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Where to Go in January: The Best Places to Travel

Ring in the New Year at home, then get on a plane: Though prices are high through New Year’s, there are deals to be found starting later that first week in January. The skiing is prime closer to home, while tropical and Southern Hemisphere destinations work well for those needing a dose of sunshine. These are the best places to travel in January.

(Don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go When” series on the best destinations for every month of the year. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to book your destination to get the best value for your dollar, see our “Where to Book Now” series.)

Rome, Italy

View at St Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) from Vatican Gardens with beautiful green lawns, pines and palm trees, Rome, Italy.

A view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the green lawns of the Vatican Gardens. Photo: Shutterstock

There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Rome in January. Temperatures will typically be in the high 40s and 50s during the day, but plan on bundling up to fit in with the locals. Perhaps a new pair of leather gloves to complete your Italian look? They’ll be on sale. Italy generally has only two times during the year when they extend sconti (discounts) in retail shops: January and July. In Rome you can find deal at both boutique shops and international-brand stores after the holiday craziness. While you’re strolling the famous shopping streets of Via Condotti, Via del Corso, and Via dei Coronari, you’ll also breathe a sigh of relief for not having to fight the crowds so common at other times of the year; you can even stop into the Capitoline Museums or Palazzo Pamphilj on a whim, without reserving tickets in advance. Enjoy Rome’s decadently rich hot chocolate as an afternoon treat, or post up next to a funghi (the mushroom-shaped outdoor heaters) and dine al fresco in one of the beautifully lit piazzas.

Start an extraordinary trip to Italy

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Italy Villa Vacations, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

 

Sydney, Australia

boat sailing in water on Sydney Harbour Australia with famous bridge in background

Sailing on Sydney Harbour. Photo: Tourism Australia

Sydney’s summer months (December to February) bring beach weather, as well as festivals and harborside celebrations: After the world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebrations comes the Sydney Festival, a three-week celebration of the arts culminating with Australia Day on January 26. It’s also the right time to take a surfing lesson at Bondi Beach, go sailing in Sydney Harbour, hike waterside trails, picnic on city parklands, catch an outdoor movie screening or concert, or attend one of the city’s many professional surfing, tennis, cricket, and rugby competitions. (Remember that prices are also at their peak in summer, so book accommodations and tickets early, before they sell out.)

Start an extraordinary trip to Australia

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Sydney, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka. Photo: Skandha Ponniah

The weather in January is delightful—spring-like temperatures and blue skies—and the holiday crowds have dispersed by January 10. It’s also when the Galle Literary Festival takes place, with luminaries such as Richard Dawkins and William Dalrymple in attendance. Things get busy again in February, when Chinese New Year and mid-term school breaks draw visitors from Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, and other parts of Asia.

Start an extraordinary trip to Sri Lanka

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Sri Lanka, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

British Columbia

two people watching the northern lights in british columbia canada

You’re likely to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if you visit British Columbia in January. Photo: Cyndie Martinez

January and February have the most reliable snowfall, making it ideal for not just skiing, but also ice-fishing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You also have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Those looking for an extra dose of adventure can even mush their own dogsled team from lodge to lodge—led by an expert guide, of course.

Start an extraordinary trip to British Columbia

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to British Columbia, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Costa Rica

Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

January is one of the nicest times of the year weatherwise for a winter escape, right in the middle of the Costa Rican dry season. It is often the only time in the high season that you can plan a last-minute trip and still have your first choice of the top properties.

Start an extraordinary trip to Costa Rica

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Costa Rica Luxury Eco-Travel, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Rocky Mountains

Skiing in Vail. Photograph courtesy of Meg Austin

January to early February is the hands-down best time to ski in the Rocky Mountains. Especially between New Year’s and Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, you’ll get excellent snow, great value, and smaller crowds. Yes, it’s the coldest time of year, but that means the snow is dry enough for locals to call it “Champagne powder.”

Start an extraordinary trip to Skiing in the Rocky Mountains

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Skiing the Rocky Mountains, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro by Sunset with Full Moon in the Sky

Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Shutterstock

January is the best time to visit Rio—assuming you don’t mind temperatures that regularly hit 105 degrees. It’s the height of summer, Cariocas (Rio residents) are at their most relaxed, and the nightlife is at its peak.

Start an extraordinary trip to Brazil

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Rio de Janeiro, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua mountains

Nicaragua. Photo: TPS Dave/Pixabay

In January, the country is lush and green, there is no rain, and the breezes keep temperatures in the high 80s during the day on the coast—perfect for chilling out by the ocean—and in the 70s in the mountains—ideal for hikes in the cloud forest.

Start an extraordinary trip to Nicaragua

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Nicaragua, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Dubai

Burj Al Arab hotel and beach in Dubai

In January, Dubai is still warm enough for beaches, but also has a shopping festival. Photo: Pixabay

January is the cooler season—which in this part of the world means temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. Designers descend upon the city for the Shopping Festival, when shops and boutiques offer discounts all month long.

Start an extraordinary trip to Dubai

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Dubai, and use Wendy’s trip request form to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

 

Other Good Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why January is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Cuba

Florida: Disney World, Orlando

Hawaii: Oahu

Mexico City

Montana and Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park: winter activities and Jackson Hole & the Grand Tetons: winter activities

 

Central and South America

Brazil: Salvador and Trancoso

Colombia: Cartagena

Ecuador: Galapagos

Panama

 

Europe

France: Paris and Paris apartment rentals

Italy: Florence & Venice apartment rentals

Norway: winter activities

Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg

 

Asia

Cambodia

China: Xishuangbanna’s tropical rainforests and rice paddies

India: Mumbai and Rajasthan

Myanmar’s tropical areas

Nepal’s lower elevations

Southeast Asia

Thailand

 

Africa and Middle East

Abu Dhabi

Israel

 

Australia and Pacific

New Zealand: Affordable New Zealand, Bay of Islands, and Queenstown

Papua New Guinea: diving in Milne Bay

 

Cruises

Africa Cruises

Antarctica Cruises

 

 

Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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