Top 10 alternative Christmas
vacation ideas

Christmas is a-coming and what better way to celebrate than treating yourself to an alternative Christmas vacation? From winter activities & Northern Lights in Finland or Salsa dancing in Cuba, to investigating the archaeological sites of Jordan or taking an overland tour of Vietnam, we've compiled our top 10 tours that will have you ho-ho-hoeing all the way through to January.

1. Finland Winter Activity Vacation

Although observing the Aurora Borealis in Oulanka and Riisitunturi national parks at Christmas is going to be way better than any fairy lights, it's also good to know that Finnish Lapland is a fabulous location for lots of other outdoor activities, too. Snowmobile safaris, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, husky-sledding, ice climbing; you name it and you can add it to your alternative Christmas wish list.

Our top selling trip: Finland Winter Activity Vacation & Northern Lights
Read more: Finnish Lapland Travel Guide

2. Safaris in Namibia & Botswana

When granddad is snoring life can get boring, so bring on Botswana, because you know you want to. A three week overland expedition in southern Africa lets you experience the incredible natural highlights of Namibia and Botswana, with the chance to see Victoria Falls in Zambia, too. From Etosha National Park to the Okavango Delta, this is an amazing alternative to Christmas with the grandparents. Join a small group looking for an adventure rather than a comfy couch after the Queen’s speech.

Our top selling trip: Namibia & Botswana Safari Vacation
Read more: Namibia & Botswana travel guide

3. Cultural highlights in Sri Lanka

Tailor make a two week tour of Sri Lanka during December and get ready to seek out spirituality and cultural traditions that are for life, not just for Christmas. Jeep safaris in Minneriya National Park and hikes up to the top of Sigiriya rock fortress are just a couple of the optional activities to get excited about in Sri Lanka with Buddhist temples and Hindu devales offering alternative perspectives of what you might have come to expect from this time of year.

Our top selling trip: Sri Lanka Vacation, Tailor Made
Read more: Sri Lanka travel guide

4. Walking the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Enjoy a week of walking on the Amalfi Coast and you’ll find numerous authentic alternatives to pre-packaged panettone from the local supermarket. Comfortable temperatures at Christmas, and far fewer crowds, turn Italy’s southwest shores into a true treat for travelers keen to stride out. Swap after dinner strolls in dark parks for the Walk of the Gods overlooking the twinkling Tyrrhenian.

Our top selling trip: Amalfi Coast Walking Vacation, Italy
Read more: Amalfi Coast travel guide

5. Ancient sites in Jordan

Picture Petra lit by candles at night and it’s easy to see why a Christmas vacation in Jordan offers an excellent alternative to fairy lights set to strobe mode. A nine day small group tour of Jordan is an ideal means of exploring this remarkable country without the intense heat of summer. From Amman and Jerash to Wadi Rum and Aqaba, if you’re tired of ticking off seasonal traditions then why not opt for ancient architecture and Bedouin hospitality instead?

Our top selling trip: Jordan Vacation, A Week in Jordan
Read more: Jordan travel guide

6. Island exploration, the Galapagos Islands

If you fancy an alternative to tinsel and huge turkeys at Christmas why not consider turtles and giant tortoises as you stay on the unique Galapagos Islands off Ecuador. A 10 day tour, as part of a small group, offers an incredible alternative to traditional trimmings. Spend time on San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz to see marine iguanas, sea lions and blue footed boobies – vastly more entertaining than the cat mucking about inside the wrapping paper again.

Our top selling trip: Galapagos Land Based Adventure Vacation
Read more: Galapagos Land Based Travel Guide
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Alternative Christmas or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

7. Game and gorillas in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda

Game drives and safari camps take the place of traffic jams and spare bedrooms when you head to East Africa for Christmas. Direct your seasonal greediness towards countries not mince pies, visiting three on a single festive small group tour. Game drives in Kenya’s Masai Mara and the compact parks of Uganda are crowned with trekking to see gorillas in Rwanda – surely the way to turn memories of December 25th completely on their head.

Our top selling trip: Gorilla Safari & The Masai Mara
Read more: Masai Mara Travel Guide and Gorilla Safaris Travel Guide

8. North to South in Vietnam

Take off for 10 days in Vietnam and get ready for a Christmas feast of fun and food to really savour. From Hanoi and Halong Bay to Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, a small group tour of Vietnam is all you need to escape colder climes and embrace the warmth of Southeast Asia. An overnight train ride and an internal flight make traveling efficient, ideal for anyone looking for an amazing Christmas introduction to Vietnam.

Our top selling trip: Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Vacation in Vietnam
Read more: Vietnam Small Group travel guide

9. Salsa dancing in Cuba

Swap Strictly Come Dancing specials for Salsa dancing classes in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, with Christmas Day on the beach much more memorable than after dinner snoozing on the settee. A two week Christmas in Cuba vacation is an amazing alternative to the festive season back home and provides an opportunity to learn Spanish as well as the rumba, merengue and cha cha cha – darling – in the company of professional dancers, and without the comments of Craig Revel Borewood.

Our top selling trip: Cuba Salsa Dance Vacation
Read more: Cuba cultural vacations travel guide

10. Hiking and exploring in Bolivia and Peru

Why not skip stocking hanging in favour of soaking up the sights and culture of Bolivia and Peru, on a South American adventure from Lima to La Paz, as part of a small group. Traditional Christmas festivities will pale into insignificance as you hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with a few nights of basic camping along the way, while time spent in an Amazonian jungle lodge offers a serious alternative to the spare bed in the attic at Aunt Maud’s.

Our top selling trip: Bolivia & Peru Tour
Read more: Bolivia & Peru travel guide
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Vaida Tamošauskait?] [Intro: J Basiga] [Finland: skeeze] [Walking the Amalfi Coast in Italy: Ken Mayer] [Game and gorillas in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda : Hjalmar Gislason]