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Where to Travel in January: In Our Expert Opinion

Why not start the new year as you mean to go on with an unforgettable trip abroad?

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People skiing on large snowy mountains in the French Alps, France

Still nursing a hangover and owning lighter bank accounts, most people rarely stop to consider looking at where to travel in January. Despite this, it’s actually a fantastic month to get away, providing you with the opportunity to soak up some winter sun or experience a place in its quieter moments, juxtaposed with the usual hordes of tourists you dread. How do we know all of this? Here at Plum Guide we’re the experts. We know exactly where to go on holiday in January, as well as February, March, April…you get the idea. From what to do and see, what to eat and drink, how to get there and everything in between, our experts have got you covered. So, grab the suitcases and let’s take a look at the very best places to visit in January.

Rome, Italy

A narrow cobbled street with green plants, Rome, Italy

A narrow cobbled street with green plants, Rome, Italy

If you associate Rome with hordes of tourists and long queues, that’s completely understandable - and it's why we’re giving you the nudge to go in January. All the monuments will be far less busy, all your favourite pasta, pizza, and wine is still there, and all the fares for flights and accommodation are cheaper. Pack a winter jacket for the colder winter temperatures - no need to thank us.

Il Giardino, Plum Guide home in Rome, Italy

Il Giardino, Plum Guide home in Rome, Italy

Sydney, Australia

A view of buildings and skyscrapers in the city from across a large body of water, Sydney, Australia

A view of buildings and skyscrapers in the city from across a large body of water, Sydney, Australia

If we’re talking about new year celebrations and fireworks, it’s hard to ignore Sydney. Seeing the fireworks display light up the famous harbour, bridge, and opera house is a bucket list item for anyone. The great news is that on top of these unforgettable new year celebrations, January has Australia sizzling in the middle of summer. With a huge range of beaches to choose from and chilled out neighbourhoods to explore, it’s a great holiday destination if you’re looking at where to travel in January.

French Alps, France

An aerial view of snow-covered mountains on a sunny day in the French Alps, France

An aerial view of snow-covered mountains on a sunny day in the French Alps, France

The best place to travel in January? It may just be the French Alps, this is the finest time of year for your skiing holiday, after all. You’ll find countless iconic resorts and towns to choose from, including Val Thorens, Tignes, and Alpe d’Huez. Within these, you have the picture-perfect checklist of world-class ski runs, jaw-dropping mountains, beautiful chalets, delicious foods (including the very best French bread and cheese), and of course, wine. It’s a no brainer.

The Art of Flight, Plum Guide home in France

The Art of Flight, Plum Guide home in France

Phuket, Thailand

A wooden bridge and a pergola over the clear sea in Phuket, Thailand

A wooden bridge and a pergola over the clear sea in Phuket, Thailand

When it comes to where to travel in January, Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations - not just in Thailand, but all of Southeast Asia. And it isn't hard to see why. If you could conjure up the perfect image of a tropical paradise, this is it. There are countless palm-lined stretches of beach to explore, where white sands and inviting blue water abounds. In January, you’ll find the perfect time to visit with temperatures sitting around 27⁰C, clear blue skies, and plenty of sunshine slap bang in the middle of the dry season.

Mexico City, Mexico

Tourists walking around the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Tourists walking around the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico

January is the best time of year to visit Mexico City. In the heart of the dry season, you’ll find glorious weather and less crowded streets - the same can't be said during December and February when more people are travelling, as well as schools being on holiday. There is a rich, underrated wealth of history to uncover here, with some fascinating museums (Museo Nacional de Antropología) and galleries (Museo Frida Kahlo), beautiful neighbourhoods (Juarez is a favourite), and of course, an array of irresistible street food.

Rooftop Sunsets, Plum Guide home in Mexico City, Mexico

Rooftop Sunsets, Plum Guide home in Mexico City, Mexico

Cape Town, South Africa

Rocks in the clear sea at a beach by colourful beach huts, Cape Town, South Africa

Rocks in the clear sea at a beach by colourful beach huts, Cape Town, South Africa

January sees summer in full swing in Cape Town. There’s not a better time of year to visit this glorious city, famed for its many outdoor activities set amongst iconic landscapes. Rise at the crack of dawn to hike up Lions Head for a memorable sunrise, conquer the world-famous Table Mountain (there is a cable car option, if you don’t fancy the three hour hike), or enjoy pumping surf at some of the most gorgeous beaches on the African continent. Did we mention how good the food and wine is down here? There’s no place else like it.

