5 min read
by Youssef Ahmed, Growth Marketing Manager
Published November 24, 2021
| CHRISTMAS | VACATION | CHEAP | ALTERNATIVE |
You have probably stumbled upon numerous blog posts and videos describing the best go-to destinations for Christmas in Europe or elsewhere.
Excited to follow these leads and plan your winter vacation, you discover that a trip to the Swiss Alps or French and German Villages is not what you can call budget-friendly. You then close your laptop and decide that hibernating on your couch and watching Home Alone for the 100th time is not such a bad plan.
Well, today we have got you covered because we're recommending some alternative, cheap and lovely Christmas destinations for all tastes.
If you are looking for nice forgiving weather, some nice walks on the beach and avoid the crowds you should consider one of these options:
Christmas celebrations in Greece officially last for 14 days, starting on Christmas Eve and ending on Epiphany (January 6th). However, as soon as December arrives, festivities begin: homes are decorated and the smell of Christmas treats is in the air.
Some unique Christmas traditions include decorated boats, Christ bread (Christopsomo - a round loaf that is a staple of the Greek Christmas table) and The Blessing of Water (Epiphany - a tradition where Priests throw a cross into the sea, river or lake and a group of men jump into the water to recover it. It is said that the one who finds the cross first will be blessed for the whole year and that, following the ceremony, the water is cleansed).
Christopsomo - Photo by Culture Trip: “Boats and Bread: A Guide to Greek Christmas Traditions”
Croatia is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic in the majority, so that should tell you that this time of year is a critical period on the calendar. Croatian Christmas traditions and customs have changed over the years, but some of the oldest ones have managed to stick and are still practised today.
What you will notice above everything else is food, lots and lots of food!
The big celebration day is not December 25th. Instead, it is Christmas Eve, as is the case in many other European countries. The day consists of two halves: Badnji Dan (Christmas Eve day) and Badnja Večer (Christmas Eve night).
It’s also worth noting that Croatian Christmas traditions are slightly different across the country. Each area does things its own way.
Christmas in Portugal is a unique experience. For some people, particularly those that come from very cold parts of the world, it doesn’t feel Christmassy enough. For others, the ability to walk outside and even get a little Vitamin D is a real Christmas miracle.
Christmas in Portugal takes place on the eve of the 24th of December, although, as a lot of it happens around midnight, it crosses over into the 25th.
Most families go to midnight mass (Missa do Galo), although some churches have masses that take place a little earlier. A big part of midnight mass is kissing the baby Jesus and everyone in the congregation will queue up to do so.
In some parts of Portugal, for example, in Bragança, Guarda or Castelo Branco, it’s not uncommon for there to be a large communal fire in the church car park. It gives everyone in the community a chance to gather around and wish each other a “Feliz Natal”.
If you consider Portugal for your next vacation, you could enjoy a luggage-free trip using LUGGit to pick up, store and deliver your luggage anywhere in Lisbon and Porto.
See the following articles to know places to visit:
Christmas tree in Lisbon - Photo by Portugalist
In December and January, Costa Ricans celebrate Christmas with a whole fair of fiestas, parades, rodeos, bull runs, street parties and dance festivals.
Festivities kick-off with the vibrant, loud and dazzling Festival de la Luz in San Jose in the second week of December. Major parade strides from Paseo Colon to El Parque de la Democracia, with more than 1500 musicians and volunteers making the spectacle one to remember.
Costa Ricans like to decorate their houses with stunning tropical flowers at Christmas time. They make wreaths using cypress branches and decorate them with red coffee berries and colourful ribbons. They also like to dress their houses, shops and towns with plenty of sparkling festive lights too.
You can also enjoy empty white sand beach walks every day!
Do you want to experience a more traditionally cold, and possibly snowy, Christmas? These destinations can offer you this!
In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and it is called “Szent-este”, which means Holy Evening.
The Midnight Mass service is very popular there and most people go to Church after their Christmas meal.
On Christmas Eve children also hope that some presents are found under the Christmas Tree. They're told that the presents are brought by Jesus. He's often called "Jézuska", a nickname or cuter version for "Jézus". Children wait outside the room where the tree is and, when they hear bells ringing, they can enter and the presents await them under the Christmas tree.
What you can do, once there, is enjoy a hot bath as the snow falls around you in Budapest, shop ’til you drop at the city’s shopping street, Váci Street (utca), or buy souvenirs at the two biggest Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market and Basilica Christmas Market.
You can also go skating under Buda Castle at Városliget (City Park) ice rink and take a ride in the festive streetcar. Wrap up, though, as the ride is cold. Finally, you should dine on traditional Hungarian stews and drink palinka at Hold Utcai Piac. This is the market the locals eat at.
One of our favourite Christmas getaways in Europe is Tallinn, the picturesque capital city of Estonia. Tallinn’s old town was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because, unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to completely preserve its medieval structure and is, therefore, nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.
The cobblestone streets are all original which, along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century.
It’s the perfect Christmas getaway in late December early January because it’s all covered in snow, making it like something from a fairy tale – the perfect ideal Christmas image you dream of.
Have you been good this year? Maybe Santa will send you to Estonia on your Christmas Europe break!
Tallinn’s central Christmas tree - Photo by Visit Estonia
Austrians take their Christmas markets seriously, making it one of the best European cities to visit in December.
During the festive season, every city and town has a Christmas market. As the capital, Vienna tops them all with a profusion of markets.
The city has 20 official Christmas markets and lots of other smaller neighbourhood markets. It’s enjoyable to see it while warming yourself with a cup of gluhwein and shopping for traditional handicrafts and ornaments. For non-drinkers and children, there is a non-alcoholic version of the gluhwein.
The biggest of the markets is held in front of Vienna’s City Hall, the Christkindl Market.
If you consider Austria for your next vacation, you could enjoy a luggage-free trip using LUGGit to pick up, store and deliver your luggage anywhere in Vienna.
Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz – Photo by WienTourismus/Christian Stemper