft sand beaches and lots of good food – just don’t expect the traditional Christmas turkey.
One of the best spots to “celebrate” Christmas in Australia is the Sunshine Coast, but that’s only if you’re dreaming of a subtropical vacation full of nature and exploration. This means subtropical rainforests, virgin beaches, charming little towns and impressive mountains as well. Sounds absolutely perfect, right? Road tripping through the Sunshine Coast in Australia at that special time of the year is something you won’t ever forget, trust me!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: lots of nature, pleasant temperatures, friendly locals, rainforests, incredible beaches, road trip opportunities
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 26ºC
12 - Hawaii, USA
Now let’s go back to tropical holidays, shall we? Next in line is Hawaii, one of the most famous beach destinations in the USA. Spending Christmas in Kauai, Hawaii means perfect temperatures, Christmas parades, humpback whale watching, surfing, exotic dishes and, of course, the Festival of Lights. What do you think about spending Christmas like this, huh? I say count me in!
The only downside about planning your winter holidays in Hawaii are the prices – yes, December is one of the priciest months for this fun destination. But it’s so worth it if you’re looking to splurge!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: balanced temperatures, beautiful beaches, surfing, Christmas events and ceremonies, waterfalls, volcanoes
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 26ºC
13 - Cyprus
In case Hawaii is too far away from you, no worries! I don’t think you were expecting Cyprus to be on this list, right? This tiny yet charming Mediterranean country (island-nation, to be more specific) has around 340 days of sunshine per year and some extremely pleasant temperatures in December as well, so what’s not to love here?
Christmas holidays in Cyprus mean snorkelling, carols, spectacular beaches, bungee jumping and lots of pomegranates. Cyprus is like Greece, but smaller, calmer and more affordable. In case you get tired of the beaches, you can always head over to Troodos to see a little bit of snow – perfect combo!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: lots of adventurous activities such as bungee jumping, beautiful beaches, Christmas traditions, balanced temperatures, lots of cultural sights and monuments, very close to the UK
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 18-19ºC
14 - Cancun, Mexico
How could I leave Mexico out of this list, right? I couldn’t! Mexico is so amazing that it can be super hard to only choose one destination to visit – which is why I recommend taking your time to visit more than just Cancun (in case your time and budget allows it, of course). If not, spending your holiday in Cancun swimming with dolphins, splashing in a waterpark or ziplining over the forest might just do it.
Christmas in Mexico is a really interesting experience with hot temperatures, swimming in turquoise cenotes, incredible food, festive events and lots of dancing – and I say that’s pretty much perfect!
NOTE: Except for Cancun, I recommend checking out Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende as well!
REASONS TO CHOOSE: incredible food, lots of restaurants open on Christmas day, perfect weather, lots of adventurous activities, traditional Christmas events
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 28ºC
15 - Costa Rica
Last but not least, we have the coasts of Costa Rica, scattered with gorgeous beaches and resort towns for visitors to choose from.
To spend a winter holiday in Costa Rica means to visit some national parks to see wild animals, hike through the rainforest or simply lay on the beach all day long. For complete relaxation and the best temperatures, I recommend sticking to the coast at Tamarindo which is quite popular and rich in resorts and hotels. Alternatively, you can go to Nosara for a more laid-back experience.
REASONS TO CHOOSE: dry season means no rain, traditional Christmas celebrations, lots of street parties, many resort options, unforgettable beaches
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN DECEMBER: 26ºC
Other notable warm Christmas destinations
In case the list above wasn’t enough, here are some other interesting places with warm weather that you can visit for your winter holiday:
- Sri Lanka – this amazing county is all about beaches, mountains and lots of wildlife! Christmas celebrations in Sri Lanka begin on the 1st of December and the best things to do during the holidays there is to indulge in festive food and cakes, go kite-surfing or take a trip around the country.
- Praia, Cape Verde – this cool beach spot off the coast of West Africa has an average temperature of 23ºC in winter and lots of fireworks, parties and lots of sun. It’s great for both couples and a family getaway as well!
- Auckland, New Zealand – perfect for visitors looking for warm weather and lots of nature, wildlife and marine life (whales, dolphins and more). Differing from Australia, New Zealand is another very special choice!
- Cairo, Egypt – if you’ve been dreaming to see the pyramids in December, then you must pick Egypt! A holiday in Cairo means balanced temperatures (not too hot!) and lots of culture and historic landmarks.
- Madeira, Portugal – Christmas celebrations start at the end of November in Madeira because Portuguese people take their winter holiday seriously! They have Christmas markets, festive food and an overall good vibe!
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – shining sun, all-inclusive hotels and cheap prices – do you need more reasons to pick the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean for your next winter holiday season?
- Roatan Island, Honduras – get ready for some epic snorkelling and diving experiences, as here is where you’ll find the world’s second-largest barrier reef! Roatan Island is the place to be for a warm, tropical holiday with affordable prices.
- Sao Tome and Principe – this is a unique island-nation in Africa and one of the most underrated places in the entire world. It’s warm, rich in nature and full of friendly locals! By the way, I have written some dedicated articles about Sao Tome and Principe that you can find here.
- Tel Aviv, Israel – with more than 300 days of sun per year, Tel Aviv in December is laid-back and hot enough to spend your winter holidays on the beach. It also has great nightclubs and beautiful architecture, which I think is a great combo.
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – fascinating cuisine, beautiful bays and balanced temperatures – I’m sure you weren’t thinking of visiting Ho Chi Minh this Christmas season, right? Spending your winter holidays in this city will be a real adventure full of historic sights. Here are all my posts about Ho Chi Minh City.
- Cartagena, Colombia – this beach city is a popular choice among visitors in the winter, but it also comes with some fantastic, affordable prices. Pick this spot if you want to enjoy a merry Christmas on the beach!
- Belize – December comes with low chances of pours in Belize and perfectly hot temperatures, which makes it a great choice for visitors at Christmas. Belize is rich in history and culture but way less popular than its neighbour, Mexico!
RELATED READ: 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Aaand that was my complete list of sunny, warm places for Christmas to choose from whenever you want to escape the cold weather and snow. Sure, the Christmas holiday is full of traditions and delicious food, but this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with those of you that want to spend it on the beach, in a tropical city!
The list above has it all – from famous Hawaii to Cape Town in South Africa, the Caribbean, Dubai, Australia and some warm spots in Europe too! So I’m pretty sure you’ll find the perfect country or island for your next Christmas holiday. Ready to start packing and book your hotel?