As temperatures drop, we’re turning our attention to the places to be this winter. We’ve rounded up our favorite destinations for an escape somewhere cozy, stylish, sunny, stimulating or serene—whatever you find yourself needing in the months between November and March. Whether you’re looking for a snowy chalet where you can sip après ski cocktails by a roaring fire, a tropical island where you can relax with a beach read or a far-flung destination with adventures to satisfy every member of your family, these are the winter vacations that should be on your radar. From one-of-a-kind resorts in the French Alps to the mountain paths of Machu Picchu and the Pyramids of Egypt, here are 24 reasons to start planning your next winter escape.
Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Beloved destinations like the ones below are booking up quickly. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.
Winter Vacations for Epic Family Adventure: Australia and New Zealand
For a family adventure that is guaranteed to thrill everyone, from foodies and outdoor enthusiasts to history and culture buffs, Australia and New Zealand, experienced on their own or combined, present a winter vacation of epic proportions, with luxury lodges to match—and the added bonus of the warm, sunny weather of summer Down Under.
Australia is vast, and itinerary options are abundant. For a first exploration, Indagare typically recommends spending 10 to 14 days (minimum), split between Sydney (and Melbourne, if possible), Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef—with a few nights at a show-stopping wilderness resort like Lizard Island, Qualia, Longitude 131, Saffire Freycinet or Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island (which is scheduled for a grand reopening on December 6, after being razed to the ground by the bushfires). Meanwhile, slightly off the beaten path: Western Australia’s capital Perth is a lively addition for its food, nightlife and gallery scenes; the Southern Highlands, Barossa, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Margaret River are wonderful for wine touring; and Lord Howe Island and Tasmania are ideal for laid-back atmospheres and spectacular wildlife adventures.
For a New Zealand family vacation, Indagare COO Eliza Scott Harris writes: “One of the great benefits of travel is the chance to try on a different way of life. The life our family got to try on in New Zealand was one in which we were outdoors all day on adventures, constantly exclaiming over the beauty that surrounded us, laughing with our rugged guides and feeling like this was exactly how life was meant to be lived. Over dinner, my husband put it this way: ‘It’s a land of majesty and awe and the people reflect that. They have a humility and they are grateful to walk this earth.’ They are also cheeky. I mean, who other than a Kiwi would think, ‘You know what we should try? Catching lobster from a helicopter.'” For an all-around taste of New Zealand, with mountains, countryside, lake and beach, Eliza recommends: “Three nights at Blanket Bay will give you the glory of the Southern Alps, two nights at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, rolling hills, two nights at Huka Lodge, fly fishing and woods, and three nights at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs will cap it off with beach, hiking and golf.”
Getting There: Air New Zealand offers direct flights to Auckland from Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and New York, ranging from nine to 17.5 hours in duration, while Qantas, American Airlines, United and Delta offer direct flights to Sydney, across the same ports, with the same flight times—with the exception of New York (Qantas will soon offer new direct flights to Sydney and Melbourne from New York and London that will include dedicated wellness zones, as well as the opportunity to see not one but two sunrises on board, over 22 hours).
Plus: There are just a few spots left to travel with Indagare COO Eliza Scott Harris to New Zealand for an intimate group trip this coming April. Click here to learn more and read Eliza’s report from scouting in New Zealand earlier this year.
Winter Vacations for History and Culture: Peru and Egypt
Peru is a fascinatingly rich destination that is a rite of passage for sophisticated explorers with an appreciation for the past. Visiting the perched ruins of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is certainly a profound highlight, and many Indagare members have enjoyed both hiking the Inca Trail or taking the scenic Hiram Bingham train from Belmond to get there. But there are also lesser-known Inca ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, as well as contemporary culture- and museum-packed cities like Cusco and Lima—and an abundance of nature in the Amazon and Colca Canyon (where one can hope to spot the giant Andean condor). There’s no shortage of wonderful hotels throughout—but for a seamless winter vacation, we recommend following the Belmond circuit, with a combination of stops at any of the brand’s beautiful retreats, including Sanctuary Lodge, Rio Sagrado, Hotel Monasterio and Palacio Nazarenas. Alternatively, take to the rails for a truly dreamy voyage aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer.
