It’s that time of year again.
The emails have started to arrive from people looking for ideas on where to travel solo for the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.
As we do each year, we asked you for recommendations and, once again, we’ve updated last year’s post with more solo travel destinations for the holiday season.
The suggestions are primarily from readers who are also members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Below, in the comments, you’ll find still more recommendations from people who have holiday travel tales to tell.
The result: over 35 solo travel destinations for the holidays. Please keep in mind that none of the recommendations below are endorsements from Solo Traveler. We do hope that they help you find your perfect holiday destination. As always, please do your research carefully.
Let’s start with an enthusiastic reminiscence by one reader of her many travels over the holidays.
Linda says: “I love being away for Christmas to escape the family festivities. I can’t remember when I was home last time over the Christmas holidays. I’ve been to Namibia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, India, Taiwan, Florida, Australia, China, and so on. I’m still looking for a travel destination for this year. I might not want to go that far, so I’m thinking Europe or the Middle East….maybe a yoga holiday.”
Reader-Recommended Solo Travel Destinations for Christmas
Antarctica and Arctic Regions
Antarctica is recommended by Karina. “I’ve done Antarctica for Xmas as a solo.”
Iceland is recommended by Emily. “I did Christmas in Iceland solo a few years back. I would definitely recommend it. It was my first white Christmas – it actually snowed on Christmas Day. I was terrified before getting there but it turned out to be absolutely amazing!”
Cape Town, South Africa is recommended by Lize. “For the winelands, beaches, forest, and mountains.”
Marrakech, Morocco is recommended by Riad. “You’ll get to enjoy the wonders of the city, the monuments, the souks, the food, a camel ride, skiing in the Atlas Mountains, or a day trip to the surrounding villages. All that in one city–and it’s sunny even in December.”
Tunisia is Rebekah’s suggestion “for a nice sunshine resort break and lots of relaxing in the sun.”
Japan Aaron tells us that Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan, so everything is open, which is great for travelers. He says, “the Japanese do love celebrating it, so there are loads of Christmas decorations and festivals. I spent the last 2 Christmases in Tokyo and Hokkaido, and it was awesome.”
Hiroshima and Kyoto are recommended by Nancy. “It was wonderful. I ended up in Hiroshima on Christmas Day. The city was lit up with winter lights, and beautiful. New Year’s in Kyoto was incredible, listening to all the many temple bells ringing in the year. I travel alone very often and always have great experiences.”
Tokyo is recommended by T.C. “There are decorations everywhere, but everything is much more low key and uniquely Japanese.”
Korea is recommended by Wulan. “Last Christmas and New Year, going to South Korea, alone but feeling good, I went to Bosingak to count down the new year. It is full with people, so you can’t easily move your body but it was a great experience.”
Southeast Asia is Jules suggestion. He spent “two weeks Eco Volunteering with Bamboo Young at Heart. Week one was in Surin province Thailand, working with elephants, then Siem Reap, Cambodia to work with Water Aid. Then I was on my own meandering through Cambodia and back to Thailand for 5 weeks. I’m 62, and it was my first solo backpacking experience. I didn’t want to come home!”
Vietnam is recommended by Jennifer. “I’d go just about anywhere in Vietnam solo, but specifically Hoi An & Hue are lovely.”
Quebec, Canada is recommended by Ron. “I went skiing around Quebec a few years back. It has relatively cheap skiing and it’s not very crowded. You definitely will get a white Christmas to boot!”
Galapagos, Ecuador is recommended by Jasmine. “I’m going to the Galapagos for New Year’s. I will be solo, but with like-minded adventurers on a boat.”
Antigua, Guatemala is recommended by Casey. “I loved it. I never felt alone since my hosts included me. It’s best to stay with a family here. They don’t hype up Christmas but it is a spectacular Christmas Eve.”
Guadalajara, Mexico is recommended by Jenny who “spent Christmas at a homestay where they celebrate their Christmas dinner and opening of gifts on December 24th. It was an experience to remember.”
Peru is recommended by Kay because “everyone goes to the beach for the holidays.” It’s also recommended by Jennifer: “Condor Travel in Peru is excellent at putting together custom tours.”
Disney World, Florida is recommended by Tania, “for a magical experience – hands down.”
Hawaii is where Delma has spent the holidays for the last two years. “I love my aloha Christmas! When on Christmas Day people are having dinner and opening presents, I am swimming at the beach and drinking Mai Tais!”
New Orleans, Louisiana is the place to be, according to Micheline. “Throughout the holidays, restaurants hold Reveillon Dinners, which are prix fixe, festive dinners with special dishes. The weather is mild, decorations are up and people are incredibly friendly. Because it’s a Catholic city, there are lots of services with great music. Bonus: if you can stay through Jan. 6, carnival season officially begins.
