12 min read
by Francisca Ribeiro, Marketing & Communication
Published December 20, 2022
| TRAVEL | HOLIDAY | GUIDE | LUGGIT |
If spending Christmas at home is not in your plans, this blogpost is just for you!
Travelling during the holidays can be a little chaotic. Most days, the weather is not helping, the streets are filled with holiday shoppers, and restaurants are already booked. Well, here’s what you can do: first, as you arrive, hand your bags over to LUGGit, so that you can enjoy your time properly (we’ll take care of the rest) and, in order to get into the festive mood, follow our city holiday guide!
You might enjoy some typical Christmas scene, with snow and lots of cold, or you might want to enjoy a slightly different scenario, some sunny days and warm weather. Worry not! We have just the program for you.
Unlike some of the cities in this article, you won’t find a lot of snow in Porto, but what you will find is a very cosy city with a lot of amicable people ready to welcome you. Porto is known for its’ incredible views, but during winter, you can expect these views to just get better and better. Here are some ways that you can enjoy your time in Porto during the holiday season:
See the Christmas lights in Avenida dos Aliados
Aliados is a beautiful boulevard all year round. However, the Christmas lights just make it all more beautiful. From the first of December to the sixth of January, you can catch the amazing LED lights tree right in front of Porto City Hall. The lights turn on at 18h and turn off at 23h from Sundays to Thursdays and at midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and on the days before public holidays.
Photo by Guilherme Costa Oliveira on Porto
Mercado do Bolhão
After years of restoration, this iconic market is again open to the public. Mercado do Bolhão, besides being a fantastic place to do some holiday shopping, also has Christmas events going on during this season. The events range from music and theatre to a toy factory and a street caricaturist.
What you will notice above everything else is food, lots and lots of food!
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal Christmas market
Every weekend and public holidays until Christmas Eve, you can find a Christmas market in one of the city’s most magical gardens. Here, besides the holiday shopping, you have the perfect opportunity to take in some of Porto's more breathtaking views.
Photo by Guilherme Costa Oliveira on Porto
Explore some cities around Porto
There are some cities just one hour away from Porto that you can visit to get yourself into the ultimate Christmas vibe. If you want to visit the biggest Santa Claus in the world, you just have to take a one-hour car ride to Águeda and see the giant LED light statue. At the halfway point, you might be able to find a city called Santa Maria da Feira and stop by to check out Perlim, the biggest thematic Christmas park in the country. If you have kids, they will love this world populated by the characters of their dreams, but you can also enjoy your time doing some holiday shopping in the little markets. Finally, just short of an hour's train ride from Porto, you can do some sightseeing in Braga and enjoy over 200 Christmas activities scattered around the city.
Lisbon is, by itself, a magical city with its towering hills and great weather, but there is an inherent magic that always comes with the holiday season. Here are the best ways to spend your time in Lisbon during this holiday season:
In Lisbon, Christmas means Wonderland Lisboa. From the last day of November until the first of January, Parque Eduardo VII is filled with holiday magic. Besides being an excellent location for holiday shopping, it’s also a great place to spend a weekend afternoon, whether you have children or not. In this Christmas wonderland, you can ride in the giant Ferris wheel, ice skate, or even meet Father Christmas and his little helpers.
Rossio Christmas Market
Until the 21st of December, you can visit this little market for some holiday shopping and lots of fun. This market is meant for the entire family. The parents can enjoy the traditional handicraft and gastronomy stalls, and the kids will surely enjoy the Christmas train that will take everyone through some iconic downtown streets.
Visit Óbidos and Sintra
Óbidos and Sintra are already magical places all year round, but the holiday magic makes them sparkle in a different way. If you have a car available, just one hour north of Lisbon you will find Óbidos, known for its chocolate and immaculate vibes. This city will be filled with the seasons’ magic during Christmas, from carousels to ice skating rings, from a Father Christmas house to a Christmas train. If you don’t have a car, you can always take a one-hour train ride to Sintra. Sintra, surrounded by its beautiful mountains, is a great place to visit for a day, especially during the holiday season. Much like Óbidos, this Christmas village has a magical feeling to it, with a range of activities, including restaurants and concerts.
Try out some typical festive food
Portugal is not short of festive holiday food. If you have a sweet tooth, you must try out Bolo-Rei and its variants. It is a cake decorated with crystallised fruits, nuts and sometimes chocolate. Another must-have on every Portuguese Christmas table is rabanadas and filhoses; both are a kind of french toast. Finally, if you are in the mood for a traditional Christmas dinner, then you must try Bacalhau com todos (obviously) and roasted octopus.
