21 Best Places to Visit in January | USA, Europe and the World
January is often a time of winter blues, empty bank balances, and short-lived New Years’ resolutions. But what if this year you did things a bit differently? There are tons of places around the world that are just begging to be explored in January, whether you’re hitting the slopes in some of the world’s best ski resorts or catching some winter sun on a paradise beach. Here we’ll choose our favourite places to visit in January to give you a bit of inspiration to start your year off right!
When deciding where to visit in January, you’ll want to decide what your priorities are. Do you want to escape the cold? Want to get off the beaten track? Or do you want to keep up the new year fitness but in somewhere a bit more appealing than your local gym? Well, this bucket list of best places to visit in January will help you break it down and decide where your next January vacation should be.
Beat the Winter Blues at the Beach
When you feel as though winter has gone on long enough and you’re cold to your bones, you may want nothing more than a week or two relaxing on the beach. Yes, you may use up your vacation time within the first month, but it will be worth it when you can show off your January tan upon returning to the office! These coastlines and islands offer some spectacular beaches to soak up the winter sun.
1. The Maldives
When you imagine a perfect winter beach destination, it’s probably an image of the Maldives that springs to mind. Wooden beach huts perched over crystal-clear waters, hours of endless sunshine and fresh seafood caught and served as you sit with your toes in the sand. Tick! Tick! Tick!
January (aka the dry, summer season) is one of the best times of year to visit the Maldives as the rainfall is minimal making water and reef visibility good and the sea temperature is warm (28°C/82°F). The island boasts an average of nine hours sunshine a day so you won’t miss out on an opportunity to top up your tan!
The Maldives are generally very popular during the dry season, but the crowds from Christmas and the New Year are likely to have died off a bit by January so you’ll be able to enjoy the beaches, reefs, and water sports in peace.
Average Daily Temperature: 29°C/25°C or 84°F/77°F
Average Rainy Days: 5 Days
2. Isla Holbox, Mexico
If you want to switch off and relax after the busy festive season, look no further than Isla Holbox off the coast of Cancun in Mexico. This paradise island retreat offers everything from hostel accommodation to luxury spa resorts, all within a few feet of the sea. The heart centre of the island has a buzzy feel with plenty of restaurants and live music to keep you entertained.
While the island does officially have WiFi and ATMs these may or may not work, so you might just have to accept the fact that you can’t check your emails and make the most of your beachside location!
Spend your days sipping milk straight from the coconut, sunbathing in the dappled shade of a palm tree or swimming in the warm azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Average Daily Temperature: 27°C/18°C or 81°F/64°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
3. Canary Islands
These seven islands perched off the coast of Africa are an ideal getaway for those who want a combination of European charm and warm winter weather. With such diversity on every island –from the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife and Lanzarote to the rolling sand dunes of Gran Canaria – you could make a January trip to the Canary Islands and annual thing and never get bored!
While some areas are totally geared towards tourism, with high-rise hotels and hundreds of restaurants, there are other sides to each island that offer interesting culture, unique activities or an insight into quaint village life.
The weather is fairly temperate across all Canary Islands in January, which makes it pleasant for sitting in the sun, drinking your morning coffee outside and taking a hike up a volcano!
Average Daily Temperature: 19°C/14°C or 66°F/57°F
Average Rainy Days: 7 Days
4. Australia (East Coast)
If you want to be guaranteed some pretty decent weather in January, you’re best off looking towards the southern hemisphere. The sweltering heat of Australia’s summer is starting to calm down slightly by January, but you’ll still have a majority of clear, sunny days in which to enjoy your coastal exploration.
Sydney offers some of the world’s greatest New Year celebrations so you may want to start your January vacation watching fireworks under the Sydney Harbour Bridge before making your way up the east coast to enjoy the beaches of Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, and Surfer’s Paradise. Australia is one of the world’s greatest locations to catch some surf so you can kill two birds with one stone by soaking up some winter sun while also keeping fit!
Moving on from Byron Bay you have the chance to explore the city of Brisbane or continue on to Whitehaven Beach on the Whitsundays, a paradisiacal island of pure white sand and turquoise waters.
Average Daily Temperature: 28°C/21°C or 82°F/70°F
Average Rainy Days: 10 Days
5. Barbados (or any Caribbean Island!)
Each of the islands in the Caribbean has its own charm and the warm January weather (and an average of nine hours of sunshine per day!) makes them the perfect place to shake off your winter vibes.
Barbados offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for all-inclusive luxury or a more laid-back local feel. Chill out on the pristine white beaches during the day or try your hand at some Atlantic surf before spending the evening dining on fresh seafood and knocking back a couple of rums while bobbing along to some Reggae tunes.