New York, New York is recommended by Carol. “New York City has wonderful decorations and Christmas markets. You may want to sleep off Manhattan island to get a cheaper room and commute in using mass transit. There’s nowhere to park and it’s outrageously expensive.” NYC is also recommended by Kathleen. “I live near New York, and I would think that it or any diverse city would be fun–there are always a lot of people who either don’t celebrate or are completely over the Christmas thing, so you would be free to focus your attention on other things.” Read: Affordable New York City: 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips
Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona is recommended by Micheline. “I definitely recommend the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. The botanical garden and the zoo are decorated in festive lights. The winter sky is a beautiful color. The temperature is just right, usually in the 70s. Many restaurants have outdoor patios and it’s great to watch the pretty sunsets.”
Red Mountain Resort, Utah is recommended by Martha. “I have only been in the fall, and it’s not for anyone looking to save money, but it’s fabulous. They even have a communal dining table if you’ve a mind to socialize.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico is recommended by Suzanne. “I flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico a few days after Christmas. I stayed in the old city. I loved all the decorations that were up for Christmas! There was lots of activity going on and I always felt safe. I took a tour with Spoon Food Tours and loved it! After a few days in San Juan, I did a one week cruise (also solo) on Celebrity’s Summit — also fabulous!”
San Diego, California is recommended by John. “Last year, I did a quick trip to San Diego for a few days between Christmas & New Year’s. I stayed in a boutique hotel in Little Italy. I used the trolley the whole time I was there. I took the Coaster up to Oceanside for the day to see the Surf Museum. The weather was phenomenal! There are very good restaurants on India Street in Little Italy and the Old Town area. I highly recommended this city.”
Sedona, Arizona Trina says, “Christmas in Sedona: it’s a lovely time of year to visit, not too cold, and you’re still able to go hiking!”
Tucson, AZ Miraval Resort & Spa in the Santa Catalina Mountains in northern Tucson is recommended by René. “You can be as active or as chill as you want at this resort. The location is beautiful, and the food is fantastic!”
Washington, DC is recommended by Micheline. It’s “wonderful at the holidays. The city is beautifully decorated, and the White House is gorgeous during Christmas. It’s become a great restaurant town, too, and there are lots of holiday dishes on menus. Don’t worry about cold weather, it’s a temperate place.” Rebekah agrees, adding that during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, she found “bright sunshine and got to look around all the sights and museums with hardly any crowds. I loved it!”
A Northern Tour is recommended by Cheri. “Last year, I did Germany (Triberg-the black forest, Frankfurt, and Hamburg for the Christmas markets). I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed good food and decor. I also went to Denmark, Copenhagen area at Christmas and enjoyed the food and markets there also. I took the train to “Hamlet’s castle” and took the ferry to have lunch in Sweden. I finished up my trip in Holland, seeing the festival of lights from the canals, a country tour of windmills, and enjoying cheese and biscuits. I had a great time. The prices were lower than in the summer, the decorations were great, and there where fewer people–except maybe in Amsterdam.”
Budapest, Hungary is recommended by Sereina “for a winter Christmas, and New Zealand for a summer one. Both are beautiful and have lots to offer at a good price.”
Budapest is also recommended by Arlene. “I went to Budapest last year. It was fabulous. I got one of the last tickets for the Nutcracker ballet at the Opera House on Christmas Day. I recommend it for a solo trip.”
It’s also recommended by Alison, along with Prague and Brussels. “I went to Prague, Budapest, and Brussels last year. It was beautiful. It was nice to spend the holiday time being productive and exploring rather than sitting around in a food coma.”
London, England Suzanne, who spent the holidays in London last year, says that the city nicely celebrates the holidays with food festivals, carnivals, ice skating, and more. Tickets for the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the largest annual fireworks display in the UK, go on sale in October, and Suzanne says it is an amazing experience to see in person.
London also comes highly recommended by Bev, who has spent the holidays there five times. A little tip she shared with us is to “bring your own holiday music–the songs you really love to hear and that make you smile, not just what you think is traditional.”
Bella suggests that you “take a night tour of London and see it all lit up, especially the lovely tree at Buckingham Palace.”
We even have some insider tips from Ann, a very enthusiastic local!
I admit I live here, but one of the best times of the year to be in London is between Christmas and New Year as there are next to no tourists and lots of the locals leave the city to stay with relatives outside of the city or abroad. Last year I saw the Nutcracker ballet in the Coliseum on Christmas Eve and walking home afterwards was magical, so quiet and just a hint of frost in the air. Should we be lucky enough to get a white Christmas, it is even better as the snow muffles all the sounds and with all the old buildings and alleyways in the city, it truly feels like you are in Dickens’ London in A Christmas Carol. You almost expect to run into Scrooge and Cratchit!
Check out our posts on London: Affordable London! 32 Free and Low-cost Tips and Marylebone, London & Christmas Magic on Oxford Street
Cologne, Ulm, and Berlin are Cathy’s recommendations from her 2016 trip. “But I will never forget Brussels at the Grand Palace Square 2015! Breathtakingly spectacular!”
