If you consider yourself a cold phobic, spend your winter evenings rugged up under 15 jumpers and have a Google search history that reads like a whose who of hot holiday destinations, you’re going to want to read this.
We’ve done the research, analysed the trends and scouted out the best spots to head for year round sunshine. And yes, this article is written by a fellow cold phobic with an adversity to all things winter…
As the temperature plummets and the long dark days of winter drag on in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s all fun in the sun in Australia. Tennis fever hits Melbourne with the arrival of the Australian Open, whilst Sydney sizzles and the beaches of the East Coast become more tempting than ever.
Combining lush and verdant landscapes, happy locals and the most diverse array of wildlife anywhere on the planet, Costa Rica is another country not to be missed at the start of the year. The dry season brings with it (mostly) clear skies and pleasant temperatures, making walks through cloud forests and sunsets over active volcanoes all the more enjoyable.
Further down the Latin American continent, Patagonia is another contender for January travel. Offering dramatic and wild landscapes, penguin colonies and etherial sunsets, this is the best month to explore this natural playground. Summer is in full swing and night time temperatures are far more manageable, although because of this the parks are also significantly more busy.
As hot holiday destinations go, Sri Lanka should be a high contender. Rebuilding after the devastating terrorist attacks earlier this year, Sri Lanka is once again on the rise and for good reason. Travelling here in February will see you skipping the monsoon season, soaking up the palm fringed beaches and watching elephants slowly meander through the thick rainforest.
Looking to swap the daily routine for something a little more lively? New Orleans won’t disappoint. This is a city that celebrates life, love and all things delicious year round, but in February it goes into overdrive with the arrival of the annual Mardi Gras celebrations. Fat Tuesday is the main event, bringing floats, beads and visitors from all around the world together in one all encompassing celebration.
If it’s beaches, tacos and Mayan culture you’re craving, look no further than Mexico. Not too scorching at this time of year but still ideal beach weather, this is a country that will always keep you coming back for more. Wander the streets of Oaxaca and marvel at the intricacy of local art, sip mescal cocktails under the shade of a palm tree on Isla Holbox, or discover why Mexico City is fast becoming one of the world’s most reputable food capitals.
March in India means one thing – colour, and lots of it. You’ve likely seen the pictures, but nothing beats experiencing the annual Holi festival in real life. This is a tradition recognised up and down the country, with family members young and old getting involved in the fun. Aside from Holi, March is also an optimum time to explore India’s many treasures. The temperature is hot, but you’ll still manage to avoid the sticky humidity of travelling from May – September.
Forget everything you think you know about Colombia and prepare to fall in love. A country with a troubled history but a bright future, there’s something for everyone here. White sandy beaches and Caribbean coastlines will keep sun lovers content, whilst colourful Cartagena, modern Medellin or salsa obsessed Cali will keep culture enthusiasts entertained. Sunny days and balmy nights are the norm in March, making this country one of the best places for winter sun.
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All eyes will be on Washington DC in 2020 as the Presidential race hots up, but come March there will be another reason to pay attention to the country’s capital. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the city’s most anticipated events, where trees originally gifted from Japan burst into colour to mark the beginning of Spring. March also brings with it delightful temperatures and fewer visitors than the heaving summer months.
If you’ve found yourself pining after Morocco’s mystical souks and lush riads but don’t want to visit in the scorching heights of summer, travel here now. The climate is still warm but not unbearable, meaning you can enjoy the delights of Fes, Casablanca or Marrakesh without a thin layer of sweat being ever present on your body.
Wildlife enthusiasts, look no further than the plains of Namibia for your Easter break. April here falls directly between rainy and dry season, resulting in luscious green environments and the opportunity to spot wildlife caring for their newborns.
Has Sakura season been on your bucket list since forever? Make this the year you finally tick it off. Japan is hands down the best place in the world to see cherry blossom in bloom, and no city loves it more than Tokyo.
With Spring firmly settled over the Northern Hemisphere, we can finally turn our attention back to Europe, and Israel in particular. May sees the population seize the beginning of summer with abandon, migrating on mass to the beach and dining outdoors like it’s going out of style. Tel Aviv in particular comes alive at this time of year.
For all things delightfully British, plan a trip to England to enjoy the start of summer. May is known for delivering some of the country’s best weather, and with longer nights, fewer crowds and newborn animals playing gleefully in the countryside, it’s all really rather pleasant. In London, locals spill out across the capital’s parks to enjoy some much deserved warmth, whilst Cornwall, Bath, the Lake District and Yorkshire are all equally lovely at this time of year.
Further afield, May is also one of the best times to visit Peru, and specifically Machu Picchu. Head to the heart of the Incan Empire, Cusco, to begin your pilgrimage, enjoying the sunny and rain free days afforded by the dry season. Take a tour of the Sacred Valley and try the local delicacy of cuy (guinea pig), then walk in the footsteps of Incas as you tick off one of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World, Machu Picchu. Fewer crowds and mild temperatures will make the experience all the more enjoyable.
With turquoise blue waters, white washed cities and abundant seafood it’s little wonder Croatia is one of the most popular European summer destinations. Through July and August the crowds descend on Dubrovnik, Split, Korcula and the like, but travelling in June will give you something of a head start.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a destination that needs little introduction. We’ve all seen the pictures of precariously balanced villages perched on crumbling rock faces, not to mention retro style sun umbrellas and an ocean so blue you wonder how it can be real. It’s an absolute can’t miss, but in the height of summer it can also get pretty busy. Beat the crowds and opt to visit in May, June or September. You won’t regret it.
