Swap the drizzle for the sizzle, late-night wrapping for lazy, afternoon napping and the turkey for…well, we can’t think of what rhymes with ‘turkey’ but what we do know is: as people become increasingly time poor, having a festive family adventure in the sun is, for many, a no-brainer.

What’s not to love?

It’s hot. Sunny! People SMILE and laugh, even in the depths of a UK winter. You get to wear your swimmers in December. There’s beach barbecues instead of three course meals and Aunty Liz’s trifle. Jools Holland is too busy to come. We’re also yet to find a supermarket abroad which has Slade, Cliff Richard and East 17 on a loop (this alone could get you packing).

When to book?

One thing worth mentioning, though, is to address that ol’ chestnut: when is the best time to book? Quite simply, the answer is: as early as you can. In doing so, you could save literally hundreds of pounds. Most airlines release their flights in January and February, so if you want to secure the cheapest flights for a family Christmas break in the same year, book then. Similarly, the best accommodation is also booked up well in advance. If you want that beachfront villa in Sri Lanka, or that safari lodge in Namibia, do it as early as you can organise or afford.

After May and as the year progresses, the pickings are slim in some destinations. But if you can be flexible, we will do our utmost to find you somewhere that fits the bill for you and your family. From September onwards get your skates on and contact us straight away

Quick links

Step away from that cooker and see if we can tempt you with these stress-free, family Christmas breaks:

Where? Mexico

Family at Tulum, Mexico - Christmas breaks abroad

The kids will love Mexico’s beaches, lakes and cenotes (sink holes) as well as ancient ruins and jungle – the perfect family Christmas break

What will the weather be like?
Christmas time is one of the best times to visit, where the weather will be hot, sunny and gorgeous but not too humid. You’re looking at average temperatures of around 25 degrees, perfect for family Christmas breaks.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
You’re staying in a beautiful hacienda surrounded by lush plantation. The air is warm, the skies blue, and, after a lazy morning opening presents and enjoying a fresh fruit breakfast, you’ll head out to spend the afternoon swimming in an azure-blue cenote. What better way to end the perfect festive day than enjoying dinner on the terrace, sipping cocktails whilst listening to chirruping cicadas.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Whilst Mexico is famed for its beaches, why not see in the New Year doing something different? Lake Bacalar is a 42km long, 2km wide lake renowned for its clean, turquoise waters. Make the most of the balmy temperatures, maybe stand up paddle boarding or swimming before partying in the evening.

How?
Best of Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Where? Egypt

Child sitting on edge of boat as it sails along the Nile - family Christmas breaks

Sailing down the Nile on a felucca will be a Christmas day the kids will never forget

What will the weather be like?
Despite December being the first month of winter, the south of the country will be bathed in lovely, sunny weather, highs of 23-24 degrees – ideal for sightseeing. Do bring a sweater for evenings, though.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
It’s one of the quintessential Egyptian experiences: taking a felucca (a traditional sailboat) down the Nile, stopping at temples en route. Not only do you feel immersed in the culture, it’s slow travel at its best.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Taking a camel ride around The Great Pyramid, Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, coming up close and personal with The Sphinx. (For more ideas on family-friendly activities, see our Egypt with kids blog)

How?
Highlights of Egypt

family Christmas holiday in South Africa - teenagers on safari

Tracking the Big 5 in South Africa – safaris can be adapted to suit all ages

What will the weather be like?
More sunshine than you could poke a candy cane at.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Tracking the Big 5, but also black wildebeest, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and more in Amakhala Nature Reserve, accompanied by an experienced guide adept at finding the best places to spot wildlife. It’s an early start, yes, but you’ll be able to open your stockings later in the day, perhaps when back at camp enjoying a slap-up lunch. (See our South Africa for families photo blog for more ideas).

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Cape Town does New Year’s Eve well, it’s much more of a celebration than other destinations we travel to. Saunter down to the waterfront after enjoying an evening supper washed down with wine from local vineyards to watch a spectacular fireworks display.

How?
Classic Cape & Garden Route

Where? Cambodia

Floating tents in the Cardamon Mountains in Cambodia - kids holidays abroad

Bliss out with the family in a luxury floating bungalow set in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains (see our Fun places to sleep blog for more)

What will the weather be like?
Hot, sunny and not too humid. Frankly, perfect.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Deep in the Cardamom Mountains, you’ll be opening stockings on a luxury, tented, floating bungalow, an eco-lodge surrounded by pristine waters and lush forest. Go for a boat ride, swim in a nearby waterfall or just thank your lucky stars you’re not chained to the cooker. (Check out Kelly’s Cambodia photo blog and out Top Ten Cambodia with kids suggestions.)

