Mulled wine or sunshine? The 10 best places to spend Christmas alone
Who said you had to be home for Christmas? Having a solo Christmas in some of the best cities is a great way to make lifelong ties with people from all over the world. There’s the bonus that you don’t have to see family members who get on your nerves, and you can save more money for travel! Depending on where you go, it could be cheaper and less busy than travelling in peak season. Whether you want sun and beaches or snow and Christmas markets, we’ve got a variety of destinations for you to choose from. Here’s our list of the 10 best places to spend Christmas alone.
Stop that resting Grinch face, it’s time for some holiday cheer!
1. Bruges, Belgium
Let’s start with the obvious one, shall we? Bruges is arguably the Christmas capital of the world, so it’s a very suitable place to spend Christmas as a solo traveller. The city’s Christmas lights and picturesque cottages will make you feel like you’re in a life-sized snow globe.
Be sure to check out the Burg (which dates back to the 2nd century), the Rozenhoedkaai for some picture perfect views, and the Markt for a bite to eat. This town is perfect for spending the day wandering around!
Pick up some presents for your loved ones or have a mulled wine for yourself (cause it’s the most wine-derful time of year)!
How many days: 3Compare all hostels in Bruges
2. Byron Bay, Australia
Don’t want another cold Christmas? Head to Australia! Byron Bay is the perfect spot to spend Christmas alone sunbaking by the beach. The locals’ friendly and welcoming nature will have you feeling less like a solo traveller and more like a native! Grab your surfboard and ride some serious summer waves or check out the coastal views from Cape Byron Lighthouse. Then party with your new hostel friends into the early hours. All you need to do is fire up an Aussie BBQ for Christmas lunch.
How many days: 4 – a great amount of time to wind down and surf.
Wake Up! Byron Bay will help you grasp the Aussie beach culture, with bike, surfboard and paddleboard hire, yoga classes by the beach and pancake breakfasts – all free! It’s definitely the season for giving in Byron Bay.Compare all hostels in Byron Bay
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia
It’s not the most traditional place to spend Christmas – but it’s definitely a party. Christmas is a great time to visit Cambodia as it’s the dry season and the weather is much cooler around this time of year. It’s also a very popular destination for solo backpackers!
You’ll be welcomed by hospitable people, lively bars and a fascinating culture. Why not spend Christmas morning bike riding around Angkor Wat or Christmas eve watching a traditional Apsara dancing show? For a traditional feast try deep-fried tarantula or crickets to really feel like a local!
How many days to stay: 3-4 – Basically everything is open over Christmas, so you can make the most of your time there.
The hostels in Siem Reap are known for their great party and social atmosphere. No matter what day it is, Lub D Siem Reap is always celebrating. Stay there for a wild Christmas you’ll never forget (and hey, maybe New Year too?)Compare all hostels in Siem Reap
4. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a backpacker’s dream – even more so at Christmas! With a bustling social scene and nightlife, it’s the perfect city to meet other solo travellers. During the winter, the city is decorated with Christmas lights and hosts two Christmas markets.
Take the time to wander around Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, and don’t forget to grab some traditional Hungarian cuisine at the Central Market Hall.
Make your Christmas a sleek and alternative one, by sipping on a cocktail at one of the city’s many ruin bars. These super cool bars are located in former warehouses and abandoned buildings. Szimpla Kert is the most famous of them all, with massive greenery, colourful fairy lights and quirky themed rooms. It’s open on the 23rd of December – time for a pre-Christmas sesh with your new hostel mates?
How many days to stay: 4
Meander Hostel Budapest has a unique 12 days of Christmas countdown, with drinking games, decorating activities, parties and more, to get you into the Christmas spirit(s)!Compare all hostels in Budapest
5. Mexico City, Mexico
Tacos and Santa! Can it get any better?
In Mexico, the Christmas celebration starts in mid-December and runs right into February, and is called Las Posadas. The ‘zocalo’ (AKA the Plaza de la Constitución – main square) is decorated with the ornaments and lights known as Árbol de Navidad. Buildings throughout the city are also lit up in Christmas lights throughout the month. The zocalo also has a skating rink for your wintery needs. Prepare for lots of fireworks, music and parades.
You can also try bacalao, a festive dish of salted cod. Or there’s ensalada de noche buena, with lettuce, beets, jicama, oranges and carrots. It’s typically served on Christmas eve.
With a surge of solo travellers, plenty of culture, food and major Christmas celebrations, it’s one of the best places to spend Christmas alone.
How many days to stay: 3-4Compare all hostels in Mexico City
6. Cape Town, South Africa
Why not embark on a South African adventure this holiday season?
The city hosts an annual Festival of Lights in the central Adderley Street that’s sure to fulfil your Instagram dreams. In the first week of December at the switch-on ceremony, the street turns into a massive party! There are plenty of Christmas markets where you can get a unique present for your loved ones, including the Fab Ideas Christmas Market in Kommetjie..
Christmas in South Africa is in the glorious summertime, so pack plenty of swimwear and sunscreen for some scorching celebrations!
