Are you considering traveling, but not sure where to go, or what time of year to visit? Then read on for an idea of the best times to visit some of the most beautiful and jaw dropping destinations in the world. Of course, many of the destinations featured are great to visit for more than just that month of the year, some in fact make fantastic year round destinations, but this will hopefully give you some ideas and inspiration.
As a Travel Agent people often ask me to find them holidays at completely the wrong time of year – for example, I want to go to Dubai in August – cheapest time to go, yes, but for a good reason – it is way too hot, and most of the locals leave precisely for that reason. I want to go somewhere in Europe where I can get a tan in January, – it’s very unlikely, or I want to see the Northern Lights in Norway in June – sorry but it’s not going to happen.
As a home based, independent Travel Agent with around 100 destinations under my belt, I am always around to offer advice, not only on which destination to go to but on what to do and some of the best things to do when you get there. As well as the things to avoid of course!
For impartial advice, great choice, great value and great service - get in touch with me and let me quote you for your travels.
So Christmas is over for another year, and as usual, we have over indulged in Turkey and Chocolate, but what is there to look forward to….a cold, wet, miserable January. No wonder then that lots of people find travelling in search of some sun and warmth such an appealing prospect, here are some TOP picks to brighten up you’re January.
Thailand at this time of year is an excellent choice, with it being their cooler (but still hot by our standards), dry season, some beach time in Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samui or Khao Lak is highly recommended, with so many beaches to choose from, there really is something to suit everyone’s taste, and budget.
For something a bit more adventurous, why not consider Africa. January rains are a welcome relief from dry desert heat and bring the quenched plains to life. Journey to Tanzania to watch one of the New Seven Wonders of the World - The Great Wildebeest Migration. Seen in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve this is one of the most spectacular wildlife events on the planet. In January, the herds are in Tanzania's, Serengeti, moving south from the north-east region and into the southern Serengeti, Ndutu area and Ngorongoro Conservation area - which often means out of the confines of the (unfenced) national park itself. It is calving season, so prepare yourself for lots of Bambi’s, and lots of gore as predators swoop in.
Or take a trip to Livingtone in Zambia and visit the spectacular Victoria Falls – where three countries are merged in the spray.
It is also the perfect time to visit Cape Town and the surrounding areas. Try Cage Diving with Sharks and a stay at the ONE & ONLY CAPE TOWN – is highly recommended.
Drive the beautiful renowned Stellenbosch wine route with lots of other activities also on offer in the wine lands including - live performances, spas, bird watching, brandy tasting, art galleries, cheese-making, fly-fishing, game drives, horse riding, olives, food and wine pairings and much more.
January also marks the start of another wildlife showcase. It’s the best time to go whale watching in Baja California on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Try a cruise where you will be right alongside hundreds of whales and dolphins and are guaranteed to see them leap, arch and breach in and out of the ocean.
February may well be bleak in the northern hemisphere, but it is summertime down south and New Zealand and Australia are enjoying outdoor life to the full. Renting an RV (Recreational Vehicle) is a very popular way of getting around and seeing lots. You will be spoiled for choice as you chose which beach to stretch out on, or town or city to visit next.
From coastal journeys and outback adventures, an Australian road trip is one of the best ways to experience the wide-open spaces and magnificent scenery.
The Great Ocean Road in Victoria has been described as the most beautiful coastline in Australia. Most of the major attractions - the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge (now London Arch), and Loch Ard Gorge - are at the western end but beyond Anglesea there are some lovely vistas across the Southern Ocean. A great choice of internal flights also means you can easily explore different parts of both destinations.
Fancy a spot of golfing anyone? February is a great month to golf in some of Europe's hotspots, try mainland Spain, in and around Murcia region and into Valencia, there are literally hundreds of top quality golf courses, including the famous La Manga Club, where there are 3 championship courses, and there is a good chance you could bump into someone famous!
In Hong Kong, 15-day-long festivities kick off in February, when ancient Chinese traditions combine with true multicultural modernity. Relive New Year’s there before spring boarding to dry and sunny Cambodia, or Vietnam to extend your journey in Southeast Asia. You need to book early if you are considering the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Or if fun in the snow is more you’re thing, then why not opt for a skiing holiday? Snow conditions are usually great in Europe in February, my advice is to go early or late February, to avoid the busy half term.
