There are plenty of great holiday destinations in January, in all corners of the world, literally. From down under to way down under, sunshine to snow and everything in between. You’ll have lots to choose from no matter what you are looking for. If you are wondering where to travel in January, this list will definitely help you decide where to go. One of our favourite January travel destinations is South Africa and you can read a little snippet about our experience below. Several other talented travel bloggers have shared their recommendations, and I promise you will not be disappointed! You may actually have a tough time deciding on a destination!
Warm Winter Vacations
Kruger National Park And Cape Town, South Africa By Pamela From Travel Like A Chieff
South Africa is one of the best places to visit in January, the holidays are over, and the weather is beautiful. December marks the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere which means you can enjoy the beach in Cape Town and not have to worry about freezing during early morning drives while on a Safari. We’ve done two Safaris in Kruger National Park, one in August and another in January, our favourite experience was during the summer months. We spent time by the pool in between game drives at Londolozi in Sabi Sands, and it was the perfect way to recharge before embarking on the evening drive. During our early morning drives, we required fewer layers of clothing and the warm African sun was a delight throughout the day. We went on six game drives during our stay and the game viewing was incredible! We saw the Big Five and numerous leopards up close.
We usually pair our Safari adventure with a beach vacation, and Cape Town is the perfect option when doing a Safari in Kruger National Park. Camps Bay is a beautiful area in Cape Town where you can rent a villa and live like a local. There are a million reasons to visit Cape Town, it is gorgeous, there are tons of activities, and the foodie scene is excellent. We spent an afternoon in the Cape Winelands exploring the amazing wine routes, shopped in Franschhoek and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Graff Estate. Table Mountain, one of the “new” 7 natural wonders of the World, is another attraction not to be missed when visiting Cape Town. Take the cable car or hike all the way up and take in the spectacular view of Cape Town. Click here for more on South Africa!
Folks often think that Australia is sun blessed year-round but sadly that is not the case. Australia has multiple climates and the further south you travel the colder it gets. Tasmania is Australia’s most southern state, and there is not a lot between it and Antarctica, so winters can be brutal. I hate the cold and the only time I would ever consider visiting Tasmania is in the hottest month of the year; January. Tasmania is perfect for road tripping, and we hired a car to make getting around easy. The capital Hobart is a compact, cosmopolitan city and Salamanca Place is the perfect spot to sip cocktails and dine on farm-fresh local produce on a balmy summer’s evening. The sunsets across the harbour are spectacular!
Keen historians should head to Port Arthur Historic Site for a glimpse into the Apple Isle’s brutal convict past, and wine lovers will appreciate the many cellar doors on the way. The Freycinet Peninsula is the jewel in Tassie’s crown, and a cruise to Wineglass Bay is the easiest way to see the famed arc of pure white sand. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins playing in the wake! Point the car north and meander through the Bay of Fires on the way to Launceston. Lonnie is a city with a small town feel and walkers will love the easy trails at Cataract Gorge. Make sure you stop into Black Cow Bistro for one of Australia’s best steaks. Nature lovers should head west to Cradle Mountain and spend a few days hiking the many trails. Tassie has much to offer visitors and is definitely best seen in Summer!
Sydney, Australia's famous harbour city, is by far one of the best places to visit in January. Apart from being in the middle of Summer, you'll also find lots of special markets, festivals and events happening to entertain you. One of the biggest celebrations across the nation is Australia Day on January 26th, the anniversary of the arrival of the ships of the First Fleet - and Sydney certainly knows how to celebrate in style!
Australia Day is the official national day of Australia where Aussies come together all over the country to celebrate what it means to be Australian and to acknowledge the history of the nation. Darling Harbour in central Sydney is transformed into a sea of flags for the day - with lots of traditional Aussie celebrations. There are thong-throwing competitions, sausage sizzles, live music and entertainment culminating in an enormous fireworks display - surpassed only by the show on NYE over the Bridge. You can also visit Barangaroo in Sydney Harbour to honour the Aboriginal custodians of the land in a traditional smoking and indigenous dance ceremony from the world's oldest known living culture.
The weather in January is typically at its finest - with an average temperature of 26' and minimal rainfall. Different events are happening all over the city - so make sure you grab a cold one, enjoy the warm sunny day and celebrate the culture down under!
