If you’re looking for an escape from the long, dreary winter, it’s time to pack your bags and head to somewhere far more exciting! Here are my top picks for winter travel destinations and what makes them so special!
Temperature: 70s – mid 80s
Weather: Sunny, windy, some rain, humid.
What To Do:
Hiking, bird watching, diving, and photography are just a few of the options you’ll have when visiting the Galapagos at any time of the year. So what makes this archipelago an ideal winter destination? The the weakening of the Humboldt Current and the Cromwell Current, as well as the dissipation of a foggy overcast known as garua brings about clearer, calmer, days, both on land and at sea. The winter months boast crystal clear waters, making it the perfect time to catch a view of many unique sea creatures! Take a snorkeling tour for the best chance to to witness some truly beautiful underwater displays!
Where To Stay: While there are some beautiful hotels on the islands that you can book on your own, my professional recommendation is to book this journey as a ‘cruise’ or an excursion. This is the perfect way to get the most fulfilling, all-inclusive experience. Booking a hotel will confine you to one island, whereas traveling by sea will allow you to visit several different islands and experience different activities, all in one trip. To learn more about the Galapagos, check out my full-length Galápagos blog post here!
Weather: Sunny, some rain.
What To Do: If Hawaii is on your bucket list, think about checking if off this winter! Although the winter months are considered Hawaii’s “Wet” season, January & February on Maui see less rain and calmer ocean conditions than the other islands. But best of all, they are great for whale watching! Each year, approximately 12,000 humpback whales migrate down from Alaska to give birth and mate in the warm waters of Hawaii. And while you can see whales from any island, you have the best chance of seeing whales on Maui.
Where To Stay: Maui features an exciting mix of private villas and upscale resorts. Where you should stay depends entirely on what your expectations are for a trip like this. Whether you are looking for something all-inclusive, a honeymoon package, or something for the whole family, there is a place that is right for you!
The Canary Islands
What To Do: Given the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation, it’s no wonder that the Canary Islands are often said to be the top place for Europeans to spend their holidays. The winter months see less visitors than the summer months, but offer just as much to see and do. You’ll want to make day plans to visit wineries, hike through breathtaking landscapes, and relax on the many beaches that will be far less crowded! The nights are no less exciting, with lively nightlife found throughout the islands, as well as the crystal clear skies, making this one of the best places in Europe for stargazing!
Where To Stay: While all of the islands have much in common with each other, each one also has it’s own unique charm. I would not recommend doing much island hopping unless you plan to stay for a significant amount of time. For an enjoyable 7-10 day trip, my top island recommendation is Tenerife!
Temperature: High 80s
Weather: Some rain, lots of sun, humid
What To Do: While you are able to visit Tanzania on your own, this is the perfect time to go on safari! You will be able to see, do, and experience more with a guided tour, opposed to trying to plan everything yourself. January is one of the best months to visit Tanzania because there’s still a fair bit of lush vegetation from the recent rains, so the landscapes are very picturesque! Many migratory birds also flock to the region in January, and this is the time when hundreds of thousands of hoofed animals start giving birth!
Where To Stay: Your safari will come complete with lodging for its duration! If you are looking to arrive early or stay for a while after your tour ends, there are many great hotels to check out!
Temperature: 70s – 80s
Weather: Warm, Dry.
What To Do: The winter months are actually Thailand’s high season, and it’s easy to see why. Pleasant temperatures make exploring the country and taking day tours most comfortable for visitors. If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, check out the Chinese New Year in January or February. Bangkok’s Chinatown turns into a sea of visitors, worshippers, dragon dancers, and drummers, all under the red glow of firecrackers and hanging lanterns. Yes, this may be the busiest time of the year to visit, but if you enjoy the fast-paced vibes, this is really the most exciting time to go!
Where To Stay: There is no shortage of places to stay while in Thailand, whether it be a hotel, resort, air bnb or even a hostel. Of all the islands, Phuket and Bangkok are the most popular, but regardless of which island you plan to visit, be sure to book well in advance!
