Where to go in
January

We’ve searched far and wide for the best places to go on holiday in January so you don’t have to! For sun seekers Cape Verde is a great choice along with the Canary Islands. The more adventurous should head to Iceland for the Northern Lights or try Gambia for an amazing wildlife experience. Then there’s South Africa…

Highlights

Where’s hot

Good weather is likely to be high on the agenda for a January holiday, so if you’re chasing the sun then check out the places below, there are lots of options to get some warm weather…

TOWN, Country Temperatures Min° Max° Wet Days
Myanmar (Burma) 19 23 0
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 22 33 2
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania 26 32 8
Phuket, Thailand 25 32 6
Colombo, Sri Lanka 23 31 7
Recife, Brazil 26 31 10
Santiago, Chile 13 30 0
Buenos Aires, Argentina 18 30 7
Madras. India 20 29 2
Vientiane, Laos 15 29 1

Where to go

If you’re looking for the perfect place to go in January then try the destinations below. Whether it’s fantastic festivals, beautiful weather or unmissable events these would all make for a dream break.

  • South Africa
  • Cape Verde
  • The Gambia
  • Oman
  • Rajasthan
  • Australia
  • Bruges
  • Iceland
  • Canaries
  • Nicaragua
  • Mexico
  • Brazil

Africa

South Africa

While South Africa can be considered a year-round destination, January is one of the better times to visit the Rainbow Nation. Around the Cape it’s wonderfully hot and dry, the perfect conditions for touring the legendary Garden Route, or exploring the lively capital. Further north, you can expect the odd tropical rainstorm, but the lush scenery in Kruger National Park more than makes up for it whether you’re birding or in search of big game. January is the start of the shark-diving season of Kwazulu-Natal, and also the anniversary of the legendary Battle of Rorke’s Drift.

Further Reading – South Africa in January

Cape Verde

January is the coolest month of the year in Cape Verde, but you shouldn’t let that put you off, because the daytime averages of 24°C are very soothing, and rainfall is low too.This volcanic archipelago off Senegal is still relatively undiscovered, but don’t expect Cape Verde’s silvery beaches and fascinating cultural scene to remain a secret for much longer. Highlights of any trip to Cape Verde include the lunar-like Sal, with its quaint beachfront towns offering typical Creole hospitality, the party isle of Mindelo, and the more remote but breathtakingly beautiful Brava and Fogo to the southwest.

Further Reading – Cape Verde in January

The Gambia

It may be the smallest country on the continent, but what the Gambia lacks in size, it makes up for in character. Sun worshippers can enjoy one of West Africa’s most beautiful stretches of coastline, and around nine hours of sunshine every day. The eponymous river that runs through the country is teeming with wildlife during January, including hippo, crocodile and over 600 species of bird! With its welcoming people, the historic seaport capital Banjul waiting to be explored, and a cultural scene that is somehow both vibrant and laidback, the Gambia makes for the perfect winter getaway.

Further Reading – The Gambia in January

Asia

Oman

Like stepping into a scene from Arabian Nights, Oman is a treasure trove of authentic culture, unassuming beauty and natural splendour. January is the best time of year to visit, when the parched desert climate is at its most refreshing, and you can comfortably roam the dunes by 4×4, stargaze overnight in Bedouin camps, or snorkel through pristine turquoise waters chased by pods of wild dolphins. Muscat is about as elegant and tranquil a capital as you’re ever likely to find, while Sur, with its ancient forts, turtle reserve and traditional dhows floating off sunkissed beaches, is a must-visit.

Further Reading – Oman in January

Rajasthan

Winter in Rajasthan sees the scenery at its most verdant, especially around the bewitching Aravallis mountains and the Keoladeo National Park, with their abundant walking trails. Bearing the traces of ancient kingdoms through its beautifully preserved forts and palaces, this northern Indian state is known as the Royal Abode, and nowhere is quite so majestic as Jaipur, ‘the Pink City’, which hosts the spectacular International Kite Festival and many other prestigious events in mid-January. The cool weather is also ideal for exploring Rajasthan’s scenic wildlife sanctuaries, or wandering the iconic blue-painted houses of Jodphur’s Old Town.

Further Reading – Rajasthan in Janaury

Australia

Whether you’re road-tripping through the red-rock Outback, island-hopping on your way out to the technicolour Great Barrier Reef, or simply basing yourself in one of the hip coastal cities such as Melbourne or Sydney to explore its modern cuisine, trendy nightlife and sultry beaches, Australia is a far-flung but enticing destination for January. With its soul-stirring scenery basking in balmy weather, this is a peak season Down Under, but the country is so vast that you can always find an isolated spot. Whatever your passion – be it encounters with exotic wildlife, trekking through ancient rainforest or discovering mystic Aboriginal culture and traditions, Australia is truly a land of plenty.

