Fresh from the red list, these destinations are ideal for a winter break

·4-min read
Views along Route 62, Garden Route, South Africa (Alamy/PA)
Views along Route 62, Garden Route, South Africa (Alamy/PA)

While most of us were still warming up to the idea of a European holiday, our options suddenly expanded with the news 47 countries have been released from the UK’s red list, putting entire continents back on the map.

Suddenly, long haul breaks are an option once again, and the move couldn’t have come at a better time. As nights draw in and temperatures dip, the idea of a winter sun break grows ever more appealing.

Realistically, most travellers prefer a long lead-up to a big break. But there are benefits of booking last minute: availability will be better, prices will be cheaper and crowds will be fewer. Take advantage by visiting these popular destinations in the next few months.

South Africa

Off the radar for too long, this popular Christmas and New Year destination is back in business again. One of the best ways to experience everything that South Africa has to offer is to take a self-drive trip, beginning in Cape Town and ending on safari in the Eastern Cape.

Look out for whales off the coast of Hermanus, spend time in the forests and beaches of Knysna and finish up on safari, visiting one of the country’s private game reserves, where it’s possible to see the big five. Along the way, sample world class wine from some of the country’s finest vineyards, cycle through epic landscapes and hike along the coastline where two oceans collide.

How: Tropical Sky (tropicalsky.co.uk; 01342 547 010) offers a 12-day self-drive holiday from £2,799 per person (two sharing), based on travel before January 1, 2022. Price includes return flights, car hire and a mix of B&B and room-only accommodation, with full board on safari.

Jamaica

New James Bond film, No Time To Die has given us a big-screen reminder of why Jamaica is such a showstopping destination. The birthplace of 007, where Ian Fleming found inspiration for his Bond novels, will also be celebrating 60 years of independence next year. But go much sooner to make the most of a tropical climate and soak up some winter sun.

Beautiful beaches and a lively nightlife make Montego Bay a good option for a trip in the next few months. British Airways fly direct from London and Virgin recently increased their number of flights.

How: Tropical Sky (tropicalsky.co.uk; 01342 547 010) offers a seven-night stay at Couples Negril from £1,429 per person (two sharing) – saving £600 per person – if booked by November 15. Price includes all-inclusive accommodation, flights and resort transfers.

Montenegro

Winter is one of the best times to visit Montenegro, when typically busy cities Kotor and Budva are much quieter, allowing for relaxing city strolls and unrestricted views. Alternatively, visitors can head to the mountains for skiing and snowboarding for a fraction of the price, compared to a similar vacation in Western Europe. Although too cold for the beach, temperatures are still pleasant, and cold evenings provide the perfect opportunity to try rich, hearty Montenegrin food.

Opened earlier this year at the entrance of Boka Bay on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, One&Only Portonovi honours a local winter tradition for gathering around fires by having a burning hearth in every room. During the winter months, guests will also be able to take part in a special four-day Chenot De-Stress & Recharge programme, which aims to stimulate the body to recover and restore its vitality and energy levels.

How: Doubles start from £718 per night with breakfast. Visit oneandonlyresorts.com.

Costa Rica

Through a greater appreciation of the finer details in nature, lockdown taught us the benefits of slow and considerate travel. For years, Costa Rica has championed sustainability, and slow living is part of its DNA.

Get back to nature in style by visiting three of Costa Rica’s finest eco retreats, all affiliated to global sustainability membership association The Long Run – guaranteeing the highest standards of green practice, community engagement and commitment to conservation.

White river raft along one of the world’s most beautiful rivers to Pacuare Lodge, deep in the lush rainforest; enjoy eco air conditioning on breeze beds at costal retreat Lapa Rios on the Osa Peninsula, followed by an adventurous day out in Corcovado National Park; and grind almost to a halt at costal retreat Kasiiya Papagayo by joining specialist movement classes to mimic a crab, a monkey or a sloth.

How: Steppes Travel (steppestravel.com; 01285 880 980) offers a 12-day Green Costa Rica itinerary which includes three nights at Lapa Rios, three nights at Kasiiya Papagayo and two nights at Pacuare Lodge. The price is from £5,675 per person (two sharing) including all flights, activities and accommodation, on a full-board basis.

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