Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

"Что разум человека может постигнуть и во что он может поверить, того он способен достичь." Наполеон Хилл ZMEY
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As if winter weren’t bad enough, January’s arrival means there’s officially nothing to look forward to until Easter. But there’s nothing to stop you from making your own fun – and what better way to banish the blues than with a dose of Vitamin D? Shorter flights won’t get you too deep into the 20℃s, but there will be sunshine, swimming pools and decidedly holiday-ish vibes. A longer journey, however, could take you anywhere from off-season surprises in the Serengeti to cruising the Amazon River. And, yes, there are beaches. It’s prime time for some of the world’s best, in fact, whether you fancy something far-flung, deliciously private or the finest view in the Caribbean.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    1. FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 18℃

    It might be the second-largest Canary, after Tenerife, but Fuerteventura is comparatively empty: its teeny population numbers just 113,000, and there are more than 90 miles of golden, sandy coastline, only some of which has been developed. Though January is perhaps a little chilly for sunbathing, the island is a top year-round kitesurfing destination, thanks to consistent warm winds from the Sahara (Fuerteventura translates as ‘strong wind’). Away from the beaches, Jandía Natural Park’s starkly beautiful landscapes are cinematic enough to have landed a role in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Inland, Mahoh is a fabulous rural resort built from striking Canarian volcanic stone that offers dramatic mountain views, hiking and horse riding.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    2. EGYPT

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 19℃

    It’s been a rough few years for Egypt, but confidence is once again building: just take a look at the sailing options for a trip down the Nile. Oberoi has completely refurbished its luxury cruiser, Philae, adding a rooftop pool and spa. Sanctuary Retreats, meanwhile, offers weekly sailings on its boutique boats, where you’ll find Art Deco interiors, cabanas around a heated pool and gourmet food. Then there’s the St Regis Cairo, set to start booking in December 2019, with a plum spot right on the river. The city’s long-touted Grand Egyptian Museum might even get around to opening sometime in 2020, with 5,000 pieces from King Tutankhamun’s burial collection displayed in a replica of his tomb.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    3. SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 20℃

    Dubbed ‘the Beverly Hills of the Southwest’, Scottsdale is said to have more spas per capita than anywhere in the US. And yet this Sonoran Desert city – sitting just outside state capital Phoenix – has far more going for it than pampering and golf. The former winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s also a living museum of ravishing mid-century modern architecture: see Hotel Valley Ho, designed by Wright protégé Edward Varney (Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood were married here), and the architect’s very own masterpiece, Taliesin West. Then there’s the Arts District galleries, the Old Town’s singing cowboys and Wild West storefronts, and mesmerising desert scenery everywhere.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    4. NAMIBIA’S SKELETON COAST

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 23℃

    One of Africa’s most remote locations is also one of its most thrilling. Where else can you see lions stalking the beach in search of seals, surf wild, isolated breaks with dolphins and enjoy a four-wheel-drive safari without another soul in sight? A handful of luxury camps dot the dunes tracing the shore and gung-ho outfitters such as Element Riders will take you on a surf safari, but the hottest thing on the coast is Shipwreck Lodge, its first resort. Just 10 cabins – a combination of maritime-chic and slightly sinister (the exterior bone-like adornments give the cabins the look of animal carcasses) – are cast adrift in shifting sands. It’s like nowhere else on earth, and an easy pick for our Hot List 2019.

    Safari holidays in Namibia

    Go off-grid on safari in Namibia

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    5. PENINSULA PAPAGAYO, COSTA RICA

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 26℃

    Costa Rica is a firm favourite on the tourist trail for its range of adventure travel (zip-lining,! rafting,! surfing!) and biodiversity (sloths,! toucans,! multicoloured frogs!). But what if you just want to relax on a ridiculously good-looking beach? January, dry season, is a great time to do it, and Peninsula Papagayo is the place. This private retreat of 1,400 acres on the north Pacific coast has just two hotel resorts – an Andaz and a Four Seasons – and miles of dreamy, uncrowded sands. For those days when you do feel like getting off your lounger, there are expert-guided excursions that cover everything from climbing 200-year-old trees to free-diving with humpback whales.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    6. FIJI, SOUTH PACIFIC

