Zanzibar Or Bust: 9 Of The Best Winter Vacation Destinations
You’ve been working hard all year. What better time than the holidays to reward yourself with an unforgettable solo or group vacation? Get away before the year’s end, take a load off, or just escape winter weather by visiting these top-notch destinations.
Havana and Santiago de Cuba are the top cities to visit in Cuba, which is slowly but surely opening up to tourists. And while your visit must fall under 1 of 12 categories, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in Cuba’s many sights and sounds. From its jazz, rumba and hip-hop scenes to its delectable cuisine (always say “yes” to plantains), and the culture of its vibrant Afro-Cuban community. And since the Internet is not widely available, a visit to Cuba is the perfect chance to unplug and go off the grid.
Yahoo recently named Aruba one of the Caribbean’s hottest destinations. With its Divi-Divi trees that look like they’ve been shaped by the wind, to the crystal clear waters, and white sand beaches, mouth-watering pastechis (Aruba’s version of a patty), and distinct Papiamento language, it’s easy to see why. There’s no shortage of beauty or activities for any visitor to this island. And if you happen to visit Aruba in January or early February, be sure to experience the many events leading up to Carnival!
Never heard of Bequia (pronounced Bek-way)? You may not be alone. This Caribbean jewel is the second largest island in the Grenadines, and yet, is inhabited by slightly under 5,000 residents. Since Bequia is under the radar, you’ll feel like you’re right at home. And you can hop on a ferry to nearby (and bigger) islands like St. Vincent.
Greece’s economic woes make traveling to the country less expensive. That includes airfare and hotel expenses. Explore ancient ruins at Acropolis, visit open-air theaters, feast on fresh calamari and gyros or bathe in the waters in Santorini while taking in its quintessential whitewashed architecture.
London is especially popular with tourists during the Christmas season, but this time of year is an off-peak season. Visit Buckingham Palace, explore the River Thames, hop off and on a double-decker tour bus, catch a show at O2 Arena, or bask in the magical glow of all things Harry Potter.
A wonderful mixture of old and new thrives throughout Spain. Home of flamenco dancing, paella, bullfighting and so much more, you can catch a glimpse of it all by moving from city to city. Feed your soul with art and architecture by Gaudi, Picasso and Miro in Barcelona, soak in Moorish culture in Granada and Seville, or bar hop in Madrid.
Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, Fez. Morocco’s cities offer something for everyone. Take in Islamic architecture with tours to numerous mosques, travel the Sahara via camel, shop for spices and feast your eyes on vibrant colors at historic kasbahs. And did you know you could actually ski in Oukaimeden?
Joburg or Jozi, the second largest city in Africa, is a booming metropolis. Tour Soweto, take a hike on Table Mountain or hop on a safari in Kruger. Visit the Apartheid Museum and don’t forget to go to Robben Island, where the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Partake in the fashion, take an art walk, or experience the Mandela International Film Festival (December 3-13).
You may not want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but you can certainly bask in its beauty, especially if you’re in Arusha, dubbed Northern Tanzania’s safari capital. You can visit numerous national parks or travel to Olduvai Gorge, where scientists found remains of human’s oldest ancestors. Or trek to Zanzibar and visit villages that have preserved the Swahili language. If taking a dip is your thing, dive into the waters off Pemba and witness diverse, unspoiled ocean life.