Many of us want to run to the hills when Christmas starts creeping in. Or we desperately seek a serotonin boost when the days get shorter and shorter. The good news is that you could enjoy plenty of walking, cycling holidays or even cross-country skiing holidays en famille in the build-up to or over the Christmas holidays. Or, for those who seek solace travelling solo at this time, we’ve got yule covered, as many of our adventures mentioned below are open to solo travellers. So, whether you are feeling festive, active or just seeking an alternative to all the baggage that Christmas brings, here are our top places to travel in December. And don’t forget, we’re always happy to carry that baggage!
Finding peace in Portugal
You’ll have plenty of silent nights cycling the peaceful trails between Alentejo and Algarve, also available on e-bikes if you aren’t feeling winter fit. Going a little further afield, this is a wonderful time to go trekking on Portugal’s islands. In the Azores, an archipelago of four islands, you will get rain at this time of year, but you’ll also have their trails to volcanic craters, caldeiras hot springs, secret waterfalls and coastal hideaways all to yourself. The island of Madeira is one of our popular winter sun destinations, with its coastal and famous levada trails very much open for business. In both Madeira and the Azores, temperatures range from 12-18C in December, and the sea is still 18-20C, so get in!
Walking in the Sahara
If you can’t bear the Ch word being bandied around throughout December, Morocco’s Sahara is a great place to gain perspective – and also have a dry one! One of our new tours is a ten day walking holiday in the Sahara, which is easy to moderate level and an exciting immersion into the region’s cultural and natural heritage. Fully guided, walk and ride camels across the desert and trek into the surrounding valley towns of Ouarzazate and Zagora, with overnight stays in traditional tents and riads. Many of our guests also opt for an additional day in the coastal city of Essaouira, swapping Saharan sands for some seasonal surfing.
Cross-country skiing in Valdres, Norway
Given that cross-country skiing is also known as Nordic skiing, your compass should definitely point towards Norway at some point over the winter. The wild and wonderful Valdres region is gateway to Jotunheimen National Park, and home to Norway’s highest peaks, including Galdhøpiggen. Our winter season here begins in the Beitostølen region in December, at the foot of Jotunheimen’s high mountain peaks. Cross-country skiing here opens up Narnia-like Nordic landscapes, with traditional mountain lodge hotels, that have the obligatory saunas and stargazing to greet you at the end of a December day.
December in Vietnam
If you have fond memories of getting a bike for Christmas, you can relive that feeling on our magical cycling in Vietnam holiday. Although Vietnam gets busy at Christmas (and we recommend booking your flights as soon as possible), this trip takes you off the beaten track into northern Vietnam. Forget any notions of seasonal over-consumerism, cycling through the Hmong hill tribe villages, where homestay hosts welcome you into their daily lives. In December, you are also escaping the rainy season. It’s hot and dry, but these elevated landscapes are cooler than on the busier coast. And, if you like to treat yourself to good food at this time of year, this holiday is one moveable feast.
Avoid the rain in Spain
Although there may be rain on the plains in December in Spain, there are plenty of sunny spots to be found too. Why not give yourself the gift of Granada this December, feasting your eyes on its spectacular centrepiece of Alhambra Palace on a walking holiday in the Sierra Nevada? The Canaries live up to their name, boasting six hours of yellow sunshine per day and maximum temperatures of 21C in December. So, whether you are taking on the trails of Gran Canaria or cycling in Lanzarote, this archipelago is like a Christmas stocking packed with adventurous treats.
The perfect present of the Peloponnese
Many islands and mainland accommodation providers in Greece close their doors during December. Two exceptions are the Peloponnese Peninsula and its nearby island of Kythira. Spend eight days trekking through Hellenic heaven on the 75km Menalon Trail, which covers the Western Menalon massif and Mylaon Valley, traverses walnut and olive groves, and leads you to ancient architecture such as the Old Philosophou Monastery, with an option to climb up Pliovouni summit, the highest peak of the trail at 1,643m. Kythira Island is the southernmost Ionian island, tucked off the Peloponnese, and just over an hour by ferry. It boasts a panoply of ancient sites, remote villages and trails, hidden river valleys and waterfalls. If you combine both, you’re guaranteed a wonderful Christmas of pure wanderlust and a very happy hiking new year.
For more adventure tours that eke out every exquisite moment of these shorter days, escape the commercial craziness of Christmas, or simply offer some seasonal spiritual solace, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have many more December holidays here. You may also enjoy our blogs on e-bike holidays that aim high or Camino de Santiago routes, some of which are also bookable for travel in December.