I am known to be a summer person and that’s why every winter I try to run away from the cold for two or three weeks and go searching for the sun. Winter in the United Kingdom can be a very depressing season, with a lot of rain and wind, with dim light and darkness coming as early as 4PM. This year I’ve escaped winter by running to South America where I’ve loved every second of the daily temperatures of 35C+ degrees.
For me, Argentina is the perfect destination to run away from the cold of the European winter. The entire time I was there the sky was clear blue and the sun was almost burning. I enjoyed the relaxed days spent in Mendoza, with free wine tastings and all you can eat asados for dinner, with trips to the Andes mountains and to the outdoor hot springs.
When I returned to Europe, with summer still in my mind, I decided to ask other travel bloggers about their perfect destination to escape the winter cold. This is how the “Escape winter” collaboration was born.
Malaysia by Allison Wong
Malaysia is a South-east Asian country that is perpetual summer for being so close to the equator. Temperatures generally range from 32°C/89.6 ºF during the day to about 26°C/78.8 ºF at night throughout the year, with some rains here and there, typical of a tropical weather. Malaysia is best known for its beaches, rainforests, street food, with a fabulous mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences.
Being a former British colony, English is widely spoken here hence communications are very easy here. Getting around is very easy too with well-connected domestic flights and road connections. Malaysia is also home to one of the world’s best low-cost airlines, Air Asia, hence you could easily keep the travelling costs down locally or even to other international destinations. Although neighboring Thailand is better known for its islands and beaches, Malaysia has a lot of underrated choices too, from Langkawi, Redang, Perhentian, Tioman to the dive heaven of Sipadan, you will be spoilt with options that will fit your budget accordingly.
Personally, I’d think Malaysia has better and less crowded beaches with crystal clear water and white sand beaches. You can also find turtle sanctuaries on some of the Malaysian Islands as well. Once you’re done with the islands and beaches, world heritage towns such as Penang and Melaka are the 2 other best places to explore with their signature local delicacies and cultural activities.
To sum it up, if you want to get away to somewhere warm, Malaysia is always one of the best choices, due to its abundance of beautiful beaches, fascinating history and mixed cultures, delectable local cuisines, and amazing nature and wildlife!
Cartagena by Erin Marie Musich
Recently, I visited Cartagena, Colombia on a cruise, and I absolutely fell in love. I knew I would. Cartagena has been on my list of places to visit for quite sometime now. Even though I only got to spend a few hours there, it was the perfect place for a winter escape. To start, there are bright colors everywhere you look. The buildings are yellows and pinks and there are flowers everywhere. It’s hard to be unhappy while walking the streets. We spent time wandering around Old Town, which is a walled in city. The views of the ocean are beautiful from here and this area is full of life.
After, we decided to head to Getsemani, an up and coming area of the city. Here, many of the buildings are adorned with street art, often beautiful works of birds and people. This area is a great spot to soak up the local culture and grab a bite to eat. We found ourselves at La Cocina de Pepina and had the best meal of the trip.
While it rained while we were visiting, there are beautiful beaches and islands you can visit very nearby to the city. When I think of the perfect winter escape, I think of beach time, but a place that also has delicious food and culture is equally important. Cartagena has all of that wrapped into one.
Uganda by Leslie Weighill
Uganda is the perfect winter getaway. Daily temperatures range between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius, and its dry season. Wildlife is easily spotted near natural water sources and along river banks. No worries about rain make evenings at camp relaxing and warm. Pack a few articles of light clothing and don’t forget your binoculars!
Uganda’s national game parks feature over 80 species of mammal, including lions, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, an array of antelopes, hippos, wart hogs, and over 500 species of bird. Uganda is also home to primates including chimpanzees and rare mountain gorillas. Don’t forget, the source of the River Nile is also found in Uganda.
