Nothing gets us excited about the festive season quite like a Christmas market. And it seems we’re not the only ones. The top Christmas markets in the world attract millions of annual visitors. An estimated three million people now flock to Germany’s oldest Christmas market, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, each year – and that number is only set to rise this winter.
There is one thing that tends to compete with our longing for cosy Christmas markets, however… and that’s the draw of winter sun!
A huge number of us start dreaming of trips to warmer climes as soon as the weather turns cold. According to ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents) almost half (46%) of people surveyed booked or considered taking a winter holiday in 2021.
So, what if we combined the two? Taking a trip to a Christmas market that also allows us to escape the cold and enjoy a bit of winter sun, while still feeling brilliantly festive and excited about the holiday season! What could be better?
Our team decided to see if it was possible. To do so, we ranked cities by scoring them based on the amount of Christmas markets and the warmest temperatures in November and December, they then gave each destination an average score out of 10.
Here are the top destinations for Christmas festivities in the sun.
- UAE, Dubai (average score 10)
- USA, Miami (average score 7.87)
- Portugal, Porto (average score 7.54)
- Spain, Barcelona (average score 7.38)
- France, Cannes (average score 7.19)
- France, Grimaud (average score 6.70)
- Italy, Florence (average score 6.57)
- France, Nice (average score 6.15)
- Italy, Milan (average score 5.75)
- Ireland, Dublin (average score 5.73)
- Belgium, Brussels (average score 5.60)
- Germany, Berlin (average score 5.67)
- Austria, Graz (average score 5.57)
- France, Paris (average score 5.54)
- Austria, Salzburg (average score 5.52)
- Belgium, Bruges (average score 5.50)
- Israel, Jerusalem (average score 5.49)
- France, Lyon (average score 5.45)
- Austria, Vienna (average score 5.37)
- Belgium, Ghent (average score 4.95)
- Germany, Cologne (average score 4.90)
Dubai’s hot desert climate means sunshine is practically guaranteed all year round – even in the middle of December. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel festive if you take a trip here.
The city of Dubai is home to 12 Christmas markets, meaning there’s a Christmas market for every 3km2 in the region. And that makes it our top rated destination for festive winter sun.
Where to stay in Dubai.
Miami is another popular destination for winter sun. In December the average top temperature is a warm 24 degrees, but of course, Miami residents still go all out for Christmas!
This year, Miami is hosting a huge Christmas market, brought to the city straight from New York. Urbanspace, the company behind the biggest Christmas markets in NYC, will be opening the hotly anticipated Lincoln Road Christmas Market on the 15th November.
Where to stay in Miami.
Head to France for warmer Christmas festivities, tasty traditional cuisine and some incredible Christmas markets. If you’re looking for winter sun, Cannes is a great option.
Average temperatures are around 14 degrees in December, and Christmas in Cannes is an experience not to be missed. Take a look at the Cannes Christmas village to see what you can expect this winter.
Where to stay in Cannes.
Barcelona is an amazing place to celebrate Christmas. Feast on the finest Spanish holiday treats, partake in traditional festivities and take off the chill as you make the most of December temperatures of around 15 degrees.
In Barcelona, you’ll find plenty of great Christmas markets, like La Fira de Santa Llucia, Fira de Reis, Fira de Nadal del Port Vell and Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família. These four incredible markets make Barcelona one of our top destinations for winter sun at Christmas.
Where to stay in Barcelona.
Average temperatures in Ibiza are around 16 degrees in December, making this another popular destination amongst those looking to escape the cold. And there is no shortage of great ways to celebrate Christmas here. The Ibiza Town Christmas market is not to be missed, with 24 stalls selling everything you need to celebrate in style.
Where to stay in Ibiza.
Temperatures in Milan during December are a little lower than some of our other top picks, at around seven degrees. But this destination really packs a punch when it comes to Christmas markets.
There are seven markets to choose from in Milan, and every single one of them is beautifully atmospheric and absolutely guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. Choose from Mercatino di Natale in Piazza Duomo, Fiera degli Oh Bej! Oh Bej!, Piazza Portello Magic Christmas, Wunder Mrkt and many more.
Where to stay in Milan.
Nowhere in the world celebrates Christmas quite like Jerusalem, so if you’re looking for something different this year why not book a trip to the Holy City.
Jerusalem is home to a beautiful Christmas market, where you’ll find incredible souvenirs, amazing food and spellbinding entertainment for the whole family. And temperatures here are around 14 degrees in December.
Where to stay in Jerusalem.
Dublin spoils its residents and visitors with a huge selection of Christmas markets, making it another of our top picks for festive trips.
While Dublin doesn’t have the balmy temperatures of Dubai or Ibiza in December, its average high temperatures are around nine degrees, so it’s not too cold to enjoy the festivities here.
This year Dublin’s Christmas markets include the Dublin Castle Christmas Market (Christmas at the Castle), Mistletown, Swords Castle Christmas Market, Terenure Christmas Festival and Bumper Craft Market, the Guinness Storehouse Winterfest and Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival. Find out more about the options here.
Where to stay in Dublin.
Italy is a hugely popular destination during the festive season. If you’re looking for winter sun and amazing Christmas markets, Florence is hard to beat. There are five Christmas markets in Florence, and temperatures in December are around 11 degrees.
Visit markets in Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza del Duomo or head to Giardino della Fortezza for the longest skating rink in Europe. There’s also the Florence Winter Park and Mercato Nataleperfile at Palazzo Corsini.
Where to stay in Florence.
Nice is home to just one Christmas market – but it’s a good one! The French city of Nice always goes all out for Christmas, building a full Christmas village for residents and tourists to explore.
The Nice Christmas Village has sixty fully themed chalets selling festive treats of all kinds, along with a Ferris wheel, skating rink and of course a Santa’s Grotto. And with temperatures of 13 degrees in December, it’s an ideal destination for those wanting to escape the winter chill. Find out more about Christmas in Nice here.
Where to stay in Nice.
Escape the cold this Christmas with a trip to one of the warmest and most festive destinations in the world. With so many amazing Christmas markets taking place everywhere from Jerusalem to Dubai, the choices really are endless. Book your next getaway now and start planning a winter break like no other.
Methodology: Data for each city’s average temperature in December was taken from NOAA and the information around Christmas markets are listed below. The temperature and number of markets per km2 were both separately scored out of 10, equating to an overall average score out of 10.