‘Tis the season to be jolly — and push an airport trolley, it seems. Who doesn’t dream of jetting off for a winter wonderland vacation during the holidays? For many folks, that’s a dream they’d love to come true. Sure, the fortunate jet-setters with sufficient cash to splash and time to kill throughout the festive season self-grant their travel wishes, whisking themselves off to whimsical winter destinations perfect for a sensational Christmas.
For some, however, it remains just that — a dream. Whatever luck cold winter bunnies have this season — be they flight bookers or merely dreamers — common travel denominators reveal who has been searching for what recently. That who is Americans. The what? It’s their ideal Christmas holiday destination.
Indeed, a study by Iceland.org — Iceland’s leading travel and tour management company — uncovered America’s dream festive vacation destinations; the team analyzed Google data to determine which European nation each US state wants to visit this Christmas — but how did they do it?
These jovial geniuses examined the average monthly Google search volume for vacation-related keywords and search terms. These search queries also pertained to the state level — they were the top keywords and phrases searched by internet users in each state.
The evaluation of these search queries concluded in the discovery of the top 25 coldest destinations in Europe that Americans search for when on the hunt for a vacation destination around Christmas — countries based on their average temperature in December. The interesting but not too unsurprising result is this: the winner. So, who won?
For curious travel fans and anyone seeking the best places to spend Christmas around the world, Iceland.org’s official list of the top countries in Europe that Americans want to visit ignites greater inspiration and itinerary ideas. When the woeful winter blues hit, these fantasy fairytale lands are sure to mince their pies and dry their eyes.
- Iceland is the most popular Christmas destination in every state – except for West Virginia. West Virginians appear to prefer Germany instead.
- Germany is the second most popular European country that Americans want to visit at Christmas.
- Switzerland, Norway, and Croatia follow suit to form the top five most in-demand Christmas holiday destinations.
Americans aren’t just dreaming of a white Christmas; they’re yearning for a full-on winter getaway in Europe, as recent data confirms. Iceland.org’s research revealed that its namesake and home country of Iceland takes home the number one festive spot as the most popular European country where people in the United States want to go for Christmas.
Data showed that Iceland is the most searched-for Christmastime vacation destination in every American state, except for West Virginia, where Germany is a more popular internet search query.
10/10 Iceland Is The Number One Most Popular Christmas Vacation Destination Among Americans
All across the United States, Americans search for words and terms associated with Iceland and Icelandic vacations — a grand total average of 69,420 times a month, in fact. This search term volume awards the chilly Nordic Island the coveted top spot — essentially, Americans’ dream European Christmas vacation destination. For further context regarding keywords and their respective search volume, Americans search for the phrase “Iceland flights” 24,460 times a month on average, while “Iceland vacation” appeared 7,660 times, proving just how popular Iceland is among vacay-craving globetrotters in the United States.
With these sizable figures, it’s clear the idea of an Icelandic Christmas this year gets Americans’ sleigh bells jingling. The country’s breathtaking landscapes, scenery, and world-famous attractions all coming alive throughout the snowy period might have something to do with its seasonal allure, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Northern Lights. For the latter once-in-a-lifetime experience, learning how to plan to see the Northern Lights in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik is a smart pre-travel move.
9/10 Germany Is The Second Most Popular European Christmas Vacation Destination For Americans
In second place came Germany; according to the search query data, Das Land der Dichter und Denker — Germany’s loving nickname translating to “the country of poets and thinkers” — came in second in the race for the most popular European destination in which Americans want to spend Christmas. There are many reasons why Germany is an amazing Christmas holiday destination — with its iconic ’tis-the-season markets being one of the most notable that went on to inspire some of the best Christmas markets around the world.
Famed as the nation that introduced Christmas markets to the world (especially the US, which took inspiration from the best Christmas markets in Germany and created its own), it’s not surprising that Germany ranks highly. Vacation-related search terms, including “Germany vacation” and “flights to Germany,” are deployed as a combined monthly average of 39,400 searches across the states. Of course, if a festive flight across the pond to Deutschland isn’t quite feasible this year, visiting American cities with the best Christmas markets in the US is an enticing alternative.
