So you’ve got some vacation days in January and you’re wondering where to spend them. Whether you’re craving a winter wonderland or tropical bliss, these are 10 amazing destinations around the world to visit in January:
1. Finnish Lapland
The region of Lapland in the northernmost part of Finland is perhaps the closest you could ever get to a winter wonderland. Not only does the stunning, snowy landscape look like a scene out of a Hallmark Christmas movie, it allows for some unique winter adventures like snowmobiling, dogsledding, and even a ride in a reindeer-drawn carriage. January is the perfect time of year to stay in an ice hotel, try out a Finnish sauna, and look for the Northern Lights in Lapland!
2. South Africa
Nicknamed the “Rainbow Nation,” South Africa is home to friendly people, diverse landscapes, and tons of adventure. North American winter is South African summer, so January means both good weather and low crowds, as the locals’ summer break is usually already over by then. I recommend road tripping from the red canyons of the Karoo and the wildlife of Golden Gate Highlands National Park to the rolling green hills of the Wild Coast and the vibrant city of Cape Town, South Africa which has plenty waiting to be explored!
3. California Deserts
Did you know that 25% of the state of California is desert? January makes for the perfect time to explore areas like Death Valley, the Alabama Hills, Joshua Tree, and the Mojave, since a drop in temperatures in the winter means that they can actually be explored during the day! (Not to mention that the Eastern Sierras covered in snow are a beautiful sight!) If you’re up for an adventure, follow my California deserts road trip, and you’ll see cool rock formations like the one pictured, wind caves, awe-inspiring hikes, lava tubes, some amazing starry skies, and more. Keep in mind, though, that even the desert can get very cold at night.
If you’ve seen me talk about Patagonia before, it’s because I lead BMTM Women’s Adventure Tours there! January would make a great time to visit because it’s right in the middle of Chilean/Argentinian summer. Although this is peak season, the wide variety of activities available ensures that you will still be able to take full advantage of the region, one which is perhaps the most stunning in all of South America! Hike, trek, camp, and rock-climb until your heart is content. Read the perfect Patagonia itinerary here.
5. Thailand, Laos, & Cambodia
Thailand, Cambodia, & Laos each have their own unique character, but together, the trio makes a great Southeast Asia trip. With January right in the middle of the dry season, you should have good weather, and with the winter holidays behind you, crowds shouldn’t be huge. Spend anywhere from a few days to a month or more exploring the waterfalls of Thailand, the caves and mountains of Laos, and the jungle and temples of Cambodia. You’ll find that both Laos and Cambodia are less crowded and touristy than Thailand, but each of the three brings something different to the table, so they’re all worth visiting!
Since Australia is south of the equator, it, too, has opposite seasons. January is the middle of the Australian summer, so you’ll have those warm beach temperatures that the country is famous for. Although January is peak season, going later in the month means you’ll see lower prices and smaller crowds as many travelers head back to school and work. Choose the style that best fits you, whether that’s lounging on Sydney’s beaches, exploring the Gold Coast, or road tripping down the scenic East Coast to Melbourne. Just keep in mind that this is not a good time of year to adventure into the Outback, as temperatures can get dangerously hot in the summertime.
7. Dominican Republic
Temperatures in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit with less rain and humidity than other times of the year make the Dominican Republic a great January destination. Hurricane season will have already come to a close in December, and from mid-January onward, humpback whales will begin migrating north, making for some great whale watching. Plus, there’s nothing like a week spent hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, swimming, and lying on the beach to shake off those winter blues! It’s worth noting that the town of Santo Domingo is in full celebration mode on January 26th in honor of founding father Juan Pablo Duarte.
8. Budapest, Hungary
There are a number of perks to traveling Europe in January: off-season means that prices are the lowest they’ll be all year, tourists are few and far between, and a blanket of snow makes everything look like a snow globe. Budapest, specifically, makes for the perfect January destination because of its abundance of indoor activities. You could spend weeks on end exploring the more than 200 museums in the city, as well as castles, elaborate churches, and other landmarks. If you care to venture outside, go ice skating on the huge frozen lake in the city park and — perhaps the coolest activity on this list — enjoy the number of thermal baths throughout the city! Even though temperatures will be in the thirties Fahrenheit with lots of clouds, you won’t see much rain and snow, and the old-world charm of this beautiful city is well worth wearing a big coat for!
9. Park City, Utah
If you’re at all familiar with Park City, it’s probably because you’ve heard that it’s ski- and snowboard-central. Well, the rumors are true, and Park City makes a fantastic destination for winter sports. That’s not all this cool mountain town has to offer, though: from a bustling food and drink scene to a quaint downtown with an abundance of shops and galleries, it’s hard to get bored in Park City. Perhaps the most unique thing to do is check out Utah Olympic Park, where the 2002 Winter Olympics took place. There, you can go bobsledding at more than 70 miles per hour and even ride a tube down one of the ski jumps! Now that’s an adventure you can’t have anywhere else.
10. Montréal, Canada
Montréal is the second largest city in Canada, located in the French-speaking province of Québec. It’s like a taste of Europe without leaving North America, as the French influence plays an important role in the character of the city. Some buildings even date back to the 1600s! Besides the unique history and culture, Montréal has a fun, hip spirit with more than 100 festivals throughout the year — many of which fall in the month of January — plus countless museums, tons of awesome street art, and live music galore. Gorgeous landmarks and a thriving food scene ensure that you’ll have plenty to explore in between winter activities like ice skating and skiing through the city’s massive park.
What are some of your favorite January destinations?