Where to Travel in January

January blues, be gone. Whether you’re craving a sun-soaked escape or seeking a snow-powdered getaway, here’s a bucketful of inspiration on where best to kick-start 2023

It's that time of year again. The decorations have been tucked back into their hiding places, we're trading evening tipples for herbal teas, and the fitness regime is all systems go. Let's be real: there's no better time to hit refresh than when the festive season comes to an end - resolutions and goals, we're looking at you. With that in mind, we can't help but start planning our first getaway for 2023. Aside from sating your wanderlust, holidaying in January means avoiding both peak-season crowds and price inflations. So, grab your favourite carry-on and chart your course to one of these lesser-trodden landscapes to start the new year in style.

Beat the blues: 21 must-visit destinations for January 2023

Bad Gastein, Austria

Bad Gastein


There's something distinctly Wes Anderson-eque about this elegant Austrian town. Once a favourite of European royalty, who found its curative waters and restorative mountain landscapes suitably de-stressing, it's now where in-the-know Austrians and Germans head to hit steep, relatively empty slopes and carve up scenic cross-country routes. Bad Gastein is higher than most Austrian resorts, so you can count on the powder to be fresh - considerable snowfall is expected across the region for the 2023 season. Try The Blonde Beans, a Swedish-owned café serving coffee made from Malmö-roasted beans and Gastein mountain water. The sticky homemade kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) are an added bonus. You'll find the café across the street from the train station. Stay at architect and hotelier Ike Ikrath's Hotel Miramonte for sweeping valley views, a private Aveda spa and 36 elegant yet intimate bedrooms.

nightfall at the dolomites italy

The Dolomites


Nestled in the heart of Northwest Italy, this area is famed for its dreamy yet dramatic landscape - think lakeside lodgings against a backdrop of jagged-tooth mountain peaks. Though it would hardly be a new year's extravaganza without a day or two on the slopes, we're heading here largely for the thriving cultural scene. Between ski runs, be sure to refuel in one of the area's many romantic restaurants or bars. To soak up 360-degree views of the fairy tale-like surrounds, bed down in a cosy cabin. Chalet Dolomit is our personal favourite. FYI: at just over a two-hour drive away, Vienna makes for the perfect day trip.

sheep on track in kinsale ireland


County Cork, Ireland

After weeks of festive feasting, we're well and truly ready to recharge and reset. Enter, Kinsale. This lesser-trodden Irish harbour town is home to artisan boutiques and rustic restaurants serving farm-to-table menus. There's no better feeling than gulping lungfuls of fresh country air, so we suggest dusting off your walking boots and exploring on foot. For a proper ramble, we'd recommend going a little further afield. Just outside of town you'll find spectacular green spaces, where you'll be able to stomp to your heart's content.


Argentina and Chile

Patagonia's spectacular scenery is a bucket-list worthy travel experience. Be it a visit to the mammoth Perito Moreno glacier, travelling to Ushuaia, aka "the end of the world", or spending the day whale-watching, this is a trip that'll stick with you forever. Insider tip: it also makes for a fantastic alternative honeymoon destination.



If Amsterdam hasn't been popping up left, right and centre in your social feed all winter, we're assuming you're on a digital detox. Yes, this place is hardly off the beaten track, and can attract more than its fair share of teenage visitors, but it remains one of Europe's most magical destinations - and for good reason. To get to grips with the city and discover some of its best-kept secrets, we'd recommend hiring a bicycle and peddling the length of its three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. Be sure to make pit stops at the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.

nicaragua colourful streetscape january


Central America

Nicaragua is not as crowded as its neighbouring Central American countries. Immerse yourself in the azure tranquillity of the Caribbean Sea on the east coast, or the crashing waves of the Pacific on the west. Be sure to leave room in your luggage to take home some of the country's world-famous coffee and chocolate products.

Gabon, Africa


Central Africa

On the west coast of Central Africa, Gabon is a country of wildlife-filled parkland framed by sandy beaches on one side and thick rainforests on the other. Just over 10 per cent of the country is dedicated to protected parkland. Loango National Park is the most popular, known as "Africa's last Eden" for its patches of dense forests interspersed with lagoons and white-sand beaches. Visit the colourful city of Libreville to enjoy vibrant street markets, modern restaurants and buzzy bars, and take a boat to spend the day on nearby Pointe-Denis, a sandy peninsula perfect for sunbathing and watersports. Go in January for some winter sun and to catch a glimpse of sea turtles - they nest between November and January.

sayulita palm trees mexico



Sat on the southern end of Nayarit state, this sleepy fishing village is blessed with views of both the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Though its colourful markets are a must for some stellar retail therapy, we're pegging Sayulita as Mexico's best spot for surfing. Local beaches offer waves so dramatic that many renowned pros from the likes of Santa Monica and the Gold Coast make an annual pilgrimage here.

