Warmest Places in the World to Escape to When it's Like Minus Zero in the US
Warmest Places in the World to Escape to When it's Like Minus Zero in the US
Winter is already threatening to rear its ugly head in the United States, with record early snow falling across the Rockies and Plains states. As you begin to bundle up and prepare for the dark, cold days ahead, it might be time to consider planning a warm-weather getaway.
While it might be tempting to book it south of the equator, some destinations can be unpleasantly hot this time of year. Instead, warm-weather locations that are more conducive to being and staying outside might be your best bet for beating the winter blues. Warm, sunny weather improves mood, memory and broadens cognitive style, meaning it expands your creativity. Being outside allows you to stretch your legs and exercise as well as be out in nature, both proven ways to improve health and mental performance.
So if you're looking for a warm wintertime vacation destination, consider these 20 tempting options. Whether you want to lie on the beach, salsa dance all night, learn to surf or experience a unique culture, these places in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America could be a perfect fit for you to relax and recharge.
When the cold has killed everything around you, escape to the lush landscape of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, nicknamed the Garden Island and one of the most romantic vacation spots in America. Home to vibrant rainforests and secluded beaches, Kauai is famous for the Na Pali Coast, a 16-mile state park that is one of the most gorgeous hikes in the world. Other activities include snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and surfing.
Out in the Atlantic lies the Portuguese island of Madeira, a great winter destination you may not have considered at all. Enjoy local seafood, exotic fruits, and the island's famous namesake fortified wine, as well as its year-round gorgeous spring-like weather. The landscape varies from lush and green to black volcanic rock, and tourists can take in the contract by canyoning or paragliding as well as from cable cars. You can also look down almost 2,000-foot cliffs at the glass-floored platform at Cabo Girao.
Nicknamed the African Caribbean, Cape Verde is an Atlantic island nation comprised of a string of volcanic islands 350 miles off the coast of Senegal. Enjoy average maximum winter temperatures of about 80 degrees, even in January, with five to nine hours of sunshine a day. The pleasant weather makes it easy to explore the country's Creole Portuguese-African culture, stroll on white-sand or black-sand beaches, hike through lush valleys of sugar cane, discover its unique musical genres including morna, and experience locals' morabeza, which means "hospitality." The Sao Vicente Carnival also takes place in February.
One of the safest cities in the world, Singapore is located just north of the equator, meaning it enjoys warm weather year-round. Since its average winter temperatures are in the 80s, it makes for a perfect time to take in the small island country's markets and street food vendors or celebrate Chinese New Year there. Enjoy world-class shopping and dining, ride the Singapore Flyer or enjoy the urban oasis Gardens by the Bay.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali is a great spot for solo travelers, and the town of Ubud, in particular, draws visitors from around the world with its burgeoning dining and arts and crafts scene, iconic rice paddies and dazzlingly green jungle surroundings. Recharge at local spas and yoga and meditation centers, shop at bustling street markets, enjoy local dance performances, and explore local shrines. Can't-miss sights include the Goa Gajah "elephant cave" and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Although the winter months are Bali's wet season, temperatures are still warm and you can find better travel deals and experience fewer crowds.
During the winter months, the more southern Caribbean islands, such as St. Lucia, are more ideal for warmer temperatures in the mid-80s and less chance of rain. Visit active volcano Mount Soufrière, snorkel the clear blue waters of Anse Chastanet, and climb or take a boat tour to twin peaks the Pitons. For a more relaxing retreat at this top island destination, kick back on the white sands of Reduit beach and soak in the mineral bath at Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
South Africa is great for a winter honeymoon, but no matter what the purpose of your trip, Stellenbosch is a must-see. This mountainous area east of Cape Town is known as the Napa Valley of Africa with more than 200 wine and grape producers in the region. It has average temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s throughout winter, and is a hub for wineries and fine dining restaurants. Brimming with charm and history, South Africa's second-oldest city can be explored on foot or on bike. Golf at one of the many nearby courses or enjoy hiking or riding through nearby nature preserves. Get up close and personal with raptors at Eagle Encounters or giraffes and other wildlife at the Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Centre.
Known as the "City of Eternal Spring," the average daily temperature in Medellín stays between the 60s and 80s all year long. Located in a valley, this town's reputation has dramatically improved is the last few decades, with efficient metro trains and cable cars to zip you across the city as well as give you amazing views of the city's hillside neighborhoods. A place of history and modernity, you can experience innovations like a barefoot park, meant for strolling through without shoes, and art installations such as the Parque de las Luces. Medellín also has a thriving dining and nightlife scene with plenty of spots to salsa dance, and if you come in December, you'll be witness to one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world.