Iceland is better known as a winter travel destination, but travelling here in the summer will reward you with an entirely different experience. You’ll miss the Northern Lights (just an excuse to come back, we think), but in their place you’ll get to witness the midnight sun. Part disorientating, part beautiful, this is something we think everyone should see at least once in their life. Plus, June is also the best time of year for whale and puffin sightings.
The Greek Islands and summer are a tale as old as time. The combination of ancient history, baking sunshine, whitewashed islands, exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and THAT ocean are the reason people come back time, and time, and time again. It’s a busy time of year for sure, but you’ll never not fall in love with Greece. We think it’s actually scientifically impossible.
Planning a once in a lifetime trip for 2020? Why not put Kenya on your consideration list. July (and August) brings with it one of the most incredible wildlife events of the year – the Great Migration. Travelling the perilous journey from the Serengeti to the Massai Mara, over 2 million wildebeest, antelope, zebras and gazelles make this annual trip, facing all manner of dangers along the way.
For sun, sea and sand, look no further than Albania. Yes, really. One of the fastest emerging European travel destinations, think of Albania as Croatia 20 years ago. Some of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful beaches are found on the country’s coast, making Albania an idyllic alternative summer destination.
Eastern Europe is the buzz word on every in-the-know travellers lips, and no more so than Slovenia. One of the most sustainable and eco-conscious countries in the world, Slovenia is also one of the most naturally beautiful. Soca River is the perfect spot to cool off from the summer heat and take a dip in the emerald clear waters, whilst dreamy Lake Bled speaks for itself.
Seafood lovers rejoice… and then make a beeline for Portland, Maine this August. Of course the city itself is half the story, offering an idyllic seaside meets forest location that’s hard to beat. But the real reason you’ll be travelling here this August? For the annual lobster festival that takes place in Rockland, two hours outside of Portland. Celebrating the ocean’s most celebrated crustacean has never tasted so good.
Scotland is beautiful all year round, but truthfully it is COLD in the winter. Heading here in August will give you the best shot at warmer temperatures and less rain, although don’t say we didn’t warn you! At this time of year the Highlands are particularly spectacular, making for colourful hikes and wildlife spotting opportunities, whilst a visit to Edinburgh in this month will coincide with the annual Fringe Comedy Festival.
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Summer may be drawing to an end, but that’s exactly why you should plan a visit to Vancouver in September. Hailed globally for being one of the world’s most liveable cities, there are few other places in the world that combine city living with the tranquility of nature quite so easily. Spend your morning hiking in the mountain and your afternoon taking a dip in the Pacific, made all the more enjoyable by the peace and quiet of this time of year.
As one of America’s most iconic natural wonders, it’s unsurprising that the summer months see huge crowds descend on the Grand Canyon National Park. To avoid this, visit in September instead. The temperature is still hot but manageable, and you’ll have more time for photo snapping and memory making.
Portugal is a destination so varied and rich it can be enjoyed year round, but September in particular is one of the best months for travel. The summer crowds have dispersed, the beaches of the Algarve are less busy, and in the cities a refreshing breeze keeps things cool.
October means Autumn is officially here, and nowhere is this more apparent than in New England. Already an utterly delightful corner of America offering old world charm and chocolate box villages, come October this region comes alive with the rich and fiery colours of the fall foliage. Whole forests appear to be on fire, such is the vibrancy of the red, orange and yellow leaves, and whilst the temperatures can get a little chilly, we’ll doubt you’ll resent throwing on a cosy jumper for this spectacular event.
If it’s a tropical destination you’re craving (and who can blame you), you’ll find little to complain about on paradisiacal Mauritius. The weather is hot, the beaches are icing sugar soft and the cocktails are strong, all combining to make one unbeatable October getaway.
Admittedly not known as a winter sun destination, the crowds descend on Munich in Germany every October for a whole other reason – Oktoberfest. Over 7 million litres of beer gets consumed over the 16 days of Oktoberfest, with beer drinkers of all ages travelling from across the globe to take part in the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration.
Los Angeles may be known for always being 70 degrees and sunny, but if you’re looking for a destination that’s a little more relaxed and authentic, travel the short distance from LA to Santa Monica. November offers warm days and a more local crowd so you can go at your own pace, much like the laid back residents and sun bleached surfer crowd.
Thailand in November is all about one thing – the annual Loi Krathong Lantern Festival, held in Chiang Mai. Celebrated on the full moon of the 12th lunary month, there’s something almost cerebral about seeing thousands of glowing lanterns gently released into the night sky.
November in Latin America marks the start of summer, and no more so than in Argentina. Visiting Buenos Aires at this time of year, expect to find the smell of asado hanging heavy in the air, whilst sultry tango music oozes out of every establishment in the city until well after dawn. Better still, November also marks the annual Gaucho Festival, where you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about this centuries old culture.
The final month of the year is a cold one (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), so if winter is proving too much to handle, pack a bag and head for Kerala, India. A beautiful time of year to visit one of India’s most stunning regions, you’ll quickly warm up with a combination of spicy curries, tea plantation exploring and indulgent days spent cruising the Backwaters.
Keen to embrace the Christmas spirit? Plan a visit to Hungary, and specifically Budapest. The Christmas markets and festive spirit are enough to chase away any winter blues, plus warming up after a day exploring is super simple – just hop in one of the city’s many blissful thermal baths.
You’ve chased the sun all year round, so surely one wintery destination should make the list? Pack your thermals and make for the French Alps, because the ski resorts of Val d-Isere, Meribel and Tignes are hard to beat. Waking up to snow capped peaks, a steaming cup of coffee in hand, you’ll almost forget your hatred of winter, if just for a second…
Think we’ve missed any hot holiday destinations off the list? Let us know where in the comments below, then start planning your very own chase the sun itinerary with Trafalgar…