With the holidays approaching, it’s easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle of the season. Between holiday parties and family dinners, carve out some time for yourself to take a much-needed break. Need some inspiration? We found 10 of the hottest destinations for Canadian travellers that have seen the biggest increase in searches on our site for holiday travel. So grab some glogg and tell Aunt Betty you won’t be at her party this year, because you’re headed to one of these trending holiday destinations.
Note: Our recommendations on how far in advance to book your flight are based on last year’s data for holiday travel. As always, if you find a good deal — no matter how far ahead of your trip you find it — book it.
10 Trending Holiday Destinations
1. Dublin, Ireland
Increase in KAYAK searches: 48%
Dublin’s charm really comes into its own during the holidays. The parks, pubs and people are decorated to the nines for the season. You’ll want to book your trip at least 6 weeks in advance if you’re hoping to find a good flight deal (when median airfare is around $721). In winter, Dublin’s literary past seems to come alive. Explore the library of Trinity College and grab your fast-pass to see the Book of Kells (an ancient text written around the 7th century). Visit The Winding Stair Bookshop (and eat at its sister cafe) to grab a tome for the bookworm in your life. Or head to Bewley’s on Grafton Street, a coffee shop that has welcomed some of Ireland’s literary luminaries over the last century. At night, head to the Cobblestone pub for a pint and free traditional Irish music every night of the week.
2. Cartagena, Colombia
Increase in KAYAK searches: 48%
Nothing could be further from a winter in Canada than a winter in Cartagena. But weather isn’t the only reason to escape here. Colombia during the holidays is the definition of “festive.” And Colombians love to share their culture, food and traditions, so expect to get a few invitations from strangers. Book your flight at least 10 weeks ahead if you want to find a deal — we found that’s when median airfare drops to $592 RT. While there, explore the walled city, visiting spots like Plaza Bolivar and The Museo d’Oro. Then, head to El Boliche for pulled-from-the-sea ceviche. Or, you can head out to the Bocagrande beach and sit on the sand at El Bonny, a seaside hut famous for its fish. See our top tips on travel to Cartagena.
3. Melbourne, Australia
Increase in KAYAK searches: 41%
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, you’d be visiting Melbourne during their spring and summer, and may be (pleasantly) surprised to know that many holiday traditions happen around the beach. So cue those surfing Santas. Plan to book your travel at least one month in advance (airfare will generally be around $1,315). The city lights up with holiday displays from a gingerbread village to the windows at Myer department store. Where you’ll want to be, however, is at 1806 — a cocktail bar whose menu from the 1650s to the present. After sampling the centuries, head to Perfect Splash to pick up some locally-made gifts.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Increase in KAYAK searches: 40%
Prague in winter is like its own made-for-TV holiday spectacular. From snow-dusted Gothic buildings to bright and lively Christmas markets, it’s the place to be. You’ll want to book your flight at least 3 months ahead (when airfare is around $965) — after that, expect to pay over $1,000. Visiting over the holidays means you’ll be able to join in traditions from old to new. On December 5th (St. Nicholas Day), you’ll see Santa head through the town with his sidekicks (an angel and a devil) delivering candy to the Nice and coal to the Naughty. No matter how you behaved this year, you can find something sweet at Cafe Savoy, a popular coffee shop and restaurant with one of the best breakfasts in the city. Warm up with their Savoy hot chocolate, which you can get regular (slightly savory) or dessert-style (sweeter).
5. Belize City, Belize
Increase in KAYAK searches: 31%
Want to swap your pine tree for a palm tree? We don’t blame you. This hot (literally and figuratively) destination has Canadian travellers heading south. Be sure you book at least 3 months before you fly, as that’s when you’re most likely to get a great price on airfare (around $497 RT according to our data). Throughout the season you can experience tree lightings, boat parades, markets and more. But the real draw here is to be able to get some sun and surf during some of the year’s coldest months.
