6 Thanksgiving Getaways to Make This Year’s Holiday Amazing

Take a Thanksgiving vacation out of the ordinary with our top picks for adventure, history, art and more!

With autumn nearly upon us, it’s time to start making holiday plans. If you’re considering Thanksgiving getaways, you’re not alone! Thanksgiving is one of America’s most popular holidays, but the same routine of turkey and football year after year can get tiring.

Pick your own weather. Thanksgiving getaways mean different seasons around the world. Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Pick your own weather. Thanksgiving getaways mean different seasons around the world. Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Are you ready to try something new? Maybe you thought Thanksgiving would be a crazy time to travel. If so, we’ve got great news. It’s actually perfect–especially if you’re traveling abroad. This distinctly American holiday means U.S. destinations like Orlando might be packed, but the rest of the world is business as usual. That makes it the perfect time to go international.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered some exciting suggestions for Thanksgiving getaways. From independent vacations to adventurous escorted tours, you can give thanks in a whole new way this holiday season!

Australia & New Zealand Thanksgiving Getaways

Are you looking for a reason to ditch your winter coat? Trade in November’s blustery threats for the promise of spring. When you travel to the other side of the world, warmer weather is waiting for you. In Sydney, November’s average highs are in the mid-80s, so you can slip off your sweater and enjoy some outdoor adventures. Get outside and hike in the Blue Mountains (where you can cuddle a koala), or climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for incredible views. And, of course, the bragging rights.

But if you’re going all that way, don’t miss New Zealand. You’ll find it’s a bit cooler in rugged New Zealand. Still, hiking through magnificent mountains and lush rainforests can only be improved by a chill in the air.

New Zealand's amazing Milford Sound. Photo: Scott Greer on Unsplash

New Zealand’s amazing Milford Sound. Photo: Scott Greer on Unsplash

And if you truly love turkey, you can find a holiday feast down under. Thanksgiving is growing in popularity in Australia. Turkey farmers have recently reported a surge in sales around the American holiday.

The Virgin Vacations 15 Day New Zealand and Australia vacation includes Melbourne, Sydney, Dunedin, Queenstown and Auckland, with cultural experiences like a Maori performance at the Auckland Museum, and the 19th century Gold Rush village of Arrowtown.

Alpine Christmas Markets Holiday Getaways

Maybe you just want to soak up as much holiday spirit as possible. Skip the turkey and head straight to the Christmas source in Europe, where the Christmas Markets are already simmering mulled wine, and cinnamon spices the air around you. The first Christmas Market tours of the season begin right around Thanksgiving, offering you a very different holiday experience from Black Friday shopping malls.

The Dresden Christmas Market shines beneath the city's elegant Baroque church, rebuilt since World War II. Photo: German National Tourist Board

The Dresden Christmas Market shines beneath the city’s elegant Baroque church, rebuilt since World War II. Photo: German National Tourist Board

In Germany, Switzerland, France and Liechtenstein, a fairy tale awaits you. See the sloping roofs of Black Forest cottages, and the Gothic spires of the Swiss Tyrol. The famous Christmas Markets of Munich, Strasbourg, Heidelberg and more offer delicious local treats, music and handcrafted gifts. Plus, you can visit castles, cruise on the Rhine River, and explore splendid historic cities like Innsbruck and Mainz.

Try the Virgin Vacations 9 Day Alpine Christmas Markets vacation, which includes a Rhine River cruise, excursions to castles and more. These limited-time tours sell out quickly! Find out more about Europe’s Best Christmas Markets.

Italy: Historic Thanksgiving Getaways

With temperatures falling from sizzling summer highs in the 80s and 90s, Italy’s weather is welcoming for anyone who hates the heat. The good news? It isn’t really cold, either. Although your rain chances might ramp up, especially in Florence, highs average in the 60s. It’s perfect for slipping on a sweater before heading out to visit some world-class works of art.

Take a chance on rain, but lower crowds than summer, in Florence. Photo: Ilya Orehov on Unsplash.

Take a chance on rain, but lower crowds than summer, in Florence. Photo: Ilya Orehov on Unsplash.

Even with cooler weather, summer is Italy’s high season. So you’ll love the quieter fall days in Italy’s incredible museums. Because as jaw-dropping gorgeous as the Sistine Chapel is, no one wants to rub shoulders with all their fellow tourists. Enjoy the cooler weather and the personal space when you visit Italy in late November.

Get fantastic values on independent city stay vacations, like our 6 Day Rome Value Vacation, and add some tours to discover the best of the city. Or embark on an escorted tour, with admissions to museums, travel to historic sites and a full-time manager. You’ll love our Affordable Italy itinerary for a perfect Thanksgiving getaway.

Thailand: Exotic Thanksgiving Getaways

While late November days are still warm, Bangkok’s wet season has come to an end. You’ll find the “cool season” is still pretty hot, unless you’re from a tropical climate. But compared to the latter part of the wet season, in spring, it’s pretty comfortable.

That’s good, because you’re going to want to explore. Thailand’s bustling cities, gilded palaces and grand temples are a source of endless wonder. When you enter Bangkok’s Wat Po and see the massive reclining Buddha, you’ll know you’re experiencing something truly special. Roam further afield for the astounding ruins of Autthaya Historical Park, where the famous face peers from the tree roots. And see the famous bridge on the River Kwai, in beautiful Kanchanaburi.

Head of Sandstone Buddha in The Tree Roots at Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Head of Sandstone Buddha in The Tree Roots at Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Thailand also offers incredible value any time of year. Try the 9 Day Central Thailand tour for temples, floating markets and palaces. With hotels, transfers, museums, many meals and an English-speaking tour manager all included, you might be surprised at how affordable Thailand can be. Need some beach? Try a tour of Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Pattaya to experience ancient temples and Thailand’s peerless turquoise waters.

Spain & Portugal: Artistic Thanksgiving Getaways

Mild weather and adventurous dining make the Iberian peninsula a delicious Thanksgiving getaway. While summer in Spain can be baking hot, winter temperatures in the 50s are perfect for city sightseeing. Shrug off your sweater in Lisbon, where the mercury tops off in the 60s and rich fishermen’s stews warm up cool nights.

If you do get cold, there’s plenty to see indoors. Try Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum, where you’ll find works from the ancients to the Renaissance. While you’re in Madrid, explore the famous Prado Museum. You’ll find some of the greatest collections of Western art in the world.

Lisbon's ancient history and balmy fall temperatures make it perfect for Thanksgiving getaways.

Lisbon’s ancient history and balmy fall temperatures make it perfect for Thanksgiving getaways.

Enjoy a fun independent vacation with Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona for Thanksgiving getaways! With all transfers and accommodations included, it’s a seamless way to explore these amazing cities.

Ecuador and the Amazon: Adventurous Thanksgiving Getaways

Looking for Thanksgiving getaways with a little adventure? Try Ecuador. Here on the equator, rugged high country meets the slow-moving Amazon River. Visit colonial cities high in the Andes Mountains. Cruise down the Amazon in a canoe, keeping an eye out for tropical birds and plants. Cross suspension bridges and zip-line through the rainforest canopy. Hike into the forest to find gorgeous waterfalls. And spoil yourself with a soak in a hot spring. You’ve never had a Thanksgiving like this before!

Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador by David Torres

Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador. Photo: David Torres on Unsplash

So plan your Thanksgiving getaway in Ecuador! With many itineraries to choose from, the 10 Day Classic Ecuador and Amazon Adventure tour is a great place to start.

Make this year’s holiday amazing with a vacation. Thanksgiving getaways might become your new yearly tradition.