Go see those Northern lights (usually Nov – Mar) in Norway, Sweden, Finland or Iceland.
March is a terrific time to visit the Caribbean and is in the midst of the dry season.
On northern islands, Cuba and the Bahamas, temperatures in March creep upwards from the cooler winter months. In the south, meanwhile, Port of Spain in Trinidad is a hot spot during the days. Ocean temperatures normally stay a consistent 26 degrees Celsius from Puerto Rico, southwards. The water is slightly cooler, at 24.5 °C around the Bahamas.
For many places, including Cuba, Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico, this is normally the driest month of the year. Most areas have less than ten days with rain during March.
Mexico is another fantastic March destination. For a hot holiday under the tropical sun the Yucatan Peninsula and Gulf Coast are the best places in Mexico in March.
The popular resort city of Cancun basks in an average maximum temperature of 29°C in March, with no rainfall to speak of and the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya on the eastern seaboard of Mexico enjoy the perfect holiday weather with hot, sunny days and balmy nights – similar to that of the Caribbean islands not too far away.
The west coast of Mexico has a more temperate Mediterranean-type climate, and is warm and pleasant during March, ideal for golf on the Baja California peninsula. Acapulco on the west is encircled by mountains and has its own humid, tropical micro-climate, which means it sizzles invitingly with temperatures in the region of 30°C during March, as it does most of the year.
As well as the great climate and fantastic beaches and resorts Mexico has to offer, early March is Mardi gras carnival time and most of the country celebrates this festive run-up to Lent with great enthusiasm and wanton revelry. Top spots for Mexican carnival celebrations are Veracruz and Mazatlán.
In Puerta Vallarta sailors put to sea for the renowned Banderas Bay Regatta, complemented with a Nautical Festival ashore while the races take place.
Mexico City puts on a vibrant international arts festival – the Festival de Mexico en el Centro Historico – in mid-March, with all sorts of theatrical, music, dance and art events. Culture is also on the calendar in Tequila in mid-March for a festival which has more to do with the spirit of music and the arts than the famous alcoholic drink named for the town.
My favourite place to go skiing is Lake Tahoe in California (I usually go late March). You can easily combine this with a city stopover in the fantastic San Francisco. With twice daily direct flights available from the UK, it is easily accessible. An easy, stunning 4 hour drive into the mountains with scenery which will take your breath away, will have you arrive at the second largest, and arguably the most beautiful Alpine Lake in the world, high in the Sierra Nevada’s, at an altitude of 6225 feet.
Under one Lake Tahoe sky are over 22,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding adventures, 9 world-class ski resorts, and one unforgettable lake. Heavenly, with the largest ski area, spans both California and Nevada, and you can opt to stay in the more laid back California side, at South Lake Tahoe, or the vibrant Nevada side with its large Casino hotels. Heavenly Village with its gondola to whisk you up over 3000ft sits right on the Stateline, and is a great base. The gondola also boasts one of the best views of the lake (and in the world, in my opinion), and the ride itself to the observation deck is well worth the 5000 mile journey to get there!
As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
Mark Twain (recalling his first sighting of Lake Tahoe)
A great time to visit Japan, where the cherry blossoms, known in Japan as sakura, are usually only in full bloom for around one week. After the period of full bloom the small, round shaped flowers start to flutter gracefully from their trees and the blossoms are said to be the most beautiful in this final stage as the white and pink petals gently float to the ground.
For many Japanese, the blooming of the cherry blossom trees symbolizes human life, transience and nobleness. The Japanese love to celebrate and cherish the cherry blossoms trees during the limited flowering period and many people hold ‘flower watching’ parties known as hanami. You cannot travel to Japan in spring without appreciating the beauty of the sakura and experiencing a hanami party for yourself!!
You can see this spectacle between the end of March and early May, depending on where in the country you go, with April being the prime blossom time country wide.