6. Zurich, Switzerland
Increase in KAYAK searches: 25%
From the city that inspired a thousand fairy tales, make your holiday extra special by spending it in Zurich. You can’t walk through the city streets without stumbling on a holiday market, Advent concert or tree lighting. Book your flight at least 10 weeks ahead of travel — this is the sweet spot for when you’ll find the best deal for the holidays (median airfare $979 RT). After indulging in that famous Swiss chocolate, get your heart pumping with ice skating at Dolder Ice Rink. End your evening with a table by the fire at Giesserei Oerlikon for creative dishes that bring together an array of international flavors.
7. Hanoi, Vietnam
Increase in KAYAK searches: 24%
Perhaps the farthest destination on our list, Hanoi is a city that contains a world of its own. The fast-paced, crowded streets are bursting with life and color. If you’re headed here, we actually found that the best deals on flights last year were booked just 2 weeks ahead of travel ($1,036 RT). But if that’s cutting it too close for your comfort, booking 6 weeks or less in advance might be your best option. You can visit the famous St. Joseph’s Cathedral if you want to get into the holiday spirit or attend a version of The Nutcracker ballet at the Hanoi Opera House. Otherwise, embrace the fact that you’re in an energetic city and take on Hanoi’s vibrant nightlife.
8. Edmonton, Alberta
Increase in KAYAK searches: 23%
When an international getaway isn’t in the cards, travelers are hot for Edmonton this holiday season. As the only destination within Canada to make this list, the city has certainly piqued travellers’ interest. You should plan to book at least one month before you travel — as that’s when our data says you’ll find the best deal (around $277 RT). And Edmonton really shines in winter — because of, not in spite of, the snow. It lets the many light displays throughout the city vibrate with colour — like on Candy Cane Lane, perhaps the area’s most famous street for holiday lights. You’ll also want to check out some of the city’s newest restaurants. Just a year old, Avila Arepa is the perfect place to take get a quick bite of Venezuelan comfort food. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more classy, Biera is a newcomer to the Edmonton food scene that’s already made its mark.
9. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Increase in KAYAK searches: 20%
If your holiday season isn’t complete without a bit of sailing and kite-surfing, then Punta Cana is the perfect destination for you. With Canadian travellers itching to get their seat in the sun, you should plan to book at least 3 weeks before you travel (that’s when travellers were able to find the best flight deals in 2017, with median airfare $499). But your vacation doesn’t have to be all sea-and-sand. If you’re with your honey and want to plan a romantic holiday, you can charter a hot air balloon and take a ride above the island. Then, after you’ve shared a fancy cocktail watching the beach sunset at Jellyfish Beach Restaurant, go underground at Imagine Nightclub. This legendary party destination will be ready for the season — it’s built into a series of caves.
10. Willemstad, Curaçao
Increase in KAYAK searches: 15%
Spending the holidays in Curacao gets you all the wonderful traditions of a Dutch holiday, with all the benefits of island life. The candy-coloured town comes alive this season, with lights and decorations making your evening stroll just a bit more magical. Also, if you’re staying from December 22nd into January, expect to experience a hearty round of fireworks almost every night. Based on last year’s median airfare, plan to book your trip at least 3 weeks ahead (this is when travellers found airfare around $461).
No matter where you’re headed this holiday season, we’ll be here to make sure you have the information you need to confidently plan your winter break.
For Trending Holiday destinations, KAYAK considered flight destinations with the Greatest YoY increase in searches of the top 100 most searched destinations for travel dates 11/16/2018-01/02/2019 and search dates 01/01/2018-08/18/2018. Change in Popularity (YoY increase) is based on search traffic change from previous year for travel dates 11/17/2017-01/03/2018. Median airfare by month for destinations is based on travel dates 11/01/2017-01/31/2018 and search dates 05/01/2017-01/31/2018. For destinations not directly located in an international airport city, the closest international airport was considered for airfare. When to Book data is based on median airfare as a function of weeks before departure for travel dates 11/17/2017-01/03/2018. For destinations not directly located in an international airport city, the closest international airport was considered for airfare. Median hotel rate by month for destinations is based on travel dates 11/01/2017-01/31/2018 and search dates 05/01/2017-01/31/2018.