Further Reading – Australia in January

Europe

Bruges, Belgium

Beat the crowds by visiting Bruges during January. You’ll need to wrap up warm, as it can be a little damp and chilly, but the melancholic weather only adds to the ambience in one of Europe’s most photogenic cities. The historic centre is dreamy, with its cobbled streets, chocolate shops, medieval architecture and of course the canals, but in January it’s almost deserted, so you’ll have plenty of space and time to soak up the atmosphere. If you’re planning an attempt on the Belfry (366 steps to the summit), then boost your energy beforehand with a decadent chocolate waffle, and reward yourself afterwards with a classic Belgian beer.

Further Reading – Belgium in January

Iceland

Tick the stunning Northern Lights off your bucket list with a trip to Iceland in January. While sightings can never be guaranteed, this is one of the best times of year to experience the Aurora Borealis, a dancing, dazzling light show in the sky, especially if you’re based outside the city. The natural phenomenon is caused by particles from the sun entering the Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s best observed on a clear, dark night. Winter in Iceland can be incredibly cold, so bring thermal clothing along, and if you can find an accommodation with its own sauna (there are plenty!), make good use of it.

Further Reading – Iceland in January

Canaries

Just off the coast of northwest Africa, this Spanish archipelago is the quintessential winter escape for sunseekers. You can spread out your towel on gorgeous beaches, including several covered with volcanic black sand, such as the famous Los Gigantes on Tenerife, or explore the rugged, lunar-like interior of Lanzarote by 4×4. You might make the most of Gran Canaria’s myriad visitor attractions, then dine on fresh seafood straight off the boat at seafront restaurants in charming villages, where life slows almost to a standstill. For couples in search of romance, families hoping to create treasured memories, and thrill-seekers looking for adventure, the Canaries have it all.

Further Reading – The Canary Islands in January

Americas

Nicaragua

It’s easy to see why some people get a little obsessed with Nicaragua. A complex but fascinating history; outrageously beautiful natural scenery; beaches that are just made for surfing or sunbathing; mouthwatering streetfood, and local people that welcome travellers with open arms. What’s not to love? By January, Nicaragua’s dry season is in full-swing, making it the ideal time to wander through colonial cities such as Leon and Granada, hike up the Cerro Negro volcano, or take a boat trip out to discover the picturesque Isla de Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua. As Caribbean paradises go, this one is hard to beat.

Further Reading – Nicaragua in January

Mexico

Things are going loco down in Acapulco during January. This is the coolest part of tropical Mexico’s dry season, and it also falls just outside hurricane season, so wherever you’re staying you can expect gorgeous weather and plenty of sunshine. Most people head south to the Yucatán Peninsula, and the Riviera Maya bookended by the popular resorts of Cancun and Tulum. The region’s colonial cities, ancient Mayan ruins and entrancing beaches offer enough to fill any holiday, but there’s also exceptional scuba diving to be had on Cozumel. Meanwhile the history of tequila and mariachi, two of Mexico’s greatest exports, can be discovered in Guadalajara.

Further Reading – Mexico in January

Brazil

Many travelers, and plenty of locals too, will be heading to the lively beach resorts on Brazil’s Atlantic coast during January to escape the summer heat, but the cities are still thronged with crowds in the build-up to festival season. Rio de Janeiro, with the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city and famous beaches including Ipanema and Copacabana, is a must-see. January is also a great time to catch the mighty Iguazu Falls in peak flow, or wildlife-spotting in the Pantanal Wetlands and the Amazon Rainforest. This is the start of the rainy season though, so some trails may be closed off.

Further Reading – Brazil in January

Holiday types

Where you choose to visit in January will depend on who you are and what you want to do. Families might be looking for a relaxing beach break, couples could be looking for an adventurous honeymoon or you might be a large group on the lookout for a city break. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

Family Holidays

Dubai offers a superb range of fun family activities, from 4×4 desert safaris to coastal water parks. January is the coolest month of the year, with temperatures far more manageable than the baking-hot summer.
Skiing in Verbier is a stylish way to start the new year. The prestigious Swiss Alpine resort has miles of piste for every ability, a fantastic snow record and no end of thrilling apres-ski experiences to enjoy.
Family beach holidays in the Canary Islands are sure to provide some magical moments. The Spanish archipelago promises idyllic beaches, delicious seafood and most important of all – sun, sun, sun.

Activity

Skiing in Bulgaria is a fantastic way to enjoy a winter activity holiday without breaking the bank. Prices at well-known resorts including Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo are often much lower than many other European ski destinations, but the snow is just as good.
January is the start of peak season for adventurous hikers wanting to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Africa’s tallest mountain, a dormant volcano, will still be dusted with snow at its highest elevations.
Discover the land of the pharaohs with a Nile cruise. You can explore Egypt’s myriad ancient temples and tombs, stunning coral reefs, lively bazaars, or simply soak up the views with a cocktail on deck.

