Without the distraction of seasonal holidays, winter can be a trying time for those living in North America or Europe. As the cold bites, thoughts naturally turn to warmer climes. If you're ready to ditch your winter coat and head to warmer shores, here are our suggestions for the best places to visit this winter.
Located in the West Indies, this eastern Caribbean island erupts with dramatic mountain landscapes and volcanic beaches. The Pitons on St Lucia’s west coast are two volcanic mountains that offer hiking trails through lush forest ecosystems and stunning views of the sea. Popular attractions on Saint Lucia include reef diving, exploring Pigeon Island and taking a rejuvenating mud bath in Sulphur Springs.
The Southern Hemisphere summer will soon be in full swing, making this the ideal time to head to South Africa. Durban's wide sandy beaches just got a whole lot closer with the launch of direct flights from London, but old favorites like Cape Town and its winelands, the Garden Route and some of the best wildlife spotting opportunities in the continent appeal to everyone. With the mercury snapping at the heels of 30°C, it’s hot enough for you to enjoy the country’s long coastline.
Avoid the wet season in the tropical north, but the heat peaks in Australia's parched red center at this time of year. Flies can also irritate, so avoid Uluru and stick to the coast. Miles of beautiful beaches, a laid-back but utterly functional lifestyle and plenty of good hotels make this an excellent choice. Sydney's attractive harbor and Melbourne's buzzing nightlife make them the standout cities. With temperatures into the thirties and beyond, you’ll see why Aussies love the great outdoors so much.
The seven countries that comprise the isthmus of Central America have had a turbulent history, but travel in the region is largely safe for those who've done their research. Temperatures soar and rain clouds are largely a distant memory, attracting adventurous snowbirds and sun seekers alike. Temples poke from rainforest canopies in Guatemala and Belize, a remnant of ancient civilizations whose descendants remain in the area to this day. Temperatures on Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches are reliably into the thirties in January making this the perfect location to chill out after your excursions elsewhere.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Winter’s a good time to visit the most famous city in Brazil – and not just for its legendary February carnival. Its residents are as hot and sultry as its weather, and they know how to make visitors welcome. Join the party and then stick around for a while to explore. Hang out with the locals on the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, ride the cable car to take in the view atop Sugar Loaf Mountain and get up close to the enormous Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain.