10 Underrated Holiday Destinations to Visit for Your Year-End Trip

10 Underrated Countries to Visit Before the Year Ends

Go off the beaten track this holiday season, or any season for that matter.

Come Christmas time, travellers usually plan trips to spectacular winter wonderlands, cities made glittering with bright lights, or dreamy towns that combine both worlds. Aside from the popular countries for celebrations, what about underrated holiday destinations that travellers often miss out on?

Since most adventurers also take advantage of the snow, it makes sense that some destinations are more popular than others. But now it’s time to shine the spotlight on underrated holiday destinations around the world that are just as beautiful during the yuletide season. Read on to find out Christmas-time vacation ideas. This should be your most memorable holiday yet.

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Also read: 16 Dazzling Christmas Lights Around the World You Have to See

Must-visit underrated holiday destinations

1. Italy

underrated holiday destinations: Bari, Italy

Image credit: loloieg

Italy is one of those world-famous destinations that are just overly popular — and for a number of great reasons. But not a lot of people know that the Catholic saint who inspired Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, is actually the co-patron of the Province of Bari in Puglia. In fact, some of his relics and even his tomb are kept in the Pontifical Basilica di San Nicola to this day.

Christmas in Puglia is made even more special with yuletide delicacies such as cartellate (sweet, fried dough) and purciadducci (also known as the “poor man’s nougat”). If that’s not enough to entice you, the region is actually known for breathtaking beaches, archaeological treasures, and a rich culinary heritage. These spots stay ripe for sightseeing all days of the year as well.

Also read: 8 Hidden Beaches in Italy That Only Locals Know About

2. Bhutan

Must-visit underrated holiday destinations: Bhutan

Image credit: fotofritz16 via CanvaPro

Known for limiting the number of tourists that enter it, as well as being among the world’s happiest countries, Bhutan is quite an intriguing getaway. And although most of its population practises Buddhism (a religion that has been declared part of the country’s sacred heritage), parts of the country still celebrate Christmas. It may not be as sparkly or as ostentatious as in other countries, but the occasional handcrafted paper decor will mark any establishment that commemorates Christmas in its own little way.

Any other time of the year, though, you can visit Bhutan’s many temples, mountains, and nature retreats. You’ll have to go through a credited tour operator since that’s how they manage tourism. But there are itineraries for every kind of traveller so you won’t be disappointed.

Also read: Bhutan Trans Trail Reopens After 60 Years for Domestic and International Travel

3. Malaysia

underrated holiday destinations: Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Image credit: Ling Tang

When talking about underrated holiday destinations, Malaysia should probably be on the list. Other than the iconic Twin Towers and KL Tower, Malaysia has so much more to offer. If celebrating the holiday season with neon lights in the bustling city isn’t your cup of tea, then go on a challenging hike at Sabah’s Mountain Kinabalu, or try out scuba diving around Pahang’s many islands. 

Regardless, there are shopping malls anywhere you go with full-on Christmas decorations. But if you want to take pictures with tall Christmas trees and go on a shopping spree with Christmas carols chanting all the time, then Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, the most populated areas of the country with most shopping malls, are still the best places to go.

Also read: 10 Cafes in Johor Bahru to Check Out on Your Next Trip Across the Border

4. Lithuania


Image credit: Gregory Atkats 

A Baltic state that’s known for historical sites and thriving wildlife, Lithuania isn’t really what comes first in mind when you think of a European holiday. It ought to be on your list, though.

Lithuanians are known to speak one of the world’s oldest languages. In fact, it’s closely related to Sanskrit, so it would be a unique experience alone to hear the locals talk. Aside from this, Lithuania is also home to really good beer, so that ought to put everyone in a cheery mood.

In December, the country transforms into a snowy destination that’s buzzing with Christmas spirit. There’s Kūčiukai or biscuits served with poppy milk and lots of Christmas trees. Forget the 12 days of Christmas; in Lithuania, it’s customary to have at least 12 traditional dishes on the table on Christmas Eve.

Also read: 30 Europe Souvenirs to Bring Home from Your Next Adventure

5. Philippines

Metro Manila, The Philippines

Image credit: Oj Serrano

They say that Christmas begins in the Philippines as early as September. This small nation in Southeast Asia is crazy about the holiday. In bustling Metro Manila, Christmas sales start earlier than anywhere else in the world. Many Filipino families also practise several yuletide traditions such as misa de gallo and noche buena. Aside from Christmas trees, bright lights, and artful depictions of the nativity, it’s also common to see the parol: a handcrafted Christmas ornament that is traditionally made of capiz shells.