City Breaks

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track honeymoon destination, Zanzibar could be just the place. Lush greenery makes for an outstanding backdrop to game-viewing, which can easily be combined with a luxurious beach break.
The classic Kenya safari is at its finest in January, when there are many newborn animals around, and the big predators are on the prowl, leading to some
Find a little piece of paradise with a Caribbean honeymoon. What could be more romantic than sunset on a pure white beach, fringed with palm trees, before a candlelit meal beneath the stars?

Nature Breaks

History, cuisine, wine-tasting and sublime scenery, especially from Table Mountain cable car. For a city break packed with fun, Cape Town has it all.
Or, a little closer to home, you can trace Amsterdam’s 17th century Golden Age with a scenic cruise along the canals, before admiring priceless works of art in the city’s renowned Van Gogh Museum, and discovering the tragic yet inspiring story of Anne Frank.
A city break in Havana is like stepping back in time. Well-preserved colonial architecture, enthralling museums tracing the history of the revolution, and of course the ubiquitous classic American cars on the streets.

Honeymoon

From the orchids and birdlife of Monteverde Cloud Forest, to the turtles and monkeys of Tortuguero National Park, and the big cats of Corcovado National Park, the biodiversity of Costa Rica is unrivalled. No wonder this is the world’s top ecotourism destination.
January safaris in Tanzania can take you to the incredible Ngorongoro Crater, teeming with wildlife, or onto the Serengeti plains, where Masai tribesmen guide you through the bush in search of the Big Five.
Known as ‘Serendipity’ to Arab traders centuries ago, the tropical island of Sri Lanka is home to over 80 mammal species across its 21 national parks, including elephant and leopard. And in the Indian Ocean offshore, the Blue Whale!

Events and festivals

January is packed with one-of-a-kind events and festivals that will blow your mind. With everything from ice festivals to warding off evil spirits, you can guarantee there is a new experience to be had somewhere for you…

Kaapse Klopse

South Africa

2 January

The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is a historic rite of renewal, a colourful jamboree full of parades and music, on a par with the Rio Carnival. In the 19th century, the second of January was a day off for Cape Town’s slaves, and the carnival celebrates the perseverance and hard-earned survival of that community.

Harbin Ice Festival

China

5 January

Throughout January, Harbin is transformed into a living work of art. Explore some of the world’s biggest snow and ice sculptures, including amazing 3D buildings, across three dreamlike theme parks. The stunning Ice Lanterns are a highlight, and there is a full calendar of wintery cultural events to enjoy.

World Buskers Festival

New Zealand

14 January

Featuring hundreds of gigs over 11 days, including 250 free street shows, and talented performers from across the globe, the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch is a New Zealand legend. Sadly, it looks as though the 2018 event could be the last, so if you’ve ever wanted to go, now is the time.

Thai Pongal

Thailand

14 January

A four-day harvest festival in thanks to the Sun God, Thai Pongal is among the most significant events in the Tamil calendar. Celebrations include painting the horns of cattle in bright colours, discarding old possessions on bonfires, and cooking pongal, a traditional sweet dish, with the first rice of the season.

Tet Festival

Vietnam

18 January

During the historic Tet Festival, Vietnamese families come together to celebrate the new year and remember their ancestors. Firecrackers are thrown to ward off evil spirits, while locals head to the temple to have their fortune read. Remember that during the first three days of the festival many attractions, shops and restaurants are closed.

Thaipusum Festival

Malaysia

21 January

The spectacular rituals of Penang’s Thaipusam Festival are not for the faint-hearted. Hindu devotees walk barefoot for miles over the scorching hot streets to reach the temple, after several days of fasting. As if that weren’t enough, many of them carry heavy weights attached to their bare skin by sharp spears and hooks – yikes!

Places to avoid

You’ve seen the ideal suggestions for a holiday in January, but where should you avoid? You don’t want to visit your dream destination and find out on arrival that it’s monsoon season!

Here are the places to avoid in January…

  • Indonesia – it’s rainy season so you could go hoping for backpacker paradise and end up sitting inside watching Netflix.
  • Mauritius – it’s cyclone season in the area so probably best not to risk splashing out on your dream beach holiday and ending up at high risk!

Here’s what we would do

South Africa

For us, South Africa is the standout choice for a January escape, with great weather and a huge amount of variety to choose from. You can enjoy a city break in Cape Town which combines cosmopolitan bars and restaurants with breathtaking location and icons like Table Mountain. Then you can head into wine country and explore the Garden Route, or go on safari to track down the Big Five. For pur thrill seeking you can even come face to face with a shark. So many options, so little time – you’ll have to come back again…

IMAGE CREDITS

Kaapse KlopseOlga Ernst – cropped

ThaipusamWilliam Cho – cropped

Thai PongalUser:Raji.srinivas – cropped