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Don’t be home for Christmas

Don’t be home for Christmas
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You may love staying home and having a quiet day in on Christmas—and we totally get that. But there’s a strong case for travelling during Christmas, if only once or a few times, too. In these 17 cities around the world, Christmastime is a wintery and magical experience like no other.

The trip will certainly be worth it, but it’s no secret that travel at that time can be a headache—here are 13 things smart travel tips to make it easier.

New York

New York
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At the head of our list is New York, the iconic setting for so many Christmas movies. See the “Believe” sign on the facade of Macy’s on 34th Street, go skating in Rockefeller Center in front of the big tree (or if lines are too long, check out Central Park’s Wollman Rink for fantastic skyline views), visit the Christmas shops at Bryant Park Winter Village, and check out the amazing holiday window displays on the stores of Fifth Avenue. And of course, make a stop to see the famous Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia
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For an up-and-coming travel destination with one of the best preserved medieval towns in the world, head to this Baltic capital across the sea from Finland. It also just so happens to be gorgeous at Christmas time, with an authentic Christmas market, Christmas festival, concerts, and Christmas tree—thought to be the oldest public display of a Christmas tree in the world.

Quebec City

Quebec City
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Have an Old World Christmas with a trip to Canada’s historic Quebec City. With its cobbled streets and stone buildings in the shadow of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which looks like a castle but is actually a hotel, visitors feel like they’re in a holiday fairytale. Plus, its northern destination makes a white Christmas nearly a guarantee; enjoy this winter wonderland with a stroll down one of the most beautiful streets in the world, Rue du Petit-Champlain. Cap it off (if you dare) with the toboggan slide right in the centre of town, thrilling riders since 1884 with speeds of over 64 kilometre per hour.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium
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Although Bruges is beautiful any time of year, this pedestrian-friendly city is breathtaking to walk around at Christmas time—or take a boat ride along the glistening canals. The medieval buildings look like gingerbread houses, and the lights decorating them give a truly magical glow. The city’s holiday events include a midwinter festival, winter market, carolling and music, and an ice sculpture exhibit.

We bet you didn’t know this country considers a KFC feast a Christmas tradition.

Boston

Boston
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Snow-covered Boston feels even cosier during the holidays, even with its often frigid temperatures. Celebrate a classic New England Christmas with a walk among the seasonal ambiance of gas-lit Beacon Hill, enjoy the lights show at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and take in a festive concert from the famous Boston Pops. Then, snuggle up by the fire—maybe you’ll even get snowed in!

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Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg, Germany
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If you’re looking for a genuine German Christmas market, you’ll have to head to (where else?) Germany itself. Although Christkindlesmarkts abound throughout the country, one of the best-loved is in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg. Among the medieval buildings and stone walls of the city’s Old Town, the 400-year-old market lies in the shadow of the Gothic Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Sample its sausage, gingerbread, and mulled wine; browse the unique shops, and meet the Christkind, the angel-like symbol of the market.

Rome

Rome
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For those who celebrate religious services on Christmas, there isn’t a more spiritual place to be than Rome with its many beautiful churches and cathedrals. Nativity scenes, or presepi, are big here, and the Vatican (the seat of the Pope and home to St. Peter’s Basilica) features its annual “100 Presepi” exhibition. Visitors can also attend Christmas Eve midnight mass (check the website for the actual time) with the Pope via huge screens in St. Peter’s square; tickets for inside the basilica usually sell out months in advance. In addition, the Pope will appear on the basilica’s balcony to give his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) blessing on Christmas Day.

Try these 8 life hacks to get more out of your Christmas.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland
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You can’t get any Christmas-ier than a sleigh ride pulled by actual reindeer—and that’s one of the highlights of a visit to Rovaniemi, the gateway city to the Lapland area of Finland. “The official hometown of Santa Claus” features Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle, where visitors can take reindeer and husky rides, stay in a glass igloo, and of course visit the big man himself. Rovaniemi also offers other seasonal activities like viewing the Northern Lights, winter swimming (yes, that’s a thing), ice fishing, skiing, and enjoying a warm sauna. Relaxing in a sauna definitely counts as one of our favourite not-super-Christmas-y things to do on Christmas.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland
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Nordic countries are of course associated with Christmas, so we had to include Reykjavik on our list. Although there might not be much daylight in Iceland in December, Ingolfstorg Square lights up like a winter wonderland with a skating rink, market, and Christmas village. Plus, see what Christmas was like in earlier Icelandic times at the Arbaer Open Air Museum. But although you might spot Santa in Reykjavik, you’re more likely to come across the 13 “Yule Lads.” According to Icelandic folklore, one lad visits on each of the 13 days leading up to Christmas, and kids put shoes in their windows every night hoping for a gift.

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Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, we hope to have the April print issue available by the middle of July, and the May, June and July issues available by the end of July, but this is dependent on when local lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team