One of my personal favourite destinations, is the wonderfully diverse state of California, which is great to visit at any time of the year, but spring time tends to see it at its most beautiful. Avoiding USA Spring break week, many of the state’s top tourist attractions are still operating at a slower pace and hotels often charge low-season rates, and everywhere is much less crowded. Take a drive down the Stunning Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Deigo, recommended over about 7 days to fully appreciate all the wonderful places to see, from Monterey, Pismo Beach, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Newport Beach……the list goes on.
South America offers nature lovers a treat with some wonderful bird watching in the Galapagos, including likely sightings of the fascinating mating ritual of the blue-footed booby. The Iguaçu Falls, bordering Brazil and Argentina, are also at their most dramatic after the summer rainfalls.
UAE is also great place to visit in April, whether exploring the thriving cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, or enjoying first class hospitality in one of the many luxury hotels on offer, sunbathing or dipping your toes in the Arabian Gulf.
From Seattle, or Vancouver, why not take a Cruise up to Alaska here – where you will witness some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and you can spot migrating grey whales and their young, along with minke and killer whales.
You can take various shore excursions - visit Juneau, catch “gold fever” and experience what it was like to seek your fortune during Gold Rush days! Learn to pan for gold and discover Juneau’s colourful mining heritage. Or try your hand at sea kayaking. Learn to handle a kayak from an expert, then put your new skills to use with an unforgettable seaborne adventure. Glide through the waters native-style, get up-close looks at wildlife and enjoy ever-changing views of the Mendenhall Glacier. Or visit Skagway, with a population of less than 900 people this is a must see location. A Southeast Alaskan paradise, full of culture and brimming with life, breath-taking local wildlife and astoundingly beautiful Scenery.
Why not explore Marrakesh’s souks, or for a trip in the mountain air, hike along the wildflower trails of the High Atlas in Morocco. The comfortable temperature allows you to enjoy the scenery by day and camp out in Bedouin-style tents by night. Treat yourself and have a few nights at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot – it’s not as expensive as you would think and getting there is easy with direct flights now from UK.
New York, is great to visit anytime, however some say that Spring time (May) in the City is one of the best time to visit. It usually means less humidity and temps between 14 and 22 degrees.
May is a great time to also visit European cities, before the summer heat takes hold.
Why not experience the glitz and glamour of Monaco with a trip to the most famous Grand Prix?
For something different to the norm, how about Istanbul for a long weekend. So many boutique hotels, mosque’s an shopping – just a 4 hour direct flight from the UK with regular flights from a number of UK airports. Or Granada, Spain for a visit to the Alhambra, the last and greatest Moorish palace. For two centuries, until 1492, Granada reigned as the capital of a dwindling Moorish empire. As Christian forces pushed the Moors farther and farther south, this palace was the last hurrah of a sophisticated civilization.
In Asia, only really Indonesia escapes the highly unpleasant weather during this monsoon period, and June is a great time to visit before its beaches get too crowded in July and August. Why not try Bali’s soft-sand beaches at a time of year before the crowds hit their peak. Planning in advance pays off, as some of the best hotels book up quickly.
Malaysia is experiencing a small respite between its two monsoon periods in June, and can be a lovely destination at this time of year.
June also marks the beginning of the dry season in southern Africa. For something very different to the norm, let us design you a trip to Rwanda gorilla trekking. New-born gorillas are given their names in a traditional festival there each June. This would pair nicely with a safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara.
[caption id="attachment_2647" align="alignnone" width="300"] A baby gorilla in the forest of the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda chews a small branch. It is being held by its mother, but only her chest can be seen beside the baby's head.[/caption]
June is also an ideal time for visiting Costa Rica in the quieter green (or rainy) season when you’ll still find plenty of dry weather, quieter national parks and better views of the famous Arenal Volcano. Lots of parts of Central America are still relatively undiscovered and is one of the new ‘cool’ places to go. We can arrange escorted tours or self-guided itineraries for you to make most of Latin America.
June is also a great time to visit Europe’s popular beach destinations, before they hot up too much, and get really busy once the school holiday season starts in July.
Ladakh in India is an ideal destination for July, with warm weather and little rain to accompany the Himalayan scenery. Spend time in Leh immersing yourself in the Tibetan Buddhist culture and exploring the monasteries, lakes and high-altitude deserts.