On the other side of the world, the treasures of Egypt can now be enjoyed—generally without the crowds—for a far-flung history-focused winter vacation. Egypt is home to one-third of the world’s antiquities and the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the Pyramids at Giza). For thousands of years, travelers have journeyed from all over the world to witness the glorious temples built by the pharaohs. Today, visitors can see these ancient treasures alongside new wonders—from the groundbreaking Grand Egyptian Museum (which is slated to become the largest archaeological museum in the world when it opens, hopefully by the end of the year) to the glamorous luxury yachts that cruise up and down the Nile. In the words of Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley: “The awe that you feel in the shadow of the pyramids or when surrounded by the still vibrant colors in Nefertari’s Tomb must be experienced to be understood. There is simply no way to comprehend the immensity of this history without going—or returning—as tombs continue to be discovered and treasures unveiled. I believe that there will never be a better moment in our lifetime than right now to explore Egypt’s wonders.” (And Melissa still cites her family holiday trip to Egypt as one of her all-time favorites.)
Winter Vacations for Sun and Scene Seekers: Coastal Mexico and The Caribbean
Mexico‘s beach regions are home to indulgent, spacious resorts where you can hide away for a week—and our top choices combine laidback luxury and a family-friendly vibe with just a hint of glamour. One of our team’s favorites is the One&Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos. In the words of Indagare’s Simone Girner, who first scouted the property: “Part family-friendly enclave, part indulgent adult playground, One&Only Palmilla maintains a delicate balance, mostly thanks to the welcoming and caring staff who prevent it from venturing too far into over-the-top (though there’s some of that, too). It helps that the hub of the property is a traditional Mexican hacienda, complete with a whitewashed chapel and bell tower dating back to 1956, when this part of Baja was a sleepy backwater. Families with younger children will enjoy the kids’ club and family pool, while couples can opt for more privacy and pampering. There’s no shortage of activities, including golf, surf and sea excursions. When it comes to restaurants, One&Only Palmilla serves up top options: Seared, a collaboration with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for surf and turf; Suviche, for Japanese fusion; and cliffside Agua for that final-night showstopper dinner at sunset.” Other top choices across Mexico’s coastlines include Belmond Maroma, Rosewood Mayakoba, Chablé Maroma and Hotel Esencia on the Riviera Maya, and Cuixmala in Jalisco (or sister property Hacienda de San Antonio, if you prefer the mountains).
The Caribbean has long drawn couples, families and friends for easy warm-weather getaways, thanks to its powdery white-sand beaches, warm turquoise waters and pampering resorts—but every island has its own atmosphere and specialties. For a jet-set scene, St. Barth’s is not to be missed—with top hotels including the legendary Le Toiny (with 14 freestanding villa suites), Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, Eden Rock, Le Sereno and buzzy Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa. With just a 3.5-hour direct flight from New York, travelers looking for a more romantic, secluded atmosphere should visit Turks & Caicos, where they can retreat into the private pavilions at the sleek and serene Amanyara (which offers open-air pavilion rooms with direct ocean access, as well as free-standing villas with infinity pools) or the exclusive villas at COMO Parrot Cay, while Grace Bay Club offers separate accommodations and pools to keep both couples and families happy. Another top family-friendly option, also accessible via direct flights from the U.S., is Anguilla, where Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel sits on a virtually private mile-long beach overlooking Maundays Bay, offering direct beach access and panoramic views. After hours on the sand or in the sea or pool (top activities include sailing, snorkeling, scuba, golf, tennis, croquet or treatments at the Arawak Spa), days here usually end with sunset cocktails and a daily Champagne sabering ritual, before a multi-course dinner at Pimms or the chef ’s table. And in Antigua, the all-inclusive Jumby Bay offers a private island location, friendly atmosphere and top-notch amenities on a spectacular beachfront—while the island’s first luxury hotel, Curtain Bluff, guarantees personalized service and a host of activities (including squash, waterskiing, snorkeling, kayaking, tennis and more) that are well-suited to families with older children.
Winter Vacations for Nature and Wellness Devotees: Belize, Panama and Costa Rica
The Central American nations of Belize, Panama and Costa Rica are home to lush jungles, white-sand beaches and azure seas that protect astounding biodiversity. Here, ancient ways of life survive in modern culture, emphasizing a spiritual harmony with Mother Earth—known in Costa Rica as “pura vida”—that manifests itself in a plethora of outdoor activities that will get your blood pumping and a holistic, nature-based approach to healing, nutrition and wellness. Creating a haven for true disconnection and restoration, a handful of singular eco-lodges—like Belize’s Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn, Panama’s Islas Secas and Sweet Bocas and Costa Rica’s Hacienda AltaGracia and Nayara Springs—offer intimate, outdoor-centric settings, with just a few standalone accommodations and mindfulness, beauty, spa, adventure and fitness programs.
