Winter holidays are around and you are itching to get away from the freezing cold and disruptive snowstorms. You are looking to travel for both R&R and some sight-seeing to destinations you have never been to before. Most importantly, you are looking for a warm winter vacation, with maybe Holy celebrations and opportunities for New Year partying.
Here are our best picks for a warm winter vacation from around the world. These are places that may have always been on your bucket list, but were too hot for summer holidays. Some of these places have historic grand churches with beautiful Christmas service and events. They also have beaches for your swimming and sunning plans. Travel to these locations, and enjoy the warmth of winter. However, make sure to book well in advance!
1. Goa, India
This is India’s party capital and the most happening place in December! A former Portuguese colony, Goa is home to colonial architecture, mouth-watering Goan cuisine, stunning green landscapes and miles and miles of golden beaches.
Goa caters to every traveller demography – backpackers, hippies, sophisticated world tourists, or the rich and famous seeking spirituality and yoga with sun and sand. Goa comes to life every winter, with a string of beach parties and special gigs at luxury hotels and beach resorts. Temperatures are balmy, and the sea waters are pleasant. December is the best time for party goers and music lovers, when Goa’s beaches host international music festivals and DJ events through the night. The legendary nightlife at Goa includes casinos, endless beach parties and night club events that celebrate the New Year with high spirits. Goa is also home to many grand cathedrals and historic churches, so you can expect a rich Christian tradition. Water sports and dolphin watching, river sailing and sight-seeing are other activities. At the same time, you can simply choose to relax, swim and soak in the sun on a private beach, and enjoy the amazing sea-food and Goan cuisine.
2. Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca has emerged as the winter playground for the rich and famous. Thirty miles of golden beaches, scuba diving and snorkelling, world-class resorts, golf courses and hip nightlife, are all reasons why Oaxaca is a sought-after winter destination. Although Oaxaca enjoys great all-round weather, December is the best time with warm sunny days and cool nights. The traditionally Mexican setting has a high cultural appeal that make an Oaxaca holiday filled with fun, food and fiestas. As a culinary hotspot, Oaxaca is the “land of the seven moles,” for its complex sauces that add to the holiday-goers’ culinary adventure.
Home to more than 20 historic churches, and a 1733 Cathedral, Oaxaca offers a Christmas extravaganza like no other. Festivities and events include the “Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe”, “Day of the Holy Innocent”, the “Posada and Piñata Fair”, “Candlemas” and quaint New Year traditions, continuing up to “Three Kings Day on January 6. Winter music festivals like the ‘Tropico’ and ‘Riviera Maya Jazz Festival’ further liven up up the holiday.
World-class museums, sight-seeing, and activities like hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, sure liven up the winter vacation in the Mexican sun.
3. Kualu Lumpur, Malaysia
If the spectacular images of the Twin Towers always teased your senses, make time to visit Kuala Lumpur this winter. It is a great city to shop, learn about a culture, discover ethnic foods, and an amazing architecture that combines the best of the East and the West. Although heat and rains mark the weather through the year, winter is most pleasant and less rainy.
Visiting Kuala Lumpur is a unique urban experience. No visit is complete without standing in front of the Petronas Towers and gazing up at this iconic slice of architecture. Following it up with the challenge of looking out over the city from hundreds of feet in the air, is another must-do for every tourist.
Kuala Lumpur is an amazing amalgam of Hindu, Islamic and Chinese cultures, with cultural enclaves across the city for one-of-its-kind multi-cultural and cuisines encounters. Taste authentic Chinese dishes at Petaling Street’s China Town, get yourself an Indian henna or saree at Little India, or enjoy the beautiful colonial hill station two hours away at Fraser’s Hill. Other top attractions include the Batu Caves and its huge statue of a Hindu God, and the Islamic Arts Museum. Hit the futuristic shopping malls for a grand experience, where shopping vies with incredible encounters in a time-capsule of its own. Escape to the largest roof garden on top of the Utama 1 mall, or the Butterfly and Bird Parks for a time-out from modernistic appeals!
