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Where To Go Next Month: The December Edit

It’s holiday season! And the idea of being abroad in December is very alluring. From wintery escapes and ice skating to heavenly tropical white sand beaches.

For some, December is about finding the heat. For others, it’s ‘bring on the seasonal Christmas cold and traditional markets.’ One thing’s for sure, don’t even think of returning to the office in without some of the best December stories.

We’ve got them here for you to pick, as well as Lisa Haynes’ packing guide, to make your life that little bit easier.

Cape Town, South Africa

It’s not hard to persuade you to go to South Africa.

The beauty of a craggy mountain range, pristine white beaches, the proximity of nature and wildebeest grazing on the slopes of Table Mountain, whale watching. Yoga classes on the Twelve Apostles mountain. And its urban edge with excellent art galleries, bars, world-rated restaurants, and more. Added to that, Cape Town earns convenience points for the lack of time difference (GMT+2) to the UK, and its refusal to dip below 20C during the European winter.

Cape Town does Winter markets well including the Cape Gift Market at the Sea Point City Hall and Stellenbosch Kersmark. Staying longer? Clifton Beach has a Christmas Eve yoga class, Shimmy Beach Club hosts an annual Christmas lunch.

Melbourne, Australia

Albeit one of the busiest periods, Melbourne in December is worth the crowds for the sheer act of experiencing the city at its liveliest.  Regardless if you’re planning to swim, walk or simply laze on the beach and soak up some sunshine, some top things to include in your itinerary. Wednesday nights surrounded by food at the Queen Victoria Market’s legendary Night Market, watch a film under the stars with Lido Cinema’s rooftop with all the summer releases. And while December in Melbourne may not be a winter wonderland, what they lack in snow, they make up with barbecues, seafood, long lunches and festive lights in the city.

St Maarten and St Bart’s, Caribbean

It’s no surprise why the rich and famous flock to the tropical paradise of St Bart’s in December. The island is an overseas collectivity of France, with the sophistication of St.-Tropez with the laissez-fare Caribbean lifestyle—which means it’s exclusive yet totally unpretentious.

And although the islands are back post-Irma, December is peak season so our advice? Fly into St Maarten and make that your base with a day trip by boat or 15 minute private plane to St Bart’s. St Maarten is known as the friendly island, and that it is. One side Dutch territory and one side French, you’ll be equally welcomed on both sides. Sunday beach brunches, sunset overlooking Maho Beach, lunch out on Pinel Island.

Make sure to pack Euros!

Cartagena, Colombia

Colombia celebrated 208 years of independence this year, and it’s a better time than ever to visit.

Take in the city’s rich history by simply getting lost in Cartagena’s 234 picturesque streets. From walking tours that explain the city’s 500-year history or how the city inspired Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Here you can take your insta staps to another level. From December, festival organisers line up to make the most of Cartagena’s intimate colonial setting, starting with The Getsemani Street Art Festival from the first week of December.

Stay on for New Year’s Eve, and it will be one to remember with some of the best parties in the world.

Cologne, Germany

In winter and in the run-up to Christmas, Cologne presents a beautiful winter’s tale that radiates a special kind of atmosphere. Who wouldn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling inside with a city that is ablaze with light?

Step off the plane to a smell of mulled wine wafting in from the Christmas market. And Cologne’s Christmas markets are among the best there are. There are a total of seven markets in the city, with the most renowned at the cathedral. Indulge in chocolate at Cologne’s chocolate museum in the Rheinau docks, wanter the city’s main art gallery, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, or make your own bespoke Eau de Cologne (it is, of course, famous for it).

Top tip: Visit Cologne Triangle at Sunset for some of the best views across the City.

St Petersburg, Russia

The country’s cultural heart and akin to stepping into a Winter’s Fairytale book. December time is a snow lover’s dream with furs and rosy cheeks, walk around blankets of snow, icy snowflakes in the sun, and while temperatures may be below zero, these are some of the most beautiful days in St Petersburg for a December break. Victory Park has one of the largest outdoor ice rinks, or glide under the lights at Yelagin Island, and you cannot visit St Petersburg without visiting the iconic Mariinsky Theatre. Choose from classic ballets to seasonal concerts and performances.  So pack your warmest thermals and your fur-lined gloves – you’re certainly going to need them.

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