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 26℃

    Since 2016’s Cyclone Winston unceremoniously battered this South Seas utopia, the Fijian archipelago has been quietly reinventing itself, moving from ultra-luxe honeymoon HQ to a standard-bearer for responsible tourism. The storm exposed the extreme fragility of the exquisitely isolated Melanesian nation, prompting a more urgent focus on preserving its culture and environs. Six Senses Fiji, on Malolo Island, is powered by solar panels and Tesla batteries; private island resort Kokomo conducts excursions to local villages and tags manta rays. Call it Paradise Preserved.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    7. ST LUCIA, CARIBBEAN

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 28℃

    St Lucia is one of the Caribbean’s lushest islands – 80 per cent of it is rainforest – but its green good looks are because it’s one of the wettest, too. January, though, is among the driest months, and is an ideal time to visit, before February kicks off peak season. Viceroy’s Sugar Beach is the undisputed cream of the hotel crop, due in no small part to its location: at the foot of Petit Piton, with peerless views of Grand Piton from both the beach and the pool. Add to that its rainforest spa – treatment cabanas sprinkled throughout the actual rainforest – and the fact that every clapboard cottage comes with a private plunge pool, and there’s perhaps no better way to thumb your nose at January in Britain.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    8. OFF-SEASON SAFARI, TANZANIA

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 29℃

    Tanzania’s long dry season, from June to September, is when the hordes descend to catch the Great Migration, making the Serengeti feel more like a theme park than a natural treasure. But the short dry season – January to March – is an excellent alternative, particularly towards the end of January, when the rains start to ease off yet everything is still green. Better still, it coincides with a prime time to catch migrating animals (they’re on the move all year in Tanzania, with herds making an ongoing circle around the Serengeti’s plains). It’s wildebeest calving season in the southern part of the park, making this the only time of year you’re all but guaranteed sightings of the biggest herds. While you’re down here, check out Ngorongoro’s spectacular highlands, too.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    9. AMAZON RIVER CRUISE

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 30℃

    Rainfall and humidity remain fairly constant in the world’s largest tropical rainforest, which is why high-water season is the better time to go if you’re travelling by boat. It’s slightly cooler than ‘dry’ season (yes, even at 30℃), while the water levels enable more maneuverability and range. And cruising is the only way to go. You get all the pros – swimming with pink dolphins, spotting brightly coloured macaws, fishing for piranha – and none of the cons – four-course meals and sunset Pisco Sours being preferable to sweating it out in a creature-infested camp. The most luxurious vessels tend to operate in the river’s Peruvian portion: among the best are Aqua Expeditions’ M/V Aria, with rainforest-to-fork food by top Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, and Relais & Chateaux’s Delfin I, where master suites have private hot tubs.

  • Where is hot in January? Our top 10 destinations

    10. PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES

    AVERAGE JANUARY TEMPERATURE: 30℃

    Picture the Maldives, add soaring limestone karsts, and you’ve arrived at the islands of Palawan. The Philippines’ most sparsely populated region has lately become the whispered-about tropical Shangri-La, and was the original inspiration for Alex Garland’s The Beach – the sneakster just didn’t want anyone to find it, so set the story in Thailand instead. Nowhere justifies these whispers more than Amanpulo, a barefoot private-island retreat that’s home to what we can say with utter conviction is the world’s best bar. You must swim out to Kawayan, a thatched, floating bamboo raft that bobs lazily just offshore, and where the bartender mixes a mean Elderflower Gin Fizz.

    Island-hopping in the Philippines

    Island-hopping in the Philippines

    For where’s hot in other months, see our guides below:


    WHERE IS HOT IN JANUARY | WHERE IS HOT IN FEBRUARY | WHERE IS HOT IN MARCH | WHERE IS HOT IN APRIL | WHERE IS HOT IN MAY | WHERE IS NOT TOO HOT IN AUGUST | WHERE IS HOT IN SEPTEMBER | WHERE IS HOT IN OCTOBER | WHERE IS HOT IN NOVEMBER | WHERE IS HOT IN DECEMBER

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