So it’s a brand new year and you are looking for the best places to visit in January. We got you covered! Whether you are seeking warm or cold, skiing in the Alps, or soaking up the beaches in Asia we are delving into our favorite places to travel to during January.
Being a winter snow bunny and a powder chaser, January is one of my favorite times of the year to explore winter destinations. If it involves hot chocolate, mulled wine, and lots of white fluffy snow I’m there.
That being said January is also a great time to travel if you are seeking fewer crowds and cheaper prices. Families with children are back in school, and summer is nowhere near meaning fewer people are traveling.
Here are some of the best places in the world to head for a January vacation.
The Best Places to Visit in January
Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy
This is the jewel of the ski and winter scene in the Trentino region. It’s a well-known resort that is famous for hosting many Italians looking for solid skiing, dining, and relaxation in a very posh environment. In fact, it still holds on to its claim to fame as the summer vacation spot of Austrian Royalty and Princess Sissi. The town is a beautiful little gem set at the base of the Dolomites and has all the charm of a mountain town.
The town is nearly car-free and it’s easy to take an evening stroll after a day on the slopes. We spent our evenings window shopping while checking out the 19th-century architecture with a cappuccino in hand. Charming wooden homes line the streets at the foot of the Dolomites. It is easy to see why the resort town is well cherished in Northern Italy and a great spot to travel to in the winter season.
The little mountain village provides perfect access to two ski areas and numerous hiking trails. High above Grindelwald lies to the Bernese Alps, and a famous mountain face. That mountain is Eiger’s notorious North Face – yup the clothing company you have probably heard of is named after a mountain in Switzerland.
The village has a long main road and plenty of accommodation options to handle a large number of tourists that make the journey up the valley from Interlaken. The village lacks the charm that the surrounding villages have such a Gimmelwald, Murren, or Wengen, but it does provide amazing access to the mountains – great for skiers and those after a solid European winter holiday.
If you’re into skiing or snowboarding and after a good winter vacation I suggest heading to the potato state instead of Colorado like the rest of the Southern United States. Idaho has some fantastic ski resorts, many of which are relatively quiet and unheard of.
The powder? Oh it’s sublime and sticks around for quite awhile during January. We were snowboarding in Idaho well into April, so there’s no doubt there will be snow. Head to Sandpoint for the cutest mountain town by the frozen lake.
One of the best places to visit in January is not a place at all, but a group of islands and atolls. The Maldives are not a spot in the world to be missed. Who wouldn’t want to escape dreary winter weather and exchange it for tropical paradise?
The Maldives are not at their hottest in January – in fact, January is frequently the coolest month of the year across the islands – but we’d say it’s still pretty damn hot.
Being pretty much in the middle of the dry season, there’s not much rain to worry about. It’s also not that humid. It’s sunny too, with nine hours of sunshine a day – any clouds that might be in the sky get blown away by winds from the northeast.
Average daytime temperatures are 30°C, the sea temperature is a balmy 28°C, it’s pretty dry… So actually, all in all, January is a good time of year to visit the Maldives.
Pretty much the whole country is basking in sunshine, with high humidity to boot, though we’d say it’s a good time to visit Sri Lanka. Head inland to Kandy for cooler temperatures; nearby Nuwara Eliya is 20°C, for example. It’s an area that sees a little rain too, even though the country is not yet in monsoon season (that’s later, from April to June).
Thanks to Morocco basically being mainly desert, January is never what you’d consider properly cold. Okay, so the night time temperatures might drop to about 8°C in some places (like the Sahara), but it’s nothing like many other northern hemisphere countries.
The average day time temperature for Marrakech, for example, is 19°C. There’s also plenty of sunshine and little rainfall, meaning you’ll have great weather that isn’t too sweltering; perfect for exploring some of the city’s top sights. It’s a good time of year if you don’t like a) hot, or b) tourist crowds.
The rest of the country features a nice breeze from the Atlantic ocean, so even in the sun, you feel nice and cool. That said, the sun feels nice and warm on the Mediterranean coast.
There aren’t many cities in Europe quite like Innsbruck. It’s coined itself the title “Capital of Alps” and easy to understand why once you set foot in the city. Flanked by the impressive Nordkette mountain range that towers over the city nature never feels far away.
It’s the only city where you can ski, explore a grand palace, window shop, and savor a strudel all in one day. Making it the perfect place to visit in January.
There are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck with the Austrian Alps and a city rich in history. In many ways, it’s everything we love about Austria all packed into a modern city and historical city. We love the fact that you can be in a beautiful medieval old town and then within minutes places you in the heart of the Alps with cowbells ringing and fresh Alpine air.
Hokkaido is Japan’s Siberian north. Home to some truly polar temperatures that plunge way below zero, Hokkaido is home to prime snowboarding and skiing as much as some of the wildest, most remote slices of nature to be found in Japan.
If you are wondering when the best time to visit Hokkaido is, it’s December through March (if you love powder that is).
Winter has its full grip on Hokkaido right now. Snow will be falling a lot – pretty much everywhere – blanketing the countryside and mountains. And when I say snow, I mean A LOT of snow.
It’s in mid-December that the ski season starts up again. Places like Furano, and local resorts around Sapporo, open their doors for the skiers and snowboarders among you. January is high season at some of the resort, but you likely won’t be too bothered unless you’re at Niseko (a Westernized resort).
