“January, January, sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me...”
So goes the song, and indeed January blues are very common in the Northern hemisphere – the excitement of Christmas is over and spring and summer seem a long way away. So where's hot in January, where are the best destinations to beat those blues? January is a great time to go away on holiday, but the downside is that to get the best weather in January you need to fly, if not always long haul, then at least for four of five hours south or south east from the UK.
(Though if you don't want to travel far, try a break in Scotland. Hot? Hardly! But there are some great hotels with hot tubs for romantic night time star gazing!)
Most of us rely on a regular summer holiday, so a sunny January break is out of the question. But if you can afford it, and have either no kids or kids who don’t need looking after, then getting away for some January sun can be a good investment for your wellbeing and productivity for the rest of year. In my early 20s, for example, I would get the earliest flight I could after Christmas, sometimes on Christmas evening itself, and not come back until the middle of January. Those were backpacking days, but oh how smug I felt with my tan and my new energy, ready to take anything January and - horrors – February could throw at me.
Short haul options from the UK in January mainly fall into two categories – city breaks or skiing. Skiing can be spectacular at this time of year, though it’s still cold – the benefit is that the slopes will be quiet and the prices good. Whether you go for Austrian ski holidays, French ski holidays or Swiss ski holidays, there are ski deals to be had. For city breaks, you may as well take advantage of the romance of the snow and head for St Petersburg – whose famous White Nights festival happens in January, Prague, or perhaps Tallin. Sure, Paris is always fun, but I can think of better times to go – besides, Parisians will be miserable in January. There are also some unique festivals revolving around Europe’s snow season – like the Kiruna Snow Festival in Sweden for example.
This is the most affordable option, and again great holiday deals are often available for some January sun. Tenerife and the Canary Islands, for example, are a good temperature in January, as is the Red Sea in Egypt – check out Sharm el Sheikh and Taba – though it can be windy. Or, if you can fly a little further (almost long haul really), head to the beach in Tanzania and Zanzibar – the weather in January is spectacular this far south. Or for a cheap package holiday in January, consider the Gambia.
For hot holidays on the beach in January you are spoiled for choice – for great weather and light crowds – and prices will be well down on late December. Where to start? I’m an Indian Ocean man myself, so will always recommend the Maldives – where the temperature year round never strays far from 28-31 degrees, and it's beautifully dry in January, unlike it's Indian Ocean cousins, the Seychelles and Mauritius. Further East Bali is divine, though you should beware the areas in between, as parts of Thailand and Malaysia can be wet. But January is one of the drier months in Sri Lanka. If you want a real adventure, consider an escorted adventure tour holiday to Asia.
To the west, the Caribbean can be great in January. All too crowded in December and the spring, January brings lower prices and a more relaxed vibe. Try Cuba for something a bit different.
Antarctica – well, after all, it is summer there in January. Hopefully the ice cap won’t melt beneath you, but for wildlife, it’s spectacular in January. At the opposite extreme, what about an Ethiopian Christmas on 7th January? And finally, for really romantic ‘film noir’ style foggy weather and fuggy restaurants on crisp evenings, you’ll get great rates in swanky hotels in Venice...