Wondering what are the best winter holiday destinations? Whilst summer is the time that usually everyone leaves to go on a holiday, a break during the winter is also always welcome. Whether you want to leave just for the weekend, or you are planning a longer holiday during Christmas and New Year, there is an abundance of places that you can visit. Exploring destinations for sun lovers, snow lovers and city lovers alike, this article provides you with some excellent ideas of where your next winter holiday should take place.
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Winter Holiday Destinations for Sun Lovers
You know that feeling when it is a dreary December day in your home town, you have to get up every day to go to work despite the rain and the cold and you just need a break? Luckily, there are plenty of places around the world experiencing beautiful sunshine and warmth whilst the northern hemisphere is riddled with rain and cold temperatures.
If you are based in Europe this destination is slightly closer to home and more accessible for a weekend away. Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, with Faro being its main city. Algarve is a beautiful destination, and in the summer it is very much a tourist hotspot. Though Algarve, due to its southern location generally has good weather all year round. Although the warmest months are definitely between May and October, during the rest of the year the average daily temperature sits at a comfortable 13-16 degrees Celsius.
Algarve is known for its beautiful beaches and limestone stacks and cliffs. Some notable places to visit depending on your mood and the weather during your visit are: Ponta da Piedade, Cape St Vincent, Church of São Lourenço, Praia da Rocha and Arco da Vila. Additionally, Algarve is a good place for exploring caves, dolphin watching, hiking and sightseeing.
Another European escape that has better weather than any northern country during the winter is Seville. Situated toward the south of Spain, Seville is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia. Due to the fact that it is quite far away from the sea, Seville becomes incredibly hot in the summer, boasting temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius. As such, visiting this historic town during wintry months will give you the opportunity to explore the area without having to take shelter from the sun. Between March and November, the lowest daily average temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius, with only December and January reaching temperatures as low as 11 degrees Celsius.
Check where to stay in Seville and add some of the beautiful attractions in Seville to your list: the Catedral de Sevilla & Giralda, the Parque de Maria Luisa, Plaza de España, and Museo de Bellas Artes to name a few. When you are not taking in the sites, you may indulge in delightful tapas. After all, Seville is in Spain where the cuisine is notoriously good. Some dishes to try during your trip to Seville include Secreto Iberico, Serranito de Lomo, and Torrijas.
Though notoriously a summer destination, Crete remains pretty warm throughout the year. Both the southernmost and largest island in Greece, Crete is a holiday destination that many dream of visiting. Although this is another destination where the warmest time to visit is during the summer months, from October to March the island continues to boast a mild climate with average temperatures of about 16-20 degrees Celsius.
Crete is a large island with many things to see and activities to take part in. The island has an incredibly rich history and thus has many archaeological sites for those of your interested in learning more about the ancient cultures. Additionally, further to the gorgeous beaches, are plenty of trails for those of you who enjoy hiking. Of course, Crete is in Greece, and thus has a delicious cuisine worth exploring. Don't forget to check where to stay in Crete.
Malta is a southern European island country located in the Mediterranean Sea, it is also the world’s tenth smallest country. Its capital, Valletta, is known for its gorgeous architecture, bringing together a Baroque character with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture. In fact, the city was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 due to its history, as well as its cultural and physical significance. Similarly to other sunny European winter escapes, Malta’s average temperatures do not usually drop below 12-15 degrees Celsius from November to March. From April to October, the country boasts rising temperatures of up to 32 degrees Celsius.
There are many things to do and see in Malta. Be sure to visit the old capital of Mdina, laden with picturesque streets and many museums, this is a place to stroll through. In addition to many other architectural attractions such as Mosta Dome and St John’s Co-Cathedral, there are many other activities to indulge in during your Malta holiday, including cave diving, horse riding, and of course enjoying the many excellent restaurants, wine bars, and cafes.
Located in southern Italy, Sicily is one of the five Italian autonomous regions. Sicily is an interesting winter destination, as you can enjoy both the sun as well as snow. During the winter months (think November to March), temperatures can get quite low, on average 9-15 degrees Celsius. However, on the coastal areas, the temperature hovers at around the 13-degree Celsius mark, with sunny days being warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt. Simultaneously, however, the slopes at Piano Battaglia and on Mount Etna do attract snowfall, and thus skiers. As such, making it the perfect European winter destination if you would like a bit of variety in terms of the climate you encounter.
Sicily has an incredibly rich and unique culture, particularly in the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. In addition, it is home to some incredibly important archaeological and ancient sites, such as Selinunte, Erice, the Necropolis of Pantalica, and the Valley of the Temples.
