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Table Mountain and Lions Head

Where to go in winter: 4 destinations for sun or snow

Table Mountain and Lions Head
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As daylight hours shrink and nights become colder, pangs for a winter getaway grow stronger. For some, the morning frost stirs up a desire for snow-blanked adventure further afield, while for others, the chilly weather is a sign that it’s time to fly to warmer climes.

Squeeze in a last-minute trip for 2024 or pre-empt your wanderlust and start stoking your plans for next winter. Whether you want to embrace the snowy season or escape it completely, discover our specialists’ best-loved destinations for the cooler months, from white-tipped mountain exploration to feet-up coastal retreats.

Where to go for winter sun

Balmy swims, safaris in the savannah, and sunny vineyard walks — here are our specialists’ favorite ways to soak up the winter rays.

 Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Kangaroo spotting & wine tasting in Australia

By Australia specialist Sean

If your idea of a winter escape sees you trading snow boots for sandals, then a visit to Australia will fit the bill. Drive along the Great Ocean Road, sip wine in verdant vineyards, travel by train through the red-tinged hills of the Outback, or walk along the rugged coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Of course, Australia is known for its wildlife, with many endemic species that you can only see here. On the aptly named Kangaroo Island, you can go in search of these leaping marsupials as well as have the chance to spot seals lolling around on untamed beaches. Or head to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania to spot the Tasmanian devils, wombats, and wallabies that call this golden heathland home. Just off of Melbourne on Phillip Island you’ll find little blue penguins.

What I love about Australia is that a winter visit can still have a seasonally festive spirit as you wander through Christmas markets in Sydney and ring in New Year’s Eve by watching fireworks light up the night sky above Sydney Harbour.

Get me there: Options abound to explore Australia, whether you opt for a classic self-driving adventure in Tasmania, a journey into Southwest Australia’s beaches, wine, and wildlife, or a 20-day ultimate luxury tour of Australia.

Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island, Australia

Coastal exploration & a Big Five safari in South Africa

By Africa specialist Arista

If you’re looking to swap winter for a second summer, South Africa could be the answer. Predominantly sunny, warm, and dry in the Cape region, I find it’s the best time of year to embrace the outdoors.

While you’re staying in Cape Town, I suggest escaping the city for a day to explore the Cape Peninsula with a private guide. They’ll shape the day entirely around your interests. Perhaps you’ll try surfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking — be sure to look out for African penguins zipping through the water. Or maybe you’ll enjoy a chef-prepared picnic on one of the vast sandy beaches, followed by a cycle through Cape Point Nature Reserve to admire the native fynbos vegetation.

Afterwards, fly up to Kruger National Park for a safari in one of the bordering private reserves. While rain is more possible this far north, you’ll still have a good chance of spotting the Big Five alongside cheetah, wild dog, and an orchestra of birdlife.

Get me there: Our suggested trip combines Cape Town with time on safari in the private Sabi Sands Game Reserve, as well as a visit to Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Game drive
White rhino, Kruger National Park

Where to go for snow

If frosty outdoor adventures and cozy evenings in take your fancy, discover our specialists’ top recommendations for a wintry getaway.

Schilthorn, Switzerland

Winter festivals & Alpine luxury in Switzerland

By Switzerland specialist Samantha

I love Swiss summer, but the country really sparkles during the winter months — the snow-capped Alps, the mirror-calm lakes, and Zürich’s Swarovski-spangled tree at the Christmas market. This is where I go when I want to really indulge in the season, whether that’s sipping comforting hot cocoa (Swiss chocolate is renowned, of course) in an Alpine lodge or snacking on fondue by a crackling fire.

For the best Alpine views, I suggest the Glacier Express. Starting in Zermatt, this opulent train slowly winds through the frosted-pine forest and deep valleys of the Alps, crossing hundreds of bridges and through more than 90 tunnels. You’ll be able to soak up the scenery through the windows, which are so huge they stretch up over your head, as you dine on a five-course meal with wine pairings.

After a day of panoramic pampering, you’ll arrive in St Moritz, home of the White Turf festival. Over three Sundays in February, the iced-over lake is the track for a wide range of horse racing. You might see chariots, ponies, or even skijoring, a race where the jockeys wear skis and are pulled along behind their mounts.

Get me there: You can explore St Moritz, ride the Glacier Express, and even slip into Italy for a few days on this leisurely 11-day trip.

Glacier Express, Switzerland
Glacier Express, Switzerland

Dancing cranes & hot springs in Japan

By Japan specialist Tesia

Soaking in a hot spring, wreathed by steam coiling up into the cold air. Bundling up to see massive ice sculptures. Watching red-crowned cranes bow their long necks and sweep their wide wings in elaborate display dances. I love winter in Japan.

The country is deeply passionate about celebrating the changing seasons and winter is no exception, especially in northerly Hokkaido. In the city of Sapporo, locals embrace the cold with a week-long ice-sculpture festival each February. You can see close-to-life-size buildings, pop-culture characters, and other intricate statues expertly carved from blocks of ice.

Hokkaido is also where you can encounter red-crowned cranes. Once nearly extinct, the species has rebounded to more than 10,000 today thanks to careful conservation. You’ll see these majestic birds and observe their intricate courting dance at the Kushiro Shitsugen Marshland in Kushiro. Just a short drive away from the sanctuary, you might opt to stay at Tsuruga Wings, where you can soak in a rooftop onsen and take in views of the frozen lake.

Get me there: You can explore Hokkaido’s wintry pleasures, including dancing cranes and the Sapporo Snow Festival, on this two-week tour of the island.

Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

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