Christmas can be a difficult period for those on their own. But it doesn’t have to be. Now might be the time to find a new kind of festive togetherness through travel.
There are dozens of adventures for solo travellers available this yuletide.
Whether you want to spend the 25th under a swaying palm, exploring a far-flung metropolis or learning a new skill, here are ten trips guaranteed to bring some cheer…
Festive adventures: Women-only luxe spa Bliss Sanctuary sits among the verdant rice paddies of Canggu (above) on Bali’s south coast. A trip there will help you re-imagine the concept of Christmas peace
This is your chance to re-imagine the concept of Christmas peace. Women-only luxe spa, Bliss Sanctuary, sits among the verdant rice paddies of Canggu, on Bali’s south coast, and promises to rejuvenate mind and body. A bespoke trip includes all meals, a personal driver and unlimited spa treatments. Guests can also set the dial on adventure, with everything from trekking up nearby Mount Batur to sunrise surf lessons on offer.
Book it: A seven-night all-inclusive stay over Christmas costs from £3,611pp including flights with Emirates. To book, visit blisssanctuaryforwomen.com.
Singles holiday specialist Friendship Travel offers a week-long ski jaunt to Soll in Austria (pictured), departing on Christmas Eve
How does swooshing down pistes, followed by devouring hearty Tyrolean dishes in front of a crackling fire sound? Singles holiday specialist Friendship Travel has a week-long ski jaunt to Soll in Austria, departing on Christmas Eve. Staying in the cosy three-star Eggerwirt chalet hotel, it promises equal measures of snow, apres-ski and seasonal jollity.
Book it: A seven-night, half-board ski trip to Soll costs £1,295pp including flights from UK airports and transfers. Call Friendship Travel on 0289 446 2211 or visit friendshiptravel.com.
Paradise: Sharm el Sheikh (above) is a perfect pick for solo travellers who want to learn how to scuba dive
After Cop27, Sharm el Sheikh is back to doing what it does best. With an abundance of reefs at the Ras Mohammed National Park, golden beaches and cerulean skies, this Egyptian beach idyll remains a perfect pick if you want to learn how to scuba dive. PADI operates courses from the five-star Reef Oasis Blue Bay Resort and Dive Club, and promises they’re super sociable, with each diver exploring the deep with a ‘buddy’.
Inside Japan Tours has a self-guided Christmas trip for solo travellers that takes in Tokyo (pictured), Kyoto and a traditional ryokan (inn) on the island of Miyajima
As a Shinto/Buddhist country, Japan really is a destination in which to swerve old St Nick. That said, the Land of the Rising Sun is rather partial to a seasonal light show, with many of its biggest cities bedecked in twinkling garlands during December.
Inside Japan Tours has a self-guided trip for solo travellers that takes in Tokyo, Kyoto and a traditional ryokan (inn) on the island of Miyajima. A private guide is on hand to help throughout and there are cooking and sword skills classes.
Book it: An 11-night Christmas tour costs £2,750pp, including breakfast, some dinners and lunches, and cultural classes. Call 0117 244 3380 or visit insidejapantours.com. Flights to Tokyo cost from £1,674 with BA (ba.com).
Marrakech (pictured) won’t be particularly Christmassy but the pink walls of the ancient city, the medieval ramparts, swaying palm trees, vibrant souks and views of the Atlas Mountains have a charm all of their own
For a combination of warmth and convenience, winter breaks don’t get much better than Morocco. So how about a sightseeing holiday in its most atmospheric city? Marrakech won’t be particularly Christmassy but the pink walls of the ancient city, the medieval ramparts, swaying palm trees, vibrant souks and views of the Atlas Mountains have a charm all of their own.
Book it: Four nights’ B&B at the Nassim Hotel from December 23 costs £730. Call Friendship Travel on 0289 446 2211 or visit friendshiptravel.com.
PASS THE GLUHWEIN
Escape routes: Newmarket Holidays has a group trip over Christmas week that explores the best of Bavaria – and it includes an excursion to King Ludwig II’s Disney-esque Neuschwanstein Castle (above)
Bavaria is positively aglow with seasonal charm by now, and Newmarket Holidays has a Christmas week short break that taps into the best of it.
The group trip, based in the pretty mountain resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, includes visits to Munich’s atmospheric 140-stall Weihnachtsmarkt and Oberammergau — home to the Passion Play — plus an excursion to King Ludwig II’s Disney-esque Neuschwanstein Castle.
Book it: A five-night half-board break departing December 22 costs £1,120pp, including return flights to Munich. Call 0333 060 6487 or visit newmarketholidays.co.uk.
Magical: Singles operator Just You has a five-day trip, departing on December 23, that puts Pompeii, Sorrento, Ravello (pictured) and Salerno in your sights
The meandering Italian coastline is a magical place to spend Christmas, with its elegant towns dressed up in their seasonal finery. Singles operator Just You has a five-day trip that puts Pompeii, Sorrento, Ravello and Salerno — and a Christmas Day lunch — in your sights. If you’re feeling brave, pack your bathers. A Boxing Day swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea wins instant bragging rights.
Book it: Four nights half-board at the four-star Hotel Villa Romana, departing Heathrow on December 23, costs £1,799pp including flights, excursions and Christmas lunch. Call Just You on 01858 415043, or visit justyou.co.uk.