Turkey is a transcontinental country, meaning that it is located both in southeast Europe and western Asia. As such, it boasts some beautiful locations that will keep you mildly warmer in the winter. Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines offer a mild climate with temperatures hovering between 12-15 degrees Celsius, though when you are in the sun it does feel warmer than that.
Located in Turkey’s southwestern Turquoise Coast, Fethiye is a beautiful area to visit. From November to March the temperatures hover between 10-18 degrees Celsius. Fethiye is a year-round working town offering an expanse of amenities to those visiting. Here, you can explore ruins, beaches, nature spots and some lovely restaurants.
Similarly, Bodrum also on the southwestern coast in the Bodrum Peninsula is a fascinating city with mild winter temperatures and beautiful sites.
Winter holiday destinations for beach and island lovers
Hawaii, the USA’s 50th and most recent state, is one of those destinations that is associated with a laid back surfer lifestyle. This, coupled with a tropical climate and many islands, makes Hawaii an attractive option for a relaxed holiday far away from home. Temperatures vary only marginally throughout the year, with lows of 19 and highs of 33 degrees Celsius.
There is an abundance of things to do and see in Hawaii. Home to the world’s most active volcanoes, glimmering oceans, and sandy beaches, Hawaii is a truly breathtaking destination. With myriad options for activities, you can do just about anything in Hawaii, from dolphin excursions to visiting museums to hiking and surfing.
With an abundance of beautiful islands that you can visit, the Caribbean is a popular destination amongst tourists looking to escape cold winters. Some beautiful Caribbean destinations to visit include Aruba, Puerto Rico and Cuba, where temperatures hover between 22-30 degrees celsius pretty much throughout most of the year.
During the northern hemisphere’s winter, this little paradise has just come out of their hurricane season, making it one of the most appealing destinations if you are in search of a relaxing vacation.
With the promise of sandy beaches, beautiful sea, spectacular sunsets, and fascinating local cultures, many Caribbean islands are the perfect destination. From Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas to Anguilla and Saint Kitts, there are so many islands to choose from. One of the better ways to experience the Caribbean is usually with a cruise as that way you have the opportunity of seeing a larger variety of this interesting part of the world.
Located in Central America, Costa Rica is a country known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. With almost a quarter of the country made up of protected jungle, Costa Rica is a most beautiful destination for a winter holiday, particularly if you are interested in relaxing by the sea or exploring the local nature and culture.
Costa Rica is just north of the Equator, and as such temperatures here remain pretty stable throughout the year, with the average low reaching 17 degrees, whilst the average high can be up to 30 degrees celsius.
This is a destination best suited to those of you who want to explore nature at its best. Activities popular in Costa Rica include diving, snorkelling, hiking, and of course taking in the sun’s rays on a beautiful beach.
One of the best-preserved coastal Mayan sites, Tulum is today an incredibly popular destination for tourists. Situated in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Tulum is the site of a pre-Colombian Mayan walled city which served as a major port for Coba.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Mayan wonder is the destination for you if you are interested in exploring the ruins, and beautiful surrounding nature. Boasting a tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 26 degrees celsius, Tulum is the perfect destination if you want to escape the wintry cold.
Here you can visit the archaeological site, as well as the Aktun Chen Natural Park. You can also discover the pure beauty of Paraiso Beach, as well as indulge in a variety of water sports, and of course delicious local delicacies.
West of Africa’s west coast, sit Seychelles, an archipelago country in the Indian Ocean. This tropical paradise is warm and humid in terms of climate and has a consistent temperature of 24-32 degrees Celsius.
Although the archipelago has some 115 islands, there are three main islands in Seychelles. Mahe, the largest island and also home to the capital city, Victoria, Praslin, and La Digue. The islands are not too far away from each other and are quite easy to visit using the Inter-Island Ferry Services. Mahe to Praslin takes approximately 50 minutes, and thereafter Praslin to La Digue is an approximately 15-minute journey.
The main activities in this gorgeous part of the world include relaxing on a beautiful sandy beach, exploring local nature and wildlife, and eating local Creole delights.
Mauritius is also an island nation situated in the Indian Ocean, west of Madagascar and south of Seychelles. Mauritius enjoys a mild tropical climate throughout the year and has two seasons. From November to April it is Mauritius’ warm and humid summer, whilst from June to September Mauritius experiences a relatively cool and dry winter. The average temperature during summer is 25 degrees celsius, whilst the average temperature during the winter is 20.5 degrees celsius.
