Got the post holiday blues? Why be blue when you can be sunshine yellow with a spectacular winter-sun destinations?
With our partner Kiwi.com, one of Europe’s leading online travel agencies, the hot burning sun is just a flight away! Don’t know where to go? Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered. Check out this amazing list of hot, hot, hot destinations and keep those blues away for good this winter!
The beaches of south Sri Lanka are perfect for catching the sun.
The south coast of Sri Lanka is easily one of the most rewarding places to lie on the beach with a cocktail. It’s lined by a string of beaches that the waves of the Indian Ocean roar upon. The region is full of wildlife sanctuaries — turtles and elephants are easily seen — and it’s possible to take a boat from Mirissa to spot blue whales. The area is one of the best developed for tourism on the island. Hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts offer a range of choices, and it’s easily reached from Colombo. Up north, there are 41 square kilometres of temples and ruins — a city in itself — in Anuradhapura to take a tuk-tuk around. It’s one of the most important sites in Buddhism and incredibly peaceful. It is one of the most relaxed places to catch some winter sun.
Trinidad — Cuba
Trinidad is a town full of history and endless beaches.
On the revolutionary island of Cuba lies the town of Trinidad. With a 500-year history, it’s full of colonial architecture and squares that are considered to be some of the best preserved, and many also hold Unesco World Heritage site status. The beaches in the area stretch as far as the eye can see and it’s a brilliant place for scuba diving. If it’s possible to tire of lying on the beach with a mojito, then a walk to the nearby waterfalls in the surrounding mountains will help. And if you fancy a party, a club named Discoteca Ayala is built into a network of caves on top of a nearby hill, or Casa de la Musica is perfect for a bit of salsa. Otherwise, just buy a bottle of rum and sit on the steps in the main square and watch the world slowly turn in the balmy heat.
Palawan is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
The Philippines has been struggling a tad recently with overtourism. The popular resort of Boracay was closed over the summer to allow its environment to recover and has only just reopened. But that doesn’t mean there’s not other luxurious places to lie in the sun. El Nido on the island of Palawan is known for its endless stretches of white sand; Bohol is surrounded by coral reefs and is full of wild jungle to explore; and on Panglao there is a marine sanctuary to protect a region that is more biodiverse than the whole of the Mediterranean. There is surely nothing like the experience of island hopping from beach to beach.
The Turquoise Coast is named for its incredible waters.
The crystal-clear blue waters that lap the beaches of the Turquoise Coast on the south of Turkey are some of the most relaxing in the world. Full of the crumbling Roman and Ottoman cities and spas, such as that above the incredible Pamukkale water terraces, and holding the cities of Antalya and Bodrum, it is a part of the world were there will always be something to do. It does get a bit chillier in mid-winter — an average of around 18C (60.8F) — but if the temperature is Baltic at home this will still be delightful. And with the current price of the Turkish Lira, this could be the best place for a budget winter break to the sun.
Winter festivals on Sicily are exciting, colourful affairs.
Slightly cooler than some of the others on this list, the low season in Sicily makes it an excellent budget choice. It’s easy to reach with budget carriers from Europe and the cost of accommodation will be significantly lower than during the summer. The winter festivals are incredible; cities, towns and villages are full of excellent food and drink, huge parades and parties. In particular, the Festa dell’Immacolata (Festival of the Immaculate Conception) on 8 December is one that really shouldn’t be missed. Food is, of course, a big thing. The cities have a centuries-old culture of street food with pane con la milza, a pork spleen sandwich, and sfincione, a Sicilian pizza, being sold everywhere. Obviously, the wine is excellent too.
Hội An is famous for its incredibly well preserved old town.
The north of Vietnam has its cold season during the winter months. Temperatures will only average 17-22C (62.6-71.6F). But in the south, around Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta it will be 25-35C (77-95F). That makes it the perfect place to explore if you want to gradually acclimatise, like a frog in boiling water. Fly into Hanoi and by hook or by crook make your way down to Ho Chi Minh City, catching all the sights on the way. Take in the stunning limestone karsts of Halong Bay on a junk and wander between the temples and palaces of the old imperial capital of Huế; the seaside city of Hội An has the best preserved old town in the country and explore the forbidding jungle, formerly home of the deadly Vietcong. Can you imagine a more exciting winter adventure?
Kumbh Mela — India
The festival only happens every six years and is often described as the world’s most massive act of faith.
We’re going to start with a big one. Running from 15 January to 4 March, the Kumbh Mela is one of the most famous religious festivals in the world, where millions of Hindu devotees gather to attain spiritual clarity and wash away their sins at the confluence of the holy rivers at Allahabad.
The festival only happens every six years and is often described as the world’s most massive act of faith. Naked sadhus, penitents, pilgrims and all manner of other devotees take part in weeks of bathing, ceremonies, and thousands of rituals, all conducted in an environment that manages to be at once chaotic, heart-rending and wonderfully peaceful.
The Kumbh is seen as an event that, at its heart, should promote peace, spirituality and understanding between all human beings. To this end, non-Hindus are made equally welcome with programmes of education surrounding social and cultural customs, the telling of scripture, stories and legends, astronomy, prayer, spiritual guidance and more.
Verdant volcanoes — Cape Verde
The islands are a wonderful blend of Portuguese and West African culture, in food, music, architecture and language.
A bunch of volcanic rocks in the mid-Atlantic, some 560 km off the coast of Senegal. Sound like an appealing spot for a holiday? You’d be surprised.
The islands that now make up Cape Verde were uninhabited until the 15th century when Portuguese explorers colonised them, using them as a base for Atlantic trade. Today, they’re a wonderful blend of Portuguese and West African culture, in food, music, architecture and language.
Kriolu, the Cape Verde-specific, Portuguese-based creole is given parity to Portuguese, and since the country’s independence it’s been a source of immense pride amongst the locals. European elements are strong: the traditional southern European evening stroll around the town square is an important social occasion, as are spontaneous games of football.
You’ll spend a lot of time lounging on the beaches (January has an average temperature of 25C), and beautiful they are too. White sand and palm trees line every island, as behind you the landscape soars upwards to its craggy, volcanic heights. Dragging yourself away, you can wander into the local fishing village, gleaming and whitewashed in the sun. As the evening draws in, sit outside a tiny, locally owned restaurant and have a lantern-lit dinner of local seafood. There aren’t many places that offer a January like that.
Cool Canaries — Lanzarote
The volcanic soil means the entire archipelago is a Unesco-registered biosphere.
The Canary Islands have long suffered because of their reputation for being package holiday hell. Since the Brits-abroad boom of the 1970s, huge resorts have sprung up along the east coast and, to an extent, its image was deserved.
Over the last few years though, it’s been recovering. As people get more adventurous and travel gets cheaper, the desperate two-week package holiday to the sun has declined in popularity, and Lanzarote is on the up. Large swathes of the island are covered in impressive architecture from local artist César Manrique. The volcanic soil means the entire archipelago is a Unesco-registered biosphere. There’s scuba diving, caving, surfing, and all manner of other non-lying on the beach activities.
When you’re exhausted from all of that, finish your day off with a glass of the local wine: that’s right, the black soil and wind-battered cliffs actually produce their own specific variety of grape from which some of Spain’s finest wines are made. All in all, not a bad way to spend a spontaneous holiday.