4. Miami, Florida
If you want to spend your winter on the US mainland, with large doses of sun and sand, and partying, there is no place like Miami. It has the warmest winter temperatures, and the most beautiful beaches. Miami pampers you with its exclusive offerings – urban resorts, elite private bungalows and hip boutique hotels. A Miami vacation is more than swimming and sunbathing at the South Beach. Exclusive nightclubs, high-end shops, and culinary adventures, jazz up your winter vacation.
If you want to tap into the cultural scene, there is plenty of Art Deco architecture, state-of-the-art museums, and theatre and music productions, to check out. A must-visit is the Brickell Avenue, the culinary hotspot of Miami. If visiting with your family, you will not be disappointed. There are plenty of family and kid activities lined up in winter.
5. Sydney, Australia
What better way to escape the winter cold of December than visit the Southern Hemisphere? Sydney is the place to be this winter, for its warm weather and peak tourist season in the run-up to the legendary New Year festivities. An Uber-chic city with a modern harbour and dazzling surf beaches, Sydney is the best recipe for a winter holiday.
This cosmopolitan city is surrounded by famous beaches, world heritage sites, wine regions of the Hunter Valley and plenty of attractions to make it worth a long stay. Visitors can indulge in the sun-kissed weather at parks, coastal walks, ferry rides and the many beaches. There is more than outdoor activities. You can take in sight-seeing tours; do the rounds of Sydney’s many museums, churches, weekend markets and galleries. Walk or bike across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, and take in panoramic views of the harbour and Sydney Opera House. Go up to the Tower Skywalk for more splendid views. Take a ferry ride to Manly beach, or learn surfing.
Sydney’s nightlife scene is one of the best, with all-night beach parties, intimate cocktail bars concerts and festive events to rock your winter holiday. Get up-close with the legendary New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbour and take away some great memories.
6. Costa Rica, Central America
Do something different this winter. Visit the happiest country on earth, Costa Rica. Beautiful beaches, rainforests and exotic wildlife form the perfect setting for a rich holiday experience. The dry season and plentiful sunshine, makes it perfect to swim in the warm waters or explore the rainforests. You can make San Jose your base and laze around the Tamarindo beach or travel across the National Parks – Poas and Arenal Volcano National parks, and the La Fortuna Waterfall. Get up-close with nature and wildlife. Go for hiking in the remote peninsula regions. Other activities include diving, surfing and river rafting, or yoga retreats.
Costa Rica is a Roman Catholic country, so you can expect Christmas events, festivals and fiestas through the winter months. Enjoy your winter vacation with great cuisine, fun and adventure at a warm country.
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Head to Brazil’s hot spot this winter, Rio De Janeiro and beat the chill.
Rio De Janeiro is comfortably warm, offers continuous miles of beaches, stunning architecture, great cuisine and a sense of drama befitting the holiday season.
The beaches are literally the playground, moving beyond the swim and sun factor to volleyball and picnics. Outdoor adventures include hiking in the Tijuca rainforest, sailing across the Baía de Guanabara, surfing, rock climbing and hang gliding. Take the Cog Train or hike up the Corcovado Mountain to see the symbol of Christianity this holy season – Christ the Redeemer, a new “Seven Wonders of the World” and Rio de Janeiro’s iconic landmark.
Enjoy a rocking nightlife and festival season, with grand events, music festivals, weekend samba parties and boat parties.
8. Malta, Europe
Malta is an ideal destination for a winter R&R holiday. The days are sunny and temperatures cool, perfect for exploring the countryside and sailing the waters.
It has great natural harbours, beautiful fishing villages, and a magnificent coastline that is a delight to explore. There are plenty of water based fun, from swimming, snorkelling and diving to surfing. You can also go boating or sailing across the islands. Visit the prehistoric churches, fossil-studded cliffs and museums for a peep into the archipelago’s history. There are several nightlife hubs like Paceville and St Julian’s Bay, that are home to trance clubs, piano bars, salsa bars, rock bars, hip-hop joints, discos, gentlemen’s clubs and casinos! Enjoy the thrill of dancing away the night under a star-studded sky at huge outdoor dance floors or open-air clubs
Experience a Roman Catholic Christmas at Malta, a wholly religious affair with various Christmas cribs, and customs unique to the island.