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Francis Mallmann has turned this little village into gastronomic destination for even the most seasoned foodies. The self-proclaimed “pirate chef” has created a gorgeous place to stay with fantastic food and wine. While you’re over there, be sure to make the trip to the gorgeous beach town of Punta del Este, while the Rocha Coast with its surfer beaches and young spirit cries out for a road trip.
Surrounded by three ancient volcanoes and imposing, tree-blanketed mountains, Antigua in southern Guatemala has both breath-taking views and a thriving cultural scene. Rarely does a city throb with so much activity, as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site where colourful colonial architecture meet ancient Mayan ruins, juxtaposed with an emerging food scene. If you’ve got time, take a short flight to Nicaragua for surfing and seafood.
Sri Lanka’s endless sights and opportunities mean you can’t fail to be enchanted. From the lush plains and temples in Sigiriya, to tea plantations and crystalline waterfalls in the mountainous town of Ella, whale-watching in Mirissa, surfing in Argugam Bay, traditional fishing villages in Trincomalee and Yala National Park, there’s something to suit whatever your travel whim may be.
If you’re in need of some winter sun, India is a cheaper option than Thailand and a less obvious choice than Goa. Begin your trip in the historic port of Kochi, in the atmospheric Mattancherry quarter famous for its spice bazaars. The gateway to the backwaters of Kerala, from there you can explore the vast network of lakes, lagoons and canals on a traditional houseboat – a different way to experience village life firsthand.
The closest you’ll come to experiencing a fairytale, Salzburg is a tiny city filled with old castles and cathedrals, while it’s also the birthplace of Mozart. Drink mulled wine and buy traditional wooden gifts in the Christmas markets and take in the surrounding Alpine mountain scenery – you’ll be overjoyed at how few tourists there are. Vienna is also a lovely option at this time of year.
While many people to flock to Kenya to spot the Big Five, Namibia has gained popularity as a safari destination thanks to endless sweeping plains and a distinct lack of people. Journeying through this country feels much rawer than your traditional Jeep and binoculars escape – if you’re feeling brave, rent a car and DIY.
Our new favourite South American destination offers nearly 4,300km to explore from north to south. The capital now offers boutique hotels and top-notch dining, while pretty port towns like Valparaiso channel a quirky character and carefree attitude – particularly when it comes to dancing until the morning. If you’re lusting after adventure, the Atacama Desert should keep you occupied.
Nothing screams “winter wonderland” like this chocolate-box ski resort come December. High season means high prices, so if you’re after something a little more wallet-friendly check out the slopes in Bansko, Bulgaria. Not sure exactly where you want to go? These under-the-radar ski resorts should help you decide – and beat the crowds.
You don’t need us to tell you that Australia at this time of year is pretty glorious, offering the opposite climate to most of Europe. If you’re taking the plunge and celebrating festivities Down Under, your first port of call would probably be Melbourne or Sydney – and you don’t need us to tell you that. What you might not know is that the capital of Western Australia is gaining traction as the new place to be, thanks to a spate of restaurants and bar openings, a thriving creative scene and, of course, beautiful beaches.
If you’re looking for winter sun but aren’t the kind of person who sits on a could-be-anywhere beach, this little-known pearl of Africa a true find. You won’t find any big resorts here, but you will find stellar surfing spots, sweeping vistas and heart-warming locals. The area is not geared up for tourists, so the beach itself is incredibly peaceful – get there before everyone else does.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of India’s crowded cities, Havelock Island provides a tranquil haven of peace and quiet. Those willing to make the long trip are rewarded with a desert-island feel; beachfront properties are prohibited and there is no nightlife on the island. Sat in the Bay of Bengal, its dense forests, verdant rainforest and active volcanoes line empty, blonde beaches stretching for miles, luring travellers from the mainland. Spend days hopping between beaches, sunbathing, snorkelling and, if you’re lucky, watching elephants gleefully splashing in the shallows. The island’s rainy season is during the summer months, so go in December for some winter sun and temperatures in the mid-20s.
In a deep mountain valley just south of Salzburg, Bad Gastein is a Wes Anderson-esque wonderland of belle-epoque buildings, powdered slopes, steaming springs and cascading waterfalls. Come in December for a winter retreat in which you’ll spend days skiing down Bad Gastein’s steep slopes that lead to the valley, tracing cross-country trails through the silent winter forest, rejuvenating in thermal waters and wandering through winding streets etched into steep mountainsides.
What’s happening around the world in December?
24 December: Christmas Eve
25 December: Christmas Day
31 December: New Year’s Eve
2-10 December: Hanukkah
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