Port Louis, Mauritius’ capital is a great place for a spot of shopping, as well as visiting the Blue Penny Museum. In the capital, you can also experience the multi-faith side of the island nation by taxing over the many churches, mosques, Chinese and Indian temples. The fishing village of Grand Baie is another area worth seeing, as it offers plenty of excursions, attractions and beaches nearby. Finally, the Casela World of Adventures is a sanctuary for rare birds, and a beautiful site to see if you are interested in learning a little bit more about the country’s animals.
Often described as a destination to go to when you are in love, the Maldives are world-famous for their unparalleled beauty. With a year-round hot tropical climate, this paradise is perfect if the aim of your holiday is to just chill.
With luxury bungalows extending over turquoise waters, you are invited either to enjoy the view, jump in for a swim, or relax on kilometres worth of sandy beaches. For other interesting activities in this paradise, you can go diving, snorkelling, dolphin spotting, surfing, and island hopping. We must also mention that this is the place for romantic seaside dinners, and relaxing spa days.
One of the southern provinces of Thailand, Phuket is the country’s largest island. Boasting a tropical climate, Phuket is hot all year round. From May to October it is monsoon season so expect a lot of rain; the dry season lasts from December to March. November and April are considered transitory months, so some rain is likely.
Phuket is a versatile holiday destination as you can do just about anything. You can relax on one of the islands many beautiful beaches, or you can explore sites such as the Big Buddha in Chalong. Alternatively, if you want to go out and party, you can do so in Patong’s Bangla Road. Home to the biggest collection of nightclubs, bars, shows and all sorts of nocturnal fun in Phuket, this is an area that you need to visit with a sense of humour and an open mind. Don't forget to check where to stay in Phuket.
While the northern hemisphere feels the chill during the winter months, New Zealand is experiencing summer. The northern part of the island experiences subtropical weather, while further inland and alpine areas of the South Island can get incredibly cold during the southern hemisphere’s winter months. New Zealand’s warmest months are December, January and February, with temperatures ranging between 20-30 degrees Celsius.
Due to its size, there is an abundance of things you can do in New Zealand. You can learn about Maori culture, go hiking, relax by the beach, see the beautiful landscapes where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, or you can explore the country’s largest city, Auckland. You can also enjoy an amazing itinerary around the South Island in New Zealand or better yet, plan a honeymoon in New Zealand.
The island country of Fiji is another pristine paradise ready to be explored. Warm and tropical all year round, the average temperature hovers at around 25 degrees Celsius.
Whether you just want to relax at a beautiful beach resort, or if you really want to explore what the island has to offer, you will not get bored here. Visit the Fiji Museum to delve into the country’s historical and cultural evolution. If you feel like going for a long walk or hike, check out Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, an oasis of lush rainforest teeming with beautiful plants and animals. For a delicious meal, head over to Surf and Turf, and to become encapsulated by the local lifestyle visit Suva Municipal Market.
Winter holiday destinations for snow lovers
Although we like to complain about the cold temperatures, it goes without saying that winter is the perfect time to get cosy by a fireplace, eat indulgent food, and experience pristine and brilliant snowy landscapes.
Whether you just want to admire these beautiful snowy wonderlands from the warm comfort of a chalet, or you want to get out and ski through the slopes, these are all destinations that ought to be in your winter holiday bucket list.
Situated in Northern Europe, and a part of the region of Scandinavia, Norway is quite the winter wonderland during the colder months. Due to its location on the globe, Norway experiences large seasonal variations in terms of daylight. This means that in the winter months it is dark for the majority of the day. Whereas the southern and western parts of Norway have slightly milder winters due to the fact that they are exposed to Atlantic storm fronts, the eastern and northern regions of Norway experience seriously cold temperatures. You can also aim for the Northern Lights during the colder months.
With beautiful nature in abundance in Norway, this is a gorgeous country for skiing, hiking and just generally exploring. Visit the Norwegian fjords, the capital city Oslo, or the slopes for a seriously fulfilling holiday.
As an added extra, if you are travelling from Europe, getting to Norway is involves a relatively quick flight, so this is a great destination for a weekend getaway. Check our this Norway itinerary to get started and don't forget to check how to pack for Norway.
Bordering Norway is Sweden. Sweden is also a Scandinavian country, and in many ways offers similar attractions and activities as Norway. Sweden’s climate is similar to that of Norway, with the more southern regions experiencing relatively milder winters than its northern counterparts.
Whether you are visiting the country’s capital city or are heading further out to the more rural parts of Sweden, there is always something to do. In Stockholm, make sure to take in the culture and the arts, sip a hot chocolate in the Old Town, and catch a ferry to the city’s greenest island, Djurgarden.