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A view over the city from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A view over the city from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Technically, Hogmanay (the reason you want to visit Edinburgh at this time of the year) is December 31st. It’s the world-famous festival that see’s in the Scottish New Year celebrations in Edinburgh. Expect grand fireworks all around the city, plenty of drinks (mostly whiskey, of course), hearty food, street performances, parades, and more. It’s undoubtedly the best time of the year to be in the Scottish capital - you’ll want to spend a few days exploring afterwards, at the beginning of January.

Little Epiphany, Plum Guide home in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Little Epiphany, Plum Guide home in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Trinidad & Tobago

A red beach hut by palm trees on a beach in Trinidad & Tobago

A red beach hut by palm trees on a beach in Trinidad & Tobago

This dual-island Caribbean nation may sometimes fly under the radar in comparison with Barbados and Jamaica (more on that later), but it’s always fun to get off the beaten track. You’ll find some very distinct Creole cuisine and traditions, as well as unspoiled nature - particularly on the smaller island of Tobago, well known for untouched beaches and the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve. January is the best time of year to visit with clear skies and warmth guaranteed.

Brussels, Belgium

Tourists walking around a large building with gold decorations in a town square, Brussels, Belgium

Tourists walking around a large building with gold decorations in a town square, Brussels, Belgium

While Brussels will certainly be a little colder than Trinidad and Tobago at this time of year, it does give you the opportunity to explore without the crowds. As is the case with many Northern European cities, all the best things to do are often inside anyway. Whether you’re marvelling at the beautiful architecture, indulging in way too much chocolate (we’re all guilty here), or exploring one of the many museums and galleries, you’ll find it cheaper and quieter than at any other time of the year.

Belgian Waffles, Plum Guide home in Brussels, Belgium

Belgian Waffles, Plum Guide home in Brussels, Belgium

Dubai, UAE

A view of skyscrapers by a beach at sunset in Dubai, UAE

A view of skyscrapers by a beach at sunset in Dubai, UAE

Dubai is a renowned destination - a place that tends to make us think of intense heat, desert, and air con. While January is still quite hot, it’s not as bad as other times of the year - the maximum daily temperature is a very agreeable 24⁰C. Take the jet skis for a spin, tear up the dunes in your 4x4 buggy, or head up to the knee-trembling heights of the world’s tallest skyscraper. Dubai is one gigantic desert playground that never does things by half - it guarantees an unforgettable trip.

Los Angeles, USA

Skyscrapers in the city skyline at night, Los Angeles, USA

Skyscrapers in the city skyline at night, Los Angeles, USA

Where to next? Well, if we’re on the subject of popular destinations such as Dubai, how about LA? January is certainly cooler, but it’s not freezing by any means, and the crowds are thinned out in comparison to the summer months. It’s a great time to visit the City of Angels. Take in the classic views at the Griffith Observatory, walk down the boulevards of Hollywood in your very own real-life movie, or sample the unmistakable American dreams of Venice beach.

Bay View House, Plum Guide home in Los Angeles, USA

Bay View House, Plum Guide home in Los Angeles, USA

Morocco

Two hot air balloons floating over the Sahara desert, Morocco

Two hot air balloons floating over the Sahara desert, Morocco

Morocco is a country that should be on everyone’s list, and January could well be the best time to tick it off. Although it is technically winter, it’s pretty mild (20⁰C) in comparison to destinations higher up in the northern hemisphere. It’s hard to pick out just one highlight given the rich culture and history, but the food here is to die for. Couscous, meatball tagine, seafood and spices…it’ll keep you coming back again and again.

Palm Springs, USA

A white signpost by palm trees on a golf course in Palm Springs, USA

A white signpost by palm trees on a golf course in Palm Springs, USA

Another hot US destination, Palm Springs sees some of its finest weather in January, with daily temperatures sat at a mild 22°C. It’s the best time to explore the nearby Coachella Valley, as well as the four mountain ranges of San Bernardino, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino. As you can imagine, there are loads of trails out here for hikes, bikes, and horse riding. If the active lifestyle isn’t quite what you were looking for, it’s nice to know that Palm Springs is also home to some of the best spas, hotels, and golf courses in the US.