With an incredibly diverse landscape and well-preserved cultural heritage, Oman is one of the Middle East’s top destinations. Oman is safe, relatively affordable (compared to most of its neighbours) and compact, making it the perfect place for an independent road trip. The only bad thing? Oman gets hot—and I mean really hot.
Temperatures drop significantly by January, making it one of the best months to visit Oman. In January, it’s still warm enough to enjoy a midday swim in a wadi, but not so hot that you can’t enjoy trekking or dune bashing in the Sharqiya Sands desert. Short rain showers in the evenings keep things cool and fresh.
The climate varies widely across Oman, but you can expect temperatures around 77 degrees in the capital, Muscat, and a little cooler than that as you move inland. Salalah, Oman’s coastal oasis, is a balmy 82 degrees in January and you won’t have to worry about monsoon season, which ends in September. The only risk with travelling in January is the risk of not seeing turtles at Ras Al Jinz (although most years, they still nest nightly no matter the month).
Two of Oman’s biggest festivals take place in January. The Muscat Festival, an annual celebration of Omani heritage, features cultural performances and international music acts. You can also watch the Dubai to Muscat Regatta, which sees boats race across the Straits of Hormuz.
Havana is a blast any time of year, but in January the city is especially inviting. Winter is when the weather is cooler, and the sea breezes that waft across the Havana harbour are at their most pleasant. January 6 is "Three Kings Day" when the city puts on parades, and kids receive gifts from the legendary, mystical monarchs (actually mom and dad.) A chilly Havana night is jam-packed with jazz clubs and music venues that start late and party on into the early morning.
The now-famous F.A.C or Cuban Art Factory with its three floors of art exhibits, dance venues, bars and restaurants is a one-of-a-kind experience only available in Havana. The open-air cafes that line the colonial plazas feature roaming musicians and refreshing mojitos. A nighttime stroll along Havana's Malecon or seawall is a must-have experience. Grab a bottle of Cuban rum and a seat on the wall and watch the city pass by.
Daytime is equally appealing. Hit the beach where the water is still warm, wander art galleries and quirky museums; ever visited a rum museum? How about a chocolate or cigar museum? Havana's got them. Stroll the narrow streets in Old Havana and admire some of the most beautiful colonial architecture in the world. The Morro fortress is considered one of the best examples of colonial military fortifications and every night at 9pm the canons make the hour with a blast heard throughout the city.
Havana will enchant and beguile you. It will draw you in and win you over with its sultry charm.
Ever since I left The Philippines, I can't help but dream of going back. The Philippines became my new favourite place because of the gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, incredible sunsets, and of course because it's fun.
But why is January a good time to visit The Philippines?
January is one of the best times to visit The Philippines because the dry season is in full swing. Temperatures are cooler without being cold, and it is perfect beach weather. There are also some rains during this period, but they are minimal, and even if it does rain, it doesn't last for more than 10 minutes.
January is also the month when the Sinulog festival is held - Sinulog is Cebu's biggest festival, featuring a massive street parade, live music and plenty of food and drinks.
The Philippines is often being skipped by travellers on their SE Asia trip, but in my opinion, it's the best place to visit in this part of the world, and you shouldn't miss it!
Like much of Southeast Asia, determining the bests months to travel has less to do with when the weather will be good than as when you shouldn’t go because the weather will be terrible. January is a great time to go to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and the other Angkor temples. It’s not the rainy season for a few more months, and the weather is about as cool as it will ever get. So even though it’s hot, and you should hit Angkor at sunrise to enjoy the coolest parts of the day, it’s still the best time of year to go.
I found that there were a lot of tourists, but it wasn’t as many as I expected. There are a ton of things to do in Siem Reap beyond Angkor as well. Some of my favourites were visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Preah Vihear and Sambor Prei Kuk. There’s also a very vibrant nightlife scene on Pub Street if you’re looking for ways to have fun after you’ve spent your days exploring.
Bangkok is a great city to travel to, but you need to be careful about when to go to avoid the high heat of summer and the rainy season. January is a great time. You’ll avoid the European holiday travellers, but you’ll still be there during the coolest parts of the year. To see what you want and avoid the midday heat, get up and get out early. You can also take advantage of the fresh night air and eat dinner after dark on a patio.
