Winter is coming. I don't mean the "Game of Thrones", but the cold and rain which are just approaching. In such cases, there is only one thing to do: escape to sunny places, with great beaches, people smiling, music in the air and exotic smells. Leave the greyness of your office, put away coat and gloves and pack your swimsuit and flip flops: let's get out of the cold!
Winter sun holidays: from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean
A “warm escape” can really be an alternative experience to the traditional winter holiday; there is something fascinating about the idea of spending Christmas and New Year's Eve among fruit cocktails, sun and crystal sea, away from the usual Christmas markets and mulled wine. A holiday in an exotic place means travelling by plane and several hours flight; you can take advantage of your long winter holidays: just only a weekend isn't enough to enjoy your "Christmas in the sun".
- Once you've decided about your next destination, start planning your holiday as soon as possible and book tickets and accommodation in advance; start preparing your travel plans during the summer months and keep an eye on possible special offers and discounts.
- Be informed about the compulsory and recommended vaccinations and estimate the time needed to obtain the required travel documentation.
- Before leaving, study routes and itineraries and sign the best experiences to do on the spot. In addition to beach life, you'll have enough time for great tours and activities too, such as boat trips, green and adrenaline adventures and gourmet tours.
Not only beach but also crazy experiences
When it comes to exotic places and warm winter holidays, the range of destinations is always very wide. Are you looking forward to meeting your suntan again? Pack your palm patterned swimsuit, glasses and sunscreen.
Check out this list of 13 dreamy winter sun destinations and the best experiences to combine with intense swimming and sunbathing sessions!
Off the East Africa coast, the spectacular Seychelles archipelago is a wonderful kaleidoscope of natural treasures and its resorts are among the most sensational in the world. You'll find yourself in a natural landscape of luxuriant green plantations and sun-kissed beaches.
The most popular beaches according to travellers? Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette, Anse Source D'Argent and Beau Vallon, true and unmissable earthly paradises.
Get ready to swim in crystal clear waters, dive and snorkel, especially in the northern part of the archipelago, perfect for this kind of activity thanks to the immense areas of coral reefs. Many tourists choose to stay on the island of Mahè, from which the most popular excursions in the archipelago depart.
One of the best ways to explore the islets of the Seychelles is to take part in private boat trips and cruises. The main activities usually depart from Mahè and take you to other incredible islands such as Curieuse, Cousin Island and St Pierre. Make also a stop at the Mahè market, a lively and crowded bazaar, a must on the island
Here you are, another place which is renowned for dreamy holidays, a chain of atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean with the most fascinating reefs in the world..
As well as the Seychelles, you are far away from the mainland so the most popular activities to experience in the Maldives are all about sea and ocean.
Between resorts and turquoise lagoons, I suggest you Bikini Beach - where you can relax and enjoy the "sunny side of life"- Hulhumale Beach and the super exotic Cocoa Island and Nika Island.
For heavenly underwater excursions, travel to Male, the capital of the Maldives; you're in the kingdom of snorkeling, where you can enjoy the best of the Maldivian coral reefs. You're spoilt for choice with water sports, spas and golf courts for exciting matches.
Whether you're an experienced diver or a beginner, there's one must-to-do activity in the Maldives you should absolutely not miss: snorkel diving in the Malé Nord atoll, full of underwater treasures. Here you'll find the magnificent Banana Reef, a protected area with fascinating sea caves, cliffs and corals, or the Blue Canyon, inhabited by species of fish that you won't find anywhere else in the world.
Think of yourself on a long stretch of golden sand with crowds of people lying under umbrellas and playing beach volley. Welcome to Brazil, the perfect place to escape the cold European winter. And remember that February is the month of Carnival!
If you say Brazil you immediately think about Rio de Janeiro with the most famous beach in the world: Copacabana.
Impossible to come to Brazil without spending almost one day here, a white 4 km stretch that spreads energy, sensuality and joie de vivre. You should also visit the beach of Ipanema, directly connected to Copacabana.
There's much more to do in Rio than just lying on the beach all day long. Plan a trip to some famous sites such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado, Tijuca National Park and the Sugarloaf hike.
A fantastic experience to learn more about the culture of Rio? The tour of the favelas. Don't worry because some areas are quite safe for visitors. Also, take a guided tour of the city of Rio, through markets, museums, cathedrals and narrow streets with shops and historic cafes all around.
The iconic Bahamas are still one of the most popular destinations for travelers dreaming of the Caribbean. Expect lazy days in a place out of touch, losing sense of time.