8/10 Switzerland Is The Third Most Popular European Winter Destination
Iceland.org’s findings indicated that Switzerland is the third most popular winter destination in Europe that Americans long to visit at Christmas; searches on the topic of vacationing in Switzerland get a collective total of 32,160 average searches a month. With its snow-capped Alps, crystal-clear mountainous lakes, charming towns, and perfect Swiss alpine villas, Switzerland looks just like the front cover of a Christmas card and is thus deserving its place on the list. Plus, its capital Zurich is officially third on the list of the safest cities in Europe, according to data from the Safest Cities Index 2021.
The country’s pet name, “The Playground of Europe,” is befitting, as its idyllic resorts in the Alps are home to some of the best ski resorts on the continent. Although its ski hubs, upscale hotels, and fancy clubs aren’t particularly known for being easy on the purse strings (the alpine is considered a luxury retreat by many, after all), it is possible to visit Switzerland on a budget. With or without wallet woes, waltzing off to this wintry wonder world at Christmas seems to be on many Americans’ wintertime bucket lists.
7/10 Norway Is The Fourth Most Popular Christmas Vacation Destination In Europe
Norway was ranked fourth in the running for the most popular European countries to visit during Christmas. This beautiful Scandinavian nation earned a high spot on the list thanks to travel-hungry Americans searching for Norwegian vacation-themed keywords, such as “Norway Winter vacation” and “Norway Christmas flights,” a combined average total of 20,480 times monthly.
Considering the beauty of Norway’s scenic tourist attractions peppered all across its nature-and-history-rich lands, it’s only natural for this cold country to be so desired come the festive season — when its landscapes and towns transform into wintertime havens, icy hiking trails, glacial walks, and ski resorts.
6/10 Croatia Came Fifth Among The Most Popular Christmas Destinations In Europe
Despite many people assuming Croatia to be one of the world’s most underrated Christmas destinations, it turns out that Americans quite like the idea of checking it out in winter. Mostly synonymous with Game of Thrones tours, Croatia actually ranks well as a festive holiday hub.
The study found that Croatia followed very closely behind Norway, earning the fifth spot on the roster of the most popular European destinations that Americans want to visit during Christmastime. Every month, people in the United States search for vacation terms relating to Croatia 20,470 times on average, with phrases such as “Croatia flights,” “Croatia vacation,” and “Croatia Christmas vacation” receiving abundant hits.
As one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe, there are many things to do in Croatia month by month. However, when December arrives, it’s all about Christmas markets, especially in the capital city of Zagreb — a great place for backpackers, for that matter, as is the Croatian city of Split and its epic day trips.
5/10 Poland Took Sixth Place On The Top Christmas Vacay Destination List
Poland came in not-too-shabby sixth place with a combined total of 15,370 searches for vacation-related terms. Travelers can enjoy the best tours in Poland at any time of the year; however, for folks seeking to savor the Christmas spirit in Polska — meaning “The Land of Fields” — the beginning of December is the best time to visit Poland in winter.
During this month, from start to finish, the best spots in Poland are adorned with bright twinkling lights and festive decor, with the Christmas spirit running through the charming streets. However, as pretty as Poland’s bustling cities are in December — particularly the capital of Warsaw — the decorations and illuminations aren’t the only draws; it’s the magical Christmas markets that really give the rest of Europe a run for their money.
4/10 Sweden Is Lucky Number Seven On Americans’ Christmas Vacation Radar
In seventh comes Sweden, with its generous combined total search volume of 12,760. This picturesque European nation is stunning in the warmer months, with its yearly Midsommar festivities taking place during the inviting warm season’s summer solstice. However, in November and December, a transition takes place — one that turns this historic Scandinavian country into a winter paradise brimming with holiday experiences.
November and December see the most snow in Sweden, and this tends to be when families with children head north to visit the reindeer as well as the official residence of Santa Claus in Finland’s Lapland — (note that there’s a Swedish and a Finnish Lapland). This timeframe also entails the highest chances of witnessing the Northern Lights in Lapland — the real North Pole — adding to the Christmas magic and Swedish seasonal appeal.
Suppose snow, decorated cities, meeting reindeer, and watching the Northern Lights aren’t enough. In that case, choosier travelers will be more than happy with the amazing Christmas markets throughout Sweden in December — the best of which take place in Stockholm and Gothenburg.
