Where to go on Holiday in January
January. The time of year when we all promise ourselves we’ll do better, do more, and do right. After a year like 2016 we all need a little inspiration, and what better way to achieve that than through travel? From sunny beaches to whale watching, to big bustling cities, here’s our list of the most spectacular places to kick off 2017.
Best for Winter Sun
Sunshine, calm waters and more to do than can possibly be done in a single holiday – and it’s a mere 4-and-a-half-hour flight away. Tenerife is the largest and most populated of the seven main Canary Islands, and it’s very popular with British tourists year-round.
January is one of the island’s cooler months, but with temperatures still up around 18°C, it’s your best shot at winter sun this close to home. The island packs in theme parks, shopping in cobbled old-town streets, and eight golf courses. The mild weather means that pods of whales and dolphins are a permanent feature, with up to 26 species calling the island waters home.
With hundreds of accommodation options to choose from, incredible scenery, and near-guaranteed sunshine, you can’t go wrong.
Cape Town, South Africa
Whether you’re after fine food and wine, safaris, beaches, camping or luxury stays in one of the world-class cities, South Africa is a cheap and wonderful place to visit in January.
Cape Town – voted Best City in the World for the fourth year running at the Telegraph Travel Awards in 2016 – boasts white sandy beaches, iconic scenery, and exceptional cuisine and wine.
And despite the pound’s post-Brexit hiccups, there’s still a favourable exchange rate against the South African rand, meaning your cash goes further. Little wonder Cape Town was recently named the world’s best-value long-haul destination by the Post Office.
Nobody knows how to see in the New Year like Sydneysiders, but the atmosphere doesn’t fade after that. The Sydney Festival kicks off in early January, and spans three weeks, packing in non-stop parties, live music, theatre, art, and all things artsy.
If the party vibe doesn’t excite you, there’s still plenty to see and do. Without even leaving the foreshore, you can get some great sightseeing done: the Opera House and Harbour Bridge can be done in a day, and there are plenty of museums and art galleries to enjoy. That’s not to mention the bars, restaurants and cafes overlooking the bustling harbour. There are great excursions too. Just get yourself an Opal Card for cheap travel on buses, trains, and ferries.
January weather is vibrantly summery, so a trip to Australia is the perfect way to forget about the iced pavements and constant drizzle back home.
There’s a saying in Barbados that goes, “Dead man can’t run from ‘e coffin”, which basically means it’s impossible to run from your responsibilities. While that may be true, taking a little break from them under the Caribbean sun, glass of rum in hand, is always a good idea.
There’s more to Barbados than quirky idioms and rum, though. There’s something for everyone, from the rustic, deserted beaches of the east coast to the luxury resorts in the west. Wherever you choose to go, the beaches are the very picture of paradise: warm, clear waters, reefs brimming with marine life, and powdery white sand. That said, it’s also comfortingly British. Bajans are similarly fond of afternoon tea and cricket is almost a religion.
While January is technically winter time, it’s the best time to visit because you’ll avoid the soaring temperatures and hurricanes that characterise other seasons, and the average temperature is still in the mid-20s.
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Here’s another winter paradise: January is Goa’s coolest month, but daytime temperatures average around 25°C. What’s more, the sea is around the same temperature. It makes it tricky to cool off in the ocean, but a day lazing about sipping an ice-cold lassi will take care of that nicely.
The flea markets and open-air parties give Goa its vibrant, busy atmosphere, but that’s not all you’ll find here. The architecture is spectacular and colourful, and the historic religious buildings in particular are strikingly beautiful.
The Portuguese history has left magnificent ruins and has had a huge influence on the food. The seafood is hard to beat, especially when you’re dining with your toes in the sand, watching the sun sink over the Arabian Sea. Life here is slow, so take it easy and soak up the calm.
Not all northern hemisphere cities are created equal: mid-winter in Miami is pretty mild. The locals will try to tell you it gets cold there, but one look at their summer dresses and shorts should tell you all you need to know.
South Beach, of course, is what you think it is: golden-brown torsos; models; palm trees. Quieter beaches do exist, though – just a short trip away is Key Biscayne, where you’ll have great views of the city.
Ocean Drive is where you’ll find the world-famous art-deco buildings, along with rollerbladers and reality TV stars. In fact, the only thing you won’t find there is locals.
The city offers impeccable shopping, cuisine, clubbing, fashion, design and art, as well as some of the hippest bars, street art and eateries around.
If late nights and getting dressed up to leave the house are your thing, Miami really can’t be beaten at this time of year.
Best for a City Break
Bright lights, big city, right? Well, not exactly. January is unlike any other time in the Big Apple. The tourists clear out, the prices drop, the snow falls, and you can get up the Empire State Building without queuing for hours.
It’s cold – seriously cold – but as long as you pack your warmest boots and jacket it’s worth the trade-off. The deals you’ll find are incredible: 2-for-1 Broadway tickets; restaurants with 75% discounts on all meals; reduced entry to museums and galleries.
Besides, Central Park in the snow is magical: you’ll see kids making snowmen and skaters gliding over frozen ponds. If you’ve seen any romantic comedies, you’ll know that NYC on a snowy day is about as romantic as it gets.
Other Destinations to Consider
Koh Samui: The rainy season ends in early January, but it isn’t too hot. The Christmas crowds have left, and the beaches are refreshingly quiet.
Hurghada: Flights and accommodation in January are cheaper than other times of year, and aside from a bit of wind, the weather is great.
New Zealand: January is the warmest month of the year, and there are many outdoor festivals and events.
Belize: January is the end of the dry season, with mild, cloudless days. It’s high season, so there’s plenty to see and do.