The top attraction is the colorful Pink Sands beach on Harbour Island: you will be surrounded by pink sand, green turtles and yellow birds fluttering around the trees.
Explore the beautiful reefs at Blue Lagoon Island and book an excursion to Eleuthera Island around the Glass Window Bridge, the monumental bridge where the Caribbean Sea merges into Atlantic Ocean.
Take a motorboat tour around Paradise Island and, if you like water slides, take into account a trip to Atlantis Park.
Have you ever seen photos of pigs swimming in crystal clear waters and being caressed by humans? It happens right in the Bahamas, on Pig Beach. An eccentric experience that has become so much a trend on the Caribbean Island so that to offer real themed excursions. If the idea doesn't really appeal to you, you can always opt for the more classic snorkeling tours between Exuma and Nassau.
Even though temperatures can reach up to 40°C in summer, from November to January the weather in Dubai is milder, perfect for a winter holiday in a metropolis that offers luxury shopping and world-class beaches.
Visit record-breaking attractions such as the Burj Khalifa and explore the desert that offers the perfect setting for tours and excursions up and down the dunes.
Admire Dubai's glittering skyline from the 27th floor of the Burj al Arab at 200 metres above sea level and enjoy exceptional cocktails sitting on an armchair overlooking Palm Jumeirah.
Experience magical moments in two incredible places, the Louvre Museum and Sheikh Zayed's Great Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
From 20 October 2020 Dubai will host the Universal Exposition EXPO 2020, a historic and super futuristic event not to be missed during your winter holiday in the Emirate.
The famous Moroccan city of Marrakech offers many opportunities for a cultural and leisure visit, especially in winter, when there are less crowds of visitors and temperature is milder than in the arid summer.
Walk around the souks of the old town and taste the typical products such as olives, dried fruit, nuts and sweets before dining in the most iconic restaurants of the city.
Experience an incredible adventure in the desert of Giblets riding a quad and enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Berber village. Admire the spectacular palm groves and have a taste of Moroccan tea prepared by locals.
For a day trip, I suggest you get to Essaouira, on the Moroccan coast. You'll find yourself in front of a pretty ochre-walled port, between the delightful Moulay El Hassan square and the fairy-tale streets of the old medina, the historic part of the city.
Land of eternal spring weather, spectacular beaches and unusual experiences, it is no wonder that the Canary Islands are a very popular destination even in the winter months.
Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are real paradises for surfers and water sport lovers and they're the ideal place also for those who love exciting adventures.
If you prefer quieter and more pristine beaches where you can relax in the sun, then you should not miss: Famara in Lanzarote, Corralejo beach in Fuerteventura and the tourist Playa del Inglés in Gran Canaria with its fantastic resorts.
If you want to get away from the busy world, head to Las Conchas on the tropical island of Graciosa.
Keep in mind that during the winter months the mythical Carnival of the Canaries takes place, an explosion of joy, music and colours, an event second only to the Carnival of Rio. In addition, if you love trekking, please note that these islands offer crazy natural excursions. An example? Walks through volcanic craters and camel safaris in Timanfaya National Park.
Unknown to most but considered among the best African destinations, especially in recent years: impossible to be unhappy in Mauritius, the island of the Indian Ocean with white beaches like talcum powder, amazing landscapes and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Port Louis is the capital and one of the first spots to be visited with its picturesque central market, Caudan's seafront with its shopping centre, botanical garden and historic buildings such as the Blue Penny Museum and the Natural History Museum.
About the sea: One of the best places for snorkeling is Blue Bay Beach, its reef is amazing! Another example is Ile aux Aigrettes, an islet off the south coast consisting of an old limestone coral reef covered with sand.
Another great experience not to be missed in Mauritius is the visit to the "Seven Coloured Earths" of Chamarel, a world tourist attraction where seven different coloured and nuanced lands merge, composing an incredible natural landscape.
A real earthly paradise, the African island of Zanzibar is also a destination rich in culture and we assure that your "warm holidays" here will not only consist of sea and sunbathing life.
The best beaches on the island are located on the east coast; let your feet sink into the soft white sands of Nungwi - a place renowned for its party clubs with the typical atmosphere of a "holiday in Zanzibar": the resorts of Kendwa (perfect if you want to laze around all day), Bwejuu and Paje, famous for its beautiful scuba diving and underwater activities.
In addition to the fabulous sea, there are also some incredible places you should absolutely visit on the archipelago.
Go to Stone Town, the Stone City, the heart and soul of the island, and plunge into the local culture with cups of coffee and visits to Moorish buildings. Take part in guided tours in the wild Jozani Park, taste local cuisine at the Forodhani Market and visit Prison Island with a boat trip: once a prison for slaves, it is now a nature reserve with ancient ruins and giant turtles.
