We’ve officially stepped into the winter season and while cosying around with steaming mugs of hot chocolates and Hallmark Christmas movies sounds like what hygge dreams are made of, it’s also the perfect time to pack your bags and indulge in a getaway that will help you bring in the new year in the best way possible.
If you’re a fan of the chilly season and don’t mind bundling up in layers upon layers, then you could plan a trip to the hills or the mountains and spend your vacation skiing to your heart’s content and making snow angels as white-capped mountains loom comfortingly behind you.
For people who like their temperatures to be toasty and favour citrussy cocktails in place of hot chocolates, a beach vacation during the winter season is ideal. Sinking your toes in the sand warmed by an unrelenting sun and finishing trashy beach reads by the dozen sounds like a pretty good way to celebrate the end of the year and welcome the new one.
Whatever your vacation and winter personality may be, there’s no denying that a winter holiday is always a good idea.
Now that you’re in vacation planning mode, the biggest hurdle ahead of you is to pick a place to go. There are a number of destinations in India and around the world that are perfect for a winter retreat. This is why we decided to do the hard work and list down all the best winter holiday destinations that you can head to this season.
Things to keep in mind before planning a winter getaway
Before you scroll through our list of the perfect winter holiday destinations, there are a few things you should keep in mind before planning the vacation. One of the most important things is to figure out why you want a winter vacation. If you want a break from the cold, it would not be wise to head to a place where the temperatures are low and the weather is chilly.
Similarly, you need to figure out whether you want an adventure-filled vacation or a relaxing getaway. While most holiday destinations offer versatile options for both kinds of travellers, an escape to a tropical destination might be more suitable for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is the duration of the winter break. If you don’t have enough vacation days stocked up for the end of the year, then a weekend sojourn to a destination near your city will be the best. However, if you’ve planned ahead and taken enough time off to go on a longer vacation, then you can consider one of the international vacation destinations. This also goes for when you’re setting the budget for your trip. An international vacation would require a higher budget and more meticulous planning than a trip anywhere in India.
Now that you’re thinking about the kind of vacation you want, here are a few of our favourite holiday destinations where you can escape to this winter…
Best winter holiday destinations in India
India is a country that is rich with holiday destinations in whichever direction you look. There’s something for all kinds of vacation lovers, from people who love luxurious beach vacays to those who love a bit of an adventure out in the nature. Take a look at our list of destinations that you can pick in India for your winter vacation with some of our recommendations that’ll help you get the most out of your trip.
Located at nearly 3,000 m above sea level in the Himalayas, Auli is one of India’s premium skiing destinations. The lush valleys, dotted with apple orchards, is the ideal place to visit if you want to try out skiing in a scenic location. Unlike other destinations on this list, Auli in winter is not for people who can’t stand the cold as the average temperature falls to -8 degrees celsius.
HELLO! Recommends: Auli offers stunning skii stretches that go on from 400m to 4 km. You can avail the 15-day skii training program if you’re unsure of your skiing abilities before hitting the slopes. You should also not miss watching a sunrise or sunset atop Joshimath hill. Auli and Joshimath hill are connected with a cable car known as the Joshimath Auli Gondola which is one of the longest in Asia.
Comprising of 36 islands and hundreds of small cays, Lakshwadeep is the ideal winter getaway destination for many reasons. One of the top ones is the fact that it boasts of a moderate climate that remains the right amount of warm and cool to make for the perfect holiday spot, especially during winter season. The islands are known for world-class fishing, diving, sailing, and snorkelling spots.
HELLO! Recommends: If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, then you should head over to Amini Island. The island offers secluded beaches and beautiful landscapes to explore. If you’re an adventure junkie, then you can also try out the variety of water sports that the island offers. If you want to try snorkelling, you should go to Kadmetti island or Pitti island.
The ‘Blue City’ in Rajasthan is ideal for a winter holiday, especially if you’re a history buff. The city is rich with cultural hot spots and is a foodie’s paradise. It’s a great spot for a family vacation or even a romantic getaway amidst the sandy dunes of the Thar Desert. The city is also home to India’s deepest stepwells with Chand Baori, which is 64 ft deep.
HELLO! Recommends: Exploring the city is a great way to spend your vacation as every corner offers something unique and exciting. You can try the Flying Fox at Mehrangar Fort, which is a zip lining circuit that takes nearly 90-minutes to complete. If you’ve come to the city with your partner, then you can go for a romantic dinner in the desert with folk music playing in the background.
With optimum temperatures all year round, Puducherry is one of the best vacation spots in India during winter season. The city also houses the Aurobindo Ashram, which is visited by people from all over the world. Aside from spending a day in Auroville, you can also visit the French Quarter and take in the tree-lined streets with colonial-style villas and chic boutiques.
