olive travels: where to visit in December
From festive UK city breaks to German Christmas markets and festivals in Tasmania's sunshine, here’s our pick of where to travel to this month.
Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in December? We’ve curated our pick of destinations for a food lover’s break this winter; festive food and walks in Bath, magical Christmas markets in Germany's Black Forest and a fix of winter sun in Tasmania. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides, click here for more inspiration, or check out our pick of where to visit in November and January. We also have the best Christmas markets in the U.K., best gourmet Christmas breaks and discover the best spots for winter sun.
December travel picks
Shop the Christmas market (23 November – 10 December) with more than 160 independent, sustainable retailers offering everything from baked goods to drinks and more. Don't miss the magical Christmas light trail or the Enchanted Garden of Light at the American Museum and Gardens.
If you're in Bath for the weekend, start the day at small but thoughtfully formed Landrace Bakery and choose from the counter heaving with fresh-from-the-oven Eccles cakes and cinnamon buns. Stroll up through the stunning Circus crescent to Berdoulat, an impeccably restored grade-II listed food emporium complete with over 50 spices from the jar, shelves of small-batch wines and a concession from Frome’s Rye Bakery. Amble back down into town, via the sweeping grandeur of the Royal Crescent, to browse the market stalls. For lunch, unpretentious Scallop Shell offers hake in crisp batter with proper ‘chippie’ chips. Around the corner is contemporary tea house Comins, a serene spot to while away an hour or so making your way through its single estate teas. Or, find a weekly rotation of serious espressos recommended by the baristas at Colonna & Smalls. For dinner, try OAK’s exceptional meat-free feast in a little alcove with views of an unseen angle of Bath Abbey.
Hotel Indigo is a honey-hued Georgian terrace, a stone’s throw from the markets and city festivities. Unwind after a day out with barrel-aged negronis in The Elder’s cosy rooms, decked with plush red leather stools and panelled walls painted a deep-sea green.
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Black Forest, Germany
Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market takes place, as the name suggests, in a geological chasm beneath a railway viaduct in Germany’s Black Forest. Among its 40 or so snow-capped cabins are those selling everything from cuckoo clocks to cherry-topped Black Forest gâteau, Black Forest-smoked trout and venison, and flammkuchen – a German-style flatbread topped with bacon, onion and cheese.
To drink, it's all about a theatrical glass of feuerzangenbowle: mulled wine topped with a square of rum-soaked sugarloaf which is set alight as it’s served. While you shop, frosty blue lights bounce off the Höllentalbahn railway line 40 metres above you, and for a special treat you can hike to the Christmas market via the Löffeltal walk, a 3km trail starting from Hinterzarten village (there are shuttle buses back, if you’re knocked out by all that feuerzangenbowle). December weekend dates: 1-3, 8-10, 15-17
Winter sun in Tasmania
The seasons are switched down under, so December celebrates Tasmania's “Taste of Summer” festival. It takes place on the waterfront in the dynamic capital of Hobart from 27 December to 6 January. Try the island’s abundance of oysters and celebrate the diverse cuisines available, from Vietnamese banh mi to Indonesian stuffed breads and Mexican street food. Tasmanian boutique vineyards will hold tastings alongside craft breweries, cider makers and whisky distilleries.
While you’re in town, hop around Hobart’s wine bars to try glasses of locally-grown riesling, chardonnay and cool-climate pinot noir, accompanied by Tasmanian cheeses. Follow the River Derwent up to The Agrarian Kitchen for a seasonal lunch or to take part in a field-to-fork cookery class. If you're staying for longer, take yourself on a self-guided tour through northern Tasmania’s Tasting Trail, strung together with artisan producers. Pick your own berries at The Berry Patch, tuck into hot smoked salmon from 41 Degrees South’s inland salmon ponds and treasure black truffles grown in the volcanic soil.
If you're craving a quick Christmas weekend getaway this December, look no further than the charming historic town of Arras. A mere 2-hour journey from London will transport you from the hustle and bustle of city life to the enchanting Christmas markets nestled across three magnificent Flemish-Baroque-styled squares. Running from November 24th to December 30th, these markets, while not the largest in Europe, have attractions for all ages – from a vintage carousel and ice rink for the kids to delectable local treats like chicory conserve, honey and craft beers.
Don't miss out on trying frites, especially since Arras made history by hosting the world's first-ever French Fries World Championships on October 7th, promising to become an annual tradition after its resounding success.
Kickstart your day with a treat from Duployez Patisserie, offering a range of delightful pastries, from tarte au citron meringuée to tartelette framboise. Take a leisurely stroll through the markets, immersing yourself in the festive spirit, or stop for a moment of peace in Pâtisserie Thibaut on the Place des Héros for a coffee and some of Arras’ infamous chocolate rats.
For lunch, head to Le Chalet Des 2 Savoies for hearty portions of tartiflette, croziflette or fondue savoyarde – just 8 euros. For a touch of French Christmas flair, savour some fresh oysters from Thierry Petite's stall, strategically located opposite a champagne bar, offering six oysters and a glass of wine for 10 euros.
Warm up at Chez Marcel, a cosy craft beer bar on 30 rue de la Taillerie, exuding the comfort of a cosy living room. For an unforgettable experience, consider booking the Diners Secrets des Boves, held on Friday and Saturday nights from December 1st to December 16th. This unique event includes a tour of the boves (underground caves), a four-course meal curated by Gabriel Asseman, head chef of restaurant L’oeuf ou la Poule, and a post-dinner ascent of Arras’ bell tower, providing a stunning view of the Christmas markets.