Christmas Markets in Germany are recommended by Karla. “I go every year to the Christmas Markets. I absolutely love them–and I’m never lonely.”
Nuremberg, Germany is recommended by Shannon. “The traditional Christmas market is an amazing experience.”
Paris, France is recommended by Micheline. “Paris is festive at Christmas. Try to arrive a day or two ahead, so you can get your bearings and figure out your plan for the holiday. Before Christmas, you can see the fascinating Buche de Noel displays in bakery windows. While many restaurants close for Christmas itself, hotel restaurants serve dinner and Paris has some wonderful ones. Be sure to take a stroll or a cab ride to see the lights.”
It’s also recommended by Sonja. “I loved it. I spent the 24th in Versailles and the Louvre and had a lovely dinner. The 25th was for walking only. It’s a bank holiday in Paris as well so everything was closed. But the Christmas service in Notre Dame was breathtaking. I left on the 26th so I don’t know how it would have been over New Year’s, but it’s probably great.”
Prague, Czech Republic is recommended by Shweta who says “Prague is possibly the best city to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s!”
Tracey also wrote about her time there in this post, A Solo Christmas in Prague.
Norway is recommended by Annabel. “I flew to Norway to board the Hurtigruten coastal ferry (MS Lofoten) for a cruise up and down the west coast of Norway. Things didn’t go according to plan due to high seas, but departure delays, cancelled excursions, etc. were not holiday dampers. I went to see the Northern Lights and I saw them and had an incredible experience and met some really amazing people.”
Seville is recommended by Sarah. “I went last year and loved it. So tapas Christmas for us!”
Barcelona is recommended by Amanda. “Barcelona was brilliant at Christmas. They don’t make a big fuss and the local shops and the eateries remain open. I stayed in a lovely little B&B whose breakfast was enough to keep me going all day. The weather was mild and the sights not too crowded. It was my best solo Christmas ever!”
Vienna, Austria is recommended by Grace. “I would definitely recommend Vienna as a Christmas destination. Aside from being solo-friendly with a phenomenally efficient and navigable transport system, the whole city has a wonderful traditional Christmas feel to it, especially after dark when the light displays come into their own! Throw in the smell of mulled wine and gingerbread, and you’ve got yourself a magical Christmas experience.”
Jordan is recommended by Catherine. “It’s my favorite country and I had a fantastic tour there over Christmas a couple of years ago. There is so much to see and do, the food is amazing, the people are friendly, and Petra is absolutely fantastic. Sadly, due to the situation in the Middle East, tourist numbers have dropped drastically but I understand it’s still perfectly safe. You may even get Petra almost to yourself.”
Alice Springs to Darwin by train is recommended by Joanne. “I did the Ghan train trip on Christmas from Alice Springs to Darwin-but it does go from Adelaide then to Alice Springs and up to Darwin.”
Bondi Beach is recommended by Roxana.
Melbourne is recommended by Sarah. “I went to Melbourne one year. It was awesome. I flew from Brisbane on Christmas Day, spent 6 days in my favorite Aussie city just wandering the streets and catching up with some friends down there. It was the longest I’d ever spent there and I went with no plans in mind.”
Sydney is recommended by Les for Christmas/New Year’s. “The weather is a little different there that time of year than it is in the Upper Midwest.”
New Zealand is recommended by the bloggers at Indie Travel Podcast. “I’d have to recommend New Zealand for Christmas, it’s summer and lovely! If you’re traveling solo, you could hop on the Stray Backpacker bus for an instant group of friends but with the flexibility to hop on and hop off when you like.”
Will You Feel Lonely Being Alone for the Holidays?
Then a question arose.
Magdalene “I hope it’s not a silly question, but do you feel lonely traveling alone during a festive season such as Christmas?”
And the answers came.
Emily “At Christmas two years ago, I was pretty terrified about it and really not looking forward to spending Christmas alone–but it was awesome! Those Nordic countries really know how to keep Christmas festive!”
Panache “Once you realize how peaceful and interesting it is to spend time with yourself, you are ready to go, no matter what the season, festive or not. I feel totally blessed.”
Catherine “I never feel lonely traveling over Christmas but then I started doing it to escape my family! Maybe you’d feel less that way by doing a group tour. I’ve met some amazing people doing that who have become firm friends.”
Sherryl “As a single, childless adult with family in far flung places in the world, it became quite normal to go off by myself on a diving vacation almost every year. I quite enjoy it and often pick out something spectacular to do on the 25th.”
Jill “Traveling means being alone and not being judged and compared to others.”
The final word on solo travel destinations for Christmas goes to Carrolyn, who, after spending holiday seasons in China and New York, and planning to spending the holidays in China this year, says, “I think you can find the Christmas spirit nearly everywhere you travel.“