Unlike most things in the holiday season, we won’t sugar coat this: December is among the most expensive months to travel. What with the winter holidays and school vacation, it can seem like everyone is hopping on a plane in December. But that doesn’t have to stop you from planning a year-end getaway.
To encourage your winter wanderlust, we’ve taken a look at our data, crunching the numbers — from flight prices to number of searches found on Cheapflights.ca — to pick out the best places for Canadian travellers to head to this December. Whether you’re looking for an up-and-coming spot, an affordable getaway, a friendly weather forecast or a bit of both, we’ve got a recommendation for you. And if you’re looking to travel in 2018 but thinking about booking in December, we’ve got a bonus suggestion for you, too.Search for flights
For budget travellers: Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal has topped lists of hot destinations in recent years, and with the increased interest leading to great route availability and flight frequency, it’s become a favourite destination not only for culture vultures but for penny pinchers, too. Although December is still a colder month for Lisbon, temperatures average in low teens celsius and the crowds will be less significantly less than in the busy summer or shoulder months. And with airfare to Lisbon for December being down more than $200 from the cost during peak travel season, what more reason to do you need to say “bom dia” to Portugal’s capital city?
For weather watchers: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
If the grey December of the northern hemisphere has you missing a lively environment, plan an escape to the exotic Galapagos Islands. Located 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, the volcanic archipelago is internationally known for its abundant wildlife, including sea lions, tortoises, iguanas and Charles Darwin’s famous finches. December is the ideal weather month in the Galapagos, as it’s a transitional period from the cool dry season to the warm wet season, meaning warmer weather will bring the islands’ flora and fauna to life. And if you time it just right, you might even get a sample of the two seasons.
For the best of both: Tel Aviv, Israel
If you’re looking for weather warmer than Europe and prices friendlier than South America, consider a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel for December. The average high temperature for a December day in Tel Aviv is 19 degrees celsius, and with average airfare about $200 lower than it is during peak travel season, it’s a great time to visit. As an added bonus, or perhaps as the main incentive for visiting, Hanukkah runs from December 12 to December 20 this year, meaning December is a great month to be in Israel to experience an exceptional Festival of Lights.
For trendsetters: Bogota, Colombia
With December flight searches up by 48% over the monthly average, interest in Bogota travel is on the up this winter, and with good reason. Since Bogota sees most of its rainfall in the summer, December is one of the driest months to go (albeit the weather is always a bit tropical). Traverse the city’s diverse art scene (from numerous galleries and museums to impressive street art), check out panoramic views from Monserrate Mountain and indulge in some culinary exploration (food tours of the area are not hard to find).
For advanced planners: Toronto, Ontario
If you find yourself home for the holidays in Toronto, or if the holiday season has you thinking about spring time domestic travel, consider Ontario’s capital city for a mid 2018 trip. Book your flights to Toronto in early December for a visit in late May or early June and get the cheapest flights of the year. To celebrate it’s annual thaw, Toronto welcomes spring and summer by decking it’s largest public parks, St. James Park and Queen’s Park, in fields of tulips. Bars and restaurants celebrate too by reopening their patios, so pick a nice spot in the sun and dig into a classic Canadian dish or sip a local brew.
*Just so you know, the data for this story was compiled on Sept. 25, 2017, and compares the monthly average airfares found a month or more in advance on Cheapflights.ca for travel dates between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2017, as well as a comparison of month-over-month relative search popularity from departure points across Canada to the destinations above. This piece is intended as a guideline only. Check the latest up-to-date prices and search for flights at Cheapflights.ca.Search for flights