From Cape Town's vibrant, spicy nightlife to the beautiful scenery of national parks, South Africa offers to travelers a memorable adventure and the best ingredients to escape the winter greyness.
When it comes to beach holidays, most tourists flock to the sunny shores of the Indian Ocean, but every corner of this colourful country should be discovered.
Enjoy the view on a road trip from Cape Town to Cape Point, take stunning photos from the Cape of Good Hope and then continue your adventure by taking a boat trip or visiting the penguin colony.
If you’re travelling with your partner, I recommend you to experience a romantic sunset cruise overlooking the picturesque Victoria & Alfred waterfront. If you're looking for an adrenaline and thrilling experience, there's nothing more adventurous than a tandem paragliding flight in Cape Town: the view from above over Lion's Head, Camp's Bay, Robben Island and Signal Hill is really fantastic!
Take part in a Safari, taste some excellent tea and relax on a deserted beach. That’s just a small part of what you can expect from an exotic holiday in Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean.
The most famous beach-town is Mirissa, in the south. Its resorts are very popular, its cafes eccentric and the nightlife really fascinating.
Mirissa beaches are the perfect place to admire beautiful sunsets and join adventurous activities such as kite-surfing, fishing and whale watching. The must-see spots? Polhena beach, Parrot Rock bridge, and Coconut Tree Hill, the scenic hill from which you can enjoy the view of Mirissa Bay.
One of the best winter experiences in Sri Lanka is the visit to Nuwara Eliya, the town known as "Little England", where you can watch the process of tea production in a farm. Take a trip to Columbus, the capital, and see elephants, macaques and sloths on a safari in Yala National Park.
Another great classic winter holiday to escape the cold winter is Thailand. Travellers usually choose Phuket - the most famous island in Thailand, known for its white sandy beaches and countless resorts and spas - the breathtaking Phi Phi Island - one of the most beautiful islands in the world according to many travellers - and Koh Tao.
Activities such as snorkeling and diving are a daily part of these islands. If you're looking for the perfect experience, book a scuba dive on Bamboo Island with its crystal clear waters and incredible marine life.
For a more fun adventure, take part in a guided tour through Phi Phi Island and take a stop at Monkey Beach, the home of hundreds of funny monkeys.
Something less popular among visitors? Here are a few examples: the fascinating island of Koh Lanta, blessed with fine powder sands, quiet sea and almost zero tourist chaos! Rent a scooter and explore its exotic and secret beaches with fishermen at work. As an alternative, Koh Phangan is famous in Thailand for "Full Moon Parties"; a bit touristy, but still quite and wild.
You can't stand the cold? Vietnam is a warm winter holiday destination. The southern coast is a paradise if you are looking for relax on the beach and sunbathing. At the same time, the weather in the central and northern part of the country is milder, perfect for naturalistic excursions and visits to interesting museums and attractions.
Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the huge underground tunnels around Saigon, sail along the MeKong and visit the small villages famous for their production of tropical fruit and coconuts.
Enjoy the view of Ho Chi Minh from the Saigon Skydeck, the top-floor rooftop terrace of the Bitexco Financial Tower, then order a refreshing cold beer and join the interactive Heineken World tour.
For a typical Vietnamese experience, take part in ecological tours departing from Hoi An. Plunge into the hustle and bustle of morning markets, cruise the banks of the Thu Bon River and learn about the secrets of spring rolls and papaya salad recipes joining a cooking class
The latest touristic trends: Egypt and Cape Verde
Maldives and Thailand have always been top destinations according to the vast majority of tourists, but also Egypt and the renowned beaches of Sharm el-Sheik, the most famous Red Sea location with its fabulous sea and its unique coral reef, are among the favourite choices.
Winter is the ideal season for a relaxing cruise on the Red Sea but also for snorkeling in crystal clear waters among breathtaking reefs and sea turtles, rare fishes and playful dolphins to admire in their natural habitat.
In addition, the mild temperature will also allow you to discover the history of Ancient Egypt and the legends related to the myths of the Pharaohs: join a guided tour between temples, huge stone giants and the Valley of the Kings.
And what about the latest trends? The archipelago of Cape Verde is becoming one of the "top" winter tourist destinations. The tropical climate, the winds beloved by surfers, the volcanic islands and the delicious cuisine make Cape Verde an ideal destination for a winter Christmas holiday.
If you're looking for other alternative destinations for a warm winter holiday, then take a look at these ideas for an unconventional New Year's experience.