If our previous post, featuring five vacation destinations to celebrate a family Christmas, hasn’t got you to book a flight yet, here’s the second part of the list – which surely won’t leave you indifferent!
6. Strasbourg, France
This French town, known as “Capital de Noël” (the capital of Christmas), has rightfully earned its title. With over the top Christmas decorations, an excessive number of markets, a grand town cathedral and a picturesque old town, Strasburg offers a full Holiday Spirit Experience. The Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie, is the largest and most famous Christmas market in town dating back to 1570, making it one of the oldest markets in Europe. Other, more modern markets, are a combination of German and French traditions.
La Petite France, also known as the Quartier des Tanneurs, is the historical quartier of town, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grande Île. With cobblestone streets, lock and half-timbered houses, a walk along the canals of this area of town is a fairy-tale experience. The Christmas time decorations and lights make this year-long beautiful quartier even more Instagramable.
The traditional Christmas tree is nothing short of perfect. Towering to at least 30m tall, the tree lights up the entire town square and completes the picture-perfect town scenery. Younger kids will also enjoy a boat ride on the canal and the Parc Animalier Friedel, where you can walk amongst the animals (goats, cows, chickens, ponies and more…) wondering freely throughout the park.
This Danish capital has Christmas Spirit written all over! Whether it’s an excessive display of Christmas lights, adding colour to the already colourful streets, beautiful compact holiday markets, public ice skating rinks or to die for in-city gardens, this beautiful city is sure to get even the grumpiest holiday loather into the holiday spirit.
Tivoli Gardens, located at the heart of the city, are a must in the holiday season. They offer the cutest display of wooden houses, snow-covered trees (decorated with more than 70,000 Christmas baubles!), a beautiful Christmas market and an over-the-top Christmas parade, making for an unforgettable Nordic Christmas.
The spiral walk up to the top of the famous Rundetaarn (Round Tower in English), is a must your kids will surely enjoy. Built as an observatory in 1642 for King Christian IV, it is still a functioning planetarium for star-gazers. Halfway up the 39m tall tower, there is a library hall where Hans Christian Anderson drew inspiration. Once at the top, you will enjoy a fantastic view of Copenhagen! Don’t forget to bring along your windbreakers, since winds at the top can be rather harsh.
And of course, no visit to Denmark is complete without visiting the Lego store – a mini Legoland, all dressed up for Christmas time. The store also has an activity section, where children and grown-ups can unleash their creative selves using the famous Lego and Duplo bricks. We recommend an early morning visit to avoid the mid-day crowds.
8. Cape Town
A Christmas in Cape Town may not be a classic snowy Christmas, yet the holiday in the southern capital is nothing short of magical! As most capitals, Cape Town also offers its Festival of Lights. Attending the official turning-on of the lights (usually happens on the first Sunday of December) is definitely worth the effort. On this “Turning of Lights” Sunday, the main streets offer free street parties and live music and this atmosphere continues till the beginning of January.
If you are a carols fan the obvious pick is most likely a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Starting mid-December, the gardens host the Carols at Kirstenbosch, a four-day fundraising initiative of the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch. The tradition, which has been running for over 25 years, brings families out to the gardens, picnicking on the beautiful lawns whilst being entertained by various popular musicians. When the sun sets, candle lights are lit and the carols begin. This event attracts over 20,000 visitors each year, so be sure to get your tickets early.
Mid-December also marks the kick-off for the traditional Christmas markets. Whether it is the pop-up Fab Ideas Christmas Market in Kommetjie, the Lourensford Christmas Market or the Pinelands Craft and Gift Fair, which runs until December 22nd, there is definitely no shortage of shopping opportunities in this great city.
9. Kaikoura, New Zealand
A Christmas family getaway to this heaven on earth peninsula will have you re-defining “Christmas Spirit”. The city on the southern island is a dream destination for wildlife and marine life lovers, with the beautiful forests, waterfalls and the surreal experience of Whale Watching. The size of these beautiful creatures is demonstrated in an encounter which is most likely as up front and close as you’ll ever get with a whale.
Maori Leap Cave in Kaikoura with its stalactites and stalagmites is a stunner. The cave that was discovered during the 1950s and has been a huge tourist attraction ever since, was naturally formed by the sea waves. You can easily find a tour that will take you into the depth of this natural wonder that will have you and your kids feel like young Indiana Jones’s.
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. It is also known as the last place on earth where wild elephants, tigers, rhinos, jungle cats, crocodiles and orangutans co-exist , which makes it an important reason to visit the island throughout the year and show your kids the real wild life. The Borneo rainforest is estimated to be around 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
A visit to Bako National Park is the perfect start to your jungle Christmas adventure. The jungle is a nature lover’s dream come true. It is home to approximately 275 rare proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo. Bako’s plant life is both beautiful and readily accessible. All the trails have a great variety of vegetation, from mighty 80-metre dipterocarps to dense mangrove forest. Just stick to one of the 16 official trails to enjoy all the good this place has to offer.
Sepilok Orangutan Centre is a rehabilitation centre which trains orphaned or rescued orangutans how to survive in the wild. A visit to the centre includes visiting the feeding area, where you will watch the orangutans come down from the trees for a free meal. The centre is also home to numerous baby orangutan, born in the wild to rehabilitated mothers. The Canter’s successful program has made it a worldly renowned centre for the study of orangutan biology and behaviour. A walk through the wild untouched jungle and the opportunity to view semi-wild orangutans, will make this visit a once in a lifetime experience.
A Borneo Christmas Getaway is an opportunity to have a completely different holiday, it will surely be a holiday you and your family will never forget!
Happy Holidays! We’d love to hear where your unforgettable Xmas vacations were. Visit us on our Facebook page to share your photos and stories.