Where to go for your winter adventure
Whether you wish to embrace the season or escape it, these destinations guarantee an unforgettable winter journey.
Contemplating a winter holiday? Then you’ve a whole host of excellent destinations from which to choose. Whilst the northern hemisphere hunkers down under frost, sleet and snow, the southern hemisphere welcomes its hottest weather. Meanwhile, the poles remain ice-cold, and the equator stays positively tropical.
Explore a snow-shrouded wonderland, spend Christmas amidst sun, sea and sand, or delve into jungle ruins. There’s something to suit every type of traveller at this time of year.
To help you decide, we’ve chosen two of our favourite places to visit for each of the winter months. You can explore further destination options with Cox & Kings’ month-by-month travel planner.
This vast, wild, sun-kissed country is a beguiling prospect all year round. However, venture ‘down under’ in December, and you can expect a festive season marked by barbecues on the beach, Father Christmas in summer-wear and fireworks over Sydney Harbour. An Antipodean Christmas is the antithesis of Lapland’s icy offerings, whilst New Year here is full of outdoor revelry and seasonal cheer.
In addition to joining the festivities, this is an excellent moment to explore Australia’s east coast. At this time of year, the weather is hot, but not humid. Why not tour Hunter Valley’s vineyards to sample sublime wines in the sunshine? Or don your wetsuit and dive to see the mesmerising colours and marine life of the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef.
While northern India teems with notable palaces, temples and forts, the south has its own attractions, and December is an excellent month in which to experience them. The monsoon season has ebbed away, replaced by a climate of warm days, cool nights and low humidity – ideal for an active itinerary.
India’s southern regions are typified by forested hills, lush tea plantations and tropical backwaters – along which charming houseboats gently cruise. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are particularly deserving of attention at this time of year, as they host a full diary of fascinating folk festivals.
This is a great time of year for an Antarctic adventure. In January, the ‘white continent’ is gleaming under near-continuous sunlight. Channels rendered impassable by sea ice open up, allowing expedition vessels more routes to the frozen land and its spectacular wildlife. Temperatures are also less extreme.
Voyage to this polar wilderness in January to see the exhibition huts of explorers Scott and Shackleton, which were buried for decades beneath ice and snow. Spot newly hatched penguin chicks in their fluffy silver down, waddling alongside their parents; and see baby seals lounging along the shores in their recumbent colonies.
Cambodia’s spellbinding jungle temples and colonial-era towns are best appreciated in the dry season. January, in particular, provides the perfect balance of low humidity, little rain and comfortable temperatures – before the mercury begins to soar.
In these clement conditions, embark on a tour of the Angkor Wat temple complex, the world’s largest religious monument and a shining example of Khmer architecture. Then take the weight off with a sedate boat cruise along Tonlé Sap lake, or a seaside stay on one of the sugar-sand beaches of the southern coast.
It may be rainy season across much of Brazil, but that does little to dampen the country’s carnival spirit. February is when cities explode in a dazzling spectacle of feathers, floats and festivities – all set to a samba rhythm. What better antidote to the winter blues?
The world’s biggest carnival takes place in Rio di Janeiro, but you’ll find equally worthy celebrations in Salvador and Olinda. When you aren’t admiring the extravagant parades and partying with the locals, you may wish to head into the Amazon Rainforest for some wildlife watching. Rainfall at this time of year fills the river basin – rendering more of it navigable by boat – whilst quenching the fruit-bearing flora, drawing wildlife into the open for keen eyes to spot.
Swap winter for summer when you visit New Zealand in February. The remote island country experiences balmy weather at this time of year, with temperatures hovering in the mid-twenties.
Amidst all that warming sunshine, the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival kicks off at the Brancott Estate, tempting gastronomes to the northwest of South Island. This fixture in New Zealand’s culinary calendar is the perfect opportunity to sample the crisp sauvignon blancs for which this region is famous. After indulging in delectable food and drink, explore the rugged coastal beauty of nearby Marlborough Sounds, navigating its crystalline waterways by ferry, kayak or boat.