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Head to Cambodia’s offshore islands where you’ll be snorkelling, swimming and soaking up the sun.

How?
Cambodia Highlights

Where? Oman

Child on Christmas family break in Oman with ocean in background

Oman is a fabulous destination for family Christmas breaks, especially with the help of a knowledgeable guide

What will the weather be like?
Hot, sunny and dry, with average temperatures around the low 20s.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Taking a camel ride out into the desert before enjoying a traditional lunch in a Bedouin tent.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Being a ‘dry’ country, you are free from the obligation of attending raucous parties. Instead (and all the better for it), spend the (hangover-free) day in the mountains at Jebel Shams, Oman’s answer to the Grand Canyon. The views will take your breath away. (Check out our Top 10 activities in Oman with kids).

How?
Highlights of Oman

Where? Tanzania

Child on safari in Tanzania - family Christmas breaks itinerary

Spend Christmas with the animals and then chill on a stunning Zanzibari beach – the best of both worlds

What will the weather be like?
On safari, the weather will be hot (highs of 28 degrees), sunny with occasional night-time showers. In Zanzibar, it’s a similar story, except the showers. Lovely!

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Arriving at dawn at your lodge, you’ll embark on an early morning safari, witnessing a whole array of wildlife before most people back home have even put on their dressing gown and slippers. Once back, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous breakfast before opening your stockings. Enjoy a leisurely day by the pool before heading out in the late afternoon for a sunset safari. Then return for a delicious dinner back at the lodge.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Having enjoyed an active few days on safari, what better way to see in the New Year than hanging out in the hammock strapped between two palm trees, snorkelling in bath-warm Zanzibar waters before enjoying a party back at the hotel. You’ll wonder why more NYE’s weren’t like this!

How?
Tanzania Safari and Beach

Where? Thailand

Family Christmas breaks in Thailand - young girls playing in a hammock beside the beach in Thailand

Family Christmas breaks in Thailand can be action-packed but there’s always time to relax

What will the weather be like?
Average temperatures of 27 degrees, peak water visibility and very little to no rain. Temperatures hotter in the south than the north.

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
An action-packed day in Kanchanaburi, home to the Bridge over the River Kwai. The afternoon is spent helping to wash elephants in the river (you’ll be squirted in return), whilst the evening is spent on a floating jungle raft on the banks of the River Kwai.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
Staying in a friendly village homestay on the south coast, spending two nights with a local family. Spend the day kayaking through the beautiful karst formations of the Andaman Sea before a new year celebration with the family. On New Year’s Day you’ll be heading to the beach for a few final days. (Visit our Thailand with kids blog for more ideas)

How? Southern Thailand Adventure 

Where? Ecuador

Young girl with butterfly on her arm - Ecuador with kids itinerary - Mashpi Lodge

Relax at a gorgeous cloud forest lodge where the rainforest is teeming with exotic wildlife

What will the weather be like?
Ecuador’s tourist seasons are dictated by holiday periods rather than the weather. That being said, if you’re wanting to combine beaches and activity, then late December / early January is one of the best times to visit. Result!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day:
Make like cowboys and take a ride around the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, one of the world’s highest. The kids will be thrilled! (See our Ecuador with kids blog).

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve:
As mentioned, Ecuador’s southern beaches are a real draw at this time of year. If ‘learn to surf’ is on your or your family’s resolutions list, these Pacific beaches are a great place to start. Or opt to experience a jungle adventure in the steamy Amazon or the cooler cloud forests.