The Manu Rainforest in Peru is well worth a visit in the month of July and a great extension to your trip once you have visited Machu Picchu. This also means you can hang up your hiking boots and relax. Or Take the South American version of the Orient Express, through Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Belmond’s Hiram Bingham takes you through scenery of outstanding beauty. We did this earlier in the year and loved it. Or take an extension to the Galapagos Islands, just a short flight from Peru – we believe that The Galapagos, as well as Machu Picchu should feature highly on everyone’s bucket list.
Mauritius is an island that lies off the coast of Africa in the south west of the Indian Ocean. It sits 900km to the east of Madagascar and the republic of Mauritius is in fact made up of several islands including the main island of Mauritius, the island of Rodrigues, the Agalega islands, and the Cardagos Carajos Shoals.
The beautiful island, one of the richest countries in Africa, is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, receiving approximately seven million visitors across the year. It plays host to some of the most spectacular beaches in all of the Indian Ocean such as Grand Bay, Belle Mare, Blue Bay, La Morne and Tamarin and Flic en Flac. Mauritius has long been known for its amazing natural beauty, so much so that Mark Twain the famous author put it well when he said "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius".
July is in Mauritius winter, which is warm and dry and while it is only slightly cooler the summer months, conditions aren’t nearly as wet and humidity is slightly lower.
So Scotland’s schools have already been out for a month, and now English schools are out for summer. Anywhere in Europe for the weather is a great destination, and with direct flights from most UK airports to many destinations, there is not much need to go further afield. It does get extremely hot some places though, with temperatures often into 40’s. My top 5 would be Spanish mainland, Turkey, Croatia, Greek Islands or the Balearics. If you have specific requirements , book early to avoid disappointment as flights and the best hotels fill up quickly during peak holiday times.
If you fancy going further afield then Africa plays backdrop to one of the great wildlife spectacles: The Great Wildebeest Migration is a movement of approximately 1.5 million wildebeest throughout the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems. 400,000 zebra and 200,000 gazelles accompany them along the way, making a total of over 2 million migrating animals! We already featured this in January, but as early as the 1st July the very first crossings of the Mara River begin, with the front runners of the mega herd pushing through. These river crossings are fantastic, and often referred to as the Greatest Show on Earth.
Why not combine a Safari with some chill out time on the beach completely unspoilt beaches in Zanzibar.
Or travel to Kandy in Sri Lanka at the time of the Parahera Festival held at the Temple of the Tooth, where Buddha’s tooth is said to rest. Get swept up in dancing and parades by torchlight.
September kicks off the changing of the seasons in many regions, bringing with it shifting climates and bright landscapes. Before the wet season sets in, take a trip to Borneo and observe the orang-utan at the Sepilok sanctuary in Kota Kinabalu. While in Borneo, take a trip to Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and visit the Istana Nurul Iman, the seat of the Brunei government and the largest residential palace in the world or The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque –
Built in 1958, it features a golden dome and an interior of Italian marble walls, carpeting and an elevator. It also has tunnels, which are used by the sultan on journeys through the town. This is considered by some one of the world's most beautiful mosques. Or take boat trip to Kampong Ayer or Water Village which is a floating city along the banks of the river which is home to 39,000 people, roughly ten percent of the nation's total population. All of the Water Village buildings are constructed on stilts above the Brunei River.
And there’s no better place to witness the seasons change than in China, as the locals celebrate the harvest season across the country with the Mid-Autumnal Festival. With a huge selection of tours available throughout China it feels almost like you are having 3 holidays in one. With so much on offer, it is advisable to book a guided or escorted tour.
If you wanted to try something completely different and like the buzz of a city, then September is a great time to visit Beirut. On the Mediterranean, with a host of restaurants, bars and clubs and shops a plenty – this is an ideal place to visit for just a few days away.
October is a great time to immerse yourself completely in another culture. Head to India and join millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for Diwali, the ancient Hindu festival celebrated every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in Hinduism. It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Experience the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival with the locals in Myanmar, where revered Buddha images are paraded around Inle Lake in an elaborate barge for over 20 days. Or discover the historical sites in Jordan, where the lifting of the summer heat allows you to explore in comfort the Roman ruins at Jerash, and biblical sites such as Mt Nebo and the desert of Wadi Rum. Jordan is an amazing place to visit, with few tourists, and is very safe and cheap to get to, and not really too far away.
