Head to Egypt in December for countless pristine beaches

With the frosty winds and chilly temperatures in full force, December is a great month to escape the dreary weather on a fantastic holiday. Whether you’re an all-year beach bum, adrenaline junkie, or a snow bunny with a love of the slopes, we’ve found the perfect spots for a winter getaway.

For sun-worshippers...

Short haul: Egypt

Beat the winter chill and journey south to nearby Egypt. With temperatures averaging over 25°C (77°F) in December, Egypt’s beaches will not disappoint even the most dedicated beach bums. Head to Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula or Hurghada on the eastern coast for countless pristine beaches like Naama Bay or Madaki Bay.

December 2012 destinations - EgyptRas Mohammed National Park boasts many coral reefs and colourful marine life
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If you need a break from sunbathing, take a snorkelling or diving trip to Ras Mohammed National Park. The park boasts many coral reefs and colourful marine life. Divers can also check out the haunting wreckage of WWII ship SS Thistlegorm littered with the rusting remains of motorcycles, rifles, trucks and even a steam locomotive train.

If you need a break from the surf and sand, Alexandria’s world renowned museums and library and Cairo’s legendary pyramids are only a short plane ride away, with several flights available daily from the resort.

Long haul: Muscat, Oman

Year-round hot and sunny weather makes Muscat an idyllic destination for a warm-weather getaway in the midst of the European winter. Head to Marjan Beach in the Al Batinah region to Muscat’s west for a relaxing stroll or perfect snorkelling; you should be able to spot colourful clown fish, parrot fish and turtles. For the more adventurous, jet ski rental is plentiful along this sandy, golden coastline.

By December, Muscat’s sweltering temperatures have eased, offering perfect conditions for sightseeing. Venture to Muscat Old Town for a look at the striking Alam Palace with an intricate turquoise and gold exterior or check out the stunning view from the Muscat Gate House Museum roof. For shopaholics, only a short drive away is Muttrah Souq, one of the oldest Arab marketplaces in Oman where visitors can pick up fresh spices, colourful head scarves or Omani silver.

For adventurous holidaymakers...

Short haul: Andorra

December 2012 destinations - AndorraThere’s plenty to do in Andorra if you love the outdoors
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Skiers will know that Andorra has a poor snow record in December, but there’s still plenty to do if you want to explore the outdoors. Head to Sordeny Nature Park for challenging hiking and the chance to spot a chamois, a goat-antelope crossbreed. Just make sure to dress warm - temperatures can get icy. After a day of hiking, stop by Caldea, a mountain spa leisure centre, where you can enjoy over 80 treatments and take a dip in a multitude of mineral-rich natural hot springs.

For a break from outdoor excursions, venture north to the parish of Ordino. Visitors will find an assortment of attractions, like the Romanesque frescoes in Sant Martí de la Cortinada church or head to any local restaurant to sample masegada cake, a popular small cake made with anise and brandy, or trinxat, a traditional cabbage, potato and pork stew.

Long haul: Cambodia

December 2012 destinations - CambodiaCambodia's Angkor Wat is the world’s largest single religious monument
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As December rolls in, so does Cambodia’s cool season. Visit Phnom Kulen National Park and stop at one of the 56 Angkorian temples, or hike to one of two large waterfalls; the water is considered holy by locals, who bottle it to take home.

For a holiday off the beaten track, venture to Cambodia’s remote northeastern region to trek into the dense jungles for a peek at the diverse and abundant local wildlife like elephants, parrots, leopards, and maybe even catch a glimpse of some of the last tigers in Cambodia. For the less adventurous, visit Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s top tourist attraction and the world’s largest single religious monument.

For skiing and snowboarding...

Short haul: Lillehammer, Norway

Best known for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, Lillehammer in Norway is a well-kept secret for early season skiing. The Hafjell and Kvitfjell resorts, both opened since November, have lower rates and thinner crowds in December than later in the season, despite impressive artificial snow-making capabilities and usually abundant snowfall before Christmas time.

No trip would be complete without stopping at the Norwegian Olympic Museum, just north of the city centre. The museum, which boasts the most complete view of Olympic Games history in northern Europe, has both an impressive historical objects and weapons collection. Try stopping by during the weekend; the museum is closed on Mondays in December.

Long haul: Vermont, USA

December 2012 destinations - VermontHead to Vermont for plentiful December snow
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Ready to hit the slopes? Even though December skiing is not guaranteed in many European resorts, skiing on America’s east coast has already begun. Head to Vermont in New England for plentiful December snow. Killington, the largest ski resort in the region, is known for having some of the highest peaks in New England, making it some of the best skiing on the east of Colorado. Beat the January rush and head to Killington in December for cheaper, early season rates and fewer crowds.

Stowe (a two-hour drive north of Killington) has two mountains and over 110 trails for both beginner and expert skiers and snowboarders. Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak and one of Stowe’s ski areas, is for intermediate to advanced skill levels, with the smaller Spruce Peak catering to beginners.

Even if there is limited snowfall in December, don’t fret; because the winter weather sets in so early in the season in northern USA, east coast resorts can rely on artificial snow throughout the season if necessary.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.