Finland, also situated in Northern Europe, borders Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the northeast. Finland lies in the boreal zone, thus the country’s climate is characterised by warm summers and freezing winters.
In the winter, the sun disappears for months from Finland; this is a time that locals call "Kaamos". During this period of time, it is quite dark during most of the day, but the surrounding beauty of the bright snow, the moon, and if you’re lucky the northern lights can really be a magical sight.
Perhaps one of the most popular things to see in Finland during the winter is Santa Claus’ Village in Lapland. You can also take several day trips from Helsinki if that's your city base.
Part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is a beautiful part of the world to visit. Scotland’s climate is both temperate and oceanic and tends to be rather changeable, with relatively milder winters and cooler, wetter summers. Especially by comparisons to other areas on similar latitudes such as southern Scandinavia.
There are some beautiful things to see in Scotland, such as Castle Rock in Edinburgh. Of course, the small city of Inverness is home to the mythical Loch Ness Monster. If you want to enjoy Scotland’s nature head over to Isle of Skye, a destination that offers beautiful wild mountain scenery. While snow isn’t so common in the lowlands, in the mountains during the winter snow is likely, and as such Scotland is a great skiing and snowboarding destination.
Romania is located in continental Europe, on the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. A particularly beautiful destination, especially during the off-season winter months, Romania has a lot to offer to those deciding to visit this interesting country. During the winter months brace yourself for cold temperatures of an average of -3 degrees Celsius and get excited for the frequent snowfall that graces this country.
Romania has a plethora of activities to offer, from winter festivals and fairs to winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Whatever you decide to do during your visit to Romania in the winter, one thing to look forward to is being fully immersed in the white, eerie wintry scenery that you are sure to be awestruck by.
Located in central, western Europe, Switzerland is a popular destination for many during the winter. Famed for its many popular ski resorts, and the lavish apres skiing activities, Switzerland is definitely the place to visit if you want to simply escape your everyday routine. For those of you that are keen skiers, be sure to visit St. Moritz, Zermatt, and Verbier. For those of you where skiing isn’t so much a priority, visiting Switzerland in the winter will give you the opportunity to experience beautiful cities such as Geneva and Zurich, without all the summer’s tourists. As such, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and really have the opportunity to explore your surroundings.
Visiting France in the winter is always a treat because this is the time during which all the summer tourists have gone home, and you have the opportunity of exploring France as though you are a local. What’s more, France, like Switzerland, is an incredibly popular destination for skiers and snowboarders alike.
The Alps and the Pyrenees offer a true winter wonderland for those of you wanting to embrace snow-related activities, such as cross country skiing, snowboarding, and dog sledging to name a few. When you are not skiing, indulge yourself in the country’s beautiful cuisine and delicious, world-famous wines.
Situated in the northern part of North America, Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. This expansive country, is world-renowned for its cold, snowy conditions in the winter, with temperatures in the winter frequently reaching the arctic temperatures of -25 degrees celsius.
As Canada is such a large country, there is an abundance of things to do and see here. If you prefer a more city-oriented break consider visiting Toronto (home of Niagara Falls), Montreal or Vancouver. Alternatively, if you want a ski oriented holiday then visit one of the country’s many ski resorts, such as Whistler Blackcomb, Lake Louise, or Panorama Mountain Resort to name a few.
Whether you have been to Japan many a time, or it is your first time planning a trip to this far away land, Japan in the winter is as beautiful as you can imagine. In the winter, Japan is blessed with delightful powdery snow, turning some areas of the country into a skiers wonderland.
If mountain sports are your cup of tea, and Japan is where you want to go, make sure you visit one of these five top ski resorts: Niseko, and Sapporo - Teine in Hokkaido, Hakuba, Sao Onsen Ski Resort, and Shiga Kogen in Honshu.
Winter holiday destinations for city lovers
City breaks are in many ways all the rage currently. These holidays provided that you are staying relatively close to home, mean that you can escape your routine for quick bursts of 2-4 days at a time. That is just the perfect amount to reset yourself in a way that makes you even more productive when you go back home. With winter often being an off-peak season, many cities offer a vast variety of activities for significantly cheaper prices and shorter waiting times.
Paris is a dreamy city all year round, but in the winter it comes alive in a completely different way. If you want to enjoy the benefits of the travelling off-season, then Paris should definitely be a weekend away destination of choice.