Winter Vacations for Skiing in Europe: The Alps
This winter, skiers and snow bunnies should escape to the Alps (French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian) with a private villa rental or a stay at one of our favorite hotels. Of particular note in this area are Chalet Pelerin and Chalet Hibou, two stunning properties from the ultimate adventure brand Eleven Experience that are nestled above Le Miroir, a farming village on the French and Italian border, and offer unparalleled access to seven world-class ski resorts—including Val d’Isѐre, Sainte Foy, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Rosiѐre—which can be reached in less than an hour by car or by helicopter (and Eleven Experience’s heli-skiing program is unparalleled). Both properties are designed for full buyouts with family or friends, with Hibou offering six bedrooms and one bunk room, and Pelerin offering four bedrooms and one bunk room. Other amenities include a media room, an indoor freshwater pool, an outdoor hot tub, sauna and steam room.
Winter Vacations for Multigenerational Families: American West
For a trip that’s closer to home, but still offers a robust array of outdoor and wellness activities—as well as a luxe set of hotels and restaurants and wide-open, snow-dusted vistas—the ski towns of the American West could be the solution you’ve been searching for. While Aspen, Vail and Deer Valley will suit those looking for a bit of glamour, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Beaver Creek and Sun Valley are known for their easy charm—as well as top-notch slopes. Indagare-adored properties like Montana’s The Ranch at Rock Creek, Colorado’s Dunton Hot Springs and Utah’s The Lodge at Blue Sky will satisfy the non-skiers in your group with horseback riding, ice-skating, private movie theaters, spa treatments and more.
Winter Vacations for a Mix of City and Country: London and Hampshire
If your winter vacations preferences err on the side of cozy, London, its surrounds and the Cotswolds are a top choice. We recommend holing up at an idyllic country estate like Heckfield Place, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, The Newt or Cliveden House, or else your own private rental, where you will have plenty of time to make your way through The Holiday, Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice and perhaps even a Harry Potter marathon. Then, transfer back into the city for afternoon teas at such locales as Claridge’s and Sketch—whose winter decorations are absolutely over-the-top (in the best way)—trips to Harrods and the National Gallery and meals at our favorite restaurants.
Related: What’s New in London: Fall 2023
Winter Vacations for Classic Europe: Vienna, Prague and Budapest
For a European escape filled with chic hotels, festive cheer and holiday soirées, Vienna, Prague and Budapest combine urban style and tradition in perfect measure. Spend your days touring decadent imperial palaces, shopping the Christmas markets for festive trinkets, sipping beer and mulled wine in the cafés and Ruin Bars and reading by the fire in your hotel’s lounge. For an unforgettable winter celebration, Indagare can arrange a Champagne cruise down the Danube on a heated boat or book a private table at one of Vienna’s world-famous winter balls. Plus: Don’t miss the new Rosewood Vienna, which opened last year in a restored 19th-century Neoclassical bank building (and which also contains the apartment where Mozart lived and wrote The Abduction from the Seraglio). The hotel offers 71 guestrooms and 28 suites, as well as a spa and sixth-floor brasserie and rooftop bar with wonderful views of Vienna’s Old Town.
Winter Vacations for Wine Lovers: Croatia and Portugal
For oenophiles seeking new experiences, Croatia’s northwestern region of Istria should be next on your list. In addition to producing a wide variety of wines (including Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Syrah), the region is home to a truly impressive food scene (particularly celebrated for its truffles), with noted restaurants ranging from the Slow Food establishment Toklarija, which is housed in a medieval olive mill, to Monte, the first restaurant in Croatia to receive a Michelin star. Beyond Istria’s rolling hills and medieval towns, the region also has the added benefit of direct access to the Adriatic, with seaside spots like Rovinj drawing insiders, thanks to gallery-lined streets, a growing number of luxury hotels and, of course, plenty of wine bars.
Lisbon has everything a traveler could want: great food, fabulous art, robust history, sensational wine and a bustling contemporary scene. During the winter months, mild weather (sunny, in the 50s and 60s) makes Lisbon a top choice for travelers who want to spend time exploring outdoors, and many pleasant afternoons can be spent wandering the city’s hilly, cobblestoned streets. In addition to day (or overnight) trips to the cities of Sintra, Cascais and Porto, the perfect winter itinerary must include a few nights’ stay at the Six Senses resort in the Douro Valley.