A seven to 10 day trip around Uganda covers all of these. Travelers can start at Jinja with white water rafting on the Nile. You can then travel west, over the equator, to Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, for 4 days of wildlife safari. Another 2 hours of travel west brings visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for gorilla tracking. Heading back, it’s a trip northeast to Kibaale Forest for chimp tracking. Visitors can hire a full service tour company to make all the arrangements. However, if you like to do it yourself, Uganda Wildlife Authority deals directly with the public through their website. You can decide to hire a car or use public transportation to get around the country.
Hopefully, time can be spared for local culture as well. Spending 2 weeks volunteering in a local community is a great way to learn a new culture. Help out on farms, in classrooms, and with community empowerment groups. In return, learn how Ugandans live their life, earn income, cook, and raise their families.
Getting to Uganda is easy too! There are daily flights arriving at Entebbe International Airport from Holland, Belgium, UAE, Qatar, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Cairo.
The Wild Coast of South Africa by Cora
The Wild Coast of South Africa was my favorite part of the country, and it sure is a warm beautiful place! The sea and the sky are a perfect blue and the hilly landscape next to the sea is a perfect green. This is also where the Xhosa people live, you might have heard of them and of their peculiar language that uses « clicks ». Two places to go to discover the Wild Coast and the Xhosa culture:
First is Coffee Bay of course, the landing place for all tourists, where you can surf, enjoy the beach and hike around to Hole in the Wall or to the jumping caves.
Second is Bulungula, a place that you shouldn’t miss if you’re interested in learning more about local culture and the Xhosa. The Bulungula lodge is actually part of a Xhosa village and you can live there with the community, participate in the drum circle, eat pap (a kind of porridge) and much more!
Of course, the rest of South Africa is also hot and dreamy, but for some real beach time and sweaty hikes, the Wild Coast is the place to be!
Barbados by Melissa Ivin
Escape the cold this winter with a long weekend in Barbados! With many direct, cheap flights from the USA, Barbados is an ideal getaway from the chilly winter temps and a lot of fun.
The island is home to some seriously delicious spicy rum punch and has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean. While you’re there, make sure to go cruising on a catamaran, snorkel with turtles, and just sit back, relax, and partake in a beautiful sunset.
One of the more unique attractions on the island is Harrison’s Cave. More than just a single cave, this series of caves is many stories underground and offers incredibly unique geological formations. Make sure to opt for the guided tour—your tour guide will drive you deep underground and wind through the underground world. Another highlight of Barbados is St. Lawrence Gap.
This area is renowned for lively nightlife, amazing restaurants, and shopping. The Gap is a mile long stretch and is 100% the place to go for a night out on the town. With beautiful beaches, caves, delicious rum punch, and hopping nightlife, Barbados is definitely high on my list for escaping winter.
Waikiki Beach Oahu by Valerie Hansen
Waikiki Beach Oahu, is one of the most dreamy vacation spots you can visit! You may think it takes a boatload of money to visit here, but not so. I have been to Oahu 4 times, and every visit has been done on a budget.
You can stay on Lewers street, a few blocks away from the beach. Most of the hotels here are very affordable, such as the Aqua Oasis, a very beautiful remodeled hotel and free breakfast included.
This is a very safe beach for swimming and as you can see breath-taking views as well, especially when the sun sets. Beach activities abound for reasonable prices as well. The beach is crowded most days all day long, we usually end up swimming twice a day: before lunch and later in the afternoon. Do not swim early in the morning, more apt to meet up with a shark!
Another tip, don’t rent a car unless you have to. There is plenty of public transportation and tour buses to get around the island. Everything on the Waikiki strip is within walking distance.
The best times to visit are of course during non-peak times, September to November and January to March. Be for warned you will not want to ever leave, once you set foot on the sand of paradise!
Udaipur – India by Lola Méndez
Udaipur, India is the perfect winter escape due to its year round mild temperatures and tranquil lakes. Known as the Venice of India, Udaipur is a holy city situated on several pristine lakes surrounded by mountains.
Locals can be seen in the mornings bathing at the Ghats and washing their traditional indian clothing in the holy water. The real magic of Udaipur is the lack of chaos that is guaranteed to be found in other Indian cities. Shanti, or peace, has washed over the city that is seriously lacking in the trash and cows typical in Indian cities. Nature lovers can hike to many of the surrounding peaks for a bird’s eye view of the area while city dwellers will enjoy relaxing at a rooftop pool with an endless supply of Chai.