If reclining on the golden sands with palm trees leaning overhead gets too much, head inland to explore some of the island’s history and heritage with visits to old plantation houses and the Barbados Museum.
Average Daily Temperature: 29°C/23°C or 66°F/57°F
Average Rainy Days: 11 Days
Spend January on the Ski Slopes
For some people, the sun just doesn’t do it for them, and they’d rather be getting their hearts racing flying down the slopes in some of the world’s best ski resorts. Ski vacations offer a completely different experience to beach breaks; allowing you to keep fit, breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy some après ski parties. Whether you hit up Europe, North America or Asia, you’re sure to find some mountain fun to be had!
6. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado offers some of the US’s best skiing and boarding, and there is perhaps a no better time to visit than January. The crowds of Christmas and New Year have subsided, the powder is fresh, and the Winterskol celebrations are in full swing! With snow sculpting, soup-making competitions, fat bike racing and ice-skating there is something for everyone.
January in Aspen offers fantastic weather, with crisp, clear skies and accessible terrains and thanks to the school holidays being over, the prices are generally lower, and the slopes are child-free. Plus, getting a table at some of the town’s best restaurants is easier too!
Whether you choose a self-catering condo or a full-service hotel, Aspen will offer comfort, class and world-renowned skiing for those seeking a winter break.
Average Daily Temperature: 2°C/-12°C or 36°F/10°F
Average Rainy Days: 8 Days
7. Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites mountain range in Italy provides holidaymakers with spectacular scenery; blue skies contrasting with towering cliffs and soft white powder rolling down the slopes.
Not only does the region offer wonderful skiing for all levels but it also boasts a great range of off-mountain activities for those who don’t fancy getting on the skis/board. This includes ice-skating, snow-shoeing and, of course, some well-deserved spa time. The wellness centres in the Dolomites region are world-class so you can retreat to a spa to enjoy the saunas, Jacuzzis, solariums and massage treatments.
Food also plays a big part in the Dolomites ski season, with Italian cuisine being at the heart of each and every day. Dine on some fine cuisine, indulge in Italian wine and treat yourself to some warm apple strudel.
Average Daily Temperature: -6°C/-11°C or 21°F/12°F
Average Rainy Days: 9 Days
8. Whistler, Canada
As one of North America’s biggest winter playgrounds, Whistler offers tons of activities for those who want to enjoy the slopes. Tobogganing, Nordic skiing, snow-shoeing and ice fishing all sit alongside regular skiing and boarding, so there are plenty of ways to make the most of the snow.
When you’re not on the slopes, spend time exploring frozen lakes, taking in the pristine snow-covered landscapes and toasting marshmallows over the fire. While the mercury is likely to sit below zero during January, skies are often clear allowing you to sit outside (in plenty of layers!) to enjoy your morning coffee.
The Coca-Cola Tube Park, Magic Castle, and Tree Fort and the Ziptrek EcoTours are perfect for keeping the kids happy and entertained!
Whistler is also home to some fantastic spas, top art galleries, and delicious fine dining restaurants for those seeking a little bit of luxury.
Average Daily Temperature: -3°C/-8°C or 27°F/18°F
Average Rainy Days: 8 Days
9. Stowe, Vermont, USA
Each January, Stowe hosts its famous Winter Carnival with a wide array of activities for all the family. Now in its 45th year, the carnival brings together locals and tourists alike to celebrate all things ice and snow. While there are typical winter activities such as ice carving, ski races, and ice hockey, there are also slightly crazy sports tournaments such as Snowgolf and Snowvolleyball!
This year’s annual LGBTQ pride celebration Winter Rendezvous also coincides with the Winter Carnival, so fun festivities are sure to be had. Expect diverse entertainment, a welcoming atmosphere and a whole host of fancy dress!
While these celebrations will drive the price up and availability down during this period, it will be worth it for the sheer amount of entertainment on offer.
Average Daily Temperature: -8°C/-17°C or 18°F/1°F
Average Rainy Days: 18 Days
10. Val d’Isère, France
New Year’s celebrations in Val d’Isère run from December 30th to January 6th, so the beginning of the month is a popular time to travel. If you can manage to be on the slopes in the early morning hours of the 1st January, you’re likely to have whole runs to yourself while the rest of the revellers tend to their sore heads!
Once the children have gone back to school, January in Val d’Isère offers 16 lifts and hundreds of runs that are relatively quiet as well as budget-friendly accommodation. Plus, skiers staying in Val d’Isère are close enough to Tignes to enjoy an even wider range of pistes.
The end of the month plays host to the Ski Alpine FIS Europa Cup which is a high calibre competition seeing skiers from around the continent battle it out for the top spot.