Barcelona is not a typical winter holiday destination; however, the shimmering lights still make the city magical. If you ever find yourself in this city during the Christmas month, here are some activities to get up to:
Els Llumes de Sant Pau
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is transformed into a completely immersive experience during the holiday season. This year’s theme, “The Universe of Light”, has more than 20 facilities dedicated to children and adults. It is the perfect Saturday plan for anyone in the mood to experience the holiday season in a slightly different way than usual. The exhibition will be available until January 15.
Barcelona Caganer and Caga Tío
The Caga Tío is a popular Christmas character in the Catalan culture made up of a piece of cut wood with two or four stick legs, a grinning face painted on it and a typical Catalan red hat. This character is especially famous among children, for whom the little log must “poo” presents… yes you’ve read that right! Kids hit their wood friend with a stick and sing to encourage it to give them presents. Similar to the Caga Tío, the Caganer is a must-have in Catalan Christmas. The Caganer (sometimes a traditionally dressed Catalan man, sometimes a pop culture figure, defecating) must be featured in the nativity scene to bring good luck in the coming year.
Christmas illumination at the Casa Batlló
Every holiday season, the iconic Casa Batlló lights itself up with a spectacle of lights. From November 24 to January 6, for four and a half hours (17h30 to 22h), every 30 minutes, there is a light and music show making one of Gaudí’s most iconic works even more magical than usual.
Three Kings Parade
The holiday season is not complete without the arrival of the Three Kings. On the evening of the 5th of January, you can follow Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar from Av. Marquès de l’Argentera to Av. Reina Maria Cristina. This spectacle of colour, light and music is not only fun for the kids eager to get their presents but also for the older generations.
Like any central European city, Vienna is a Christmas wonderland. The mostly baroque architecture and interior design already give an all-year-round fairytale vibe to the city, but when the snow comes in, the whole place feels transformed. Here are some ways in which you can make the most out of the city during the holiday season:
Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz
Vienna has a wide variety of Christmas markets; however, the biggest and most iconic one is held at Rathausplatz, the square in front of the town hall. With over three centuries of tradition, this market has over 150 wooden stalls to do some holiday shopping. Here, in perfect Christmas magic, you can find handmade wood toys, beautiful tree decorations and candles, see the wonderful Christmas lights and even hear some nativity stories.
If you are in the capital of classical music you must, at least once, experience the wonders of its mix with the Christmas magic. Of course, besides the usual sites one would visit to hear some classical music, at this time of the year, several churches hold advent concerts and choral recitals.
Drink weihnachtspunsch and eat roasted chestnuts
What better way to warm you during the winter days than weihnachtspunsch, a warm wine (there are non-alcoholic options as well) drink that comes in a dozen of flavours? Every Christmas market sells it in unique mugs that you can keep if you don’t want to have the mug’s fee back. Every market also has a roasted chestnut stand, since the tradition of sharing the snack dates back centuries.
Go ice skating
Ice skating is very popular in Vienna during the wintertime, and ice rinks are set up across the city during these months. Around 3,000-meters-squared of skating trails are laid in the gardens of the Wilhelminenberg Palace and in front of the Rathaus. Pre-heated ice skates are available for hire, and there’s a practice area that can be used for free until 4 pm on weekdays, while later in the evening, the area transforms into curling lanes.
Prague is already fairytale-like, but the Christmas lights bring a special charisma to the city. If you find yourself in the city during the holiday season, don’t forget to check out these:
Watch the lamp lighting at Charles Bridge
This popular advent Czech tradition really brings the holiday spirit to the city. From the end of November until December 23, the famed lamplighter of Prague will return every evening at dusk to light up the gas lanterns of Charles Bridge. This lamplighter is one of the last ones in the world and is an important part of Prague’s Christmas magic.
Visit the giant Christmas tree in Old Town Square
The tree is one of the most visible symbols of Christmas in Prague. Whilst exploring the city, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of this enormous tree right in the middle of the Old town square. This year's tree stands 28 meters tall, is 58 years old and has travelled almost two hours all the way from Kytlice to Prague.
Music at the St Salvator Church
The best way to get into the Christmas mood is by attending the Advent and Christmas concerts regularly played at the St. Salvator Church. This landmark church, located at one end of Charles Bridge by the entrance to the Old Town, is part of the Klementinum and houses two magnificent organs. This is not the only church in Prague that offers advent concerts; many churches around Old Town do them.
Take a Cruise in the Vltava River
Continental Prague during Christmas is incredibly hectic, so why not take some relaxing time on a romantic boat trip? The cruises depart every hour and have an onboard bar for you to get into the holiday spirit. And because there is nothing more beautiful than Prague at night during the holidays, there are a few nighttime options with dinner included for the ultimate romantic experience.
Christmas is just around the corner, and if you enjoy spending this time of the year exploring a new city, hand over your luggage to us, enjoy 10% off with the code BLOG10 and feel free to explore all these activities stress-free.
And if you are still undecided about where to go, check out our guide for some cheap and alternatives Christmas destinations!