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The off-season destinations you need to know about

by Martha Hales

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How do you feel about the climate you experience on holiday? Would you say it's a top priority, something that would influence your choice of trip and make or break your level of enjoyment? Or a secondary factor which you will consider among many other factors such as price, crowds, and activities available? We at TravelLocal have one foot in each camp.

Rainy season can make colours more vibrant, sights less busy and flights cheaper

There are certain destinations which have such severe low season weather that regions become inaccessible; there are others which are honestly just far more fun in the sun; then of course there are destinations which are simply too hot or too wet at certain times of year to make travel enjoyable. But actually, these are all rarer than you think. Most countries featured on the TravelLocal platform have something to offer at any time of year, and in fact for some places, off-season travel comes highly recommended. 

Low season means fewer tourists to share the sights withWe have put together this brief list of destinations worth considering for an off-season holiday. You may not get the very best of the climate, but often the difference is slight, and the payoff is fewer tourists, better availability and lower prices.

Oman

The climate of the Middle East can often reach unbearable temperatures in the summer months, making sightseeing difficult. However, think round the heat problem and there are some very appealing off-season options. At 2,000 metres up, Oman's Hajar Mountains are a delight in summer. While the lowlands are baking, summer at altitude offers wonderful conditions. Pleasant, dry heat without the humidity that characterises many summer destinations - this is most people's idea of perfect. When compared with a better known holiday region such as the Med, the prices are really appealing, too. For a quality hotel in Oman during the off-season (northern hemisphere summer: May to September) the cost is likely to be half or even a third of a similar standard of hotel on the Med. The mountains of Oman have plenty to do for active families, and there are easily accessible hiking trails, day trips to idyllic wadis and some superlative birdwatching.

Oman's Hajar Mountains are the perfect off-season holiday destination

Jordan

Once again, this Middle Eastern gem is often considered off limits during the hottest months of May to September, but with some creative planning this low season period can be a fantastic time to visit. Amman, the engaging and cultured capital, sits at a lofty 900 metres altitude giving it a far fresher climate than you might expect - around 30 degrees in the daytime, 22 at night with low humidity, opening it up to visitors even in the off-season. Jordan is a popular escape for Saudis during the hottest months, who have long realised how pleasant the climate is during their scorching summer. Petra is also located at altitude and can be enjoyed with a bit of forethought. Go as early as you can before the sun gets too strong, take a hat and plenty of water, and spread your ticket across more than one day so you can see the incredible city at leisure across a couple of mornings, making the most of the cooler temperatures.

Jordan's capital of Amman is a pleasant temperature in the summer months

Vietnam 

An ever popular destination among adventurous travellers everywhere, Vietnam encapsulates all that is fabulous about Indochina. From the smiling hosts to the iconic Asian scenery and the mouth watering food, Vietnam is a seductive destination with a huge range of activities available in its many distinct regions. As with the bulk of Southeast Asia, the received wisdom is to go between November and March for the best weather. Vietnam is a long, slender nation with a relatively complex climate, and while it is true that November to March is reliably warm and dry, the off-season months of May to August are a great option too. You can expect more rain, but this often falls in short bursts around the same time every day, so it is far less disruptive to your plans than you might expect, and has the added bonus of cooling things down a little. A bit of rain each day may seem like a good swap for better availability of accommodation, cheaper flights and lower footfall, and yet another consideration is the lovely scenery which is lush and green with regular rainfall. The rice terraces in the north are particularly spectacular at this time.

Vietnam's north is particularly beautiful in the rainy season

Costa Rica

As with many destinations, in Costa Rica the high season coincides with the dry season, which equates to the period beginning in mid December and ending in late April. The rainier months - those that remain - are known in Costa Rica as the green season and can be a great time to visit. Costa Rica's position on the land bridge between two continents which divides two oceans means that even though it is a small territory, its weather patterns are fairly complex. Depending on which month of the green season you visit, there will often be certain regions that are wetter, and others which remain drier. Year round you may experience showers at Arenal and the surrounding rainforests, but during the green season this region tends to be drier. Even though the Pacific Coast beaches do get some rain during the Green Season, this is often an afternoon rain shower that lasts an hour or two following a sunny morning - so beach time in the AM followed by relaxation in the PM. The Caribbean Coast is actually experiencing its dry season during July to October, so a visit to see the turtles and enjoy Tortuguero and Cahuita National Parks are perfect at this time, or head to the Osa Peninsula for some whale watching. Overall, the nation is at its greenest, lushest and least crowded - what could be better?

Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast is dry from July to October

Morocco

Peak season for Morocco are the spring months of April and May and the autumn period from September to November. Summer is usually a scorcher, when all areas except the coast and the highest peaks of the Atlas are really too hot for touring. Winter, however can be a really fantastic time to see Morocco. From November to February the numbers of tourists drop and you get all the advantages that come with lower footfall, but not only that you may actually find a really pleasant climate. Winters in Morocco are usually very mild and dry, with rainy days infrequent though certainly possible. Travelling around is a joy, with the cooler temperatures making everything more manageable, and sightseeing is fantastic as it is generally crowd free. Wandering the blue streets of Chefchaouen or losing yourself in the Medinas of Fes and Marrakech are activities that do not require hot temperatures, and low level hiking in the Atlas is still a possibility as the snow usually only falls on the High Atlas, where skiing is a possibility. What is more, when the sun comes out temperatures often reach the low to mid twenties in the daytime, especially in the more southerly regions - Marrakech, Essaouira and the low Atlas, for example. Many hotels keep their pools open year round, and there may well be days when it is warm enough to enjoy some winter sun. Enjoy souks where visitor numbers are reduced and traders keen to make a sale, take advantage of special low season deals at hotels, and see Morocco in its authentic glory.

Marrakech's sprawling markets are just as wonderful in winter

Make it happen 

Out of season trips often end up being really memorable as there are more opportunities to interact with local people, and more chances to see the sights in solitude. In-the-know travellers who are well versed in seeing our planet at its best are savvy about off-season adventures, so why not join them? Click on the links above to discover more about these destinations, or to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.

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