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23 best places to visit in January

snowy village

The gifts are unwrapped, you’ve attended soooo many holiday parties, and it’s now the start of the New Year. January is the month of optimism, resolutions, and planning for the next 365 days. After the hectic holiday season we could all use a little escape, am I right?

If your cash flow is feeling tight, don’t fear. January is historically one of the cheaper months to jet set! Whether you’re looking to escape the cold or head somewhere snowy for a winter wonderland, it’s the perfect time to detox and travel to an exciting new place. The only question is, where to? Here are the best places to visit in January.

23. Tromsø, Norway

If winter is here, we might as well embrace it, right? And there’s nothing better than winter in the Nordic countries. Tromsø, Norway, in January is an aurora extravaganza. It might be freezing, but it’s also the best time to watch the Northern lights doing their celestial dance.

But that’s not all. A lot of snow also means there’s plenty of opportunity to go skiing or snowboarding. Many locals choose to go on day trips to see the nearby winter landscapes too. 

22. Marrakech, Morocco 

January in Marrakech is actually the wettest month. But we’re talking about a desert-clad land here. So it’s a welcome change. If you’re looking for an escape from the freezing cold, the warm and sunny country of Morocco is one of the top choices.

Not only is it a cultural feast (with lip-smacking food and fascinating art), but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful medinas and palaces on Earth. Plus, the bustling souks are more enjoyable without the sweltering heat, and flooding tourists. 

21. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Seems like everyone’s packing their bags to make a tropical getaway every time the mercury drops. And why wouldn’t they? Vietnam has everything you could need to warm up your soul. 

Explore the vibrant street life. Roam the bustling markets. Check out the tranquil pagodas – all without the humidity weighing you down. You can even check out the preparation before the Lunar New Year and the Flower Festival. Plus, it’s the prime season for enjoying Vietnam’s delectable street food (only breaking a sweat when you get a delicious but peppery bite). 

Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Image source:Contiki

20. Praia, Cape Verde 

If you’re looking for an adventurous sun-kissed retreat in January, you need to go to Cape Verde. You’ll be welcomed by a bright, sunny sky reflecting on the serene blue waters. Shop at the colourful Sucupira market. Sip on a Caipirinha at Prainha Beach. Geek out at the Museum Amilcar Cabral. Or hike to Santiago Island. You’ll never be bored here. 

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19. Cape Town, South Africa

Love Jazz? You’ll love Cape Town in January. It marks the peak of the Cape Town Jazz Festival, a world-renowned event that fills the city with rhythm and melody. The Winelands are in full bloom too, making every sunset a celebration of life. And obviously, the sunny beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are a golden change from the winter blues. You can also explore the nearby cities, or take the Garden Route to visit all the iconic landmarks of South Africa. 

Contiki travellers in Kruger National Park on safari

Image source:Contiki

18. Barbados

For those knee-deep in winter and unable to see the light at the end of the freezing season, Barbados is a grade-A place for you to travel to in January. Seriously, average daytime temperatures are 84°F/ 28°C and the lows only dip to 73°F/22°C. You are going to be in a sunny paradise. Plus, it’s the dry season in the Caribbean so rain is something you don’t have to worry about.

Famous for its pearly-white sand beaches and clear, turquoise waters, there’s something to do for everyone. From sunbathing to surfing, diving with turtles, or even snorkelling through the colourful reefs, this is a destination you won’t regret.

17. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Looking for a January getaway that’s full of natural beauty? Head to the remote Galapagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador. A destination with an abundance of wildlife as well as some of the world’s rarest animals like the marine iguana (the only lizard who can swim in the sea).

