Where To Go In January
For many of us, January is the lull between a busy Christmas and returning to full steam. And that’s what makes it a great time to travel. Destinations are quiet, and there’s some tempting bargains to be had. It’s also a great pick-me-up after a hectic festive period, with those dark and cold days hanging around like the last of the cold turkey and leftover cheese.
The choices are endless in January. You can head off for some much-needed winter sun, visit a European city when the streets are quiet, or lean even into the cold weather and travel to snow-draped scenes. Whatever you want from your new year break, here are our favourite ideas of where to go in January.
Galle, Sri Lanka
Travel in mid- to late January, and the weather in Sri Lanka is perfect. Temperatures reach 28C, and conditions are dry with clear blue skies. You can make the most of these ideal conditions in the beautiful south-east city of Galle – it’s the perfect place to relax on the beach, or go snorkelling in its turquoise-tinged waters.
The big draw to Galle is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort, a 17th century fortress that’s worth exploring. But there’s so much more to see: in its historical streets are locally-run cafes and shops, making it an always-interesting place for a wander around. Try to time a visit with the Galle Literary Festival, taking place 25th to 28th January. It features revered speakers and authors from all over the world, including historian Mary Beard, journalist Tom Parker Bowles, and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake.
Nozawa Onsen, Japan
If you’re looking to January for your skiing getaway, the village of Nozawa Onsen – a two-hour bullet train away from Tokyo – is a great alternative to European resorts. Expect chilly conditions at between just 3C and -5C but it’s beautiful, and the many onsens in this area help keep visitors warm in the freezing temperatures.
It’s also the place to go for the Nozawa Fire Festival, held on 15th January. This festival of all things fire outdoes any bonfire you’ve ever seen. Though it does get busy, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
Far off the coast of Africa and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde is a collection of ten islands with a unique mix of African and Portuguese cultures. The islands are a safe bet for winter sun, with temperatures around 24C and circumferences of sandy beaches and bays to make the most of the beaming sun.
For an overview of the islands, take a Cape Verde cruise. Don’t miss a stop at Fogo Island in January when the Festa de Sao Sebastian takes place. Mostly a religious festival, the celebrations are largely held inside churches across the island, but there’s also a parade through the streets, where people join in with local songs and dances that are unique to this island. It’s a great thing to experience, and proves there’s much more to Cape Verde than its famous beaches.
Looking for a wallet-friendly break? Admittedly, Marrakesh in January is a little cooler than it is in summer, but temperatures still reach around 16C, the sun is usually shining and it’s a place that suits all budgets. It’s a great time to discover the streets and souks as the crowds don’t arrive until later in the year. And Morocco is one of the closest winter sun destinations to the UK, so no need to endure a long-haul flight.
Better still, the annual Almond Blossom Festival is held in Marrakesh in January, when everyone is out appreciating the beauty of the blossoming trees that skirt the city.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
With the rainy season at an end, warm temps of 26C and humidity low, January is a gorgeous time to visit the southern city of Ho Chi Minh. There’s a lot to explore here, including the powerful War Remnants Museum that tells the history of the 30-year Vietnam War. Carve out time to tour of the Independence Palace and the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, built by French colonists in Romanesque style.
Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration, falls on varying dates each year, but if your visit coincides with this festival in January, you’ll experience a city decorated and in party mode as locals and visitors celebrate new year. Local traditions are in full force for the celebrations, and cacophonous parades make their way through the streets.
Wherever you plan on heading in 2024 make sure to protect your trip with Switched On Travel Insurance. Find out more about our feature packed cover by visiting the travel insurance page of our website.