The Best Winter Holiday Destinations
Whether you are craving enchanting, wintry landscapes to get you in the festive mood on the run up to Christmas or in contrast, desperate for some Vitamin-D as we move into the colder, darker months, there are some holiday destinations that are simply better in the winter. We have rounded up our suggestions for places to visit that cater for all holiday appetites during the off-peak season.
#1- Berlin, Germany
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 2 HOURS
Just a short flight from most major UK airports, Berlin is an ideal destination for the winter-time. A city best known for its culture, history and festivity, Berlin is home to traditional German Christmas markets that are guaranteed to fill you with Christmas spirit and provide plenty of opportunity to buy some unique gifts for friends and family. Berlin has had a tumultuous history and it shows, so an absolute must when visiting is to explore the historical landmarks dotted across the city. You should see the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park, the remains of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery, the harrowing Holocaust memorial, the Stasi museum, and the Book Burning Square. Berlin is also famed for its beer culture, as drinking is legal on the street, and its outrageous nightlife.
#2- The Canary Islands
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 4.5 HOURS
The Canary Islands are you best bet for guaranteed Vitamin-D without having to fly to the other end of the earth, as the average temperature is 22C. There are 300 days of sunshine per year, due to the proximity of the islands to the African coast. Off-peak visitors to the Canary Islands will find empty and quiet beaches, free to take their pick from beautiful golden coastline or eery volcanic black sand. Tenerife is the biggest island in the Canaries, and is home to Mount Teide which is Spain’s tallest dormant volcano. Take the cable car up to the peak and visit the surrounding National Park which is home to stunning scenery. For an enjoyable family day out, head to Siam Park in Tenerife which has been voted the best waterpark in the world on TripAdvisor.
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 3 HOURS
Iceland is a Nordic paradise with vast volcanic terrain, hot springs, clear waters and majestic mountainscapes which makes it a spectacular winter destination. Towards the end of winter, around February and March, visitors stand a chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights- nature’s own theatrical display. Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland, where you can stay in the Ice Hotel or a snug ice igloo beneath the stars. For more active adventures, you can try glacier hiking in Solheimajokull which is just a few hours drive from the capital. Needless to say, you should prepare for the cold when visiting Iceland. Snow boots and a good quality weatherproof jacket are a must as temperatures tend to hover at around 0 to -5C in the winter months.
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 12 HOURS
Barbados is home to gorgeous beaches and tranquil botanical gardens, and is the perfect destination for those really trying to beat the winter blues. Hurricane season ends in November, after which the island is showered with sunshine for 10 hours a day. The flight to Barbados is a comparatively long one, but is completely worth it for the dry and sunny weather from December through to April, making it one of the best winter holiday destinations for sun-seekers. Bridgetown, the island’s capital, is known for its lively nightlife. Barbados waters are crystal clear and numerous snorkelling spots dot the pristine beaches. You can swim with giant sea turtles and tropical fish of all sizes and colours, either straight from the beach or on a special snorkelling sail you book yourself.
#5- Prague, Czech Republic
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 2.5 HOURS
If you’re looking to book a long weekend trip, Prague is only a short flight away and therefore great if you are limited on time. The city’s gothic architecture looks particularly enchanting in the winter time, when it is enveloped by a gentle blanket of fog. The traditional Christmas markets in the square of the Old Town are known as some of the best in Europe, where visitors can find wooden toys, arts and crafts, handmade soaps and all kinds of Christmas gifts for loved ones back home. Walking tours allow you to explore every inch of the city on foot, taking you to both the New and the Old Town, and visiting significant landmarks such as Prague Castle and the astronomical clock. Prepare for it to be chilly, but Prague’s cafe culture will provide plenty of opportunities for you to warm up over a hot beverage (or beer).
#6- Sydney, Australia
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 23 HOURS
Go down under to a place where our winter is their summer, and therefore the perfect place to soak up some winter sun! As one of Australia’s largest cities, there is so much to do and see in Sydney. If you’re the sporty type, head to Bondi Beach to catch some waves, or adrenaline junkies should hike up the Sydney Harbour Bridge to watch the sunset over the harbour. Sydney is the perfect place to get into the spirit of Christmas or to celebrate New Year’s Eve with beautiful illuminations around the city and awe-inspiring fireworks. You can guarantee scorching weather which makes Sydney one of the most popular winter holiday destinations for Brits despite the lengthy travel time.
#7- Bruges, Belgium
AVERAGE TRAVEL TIME – 1.5 HOURS
Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges is the ideal romantic destination for getting into the festive spirit. You can wander around enchanting Christmas markets on the cobblestone Market Square and warm up by skating on the ice rink. Until the middle of January, there is the annual Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival that takes place at the railway station. Belgium is renowned for its chocolate and beer, with a multitude of shops, bars and breweries in which you can taste the very finest. The best way to soak up the city’s scenery is by boat, sit back and relax while cruising down the Dijver Canal. Stroll around the Bruges Lake of Love in Minnewater Park and admire the thousand swans that occupy it for a truly romantic activity.