Above is Perito Moreno Glacier, which is one of the highlights on Explore’s Patagonia tour. A 14-day B&B trip with flights, transfers and a guide costs £6,835pp based on December 19 departures
Keen on a South American adventure that could challenge Santa’s travel plans? Explore’s 14-day Patagonia tour takes travellers to some of the continent’s most spectacular landscapes.
Highlights on this wildlife-focused group trip include the Perito Moreno Glacier and Torres del Paine National Park. There’s also a chance to see Argentina’s hypnotic capital, Buenos Aires, covered in Christmas lights. Ideal for first-timers to South America, 60 per cent of Explore’s groups are made up of solo travellers.
Book it: A 14-day B&B trip with flights, transfers and a guide costs £6,835pp based on December 19 departures. Call Explore on 01252 240 505 or visit explore.co.uk.
SAIL INTO 2023
Rubicon 3 Adventure has a 12-day trip around the Caribbean, departing December 23, where guests learn to sail. Ports of call include St Lucia (pictured), Mustique and Barbados
As life-affirming ways to usher out 2022 go, a learn-to-sail trip around the Caribbean is a real Christmas cracker. Spend 12 days getting to grips with a 60ft clipper yacht, learning everything from navigating to helming and anchoring under the expert guidance of a pro skipper. Ports of call include St Lucia, Mustique and Barbados.
BOOK IT: A 12-day trip costs £2,299pp based on December 23 departures and includes food and sailing tuition. Call Rubicon 3 Adventure on 020 3086 7245, or visit rubicon3adventure.com. Flights to St Lucia, returning from Grenada, cost £2,082 (ba.com).
You’ll visit the town of Szentendre (above) on Solo Holidays’ four-night escorted tour of Budapest, departing December 23
Budapest comes alive during the festive season. There’s a vast Christmas market selling local food, artisanal wares and plenty of gifts to take home. And this four-night escorted tour takes in all the Hungarian capital has to offer. Visit the imposing Heroes’ Square, the Opera House, St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Castle District while learning about the city’s history and culture. Enjoy some downtime, too, on Christmas Day itself, before heading out to Szentendre, a riverside town in Pest County which is known for its galleries and artists.
Book it: Four nights’ B&B, including flights and some dinners, costs £1,499pp, departing on December 23. Call 020 8951 2900 or visit solosholidays.co.uk.
… AND IF YOU’RE STAYING IN THE UK
FUN AT THE FAYRE
Destinations don’t come more charming than the spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, which is famed for Bettys tea room, Valley Gardens and Turkish baths. Harrogate Christmas Fayre is home to stalls in Market Place and Cambridge Street, with local traders selling wares.
DETAILS: The Fayre is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 7pm (Sundays 10.30am to 4.30pm), until December 11. (visitharrogate.co.uk).
LIGHT IT UP
Lightopia returns to Heaton Park in Manchester this winter with a bigger and brighter trail of Christmas lights featuring all new attractions and a five-minute audio-visual show. Families can also enjoy festive food and drink.
DETAILS: Tickets from £17.50 (adults) and £11 (children) until January 2 excluding Christmas Day (manchester.lightopiafestival.com).
AN ENGLISH CLASSIC
Let it glow: The fabulous light show at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire
Tickets are a little pricey for this Christmas extravaganza at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.
But a market set in a vast country home under a winter light show does offer something different. The manor is decorated inside and out, with tours of the house available, too.
DETAILS: Market runs Wednesday to Sunday until January 3. Tickets for the house and grounds cost from £32.70 for adults and £16.35 for children (waddesdon.org.uk).
TAKE A WALK
once a residence to Henry VIII and where Elizabeth I grew up, Ashridge House in Hertfordshire goes all out in winter. This year some of the 190 acres of landscaped gardens will be illuminated by light art company Luminism through bright tunnels and colour and sound installations. A food and drinks village also features.
DETAILS: Tickets from £16.50 (adults) and £10.50 (children) until January 2 (christmas.ashridgehouse.org.uk).
No city in the UK does Christmas as well as Edinburgh. The cobbled streets of the Royal Mile are filled with the smells of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts, while Princes Street twinkles under lights and its market is filled with attractions from a Ferris wheel to an ice-rink.
DETAILS: The Edinburgh Winter Festival runs until January 3. More information at visitscotland.com.
GET YOUR SKATES ON
The festive ice rink at Somerset House in London is open until January 8
Ice skating at Somerset House, under the twinkling lights of a 40ft Christmas tree, is one of London’s best festive offerings. There are also late-night skating sessions with music and Hotel Chocolat chocolate-making masterclasses each Thursday.
DETAILS: Tickets from £10 (adults) and £7.50 (children) until January 8. Visit somersethouse.org.uk.
Blenheim Palace has been open for its Christmas extravaganza since November 18. There’s plenty of atmosphere provided by 500,000 baubles decorating the interior, 160 Christmas trees and 3,000 light orbs and 200 candles in the garden. Displays in the state rooms will tell a story entitled The Kingdom of the Snow Queen.
DETAILS: Family tickets from £166 (two adults and two children) until January 2 (blenheimpalace.com/christmas).
The Bristol area is hosting a range of events throughout December. There is the Enchanted Christmas trail at Westonbirt Arboretum (until December 21), the Victorian Christmas Weekends at SS Great Britain (December 3, 4, 10, 11), the Festival of Light at Longleat (until January 8), Winter Wonderland at Wookey Hole (until January 1) and plenty more.
DETAILS: See the full range of events at visitbristol.co.uk.
By Hugo Brown