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Perfect winter getaways: from golden sands to frozen wonderlands

by Martha Hales

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Whether you are seeking some enticing destinations to make the most of winter’s chill or you can’t wait to banish the cold from your bones in sunnier climes, there are plenty of options to consider. From the thrilling wildlife adventures on offer in Costa Rica to the epic wilds of Russia under layers of sparkling snow, read on for our tempting winter suggestions.

Destinations for winter sun

Brazil

As an antidote to the grey skies of the northern hemisphere winter, you can’t beat flamboyant and colourful Brazil, where hitting the numerous paradise beaches is the order of the day. Not everywhere in Brazil enjoys beach weather during November to March though, so if that is your priority stick to the tropical northeast coast where the sun reliably shines for much of the year.

Beach in Brazil

The Amazon and the Pantanal are experiencing their wettest months during December to March, while Rio has hot sun and low rainfall during these months - and if you visit in February, the exuberance of the Carnaval will greet you.

Women posing at Rio Carnival

Costa Rica

December to March are the driest months in this gem of a Central American nation, making it the perfect time to enjoy all that this exciting destination has to offer, from the beaches to the volcanoes.

Beach in costa rica

The drier months make the wonderful wildlife easier to spot amid the leafy rainforest reserves and allow for more straightforward hikes through the numerous protected areas and national parks. Will you be heading for the famous Pacific surf breaks, spotting marine turtles nesting off the Caribbean coast, or enjoying the view from a rainforest lodge? Why not enjoy a combination of all three…?  

Monkey in the forest of Costa Rica

Cambodia

Banish those winter blues in tropical Cambodia, a land of smiling people, jungle-shrouded temples and dreamy beaches. The weather is pretty much perfect from November to February, the ‘cooler’ season, when skies are mostly clear and temperatures are moderate enough for sightseeing yet warm enough for beach time.

Lady selling fish in Cambodia

Take a boat tour on the Tonlé Sap lake to see the floating villages, experience the magic of Angkor, or bask on the shores of stunning Koh Rong. The great weather does mean these months are among the most popular for trips to Cambodia, so book early to ensure you get your first choice of accommodation.    

Beach chairs on Koh Rong, Cambodia

The Philippines

December to March offers the best conditions across much of the archipelago as it’s the dry season with temperatures in the mid to high twenties. Discover the intriguing mix of cultures across the islands where Asia meets Spanish and even American influences, or explore the mesmerising underwater worlds around tropical islands like Malapascua.

Octopus in Malapascua, Philippines

Head north on Luzon Island to reach the Banaue rice terraces - a dazzling vision of emerald green hillsides perfect for cool countryside hikes - or tour the Visaya Islands in search of your favourite paradise beach.

Philippines islands

Argentina

November to March ushers in the Argentinian summer and overall it’s a great time to explore. Patagonia is open and accessible, and although there are no guarantees of settled weather amid the breathtaking glacial landscapes, these months are by far the best in terms of weather and logistics.

View of Fitz Roy in Patagonia

Further north, the weather in Buenos Aires is generally hot from November to February, though there are still a few rainy days and it can be humid. The north of Argentina really heats up during the Argentinian summer (December to February), so if you prefer cooler climes focus on other areas.

Colourful houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires

South Africa

The Cape has its finest weather during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months, so from November to February why not swap our cold and damp days for bright sunshine and endless hot sun?

Suburb in Cape Town

From the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town with its wonderful dining and stunning scenery to the delights of touring the winelands, there’s lots to keep you busy in the South African summer. It’s the perfect season for a road trip along the famously lush and impressive Garden Route, where wildlife spotting and walking are the headline attractions.

Wilderness beach in South Africa on Garden Route

Winter destinations for snowy scenes... 

Russia

There’s plenty of romance to go around in Russia during wintertime. Snow dusted palaces, twinkling lights, warming cuisine and often clear, crisp weather make a Russian adventure in the chilliest months all the more appealing.

Olkhon island in Russia

The Trans-Siberian Railway particularly takes on a whole new wintry beauty. There is a whole lot less tourist footfall during the winter, so you will have more space on the train and more unfettered views of the iconic monuments.

Cathedral in Irkutsk in Russian winter

An added bonus is that after sightseeing in the cold of a Russian winter there are far more excuses to stop off and sample the wares of opulent cafes and restaurants. Wander the winter markets, ice skate with the locals in Gorky Park, then warm up in a banya - an iconic Russian bathhouse.

St Basils Cathedral, Moscow, in the snow

Kyrgyzstan

It might not be the first ski destination to pop into your head, and it’s likely you’ll be the first of your friends to ski in the Tien Shan mountains, but that doesn’t mean that the skiing is less exhilarating. There are pistes for all levels, and several lifts to transport you around the resort which is just outside the town of Karakol and overlooks the beautiful Issyk Kul lake.

Ski lift in Kyrgyzstan

A ski-focused trip allows you to experience the stunning mountain nation of Kyrgyzstan up close, and can easily be combined with some sightseeing elsewhere in this Central Asian jewel of a country.   

View over valley from Kyrgyz ski resort

Make it happen

A winter holiday ensures you’ll start the new year refreshed and recharged, so all that remains is for you to decide whether you are looking for a chilly, romantic trip or a sunkissed adventure. Click the links above for more inspiration on each of these destinations, or visit the ‘inspiration’ section of our website to find out where else you could be headed this winter! To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call  +44 (0)117 325 7898.

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