With the chilly months fast approaching, we round up the best European and long-haul destination ideas for every month of the year, helping you to find the very best weather and avoid the madding crowds.
From beach bliss in Mexico and Mauritius to jungle trekking in Costa Rica, we’ve got your year in holidays covered.
There’s no better way to beat the post-Christmas blues (and the UK drizzle) than a January getaway. With highs of around 29°C, the tropical white-sand beaches of Mexico are a fabulous place to start the New Year. Rub shoulders with the stars in the plush resort of Cabo San Lucas (a favourite of Jennifer Aniston); soak up the rich cultural history at the Myan ruins; join the trendy set in Tulum; or spot newborn baby humpback whales in Puerto Vallarta.
February: Costa Rica
Let’s face it, the shortest month of the year can be a little, well, gloomy. The perfect antidote? Costa Rica. A thrilling mix of volcanoes, rainforests, jungle and wildlife reserves, as well as incredible beaches, it’s got it all. February is the heart of the dry season, when you can enjoy fiestas, trekking, river rafting, and incredible animal sightings. It’s a bone fide paradise for nature-lovers.
March: St Lucia
With an average daytime temperature of 28°C, March is the perfect time to visit St Lucia. Enjoy some of the world’s best rum cocktails while also drinking in the views of the majestic Piton mountains; go zip-lining through the rainforest; spot multicoloured fish on a snorkelling tour. Or just relax on one of the many beautiful beaches. What’s not to love?
If cool bars, colourful architecture, culture and salsa music are up your street, make Cuba your go-to destination for April. Enjoy the lively capital Havana and the beautiful beaches, including two kilometres of powdery white sand at Playa Sirena. April, known as the ‘shoulder season’, is a great month to go as the weather is still hot, prices are slightly less than peak season, and the rains don’t hit until May. April is also the month of the retro Cine Pobre film festival – an authentic, charming and off-the-beaten track event where alternative filmmakers showcase their work in the sleepy fishing village of Gibrara.
Temperatures are warming up nicely in the 20s in Europe by May, making it a fantastic time to visit, when the summer-rush crowds have yet to descend, too. Malta, nestled between Sicily and Tunisia, offers a brilliant mix of European and African culture. Spend lazy days sunbathing on beaches in hidden coves; explore charming fishing villages and ancient ruins; enjoy stylish wine bars in Silema on the east coast. Described as an open-air museum, the island’s bursting with history, the best sights of which can be found in the capital, Valletta.
Croatia is one of the hottest summer holiday destinations in Europe and it’s easy to see why: there’s something for everyone. Get your culture fix in the historic city of Dubrovnik; go sailing from island to island along the Dalmation Coast; dance the night away at one of June’s trendy festivals, like Hideout on the island of Pag, or Inmusic in Zagreb; go wine tasting at a rustic hillside vineyard; or jump in a taxi boat and explore a host of sandy bays and authentic beachside dining gems. Can we come too?
July: Sri Lanka
There are two separate monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka, making the best time to visit vary in different areas. The ‘maha’ monsoon hits the east coast from November to March, making it a fantastic option from April to September. It boasts swathes of golden sandy bays, stunning national parks (spot elephants, leopards, and crocodiles), ancient ruins, colonial mansions and tea plantations.
Always dreamed of an unforgettable showstopper of a holiday? Head to Tanzania for a beach and safari match made in heaven. August is one of the best times to go, being warm but the end of the rainy season. Stay in an upmarket bush camp in the Ruaha or Selous game park and spot chimpanzees and wildebeest, before sleeping under the stars. Then treat yourself to a stay at an exotic retreat in Zanzibar and the Spice Islands, where you’ll find rainbow coral reefs, icing sugar sands, turquoise waters and indulgent beachfront suites.
September: The Balearic Islands
Europe is still enjoying beautiful, balmy weather in September, and many believe it’s the best month for a Mediterranean getaway. The Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca come into their own at this time. There’s more spots available at the beach, while closing parties are the highlight of the season in Ibiza. For something more chilled out, Menorca has stunning beaches, cute B&Bs and clifftop bars dotted around the island. Meanwhile, the still-warm waters of Mallorca are fringed with soft sand and pine trees in pretty coves on the north east, while arty villages like Deia are a pure delight.
Autumn might be setting in in the UK, but over in Europe there’s a gorgeous end-of-summer glow well into October. Being set deep in the south east, Cyprus enjoys an amazing climate at this time of year. As well as the island’s beachy coastline and seascape hotels, don’t miss the Troodos mountains (found inland), where you’ll discover hidden tavernas, vineyards and quaint hillside hamlets.
Mauritius has an enviable year-round climate, but the best time to visit is from May to December, when it’s dry and sunny. November is the ideal time, with the least amount of rainfall and average temperatures of 26°C. An Indian Ocean paradise, you’ll find mouthwatering seafood, superluxe hotels, fantastic golf, and powdery beaches. But there’s more to it than soft sands – the island is surrounded by a huge reef, creating excellent snorkelling and diving; there’s waterfall pools under the cascading Tamarin Falls; historic sights; sugar cane plains and forests. The cities, too, are a big draw, with the bustling streets of the capital Port Louis and the cosmopolitan atmosphere in the north’s Grand Baie offering great shopping and dining options.
May to October is rainy season in Thailand, so December is a fantastic time to jet in and enjoy its talcum powder beaches and balmy climes. Culture vultures should head to Bangkok, where it averages 31°C in the day and a bearable 20°C at night. Thailand’s west coast and the Andaman Sea are perfect in December, think Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta for fly-and-flop beach holidays. Chiang Mai in the north is also idyllic during this time (29°C, anyone?), and offers a cultural taste of traditional Thailand. It’s all unspoilt lush jungle, dramatic mountain scenery, hidden hilltop tribes and majestic temples.