bruges belgium christmas market



Fitness bunnies look away: this place is Belgium's answer to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, making it a dream destination for chocoholics. With twinkly light-plastered streets, jewel-coloured facades and medieval architecture galore, there's plenty to fall in love with here. It's the city's tasty gastronomic boutiques, however, that we'll be making a beeline for. We're talking chocolate in flavours you didn't even know existed, in all kinds of intricate shapes and styles. If you weren't already keen, syrup-drizzled waffles and extra-large mugs of hot chocolate are pretty much the Bruges equivalent of a green juice and acai bowl.

Strasbourg, France



Itching for a weekend getaway? Look no further than the crossroads of culture that is the serene city of Strasbourg. Thanks to its charming blend of French and German heritage, we're ranking this as the most romantic retreat France has to offer - outside of the obvious, Paris. Picture a landscape peppered by medieval houses overlooking the Rhine River - it hardly comes as a surprise that Beauty and the Beast was set here. Stroll the snow-dusted streets and be sure to take time to browse the many gift shops stocking local sweet treats. Top tip: stay at Régent Contades, a hotel and spa that makes braving the frosty air worthwhile.

Edinburgh, Scotland



If, like us, you're saving sun-worshipping for the warmer months, you'll want to schedule in a trip to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. A five-hour train journey from Kings Cross, the much-storied city is framed by imposing granite buildings and peppered with cobbled alleys you'll want to get lost in. Not only rich in history, Edinburgh is home to a diverse and ever-evolving cultural scene. Looking for some retail therapy? Visit George Street - and leave with bags brimming with souvenirs. A slower vibe can be found within the jazz bars of the Old Town. We're making Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel our base for a romantic weekend, partly for its stylish and snug interiors, but largely for the hotel's spa. Treat yourself to a signature facial or seaweed body wrap.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria



Proudly flaunting its status as the oldest city in Europe, Plovdiv's convoluted history - stretching back over 6,000 years - can be seen in disparate imperial buildings, from ancient Roman and Persian ruins to the decadent Balkan and Ottoman architecture that lines the city's streets. Explore the remnants of past empires as you wander through Plovdiv's old town. Visit the iconic Roman amphitheatre, built around 90 CE and only discovered after a landslide in the 70s, and the 600-year-old Dzhumaya Mosque next door, or climb the ruined fortress of Nebet Tepe for views across the city. Where to stay? Hotel Boris Palace makes for a sumptuous boutique stay, complete with a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views across the old town.

Malton, North Yorkshire
Photo credit: Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock.com


North Yorkshire, UK

There's a lot to love about Malton, the unofficial food capital of Yorkshire, where you'll find stellar local produce alongside wheelbarrows-full of traditional character. Taste your way around town with a trip to Talbot Yard Food Court. The former stableyard features an impressive selection of artisanal suppliers, most of whom follow a "Made in Malton" ethos. Hit up Bluebird Bakery for oven-fresh bread, Food 2 Remember for premium-quality meat and The Groovy Moo for whatever-the-weather gelato. Then, flit between Atom Retro for 60s clothing, Hare & Wilde for Scandi-inspired homeware and Cosy Cottage Soap for organic skincare.

Bodo, Norway



Right at the northernmost tip of Norway's railway system, Bodø is the gateway to the Arctic Circle. Almost entirely destroyed after a Luftwaffe bombing in the Second World War, the city has been gradually rebuilt as a cultural hotspot in Nordland county. One for nature lovers, Bodø is brimming with flora and fauna. Known as the Sea Eagle Capital, the city has the world's most dense concentration of white-tailed sea eagles. Drive along the Kystriksveien Coastal Route on Highway 17 to witness the region's glacial beauty. It's the perfect basepoint for expeditions into the dramatic landscape, glimpsing the northern lights and escaping into the Arctic wilderness.

Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

Koh Tonsay


As far-flung Southeast Asian islands go, Rabbit Island (as Koh Tonsay is more commonly known) is easily accessible, being just a 30-minute boat ride from Kep, but it remains a haven for those seeking the simple life. Days are best spent alternating between lounging in hammocks and dozing in sun-bleached sun loungers, before gorging on fisherman's fare. Evenings are for swapping jet-setting tales or, more commonly at weekends, warming up the vocals and blaring out ear-splitting renditions of cult favourites from a pop-up karaoke bar.

