Best places to go on vacation in January 2023

The best places to go on vacation in January are big on adventure. Freezing dark days in Northern Europe are smothered with snow, so you’ll need to warm up with twilight snowshoe hikes and husky mushing under a curtain of the Northern Lights. At the other end of the earth, relatively warm just-above-zero temperatures bring Antarctic cruises out of the woodwork.
January is a month of two extremes, depending on which end of the earth you go to. Deep freeze on a Northern Lights safari in Finland or soak up the sunshine in Costa Rica and Cuba.
If you’d rather shake the frost from your bones, you should head to the Southern Hemisphere. Regions as varied as Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Antarctica and Australasia pick up pace around now, thanks to decent weather and emerging wildlife. Plus, New Year and leftover Christmas festivals light up many countries, from Ethiopia’s Timkat festival to New Year’s fireworks.

Read our guide to find out more about the best places to go on vacation in January.

January vacation activities

Northern Lights

Northern Europe is sitting under some of its longest, darkest days. In fact, in the high Arctic the sun barely grazes the horizon during the day. All those hours of dark sky is a great pollution-free canvas for Northern Lights hunting – although it does mean that other activities like husky sledding and cross country skiing will be done in twilight and by torchlight. Exciting.

Wildlife watching

In India, tigers are on the go for longer in January – you’ve just got to wrap up for some very chilly mornings and shorter days, and pack sunglasses for some gorgeous winter sunshine. It’s festival season, too, so you might be treated to anything from camel to kite festivals. Just watch out for Republic Day (January 26), when national parks are packed with visitors. Over in the Caribbean, Dominica hasn’t picked up the ‘Nature island of the Caribbean’ moniker for nothing – you can watch out for pelicans, parrots, whales and spinner dolphins in January. It’s also a great time to scout out rainforest critters in Costa Rica, or elephants in Sri Lanka.

Expedition cruises

January is the most popular month for Antarctic cruises, thanks to longer, warmer days and a surfeit of penguin chicks and seal pups on the ice. Book early, as these spots fill up fast. It’s also a good time for a voyage to the subantarctic islands, when temperatures and seas settle down.
Travel Team
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Wellness retreats

Many yoga retreats close in January, but we work with vacation companies who keep the season going right through. You probably won’t be doing your downward dog al fresco, but you could stay in a place surrounded by snow-dipped mountains in regions like Valencia – a picturesque backdrop for walks in your free time.


Timkat Festival is one of the most spectacular Christian festivals in the world, when Ethiopians celebrate the baptism of Jesus with processions and dances abounds. Watch out for the jewel-bright umbrellas used to protect robed priests from the sunshine. Alternatively, ring in the New Year in any number of cities, before recovering in the countryside. Sri Lanka and India ring in a host of harvest festivals, too.
Photo credits: [Page banner: Jakob Owens] [Intro: Kyle Taylor] [Northern Lights: Thomas Lipke] [Wellness retreats: Kaylee Garrett]