But all year round, the beaches and mountains of the Philippine archipelago are a treat. If you’re looking forward to a tropical getaway, look no further.

Also read: 10 World-Class Islands in the Philippines Travellers Rave About

6. Peru

Winter season is the perfect time to visit Peru due to its chilly weather. And yes, you may get to catch a glimpse of snow, but only at the mountain peaks. As one of the underrated holiday vacations, Peru is where you should go to avoid big crowds during your winter escapade. Visit the most famous destination in the country, Machu Picchu, where the ancient ruins are well-preserved accompanied by a view of the green mountains. 

To fully enjoy the captivating scenery of Machu Picchu, try trekking up via the Salkantay trail which is not overcrowded. The view from above, especially when the mountains are covered with snow, will surely leave you in awe.

Also read: 15 Strange Destinations Around the World That Don’t Seem Real

7. Georgia

Christmas time vacation destinations: Georgia

Image credit: Denis Arslanbekov

A country located right between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia is another place to go for your next winter break vacation. From nature attractions like the ancient rock-hewn town Uplistsikhe to graceful sculptures like the Ali & Nino Statue, Georgia has it all. For a wonderful Christmas vacation, visit Tbilisi, the capital of the country. Tbilisi’s Gothic buildings will make you feel like you’ve just entered an ethereal art scene. Not to mention the stunning Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi that emanates Christmas vibes all time of the year.

If you look forward to a snowy Christmas, Georgia will also not disappoint with its enchanting winterscape. 

Also read: Georgia to Allow Entry of Foreigners who Work Remotely via A Long-term Visitor Pass!

8. Vietnam


Image credit: Markus Winkler

Another one of the most underrated holiday destinations is Vietnam. Although Christmas is no longer a national holiday here, it still remains one of the main religious festivals in the country. During the festive season, major cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are filled with bright decorations, and you might catch sight of Santa clauses riding on their bikes. 

Moreover, celebrate the New Year in Ho Chi Minh City. This capital city is arguably the best place in the country to experience thrilling nightlife, with parties, music, alcohol and fun people. 

Also read: 12 Fun Things to Do in Da Nang, Vietnam for First-Time Visitors

9. Canada

Christmas time vacation ideas: travelling to Canada

Image credit: Sandro Schuh

A great place to visit for your winter break vacation would be Canada, another gorgeous country that some tourists often overlook. Travel to Quebec, a place full of French colonial buildings and French-speaking locals that will make you feel like you’re in France for a second. Be prepared for the abundant snowfall during winter and visit the l’Étang Baker, Quebec’s romantic heart-shaped lake to welcome the New Year. 

Toronto is also one of the best Christmas-time vacation destinations. Its  European-style Christmas market featuring local eateries, handcrafts, and live entertainment was the city’s most popular Christmas event before the pandemic. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of enchanting Christmas occasions, like the Holiday Night of Lights and the Canadian Tire Christmas Trail in Toronto that you don’t want to miss. 

Also read: 12 Best Cities to Live in Canada If You Want a Fresh Start

10. Bulgaria

Christmas time vacation destinations: Bulgaria

Image credit: Anton Antanasov

To experience the feeling of travelling to the popular holiday destination Greece, visit Bulgaria, a country located right above with similar culture. Winter is beautiful in Plovdiv. The most travel-worthy Christmas-time vacation destinations in the city include the Ancient Theatre, Kapana, and the Ancient Bath. Kapana is regarded as the city’s creative district, offering traditional local dishes like the kačamak, Thracian wine, and handmade crafts. There is also a Christmas Bazaar happening in Kapana during the jolly season.

To add a little spice to your trip, visit the Seven Rila Lakes that’s only around three hours away from Plovdiv. Trek up the Rila Mountains and spend an extraordinary time immersing yourself in the spectacular nature view. 

Also read: 10 Best European Countries That Won’t Break the Bank

So, are you ready for something different this coming Christmas? You can even call it an extended holiday and stay until New Year’s. But the best part is, most of the countries on this list are all beautiful, underrated holiday destinations that you should see soon — regardless of the season.

Facebook image credit (right): oneinchpunch via Canva Pro

About Authors

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularised by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.


Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.