How?  Volcanoes and Jungle

Where? Nepal

Two children sitting in garden at Himalaya lodge - Nepal with kids itinerary

Enjoy some festive family bonding in the Himalayas, with both gentle and challenging treks available

What will the weather be doing?
Crisp, clear with beautiful skies – the perfect time of year to see the Himalayas at their best, when they’re not covered by the clouds and mists of the rainy season. It’s cold of an evening, so pack your cardi!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
Spend the day doing what Nepal is best known for: it’s superior trekking. After being brought tea and breakfast in your trekking lodge – a step up from the more ubiquitous tea-houses, you can spend the day walking along the well-worn valleys being awed by the world’s most iconic mountain scenery.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
It may be hard to tear yourself away from the luxury safari lodge in Chitwan National Park, but rise early, and you’ll be rewarded by wildlife galore as you go on safari on the look out for rhino and tigers. Being on the banks of the river Rapti, you can also head out by boat looking for crocodiles and other water-based wildlife in the afternoon, before being treated to a candlelit banquet back at the lodge. Check out our Nepal with kids blog for more ideas on child-friendly activities.

How?
Active Nepal

Where? Brazil

View of Paraty on Brazil's Emerald Coast - family Christmas breaks abroad favourite itinerary

Whether you want the buzz of Rio or the charm of colonial Paraty, Brazil is a top choice for a family break at Christmas

What will the weather be doing?
Think of Brazil and images of beach volleyball, sipping on cooling caipirinha’s and swinging in hammocks rocked by gentle breezes come to mind. There’s a reason for that! Come Christmas time, the weather is hot, sunny and humid. In Rio, average temperatures are 24 degrees, 29 degrees maximum. Heaven!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
Hit the beaches along the glorious Emerald Coast, samba your way through a few Xmas carols on the cobbled streets of colonial Paraty or experience the mighty Iguazu Falls (at this time of year, at their most powerful as rising water levels create a huge volume of water). Xmas is peak season throughout Brazil for the locals so book well in advance so you can join them in the sun, sand and surf.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
Rest assured, no self-respecting Brazilian would miss an opportunity for a party and New Year’s Eve is no exception! Join the fun-loving ‘cariocas’ for Reveillon on Copacabana beach with live music, fireworks and probably more than a few mojitos.

How?
Highlights of Southern Brazil

Where? Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka with kids - playing in a pool

Sri Lanka has so much to keep everyone happy on a family Christmas break with safari, pool and beach

What will the weather be doing?
Plenty of sunshine, dry days and peak beach conditions. Average temperature: 30 degrees.

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
Exploring the largest National Park in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu, on a search for leopard, crocodile and sloth bear. The day starts with a relaxing breakfast and time to open a present or two. In the afternoon you will take a safari in search of wildlife before returning back to an African style safari camp for a slap up supper. (See our Sri Lanka with kids top 10 for an inspiring overview of what you can do on family Christmas breaks.)

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
Enjoying the picturesque tea plantations of Ella, either relaxing by the pool or taking a hike through the plantations with superb views. The evening entertainment will be relatively low key but you can join other guests for a celebratory dinner.

How?
 Sri Lanka Christmas Tour

Where? Belize

Family of four on beach in Belize with blue water and sky - Christmas family breaks

Mix incredible beaches and water sports with rainforest walks and ancient Mayan ruins on a family Christmas break in Belize

What will the weather be like?
Warm, dry and sunny

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
As family Christmas breaks go, this is fairly hard to beat: waking up to the sound of howler monkeys (we admit, it’s a very loud, guttural roar) in a gorgeous Eco Lodge in Lamanai, Belize’s answer to the Amazon Rain Forest. Go crocodile spotting, listen to and watch the colourful wildlife or walk to a local Mayan ruin.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Snorkelling in Shark Alley (see our Belize blog), a channel where rays, sharks and turtles gather in crystal clear waters, undoubtedly one of the best places to snorkel in the world.

How?
Belize Adventure Highlights

Where? Cuba

Family Christmas breaks - photo of Plaza de la Catedral which is the centre of festivities on New Year's Eve.

Cathedral Square on New Year’s Eve is the place to go if your kids are older and love a party

What will the weather be like?
Dry, sunny and hot

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
If sending your relatives back home wild with envy sounds appealing, this is it: you’ll be relaxing on an idyllic, picture postcard beach (warm water, white sands, you get the idea) on the ‘desert island’ of Cayo Levisa, just off the Cuban coast. Did we mention there’s rum? (For more ideas on family activities, read our Cuba with kids blog and Helene’s Postcards from Cuba.)

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
When in Cuba, do as the Cubans do. PARTY! We can’t think of many places which buzz as much as Havana and you’ll be in the thick of it, sipping cocktails and enjoying a carnival-like atmosphere. There’s a large party in Cathedral Square, but it’s expensive and not necessarily kid-friendly. One thing to watch out for: when the clock strikes 12, it’s ‘customary’ for people to throw water (occasionally furniture) over their balcony. Best stick to non-residential areas!

