I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.
Destinations become famous due to various factors. Some are discovered, some introduce new attractions, while some come up with new travel policies. However, what truly makes a great destination is the combination of these factors. In winters, there are two types of places you can visit. One, where the snow is good for skiing and sightseeing. These destinations have been explored and nothing new as such has come up here of late. The second type, with beaches and the sun, are what you should look out for. And then, why stop at one place? You also have an option to take a cruise, which will take you to different destinations in one winter vacation. All these and many more have been listed here for you. But first, we see the top 10.
* The following places have been listed solely as per the preference of the author.
Top 10 Winter Destinations of The World
#10: Sydney, Australia
Famous for its golden beaches, rich flora and fauna and architecture, Sydney has a temperate climate with mild winters. It is a famous tourist destination, and can thus get a little crowded. However, if you know the right places, you won’t have a problem. Sydney has something for everyone. Kids can have a great time at Taronga Zoo which houses around 340 species and over 2,600 individual animals. People who want to party will be happy to discover the lively nightlife in Sydney. Adventure junkies can go surfing on the challenging waves of Bondi beach or jet boating on Sydney Harbor. Apart from all this, you have attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower, Luna Park, Royal Botanical Gardens and the numerous beaches.
#9: Muscat, Oman
Muscat is consistently among the best destinations. It is known for its authentic Middle Eastern experience and stunning architecture. The best time to visit Oman is from November to March. Winter is pleasantly warm and perfect for sightseeing. The Royal Opera House and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque have breathtaking architecture and are a true example of aesthetic perfection. There are many public beaches you can visit; the stalls along the Seeb beach serve some really good food. But your trip won’t be complete without a shopping excursion to Muttrah Souk. It is a traditional Arabic bazaar, filled with merchants selling local spices, fabrics, handmade jewelry, and perfumes. With its beautiful landscape, aesthetic architecture and rich culture, Muscat definitely earns its spot on this list.
#8: Algarve, Portugal
The southernmost region of Portugal, Algarve is a unique destination. Its winters are comparatively warm than most of Europe which makes it a good choice for your winter holidays. It is said that the population in this region triples during holiday season; evidence of a good holidaying experience. Praia da Marinha and Armação de Pêra are two famous beaches in this region among many others such as Praia da Arrifana, Praia dos Pescadores, Praia da Ilha de Tavira and Praia do Vau.
#7: Bali, Indonesia
Bali has been a famous, global tourist destination since decades. Tourists around the world include it in their must-see destinations. As a winter destination, you couldn’t have asked for more. Must-see places include Sanur, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Pecatu. Sanur was the earliest recorded tourist spot in Bali. It is also a part of the island of Ubud, which got international acclaim after the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s movie Eat, Pray, Love. Travel + Leisure awarded Bali the Best Island award in 2010 and BBC Travel declared it the 2nd Best Island in the world after Greece in 2011. Other major attractions are the temples of which Tirtha Empul and Pura Taman Ayun are two famous ones.
#6: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Anytime of the year is perfect to go to Rio de Janeiro. It really is temperate all year long. The festive season starts from December and lasts throughout February and attracts many tourists to this beautiful beach paradise. The biggest event is New Year’s Eve. Copacabana hosts some of the liveliest parties and beautiful firework displays in the entire country. If you love to party, this is the best place for you. Another big event is the Carnival. It is truly one of the most spectacular and electric celebration in the world. Nature lovers will not be disappointed as Brazil has beautiful tropical forests. You can also opt for activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.
#5: Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg is pleasantly warm and perfect for traveling and exploring in December, January and February. Like other places in the list, Johannesburg also has many activities that will keep you busy and satisfied. The African Museum in central Johannesburg should be on the ‘must-see’ list. You can also witness conventional South African Theater at the Market Theater. The South African trip will be incomplete if you don’t see the diverse and well-preserved wildlife. Lion Park just outside Johannesburg, where lions can be seen in their natural habitat should not be missed.
#4: Phuket, Thailand
Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has evolved as a famous holiday destination. Due to its location along the southern peninsula in the Andaman Sea, summers in Thailand tend to get a little hot and humid, but winters are pleasant. Phuket has fantastic beaches and vibrant night life. During winters the sea is calm and clear, making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. With white sandy beaches, stunning resorts, luxurious spas, pleasant weather and Thai hospitality, Phuket makes it on our list of top 10 winter destinations. Kata Noi, Hat Patong, Hat Karon, Hat Kamala and Koh Kaeo Yai are some famous beaches you must visit.
Cuba is known for its laid-back nature, faded yet colorful Spanish colonial architecture, vintage cars, cigars and of course the climate. It gets very hot during summers, but winters are comparatively better. Cuba has rich culture and diverse wildlife, not to forget the pristine beach experience. We recommend you stay in casa particulares, which is similar to bed and breakfast. This will give you a chance to interact with the local people. Do not forget to visit Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás, one of the oldest cigar factories in Cuba. Here, you can find some of the world’s most famous cigars. Club Habana, Parque Almendares, and Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña are a few other places you can’t afford to miss. All in all, Cuba is a beautiful place with lots of activities, a pleasant climate and friendly people.
