If the thought of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, leaves you…cold, it could be time to consider a winter break. The way we use our holiday time has changed over the past few decades. Gone are the days when we are prepared to settle for a traditional fortnight break in the summer, with nothing else to look forward to in the long months in between.
Many families and couples are opening up to the idea of multi-seasonal breaks, and winter getaways are becoming more and more popular. So, whether you’re after some après-ski in a chic mountain-top resort or topping up your tan on a palm-fringed beach, here are some ideas for the best winter breaks.
If the long, dark UK days are getting you down, what better way to chase away the blues than by jetting off to somewhere warm and sunny. There are lots of options, but if you’re looking for an affordable all-rounder, the Canary Islands are always a winner. With a hot, sunny climate all year round, Lanzarote is one to consider, with average November temperatures of 21°C and highs of 25°C.
There are also a wealth of attractions such as the Timanfaya National Park and Cueva de los Verdes to explore if you’re into sightseeing. For somewhere more exotic, consider Bali in Indonesia, with great beaches and average temperatures of 31°C – you’ll get the most out of the beach life and the numerous excursions. Be warned: the rainy season is in December, so it’s wise to book for early November to avoid downpours.
If you’re planning a weekend break, then consider the Christmas markets in Europe. Germany and France lead the way – the Hamburg Markets are really something. Expect colourful stalls selling gingerbread houses, glittering Christmas baubles and delicious warming cups of mulled wine. If you’ve got kids – or are a big kid at heart – you could splash out on a trip to Lapland to enjoy sleigh rides, snowy landscapes and a trip to see the man in red himself, to get you in the mood for the big day.
You may even want to avoid Christmas holidays at home altogether and spend the festive week on a beach. If you do then look to Dubai, jewel in the United Arab Emirates crown, which offers stunning beaches, opulent hotels and sleep shopping malls and sizzling December high temperatures of around 26°C, a million miles away from turkey dinners with the in-laws. Benidorm in Spain is another option if you’re after a good-value Christmas break, with the promise of mild days and relaxed resorts during these low-season months.
Avoid the post-holiday slump by booking a New Year trip to faraway shores. Phuket in Thailand is the perfect choice for those in search of powder-soft sands, exhilarating watersports and amazing nightlife. To sample the culture and beauty of this fascinating destination, be sure to visit Old Phuket Town and James Bond Island. If you’re not bothered about sunshine but fancy spending all that Christmas money, why not head to New York? The city that never sleeps offers a wealth of sightseeing opportunities and you can shop till you drop in famous apartment stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, you may even be able to get some January sale bargains while you’re there.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, romantic breaks may be on your mind – if so, Paris is always a classic. Whatever time of year you visit there’s a wealth of attractions, both indoors and outdoors. The Eiffel Tower is high on the list of must-sees, along with The Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Pompidou Centre offering plenty of scope for rainy-day activities. If you’d rather hit the slopes in Europe, February offers excellent mid-season ski conditions and prices. The snow season in Finland begins in November and lasts until early May.
The French resort of Val d’Isère is also a great venue for February breaks, combining a charming village teamed with world-class ski terrain. It offers excellent opportunities for both beginners and pros to enjoy quality snow conditions. Or what could be more romantic than seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland? Fly to Reykjavik in just under three hours and enjoy the delights of this cosmopolitan city, including an evening bus tour out of town to witness this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas – life is short and we all need a break from time to time. Seeing more of the world, embracing other lifestyles and sampling other cultures is a life-affirming and uplifting experience, so don’t wait until summer to explore this wonderful planet.