The must see sites here include the City Palace which began being built in 1559 and has had contributions from 22 Kings over the centuries! Visit the Jain temple to learn about the fascinating cruelty free religion and lifestyle. Some of the best shopping in India can be done here with numerous vintage shops and jewellery stands – there is even a stall where you can create your own scent from all natural essential oils.
The highlight of your trip will be taking in traditional Dharohar dance at the Bagore Ki Haveli museum with nightly shows.
Indonesia by Mirre
My best advice for surviving the cold winter is a trip to Indonesia. I just came back from this magical destination and I must say that it’s one of the most beautiful, dreamy destinations that I’ve ever visited. The islands have volcanoes and white-sand beaches along a bright blue sea.
As every island has their own culture, there is enough to explore! Sumatra has jungle and orang-utans, Java has the Borobodur, an age-old Buddhist temple-complex, and several volcanoes which are still active (which you’re able to climb), Bali has its distinctive Hindu culture and the Gili Islands are just Paradise. Do you like diving or snorkelling? You can swim with Manta Rays, Mola Mola’s or even whale sharks and on the Komodo Islands near Flores you will find the dinosaur-like Komodo dragons.
By boat or airplane it’s easy to travel from one island to the other. Travelling in Indonesia is cheap (let’s say ±35 euro per day and you’ll live like a king/queen) and the locals are very friendly and helpful. Relaxing massages and thrilling adventures are waiting for you. Indonesia is everything you’d wish for in wintertime.
Peru by Julianna Barnaby
I love spending (our) winters in South America – there’s nothing more refreshing than getting off a plane and being confronted with beautiful hot sunshine. Escape the chill of winter’s icy embrace, and head to Peru’s beautiful coast, where you can ditch the long johns and hot water bottles for a new pair of sunglasses. Peru’s southern hemisphere position means that when we are shivering in the winter months, the sun is shining on their coast.
Mancora has beautiful sand dusted shores and teal waters, and they are treated to 365 days of sunshine. The warmest months are between December and April, where the temperature reaches highs of 45 degrees.
Alternatively, you can head to Peru’s capital, Lima for some urban exploration. By the beginning of December, the veil of mist covering Lima’s coastline lifts to reveal the city’s stunning views and vibrant culture. This buzzing city is the second driest world-capital, so there’s no risk of being caught in the rain, leaving you with ample opportunity to explore the art, cuisine and aesthetic charm of the city.
If you consider yourself a bit of an adventurer, explore the Ballestas Islands, where you can see a range of marine life, such as sea lions, flamingos and penguins. Be sure to look out for the famous three-pronged Candelabra geoglyph too!
Despite these locations being hot spots to escape the winter months, you’ll want to avoid the Andes and Amazon during these months as it’s the rainy season in these areas. Instead, stick to the coastline where the sun is shining.
Belize by Kym Tyson
Trying to escape the winter blues? Don’t have the budget for Maldives or Fiji? Do you want a raw and an affordable vacation? I highly suggest Belize! Located in Central America on the eastern coast, you can experience the Carribean Sea with some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world.
Great Blue Hole is a scuba diver’s paradise; divers come from all over the world to experience this wonder. Silk Caye (pronounced key) off of Placencia is a snorkeler’s paradise, warm calm waters, beautiful fish, coral, sea turtles and sharks. Head inland and experience the jungle and beautiful Mayan ruins. Immerse yourself and enjoy the culture.
Eat with the local ex pats, watch a local soccer game and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Ambergris Caye is a little touristy in the north or head south to Placencia where it’s quieter. Renting a car is easy and driving the country is beautiful. You can also rent golf carts if you are in an area long enough, but I suggest walking!
This beautiful country is still less traveled and that’s why we love it. We don’t look for the touristy places that cater to the western world. Go to a country because you want to experience what that country has to offer!