Once upon a time, there was the traditional Christmas holiday with its classic walks among Christmas markets and nativity scenes. But nowadays more and more people choose alternative destinations to avoid crowds of visitors and endless queues to museums.
- New Year's Eve ideas: From Safari in Dubai to sunbathing in the Canary Islands
- New Year's Eve in Morocco between Berber villages and Sahara tours
- New Year's Eve cruise dinner in Dubai
- New Year's Eve on the beach: Discovering the Maldives Omanite
- Christmas in Doha: A spectacular walk along the Corniche
- Bright lanterns in the Thai New Year’s Eve sky
- New Year's Eve in the Canary Islands: Snorkeling and walking through the volcanoes
- Rafting and midnight fireworks on the shores of Lake Bled
- Diving, trekking and Cuban cigars on New Year's Eve in Havana
New Year's Eve ideas: From Safari in Dubai to sunbathing in the Canary Islands
Souvenir photos under Christmas trees are water under the bridge: selfie on the beach or riding a camel in the desert are rather the new tendency! Paris? London? The latest trend for the December and January holidays is to shelve the big-name destinations and focus on places which offer special and unusual experiences. If you feel involved in this, you're in the right place. Say goodbye to souvenir shops and classic Christmas selfies and keep in mind these 8 ideas for an alternative festive holiday.
New Year's Eve in Morocco between Berber villages and Sahara tours
If you are thinking about spending a holiday in Morocco in December, our advice is not only to focus on the most famous cities such as Marrakech or Fez. You can also include a tour that takes you around the villages in the Berber valleys: if you're an adventurous kind of person, I would recommend you the one that includes a night- stay in the desert with the Milky Way to caress you, a truly unique experience.
The tour is super feasible, landscapes are fabulous and you can also ride a camel!
You will experience camping in the middle of the dunes of Erg Chebbi, among the flavours of the typical Moroccan cuisine, evenings around campfires listening to the Berbers, and simple and nice people playing the bongo and singing traditional songs.
For a cultural trip I recommend you to visit the kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO heritage.
Leaving from Marrakech you can also organize a day out to the Ouzoud Waterfalls: bring your camera with you to immortalise the beauties of its natural landscape, you won't regret it! If you're staying in the Fes area and you would like to ski, not too far you'll find Ifrane, called the little Switzerland of Morocco because of its microclimate.
For an alternative trip you can go to Azrou, where you will find the Cedar Forest inhabited by "Barbary macaques" (very friendly monkeys, they are used to approach tourists looking for food but they're not dangerous).
Save a day to visit Chefchaouen too, the beautiful Moroccan city where everything is blue.
There are many guided excursions available, leaving from Fès or Tangier: in half a day you can easily complete the entire visit and at the end of the tour you can go back to your hotel.
Two more tips if you've chosen Morocco for your Christmas holidays:
- Weather in Morocco varies from area to area, but please note that in Marrakech during the Christmas season temperatures range between 7° and 19°.
- Moving around on your own is feasible, opting for a car rental. Driving in Morocco is easy and safe but keep in mind that you will find many roadside checks, so respect the speed limits in Morocco, which may vary compared to your country.
New Year's Eve cruise dinner in Dubai
Temperatures in Dubai in December are high with warm weather and constant sun despite technically being winter, so you can easily have a swim in the sea: it's definitely an unusual Christmas, isn’t it? There are many beach clubs to be accessed by guests paying pricey entrance fees but if you are on a budget, you will easily find several free beaches such as Jumeirah and Kite Beach.
Please note that the quality of the sea in Dubai is about the same along the entire coast, however the difference is to be found in the hotels and accommodation facilities that overlook the beaches. Furthermore keep in mind that seawater is cold during this period so if you're particularly sensitive to cold temperatures, then you’d rather take a swim in the pool.
Also in Dubai Christmas is celebrated with trees and winter markets, but if you are looking for something truly original, then you should keep in mind some kinds of experiences like these:
A Jeep Safari ending with a dinner at the Bedouin camp.
A Cruise with dinner available and fireworks show admired on board: a romantic idea if you’re travelling with your partner.
New Year's Eve is spectacular, with plenty of parties taking place in Downtown Dubai. However for a very "cool" New Year's Eve in Dubai, you can wait for the midnight countdown on the beaches (such as those of Nasimi Beach or Atlantis the Palm) where you will find more incredible parties.
- Forget moving by car, metro and taxi are practical, well functioning and cheap transports.
New Year's Eve on the beach: Discovering the Maldives Omanite
New Year's Eve in Oman is a bit similar to that celebrated in Dubai; the only difference is that you can't rely on an efficient public transport system and taxis are not really cheap as well. So, the best and more recommended option to get around is hiring a car, a cheaper solution than private transfers. In addition, keep in mind that driving in Oman is not dangerous at all!
A super recommended excursion is the one to Nizwa, Bahla and Jabrin that you can easily enjoy on your own, without necessarily local guides.
You can also opt for a tour to Sur, but please note that it's far away from Muscat and it would be a good idea to stay there almost for a night's sleep. To visit Muscat you can rely on guided tours too, the prices are affordable and the visit to the mosque, recently built, is really sensational!
About the beaches, we recommend you to spend a couple of days at the seaside in Muscat or move to the Al Bustan area with its characteristic beaches in the coves and a mountain scenery behind. Go to White Beach if you like white sand, while Salalah is one of the most beautiful seaside areas where you can find great new generation hotels.
- In Muscat you should also visit the "Maldives" Omanite, Daymaniyat Islands, ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling among dolphins and turtles.
Don’t forget that from December until February it’s the peak of high season, in both Dubai and Oman: booking your holiday in advance is extremely recommended to save money.