The air is dry, and it is cold. Gloves, hats, and scarfs become a must once again, as the average high flatlines at about 3°C. Our tip? Head to onsen (traditional Japanese hot springs) to warm up.
Cape Town, South Africa
If there is one city in the world I am dying to return to, it’s Cape Town. It’s a city too beautiful for its own good. Where one can get easily lost in the depths of nature and still have dinner at any sushi, tapas, or bistro they want at night. There are so many things to do in Cape Town, it’s hard to optimize your time there unless you have a full year. We spent two months there and felt we barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.
We like to think we hit many of the tourist hot spots, and were still able to delve a little deeper into the city. With activities like climbing the iconic table mountain to sipping some delicious Pinotage while overlooking the tip of Africa, Cape Town will enchant you. If you find yourself in the South African city,
don’t tell me because I will be jealous, have fun!
January in South Africa means Summer. Cape Town has barely any rain, blue skies, lots of sunshine, and rising temperatures; the daytime average is 20°C. It’s a good time of year to hit the beach; the Atlantic Ocean is about 19°C is a comfortable temperature, so no surfers need to put on their wetsuit quite yet.
Banff and Canmore, Alberta Canada
Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. Have you logged onto Instagram lately? In case you missed it Banff, Alberta has been the hot place to go for the past few years. Imagine vast mountains, beautiful blue lakes, and a charming Canadian small town. If it sounds like the perfect place to spend Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring that’s because it is!
Banff is also surrounded by Mt. Norquay, Banff /Lake Louise, and Banff Sunshine to form SkiBig3. In the winter this whole area turns into a skier or snowboarders version of heaven. We spent a few weeks here mountain hopping around the Rockies in 2018 and have since moved to Canmore and called it home (so there is no way it wouldn’t make this list). Seriously, it’s that good and is definitely one of the most beautiful towns to visit during the winter.
However, keep in mind that it is COLD. The average temperature, if you were wondering, is about -10°C; so yeah, it’s frigid. After dark, it plummets to -10.
Expect snow, fog, and a few sunny days. However if you like cold weather activities and skiing and snowboarding it’s now full swing in January. If you head out on a weekday it will be pretty quiet too!
When we first decided we would travel around Africa, we knew that a trip to Kenya could not be missed. We ended up spending almost a month in the country and from the beaches to the savannah it was absolutely wonderful.
January marks the height of the summer in Kenya. Meaning it’s a great time to spot wildlife while on safari. Temperatures are high hovering around 30°C. That being said you’ll get the occasional rainfall to cool things off, but nothing too torrential. The landscape is still beautiful from the rains that fell the previous month though.
Because of the nice weather, you may see quite a few other tourists out on safari and down by the coast.
One of the best places to visit in January is the Middle Eastern country of Oman. In January the average daily temperature in Oman is comfortable 25°C. If you think that is hot don’t step foot here between June and September (when we did) when temperatures reach up to 40°C with high humidity.
Oman, is a wonderful country to explore – when the temperature is right. It has stunning deserts, unique wadis, a blissful coastline, and endless mountains. If you’re looking for a culturally interesting all around holiday in January, Oman has you covered.
January is dry in Costa Rica. Dry and hot. The average temperature is 27°C with highs of something like 33°C throughout the month. Most of the time in January, the days will be filled with sun (66% of them to be exact) – perfect for lounging around on the beach.
At other times, it’ll be cloudy. Little to no rain is expected, however, so January is sort of the perfect month to get out into nature. Even the evenings are beautifully balmy, so you won’t need to be packing any sweaters or anything like that. Summer clothes only, people; the minimum temperature in January is 21°C. This is the Central American vacation you’ll love.
It’s nice as well because there’s less humidity in January, a serious issue in Costa Rica. All in all, it’s comfortable, and a fantastic place to visit in January.
Egypt is a fantastic country to visit in January, so if you’re planning to visit Egypt in January, then you’re in luck. Even though it’s winter, the average temperature of 22°C (in the daytime, at least), is pleasant. Conversely, the temperature can drop to around 9°C at night. Northern Egypt is colder, in general, and there’s more rainfall.
Cairo, for example, is pretty cloudy. In the south, somewhere like Siwa hardly gets any rain in January, and it hovers around 25°C. Coastal areas, such as Marsa Matruh, see quite changeable weather at this time of year. It’s a great time to visit Egypt without being too hot and bothered, not having to cover up from the sun the whole time. Take it from me, if you can walk around all the ancient sites without wanting to run into the AC the whole time then it’s a fantastic time.
What to Pack When You Travel in January
You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while you’re traveling around the world. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes or long days you need at least something for carry on and day trips.
You can see all our other backpack recommendations below:
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun when you’re traveling. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
If you’re wondering what travel necessities to bring to around the world then good walking shoes should be your top concern.
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me when I’m traveling in the winter, fall, or even spring. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything outside.
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
Goretex Rain Jacket
We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy many times. Weather around the world can be iffy in November, so it’s best to be prepared. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof and really a great travel rain jacket. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.
Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
I love real books, but for traveling it can be easier to carry a lighter and more compact item like a Kindle. Plus, then you can download new books on the go!
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourists that buys plastic water bottles. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
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