Winter in France is generally described as lasting from December until March, so Paris will be colder than usual, it may also be wetter than usual. However, travelling at this time you will have the opportunity of marvelling at all the beautiful Christmas decorations adorning popular landmarks. Explore the city through your taste buds by dining at fine French restaurants, and enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate when the temperature drops outside.
In Berlin the winters can be really cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. But don’t let this stop you from visiting this vibrant city during the winter months, as there is plenty to do here.
Perhaps one of the most popular pastimes in Berlin during the winter are the many Christmas markets that are on offer. It is argued that Berlin has some of the most unique and quirky Christmas markets in Germany. Offering an array of shopping opportunities, delicious food and drinks, the Christmas markets will make you feel festive even if you are not that into Christmas. Some other activities you could get up to include visiting Tiergarten, and Botanischer Garten, as well as having a relaxing spa day at Vabali Spa.
London is a vast and multicultural city, and it is almost impossible to get bored here. During the winter, London gets rather dark by around 3-4pm, however, the city remains as lively as ever. Whatever activities you may enjoy, London has got you covered.
From an abundance of theatres showing a large variety of plays, to the many museums, if you want to experience the culture at its best, then London is the city for your next break. Similarly, if you want to explore some of the outdoor activities, head over to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park for some lovely Christmas market vibes and a whole host of fun activities. Just remember that to a large extent the weather stereotypes about London are for the most part true, so make sure you know what to wear in London. Bring an umbrella, a warm coat and some gloves for your travels during the winter. During your vacation you can also take several day trips from London.
The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, is a picturesque city, and in the winter it somehow becomes even more so. With Christmas markets dotted all around the city, you will forever be seduced by the delightful smells of glogg, bratwurst and aebleskiver.
Some wonderful things to do in the winter in Copenhagen include going ice skating, exploring the winter wonderland of Tivoli Gardens, and relaxing in a hot sauna in one of the many hot sauna destinations available in the city.
Rome, the capital city of Italy, is world-renowned for its historical significance. Indeed, it is often thought of primarily as a summer destination, but Rome can be absolutely beautiful in winter also. As winter is the low-season in Rome, you will be able to experience all the beautiful sites, such as the Sistine Chapel, without having to wait in long queues. In addition, Rome is a heavily Catholic city, so during the festive Christmas season the city is adorned with beautiful decorations, filling the air with holiday magic.
Prague is known for being a notoriously cold city during the winter months. The capital city of the Czech Republic is, however, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. While having to endure biting cold temperatures may seem unappealing, it is well worth doing so, as Prague in the winter is often graced with snowfall. When it snows in Prague, the city becomes more magical than ever.
Like many other European cities in the winter, one of the best things to do in Prague in the winter is to visit the Christmas markets and be filled with Christmas cheer. Additionally, make sure you take in the sites such as Charles Bridge, Letna Park, Prague Castle, and the Old Town.
If you are looking for a wintry city break, but you would prefer not to have to deal with the cold temperatures, then Dubai is an excellent destination for you. Boasting warm temperatures throughout the year, Dubai offers an array of activities for all visitors. Whether you want a holiday in which you relax primarily in your hotel and by the beach, you can do that in Dubai. If alternatively, you want to go out, eat great food, explore the local markets, and perhaps even spend a day in the desert on a safari, then you can do that in Dubai also. Check where to stay in Dubai.
The initial appeal of visiting Tokyo in the winter is not just the city’s charm, but the fact that you will get to enjoy the city with far fewer crowds. As with many cities, Tokyo offers a variety of activities suitable for all interests. Winter is the best time during which to see Mt Fuji on the horizon, making for a breathtaking sight and some excellent photographing opportunities. Enjoy Tokyo’s Christmas lights, and warm yourself up with local winter dishes such as nabe. Check where to stay in Tokyo and what type of Japanese food to try.
Kyoto is arguably most famous for the beauty during the seasons of spring and autumn, when the city is adorned with gorgeous cherry blossoms, or earthy tones in the autumnal leaves respectively. However, during winter Kyoto’s distinct beauty really shines.
Some excellent things to do in Kyoto during the winter are to firstly enjoy the snow as it falls and adorns the city’s shrines and temples in a white blanket. Another wonderful activity in this area during the winter is the Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatoro annual event, during which Kyoto is decorated with beautifully whimsical light displays. Of course, one of the main joys of a trip to Kyoto is all the delicious regional specialities you will have the opportunity of tasting. In the midst of all the yummy food, do make sure you also take the chance to visit a sake brewery in Fushimi. Learning a little bit more about sake will not only give you more ways by which to enjoy it, but this is a drink that will also keep you warm during the winter time in Kyoto.