Prague, Czech Republic
For a fairy-tale Christmas, head to Prague, where the ancient city embraces the holiday with yuletide markets and stunning decorations. Make sure to take note of the magnificent Christmas tree in Old Town Square: it’s shipped in from the Krkonose mountains and glitters like gold. There are three main markets: the one in Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and the smaller Havel’s market, all open Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Day.
At all three, you can find brightly decorated wooden huts brimming with handicrafts, glassware, jewelry, embodied lace, ornaments, hats, puppets and plenty of food stands. After all, the people of Prague know shopping makes one hungry, so you can fill your belly with spit-roasted ham, sausages and fresh pastries like the trdelnik, which is grilled and then dusted with hot sugar and walnuts.
For a sit-down restaurant, head to Café Slavia, a classic establishment that overlooks the NárodnííTrída and the grand castle. Later, opt to take the Advent River Cruise, a relaxing way to see the sights of Prague with a hot cup of mulled wine, cake and plenty of Christmas carols.
Where to stay: Since most of Prague exudes old-world charm, balance that out with a historical place that displays a modern sensibility. Located near all the holiday action, The Old Town Square Hotel offers clean, chic rooms done in black and white. Rates start at $250