Don’t fight the winter; embrace it! There’s nothing you can do to slow the onset of the colder months, the dark nights and the frozen fingers; so if you can’t beat it, why not join it?
At APH, we’ve rounded up some top Heathrow winter destinations so that you can do the cold in style this year! But it’s not all chills and spills, we’ve also included a couple of milder climates for those of you that just can’t stand the freeze…
Get Christmassy with a classic: New York City
The quintessential Christmas destination; New York transforms into a winter wonderland for the festive season. As snow blankets the streets and fairy lights spring up everywhere; even the biggest of scrooges can’t help but be won over by this city’s holiday charms.
Serious snow fans should head straight to Central Park and the infamous skating rink; fork out your $11 and you can twirl around under the watchful gaze of skyscrapers to your heart’s content. Next stop is the towering Rockefeller Centre where you can admire the mammoth Christmas Tree and get the lift up to the 67th floor observation deck to admire the wintery city beneath you.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the city over New Year don’t miss out on a trip to Times Square, where thousands of tourists and native New Yorkers cram every year to watch the clock count down and the ball drop which marks the start of the new year.
The best part about being in New York before Christmas? The shopping of course! Splash the cash on 5th Avenue before thawing out your frozen cheeks in a coffee shop.
Flights from: £389, flying with Lufthansa in December
Voyage into the mountains: Canada
Vancouver sits on the western coast of Canada and is a beautiful city to visit, but we’re not hanging around long; it’s time to take the train out of town.
Western Canada is a great place for a train journey, and there’s no better train than the Rocky Mountaineer, which starts in Vancouver and winds its way through the spectacular Canadian Rockies, taking in Whistler, Jasper, Banff and Calgary. Sit back and relax in the luxurious and toasty carriage as frozen waterfalls, snow filled valleys and Canadian wildlife parade in front of your eyes.
Make up your own itinerary and pick and choose your destinations, add on car hire and extras to make your holiday entirely your own; this is a great way to see a large chunk of the beautiful Canadian countryside without having to brave the cold!
Flights from: £634, flying with Air Canada into Vancouver in January
Turn the world upside down: Australia
Our first non-wintery destination, Australia enjoys a long hot summer while we are shivering in the midst of winter. This huge country has so much to offer; the size of Western Europe, your best bet is to decide on a few things you want to do in one area, or splash out on flights to save you time.
Starting in Sydney is a safe bet; this stunning city will win you over with its magnificent harbour, incredible beaches and fantastic food. Don’t miss out on Bondi Beach, the Blue Mountains and if you’ve got time, get acquainted with the locals and some of their more exotic pals at Taronga Zoo which has stunning views of Sydney Harbour.
Once you’ve had your fill of the city, head north to Queensland to take in the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays and more gorgeous tropical beaches than you could ever dream of. If you’ve got time, take a trip to the red centre to marvel at Uluru or make it a double city feature with a trip to cultured Melbourne.
Flights from: £806, flying with Air China into Sydney in January
Bears and epic vistas await you: Alaska
Remote and unspoilt, Alaska is a wilderness waiting to be explored. Teaming with wildlife; Alaska’s visitor numbers are lower in the winter so it’s much easier to spot the bald eagles, sea otters, bears and the rare snowshoe hares that call the coastline and forested mountains here home.
Anchorage is the main city; around 40% of Alaska’s population call the city home, as do large numbers of black and grizzly bears, moose and beavers. Surrounded by stunning national parks, the best way to explore is by car, so take a self-drive tour.
Head south from Anchorage, taking in the spectacular Kenai Peninsula and return inland, winding your way through the mountains. Along the way you could try your hand at dog-sledding, enjoy a wildlife cruise and even spot the elusive northern lights; in the evening nothing beats curling up in a cosy lodge with a cup of cocoa to watch the stars of the northern sky!
Flights from: £781, flying with British Airways and Alaska Airlines into Anchorage in January
Culture shocks and bathing snow monkeys: Japan
Think of Japan and bustling Tokyo springs to mind, with its chaotic stress and exotic sights and smells. Start in the capital and take in the sights; the Imperial Palace, Sensō-ji, and ancient Buddhist Temple and get lost in the lively streets of Harajuku.
When the city gets too much, head out of town on the train to Yudanaka in search of hot springs. Before taking to the volcanic water to defrost, check out the other visitors to the springs; the Japanese macaque, or snow monkey, who spends the winter months relaxing in the hot water.
Other sights to be seen are the epic Mount Fuji and ancient Kyoto where you will find warmer temperatures and 17 world Heritage sites like the gold gilded Zen Buddhist temple Kinkakuji.
Take a trip north to snowy Hokkaido in early February and you will be rewarded by the incredible Sapporo Snow Festival, a week long winter festival that included some of the most stunning ice sculptures we’ve ever seen!
Flights from: £505, flying with Qatar Airways into Tokyo in December
Die-hard sun worshipper’s heaven: Dubai
Has all this talk of winter wonderlands left you numb? If you can’t stand another second of cold weather, give yourself a break and head for some winter sun. Dubai has year round high temperatures that rarely drop below 20 degrees, so if some sun time is what you’re after, you’d better get packing.
Recline on the pristine beaches, head to the myriad of malls for some retail therapy or take to the skies and make the trip up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower to admire the city sights, including the bizarre yet epic Palm Jumeirah archipelago.
If you’re feeling active, plan a day out at Wild Wadi Water Park for some serious slide action or book yourself onto a 4×4 Desert Safari and try your hand at sand boarding or a ride atop a camel!
Flights from: £296, flying with Qatar Airways in December
Take a trip of a lifetime: Antarctica
Make like a penguin with an expedition into the great big white that is Antartica! Although you can trek to the region, the only civilised way of getting down to the south is on a cruise.
There are no villages or towns in this part of the world; it’s all animal, making this a trip to remember for wildlife fans. Sailing from South America, you will make your way across the Drake Passage and head for the Antarctic coast where wildlife aplenty will be waiting to greet you.
Watch humpback whales from the ship, wander amongst Gentoo Penguins; busy feeding their grey and fluffy chicks, or admire elephant seals as they laze on the ice and then it’s back to the ship for a relaxing dinner under the stars.
Antarctic cruises start from: £5995 for 14 nights including all flights and accommodation, with Noble Caledonia