Crash Bandicoot, Plum Guide home in Palm Springs, USA

Crash Bandicoot, Plum Guide home in Palm Springs, USA

Laos

Green rice fields next to a boardwalk in front of large mountains, Laos

Green rice fields next to a boardwalk in front of large mountains, Laos

If you’re looking for warm, sunny days with no rainfall in Southeast Asia, you need to check out Laos in January. This gem often flies under the radar, wedged in between the shadows of Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Despite this, it has a lot to offer. Discover the delights of the Mekong River, French Colonial architecture, Buddhist monasteries, and ancient hill tribe settlements - all without the crazy tourist crowds you’d expect in other parts of this region.

New York, USA

The Statue of Liberty in front of the city skyline, New York, USA

The Statue of Liberty in front of the city skyline, New York, USA

Yes, it’s going to be freezing cold in January - you might even catch some snowstorms. But this is New York, ladies and gentlemen. Besides, the world’s most photographic city may well look even better in a blanket of white powder. Additionally, if you’re looking for an unforgettable party for your New Year celebrations, head to Times Square to watch the big ball drop live. Once those festivities and celebrations are done, you should find that airfares and accommodation are really cheap, too.

In the Heights, Plum Guide home in New York, USA

In the Heights, Plum Guide home in New York, USA

Jamaica

Palm trees by the clear blue sea on a beach in Jamaica

Palm trees by the clear blue sea on a beach in Jamaica

If those brisk, freezing temperatures of New York are too much for you, how about Jamaica instead? With its unique culture, laid back lifestyle, delicious food, and friendly people, this Caribbean island nation is a lovely place to be in January. You’ll want to pack for the beach, with daily temperatures hitting 29°C. A cocktail with iced rum (or two) should help cool you down.

Porto, Portugal

A yellow tram in front of a small cathedral in Porto, Portugal

A yellow tram in front of a small cathedral in Porto, Portugal

Porto is another one of those destinations where, while the weather can be a little rougher in January, it’s never freezing or inhospitable. It’s a great time to visit, because the crowds are gone - so you have the place to yourself and can really get a feel of what it’s like to live here as a local. We recommend you try the Francesinha, the well-known local sandwich, and, of course, the port wine.

Fire Engine Red, Plum Guide home in Porto, Portugal

Fire Engine Red, Plum Guide home in Porto, Portugal

Kenya

Two elephants walking in a grassy field in front of a tall snow-capped mountain, Kenya

Two elephants walking in a grassy field in front of a tall snow-capped mountain, Kenya

When it comes to answering “which country is best in January?” it’s often about finding the places with the nicest weather. Kenya certainly ticks the boxes, with January being one of the coolest, driest months in its calendar. You’ve got the best of everything here, with a remarkable coastline on the Indian Ocean (there’s plenty of beaches and resorts to choose from), as well as the renowned wildlife-spotting opportunities in the interior. Expect to find lions, rhinos, and elephants in amongst the savannah, lakelands, and mountain highlands.

Majorca, Spain

A white bicycle standing next to a wall by a beach in Majorca, Spain

A white bicycle standing next to a wall by a beach in Majorca, Spain

While temperatures are certainly a little cooler than peak summer months, 15°C in European winter is nothing to be sniffed at - it’s also incredibly dry here throughout January. Known in certain places for its rowdy nightlife, this Balearic island has significantly more on offer if you go exploring in the off season. Check out the many Roman and Moorish remains, hidden amongst sheltered coves and limestone mountains. And yes, the beach resorts are still there - a little quieter than usual, but no less enjoyable.

Climbing Gardens, Plum Guide home in Majorca, Spain

Climbing Gardens, Plum Guide home in Majorca, Spain

Panama

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral on a sunny day, Panama

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral on a sunny day, Panama

Last up (but certainly not least) on our list, we have Panama. January is the driest part of the year and believe us, there is a lot more to see here than a large canal. This central American gem is home to lush rainforests and mountains that offer up incredibly rich biodiversity. Meanwhile, Panama City is a thriving modern capital with skyscrapers, casinos, and nightclubs, as well as the charming old neighbourhood of Casco Viejo.

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