Few months spark a yearning for somewhere brighter and hotter than the European take on January sun. And with the UK’s omicron-related travel restrictions rolled back, it’s time to start dreaming of swaying palm trees and whooshing waves.
Unfortunately, ongoing border restrictions mean some of our long-haul favourites, such as Thailand, are off limits. Happily, the Caribbean is waiting to help, clad in its best high-season apparel. Elsewhere, the Maldives offers a classic beach option, while Los Angeles and Buenos Aires are on hand to provide sunny city breaks.
Here is our round-up of where to go for January sun. Be sure to check out the Foreign Office advice for the latest rules regarding Covid testing and vaccination requirements.
You want: 19C–24C
While America’s biggest city (New York) battles winter at its fiercest, its second largest is soaking up temperatures in the low 20s Celsius. In truth, it should be no shock that Los Angeles is so sun-kissed in January – this, after all, is a metropolis of year-round golden climate. But this lack of mystery does nothing to diminish the possibilities for relaxation on LA’s shore – on Venice Beach, in Santa Monica, or further afield in Malibu.
Check out our round-up of the best hotels in Los Angeles. Fly direct from Heathrow with Virgin or BA.
“Lanza-grotty” was the dismissive moniker that was attached, in the Eighties, to the fourth biggest of the Canary Islands. It was always an unreasonable slur – because, even if this sunny outcrop deals in unfussy breaks in resort areas such as Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise, it can also claim a growing range of luxury properties, alluring Spanish culture in the capital Arrecife, and volcanic majesty in Timanfaya National Park.
Check out our pick of the best hotels in Lanzarote. Budget flights are offered to the island by Ryanair, EasyJet, Jet2 and Wizz Air.
It can be easy to sneer at Dubai – to claim that its skyscrapers are ridiculously big, to suggest that its enormous malls are a substitute for any element of culture, to say that its artificial-island construction projects are overreaching and silly. But the glitziest of the United Arab Emirates does not care a jot – and nor do the thousands of UK tourists who flock to its beaches knowing that the sun will have its hat on.
Check out our round-up of the best hotels in Dubai. Fly direct from Heathrow with BA or from Gatwick with Emirates.
A country that boasts warm weather and soft beaches will always be alluring. One of the jigsaw pieces that make up Central America, Costa Rica is lapped by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. You can gaze at both bodies of water simultaneously from the top of the Irazú volcano – but also enjoy cosmopolitan afternoons in the national capital San José.
Check out our round-up of the best hotels in Costa Rica. BA has scrapped its direct service to San Jose, so a flight via Houston is your best option.
You want: 25C–29C
With its mountainous and lush interior, Grenada suits those who want a dose of adventure to offset their seaside lounging. It is also on the southern limits of the Atlantic hurricane belt, and has experienced only three such gusts in 50 years.
Check out our round-up of the best hotels in Grenada. Flights arrive via Antigua or Barbados.
So tied to the UK in terms of history and flight connections that, at times, a holiday here can feel like a trip to the British seaside – albeit with temperatures that occupy the upper 20s Celsius throughout the year – Barbados is a stalwart of Caribbean tourism. For many, it revolves around the luxury resorts on the west coast, but venture to the capital Bridgetown for heritage and excellent food.
Check out our round-up of the best hotels in Barbados. BA and Virgin both fly direct from Heathrow to Bridgetown.
The country which makes up two thirds of the second biggest island in the Caribbean (Hispaniola) has sometimes been overlooked as a holiday option. But it is coming into focus thanks to the luxury resorts that dot its south-east corner, around the settlement of Punta Cana. The temperature generally clips the high 20s Celsius at all times. The European winter also largely avoids the hurricane season (June-November).
You want: 30C+
The Indian Ocean’s most celebrated cluster of islands has its nominal rainy season in May-November, so is in full sunny fettle by January. In truth, the time of year makes little difference to the experience in a vast archipelago that sits in the equatorial zone. Visitors can bank on temperatures of 30C whenever they travel.
This piece of East Africa is an essential destination for those who love safari breaks, whether for the incredible spectacle of the Great Migration of wildebeest into the Serengeti – or the lesser known wildlife experiences to be had in Ruaha National Park. Then there is the scenery – the volcanic caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater, the snowy might of Mount Kilimanjaro, the soft beaches of Zanzibar.
It is rare to think of Argentina in terms of pure sunshine. This, after all, is a country which stretches (almost) to the glacier-laden foot of South America (Chile owns the tip of the continent). But Buenos Aires basks in the glow of the upper 20s Celsius during January – casting the evocative streets of La Boca, the steak eateries of San Telmo, the bright resurrection of the Puerto Madero docks and the hip bars of Palermo in a fine light.
These are the best hotels in Argentina. Fly direct with BA or via Madrid with Iberia.