Where to go in December
Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria
The west coast of Gran Canaria is sparsely populated, vertiginous and spectacular: the perfect winter break for those who want to get away from it all, with a bit of warmth thrown in.
As well as winter sunshine, Puerto de Mogán offers a pretty harbour of low-rise apartments with brightly painted window frames, picturesque bridges over the channels and flower-covered archways above the cobbled, car-free lanes.
The beach is sandy and sheltered (it does get busy), and backed by half a dozen local restaurants.
Sydney in summer is a beach bum's paradise, with well over 100 stretches of sand, fringing bath-warm waters, to choose from, including world-famous Bondi and Manly beaches.
You could spend your whole holiday on the showstopper of a harbour, but the slow ferry from Circular Quay to the beach suburb of Manly is the classic introduction.
Or better still is a slow walk along the 6km Spit Bridge to Manly Beach trail for sea views, secluded coves, and 1,000-year-old Aboriginal rock engravings.
Bruges is picture perfect at the best of times, but especially so at Christmas when its Gothic gabled streets are draped in festive foliage and twinkly lights.
Its photogenic market squares are filled with handmade gifts, pop-up ice rinks and the sweet smells of mulled wine and winter spices.
For some of the best views, walk the Dijver Canal and watch the gables reflect off the water, or head to Sint-Janshuismolen windmill for rose-tinted sunsets.
If you’re the kind of person who wraps up presents beautifully and would never be seen sporting a cheesy Christmas jumper, Bath is the place for you.
It does Christmas, and everything else, in style. Even the ice rink in beautiful Victoria Park and the city centre’s Christmas market seem elegant rather than kitsch. That’s probably thanks to the backdrop of honey-coloured Georgian townhouses, which sets the scene for visitors all year round.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam’s largest city is a whirl of constant commotion, filled with vast skyscrapers, swarms of motorbikes and history seeping from every temple and paint-cracked colonial villa.
December is a good time to visit, after the rain and humidity have eased, and if it’s still too hot in the city, the Mekong Delta and the beautiful beach-lined Phu Quoc and Con Dao islands are within easy reach.