Winter is here, don’t fight it – escape it! And if you’re feeling the chill, then why not get away to warmer climates where sunny days are guaranteed. These top ten wintersun holiday destinations have all have been chosen as they’re hot and happening right now.
Dubai in the UAE offers the perfect winter sun getaway; the destination boasts of the perfect combination of glamour and romance. During your stay in Dubai, you would not be short of activities such as exploring the various souks which would definitely suit your tastes especially if you’re a shopaholic. Here, you can sample some of the accessories or items that symbolize the Arabic culture. Browse the Gold Souk which has 22ct quality pieces and the heady Spice Souk. Spend some of your money on the attractive blankets and Persian rugs which also make exquisite souvenirs. Dubai is just a 5 hour flight from Europe and with winter temperatures ranging from 20C to 25C, this is great destination for sunbathing on the Jumeirah beach, enjoying fine dining and partying in the independent city-state that consistently dominates the various tallest and largest lists. And did you know that Dubai has the largest immigrant population on earth, making it a truly diverse hangout. For more ideas on what do in Dubai, read our post on Top 5 Things to do in Dubai.
Mexico has all the right ingredients for an enthralling winter sun vacation; expansive coastlines with watersports and water based activities, delicious local food and of course Mexico is bursting with history and heritage within the art, archaeology, pyramids and museums. By day you can warm your skin on one of the many serene beaches such as Tulum, Cancun, Mazatlan and El Castillo. Throw in a bit of cultural sightseeing to the Mayan ruins, which, just like the Egyptian pyramids, are an integral part of world history. Before you head home, you must undertake a boat cruise in Puerto Vallarta where you can sample the marine wildlife in this area. You can also try surfing, sea kayaking, whale watching and scuba diving in Baja California, explore the Toluca volcano and take a ride on the traditional Copper Canyon Railway.
Saint Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean
St. Kitts is a perfect Caribbean getaway to escape the chilly weather. Situated in the West Indies, St Kitts has been ruled alternately by both the French and English, with the English finally retaining control in 1783. The result is a curious fusion of architecture and heritage. Explore Brimstone Hill Fortress, an important part of St. Kitts’ history and a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site. Nicknamed the Gibraltar of the West Indies, this fortress provides a vantage view of the other islands surrounding St. Kitts. The capital Basseterre is easily accessible and notable sights include St. George’s Anglican Church, the Old Treasury building constructed in 1894 and the Independence Square. Whilst in St Kitts you can also relax at one of the many beaches such as Frigate Bay beach and Conaree Bay beach.
Perth is a huge city and the capital of Western Australia. Although fairly isolated there is plenty to see and do here both in the metropolitan area and suburbs such as Fremantle, The Hills and Northbridge. If you are adept at snorkelling, then the Shoalwater Marine Park is a must-visit with seagrass meadows, ancient shipwrecks and cavernous reefs to explore. You can become at one with nature by taking a walk through the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. If you are up for an adventure, then you can hire a 4WD to get to know the Lancelin landscapes with characteristic sand dunes. Perth is incredibly chilled out and the beaches remain largely deserted, although bear in mind that there is only one beach in Perth that allows nude swimming, which is at Swanbourne.
Winter understandably makes you wish you were lying in a beach in front of sky blue waters. Well, you can realize this desire by making a trip to Cape Verde. Situated off the West African coast, this archipelago boasts numerous attractions as well as year-round sunny weather guaranteed. Explore the historic town center of Ribeira Grande which was renamed Cidade Velha and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cidade Velha was the very first European colonial outposts to be situated in the tropics and today visitors can wanders the remains of Pillory Square, two churches and a royal fortress. The beaches are home to various activities like surfing, jet skiing, waterskiing and scuba diving. You can also ride in a submarine and see first-hand the eye-catching oceanic creatures and vegetation. Visiting Cape Verde is also a perfect chance for you to learn about a new culture. Try the local cuisine such as canja, a delicious chicken soup.
Glamorous nightlife, natural wonders, sandy beaches, warm weather and relaxing spas are some of the things that characterize Hong Kong. Throw in fabulous shopping, world class international cuisine and something different to do every day of the year, and you’ve got the perfect wintersun destination on your hands! There are many spas that offer various kinds of body treatments to relax the mind and body. Take a ferry cruise to any of Hong Kong’s 260 islands such as Lamma Island, Lantau Island or head further afield to Macau which is only an hour away. Hidden beneath the towering skyscrapers and obvious tourist attractions such as Victoria Peak are cultural gems such as the site of the Kowloon Walled City which was in effect an overcrowded slum area of the New Territories where crime ruled and today is the carefully manicured Kowloon Walled City Park. Also include a trip to one of the many Buddhist temples such as Che Kung Temple, Man Mo Temple and the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas (which was deserted when I visited) in the New Territories and the Lo Pan Temple, Man Mo Temple and Shing Wong Temple on Hong Kong Island itself. Take a look at our Hong Kong video for inspiration.
The African state of Gambia is one of the smallest countries but inside this tiny nation lies an array of tourist attractions that warrant an escape from the winter cold. One of these attractions is the Sanyang Beach where you can relax under the sun. You can also view the wildlife at the Abuko Nature reserve, which include lions, hyenas, giraffes and leopards among others. There are also two intriguing UNESCO sites in Gambia with 1,000 stone monuments at the Stone Circles of Senegambia which is compared to Stonehenge and visit the ruins on Kunta Kinteh Island. While in Gambia, you must visit the Juffureh Village and see the slavery museum. From here, you can partake in a boat trip to James Island.
Hawaii is surely the epitomy of a perfect winter sun travel destination. Beaches are plentiful; try Waikiki Beach, Kaanapali Beach and Ala Moana Beach Park among others. In Hawaii, you can also sample the local culture by undertaking a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Centre. Other must-visit places include Pacific State Aviation Museum, Diamond Head State Monument and the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a World Heritage status and is also worth a visit, being the home of the two most active volcanoes on earth; Mauna Loa at 4,170m and Kilauea at 1,250m, whose constant eruptions have constantly shaped the landscape.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam has just been declared the second cheapest long-haul destination in the world! And if you haven’t been to lively buzzing Ho Chi Minh City yet, then you need to get there fast! There is so much to see and do in Saigon, thanks to a rich heritage and culture. Visit the War Remnants Museum which details the troublesome times that Vietnam has undergone in the past. The Ben Thanh market is another tourist destination in HCMC where you shop to your heart’s content at bargain prices – haggling is an absolute must! You can also enjoy the local cuisine which is delicious, plentiful and cheap.
You may know of Egypt as the land of the pyramids and the pharaohs and a trip to this North African country offers you an ample chance to see these pyramids up close and in person. It is labelled as the ancient world’s treasure house, thanks to 7,000 years of history – your stay in Egypt will prove that this tag is warranted. Here, you will come face to face with the various structures that hold a permanent place in world history. Visiting the tombs of the pharaoh and seeing the pyramids of Giza will undoubtedly make for a memorable trip. Of course, you are guaranteed to enjoy the warm climate, which climaxes at mid-20o C. One noteworthy activity is to take a trip on one of the Nile’s cruise ships. One note of caution though is to check the most up to date travel advice prior to travel as sadly Egypt has experienced recent unrest.
By Julie Bowman