This planner showcases the best winter holiday destinations on the globe, whether you choose to embrace the chilly weather or escape it entirely. With Christmas celebrations, school breaks and challenging conditions to consider, there's a fine art to deciding where to travel in winter. Enjoy a traditional family Christmas in a wintery wonderland or make festive memories on the other side of the world in the dazzling summer sunshine. These winter holiday ideas are just a few of our favourites and, while they're superb holiday destinations throughout the year, in winter, they're just magical.
Winter Travel Planner
From pure white Christmases to pristine white beaches
As we start to hibernate and the dark evenings draw in, the exact opposite is happening in South Africa. Fly to the southern hemisphere to experience a country brimming with life from the vibrant beaches of Cape Town, blossoming Garden Route and world-class vineyards rich with plump grapes poised for picking. This is the best time to enjoy the summer sun along the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines, and in the wildlife reserves from the Eastern Cape, Sabi Sands or Madikwe. Nature lovers can view the protea, the national flower of South Africa, at the botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch which lies at the foot of Table Mountain. South Africa’s most prestigious horse racing event The Sun Met in Cape Town is held in late January. February is the perfect time to enjoy a family safari at the Kruger National Park which is home to the Big Five. For those seeking a grand Valentine’s Day gesture, what better way to see this rainbow nation than from the luxury of the Blue Train which runs from Cape Town to Pretoria.
As we plunge into winter, Patagonia bursts into life. At this time of year, penguins return to their nesting sites signalling the beginning of summer when the weather is at its best and you can enjoy long, warm days due to its location at the southernmost tip of the Americas. A world of white-water rafting, ice climbing, kayaking and horse riding will blow away the winter cobwebs. This is the best time of year to trek through the glacial Torres del Paine National Park which lies between the Patagonian plains and the last peaks of the Andes. Cruise the fjords and visit Magdalena Island, a natural reserve of Magellan penguins. You can also learn more about the remote San Rafael Lagoon in the north. Take a boat trip to the foot of its glacier and en route you will pass thermal hot springs and magnificent waterfalls.
If you're looking for winter sun, there's no better place than the Caribbean. Leave the winter blues far behind you and feel the vibrant tropical rhythms as you sip rum on a tranquil beach, looking out over the crystal waters. For an unforgettable winter getaway, embark on an island-hopping adventure to discover the lively atmosphere of Antigua, charming villages of Barbados and enjoy Caribbean glitz and glamour in the Bahamas. This is a great chance to capture some fantastic family photos for next year's Christmas card or enjoy a romantic gourmet dinner on the sand with that special someone.
Experience Mauritius at its best with long, hot sunny days and dry weather. Have an altogether different white Christmas on the powdered beaches of the Indian Ocean. Spend the season with your toes in the warm sand, feeling the gentle lapping waves against your ankles, or take the plunge and enjoy a deep-sea dive among a rainbow of fish. Beyond the lure of the beach, you can learn more about the rich history of this country with a visit to Hindu temples that appear to rise out of sugarcane fields. Enjoy a stroll through the capital Port Louis and browse the bustling outdoor markets. Whether you choose to head out on a catamaran to spot dolphins or simply fly and flop on some of the best beaches in the world, we’re here to create a memorable holiday tailor-made to your Christmas wish.
This time of the year coincides with a break in the dry season, one that is much welcomed by local people and wildlife before the Great Migration kicks off again in January. As the dust settles, savour the fresh air with a scenic boat ride on stunning Lake Tanganyika. Wildlife-lovers will enjoy observing chimpanzee on the Mahale Mountains. These usually elusive creatures are far more easily spotted at this time of year since the showers produce more fruit on the lower, more visible slopes. Zanzibar offers a more relaxing beach break with picturesque white beaches and shimmering aquamarine waters.
Why not swap the hope of a white Christmas at home for the reality of a slightly more exotic location overlooking the waters of the Red Sea? Winter in Egypt is marked by warm days with little rainfall - and it’s only a five-hour flight away. You can expect temperatures of a pleasant 24 degrees Celsius which is the best time of year for diving among shoals of effervescent fish or exploring the Great Pyramids just outside Cairo. Alternatively, head to the desert to learn about local Bedouin communities and how they live in this stark landscape. This is the best season for a cruise down the Nile taking in the wonders of Luxor to Aswan onboard one of our exclusive Sanctuary Sun Boats. Learn more about ‘the world’s greatest open-air museum’ with A&K’s expert Egyptologist as you marvel at the temples along the banks of this mighty river. Before your flight home, enjoy the cooler air to browse the famous Khan el-Khalili bazaar in the heart of the capital for authentic gifts from gold to carpets.
As winter arrives in the UK, Australia is coming to the end of springtime, so this is an excellent season for green-fingered travellers to visit. Colourful flowers bloom and ferns spread their fronds ready for the bright summer sunshine. Verdant vineyards have been sprouting for a couple of months now meaning there are lots of opportunities for wine-tasting. Sydney experiences the buzz of summer tourism combined with the festive season so you can expect lots of festivals and events taking place around the capital. Don't forget to ring in the new year with loved ones watching the iconic Sydney firework display.
November promises warm winter sunshine and a lively community spirit as cricket season begins in Sri Lanka. The excitement is palpable as the many different cultures in Sri Lanka come together to watch matches. The hot weather cools off as December arrives, though the days are warm and comfortable. The terrain along the Kelani River is perfect for an exhilarating white-water rafting experience. January is ideal for discovering Sri Lankan culture as the country holds important religious ceremonies. Make sure to visit the historic city of Galle, renowned for its incredible architecture and 16th-century fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brighten up winter with a trip to Norway, Sweden or Iceland and you could be rewarded with the natural splendour of the aurora borealis. One of the best ways to view the northern lights is from one of our deluxe Norwegian cruises which glide past magnificent fjords and colourful clapboard houses dotted along the rugged shoreline. Enjoy a guaranteed white Christmas when you stay in an ice hotel in the heart of the Swedish countryside. Treat the kids to a ride on a dogsled over the frozen lakes and you may spot a reindeer. Spread over 14 islands, Stockholm is a delight to explore at this time of year. Gamla Stan (Old Town) is a slice of genuine Stockholm Christmas; the little red stalls crowd the colourful square, selling traditional Swedish products from gingerbread to glögg. Iceland is the best place for New Year celebrations which include huge bonfires, fireworks, and feasts. In winter, you can experience the natural beauty of Iceland and take a dip in the hot mineral-rich waters at the Blue Lagoon. Explore the country’s natural ice caves with your guide or take a helicopter over the vast snowy desert dotted with volcanoes. On the night of the Winter Lights Festival in February, Reykjavík’s museums and swimming pools stay open long into the night. You can also sample Icelandic cuisine during the Food and Fun Festival or dance the night away at The Sónar Reykjavík which takes place around the harbour.
The ultimate escape from the winter weather is a holiday to the Maldives. Banish those winter chills with a visit to this slender chain of coral islands regarded as a beach lovers’ paradise. It offers both the most picture-postcard setting above the water and spectacular experiences beneath it. This is the best time of year for guaranteed sunshine as average temperatures hover at a balmy 28 degrees Celsius. January marks the middle of the dry season – expect to be bathed in nine hours of sunshine each day. These conditions are perfect for an unforgettable beach holiday for all the family. February is the driest and sunniest month of the year, averaging a glorious 10 hours of sunshine per day. Visibility is clear and the water is warm – ideal for snorkelling or scuba diving. Book well in advance as this is one of the most desirable times to holiday here. As the Maldives offers easy access for onward adventures in India and Sri Lanka it is the perfect springboard to extend your winter sun experience.
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