#2: Miami, USA
The tropical climate, beautiful beaches and the vibrant nightlife contribute to the popularity of Miami. If you want to celebrate a snow-free, sun-filled Christmas then this is the place to be. The temperature ranges between 17 to 25 degree Celsius in winters. Christmas is a grand celebration in Miami. However, the highlight of Miami winters is New Year’s Eve. The city of Miami Beach hosts its own New Year’s Eve party on South Beach with a fireworks celebration at midnight. You can go to one of Miami’s many nightclubs and/or opt for cruises which have on-board dinner, music and skyline views. Rent bicycles and enjoy the Miami Beach boardwalk or take to the water and swim in the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
#1: Goa, India
Goa is definitely among the best winter destinations in the world. Millions of people from the west visit this small Indian state between December and February. This is the best time to visit Goa, as the temperature does not fall to an uncomfortable level. The average temperature during daytime is between 20 – 30 degree Celsius. Here, winter is known as the dawn of festive season. Also, Christmas is celebrated in full swing as majority of the locals are Catholics. There are also some popular music festivals during this period. Known as Intruz, the carnival of Goa is a 3-day festival in February that should not be missed. Apart from this, Goa also has museums and adventure sports. But the highlight of any Goa trip would be its beautiful silvery, sandy beaches. Avoid going to central Goa if you want secluded beaches.
Top Beaches to Visit in Winter
Tourism arrived in Maldives as late as 1972. Today, it is the most important economic sector. It is famous for its crystal-clear blue waters and pristine beaches. Famous for recreational diving, it is a perfect destination to just sit back and relax. Most resorts comprise an entire island, with no local population. Among the many activities you can indulge in, scuba diving, windsurfing, water-skiing, snorkeling and kiteboarding are a few. The temperature throughout the year stays between 24 – 33 degrees Celsius.
#2: Bora Bora
Isolated beaches, over-water hotels and a quiet atmosphere is what you will find at Bora Bora, an island in the Pacific Ocean. Located near Tahiti, it is famously known as ‘Romantic Island’. The island is famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. You must note that there is no public transport on the island, and renting cars is an additional cost. Dive operators are there at almost every resort. Every beach will offer you something special. January is a preferred month to visit the island due to less rainfall.
The eastern-most of all Caribbean islands, Barbados is an island country like no other. With 60 beaches, the turquoise waters have their own stories to tell. All the beaches are open to tourists. Along with coral reefs, you can also see sunken ships. Now that’s a first, isn’t it? Submarine rides are famous on the west coast, where you dive 150 feet below the waters to see amazing ocean life. Other tourist attractions include Harrison’s Cave (accessible by tramway), Barbados Wildlife Reserve where animals roam freely and the Morgan Lewis Windmill (one among the 2 sugar windmills left in the world). The Platinum Coast, Bottom Bay (secluded), The Crane and Miami Beach are some of the popular beaches here.
#4: Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm beach is a city in Aruba, an island in the Lesser Antilles. Believe it or not, this beach gets featured in most travel magazines although it is just 2 miles long. The snow-white sand, calm waters and the fresh air, make this an ideal spot for a vacation. Waters at the beach are safe for water activities; the beach is also considered children-friendly. Along the coast, you will see excellent bars, shops and restaurants. Piers are also available for those who love fishing. A lot of luxury hotels are located in and around the beach; accommodation is never a problem.
Popular Winter Cruises
#1: The Caribbean
The Caribbean, with its multiple island destinations, is packed with things to see and do. Also, don’t misunderstand that the Caribbean is only limited to its islands. A few parts of countries like Venezuela are also included in the region that is geographically known as the Caribbean. Basically, the islands are divided into east and west; a vast difference exists between what you see on both sides. Some must-see places include islands like Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, Barbados, Buck Island Reef, Dominica, Puerto Rico, etc. Activities range from seeing volcanic fissures in the sea bed, to snorkeling and submarine rides.
Mexican cruises are basically divided into two groups. One type of cruise takes you either on the west or east coast of Mexico. This means, you either cruise on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea or on the North Pacific Ocean. The other type, is the cruise along the Mexican Riviera. This region comprises 20 lagoons and cities on the west coast of Mexico. Some must-see places on the east coast are Cancun, Campeche and Tabasco. On the west coast you should look out for places like Ensenada, Baja, Bahía de los Ángeles, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.
Hands down, Hawaii makes it to the list of exotic cruises every year. These cruises usually cover Tahiti and some French Polynesian islands as well. These are cruises that take you to a completely different world. The cuisine, the Polynesian culture and some magnificent backdrops make this cruise truly different. A fortnight is more than enough to have a good experience. The four islands you just can’t afford to miss are Oahu, Maui, Kauai and The Big Island. Go prepared as rain will be a part of your vacation.
Mediterranean cruises are famous because a tourist can visit many countries while on a single cruise. Countries that you definitely shouldn’t miss include Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. Instead of the budget, choose a cruise that offers the maximum variety. Some cruises also take you all the way to Cairo in Egypt (travel by land after you’re on mainland) and other countries and places like Morocco, Greece and Gibraltar. This particular cruise is designed for a long duration, something you must be prepared for.
The best winter vacation destinations will vary depending on a person’s preference. Thus, we have given you more options to choose from for your holiday. This Christmas, have an experience you never had before. Happy Journey!