Some of my favourite things to do while there include seeing the famous temples in Bangkok, taking a day trip out to Ayyuthaia, and relaxing and enjoying the amazing food. One of my favourite tricks is to stay in a hotel that’s outside the main tourist district so that you can enjoy a little of the real nightlife with Thais instead of westerners. One important reason to go when the weather is the best is that if you want to visit these temples and ancient holy sites, you’ll have to be dressed relatively modestly. This means that your elbows and knees must be covered, so you’ll definitely want to avoid going in the absolutely hottest months!
Not So Warm Winter Vacation
One would think it’s crazy to visit a northern city like Beijing in winter, but January is actually a great time to see the city. Temperatures in January stay between 2° and -8° degrees Celsius in Beijing, and it’s very dry with almost no rain, which is always great when travelling. In my experience, the smog and pollution in Beijing aren’t severe in January, and you’re more likely to catch clear skies compared to the hot summer. Snowfall is also quite rare during this time of the year.
On top of that, there are far fewer crowds running around the city compared to visiting during summer. This goes for all the major sites like the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall just outside of Beijing. Locals in Beijing embrace the cold months and don’t shy away from spending quality time outdoors. Be sure to head to Houhai Lake, where you can see locals skate or ride ice bikes or chair sleds with the whole family. It’s such a fun way to enjoy the city like a local!
World-famous for its cuisine, Beijing's winter months are dedicated to a variety of seasonal dishes, most famously spicy hot pot. Beijingers love to warm themselves up eating the spicy stew. To try some great hot pot, head over to the famous chain Haidilao in Wangfujing.
Most ironically, the Summer Palace is another great place to see in January in Beijing, as the usually sweaty climb up Longevity Hill turns into a more comfortable hike in winter. Same goes for Jingshan Park just behind the Forbidden City, a real hidden gem giving you views of the entire 9,999 rooms of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
As you can see, there are many advantages when visiting Beijing in January so be sure to add Beijing to your winter travel bucket list! Read More About Beijing…
Oslo is surrounded by 10 ski centres for locals and tourist to enjoy the outdoors. Some Norwegian children learn to ski as early as two years old. Being outdoors with the sun out after a fresh snow is as perfect as a sunny summer day. People will be everywhere skiing, cross-country skiing (even at night) and tobogganing. There are places to ice skate too. If you get out of the city a bit, you can also ice skate on the Oslo Fjord. You may be lucky to find a pop-up shop selling toddies, hot chocolate, and waffles.
There are free walking tours that will give you an excellent feel for historical and modern Oslo. Take a stroll along Karl Johans Gate and wander through some of the gift shops and try one of the many outstanding restaurants. Some restaurants even offer seating outside, with heaters and blankets/furs to cover your legs.
There are many indoor activities like bowling, climbing, pools, trampoline parks, and playgrounds. Maybe take in a handball game. (Look up Norwegian Handball, as it is very different than in the US.)
Places to not miss during your trip to Oslo are Akershus Fortress, the Opera House, Holmenkollen ski jump (where the Olympics were held), Aker Brygge, Kontiki Museum, Vigeland Park, and seeing the Royal Castle. The castle is not open in January, but still an amazing place to see. If you want to escape for a more adult activity, visit the Magic Ice Bar. Oslo in January, just say yes.
Greece as a summer destination doesn't need any introduction but did you know it is a fantastic place to visit during the winter, too? The winter weather, mild with a lot of beautiful sunny days, is perfect for exploring the ancient sites of Greece, without the usual crowds and in case of first Sunday of the month also for free. The busy, touristy places like Santorini, Rhodes or Meteora are worth a winter visit as well. Only when the crowds are gone, the beaches cleared of umbrellas and sunbeds and the pretty streets stripped of a plethora of cheap Chinese souvenirs you can fully enjoy their unique beauty.
But the best thing about a winter visit to Greece is skiing! Yes, you can go skiing in Greece, and it is awesome! This shouldn't be so surprising really in a country with 80% of its surface covered with mountains, many of them over 2000 meters tall. January is usually the best month for skiing in Greece with plenty of snow and just enough sunshine. There are more than 20 ski resorts scattered across the country, most of them in the Northern and Central Greece but you can find a few as far south as Peloponnese. Even Crete's White mountains provide great skiing conditions during the winter, but you'll have to make it to the top on your own, no lifts or gondolas there.