Christmas in Doha: A spectacular walk along the Corniche
Christmas in Doha is not a bad idea at all! Keep in mind that in December temperatures in Qatar range between 18 and 20 degrees: the water can be quite cold, so it's not the best for swimming, but the weather is perfect for sunbathing. In the Qatari capital there are no free beaches but only hotel private ones, accessible for an extra charge to non hotel guests too.
A must for visitors in Doha is the walk along the Corniche, an elegant promenade that surrounds, like a frame, the entire skyline of the city, clean and well-kept.
It's a great place to visit all months of the year but especially during the Christmas season, the area is beautifully decorated and provides a lovely atmosphere.
Another must-see place is the Kata Cultural Village where you will always find a lot of events, including concerts with musicians from all over Europe. There are lots of young people, tourists and locals hanging around and you can taste typical dishes in the various clubs and cafes scattered around the city.
The airport is not too far from the city centre and a taxi is recommended to get around.
Don't forget the Museum of Islamic Art, with free admission, and the traditional Souk Waqif, a typical Arab market where you can buy gifts and all sorts of souvenirs.
- There's so much to see in Doha, but if you have enough time, you can also plan a fascinating trip to the Qatar Desert.
Bright lanterns in the Thai New Year’s Eve sky
Celebrating New Year's Eve in Thailand is definitely another alternative idea far from the usual tourist destinations, although much depends on where you are planning to stay. To find the less crowded places, it isnecessary to move away from the most-known and conventional locations. If you're looking for a vibrant nightlife, then Bangkok and Phuket are a great choice: during the Christmas season you'll find events, shops and restaurants of all kinds, all around.
Bangkok usually offers New Year's Eve great fireworks, wherecrowds of young Thai people will be waiting for the countdown by the Central World complex
If your budget allows it, then why notto book a romantic dinner at one of the many rooftop restaurants.
If you are looking for a more relaxed solution, it would rather be better to move towards the coast. Here is a tip: New Year's Eve in Patong is really impressive. From late afternoon until midnight, you will admire thousands of light lanterns and fireworks shows everywhere: a really exciting night, isn’t it?
- For a really cool experience, I'd like to recommend Phi Phi Island, a resort that allows you to sleep on tree houses.
New Year's Eve in the Canary Islands: Snorkeling and walking through the volcanoes
If you're not particularly interested in the nightlife, but you're looking for the sun, peace and beautiful beaches, the Canary Islands are the right place to go. Locations are fascinating and temperatures are pleasant, even if windy; but the seawater is cold, so that swimming here during the Christmas season is a really hard task.
If you're wondering about stopping in Lanzarote, in addition to a beach-life holiday we recommend you a super special experience: a guided excursion through the volcanoes and lava fields of the Timanfaya National Park.
The tour can be made on foot or taking part in a camelback safari, a great experience recommended even if you are travelling with children.
On 31 December, move to Puerto del Carmen for the traditional fireworks or to Arrecife where New Year's Eve is celebrated in the streets.
Tenerife is more glamorous and I recommend it to you if you want to spend a lively holiday. There are many restaurants, bars and clubs with live music, especially in the area of Playa de Las Americas. The most memorable experience is the Whale and Dolphin Cruise, which is usually organised during the Christmas season. The Tenerife sea waters are perfect for snorkeling, another pretty idea you can keep in mind for your alternative New Year's Eve.
Rafting and midnight fireworks on the shores of Lake Bled
Are you wondering about the idea of spending New Year's Eve in Slovenia? We assure you that it's a very feasible plan, depending a lot on your own preferences.
If you prefer mountain landscapes and you’re looking for a quiet and romantic place to stay, then the destination not to be missed is Bled; you are right at the foot of Mount Triglav, with lakes and mountains view all around you, I assure it's really fascinating! Staying here allows you to visit Ljubljana (it is about 50 km away). You can rent a car or use public transport.
During the Christmas season, traditional celebrations and events are organised on the shores of Lake Bled, as well as a New Year's Eve fireworks show.
I suggest you to visit the historical center of Skofia Loka or, for a wilder experience, to reach the Lake Bohinj near Bled for an exciting rafting session on the Sava River.
Evaluate the idea of spending New Year's Eve in Ljubljana if you're looking for hustle and bustle crowded celebrations with street parties, performances, entertainment and special events. Here are two places you shouldn't miss during your Christmas holiday: the Postojna Cave or the San Canziano Cave, especially recommended during these cold months, and the royal Predjama Castle.
If you're travelling by car, remember that on the entire Slovenian road and motorway network, chains on board or winter wheels are mandatory.
Diving, trekking and Cuban cigars on New Year's Eve in Havana
What about Cuba? New Year's Eve in Havana is always a great idea!
Events in the main squares, gala evenings in the Plaza de la Catedral and celebrations in clubs and in the streets: with no doubt you'll need a huge budget to plan your New Year's Eve in Cuba, but if you're getting ready and moving in advance, you can save a lot of money!
The only advice we want to give to you is to stay in the old part of Havana, where public transport is not so expensive and you can find many places where you can eat without spending a fortune. There are lots of guided tours available that will take you around the city and they're not very expensive.
If you're planning to stay for several days, you can also spend some of them at the seaside. You will find beautiful beaches in Varadero, while those who practice diving should move to the area of Maria la Gorda, about 4 hours away from Havana, but it is definitely worth the travel. It's a typical Caribbean beach, not so crowded, with white sand and exclusive activities available for those who love diving and snorkeling.
Another exciting idea is to take part in a guided excursion to the Vinales Valley, ideal for trekking or horseback riding among coffee and tobacco plantations.
On some tours, guides also explain how Cuban cigars are made and, last but not least, if you want, they also make you try one.
Looking for other unusual experiences? Take a look at the best sun destinations to escape the cold winter. best sun destinations to escape the cold winter.