Is it just us – or does this winter seem even darker than usual? Perhaps it’s just the unseasonally warm and murky cloudy nights obscuring the moon – but there’s definitely something bit more Doctor Who in the air – even if we don’t always notice it in London with our 24hr street lighting.
The good news is that we’re now pass the Winter Solstice – so the days are getting longer from here. But for many who can’t wait, the chance to jet off to somewhere warmer is the antidote to the bleak-mid-winter. For others it’s all about finding as much snow as possible, along with some well mapped ski-lifts and well groomed mountainsides. Then there are those who prefer to take to the seas and enjoy the opportunity to tour by boat on a cruise.
Here then (just in case you’re getting itchy feet) is our guide to winter getaways – with some great ideas for amazing travel experiences this winter.
Sun and Sand
For some, the chance to head off to sunnier climes during the dark short days of an English Winter is too appealing. With the UK Foreign Office currently advising against visiting popular Middle Eastern destinations such as Sharm el-Sheikh, winter holidaymakers might be looking for other destinations:
Jamaican Reggae – Bob’s Birthday Bash
Jamaican Reggae artist Bob Marley transcended the genre into music legend status. Every year there’s a celebratory birthday bash in Negril showcasing Jamaican culture through music, food and art. To get Jammin’ – find out more over on the Visit Jamaica website.
If relatively unspoilt Atlantic Islands that still offer adventure appeal to you – then Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde to give it its official Portuguese name) is worth a look. An archipelago of some 10 volcanic islands around 500km off the coast of West Africa. It’s a country (it gained independence in 1975) of contrasting geography, with high volcanic peaks, lush green forests, low arid desert, and deserted sandy beaches. Tourism to the islands has developed hugely over the past 20 years and package deals widely available from major tour operators.
Which means you can choose to stay in a resort hotel on a sandy beach, venture inland to sample some of the rugged scenery or enjoy some high paced watersports. The Independent have a useful guide as a starting point to the islands.
Whilst some middle eastern destinations are no-go areas, there are no such issues in some of the oil rich countries of the gulf. Dubai and Abu-Dhabi offer popular luxury destinations that have come to the fore in recent years. Modern opulent hotels with five star service, fabulous food and spacious accommodation create an upbeat ambience – but it’s the +20ºC temperatures and lack of rain during January that are the real appeal.
The Daily Telegraph have an expert guide, which makes a great starting point.
Ski and Winter Excursions
The Northern Lights
Heading up to the Arctic circle to see the Aurora Borealis – the enigmatic electro-magnetic phenomenon – is something of a gamble, as there’s no guarantee they’ll show up. One thing’s for sure thought – the lucky souls who have made the trip and see the green and purple glow all seem to say it is well worth it.
Skyscanner have got some useful advice on the 6 best locations to see them – and they include Aviemore or Inverness in our very own Scotland. Here’s what you might be lucky enough to see…
It’s looking like a mild winter – and there isn’t a great amount of snow over the Alps just yet. So we’d recommend going high – somewhere with a glacier and extensive snow making facilities such as Zermatt/Cervinia on the Swiss Italian border or Val Thorens in the French Three Valleys or St. Anton in Austria.
Make sure you spend a decent amount of time sunning yourself on the terraces of the mountain restaurants.
Lapland – Sleigh Ride Safari
If idea hanging out with the real-life Rudolph and his pals sends you into an excited spin, then consider Lapland’s Jaakkola Reindeer Park for a winter break. We’re sure this sleigh isn’t a magical flying one, but making speed over the snow courtesy of a four-legged friend should be almost as exciting. There’s also a chance that you might catch the Northern Lights – so you could combine a trip to empathise with Santa, with an almost out-of-this world experience. Find out more about the Reindeer Park on their website here.
If staying in one place leaves you feeling like you’ve missing out on other locations, then a cruise might be the holiday you’re looking for. The Caribbean is as safe a bet as as any during the later winter months as hurricane season is out of the way. There are plenty of islands to choose from – but consider including Cuba on your itinerary. The recent thawing of relations with the USA mean that tourism to the enigmatic island is – so get in quick to see the real Cuba with its post-colonial architecture, vintage American Vehicles, Rum and Salsa dance.
An 8 day excision with MSC cruises departing Havana and taking in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico during January starts from £399.