Our top pick for January is the Dominican Republic
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.
Recession-proof your trip
Our tips to make that holiday budget stretch a little bit further
Sharm-el-Sheikh | Egypt
Sharm-el-Sheik is a beautiful destination in Egypt that is perfect for a January vacation. Located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, this vibrant city offers a rich culture, stunning natural beauty, and a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy.
In January, the weather in Sharm el Sheik is pleasantly warm, with average temperatures ranging from the low 60s to the high 70s. This is the perfect time to explore the city's rich history and stunning landscapes, whether you're hiking through the rugged mountains of the Sinai Peninsula or lounging on the sandy beaches of the Red Sea. You can also take a trip to nearby Mount Sinai, where you can visit the ancient monastery of St. Catherine and explore the many hiking trails that lead to the summit of the mountain.
Egypt scores dead last on our Good Trips Index, scoring especially poorly for human rights, press freedom and most of all LGBTQI+ rights - below are some alternative winter sun recommendations that fare better on our responsible travel index.
Have a good trip – winter sun
Ethical and sustainable choices for a winter sun break.
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.
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.
Swap an expensive destination for a budget break next year - even if you're skiing!
Port du Soleil | France
Battle January misery with a well-deserved break in one of Europe's top ski and snowboarding spots. The Port 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 Port du Soleil region.
Sydney | Australia
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.
Kuusamo | Finland
Kuusamo is a winter wonderland in the heart of Finland. Nestled in the northern reaches of the country, Kuusamo is a natural paradise that comes to life during the cold, crisp days of January.
As you explore the snowy forests and frozen lakes of Kuusamo, you'll be enchanted by the beauty of the landscape. The snow-covered trees sparkle in the sunlight, and the frozen lakes provide a serene backdrop for your winter adventure. Whether you're skiing, snowshoeing, or ice fishing, you'll find plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Kuusamo. Plus, you can't miss the chance to see the Northern Lights, which often put on a dazzling display during the dark, clear nights of January. Come experience the magic of Kuusamo in the wintertime.
Boa Vista | Cape Verde
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.
(Cape Verde is one of a handful of countries that does not rank on our Good Trips Index because not enough reliable data was available. Don't be put off that it doesn't have a score, that's neither good nor bad.)