When most people think of international beach getaways, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or the South Pacific, but a gem of a country awaits in the Indian Ocean with consistently warm temperatures year-round, as well as affordable travel. The island nation of Sri Lanka has stunning beaches, intriguing architecture and history and beautiful wildlife. The country is home to rainforests and lush tea plantations you can hike through. See thousands of wild elephants and the largest concentration of leopards in the world, and visit the world's oldest living human-planted tree.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands, an autonomous Spanish territory in the Atlantic Ocean, are famous as a winter getaway for Europeans chasing warmth and sunshine, as well as a top spot to celebrate New Year's Eve. With winter weather in the upper 60s and low 70s and water temperatures in the mild 60s, it is warm enough for swimming or other aquatic activities as well as strolls along the beach, a camel ride or a hike through the islands' four national parks. If you have an adventurous streak, the islands are also a population destination for kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing.
Mainland Africa's smallest country, Gambia is a hidden gem thanks to its 50 miles of peaceful white sand beaches and year-round swimsuit-friendly weather, making it one of the most underrated adventure destinations on the continent. Gambia's welcoming, laid back culture has earned it the nickname "the smiling coast of Africa." For a change of pace from the beach, explore the country's astounding biological diversity. See baboons and hippos on a boat tour at River Gambia National Park and see giraffes, rhinos, buffalo, warthogs and more at Fathala Game Reserve just across the border in Senegal. And if you're really brave, get close to an almost seven-foot alligator named Charlie and 100 of his friends at the Kachikally Crocodile Pool.
Ecuador's regions span a vast range of climates from beaches to the Andes mountains that can get too hot or too cold, but the city of Loja is just right when it comes to weather. Known as the "Valley Of Smiles," Loja is consistently comfortable year-round with temperatures in the 70s and twelve hours of sunlight every day, a lovely respite if you're trapped in the dead of winter back home. The very walkable city is brimming with charming colonial architecture and is considered to be the country's artistic and cultural capital, so make sure and catch a concert or orchestra performance. You can also flex your own creative muscles taking dance or cooking classes.
November through February is the low season on the Greek island of Cyprus, one of the most fun-filled countries on the planet, but the minimal crowds, authentic experiences and pleasantly mild temperatures still attract people from around Europe and the world. Its Mediterranean beaches, with winter water temperatures around 60 degrees, are ideal for many water sports, while its mountain areas offer hiking and even snow skiing. Despite having wetter winter weather, sunshine is reliable most days.
While other party hubs like Ibiza cool down in the winter, Goa, India's party destination, goes from unbearably hot to pleasantly warm, with average temperatures in the upper 70s and 80s and little rainfall. Dance all night or do sunrise yoga on 30 different gold-sand beaches, each with their own personalities, enjoy local dishes and explore the area's Portuguese colonial history. Because of its Portuguese past, Goa even has its own Carnival at the end of February.
One of those cities you have to see at least once in your lifetime, Sydney's warmest weather is between December and February, with temperatures in the high 70s. Bondi Beach has some of the best surfing in the world. Stroll between Bondi and Coogee Beach or take a ferry ride on the harbour for spectacular views. Soak up the sun with snorkeling or swimming before heading indoors to tour the iconic opera house or visit one of the city's many museums.
This Spanish city is a hot European destination because it has some of the warmest winter temperatures on the continent. Thanks to its subtropical climate, visitors can enjoy average winter temperatures in the 60s with five to six hours of sunshine. Famous as Picasso's birthplace, Malaga is home to dozens of art galleries as well as Michelin-star restaurants that balance modern culture with the city's quaint, historic past.
January kicks off the dry season in Barbados, so visitors in the winter months can expect an average of nine hours of warm winter sunshine a day and temperatures in the mid-80s. White sand beaches are perfect for lounging and surfing alike and nearby shipwrecks and abundant wildlife make for excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. The island is home to multiple rum distilleries that offer tours and tastings, with St. Nicholas Abbey, which operates out of a 350-year-old plantation home, offering interesting history along its local libations.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Because this urban hub on New Zealand's south island is in the southern hemisphere, December, January and February are when it's warmest, with average temperatures in the 70s. This pleasant weather is perfect for taking a stroll to enjoy one of the street art capitals of the world or riding a charming Edwardian-themed punt down the Avon River. After being hit with a deadly earthquake in 2011, the city has rebuilt, inspiring innovation in its dining and art scenes. Experience the country's unique flora and fauna at the city's botanic gardens and the nearby Arthur's Pass National Park.
São Paulo, Brazil
Although northern hemisphere winter months are the height of summer in Brazil, Sao Paulo has warm weather that doesn't get too hot because of the city's altitude. The country's cultural and economic heart, Sao Paulo is a cultural melting pot with the the largest Arab, Italian and Japanese disapora communities in the world. The bustling metropolis is home to many world-renowned restaurants, hopping nightlife and cutting-edge art and fashion.
Ko Samui, Thailand
Ko Samui, also known as Samui Island, is Thailand's second largest island. Kayaking trips to Angthong Marine Park open in late December, when seas are more calm and temperatures are still warm but more comfortable than the summer months. On top of being easily and affordably accessible to international travelers from Bangkok, Ko Samui has luxury spas and romantic restaurants as well as hole-in-the-wall gems and stunning sunsets, making it one of the most photogenic vacation spots in the world.
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