Average Daily Temperature: -1°C/-10°C or 30°F/14°F
Average Rainy Days: 8 Days
The Best City Breaks and Culture for January
Sometimes we just need a busy city to take our minds off the chilly, blue days of January. If this is you, take a look at some of our favourite January city breaks so you can indulge in food, fashion, architecture, culture, and nightlife. You can even swap cold winter days for sunnier climes in places like Dubai and Morocco!
11. Chicago, Ilinois, USA
While Chicago may not be the best place to visit in January for your waistline, it is certainly a great place to get your food and culture fix. The city is home to some of the country’s best restaurants and traditional cuisine so you can use the excuse of winter hibernation to treat yourself to some local favourites. Dine out on deep-pan pizza, juicy burgers or some of the best brunches in town.
Whether you stick to downtown or head out to explore some of the city’s parks, you’re sure to find a corner of Chicago that suits your style. Sports fans are also well catered for in Chicago, with the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and White Sox all playing regularly.
January temperatures are definitely on the chilly side, but this cold weather allows for cheap airfares and lower hotel prices so you can get more bang for your buck!
Average Daily Temperature: 0°C/-6°C or 32°F/21°F
Average Rainy Days: 7 Days
While January in Dubai may feel cool to locals, for the rest of us who live in the northern hemisphere, the winter months here will still feel positively balmy! With temperatures in the late teens and twenties, you can happily walk round in lightweight clothing and dresses without being chilly.
Dubai is an adult playground with boozy brunches, endless shopping, stylish hotels and enough infinity pools to fill your Instagram page! But there is plenty for the kids too with theme parks, water parks, outdoor cinema sessions, and the huge Dubai Aquarium.
Of course, it is easy to spend a fortune in Dubai (with designer clothes, swanky restaurants, and high-end hotels) but there are loads of free activities such as the Dubai fountain display and free yoga classes.
Average Daily Temperature: 14°C/23°C or 57°F/73°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
13. Marrakesh, Morocco
Again, Marrakesh is relatively cool by African/Moroccan standards in January, but with sunny days around 19°C, it’s more than pleasant enough to wander around the souks and explore the museums, temples, and spas of the city.
These temperatures also allow you to comfortably dress conservatively and respect the local beliefs and traditions (unlike the summer months when you’re sweltering as soon as you step out the door!). Evenings will, of course, be cooler (as will trips out to the desert) so it’s worth bringing a few extra layers to keep you cosy at night.
While you may not want to spend, spend, spend after the holiday blowout, it’s hard to resist the local handicrafts and spices on offer at Jemaa el Fna. Plus, the whole souk experience is much more relaxed during these winter months, and you won’t be jostling elbow to elbow with hundreds of other travellers, so you can casually peruse the stalls and see what takes your fancy.
Flights and accommodation are usually pretty cheap in January (as it’s the off season) so you can strike a great deal!
Average Daily Temperature: 6°C/19°C or 43°F/66°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
14. Toronto, Canada
Cold temperatures and rain and/or snowfall are likely in Toronto throughout January which tends to put quite a few travellers off, but if you don’t mind wrapping up warm, you can use this shoulder season to make the most of the city. With lower prices and relatively few tourists, January can be a good time to travel.
Shows tend to have good availability and prices, and the January sales here are some of the best, so there are plenty of bargains to be had! The cold month of January also gives you a good excuse to explore some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. The end of the month plays host to the Winterlicious festival in which over 200 Toronto restaurants offer exceptional prix-fixe deals.
If you catch a sunny day, head out of the city to witness the mighty Niagra Falls in relative peace and quiet.
Average Daily Temperature: -1°C/-7°C or 30°F/19°F
Average Rainy Days: 10 Days
15. San Diego
If you want to stick to the US but don’t fancy the cold temperatures of most big cities, head down to San Diego, California for some winter sun. The climate is temperate, days are sunny, and it’s a peaceful place to start the year.
One of the best things about visiting San Diego in January is that you might have the chance of witnessing whales off the coast. The whale season runs from December to March, and you often don’t have to go very far off the shore to spot grey whales flicking their tales out of the water. If you don’t spot any, most companies allow you to go out on another excursion the next day for another opportunity.
January is also a great time for food and drink in San Diego thanks to the famous Restaurant Week and Brew Festival which celebrate local ingredients and specialities.
Average Daily Temperature: 9°C/19°C or 48°F/66°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
Dublin is both pretty cold and pretty popular year-round, so it’s always wise to bring a few layers and to book well in advance. But relatively speaking, you can get some good deals on accommodation in Dublin in January. Hotel rooms are said to see a 35% decrease in price throughout January and the lines at popular tourist attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and the Trinity Library and bound to be shorter during this chilly winter month.
After a day spent wrapped up wandering around the city, pile into one of the pubs around Temple Bar for a refreshing Guinness or a warming glass of whiskey. With roaring fireplaces and some live music playing in the corner,you won’t want to leave!
