While we’re the first to coo over the charms of a snowy Christmas market or leap at the chance to visit Santa in Lapland, a fuss-free and low-key festive period cannot be overrated. Which is why we’ve pulled out the best places to help you streamline (or avoid) Christmas this year.
Swap snow for sand and surf in Australia
Relaxing on Bondi Beach in Sydney
Keep the theme of a white Christmas but without the freezing temperatures by visiting the surfing and sunning paradise of Bondi Beach. After all, there’s nothing like a morning surf, followed by a barbeque on the beach to drive away all thoughts of red-nosed reindeers and overcooked turkey. And if you do want to keep a few traditions intact — like the post-lunch snooze — book into the Bondi Beach House, just 3-minutes walk from the sea.
Escape the Christmas crowds by visiting Scotland
Trekking at Sron na Lairig in Glencoe
The weather in Scotland may be consistently unpredictable but wild and wonderful scenery is guaranteed. Spend Christmas morning hiking through the cinematic Glencoe landscape (the setting for Skyfall) and then retire to the 17th century Loch Leven Hotel bar. Here you’ll find over 60 single malt whiskies and nearly as many types of gin and craft beer.
Skip the mince pies and try some sweet mochi in Japan
Newly cooked mochi buns in Kyoto
Every December sees the streets surrounding the ornate Kitano Tenmangu Shrine fill with scarlet lanterns and street food stalls selling traditional Japanese cakes like the roasted rice mochi buns. The Kitano Tenmangu Flea Market is the last festive market of the year and it’s easy to lose track of time as you wander from stall-to-stall. And if you’re looking for somewhere to sleep off all those mochi buns, check into the Kyoto Granbell Hotel.
Catch up with work in Thailand
The Banyan Tree Samui infinity pool
If you have work to do over the holiday season but still want to get away, it might be time to consider a trip to Thailand. Specifically to Chiang Mai which is home to one of the largest digital nomad communities in the world and will provide you with plenty of tropical relaxation in between checking your emails. Or if you really do want to get away from it all then try a week off lounging in the Banyan Tree Samui infinity pool, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.
Visit the temples of Bahir Dar in Ethiopia
Murals inside the orthodox monastry of Azuwa Maryam
As one of the oldest Christian countries in the world (second only to Armenia) Ethiopia might not be the obvious choice for travellers hoping to escape Christmas. If you only want to escape the consumerism and frantic shopping, however, Bahir Dar will give you an alternative celebration to remember. Located on the shore of Lake Tana — the source of the Blue Nile — Bahir Dar is only a short boat trip from the lake’s colourful and intricate island monasteries. And once you’re back on dry land, head to the Delano Hotel for a mix of Western and Ethiopian-inspired Christmas dishes.