Maybe you’ve shoveled out of one too many snowstorms, or maybe the constant drizzle and gray skies are making your days too gloomy. Whatever the reason, you’ve had it with winter. Luckily, there’s still time to take off and land someplace warm and sunny farther south of the of the equator. To help figure out where that destination should be, we’ve compiled a list of seven southbound getaways to escape the snow. Ready to cure your winter blues?
Charles Darwin may be the reason you’ve heard of the 19 islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago — Ecuador’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the ’70s — but beyond the Englishman’s observations on evolution lies an experience sure to distance your thoughts from whatever wintry dread you leave behind. The Galapagos are unique in every sense of the word thanks to their remote location, diverse flora, and endemic wildlife. Because of this, the islands are well protected, so guided tours are required in order to reach them. This should bode well for a stress-free winter getaway, as after you’ve booked, most of the logistics will be handled by professionals. You can just sit back and take in the sights. (Just be sure to book your trip in advance, as tours tend to fill up fast.) While there, you’ll have opportunities to wake up to the chatter of sea lions and sunshine, spend your mornings diving among manta rays, sea tortoises, and sunfish, trek across volcanic landscapes during the afternoons, and end your evenings spotting birds such as hawks, finches, and blue-footed boobies. Sounds dreamy, right?
Home to elephants, cheetahs, and the world’s tallest sand dunes, Namibia will make you feel like you’ve escaped winter for good. What’s more, this West African nation prides itself on conservation and ecotourism, ensuring the protection and preservation of its diverse indigenous groups and wildlife. During your visit, indulge in a sunset at Sossusvlei, where scraggly trees sprout from the cracking clay landscape, or hike along the world’s second-largest canyon. You can also head to Skeleton Coast, which is one small, but gorgeous, section of the country’s vast and picturesque coastline. Whatever you do, don’t forget to join a wilderness safari through one of Namibia’s many national parks, whose majestic wildlife and natural beauty will be sure to satisfy your travel bug and wipe away those winter blues.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina’s capital isn’t just a budget-friendly retreat; it’s also a warm-weather destination perfect for those looking to hide from winter’s moody behavior. The average temperature in January is 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), and it remains pleasantly warm at the tail ends of the season, in early December and late February. In addition to the splendid weather, Buenos Aires is packed with exquisite culture that will captivate, and the combination of Latin and European charm creates a lively buzz that’s impossible to ignore. To keep things interesting, take in a tango show or attend a football game — the national sport you’ll see on TVs everywhere. Winter also brings with it a number of joyous events, such as the Ciudanza Urban Dance Festival and “Carnaval” — a city-wide celebration of Argentinian culture — though these are just a few of the thrilling experiences to be had there.
Cool cities, wild landscapes, pristine beaches, and long, empty roads — this is a country that seemingly has it all. And travelers on the run from winter will find it especially welcoming. Between December and February, you can enjoy daily temperatures between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 25 degrees Celsius) while working on your tan, as summer in New Zealand is the optimal time for activities such as hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and surfing — especially on its north island. Rent a vehicle and cruise down the highway, keeping an eye out for attractions like the coastal vistas of the Bay of Islands, a sunrise in Gisborne, or the trails at Tongariro National Park. To see another side of the Kiwi lifestyle, attend a Maori Cultural Show in Rotorua, or wander around the sunny streets of Auckland. It won’t take long before you completely forget the long flight down there.
Cape Town, South Africa
You won’t need a winter coat and scarf when you head to Cape Town, a port city shaped by the imposing Table Mountain and its long and storied history. The city’s climate is described as “Mediterranean-style,” with average temperatures hovering between 63 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (17 and 21 degrees Celsius) year-round, allowing for a multitude of outdoor activities. And right now, $1 (USD) is good for 13.5 South African rand, which means the flight there will be your biggest expense by far.
When planning your trip, it won’t be hard to fill up an itinerary, but you’ll definitely want to consider getting a solid dose of Vitamin D by exploring Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve or stopping by the scenic Sea Point Promenade for sunset. Art lovers may want to plan their trips around the Cape Town Art Fair, an inspiring event that takes place in February each year and features the diverse art created in the city. And speaking of local talent, you’ll discover a ton of live music venues sprinkled throughout the city’s lively and eclectic neighborhoods, which are also filled with cafés, bookstores, and bars. On the cultural side of things, visiting Castle of Good Hope or trying a taste of Cape Malay cuisine will give you some perspective on the city’s history.
White beaches, turquoise waters, mountainous rainforests — we could keep going but you should really just start packing. If you want some more information, though, know that Seychelles — an archipelago off the east coast of Africa — is made up of 115 islands, though most locals live one of the big three (Mahé, Praslin, or La Digue), which are also the easiest to visit. Once there, you’re treated to daily average temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), so you’ll want to bring lots of sunscreen and stay close to the water. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of ways to get a fix, such as hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing, all of which showcase the nation’s abundance of flora and fauna in some way or another. A trip to Seychelles isn’t your everyday vacation — that’s for sure. But it’s the perfect way to unplug for a while and return to daily life feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and sometimes that’s all we need.
For as long as Sydney has been in the conversation as the world’s top city, it’s also been a refuge for travelers looking to skip town before the next winter storm snows them in. The harbor city is warm, clean, and full of green spaces, allowing you to soak up the warm weather to your heart’s content. It’s also a gateway to endless beaches and swimming holes, perfect for photo-ops, and a springboard for day-trip adventures when you feel like escaping the city for a while. And, since we know the city has a reputation for being on the more expensive side for travelers, we’ve got you covered there, too. Hopefully now you’re out of excuses and ready to start packing!
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