Average Daily Temperature: 3°C/7°C or 37°F/45°F
Average Rainy Days: 24 Days
Alternative Activities for the First Month of the Year
Each January we start the year off with resolutions (that we probably won’t stick to) and add things to our bucket list that may well be put off for next year…or the year after! This year, why not start things off right by choosing one of these alternative activities for your January vacation? Instead of continuing the holiday indulgence, get in shape or do something you’ve always wanted to do. This will start your year in a positive way and who knows what else you will achieve!
17. Boot Camp in Thailand
Instead of piling into a busy gym or scrabbling to sign up for an oversubscribed fitness class, opt for a boot camp in Thailand to kick-start your new fitness regime. Being surrounded by sunshine and palm trees will put you in the right frame of mind (as opposed to it being dark by 4pm!), and when there are fresh fruits and smoothies on offer daily, it’s much easier to stick to your new healthy routine.
Spend your days working out in open-air gyms with some of the country’s best trainers, before relaxing on the beach and eating dinner with your toes in the sand. If you don’t fancy a solo workout plan, join a Muay Thai school where you’ll learn the art of Thai boxing and have the goal of stepping into the ring at the end of your stay.
Phuket has some of the best boot camps and boxing schools, and the January climate is one of the best in the world!
Average Daily Temperature: 22°C/32°C or 72°F/90°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
18. Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is often high on people’s bucket list, but the trips are often put off year-after-year for fear of them being too expensive or too unpredictable. Start your year off right with a January vacation to see the Northern Lights in North America or Europe.
You can make your trip to see the Northern Lights suit your budget, and if you follow the Aurora forecast, you should be able to get yourself in the right place at the right time to see the spectacular dancing lights.
Explore Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia or Russia for your best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Yes, it will be cold, and you’ll need to wrap up VERY warm, but once you witness the majestic colours all thoughts of the cold will be forgotten!
Average Daily Temperature: Location dependent
Average Rainy Days: Location dependent
See our guide on the best places to see the northern lights
19. South African Safari
January in South Africa is perhaps the best time of year to visit thanks to the temperate climate and accessibility to all things that make the country alluring.
Start your trip by exploring the city of Cape Town, taking in the waterfront bars, high-end shops, and beaches as well as making sure you visit Robben Island and Table Mountain. Then move on to Franschhoek to taste some of the country’s best wines, before finishing your trip up the Garden Route with safaris en route.
While January officially lies in the rainy season in South Africa, Cape Town only receives an average of six days of rainfall and the rain in Kruger National Park is likely to be characterised by a few torrential downpours rather than constant days of drizzle.
The green rainy season does make the wildlife a little harder to spot thanks to the lush, verdant landscapes, but this also makes it all the more beautiful! Your guides will help you look out for the famous Big 5 as well as an array of birds and beetles both big and small.
End your January safari days watching epic African sunsets over the plains with a tasty sundowner in hand – heaven!
Average Daily Temperature: 16°C/26°C or 61°F/79°F
Average Rainy Days: 6 Days
20. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year thanks to the sheer vastness of the landscape, but it is particularly special in January due to the rains that have been falling since December.
Salar de Uyuni is a desert in terms of the amount of rainfall that it receives, so you’re not likely to have days upon days of rain and cloud, but the heavy rains that do come soak the region and allow for a surreal mirror-like glaze on the flats which create perfect reflections of the mountains and sky.
This offers a completely different experience to visiting during the dry season and therefore visiting Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia in January is a must for keen photographers who will be able to take some epic shots.
Average Daily Temperature: 8°C/25°C or 46°F/77°F
Average Rainy Days: 1 Day
21. Yoga Retreat in India
Starting yoga in January is a great habit to get into, and you’ll be able to continually improve and reap the benefits throughout the year. Rather than joining a local class, head to India, the home of yoga, to learn about the deep-rooted history and traditions of the practice.
Whether you’ve never tried yoga before or you are already experienced and want to up your game with a Yoga Teacher Training course, Rishikesh is the ideal spot for kicking back, honing your craft and soaking up the atmosphere.
January temperatures are cool by Indian standards, (but not as cold as December) which means you can enjoy a comfortable practise allowing your muscles to be supple but without sweltering too much!
Plus, you are able to explore the city without hordes of tourists and will be able to witness the peaks of the Himalayas with their snow-capped tops.
Average Daily Temperature: 8°C/21°C or 46°F/70°F
Average Rainy Days: 3 Days
These are just a handful of our favourite places to visit in January and will hopefully give you a good overview about the experiences that are available. It’s a big world out there are we’re lucky enough to have access to most of it so we can choose whether we want to opt for sun or snow or indulgence or fitness at any time of year.
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