Weather: December ends the rainy season, and January begins the dry season. Sunny, some rain.
What To Do: Costa Rica is home to Rainforests, Cloud forests, beautiful beaches, volcanoes (both dormant and active!), hot springs, national parks, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and a variety of exotic animals! There is literally something for everyone here! Whether you’re looking for adventure, a peaceful escape, or just looking to capture that perfect picture, you will find it all here! And while anytime of year is a great time to visit, the weather tends to be more comfortable during the first part of the the year. To learn more about Costa Rica, check out my experience in my full-length Costa Rica blog post here!
Where To Stay: I am lucky enough to have been able to visit the Caribbean coast, the Pacific coast, and the central part of the country. If you’re looking for beautiful beach and chill vibes, I recommend the Caribbean coast. If you’re looking for rainforests, cloud forests, and more adventure, Arenal is the perfect place for you! And the Pacific Coast will suit you nicely if you’re looking for more familiar types of resorts and activities.
Temperature: 70s – 80s
Weather: Hot, Dry
What To Do: When you think of Dubai do you think of towering buildings, the smell of spices in the air, or all things luxurious and glamorous? There is no wrong answer because the city is a perfectly blended combination of all things modern and traditional, and the best time to do this is from November to March. The Winter months provide comfortable temperatures for those looking to do some sightseeing, spending time on the beaches, and desert safaris. And if you’re looking to do some shopping, consider visiting in January, as many malls, outlets, and shops offer month-long discounts on many items!
Where To Stay: While it is possible to visit Dubai on a budget, this is one location I recommend that, if you’re going to visit, go all out! There are many luxurious 5 star resorts I could suggest for you to stay at, but my top pick is one of the most unique in the world! The Burj Al Arab is the only official 7 star hotel in the entire world! This speaks to its unrivaled, luxurious qualities that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Even if your budget doesn’t afford you to spend the duration of your visit there, be sure to stop in to gape in awe for even just a few moments.
Weather: Hot, Dry, some rain- especially in the east
What To Do: From sandy beaches to wildlife-rich national parks, and the Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka will hold your interest from start to finish! There is so much to see and do that I highly recommend a guided tour for this destination to ensure you experience it to its fullest! Visiting during the winter months ensures drier weather with temperatures that are bearable, making for a much more pleasant visit.
Where To Stay: If you are visiting with a guided tour you won’t have to worry about a thing! The hotels are already selected for you and the cost of boarding is included with the price of your tour. Easy Peasy!
Temperature: 70s – 80s
Weather: Ranges from dry to humid with some rain. Breezy.
What To Do: If you’re looking for a way to escape the cold winter blues, you need look no further! The Caribbean is home to over 7000 different islands, so it is safe to say that there is something for everyone here! Fishing, scuba diving, hiking, water sports, photography, golfing, shipping, or just relaxing on a beach- these islands host a huge variety of activities to suit anyone’s particular interests! With the hurricane season ending, Winter really is the best time to pack your bags and make way to a tropical destination!
Where To Stay: The ABC islands, also known as Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are my top island picks for the winter months. These three islands are outside the hurricane belt and see more sunny days than any other islands in the Caribbean. Another way to make your way through the Caribbean in on a cruise! This allows you to see multiple destinations all in the same trip! And if you’re REALLY looking for a unique destination, contact me about booking a stay on a private island!
Temperature: mid 70s – 80s
Weather: Warm, dry
What To Do: Traveling to Tasmania from December to February means that you can look forward to warm, sunny days to be spent exploring this unique island. The perfect place for mature lovers, the Natural State boasts no less than 19 National Parks, with some of the world’s most exotic and rarest animals to discover. For those looking for a more cultural experience, Tasmania hosts year-round festivals and events, so be sure to plan accordingly! And, of course, for those who are just looking for a great beach experience, Tasmania has that, too! Being a island, there are no shortage of beautiful beaches in several different varieties! (Relaxation, watersports, exploring.) So finding one that suits your taste and style should be a piece of cake!
