03 January 2018
The start of a new year brings fresh opportunities for you to get out and see the world, creating amazing holiday memories with your loved ones. Get a jump start on planning your next whirlwind holiday as we unveil our seven top picks of the best destinations to visit in early 2018.
Delve into a winter wonderland by flying to the Finnish region of Lapland. This is one of the best spots on earth to catch the spectacular Northern Lights, which often appear at this time of year. Travel to Kakslauttanen where you can view this display from futuristic glass igloos. Visit the Siida museum situated on picturesque Lake Inari, where you can learn about traditional Sami culture, or the Levin Lapinkyla farm, known for housing animals like reindeer and alpacas. Keep the spirit of Christmas alive for your children by spending the February half term at the Santa Clause Village, a year-round attraction where they can stay in igloo hotels and meet Saint Nick and his Elves!
Journey to Japan in early 2018 and savour unique experiences. A great time to visit is February, where you can find fun for all the family at the legendary annual Snow Festival in Sapporo, known for displaying ornate ice sculptures. Tackle the slopes at Niseko, one of Japan’s popular ski-resorts, or ward off the wintery chill by taking a dip in its onsen hot springs. Head to Okinawa and enjoy the region’s subtropical beaches like Yonaha-maehama Beach, a pristine stretch of golden shore that’s often quiet in the off-season. Lose yourself in bustling Tokyo, which is home to intricate temples, the Kabuki-za Theatre, where you can view traditional performances, and even a Disneyland!
This sun-kissed Caribbean island has all the ingredients you need for a memorable getaway. Chill on sugary white stretches of shore such as Winifred Beach, where you can swim through shallow waters. Go for an adventure by climbing the legendary rock slopes at the scenic Dunn’s River Fall, or by ziplining in the lush Mystic Mountain rainforest. There are various attractions for youngsters like the Kool Runnings Adventure Park, which provides activities including laser tag, canoeing and go-karting. Tour the island’s historical residences, such as former plantation Rose Hall Great House, or just relax with seafood and cocktails at Floyd’s Pelican Bar, situated a mile out to sea.
Bask in South Africa’s winter sun early this year. Enjoy standout swathes of shore like Kelly’s Beach in Port Alfred, where young children can play in a special swimming area, or popular surfing spot Trafalgar Beach on the South Coast. Spend time in Johannesburg where you can explore man’s origins at UNESCO World Heritage Site the Cradle of Humankind, or ride rollercoasters at Gold Reef City theme park. Visit Cape Town’s top sites like Robben Island, Table Mountain and the nearby Franschhoek wine region, where you can tour scenic vineyards by tram. Meet the ‘Big Five’ animals by going on a safari at Kruger National Park, or view large mineral formations at the Cango Caves.
France is a dream February destination. Arrange a Valentine’s break in Paris and stroll through the romantic Luxembourg Garden, while ticking sites like the Eiffel Tower off your bucket list. Paris is ideal for a family half-term holiday as it has Disneyland Paris, which features iconic rides like Space Mountain. Early 2018 is the perfect time to visit for ski enthusiasts, due to the wintery weather. If you’re new at skiing, try the 1850 area of the Courcheval resort, which has gentle slopes, or you could go snowboarding in alpine retreat Chamonix. Find warmer climes in the southern region of Bordeaux, while you learn about global wine cultures at the recently-opened Cité du Vin museum.
Enjoy exotic delights and light winter sun with a trip to Morocco. One stop for your itinerary should be Marrakech, which is famous for its Jemaa el-Fnaa markets where you can haggle over spices and leather goods. While you’re here see beautiful rose-coloured buildings like the 16th Century El Badi Palace, or take the kids for a dip in the wave pool at the Oasiria water park. Check out a piece of Hollywood history by visiting port city Casablanca, which is home to the enormous Hassan Il Mosque. Other top sites include hiking spot Toubkal; the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains; and Ouzoud Falls, where you can meet monkeys as water tumbles down from a dramatic height.
A host of diverse experiences await in Australia. It’ll be summer when you visit, so soak up the rays at places like Bondi Beach – an iconic spot known for its glitzy bars – as well as photogenic Wineglass Bay, where pink granite peaks rise above a clam-shaped shoreline. Top bucket list attractions include the Sydney Opera House, vibrant marine ecosystem the Great Barrier Reef and sacred sandstone monolith Ayer’s Rock. The kids will love attractions like Melbourne’s Luna Park with its mirror mazes and dodgems and Sea World Gold Coast, where they can see gentle creatures like dolphins and penguins. Arrange your visit for late December/early January and you can even attend the legendary Sydney New Year’s celebration, ringing in 2018 as fireworks burst over the picturesque harbour.