You won’t run out of to-dos. Safely explore the Sierra Negra (Isabela Island’s active volcano), go diving and share the waters with tropical fish and sea lions, or just lay back and take it all in this is a wildlife watcher’s paradise. Whatever you end up doing, give yourself extra time to wander around the Galapagos’s stunning landscapes and spot the magnificent creatures who call it home.

galapagos islands

Image source:Contiki

16. Rome, Italy

Want to visit one of the world’s most iconic cities without crowds of tourists? Then January is the ideal time for you to hop over and visit the Eternal City. There’s so much to do in Rome at this time of year. You can visit the most popular sightseeing destinations like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, Trevi Fountain, Trastevere neighbourhood, and the Spanish Steps with no lines or crowds.

Plus, because it’s ‘off-season’ in Europe, this is one of the most affordable times to visit Rome, so you’ll save money on flights and get to indulge in some post-holiday sale shopping.

15. Tortuguero, Costa Rica

January in Costa Rica means sunny skies and rain-free days. This is an adrenaline-junkies’ haven and adventure is always right around the corner – from zip-lining through the jungles to waterfall hiking and even suspension bridge walks.

For all of those activities and more, we recommend checking out Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano, and Hot Springs. So, what are you waiting for? Find out what pura vida means for yourself!

Image source:Contiki

14. Amsterdam

Visit Amsterdam in January for some of the best winter wonderland vibes. From December to mid-January the city lights up during the Amsterdam Light Festival with big and colourful installations. TBH, there is no better time to wander through the canals and there is no better way to see them than by hopping on a canal cruise.

Want to up your wintery vibes even more? Go to Ice Amsterdam, where Museumplein is transformed into a big ice rink, it’s located in front of the Rijksmuseum and next to the famous Vondelpark. With fewer visitors and the chilly winter weather, Amsterdam is one of the best places to visit in January.

13. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

If you’re a first-timer in Dubai, January is the month to go. The city comes alive during this time thanks to the Dubai Shopping Festival, held every year from the end of December to early February.

The City of Gold also holds live concerts with international superstars, and has citywide raffles, sparkling firework shows, and unbeatable shopping experiences and deals. Think sprawling desert, ultra-modern architecture, and a lively nightlife… need we say more?

12. Brugge, Belgium

This mediaeval city, adorned with cobblestone streets and picturesque canals, takes on a magical charm in January. The crisp winter air will keep you enchanted as you stroll through Markt Square (that’s framed by historic buildings and the iconic Belfry Tower).

Winter in Europe means fewer tourists, allowing you to truly savour attractions like the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Groeningemuseum. And oh, don’t forget to warm up with a cup of rich Belgian hot chocolate in one of the cosy cafes. Or skate on the ice rink in Minnewaterpark. 

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11. Cairns, Australia

Craving summertime? Head down under to the Southern Hemisphere in January when the summer heat is in full-swing with average highs of 36! It’s a magical time to visit Australia, schools are on break and it is peak travel season, you’ll really see the country come alive.

With coastal cities, white sand beaches, and laid-back vibes you’ll find so much to do from snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef to sailing through the dreamy The Whitsunday islands. And if you are in town January 26, join in on the celebrations of Australia Day including boat races, parades, concerts, fireworks, and a cricket match.

Female solo traveller in her early twenties, clothed in green dress and Australian wide-brimmed hat, stands in front of Uluru.

Image source:Contiki

10. Auckland, New Zealand

Another January hotspot, New Zealand also brings warm vacation weather which makes it a great time to experience the best of the country’s natural beauty. Plan yourself an outdoor adventure-filled itinerary. Experience the breathtaking scenery nearby Auckland (with a twist) – try boogie boarding down sand dunes on the beach, kayak around Cathedral Cove or geek out over Lord of the Rings at Hobbiton. A trip to New Zealand in January is SO worth it.

9. Venice, Italy

January might be the coldest month of the year in Italy but it’s actually one of the best times to explore Venice! Cosy up with some hot chocolate or espresso and explore the mysterious, foggy streets and canals. In early January, the Venetians celebrate the post-holiday traditions of Epiphany with La Regatta – a boat race where the men dress up as La Befana (a witch-like figure who brings gifts) and race through the Grand Canal. 