Phu Quoc


While island-hopping through Southeast Asia remains a common gap-year plan, Phu Quoc has remained relatively free from overexcited teens seeking full moon parties. More than half of the island was named a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 2010, meaning most travellers make the pilgrimage here for rare birds and wildlife rather than beer, bongs and house music. Duong Dong is the largest town on the island and has its fair share of high-end hotels. Meander down to Duong Dong Market to see brightly coloured food stalls selling freshly caught seafood and zingy tropical fruit juices. In the afternoon, head to Dinh Cau Rock, a temple perched atop a collection of boulders at the mouth of the Duong Dong River. Hop over 29 stone steps to reach this Buddhist shrine, built in 1937 to honour Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea. Stay until the evening to watch the sunset from the temple's terrace, overlooking the Duong Dong fishing harbour and Dinh Cau beach.

yamba, new south wales, australia


New South Wales, Australia

Sitting in the north of NSW and at the mouth of the Clarence River, the sleepy fishing town of Yamba remains virtually undiscovered. But what it lacks in tourist footfall, it makes up for in community spirit. Take the Yamba Surf Lifesaving Club. Formed in 1908 (making it one of the oldest surf clubs in the world), it continues to go from strength to strength today. In the same way, the town's centuries-old sugar cane and oyster industry remain Yamba's beating heart. Bed down at The Surf Yamba. The intimate 12-room boutique hotel oozes a stylish Scandi-style aesthetic. Picture wicker chairs, earth-toned furnishings, hints of blush detailing and a smattering of Italian terrazzo tiles. Mornings should start with a gentle paddle in its plunge pool on the rooftop terrace, where, with each lap, you'll soak up sweeping views across Main Beach.

Ito, Japan



Who doesn't love a beach holiday? Okay, this might not be a seaside getaway as you know it, but this lesser-visited city on Japan's Izu Peninsula has theatrical coastal views made for sunset strolls, which more than makes up for its lack of stylish beach bars. Before sundowners at KAI Anjin ryokan, there's lots to pack in. There are the Barbie-pink gardens of Komuroyama Park to ogle, eight onsens in which to bathe and Mount Omuro or the Jogasaki coastline to hike. The brave can geotag themselves on Jogasaki Suspension Bridge, which floats above an 18m drop.

Fort Lauderdale, US

Fort Lauderdale

Florida, US

Bordered by picture-perfect Palm Beach and seriously sexy Miami, the no-frills coastal city of Fort Lauderdale has long served as a pit-stop destination. Recently, however, thanks to a fresh breed of creatives setting up shop, the city has undergone something of a renaissance, with independent galleries, design-driven hotels and edgy art studios cropping up along its sun-kissed coastline. Art enthusiasts will want to carve out time to visit Sarah Glass Ceramics, a woman-owned pottery studio dedicated to creativity and community. Those looking to get their hands dirty should book onto one of the studio's workshops. Settle in at Pillars Hotel, where airy bedrooms showcase art deco furnishings and sparkling sea views. Find a space at the palm-fringed pool, which is surrounded by plush, pin-striped loungers, before moving onto cocktails at the sultry in-house Secret Garden restaurant.

Campeche, Mexico



Situated in the country's south-east, Campeche has long attracted day-trippers to its sorbet-coloured streets, but its appeal has gone up a gear lately, with the refurbishment of 18th-century guesthouse Las Lupitas. Both honouring the port city's history and showcasing contemporary style, the five-key boutique is a stylish independent base unlike anything else on the local accommodation landscape. Head to Campeche Botanical Garden, where narrow passageways flanked by rare tropical plants lead to a beautiful central fountain - the perfect spot at which to curl up with a good book. Find your seafood fix at Marganzo Restaurant, whose burnt-orange facade is bordered by oyster-white columns and windows are laced with potted plants. Inside, you'll find buttercup-yellow walls, chequered tile floors and tables topped with abstract-print cloths. The menu includes the likes of shrimp soups, cod tacos and crab salad.

Breckenridge, Colorado US


Colorado, US

Sitting just below the Rocky Mountains' Tenmile Range, Breckenridge looks something like a spaghetti western town dropped into an Arctic idyll, with its colourful, saloon-style storefronts surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Gravity Haus offers the full ski-in, ski-out experience. Located below Peak 9, this alpine lodge has all the cosy touches of a superb ski stay (open hearths and wood-panelled walls included), plus a Japanese-inspired onsen spa to soothe sore legs post-slopes. Fancy yourself a black-run baller? Test your grit on the adrenaline-inducing Peak 6. Spanning five peaks of the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge Ski Resort offers a diverse terrain suitable for all abilities, but is best known for having some of the most difficult downhills in the US.

This article was updated on 29 December 2022. It contains affiliate links, which means SUITCASE may earn a small commission if you click through and book.

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