I can’t believe it’s already December! Somehow winter managed to totally creep up on me, probably because the weather in Chiang Mai has been anything but frosty.
Still, November in Thailand is pretty magical, with Loi Krathong, the sort of festival that is so much fun that you somehow leave with only three photos of it, another rice harvest, and Thanksgiving! After which I’m happy to report that yes, it is totally possible to cook a turkey in a toaster oven.
But now it’s December and I’m once again dreaming of far off places. To me, December means Christmas, and during Christmas the only place I want to be is in a pretty snow-covered town in Europe. Cliché? Maybe. Magical? Totally!
Here are my top picks for places I wish I were visiting this December:
1. Sibiu, Romania
This may be weird, but I usually enjoy the build up to Christmas way more than the day itself. I especially love wandering through cities decked out in Christmas lights and filled with festive Christmas markets. I mean, how beautiful is this Christmas market in Sibiu? Oh how I wish I could disapparate there right now.
Growing up, most Christmases my family would fly from Boston to Norway with budget-friendly Icelandair, and even though we only ever had short stopovers there, I still associate Iceland with the beginning of Christmas. Plus, look at this photo from Matt at Expert Vagabond; I’m pretty sure if we peeked inside this cabin we’d find one or two of Santa’s elves whittling toys by the fire.
3. Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway
I’ve spent a lot of winters in Norway, but I’ve still never stayed in an ice hotel! After reading Shing’s post about her stay at the Igloo Hotel in Alta, a night in an ice hotel has held a top spot on my bucket list. Plus, I’ve only crossed the Arctic Circle in the summer to see the midnight sun, so I think it’s about time for a winter trip up north!
4. Utsjoki, Finland
Once I’m up in Alta I really might as well hop over the border to Finland, right? After reading Larissa’s account of her time in Utsjoki, Finnish Lapland I’d say the answer is a resounding yes.
Reindeer! Ice fishing! (Legit) Sami herders! Who’s with me?
5. Lake Baikal, Russia
I’ve hinted a lot about my travel plans for this winter and spring but haven’t been able to announce anything yet because everything hangs on my being granted a Russian visa while in Norway over Christmas. But if I do get the visa, then Lake Baikal will absolutely have a spot on my itinerary.
I did wonder for a moment if I’m insane to want to go to Siberia in the dead of winter, but after reading this post on The Polar Route I seriously cannot wait. Fingers crossed!
If you could book a flight anywhere, where would you head this December?
Tip: If you’re worried about the cost of flights and hotels hotwire.com often has deals on both. And if you want to save even more, you can often find coupons for hotwire on ChameleonJohn.com. Good luck!
Are you sitting in my head? 😉 I seriously would love to go to all these places (even if I’ve already been to Sibiu, Iceland, Norway and Finland – spent 5 months there;))
Haha it seems like we’re always in a similar mindset when it comes to travels. One of these days we’re bound to bump into each other!
Such beautiful places, all of them! There is something slightly strange about being in a warm climate for Christmas (somehow I’m still not accustomed to it after several years!) and I would love to be at home in Washington state with my family just for Christmas day and then transport right back to my City of Eternal Spring 🙂
This is now my fifth winter in a warmer climate and I’m still not used to it either! I’m already counting down the days until I land in snowy Norway 🙂
I would love to go to all these places! The photo of Iceland is especially beautiful. And thanks for introducing me to some new blogs!
I know, I stared at the photo of Iceland for ages when I first came across it. So pretty!
becky hutner says
Have been DYIIIIIING to hit Iceland for years. Bit wary of doing so in winter, but hey, it’s not the weather, it’s your clothing, right?
Having been raised by a Norwegian mother my heart swelled at that – yes, it is totally just the clothing, not the weather! (Or have we northerners just been brainwashed?)
Good luck with your Russian visa. Heard they’re changing the regime (again!) after January 1st, so hopefully you’ll squeak by without any problems. I’m so jealous of your Baikal adventures – I’ve been here for 4 years and I’ve never gone!
Oh wow, I hadn’t realized they were making changes again! I’m fairly nervous about the visa, but hopefully it will go smoothly!
Christine@ Apple of My Eye says
First off, I had to laugh at your toaster oven turkey. Whatever gets the job done, right ;)?
And fun fact, I’m Norwegian as well! My dad grew up on a rural potato farm there and was an exchange student at the same college I am at now when he met my mom. They moved to Norway for 3 years and I was actually born there and learned Norsk as my first language. I’ve forgotten a lot (I can still understand a good amount, though), but have SO many wonderful memories of all the summer trips we’ve taken up there to visit family/my HUGE 6’5, blonde/blue eyed cousins. It is STUNNING in the winter!
No way! I was never raised properly bilingual (I guess my mom was too over Norway by the time she moved to America with my dad) so I sound like a little kid when I speak it. But I’m seriously considering moving there after my spring travels because it’s sort of the most perfect country in the world, right? Though as a Californian you might not be as into those cold, dark winters, haha.
No. 3 sounds fascinating, it is my choice
I think it might be my top choice now as well!
Happy to see I’ve tempted you to stay in one of your homeland’s ice hotels! You’ve put together a bunch of awesome winter destinations, I think Iceland gets my biggest vote because I also reckon elves live there. They say Santa is from Finland but I’m not convinced.
Ohhh the joys of getting a Russian Visa – you’ll get it I’m sure it’s just a pain the bottom!
Oh the stories of Santa living in Finland are just meant to throw us off, I’m sure of it!
Great list! I want to go to allll of these places, but Norway and Iceland definitely top my must-go-right-now list. I was in Romania last year but didn’t make it Sibiu… looks like I’ll have to go in winter some time as it looks amazing!