Group of 5 young travellers sit in gondola, floating down Venice canal

Image source:Contiki

8. Delhi, India

Want to take the ultimate travel plunge? Visit India in January to experience the hustle and bustle of the most populous country in the world. If you’re looking for a high-energy vacation, this is the best place for you. Wintertime is peak travel season and generally, the weather is warm but can get chilly if you visit the North.

Visit places like the Agra (just a short drive from Delhi) to see the Taj Mahal or go on a sunrise safari through Ranthambore National Park. You could also witness the magnificent Republic Day parade in Delhi on January 26. Old and new, vast and varied, colourful and chaotic, this is a trip of a lifetime and no matter when you visit this special place.

7. London, United Kingdom

London town in January is a fine time to get inspiration, motivation, and see a peaceful side of the city. London after the holidays is a bit quieter and if you’re on a budget, this is one of the best months to travel.

Plus, there are so many winter activities around the city like gazing at the Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf, grab a hot chocolate and walk through London’s parks, or skate at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink till January 12.


Image source:Contiki

6. Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been an up-and-coming destination for years now. The tropical climate and picture-perfect coastlines are just a few reasons why this tiny island nation has seen a surge in visitors. If you are into incredible cuisine and want to soak up some sunshine, January has the best weather so get ready to explore.

Its capital, Colombo is a great place to dive into local culture whether that is the distinctive foods, rich history or water sport fanatics. There are so many reasons to make sure Sri Lanka is on your travel list.

5. Paris, France

Paris is always a good idea, no matter what time of year. But January in the City of Love has a different vibe. The centre of all things art, fashion and culture, during this calm, winter month you’ll also feel a sense of relaxation. Don’t let the chilly weather get you down, be sure to pack waterproof shoes, an umbrella and a good coat. Then head off to the iconic Eiffel Tower, take shelter in the Louvre, or kick back and enjoy the Parisian café culture. Fresh pastry, anyone?

travellers in Paris on holiday

Image source:Contiki

4. Nagano, Japan

There’s something utterly special about every one of the seasons in Japan. However, winter may just be the most magnificent. Sure, it’s cold, but seeing Nagano during the snowy season is jaw-dropping, which makes this one of the best places to visit in January.

Beat the crowds and take in tranquil snow capped Japanese architecture, strap on your skis and shred the Japanese Alps or relax by soaking in a steaming hot onsen (hot springs). In case you need more convincing, two words: snow monkeys.

3. Los Angeles, USA

If you’re into the beach, mountains, and sprawling cityscapes, LA is your go-to January vacation. By now, the end of the year visitors have cleared out and you can explore all of the best attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, LACMA, or hike from the Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood sign without the crowds.

The weather is mild (warm for those that experience real winter) and the majority of the month will have clear or partly sunny skies and the best sunsets you’ve ever seen. Trust us, winter in Los Angeles is seriously underrated.


Image source:Contiki

2. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Plan a visit to Thailand this January – it tops the charts for the most-visited country in southeast Asia. Why? To put it simply, the affordable prices, mouthwatering street food and jaw-dropping markets. Oh and the people are unbelievably friendly, while the tropical beaches of the Phi Phi islands look like postcards IRL. If you’re looking for some seaside fun, you’ll have plenty of activities like snorkelling and scuba diving to do here too. Nothing like a bit of Thai island hopping to kick off the new year. 

1. Salzburg, Austria

And the first spot on our best places to visit in January list goes to… Salzburg, Austria. Austria in winter is straight outta a fairytale. And if you’re a snow bunny, this is definitely your spot. Explore the land of spectacular alpine villages, ski resorts, and friendly locals. There are endless things to do from skiing in the Alps to hiking through the wintery villages and even ice skating. This stunning country is number one for a reason and we say, why wait, book a trip now!

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