So, you’re on the hunt for the warmest places in January in the world that are great for travel? Hello snowbird! We can hardly blame you for wanting to jet away from the chilly reaches of the upper Northern Hemisphere, whether that’s glum London with its dreary rainclouds or snow-doused Chicago on an icy Lake Michigan.
The good news is that there are OODLES of options. Yep, while half the planet is wrapping up in wooly jumpers, there’s another half that’s baking their bodies on the beaches and snorkeling their days away. Basically, the rule here is to go south, go tropical. That’s how you can get your hit of Vitamin D during the winter months.
Cue this guide to the warmest places in January in the world. We’ve sourced our picks from this curated Met Office list that outlines 10 of the most tempting and well-known holiday destinations for the first month of the year. It’s got some real scorchers, don’t worry, from white-sand beach towns on the Mexican riviera to palm-fringed isles in the Caribbean Sea.
Singapore kick-starts this list of the warmest places in January in the world with a sweat-gland-tickling average temp of 30.5 C (86.9 F) throughout the month. That’s a real scorcher, topping out at some of the mercury highs you get on the Greek Islands or in Spain at the very height of the summer. Yeehaaw!
The obvious downside is that Singapore is mainly an urban destination. A sprawling metropolis of 5.6 million people, it’s not the sort of place to go if you are pining after beach day after beach day. However, it’s certainly interesting. Sightseers willing to brave the heat can wander the Marina Bay to see glitzy skyscrapers, hit Chinatown and Little India for spice-plumed eats, and cap it all off with Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel.
Oh, and you can always hop over to the theme park-beach hub mashup of Sentosa Island when it’s time to cool off. It’s not only the home of the celebrated Tanjong Beach, arguably the best in the whole city, but also a vast waterpark complex, the Adventure Cove Waterpark.
Cancun is actually joint second here. It, too, cranks up the thermometers to 30.5 C on average throughout January, so it’s hardly a surprise that the booming resort town at the top of the Riviera Maya is now among the most-visited destinations for American snowbirds fleeing the cold weather further north.
Cancun is a whole world apart from Singapore, though, and we don’t just mean the 17,245km that separate the two spots! Nope, while one has skyscrapers and haute couture fashion malls, the other has beaches fringing every nook and cranny. The Hotel Zone is the area you want to be, because it offers 14 miles of uninterrupted white sand. The northern part tends to be livelier, around Punta Cancun, while the south is for lux honeymoon hotels.
Of course, Cancun isn’t just for the beach bums and the partiers. That’s the headline, but the region hosts the amazing UNESCO ruins of Chichen Itza, loads of cenote swimming holes, and the quaint Mexicana fishing towns of the Riviera Maya to boot.
Prep the mozzie spray, ready the jungle boots – Manaus is the third option on our list of the warmest places in January in the world to travel to. Located deep in the midst of the misty Amazon Rainforest, this city of 2.2 million is a real feast for the senses. It’s also on the doorstep of some of the planet’s most biodiverse reserves.
First, do your sightseeing. The Centro area, with its array of Art Deco and Neo-Renaissance architecture is a real joy, especially when you glimpse that grand Teatro Amazonas. To the north of town is the Museu da Amazônia, for those who want to learn all about the delicate ecosystems of the surrounding region. The to the west is the so-called Meeting of the Waters, where the murky Rio Negro flows into the mighty Amazon River.
Of course, the wilds can’t wait too long here. Expeditions deeper into the Amazon are a must if you come this way. They can include tours of the Parque Nacional do Jaú and the Springs National Park Lake Jari, both of which are booming with exotic birds and bugs, snakes and river fish.
Who needs to be tempted to book a trip to Barbados? Usually just one glimpse of the cream-white stretch of Crane Beach is enough to get the heart palpitating with visions of paradise and the finger a-twitching over to the airline pages.
The good news is that this fantastic member of the Lesser Antilles is at the very peak of its high season in January. We’re talking dry days from beginning to end, cool and breezy evenings, and – most importantly – average temperatures just above 29 C (84 F). Just about perfect, eh?
There are two main sides of the isle to pick from. The southwest coast is the area with the pristine sugar sands that the Caribbean usually champions. It’s home to the laid-back fish fries and the rum stalls. The east, meanwhile, is where the Atlantic Ocean rolls in, offering more rugged and wild coastline that’s good for walkers and surfers (and it is actually peak surf season in Barbados in January, too!).
Rio de Janeiro
Get the party started by choosing Rio de Janeiro as your winter-break hotspot. This is the real city that never sleeps, sorry NYC. A town so rambunctious that its name is now virtually synonymous with carnival (although you have to wait until April for that mega blowout), it gave the world Bossa Nova music and the buzz of Copacabana.
What we really love about Rio is that it sort of offers the best of both worlds. You can laze on the sand and top up the tan if you so wish, but you can also hit the winding city streets of Santa Teresa, a land of cobbled lanes, old coffee joints, and rattling trams, or strut your stuff down in Botafogo, where monied Brazilians wear Gucci et al.
This part of Brazil actually sees its yearly peak in temperatures in January. Averaging 29 C (84.2 F) throughout the whole month, it regularly manages to surpass that. AKA – you’re going to get hot, so make sure to pack the sunscreen and hat!
It’s gonna’ have to be a long-haul for most travelers to transport you over to the balmy capital of New South Wales, Australia. But it’s probably worth it, because the temperatures in this happening cityscape linger at a lovely 27.4 C (81 F) for much of the month and – ask any local – it’s pretty much sun from beginning to end.
And that’s just the beginning. It’s what you can do in the good weather that makes Sydney so fantastic. First choice: The beaches. There’s Coogee Beach and – of course – Bondi, where you’ll find buzzy boho scenes and seaside cafés. Then there are the northern beaches of Manly, where you can catch some glassy summer waves on your log board. Lovely.
Back in the town and it’s sightseeing 101. The Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House, the immersive Rocks district with its old-school Victorian pubs – they are all there. Meanwhile, hikers can breakaway to the Blue Mountains to walk vertiginous trails over bluffs in the outback, too.
Last but most certainly not least on our list of the warmest places in January in the world to travel to comes Cape Town. The hip and cool urban center of the Western Cape is one pillar of three South African capitals. It’s known for its edgy vibe, its blazing beaches, and its dramatic location under Table Mountain.
Similar to Sydney, the temps here bobble around the 27 C (81 F) mark for much of the month. But, hey, it’s midsummer in this Southern Hemisphere town in Jan, seeing some of the lowest rainfall of the year and plenty of sunshine to boot.
Cape Town could just be the start of a trip, though. It’s one terminus of the Garden Route, one of the world’s most epic drives that takes you along weaving, winding coast roads past penguin-dotted bays for 300kms. You also get access to the Stellenbosch wine region, the fynbos hills of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, and the whale-watching mecca of Hermanus.
The warmest places in January in the world to travel to – our conclusion
There are stacks of places that can offer a hit of Vitamin D and high temperatures when the snows are falling further north. We’ve whittled our selection here down to just seven places, taking a nod from the UK Met Office on popular travel destinations that manage to crank up the mercury to hit 30 C or more time and time again after New Year’s Eve. You might be surprised at the variety – there are resort towns on the Caribbean, buzzy metropolises Down Under, and even Amazonian escapes!