There's nothing like a new year holiday to banish the post-Christmas blues – whether you go where there's guaranteed snow or prefer to escape the cold and head for some winter sun. There are festivals to enjoy, natural wonders to spot and beaches to relax on so here are some of the top places to go in January.
January is one of the peak times to visit the Dominican Republic as it's the best time for some guaranteed sun, but if you step away from the popular resort areas you'll still find some quiet beaches to relax on.
It's not just about the beaches though, the Dominican Republic has 18 national parks and in recent years has been more committed to sustainability goals and the need to protect it's unique environment for future generations.
One of the highlights of visiting the Dominican Republic in January is the chance to see Humpback Whales as they return to the warm waters of Samana Bay to mate and give birth. If you're lucky you might get to see the massive 40 tonne males jump out of the water in their attempts to snag themselves a mate.
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
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January is a great time to visit the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as the average temperature sits around 22C, much cooler than the blisteringly hot summer temperatures. There are plenty of resorts to choose from, whether you're looking for a grown-up getaway or somewhere to entertain the kids. If you are taking the family there's Cleo Park - a pharaoh themed waterpark.
Sharm el-Sheikh is a very popular scuba diving spot, and by visiting in January you'll avoid the peak season – especially good if you're a novice diver and need a little more care and attention. There are some world-class diving spots, including the SS Thistlegorm Wreck, a British Navy ship which was split in two by long range German bombs in 1941.
With around 11 hours of sunshine every day, there's no chance of SAD taking hold in South Africa. And if you're yearning for new experiences for the new year, this beautiful country will deliver a big taste of African adventure alongside world-class travel facilities.
There are more than 20 national parks, eight World Heritage sites and 3,000 odd kilometres of stunning coastline to discover. Thrill-seekers will want to throw themselves into shark and scuba diving, bungee jumping, treetop canopy tours, surfing and mountain climbing. A real holiday paradise, there's also the chance to see the big five roaming their own habitats, tour the vibrant Soweto townships, explore the dramatic scenery of the Garden Route, enjoy a spot of first-rate wine tasting, and experience the unique cities of Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
Virgin Holidays offer a great selection of South African holidays.
If you're heading to Mexico in January your best bet is the east coast, where you can enjoy the warm Caribbean waters. If you want to start the new year off in style then head to Cancún where you can relax on the beach by day and party by night.
If you're looking for a bit more culture then head to Merída, where there's a three-week festival from the 5th to the 23rd of January to celebrate the history of the Yucatán Peninsula – there are concerts, fireworks and many other arts and music events.
Many of us would happily fly to the other side of the world to escape another dreary winter at home. Sydney really is a ray of sunshine in January, with the Aussie summer in full swing, the Sydney Festival beginning on the 8th and rounding off with spectacular Australia Day celebrations on 26 January. Soak up this great city's energy and culture at award-winning eateries, colourful markets and boutiques, rocking bars and clubs, as well as the iconic Opera House.
Your holiday to Sydney wouldn't be complete without trips to Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo and beaches including Coogee, Manly and Bronte. For greenery don't miss the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Blue Mountains National Park and historic Hunter Valley wine and foodie region, both a few hours from the city.
Audley Travel organises tailor-made tours of Australia including stays in Sydney.
Iceland is ideally placed for a short break, and one of our favourite destinations to visit in January. While you can expect freezing temperatures, January is one of the best months to visit if you're keen on seeing the Northern Lights. Read our guide on travelling in Iceland for more practical information before your trip, and 20 Things to Do in Iceland to make sure you see the best of the country on your visit.
The Northern Lights aren't the only reason to visit Iceland in January though. Take a city break in Reykjavik where you can escape the cold in a plethora of cosy restaurants, and with a dip at the Blue Lagoon. You'll return home more relaxed than ever, and ready to take on the year ahead.
A tropical paradise with lovely locals, these 7000 or so islands in Southeast Asia are the perfect hideaway from real life during our dull old January. You'll enjoy the gorgeous beaches and watersports no doubt, but there's much more. Volcanoes, remote villages, ancient rice terraces, lively marine life, cheeky little Tarsier monkeys and manic Manila are just the beginning.
During January every year the 'Mother of all Philippine Festivals' takes place in Kalibo on Panay Island. The Ati-Atihan Festival is a raucous celebration of the Ati indigenous people and the Santo Niño. The real crowd-pleasers are the parades and dance competitions on the streets between different tribes, with traditional headgear, masks and face and body paint. It's been going for more than 700 years and is an experience to remember.
Take a look at Kuoni's Philippines holidays, including idyllic Boracay Island, within easy reach of the festival.
Portes du Soleil, France
Battle January misery with a well-deserved break in one of Europe's top ski and snowboarding spots. The Portes du Soleil area has 12 linked resorts straddling the French and Swiss Alps, which can be freely explored in 'ski safari' style. Piles of exceptional snow, the freshest air and top class apres ski... what are you waiting for? It'll be cheaper outside the busy December and February school holidays too.
Inghams sells a wide range of holidays in the Portes du Soleil region.
Looking to escape for some winter sun but bored of the Canary Islands? Head to Cape Verde instead. This Atlantic archipelago is made up of 10 volcanic islands around 900 miles south of the Canaries, just off the coast of Africa.
Cape Verde is imbued with a fascinating mix of west African and Portuguese culture and is largely unspoiled by mass tourism. In fact Cape Verde is a great spot for ecotourism thanks to our friends at The Travel Foundation.
😊 We recommend you stay in a private resort such as W Maldives.
January is a great month to visit the Maldives as the weather is hot and dry and the visibility for diving and snorkeling is fantastic. Think idyllic white sand beaches with crystal clear waters - and of course iconic water bungalows with glass floors.
A holiday in the Maldives is the height of luxury and it's sure to banish any January blues away - though we imagine your friends will be mighty jealous!