Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Winter is just around the corner! Some travelers are enchanted by winter's first snowfall, while others are itching to escape the season's frigid weather. To help you find the locale that best suits your winter vacation wants and needs, we've compiled a list of the best winter vacations. Use these ideas to start planning your getaway!
Whether you want to ski or get in the holiday spirit, Lucerne, Switzerland, has you covered. The city's snow-covered streets, festive lights and multiple Christmas markets make it especially charming in winter. You can easily access a variety of ski resorts that surround the city to shred powder. Plus, there's a host of other winter activities available nearby, including sledding, snowshoeing and ice fishing. When you need to warm up, unwind at one of Lucerne's numerous spas.
The winter months are the priciest times to visit this group of Caribbean islands, but their stellar weather (daytime temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s) makes the high rates worthwhile. Visitors can relax on the islands' world-class beaches, snorkel around breathtaking reefs and tee off at the Provo Golf Club's highly regarded links. For fewer crowds, arrive before or after the holidays
#3 St. Lucia
St. Lucia's superb winter weather (think: highs in the 80s and mostly clear skies) beckons to travelers set on escaping snow and freezing temps. A winter visit means lounging on the beautiful sands of Anse Chastanet and Reduit Beach. After a day in the sun, sip some of the island's cocoa tea (made with local cocoa, spices and milk) in lieu of your typical hot chocolate.
#4 Costa Rica
In December, most of Costa Rica ushers in its dry season, leaving only pleasant 70- and 80-degree temps to accompany you during your time in Central America. The versatile weather means activities like hiking, riding horses, mountain biking and zip lining through the rainforest are all on the table. And if you visit in January, you'll find the tiny country basking in la pura vida while reveling in its two-week-long Palmares Fiestas. Whichever winter month you choose to arrive, remember to save time for lounging on some of Costa Rica's beautiful beaches.
Although room rates are inflated from December to March (Rio's summer season), splurging on a getaway during these months comes with its perks: You'll enjoy warm weather in the 80s while lounging on the seaside city's famous sands. After a couple of days of swimming and sunbathing, trek through Tijuca National Park's nearly 8,000 acres of tropical rainforest. Additionally, you can still catch a futebol match in early December.
Vietnam's capital city offers beautiful weather come winter. Daytime temperatures comfortably rest in the 60s and 70s, and you're far less likely to encounter rain showers. You'll be able to visit popular attractions like the Temple of Literature and indulge in a steaming bowl of pho (Vietnam's most popular kind of noodle soup) for dinner. A wintertime visit also brings the opportunity to experience some of Hanoi's best events, such as the Tet Festival (which celebrates the Vietnamese Lunar New Year every January or February) and the Perfume Pagoda Festival (a Buddhist pilgrimage that takes place every February).
Budget-conscious travelers should consider vacationing on this island off the northern coast of Venezuela. Curacao boasts white sand beaches and turquoise waters like other Caribbean islands, but accommodations cost less than what you'd pay for more popular locales. Spend your days diving to view fish and coral or hiking around Christoffelpark and its namesake mountain. You'll find numerous bars, restaurants and casinos around the island to fill your evenings with excitement.
#8 Lake Tahoe
While winters in Lake Tahoe bring plenty of snow, the area's relatively mild daytime temperatures in the 40s make this picturesque lake on the California-Nevada border a superb destination for powder hounds. You'll have several ski spots to choose from, including Squaw Valley, Heavenly and Northstar California ski resorts. When you need to warm up, test Lady Luck at a local casino or cozy up by a fire at one of the area's lodges. Room rates increase during this peak tourist season, so book your accommodations well in advance.
Tulum, Mexico's warm winter weather (think: highs in the 70s and 80s) is perfect for exploring the area's cenotes and lounging on its numerous beaches. You'll encounter thick tourist crowds from December through February, so for more breathing room at popular sights like Tulum's Mayan ruins, plan an early morning visit. You'll also want to book your hotel well in advance to secure the best rates.
You may find higher accommodation prices and hordes of tourists, but winter visits to this Thai island in the Andaman Sea feature several pluses. Phuket offers outstanding weather come wintertime: You'll avoid the region's monsoon season and enjoy 80- and 90-degree beach weather. Because the threat of rain isn't an issue, you can cross outdoor sights like Big Buddha and Wat Chalong off your bucket list. Another bonus: You can get out on the water to explore by boat.
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