How?
Cuba in 2 weeks

Where? Costa Rica

Family at Arenal Sky Tram and Zipline - Costa Rica family holidays

The zip-lines and canopy walks in Arenal and Monteverde are superb fun for all the family

What will the weather be like?
Costa Rica is tropical and is covered in rainforest. So it rains. But Christmas is one of the best times to visit and there should be plenty of sunshine. Bring a mac or a brolly just in case, but also don’t forget your sun cream and sun hat. Expect a mixed bag!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day:
Exploring the quiet waters of the Pena Blanca river by boat, keeping watch for caiman, bats, monkeys and snakes. (See our Costa Rica with kids blog.)

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve:
Walking across giant hanging suspension bridges in Arenal or the cloud forest of Monteverde, zip-lining from one tree to another.

How? Costa Rica Easter & Christmas

Where? Vietnam

Phu Quoc - family Christmas breaks

Enjoy Vietnam’s many attractions before celebrating New Year on Phu Quoc, its secret paradise island

What will the weather be like?
You can enjoy loads of sunshine and temperatures of up to 30 degrees in Vietnam’s tropical south. Further north, temperatures are slightly cooler, but still very pleasant.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Unlike the hill tribe villages of North Thailand, those in Vietnam remain comparatively untouched. Enjoy walking through the fields, meeting people as they go about their day to day business whilst staying in an eco-resort which was built by and employs local people. A fascinating cultural melting pot.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
We can’t think of anywhere better than seeing in 2020 in Vietnam’s ‘secret’ paradise island. Just off the coast of Cambodia, Phu Quoc, with its white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters is picture-postcard-palm-fringed gorgeous. You’ll be staying in one of the most luxurious eco resorts in the country. (Check out our Vietnam with kids blog for more fabulous activities with children.)

How?
Highlights of Vietnam

Places to visit in Ecuador - giant tortoise

Meet an iconic Giant Tortoise on Christmas day, Santa Cruz Island

What will the weather be like?
Come on in, the water’s lovely! It’s pleasantly warm for both sea and air temperatures, ranging between 23-27 degrees. Seas are calmer and visibility clearer, ideal for peak wildlife viewing both below water and above it.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Move over, Morecambe and Wise TV highlights, how about watching Giant Tortoise eggs hatch? Or viewing marine iguanas putting on a colourful show as they try to attract a mate… With the warm temperatures it is possible to sit on deck and enjoy the evening sunshine whilst spotting the last of the Waved Albatross migrate – the perfect spot for that pre-dinner glass of festive champers. See our Galapagos with kids post for more ideas.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Partying, yes, but not as you know it – instead, how about hanging out with the sea lions? In December the pups are becoming more confident and curious – they will often swim right up to you whilst you are snorkelling. You could also be kayaking with turtles, diving with sharks and laying claim to spending the New Year in both North and South hemispheres crossing the Equator.

How?
Ecuador and Galapagos Highlights

Where? Burma

Hot-air balloon ride over Bagan on family Christmas break

A hot air balloon ride over Bagan is a very special treat on a family Christmas break

What will the weather be like?
December is actually one of the coolest months of the year here, but at an average of 31 degrees, the perfect temperatures for families. Next to no rainfall, either.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Rudolph, Santa and sleigh should have left the skies by dawn leaving you and your family free to take a hot air balloon ride to watch the sunrise over the fascinating temple complex at Bagan.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Hanging out on Ngapali beach for a chilled-out party, gala dinner and evening entertainment.

How?
Burma at Christmas

(See our blog Burma/Myanmar travel – Yes or No? and the Telegraph’s discussion on travel to Myanmar.)

Family Christmas breaks

If you like the idea of your next family Christmas abroad, do get in touch. We’ve also put together our top tips for a successful family holiday at Christmas.

To book a last minute Christmas holiday for 2019, ring us straight away on 01728 752751 during office hours, or send your enquiry via our website contact form. We’ll do everything we can to find a great option for you and your family. And remember it’s not too early to be planning now for Christmas 2020.

[email protected].

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel

Morocco family Christmas break - young girl on dunes with Santa hat

In search of Santa Claus…