January marks the beginning of a fresh chapter, an ideal time to embark on new adventures and discover destinations that can inspire you or simply offer you a much needed relaxing break. Whether you’re seeking sun-soaked beaches, vibrant cultural experiences, or winter wonderlands to escape the Australian summer heat, the start of the year offers endless opportunities to embrace travel and all the rewards that often come with it.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to set off to see more of the world, then how about checking out our list of best places to travel in January to kick off 2024 right. This year offers up 366 days thanks to leap year, so there’s no excuse to not find time for a holiday. So grab your passport, pack your bags, and consider purchasing a travel insurance policy as you plan a trip which will likely leave you with memorable experiences that will carry you through the coming year.
St. Lucia has long been known as a romantic getaway for couples and honeymooners, but recently it has shifted its focus to really embracing its unique cultural heritage and natural attractions to lure travellers. January is a perfect time to visit the eastern Caribbean nation due to the fact it’s the dry season, which means you can expect sunny and warm weather.
St. Lucia hosts various festivals and events in January, including the Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival. This event celebrates the island’s rich cultural heritage with music, dance, and art performances. January also lies outside of the peak tourist season, meaning you can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere, shorter wait times at popular attractions, and less packed beaches due to fewer crowds.
Water-based activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and sailing are always popular, as is zip-lining, ATV tours, and horseback riding on land. Hike the impressive UNESCO-listed volcanic peaks known as the Pitons where you’ll be able to see islands such as Barbados, Martinique, and Dominica from the summits.
St. Lucia is home to the world’s only drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs in Soufrière, where you can experience mud baths offering therapeutic properties. Many resorts in St. Lucia also offer wellness and spa retreats if you’re in need of a bit of pampering or rejuvenation after the busy silly season.
Be sure to take advantage of St. Lucia’s delectable culinary scene that blends Caribbean and Creole flavours, where you can sample dishes like green fig and saltfish as well as callaloo.
January also happens to fall within the dry season on the west and south coasts of Sri Lanka, offering pleasant weather with minimal rainfall. Popular beach destinations like Bentota and Unawatuna make especially ideal coastal holidays.
January is an excellent time for booking wildlife safaris in national parks like Yala or Wilpattu. You have the chance of observing unique Sri Lankan elephants, sloth bears, and the large population of leopards that call Yala NP home.
January is a month of festivities in Sri Lanka, with the celebration of the Duruthu Perahera, a colourful Buddhist festival. The Kelaniya Duruthu Perahera is another significant event to check out with its lively processions and cultural performances.
Explore Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and historical heritage by visiting sites like the ancient city of Anuradhapura, the Sigiriya rock fortress, and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Or maybe head to the cooler central highlands to visit the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Ella and the Knuckles Mountain Range are also popular destinations if you enjoy hiking.
Mirissa on the south coast is a hotspot for whale watching, where January is a good time to spot blue whales and dolphins in the warm Indian Ocean waters.
January is one of the best months to visit Dubai in terms of weather. The temperatures are typically mild, ranging from comfortable daytime highs to cooler evenings, making it ideal for visiting the Dubai Miracle Garden, taking a desert safari, or enjoying water sports along the coast.
Dubai hosts various events and festivals throughout January including the Dubai Shopping Festival which includes over a month-long schedule of shopping discounts, special raffle draws, outdoor markets, and entertainment. Dubai Global Village is also happening this time of year which is a massive multicultural attraction that showcases the rich diversity of cultures from around the globe.
If you visit in early January, you can experience the spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dubai, featuring world-class fireworks, light shows, and other events s at iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah.
If you’re into golf, tee it up at Emirates Golf Club, one of the most famous golf courses in Dubai, which offer two championship courses. Keep in mind you can easily add the golf cover upgrade to your travel insurance policy. And while January may not be prime beach season, Dubai’s beaches are still enjoyable during this time and you’ll likely enjoy fewer crowds.
Like us in Australia, Chileans live in the Southern Hemisphere and therefore are enjoying summer in January. This equates to ideal weather in central and southern regions, including Santiago, Valparaíso, and the Lake District.
While Patagonia can be visited year-round, January offers much milder temperatures which are more suitable for trekking holidays and exploring the natural beauty of Torres del Paine National Park. Chile of course also has an extensive coastline, where the summer months entice beachgoers to head to coastal areas like Viña del Mar or the beach towns of the La Serena region.
Or for a real adventure, consider spending some time on Easter Island to experience the unique Polynesian culture, marvel at the mysterious Moai statues, and hike to Rano Kau crater. Extend your trip to include the beginning of February which marks the start of the annual two-week-long Tapati Rapa Nui Festival which showcases the island’s culture.
For something a bit closer to home, in-between Australia and Chile is the French Polynesian paradise Bora Bora which is up part of the Society Islands archipelago that also includes Tahiti and Moorea.
Bora Bora is famous for its luxurious overwater bungalows. In January, you may find more availability and potentially lower rates since this is considered the low tourist season and can be rather rainy at times. Bora Bora is renowned for its stunning turquoise lagoon and coral reefs, and while the wet season brings occasional rain, it’s still a great time for snorkelling, scuba diving, and water sports. You can enjoy unique experiences like feeding and swimming with black-tip reef sharks and stingrays.
Bora Bora is a popular honeymoon and romantic getaway destination. The quieter atmosphere in January can enhance the sense of seclusion and intimacy, creating a holiday for couples who may be looking to book an early Valentine’s Day getaway.
If you’re feeling adventurous, embark on a hike to the summit of Mount Otemanu. The hike offers breathtaking panoramic views of the lagoon and surrounding islands. Or take to the water and explore the lagoon on a jet ski. Guided jet ski tours can take you to scenic spots like the famous Matira Point.
New York City
If you’re already tiring of the Aussie summer heat and want to cool down, New York City can be rather enjoyable in and around January. Holiday decorations often linger into early January and the city hosts various winter events and activities including Winter Restaurant Week, Broadway Week, and Central Park’s Winter Jam.
You of course have the world famous New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square if you book your January American holiday early enough. The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration is one of the most famous and widely watched events globally, attracting large crowds coming to watch live music performances and the iconic ball drop at midnight.
Central Park often transforms into a winter wonderland in January, where you can snuggle up together in a horse-drawn carriage ride or try a bit of outdoor ice skating at Wollman Rink. Warm up indoors by exploring New York’s many famous museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the American Museum of Natural History, and the Whitney Museum of American Art are just a few options to check out.
January marks the beginning of the dry season on Costa Rica’s the Pacific coast. While the Caribbean coast experiences some rain, many popular destinations like Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula enjoy mostly perfect weather.
The dry season is an excellent time for spotting wildlife since animals seem to be more active in the various national parks and reserves. Keep your eye out for sloths, toucans, howler monkeys, and coatis. January also falls within the humpback whale migration season along the Pacific coast. Book a whale-watching tour to get a closer look at these giants as they migrate through Costa Rican waters.
There’s of course plenty of adventure activities on offer in Costa Rica including zip-lining through the rainforest, volcano hiking, white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, checking out La Fortuna’s waterfalls, and deep-sea fishing.
And if all that adventure isn’t enough to keep you awake, Costa Rica is known for its high-quality coffee. January is an excellent time to tour coffee plantations, learn about the coffee production process, and get your fix of caffeine to fuel your entire holiday.