For a visit from Athens, the modern ski resorts at Parnassos or Kalavrita are the best choice. It only takes around two and half hours to reach them making them the perfect destination for a day trip from the Greek capital. They offer a great variety of slopes and lifts accompanied by all the necessary amenities like rentals, ski schools, and chalets. On the other hand, if you find yourself in Thessaloniki for a couple of days, longing for a day on the slopes head to the trendy Kaimaktsalan on Voras or to Vasilitsa, a cute little ski resort in Northern Pindos and a personal favourite of mine. But no matter which ski resort you choose, you'll be met with stunning mountain scenery, charming traditional villages and laid back atmosphere. And how cool is it to tell your friends back home "Look, I went skiing in Greece"!?
Jackson Hole is a winter paradise. And I don’t even like winter that much. I spent a winter working about an hour from Jackson and went there almost every weekend to go snowshoeing, look for wildlife, or just to eat delicious food.
While Jackson may be extremely popular in the summer, thanks to neighbouring Yellowstone National Park, it only gets a fraction of the visitors in the winter, so it’s a great time to go. It will still be expensive, but it might be a little bit cheaper as well, depending on where you stay. One of the big draws to Jackson in the winter is skiing and snowboarding at Snow King or Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
If that isn't your thing, you can rent snowshoes in town to explore Grand Teton National Park. The main scenic road in the park is closed, as are a few others, but there is still plenty to see. I loved going over to the Gros Ventre area to snowshoe. It’s also a great place to look for wildlife. Just along Gros Ventre Road, I saw a wolf, tons of bison, and enough moose for a lifetime if that was such a thing (it’s not, there’s never too many moose.) If you are looking for wildlife and see something, give it space and don’t get too close.
While Wyoming in January may not scream “visit me!” It’s definitely worth the trip out there to see the Tetons in the magical five-foot blanket of snow. I'm dying to go back in January myself. Read More About Jackson Hole…
While many people seek out warm beaches and sunny climates during the winter months, we encourage you to try something a bit different. Yellowstone National Park is world famous for its beautiful scenery, a large variety of free-roaming wildlife and thousands of acres of pristine landscape.
Many a family summer road trip includes a visit to Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser. While this summertime site creates a lifetime of memories, a summer adventure in Yellowstone also includes thousands of other tourists doing the same thing.
A wintertime visit to Yellowstone fills you with nature’s awesome beauty and the chance to enjoy it without the crowds. Just a little preparation and a few more layers of clothing, and you will be surprised at how comfortable a visit in January will be. During our visit to Yellowstone in January, we had the pleasure of seeing Old Faithful erupt with only 3 or 4 other people and a coyote. The experience was even more impressive without the distraction of a crowd
There are many activity options to keep you busy, from guided snow coach tours to cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. If sitting by a roaring fire in a luxury ranch with a steaming cup of hot cocoa sounds more to your liking, they’ve got that too.
World-class dining and local food favourites will easily satisfy your appetite during your Yellowstone respite.
Spending the time in the true peace of nature with fewer people around will truly centre you and give you the chance to unwind, unplug and rejuvenate. You may even find yourself wishing for a big snowfall to extend your visit just a little longer. Read More About Yellowstone National Park
I think that January is one of the best months of the year to visit Antarctica. Trips to Antarctica are only offered during the Antarctic summer from mid/late October to March, so the months of April to September are not even an option for regular tourists. When we first started planning our trip to Antarctica, we researched the best time to visit Antarctica, and while there were pros and cons depending on the month, we decided that early January was the best time for us.
January is right in the middle of the Antarctica tourist season and is one of the months with the most sunlight (about 20-24 hours a day). While January is considered peak season and is more expensive than early or late in the season, it is less busy than the December holiday season. January is one of the best times to see penguin chicks and other wildlife (including mother penguins feeding their adorable babies). January is also one of the warmest months in Antarctica (typically right below freezing) which means not only is it more pleasant to spend time outside but the ice has melted enough that it is possible to cross the Antarctic Circle. That being said Antarctica is a dream destination, so I recommend visiting any month you are able to go.
Has this post gotten you excited to start planning your next January getaway? Where would you like to go?
I hope you enjoyed reading everyone's recommendations on great holiday destinations in January and hopefully, we've made your travel planning a little easier!
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