Top 10 cheap holiday destinations for December 2018

The final month of the year marks the time when people in northern climates start looking around for an affordable holiday escape to the sun. Fortunately, there are big parts of the world that have their best weather of the year at this time, and are very cheap as well, once you get there. The best places to visit in December are of course close to the equator or even below it

The Caribbean

Negril JamaicaJust as with Cancun mentioned below, the rest of the Caribbean has excellent weather yet very moderate prices, until just before Christmas. On the Friday before Christmas the region fills up and stays packed (at high prices) until mid January, but for those first 3 weeks you can get great deals, especially on Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

If you are mainly looking to just relax on a warm beach then your best bet is an all-inclusive resort. Prices at some beachfront 3-star hotels start at just over US$100 per night for two people, with food and drink included. Of course the better ones cost more, but not as much as you might expect if you know where to look.

Cancun, Mexico

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 70°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 3.8″/9.5cm

While Cancun has become the king of the Mexican beach resort towns in the few decades since it was formed, it’s only one of many, and all of them on both coasts have very nice weather in December. In fact, Cancun is probably the most expensive of them, so especially if you are coming from the west coast you are better off in Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, or Los Cabos instead.

Once again, it’s worth noting that the first half of December will be cheaper and far less crowded than the time around Christmas, so if it’s possible you should come early for best value. Still, compared to, say, Miami Beach, Cancun and the other Mexican resort towns are far cheaper and at least as fun as well. By the way, Cancun is mainly just a strip of high-rise hotels along a lovely beach, while Playa del Carmen (about an hour south) is a real tourist-friendly town with smaller hotels as well as hundreds of restaurants and shops to choose from.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$60 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$126 per night for two people

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • December avg high: 84°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

As December begins in the Caribbean, the hurricane season is officially over and the weather is pretty much perfect by any standard. Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic’s most popular resort areas, especially for those who aren’t particularly interested in absorbing the local culture. This is a resort area with wonderful beaches and not much history.

Unsurprisingly, the end of December is the beginning of the peak season for resort prices, so those who are able to come earlier in the month will be getting better deals. Still, the all-inclusive resorts are locked in heavy competition all year so this area can be a great deal compared to the alternatives, even in high season. If you are looking for where to go in December for an all-inclusive beach holiday, this is your best option for most people.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$45 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$84 per night for two people

Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • December avg high: 85°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 1.6″/4.0cm

As with other Caribbean resort destinations, the weather in Montego Bay is perfect in December, and the first half of the month is still cheap for flights and resort prices. The weekend before Christmas is when peak season here starts, and if you book early enough you can still get a good deal then, but don’t expect many last-minute bargains during that period.

Montego Bay’s busy airport has cheap flights from most major hubs including many in Europe, so it’s one of the easier places to reach as well. If Montego Bay itself doesn’t sound perfect then you might instead consider Negril or Ocho Rios, both of which are about 90 minutes from the same airport and each has a different feel.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$206 per night for two people

Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • December avg high: 85°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 1.6″/4.0cm

As with other Caribbean resort destinations, the weather in Montego Bay is perfect in December, and the first half of the month is still cheap for flights and resort prices. The weekend before Christmas is when peak season here starts, and if you book early enough you can still get a good deal then, but don’t expect many last-minute bargains during that period.

Montego Bay’s busy airport has cheap flights from most major hubs including many in Europe, so it’s one of the easier places to reach as well. If Montego Bay itself doesn’t sound perfect then you might instead consider Negril or Ocho Rios, both of which are about 90 minutes from the same airport and each has a different feel.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$206 per night for two people

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  • December avg high: 91°F/33°C
  • December avg low: 70°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm

Costa Rica is known as the adventure travel capital of Central America, partly because a third of the country is national parks. But Costa Rica is also famous for beaches, and the best ones are mainly clusted along the northern Pacific coast in the Guanacaste region. The nearby Liberia Airport provides a convenient way to get in and out quickly.

Tamarindo and Smara are two of the most popular beach areas, but there are other good choices in the area as well. This part of Costa Rica is known for large chain resorts on the beach, and the 4-star resorts can be pricey, while the more traditional 3-star hotels are still very reasonable. Costa Rica is obviously one of the hot countries in December in both temperature and popularity, so book early.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$60 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$170 per night for two people

Cartagena, Colombia

  • December avg high: 86°F/30°C
  • December avg low: 76°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm

By early December the rainy season is pretty much over in Cartagena, and it cools down just a bit more as well, so the weather really doesn’t get any better than this. As with most others on this list, right around Christmas you’ll find that hotels get more expensive and are more crowded, so if you can go earlier in the month you’ll be paying less and dealing with fewer crowds.

Cartagena is becoming a very popular winter beach destination for people from North America, and it’s still a fantastic bargain compared to better known places, but it might not stay that way forever. As Colombia gets more popular (and as long as it stays safe) then prices should keep going up at these resort towns.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$74 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$105 per night for two people

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 65°F/18°C
  • December avg precip: 4.1″/10.3cm

Unlike most cities on South America’s west coast, Buenos Aires has fairly consistent rainfall all year long, and you might see a bit of the wet stuff even during December. Still, the temperatures should be ideal for being outdoors, and this is really mostly an indoor city anyway, so when it does rain you’ll be able to pop into a shop or museum or cafe and have a great time.

Hotel prices definitely go up in around Christmas so it’s best to come early in the month if that’s possible, but it’s still a pretty good bargain even during the peak weeks. Book early if you can because the better and cheaper hotels will fill up first, of course. Also consider a side trip to the Mendoza wine region, Patagonia, or the amazing water falls of Iguazu.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$41 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$59 per night for two people

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 65°F/18°C
  • December avg precip: 4.1″/10.3cm

Unlike most cities on South America’s west coast, Buenos Aires has fairly consistent rainfall all year long, and you might see a bit of the wet stuff even during December. Still, the temperatures should be ideal for being outdoors, and this is really mostly an indoor city anyway, so when it does rain you’ll be able to pop into a shop or museum or cafe and have a great time.

Hotel prices definitely go up in around Christmas so it’s best to come early in the month if that’s possible, but it’s still a pretty good bargain even during the peak weeks. Book early if you can because the better and cheaper hotels will fill up first, of course. Also consider a side trip to the Mendoza wine region, Patagonia, or the amazing water falls of Iguazu.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$41 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$59 per night for two people

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

  • December avg high: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg low: 61°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 1.7″/4.3cm

December might be the only month of the year in the Canary Islands where very few people would consider sunbathing. Still, compared to everywhere else in Europe, Tenerife is balmy. The largest and most English-speaking of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is no mystery to the hundreds of thousands of northern Europeans who spend a month or more here every year.

Even if you can’t sunbathe, the weather is still reliably pleasant all the time, with almost no rain. Weekly and monthly apartment rentals here are very popular, but there are plenty of hotels and hundreds of restaurants for those coming for shorter periods. If you want to be with the most English speakers you’ll want to focus on the southwest area of the island around Los Cristianos and Playa de la America.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$66 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$77 per night for two people

 

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