Where To Stay: Although it looks small on a map, Tasmania is actually quite large. It would take you 7 days to drive around the perimeter of if the country. With this in mind, it is important to pick one part of the country to enjoy at a time, based on what your ideal trip might be. Your accommodations can range anywhere from renting a private home to booking a top hotel or resort.
Temperature: 20s – 40s
Weather: Cold. Sunny blue skies.
What To Do: Like many of these destinations, our winter is Antarctica’s summer. This means that, while during most of the year the landscape is unreachable, November – March brings conditions that make the trip possible for travelers. The warmer weather brings nearly 24 hours of daylight, and is the busiest time of the year for wildlife.
Where To Stay: The best option for seeing Antarctica is taking a touring cruise. This allows you the opportunity of booking multiple excursions and day trips from the comfort (and warmth) of your own cabin. This also ensures that you and the continent are protected from each other, as you will always be with a trained guide.
Temperature: Typically below freezing (under 32 degrees), but as high as the 40s.
Weather: Cold, dry, dark.
What To Do: Being so far north, Iceland in winter is typically cold and dark. It’s also mesmerizingly beautiful! The winter months are the only time of year that you will be able to see and do certain things, such as explore the ice caves and walk along the glaciers, and is the best time to view the aurora borealis. For those looking to do some whale watching, during the winter you can see sperm whales, humpbacks, killer whales, and more species that often venture deep into Iceland’s sea fjords. And, of course, this is the perfect time to soak in hot springs and geothermal pools.
Where To Stay: If you’re a bit adventurous then you may be interested in staying at the Iceland Bubble Hotel. This is literally a single room with a bed encased in a a big bubble. You will undoubtedly have the best view of the sky from this unique stay!
Weather: Cold, Snowy.
What To Do: You may already know what I’m going to say, but if you are serious about your winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding, there is no place better to visit than the Swiss Alps! Whether you are an expert or are looking to try out a new hobby, the slopes here are unbeatable! And if you’re not into snow sports? The Glacier Express route between Zermatt and St. Moritz is an eight-hour-long train ride takes you through the snow-covered Alps, over 291 bridges, as well as glacier lakes, and narrow valleys that seem to go on forever. If you are planning to visit in the month of December you can expect to see holiday markets in just about every town, so save some room in your suitcase for souvenirs!
Where To Stay: There are hundreds of skiing lodges and rentable vacations homes to choose from, but be sure to book early, becaue in these winter months when snow sports are popular they will book quickly! Looking for something unique? Check out the Berghotel Engstligenalp Igloos or the popular Iglu-Dorf in Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland for a couple nights in a snowy fortress!
Temperature: 20s – 30s
Weather: Cold, snowy, overcast.
What To Do: If you’re looking for the perfect skiing and snow sports destination a little closer to home, you will want to check out Aspen, Colorado. Although it’s know as one of the best ski towns in the U.S., this town is also worth visiting even if you’re not planning to hit the slopes. The town boasts a cozy, romantic feeling with plenty of eateries, pubs, and town activities to keep you busy. You’ll also find heated sidewalks here and there around Aspen, as the town makes it a priority to keep itself plowed and accessible at all times.
Where To Stay: If you prefer quiet and less crowded vacations, Aspen is the right place for you. However, if prefer to socialize and are looking for a more party-like atmosphere, the neighboring city of Vail is the ultimate destination for you!
Weather: Cold, snowy, overcast.
What To Do: Vienna is said to be a “Magical” place to visit around the holidays. This is no doubt due to the vast array of Christmas markets that appear all over the city. The city is also beautifully decorated in lights and colors that will put you right in the holiday mood! Even if you’re not visiting at Christmas time, one could spend several days roaming the streets of this culturally and historically rich city, so be sure to check out some of the architecture, museums, and palaces.
Where To Stay: The Innere Stadt and Museums Quartier are two of the best neighborhoods to stay in Vienna. Innere Stadt – Vienna’s 1st District: The heart of historic Vienna, is where you’ll find some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and a great option for first time visitors.
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