Right? I’m planning on going to Romania in the spring, but now I’m thinking that I’ll have to arrange a winter trip to Sibiu as well!
Ahhh!! These all look so amazing! Oh my word I’d love to visit them all, especially #1!! I hear ya on wanting to go to a cute European town in the winter time around Christmas!! That sounds AMAZING!! I would love to visit France, or Italy around Christmas!! …so pretty!
I really do think European towns nail the holiday spirit – I’ve never been anywhere more magical during Christmas!
I would head Nuremberg + Erlangen!!
I almost included Nuremberg on this list because of its impressive Christmas market, but then I decided I would rather go somewhere I hadn’t been instead. But Germany really must have the world’s best Christmas markets!
Exactly, amazing Christmas market and atmosphere! I also agree one should go the cold lands in the time of new year! and your choices are good cold enough!
It is so weird spending winter in places that are not only a million degrees but that don’t have seasons. I still can’t get used to it and I constantly find myself dreaming of being in any place wear I could wear a sweatshirt. If I could pick one place on this list it would be Iceland. I’ve been dreaming of going there for the past 6 months! It’s definitely at the top of my list at the moment. Oh, and I would definitely like to do a night at that ice hotel too 🙂
I don’t know how I’ve managed to spend the past five years in warm climates, because I’m such a winter person! My number one goal for next year is to live somewhere with a proper autumn and winter (because you know, priorities, haha).
Liv @ Healthy Liv says
The ice hotel looks incredible! I think that’s every kid’s (or kid at heart) dream come true to stay in an igloo 🙂
Right?! I built so many igloos as a child – my sister and decided that our backyard was “The Institute of Iglooology,” haha.
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
Hi Silvia! I absolutely love the places that you want to visit! I’m in awe of the ice hotel! I’ve heard of that before, what an amazing experience that must be. And that Christmas market looks so fun! And great job on cooking your turkey in the toaster oven! 🙂
Haha the turkey did have to be deconstructed a bit before going into the oven, but it turned out delicious!
Miriam of Adventurous Miriam says
I have two of these destinations on my Christmas wishlist: Iceland and Finland. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit both in the upcoming months. Do you have any plans for the holidays?
I’ll be going to Norway for a week for Christmas, and then visiting friends in London for New Year’s! I’m so excited to be back in Europe, if only for a short visit 🙂
Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie says
I’m so glad you commented on my blog because I think I may just live vicariously through your blog now! I want to go to all of these places. Although, I actually did book a plane trip to my dream Christmas location – NYC!
That’s funny because when I found your blog I figured I could live vicariously through it as well! I’m referring to all the running you do of course, haha (seriously I need to get more active!).
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says
What cool spots to visit! I’m actually Finnish but have never thought about going there. Those pictures tho – so beautiful! A perfect winter getaway if you’re not looking for a tropical escape 😉
Whaat you HAVE to go to Finland! I’ve only been to Helsinki, but even my short time there had me hooked. It would be so much fun to discover your roots there 🙂
I really like your list and the idea of having a snow-covered Christmas… just for a few days and then back to a more “benign” weather.
Best of luck with your Russian visa, if they require an in-person interview, don’t forget to bring the toaster oven.
Haha good idea!
Nicole @ Waterloo, with Love says
I love EVERYTHING about your blog and your story! I haven’t been to any of those places, but Iceland is high up on my bucket list haha. Man, I haven’t even travelled outside Ontario (Canada-wise)… eek! :p
Thanks, Nicole, and YES Iceland! I would love to explore it – winter or summer!
Sky @ Blonde Freedom says
Thanks for giving me a severe case of wanderlust!! Your photos are beautiful and those places are gorgeous! I would love to take a flight to London, England!
Right? I have a lot of travels coming up, but these last couple of weeks until I leave are driving me crazy! I’ll be in London for New Year’s though, which isn’t that far away now.
Mattie @ Comfy & Confident says
All of these places look incredible! I want to go to all of them! But, if I could go anywhere this December, I would go find snow so I could ski! I want to ski powder and explore giant mountains. I plan to go to Snow Bird in Utah this winter, but I’d love to go now!
I am desperate to go skiing as well! Luckily I’ll be in Norway over Christmas, so I should get the opportunity. Utah would also be amazing though!
Renate @ Renate's Travels says
So many gorgeous christmas/winter destinations! I’m actually at the airport in Oslo right now, having just come down from Kirkenes (waaay up north-east in Norway on the border to Russia), awaiting my next flight back up home to Bodø. Right now there is snow almost everywhere in Norway it seems, and the winter lights were gorgeous up in Kirkenes.
I’d love to go to all of the places you mentioned, especially back to Romania. I bet it’s gorgeous there with the snow this time of year! I visited Lappland in Finland a couple of weeks ago, and it was SO CUTE. We even met Santa Claus and went on a reindeer sleigh ride. It really got me in the christmas spirit 😉
Ahhh I’m so jealous of you right now! I haven’t been to Kirkenes since I was a little girl, but I’m dying to go back. Though my boyfriend and I are talking about trying to move to Trondheim in the summer (do you think we should?!) so maybe soon I will have the chance! And I still have never been to Lapland, so that’s on my list regardless of where I’m living!
Elena@Elena's Travelgram says
I’d vote for Iceland! I’m dying to see colorful Rejkyavik from the top of the church and bathe in a hot spring. And the scenery there are just mind-blowing!
Mmmm I’m having such intense wanderlust right now! I think I’m missing Europe a little too much 🙂
Taylor Hearts Travel says
Great choices. I’d happily take any of those! I went to Iceland one January and it was gorgeous. I’d love to spend Christmas there in one of those cabins. Totally festive!
Right? I’ll actually be in a cabin in Norway for Christmas, which will hopefully be similarly festive!