7 Incredible Places to Travel in the Winter
Move over Iceland; Reykjavik is so summer 2017.
When it comes to hiding out from the winter, the hottest travel destinations span the globe, from the North America and Europe to Asia and Africa. Whether you are looking for a spectacular ocean vista, or an urban metropolis, there’s an exciting winter retreat for every traveler.
1. Santa Barbara, California
An hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera. Its burgeoning wine industry is giving Napa Valley a run for its money. Take a wine tasting tour through the Santa Ynez Valley, which boasts over 220 wineries. Best of all, the climate is fairly consistent regardless of the time of year, with winter temperatures in the mid-60’s and a steady mix of clouds and sun.
Red tile roofing and the sparkling sapphire bay make Santa Barbara a picturesque destination, and the sunny Southern California weather certainly doesn’t hurt. Sign up for a bike tour or rent bicycles and explore town on your own. Be sure to check out the Funk Zone, the coolest new neighborhood in Santa Barbara, chock full of wine tasting rooms, hip restaurants, art galleries, and cool boutiques.
2. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Long underrated, Belfast is a small, walkable city with a fascinating history and a ton of local charm. Take a ninety minute black taxi tour to learn about The Troubles, the ethno-nationalistic uprisings that defined Belfast during the latter part of the 20th century. And before you dismiss Ireland as a winter destination, know that average temperatures in its coldest month, January, hover around 40° — which is just cold enough to feel the crisp chill of the season without the need to cower indoors.
If art and culture is your thing, you won’t want to miss the Metropolitan Art Center. The ever-rotating exhibits and experimental theater, dance and music performances are always worthwhile, and the building itself is an award winning architectural marvel. You also can’t go to Belfast without hitting the pub! Cozy up with a pint of Guinness at local watering hole for the true Northern Ireland experience.
3. Suzhou, China
Old meets new in Suzhou, China. Only an hour and a half from Shanghai by bullet train, the 2,500 year old city has a rich cultural heritage. In the historic Old Town area, traditional white washed buildings and a web of canals are a sight to behold.
Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens and it’s vibrant history of Chinese Art and poetry. Across town, the bustling Suzhou Industrial Park is dazzling in a totally different way. This modern urban metropolis boasts an array of delicious new restaurants, entertainment centers, shopping plazas, and even a giant Ferris wheel!
4. Cape Town, South Africa
With incredible beaches and stunning mountain views, Cape Town, South Africa is sight to behold. Take a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain for amazing views of the City Bowl. More ambitious travelers can trek to the summit on foot, and explore the numerous hiking trails nearby.
All you need is a swimsuit and sunscreen to be packed perfectly for a vacation to Cape Town. Hit the beach for a day of sunbathing and swimming. Try Beta Beach for a scenic rocky shoreline, or drive up to Tietiesbaai for a more remote locale. South Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s shark species, and true adrenaline junkie can swim among them with a protected cage dive.
5. Cambodian Coast
Cambodia is the best place to visit if you’re looking to explore some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning islands. Getting to them has always been a bit difficult due to indirect flights, long drives, and arduous ferry rides, but now, there are some direct flights to popular coastal cities through Sihanoukville airports for an easier ride to Koh Russey, Krabey Island, and Kampong Som.
Visit resorts that focus on local cuisine, body and mind wellness, or community service, or explore the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap after your islands escapade.
6. Hampi, India
As a country that’s host to some of the most ancient religions and cultures in the world, India has always had a plethora of ruins, temples, and other monuments to visit and marvel at. This year, a new monument becomes accessible to the general public through a high end resort in Hampi. Visit the 14th century capital constructed by the Vijayanagara Empire in the southwestern state of Karnataka for dazzling temples and public buildings interspersed across a landscape that includes giant boulders, rice paddies, and banana groves.
While a lack of accommodations and infrastructure has made Hampi difficult to visit in the past, a recent influx of development have added a palatial, Vijayanagara inspired estate very close to some of the most exciting local sites.
7. Guayaquil, Ecuador
Often used as a gateway to get to the Galápagos, Guayaquil has seen a number of overnight visitors on their way to the infamous islands. The tropical port city is now trying to get tourists to stay longer by expanding hotels and restaurants, as well as revitalizing riverfront promenades with a variety of museums, monuments, galleries, and gardens. You can even see Ecuador’s newest addition, the Ferris wheel, twinkling among the lights of Las Penas. The wildlife sanctuaries, historic structures, and former cacao plantation are also a draw for those wishing to explore the region.
Take a World Tour During the Winter
If you’re looking for someplace to travel during the chilly months, try any of these amazing destinations for an exciting adventure and a winter reprieve. Book your trip today!
Joanie Marks is a Southern California-based blogger who has been writing about travel for nearly 10 years. When she’s not planning her next exotic excursion, she enjoys spending hours in one of Southern California’s many local museums.