3/10 Finland Came Eighth Place On Americans’ Christmas Vacation Wish List
Finland earned a collective search total of 8,480 — a little less than many countries, but enough to render it a worthy Christmas contender. This chilly country next to Sweden is home to some of the weirdest festivals in the world involving air guitar and heavy metal knitting tournaments. Aside from its cool bizarreness, it’s also famed for epic Christmas events and winter recreation.
In December, the holidays happen wholeheartedly in Helsinki — the nation’s capital, where the city’s main street, Aleksanterinkatu, is referred to as “Joulukatu”, meaning “Christmas Street.” Each year, the street is illuminated by lights and fantastic decorations, while the city’s incredible Christmas Market bustles with stalls selling all manners of deliciously festive goodies and Christmas gifts.
Of course, as mentioned above, visitors of Finland throughout the holidays can visit Santa Claus at his home in Lapland — one of Finland’s best Christmas attractions as well as its most famous worldwide. In addition to meeting the big bearded guy in the red suit and his reindeer, Finland’s guests can also enjoy glimpses of the Northern Lights, along with tons of snowfall and thrilling snowy adventures, from dog sledding and snowmobiling to arctic swimming — yes, it’s a real thing, as mad as it sounds!
2/10 Austria Is Americans’ Ninth-Favorite Christmas Destination
7,720 was the combined total searches for vacation-related words connected to Austria — and given that it’s home to the dazzling snow-capped Austrian Alps that rival the Swiss Alps, its place on this list is unsurprising. December turns the country into a snow-covered dreamland of charming Austrian cities and towns and dramatic mountain ranges — terrain perfect for action-packed winter sports.
More specifically, December to February is the best time to visit Austria for winter sports and outdoor adventure; skiing and snowboarding in the Austrian Alps is a winter bucket list item for some of the most discerning travelers, as some of the best and even the most affordable ski resorts in Europe operate in these mountainscapes. All the fun isn’t solely limited to the Alpine horizon, though; Austria’s best cities, like Vienna and Salzburg, boom with fantasy-like Christmas markets bringing goodies, lights, and festivities each and every December.
1/10 Las But Not Least, Denmark Takes Tenth Place
Last but not least, with a combined search total of 7,710, dazzling Denmark is number ten on Americans’ Christmas vacation wishlists. Reasons Denmark is one of the best places to spend Christmas tell of traditions, winter sports, and good chances of catching the Northern Lights — but that’s not all. In early December, Christmas markets open all across the country’s cities and villages, turning the nation into a fairytale land of festivities.
Particularly in the Danish capital of Copenhagen (officially the safest city in the world, according to the Safe Cities Index 2021), the Danes go all-out for Christmas every year. From lavishly decorated buildings to scrumptious seasonal street stalls serving up Christmas delights as glittering parades take place, the city’s festival vibes infect the rest of Europe through the crisp, snowy air.
Visiting the best Christmas markets in Copenhagen is a given; most visitors want to check these out since it wouldn’t be a Danish winter escapade without doing so. However, another unmissable itinerary item is The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen — a particularly special tourist attraction that inspired Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. Tivoli is an amusement park for both young and old; home to stunning gardens, musical performances, rides, historic buildings, and so much more, this complex, founded in 1843, is a Danish national treasure and renowned international attraction — and it’s even better in December. Throughout Christmastime, Tivoli is decked out for the season with whimsical wintry trimmings. At night, thousands upon thousands of vibrant lights all across its grounds create a fairytale environment from which Christmas fans will have a hard time leaving.
The top ten popular European Christmas destinations are the official wintertime hotspots toward which Americans have their eyes and itchy travel feet firmly pointed — data doesn’t lie, after all! A spokesperson from Iceland.org commented on the results of the study, “Whether interested in festive Christmas markets, European cultural traditions, or snow-covered landscapes, Europe is the ultimate destination to visit around Christmastime.”
That quote couldn’t be more true, with classic European cities like Strasbourg deemed the “Christmas Capital of the World.” Still, this year, one jolly land with beckoning boughs of holly has the United States spotlight and seal of approval; Americans are dreaming of an Icelandic Christmas in 2022.