One of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers in October is Orlando, but rather than the theme parks, why not opt for a Fly Drive, taking in Florida’s other sites and beautiful beaches. Visit Clearwater, or St Pete’s, Drive down the gulf coast to Naples, visit one of the beautiful Islands off the coast, known as shell islands as the pure white sand is made of tiny ground shell particles. Take an airboat ride through the Everglades, or drive down U.S. Highway 1, the oversea highway that runs from Key Largo south to Key West. Today this unique coastal highway allows you to drive through the tropical islands of the Florida Keys and view exotic plants and animals found nowhere else on the US mainland and allows travellers access to the largest coral reef chain in the United States that runs through the Florida Keys. There is SO MUCH more to Florida than Mickey Mouse and theme parks and October is a great time to explore it.
Though the temperatures may begin to drop back here, November still offers plenty of opportunity for travelling and active adventure.
Enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving in the warmer temperatures of the Red Sea in Egypt, where the water is a clear blue and the coral reefs teem with marine life.
Or visit one of my favourite places, where you can also find some of the best snorkelling in the world, right off the beach, on the Island’s house reef, or go scuba diving, swimming with whale sharks and manta rays, but also enjoy some of the most remote and beautiful beaches in the world, where else….. The Maldives. Treat yourself to the ultimate in luxury and wake up in your overwater villa every morning and see the marine life right at the bottom of your own stairs, into the gorgeous clear lagoon. We can help you choose your Island carefully based on what it is you are looking for, some have better snorkelling then others, some are best for diving and others are for pure luxury and indulgence. There are over 110 resorts to choose from in The Maldives, many of them on their very own Islands. Earlier this year, I visited Vilamendhoo, which has one of the best house reefs in the Maldives, and fell in love…..
Experience Vietnam by bicycle, along the countryside around the historic merchants’ town of Hoi An or through the rice terraces and remote villages of Sapa. Or take a cruise on the Mekong river.
Fancy a bit of thrill? Then why not head to Abu Dhabi for the last race of the year in the F1 calendar? With free concerts, access to Ferrari World and great weather, it is sure to be a hit.
There are often great deals to be found to the Caribbean in November, before prices are hiked up for Christmas. And, if like me Bora Bora is on your bucket list, then November is a good time to go as flights are at their lowest.
December brings celebrations of all shapes and sizes across the world. Embrace a wintry yet magical Christmas in Russia, where Gorky Park turns into an ice rink and sleigh rides are offered throughout the month.
LAPLAND is a must if you have children (or even if you don't as I found out for myself this December past), where you can experience the real magic of Christmas in a beautiful winter wonderland, visit Santa, take a sleigh ride, drive your very team of very eager huskies dog-sledding or snowmobiling. It is a trip you will never forget or regret, but book early as it sells out every year. With flights from most UK airports, you can do 2/3 or 4 night breaks, and you can now even do Santa DAYTRIPS from an airport near you!
December 2015, I experienced a River Cruise along the Danube taking in Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, to name but a few of our stops, and visited some wonderful Christmas markets, which are a must see in December. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to try river cruising.
Why not top off your year joining in a New Year’s celebration in another part of the world. Travel to Brazil and watch the cariocas (Rio’s locals) dressed in white as they gather on a sunny Copacabana in tribute to the goddess of the sea.
Or head to Australia for a New Year’s celebration of a lifetime in Sydney. Witness fireworks exploding off the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, while enjoying the summer temperatures – a most magical New Years’ experience!
If you do want to get away at Christmas or New Year, then I would suggest booking in January the year before, as soon as flight schedules are released. Although expensive, this is still one of the busiest times of year for people to travel and flights fill up quickly.
One other place you may notice I have failed to mention is Las Vegas, which is another place I think everyone should visit at least once, and again is a great year round destination. Pair it with Skiing in winter, great golf destination year round, but beware of summer temperatures which in the desert are likely to be well over 30 degrees.
I hope this has helped inspire you to get out and see what the world has to offer.