HELLO! Recommends: If you happen to find yourself in Puducherry in January, then you cannot miss the annual Yoga festival. It’s one of the largest festivals of its kind in Asia and can help you fulfill some of your New Year’s Resolutions for sure. You can also go birdwatching at Ousteri Lake where a number of exotic birds can be spotted. The lake is also a great place for a sunset date.
The gorgeous, rolling hills of Munnar that are covered with tea plantations have served as the backdrop for many movies, most notable being Life of Pii and Chennai Express. The hill station is situated 5,200 ft above sea level in the Kannan Devan hills of the Western Ghats. It is home to the largest tea plantation in India. Since it has a pleasant temperature all year round, it’s a great destination for a winter holiday with your family or partner.
HELLO! Recommends: If you don’t mind a bit of a trek, then you should definitely plan a visit to the Anamudi Peak. Aside from the stunning views from the summit, you might also catch Neela Kurinji, a rare species of flower that is said to blossom only once in 12 years.
Best international winter holiday destinations
If you want to plan an exotic trip to celebrate the new year, then you should definitely consider one of the following destinations that are perfect during the winter season. From the postcard-esque Dolomite hills of Italy to the tropical beaches of Seychelles, these international holiday spots can be considered while planning a longer winter holiday.
So wipe off the dust from your passport and pack your best vacation finery because the flight to the perfect winter getaway awaits you…
Cape Town, South Africa
Since winter season lasts only from June to September in Cape Town, it’s an ideal destination to visit at the end of the year as temperatures drop in most places. One of South Africa’s three capital cities, Cape Town has a lot to offer for all kinds of vacationers.
HELLO! Recommends: The port city lies beneath the looming Table Mountain which is a must-visit for any photography enthusiast. The Fugard Theater, located in the historic District Six of the city is a great place to enjoy scinitillating ballet and musical performances. You should also head to the Kirstenboch Gardens to fully take advantage of the balmy weather and enjoy a movie in the Galileo Open Air Cinema beneath the twinkling stars. The gardens are also perfect for picnics and to enjoy concerts.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
This is one of the most exclusive ski resort towns in Europe. Nestled in the Italian Alps, the beautiful location has been utilised for movies like The Pink Panther and the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Known as ‘la Perla delle Dolomiti’ (or the Pearl of the Dolomites), the small town is home to slate grey mountains that turn multi-coloured at sunset. It also has the best slopes for both novice and professional skiers.
HELLO! Recommends: Since the town is known for being a skier’s dream, it’s a no-brainer that you should give that a go. If that’s not for you, then you can go on an hour-long hike from Cortina to the nearby village of San Vito di Cadole. The pathway is flat and filled with beautiful greenery. You should also take the Freceia del Cielo cable car all the way to the Capanna Ra Valles, one of the highest points in Cortina.
Located in North Peloponnese, this beautiful town is flanked by Mount Chelmos. This town is ideal for exploring and hiking as it has many caves, gorges, and rivers. The surrounding mountains offer skiing possibilities, if you’re inclined, and the town has many picturesque cafes and tavernas if you want to have a relaxing vacation.
HELLO! Recommends: One of the most well-known things about the town is Odontotos, the town’s historic railway service which was innaugrated in 1896. The train ride covers the 22 km route from Kalavryta to Diakopto and is one of the most scenic routes in Greece. You can also head over to Kastria village, which is located 17 km away from Kalavryta and visit the Cave of Lakes. This unique cave has cascading lakes inside that can be found on three different levels. The 13 lakes inside the cave retain water throughout the year and are a sight to behold.
The archipelago lies in the Indian Ocean and is the perfect fantasy island getaway for the season. Seychelles receives year-round heat and sunshine and, with its bright blue sky and verdant landscapes, is the perfect tropical vacation for when you want to escape the freezing cold. It offers many opportunities for sailing, snorkelling, and scuba diving, amongst other water-related adventure activities.
HELLO! Recommends: If you’re looking for adventure, then head over to Mahé Island. It’s the most popular and largest islands of Seychelles, mainly because it’s the only one that is equipped to handle intense water sports and activities. If you want something on the more low-key side, then Bird Island is your answer. As the name suggests, the island is a haven for birdwatchers as it attracts rare bird species from different parts of the world.
New York City
One of the most exciting cities in the world becomes even more enchanting and alluring towards the end of the year as Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrations roll by. Aside form being one of the best destinations for people who love art and cultural activities like going to plays and visiting museums, New York City is a great way to end the year in the best way possible.
HELLO! Recommends: You can’t be in New York around Christmas and not visit the Rockefeller Center to see the gigantic 100 ft tall Christmas tree that is outfitted with 50,000 LED lights and has a 9.5 ft (in diameter) Swarovski star at the top. Ice skating in Central Park is also a beautiful way to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy winter time in NYC.