The best places to visit in January – discover the cheapest places to visit, the top destinations for winter sun and the most exciting events taking place around the world in January.
If you’re planning to a January holiday but aren’t sure where to go then this is the post for you. This is our guide to the best places to visit around the world in January and our insider tips will ensure you plan the perfect trip, whether you’re after a cheap holiday, a hot climate or an epic experience with the locals.
Discover January festivals across the globe, seasonal highlights with our travel guide….
Just down the road from Toronto and Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a great January destination as this is when its Icewine Festival is held. The town is renowned for its icewine, which is produced when grapes are harvested whilst frozen on to vines in temperatures colder than -80c, and during Jan (10th-26th to be precise) there’s a celebration of everything icewine-y (my word unsurprisingly, not theirs!).
There’s ice sculptures to see, live entertainment to enjoy, and of course, ice wine sampling to partake of – what’s not to like?!
Iceland’s gotta make it high up anyone’s list of the best winter vacations with snow, whether you’re looking to go for a week or more or just a snowy weekend getaway.
Known as a great place to see the Northern Lights, you can base yourself in its capital, Reykajvik or get out onto the Ring Road and see the best of what the island has to offer – its natural wonders. Head away from the crowds with a trip to the ‘Capital of the North’ Akureyri, full of the friendliest people and surrounded by the most beautiful sights.
Iceland’s otherworldly landscape shouldn’t be missed and our recommendations include Thingvellir National Park, Seljalandfoss waterfall – where our very own Lou got married!
If you’re visiting Iceland in winter it’s important to come prepared, so I recommend you check out Laura’s Iceland packing list, with recommendations on the best clothing and footwear to bring!
The Canary Islands
January is the cheapest time to fly to the Canary Islands, with Kayak citing £74 as the average flight cost per person to Gran Canaria and it’s a great January destination if you’re based in the UK as the sunshine is only a four hour flight away!
Lou’s a big fan of the Canary Islands, particularly loving Fuerteventura, but if you’re looking for somewhere special to stay you might want to check out Gran Canaria’s oldest hotel, Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, which has just been refurbished and reopened. Frequented by everyone from Agatha Christie to Winston Churchill, it was originally opened back in 1890 and has now been ‘reimagined’.
Panama is lovely and warm all year round but it’s the start of the year when it has its driest weather thanks to the dry season. This makes it a great time to visit, whether you’re a sun worshipper or you want to get out and explore everything Panama has to offer.
Of course there’s the renowned Panama Canal to see, but we also recommend visiting Chagres National Park, Boquete in the mountains and Bocos del Toro on the Caribbean coast.
If you’d like to learn more about Panama, LazMel Escape made a great video about the top ten places to visit – check it out!
Lucy Richard, a Project Editor for DK Eyewitness Travel, recommends Laibela as the perfect January travel destination.
“Up in Ethiopia’s rugged Lasta Mountains, Lalibela is affectionately referred to as ‘Africa’s Petra’ thanks to its amazing rock-hewn churches,” she says. “The town is especially mystical in January when pilgrims arrive to celebrate Leddet (Christmas), followed by Timkat (Epiphany), with electric chanting and dancing.”
Lucy Richards will be speaking at Stanfords’ Travel Writers Festival at Destinations: the Holiday and Travel Show 30th January – 2nd February 2019 at Olympia London. To book tickets visit: https://destlondon.seetickets.com
2020 is the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven and to celebrate the city’s celebrating all things musical throughout the year. This makes it the perfect year to visit during January-March, which is ball season – there’s 450 events in total, so you should be able to pick up a ticket for one of them. Don your posh frocks and practice the Viennese waltz for a truly spectacular night out!
Ati-Atihan is the Philippines’ biggest street party and takes place in the third week of January. The week-long party takes place in Kalbio, on the island of Panay, and is all about celebrating the baby Jesus. Expect dancing, parades and even an open air mass.
Want to get a feel for what to expect? You can’t get better than this video shared by Alliv Samson…
Cuba has something to offer at any time of the year but January offers some of the best weather. It’s one of the driest months, and also the coolest, which means you’ll feel much more comfy when you’re out and about.
If this is your first visit to Cuba, I highly recommend reading these handy tips…
Want to see the world’s biggest bonfire? Then head to Nara in late January. The traditional festival of Yamayaki takes place on the fourth Saturday of January, which involves setting fire to all the dead grass on Mount Wakakusa, which is one hell of a sight to see! There’s two schools of thought regarding this festival – one is that it’s to commemorate a centuries-old feud, another is that it’s simply about encouraging new growth on the mountain.
But even with all that fire you’ll want to wrap up warm as it’s still chilly, and if you do visit, make sure you stay for the fireworks show which begins once the entire mountain is alight.
“Surely few experiences can match watching the breathtaking Northern Lights dance across the inky night sky,” says Lucy, who recommends heading to Tromsø in the Arctic Circle in January or February, when you have the best chance of witnessing the magical aurora borealis.
This Norwegian city is also home the Northern Lights Festival in January – 11 days of events and music in celebration of the natural phenomenon, making it to the perfect time to plan your visit.
The Caribbean has some of its best weather in January, but be warned – you’ll also have to deal with higher prices if this is the time of year you want to go.
You will be rewarded with dry days and temperatures of 29-30°C, white sandy beaches and warm seas. Head to the rainforests of St Lucia, enjoy Barbados with friends or even go swimming with pigs in Exuma. There are so many islands to explore and so much to do that it’s easy to see why this region continues to be high on Britain’s list of winter holiday destinations!
For good weather but at a cost that won’t break the bank we also recommend a holiday to Cape Verde. A group of islands off the coast of Africa, January is the coldest month to visit, but you can still expect nice warm weather of between 22-25°C.
This makes it a great time to enjoy one of the best things this island has to offer – hiking it’s amazing volcanic island tundras. January’s also a good time to go wind or kitesurfing, but if you prefer a more relaxing trip, there’s some beautiful beaches that are perfect to unwind on.
If you’d like to learn more about Cape Verde and everything it has to offer Hand Luggage Only have a great guide to the islands (It made me want to book a ticket then and there!).
Our guide to the best places to visit in January
So there you have it – we hope our travel tips on the best places to visit in January will inspire you to book a great holiday to kick off the new year. If you’ve got any destinations you’d also recommend as top January holiday picks then please let us know in the comments below!