It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but this winter is giving me the travel itch. While news anchors rattle on about polar vortexes, blizzards and blustering winds, I spend my time dreaming about other places.
Of course, my mind wanders to many parts of the globe when wanderlust kicks in, but I’ve narrowed down my dream list to 10. Below you’ll find my top 10 places I’d rather be this winter – maybe they match with yours or, better yet, maybe they’ll inspire you to hit the road for sunnier skies.
1. Tasmania, Australia
Image credit: Grace Wye
The beauty of the equator is that you can always find the warm weather you seek on the other side. When it’s cold in the north, you can hop to the land down under and be smack-dab in the middle of summer. You could check out the usual suspects while you’re on the continent: Sydney or Melbourne, for example. Or, you could try something off the beaten path. Tasmania was named one of the best regions to visit in 2015, and for good reason: The island has clean air and stunning outdoor landscapes. Hikers, take note: The picturesque wilderness here also boasts some great trails.
Image credit: James Merhebi
It’s easy to get lost in Morocco, whether in a daydream or on a real-life vacation. Take, for example, the city of Fez: The medina’s winding streets aren’t often marked, and directions are hard to come by. Luckily, getting lost among the shops, spice salesmen and goods-transporting donkeys isn’t the worst thing to happen. If you prefer a less city-based culture, check out the incredible beaches that boast waves built for surfers. You can even trek into the Sahara Desert on camelback; without light pollution, an overnight camping trip will reveal more stars than you’ve probably ever seen.
3. Macau, China
Image credit: travel oriented
An old-world Asian city with Portuguese heritage? Yes, it does exist. Macau’s lively culture stems from its European roots, as well as the influences of its neighbors. You’ll find Indian, Chinese and African influences, too, as you explore this exciting region of China. On one street corner, you’ll find a brand-new bungee jumping facility; on the next, you’ll be able to explore an ancient temple. Clearly, it’s got something for everyone in your travel group, or everything you need as a solo traveler to keep yourself entertained.
Featured as main image, credit: Ming-Yueh Wang
You know that screensaver picture you’ve had for years with the huts-on-stilts standing over crystal-clear water? That just might’ve been snapped in the Philippines. The island country remains as pristine as it was when your wallpaper photo was snapped. If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, this just might be your ultimate beach destination.
Image credit: yeowatzup
Oman is almost equally as famous for two things: its stunning landscape and its incredibly kind people. Here you’ll find everything from bustling street markets, to beautiful beaches, to striking mosques, to stalagmites and stalactites that spike from age-old caves. Basically there’s no reason why you (and I!) shouldn’t make Oman your next destination.
Image credit: Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner
South America is another ideal place to escape wintry temperatures, but you might not have been thinking about Nicaragua. While countries like Costa Rica and Belize have gotten all of the tourists in the past, Nicaragua has started to step into the spotlight. It all started with an extremely luxurious hotel. Then came ecotourism and restaurants. Once tourists came, they discovered just how naturally beautiful this small country is. As an added bonus, it’s very cheap, too. Check out its tropical islands or stick to the mainland; either way, you’ll be enamored with this place in no time.
Image credit: Berit Watkin
Much of Europe experiences cold weather in winter, but Malta’s average high temperature in December is 63 degrees Fahrenheit. This might not be sunbathing weather (unless you’re from the Northeast, Midwest or Alaska), but it’s certainly warm enough to soak in all that this island has to offer.
8. St. Lucia
Image credit: _dChris
Don’t scoff at the suggestion of a Caribbean island just yet. St. Lucia’s iconic mountain peaks may be the focus of many a Pinterest vision board, but they still don’t draw as many tourists as the neighboring islands. Instead, you’ll find its tropical landscape to hold incredible snorkeling and hiking. This is also a great place to treat yourself at a spa-like resort. Infinity pools and cocktails, anyone?
Image credit: MiGowa
Just another country that has it all. Take the incredible, sprawling city of Istanbul, which spans the Europe-Asia border with flair. You can spend days perusing the markets, peeking into the incredible Hagia Sophia or simply drinking tea and eating the local fare. Don’t stop there, though: The country is also famous for its hot-air balloon rides and incredible beaches that you’ll find along both the Black and Mediterranean seas.
10. South Africa
Image credit: Randy OHC
In South Africa you’ll find a unique blend of culture, wildlife, and natural beauty. In addition to offering jaw-dropping landscapes, there are few places better to experience African wildlife in their natural habitats and is known for its incredible biodiversity. If beaches are what you’re after, South Africa offers some of the best in the world. And as an added bonus, it’s renowned for its winelands.
So, are you packing your bags yet?