How many days to stay: 3
Hostels in Cape Town are really off the charts. ONCE in Cape Town is close to the city’s best bars and pubs. The hostel also has an outdoor fire pit for socialising under the stars, and a meditation garden for some private chill out time.
Keen to pamper yourself this Christmas? Head to MOY Accommodation & Backpackers – the luxury backpacker hostel that won’t break the bank!Compare all hostels in Cape Town
7. Tokyo, Japan
Calling all city-slickers! Tokyo is where you NEED to spend your next Christmas alone! The city’s blinding lights are cranked up a notch with the addition of their stunning Christmas decs.
Shop till you drop as the country’s end of year sales start at the Tokyo Midtown shopping complex. Close by is the famous Starlight Garden – where thousands of fairy lights cover an entire field of grass. Make sure you stop by the Shiodome too to see their annual winter illumination immersive display, where you can walk into an LED wonderland.
But if you want to make your Christmas celebrations really unique, there are plenty of things to try, like havinhostels g a traditional tea ceremony, spending time in a ryokan (traditional inns that serve dinner) or toasting in an onsen (outdoor hot spring bath).
If it’s too cold outside, why not cuddle up with a furry friend at one of Tokyo’s many cat cafes? Tokyo is a great place to be as a solo traveller because you don’t need a group to do activities, and you can experience everything at your own pace.
How many days to stay: 4-5
If you are wondering where to stay in Tokyo, the central Kaisu Hostel provides a social vibe, while still being a calming refuge from the busy city. The hostel offers free breakfast and has an onsite bar and café.Compare all hostels in Tokyo
8. New York City, USA
Rockerfeller Plaza, :@eliasandres
New York City is just yours for the taking, and it’s one of the best places to spend Christmas alone. This concrete jungle has everything: art galleries, shopping, parks, historic landmarks – If you can think it, New York has it. Spend the whole day exploring, while the night is your time to shine! Take the time to see the main attractions like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the MET and Times Square.
Christmas time in NYC is especially magical. You can go to Rockefeller Centre to see the iconic Christmas tree and ice skate at their famous rink. Stopping by the famous department stores of Barney’s, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue to see their elaborate window Christmas displays is an absolute must too!
Ready to live out the plot of Home Alone in your very own Big Apple Christmas?
How many days to stay: 5
Why not stay at Freehand New York during your winter adventure? This chic hostel is located in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighbourhood and oozes sophistication. You never know who you’ll meet under the mistletoe – could it be love at frost sight?Compare all hostels in NYC
9. Jerusalem, Israel
Western Wall, :@heftiba
Make your solo Christmas a deeply personal and spiritual one by visiting Jerusalem. For Christians, this holy city and its neighbouring towns are very important, as it’s the setting for the story of Christmas. Yet as the country is predominately Jewish, you’ll find that the holiday is way less commercialised as it is in western countries, giving the opportunity to personally reflect while absorbing the city’s culture and history.
The city is popular at Christmas time as it attracts pilgrims from all over the world, making it a fascinating place to be. You can watch pilgrims carry the cross around the Old City from the Via Dolorosa.
Basically everything is open on Christmas eve and Christmas day, so it’s a great time to explore! Be sure to see the stunning Old City, Western Wall and the Tower of David.
How many days to stay: 3-4
Abraham Hostel run a tour to Bethlehem on Christmas eve. You won’t have time to feel lonely, as they also have a big Christmas celebration with live music and drink deals.Compare all hostels in Jerusalem
If you wanna be higher than the Christmas tree over the holidays, what better place to spend Christmas alone than Amsterdam? You’re virtually guaranteed to run into a backpacker in this funky city. But if all you want is some solo time, grab a bike and ride around, taking in the pretty canals and cute houses (extra cute with Christmas lights!)
Amsterdam is full of great bars and clubs for spreading the Christmas spirit. Check out Waterkant bar in Marnixstraat for some hipster vibes and craft beer.
Or ditch the plans, and watch the world go by in this uber-chill city.
How many days to stay: 3-4
Flying Pig Downtown have hosted a Christmas eve pub quiz, a Christmas day dinner and a Boxing day open mic night in recent years. Sounds like a great place to make unforgettable memories!Compare all hostels in Amsterdam
Tips for solo travel at Christmas
- Don’t feel like you need to be a part of the action 24/7 – if you want to be alone that’s totally fine! There’s so much to do as a solo traveller.
- See what activities your hostel has over Christmas. This could make your Christmas the best one yet! Midnight karaoke anyone?
- Think about going somewhere you wouldn’t normally associate with Christmas. It might surprise you.
- Allow more than 2 days to see your chosen city, as depending on their customs, attractions might be closed on Christmas day.
Spending Christmas alone can be a really enlightening experience, and something you should try at least once. The holiday spirit makes it easier to make friends, and there’s something really magical about being in an amazing city around this time, whether there’s rain, snow or shine.
Go on, believe in your(s)elf.
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