Best Places To Visit In January
If your New Year’s resolution is to see more of the world, we’ve got you covered. The month kicks off with some fantastic parties as New Year’s Eve is celebrated in unique ways across the globe. Many destinations are a little quieter and cheaper in the second half of January, after the festive season excitement has calmed down. Chase away the January blues with some winter sunshine in the tropics. Or experience Europe’s cities and ski destinations during this chilly yet charming time of year.
Bianca Ohannessian is a travel and fashion writer and social media specialist. When she’s not writing for various websites and for her own travel blog, Rockskippers, she’s out exploring the globe.
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Take a trip to Rio de Janeiro and start your year with sun, sea and samba. New Year’s Eve takes on a lively carnival vibe as the city heads to the beach for the annual concert. After the party, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this bustling Brazilian city. Be sure to take a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where the iconic Christ the Redeemer monument watches over the metropolis below. Or spend time on the famous Copacabana beach where you can surf, play beach volley or simply relax and take it all in while sipping on something fruity and refreshing. If you want to explore a little further, take a drive along the coast where you can find a selection of stunning sandy spots.
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Although the weather is always warm in Dubai, temperatures tend to stay around a slightly cooler 24°C in January compared to the scorching heat that can be experienced at other times of the year. Luxury hotels and opulent restaurants sit below towering modern architecture, such as the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Holding the title of tallest building in the world, don’t miss the chance to climb to the top and take in the extensive views. Dubai Shopping Festival is in full swing in January, so you could pick up some bargains in the grand shopping malls or traditional souks. Or take a tour of the desert to see a more natural side of this contemporary city.
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Dreamy tropical beaches, idyllic waterfalls and lush flower-scented forests make Hawaii as wonderful as it looks on the postcards. The best way to get around the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui is by car, as public transport can be limited. If you’re flying into Maui, don’t miss the Road to Hana. With a 53-mile route winding through lush jungle, you’ll pass spectacular sights such as the Wailua Falls, the Hana Lava Tubes and century-old mango trees. There are lots of surf beaches to discover around the island too. If you’re there at the start of the month, say “Aloha” to the New Year with dazzling firework displays in Wailea or a special evening cruise to see the fireworks from the sea.
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From the capital Sofia, with its inviting restaurants and museums, to a selection of popular ski resorts, Bulgaria offers an affordable winter break. Several of Bulgaria’s ski resorts are also easy to get to from Sofia if you want to combine a city break with your winter sports. Strap on a pair of skis and get ready to whizz down the delightfully snowy slopes of Bansko, with its great snowfall record as well as 160 snow canons on standby. There are also other activities to explore, such as ice-skating and museums. This includes the Historical Museum which displays 6,000-year old artefacts. Or try Pamporovo for beginner’s slopes set against beautiful forest scenery.
January is the darkest time of year to visit Iceland. This is great news if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive northern lights which are easier to spot at this time of year. Go in search of the colourful aurora with a night tour. There are plenty of adventures to be found during the day too. You can hire a car and explore the extraordinary landscape at your own pace, remembering to keep an eye on weather reports and road conditions. Waterfalls, glacier and geysers are just a few of the highlights of this island nation. Then head into the capital, Reykjavik, to warm up in one of the many cafés that are dotted around the snow-cloaked city.
Auckland, New Zealand
You can expect more than just your average city break with a trip to Auckland. Aside from two harbours and a whole host of museums, art galleries and dining options, it’s also perfectly placed to experience New Zealand’s great outdoors. With the summer season just starting to heat up, January is a wonderful time to explore the surrounding area with a North Island road trip. Just over a couple of hours drive will take you to the Coromandel Peninsula. Beautiful beaches are backed by lush mountains and gorges, which are great for hiking. Or hop in your car and head north towards the Bay of Islands for stunning surf beaches, sailing and dolphin-spotting trips, as well as enchanting ancient forests.
India offers a vast and varied landscape, from exotic shorelines to jungles, snowy peaks to bustling cities. It’s also rich in history with a vibrant culture. Spend some time exploring the Golden Triangle where you’ll find magnificent UNESCO-protected palaces and temples between Agra, Jaipur and Delhi. This includes the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Visit Kolkata for modern architecture in the form of the illuminated Howrah Bridge. Or discover some history with a visit to the marble Victoria Memorial museum before checking out the spice-scented bazaars. Alternatively, make your way to Goa on the west coast for a bit of beach relaxation.
Are you thinking of spending New Year’s Eve in London? The capital puts on a fabulous fireworks display to mark the occasion. Although entry is free, you’ll need to apply for tickets if you want to hear Big Ben ringing in the New Year at the official celebrations. There are lots of other activities taking place around this time of year, with festive events such as outdoor ice-skating often run into January. Don’t forget about London’s long list of iconic landmarks to visit too, including Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the city, treat yourself to an indulgent afternoon tea at Claridges or dinner with a view at the top of the Shard.