What makes for a great winter travel destination? Is it a sunny beach that provides an escape from the cold weather in parts of North America? Is it a dash of bright culture that stands in stark contrast to short, grey days back home? Is it leisure during the busiest time of year, or some outdoor adventure that offers exciting relief from long work weeks? How about all of these elements and more?
What makes a great travel destination for winter depends on what you want out of a vacation. Luckily, there are plenty of great places to explore in the winter, which cater to a variety of interests. The following destinations are our top destinations for winter 2023. They offer beach escapes, warm weather, cultural encounters, and even the odd snow adventure. With such a wide variety of travel experiences on offer, you’ll find something that suits your own travel needs.
What are the top 10 destinations for winter 2023?
When it’s winter back home, it’s summer in Australia, where the great outdoors beckon you to explore the Outback, surf off the Gold Coast, or enjoy city life in Sydney or Melbourne. Snorkel and cruise the Great Barrier Reef, gaze upon the changing colours of Uluru, or hike through the remote wilderness of Tasmania. Australia is bursting with travel opportunities in North America’s winter.
Like Australia, New Zealand enjoys summer when North America is going through winter. It has a temperate climate, a great cafe culture, and some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. It also has wonderful wine regions and some great adventure opportunities, from ziplining to bungee jumping. Spend your winter outdoors in New Zealand. Gaze upon geysers and bubbling mud pools outside Rotorua, hike the coastline to Cathedral Cove in The Coromandel, and cruise along Milford Sound.
The Cook Islands
This island chain west of Tahiti and south of Hawaii is an ideal place to escape for several weeks or even months over the winter. It’s a casual, laid back nation with friendly people, comfortable accommodations, and a gorgeous natural environment. Connect with Hawaiian Airlines through Honolulu and enjoy leisure in resorts that are easily accessible from the airport and blend into the natural environment.
The Islands of Tahiti
The Islands of Tahiti offer the ultimate luxury escape in the South Pacific. Relax in an overwater bungalow on the romantic island of Bora Bora and enjoy unfettered access to the turquoise ocean waters. There are several islands to choose from and gorgeous accommodations throughout the islands, so whether you’re heading on honeymoon or simply want to cross the South Pacific off your bucket list, you’ll find an island for you.
Costa Rica offers adventure, animal encounters, and leisure time just a relatively short flight south from Canada and the United States. Spot exotic birds such as scarlet macaws and toucans in the lush jungles, lounge on the sandy beaches of the Pacific or Caribbean, and get an adrenaline rush with ziplines, hanging bridges, and parasailing. Costa Rica is sunny, warm, and endlessly exciting.
It’s hard to beat the combination of Thailand’s nature and culture on a trip in the winter. In the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, you can feast on some of the world’s greatest dishes, including pad thai, khao soi, and more varieties of coconut curries than you could dream of. In the north, you can explore hillside jungles and meet rehabilitating wild elephants. In the south, you can lounge on sandy beaches and enjoy wellness programs in luxury resorts.
If you’re looking for a pampering winter escape, jet to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and relax in your own private island resort. Stay in an overwater bungalow, suntan on pristine white sand beaches, and enjoy pampering services with minimal other travellers crowding the beaches or booking up the excursion activities. In the Maldives, you feel like royalty.
Winter is the best time of year to visit Dubai, when the weather is more temperate and you can spend long days shopping and exploring the desert. Dubai is a shoppers dream, with some of the largest malls in the world, as well as traditional souks peddling everything from spices to jewelry to perfumes. It’s also home to some of the world’s most impressive urban landmarks, including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Pair it with the Maldives for the ultimate desert and island combination.
Egypt is another destination that is best in the winter, when the heat is manageable and it’s much more comfortable to spend long days exploring the pyramids of Giza or going on excursions to temples and tombs on a Nile River cruise from Luxor to Aswan. Egypt also has arguably the best beach resort area in the Middle East at Sharm El Sheikh, where you can relax on the beach and go snorkelling through coral gardens in the Red Sea.
Unlike all the other destinations on this list, Iceland is a true winter destination, with lots of snow, cold weather, and short days with minimal sunlight. But winter in Iceland is a beautiful experience. The Northern Lights dance across the sky. Migrating whales pass through the waters off of Husavik and Akureyri. And you can enjoy the haunting beauty of the landscape of glaciers, waterfalls, and black-sand beaches frozen in winter glory.
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