Winter Vacations for Classic Safari: Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe
In times of transition, travel can be a salve for the soul—and perhaps there is no better place to reflect on the end of another year, and the change of seasons, than the so-called Cradle of Humankind: East Africa. Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are home to exceptional wildlife viewing and some of our favorite camps—including Segera, Angama Mara, Singita Grumeti Sabora, and Mwiba. In the words of Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley, on returning to Kenya in 2021: “As I went to bed on my first night, I started ticking off the joys of travel: The sound of foreign languages (Swahili greetings at the airport). Exotic nighttime smells (acacia fires). The novelty of an alien popular culture (local radio). Warm welcomes (hot soup on arrival). Remembered rituals (a hot-water bottle between the sheets). Missed sights (the Southern Cross) and beloved habits (falling asleep far from home, ready to awaken in discovery mode). And the pleasures continued as the days went on. We hiked along the ridge of the Great Rift Valley and the Laikipia plains, spotting elephants, giraffes and buffalo and relishing the return to Africa’s bush. Deep in Samburu country, we had sundowners around an impromptu fire. Kenya’s landscapes, with its forever views, made me feel miniscule and filled with humility, awe and wonder; they also emphasized the brevity of time. In the cradle of mankind, where our ancestors first walked upright, time stretched.”
Winter Vacations for Outdoor Adventurers: Rwanda and Namibia
If you’re looking to get far, far away from your own backyard, both Rwanda and Namibia offer temperate weather and the chance to immerse yourself in nature. A retreat to our favorite luxury safari lodges—like Rwanda’s Bisate Lodge, Magashi Camp and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and Namibia’s Little Kulala, Hoanib Skeleton Camp and Serra Cafema—will include days scouting for gorillas, lions, elephants or rhinos; the chance to engage with local communities and culture; dining under the stars; and connection with the beating heart of Africa.
Says Indagare VP of Sales Elise Bronzo, on traveling to Namibia: “While most travelers consider Namibia to be a safari destination, it would be more accurately described as a wilderness destination suited to nature seekers who love places like Chile, Peru, New Zealand and the American West. For me, it ranks as one of the most humbling landscapes in the world.”
Winter Vacations for Foodies and Trendsetters: Urban Mexico and Colombia
Together, Mexico City and Bogotá are home to five of 2023’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants and a plethora of museums, art galleries and design studios; additionally, Indagare can arrange special-access tours of highlights like Bogota’s Botero Museum and Mexico City’s Anthropology Museum (in the words of an Indagare member: “The night tour at the anthropology museum in Mexico City was absolutely incredible. We had the entire museum to ourselves—literally, no other visitors were there, just the security guards.”). For a quieter escape that is no less exceptional when it comes to cuisine, crafts, architecture and boutique hotels, smaller towns like San Miguel de Allende and Cartagena are ideal.
Plus: Discover our Indagare Journeys small group trip to explore Colombia with local tastemakers.
Winter Vacations for Top Shoppers and Ultimate Indulgers: Morocco and Japan
Marrakech is a shopaholic’s dream, where you can pick up everything from latticed lanterns and Berber kilim rugs to argan oil, leather bags, kaftans, glassware, ceramics, slippers and one-of-a-kind furniture. For ultimate indulgers, palatial hotels and resorts like La Mamounia, Le Royal Mansour and Dar Ahlam are worth the trip alone.
We are devastated to see the effects of the earthquake in Morocco, centered in a place that we have been visiting for years. We shared some of the best ways to help now on our Instagram account, including donating to Education for All and continuing to support Marrakech and the rest of the country economically through considered tourism. In the words of Indagare COO Eliza Harris, who was in the Atlas Mountains at the time of the earthquake: “There is still plenty of magic here for travelers.”
With its numerous subcultures and trendy cult fashion, the Japanese capital Tokyo offers shoppers everything from antique tea sets to the latest J-pop fashion, as well as clothing and accessories from every European and American designer of note. Among the best Japanese finds are paper goods, kitchen knives, matcha tea, sake, handmade fans, kimonos, pottery and snacks like matcha tea Kit Kats. Plus, Kyoto has two new luxury properties worth a visit: Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto and The Shinmonzen, the nine-room boutique sister property to Indagare favorite Villa La Coste in Provence.
Winter Vacations for Nature Explorers: Iguazú National Park, Chilean Patagonia and Hawaii
For a winter getaway that offers tropical temperatures, bright colors and otherworldly wildlife, look no further than the banks of the Iguazú river in Argentina, home to Awasi Iguazú. The secluded resort sits in the heart of the rainforest, 20 minutes from the legendary waterfalls, and contains 14 eco-friendly private villas with plunge pools that cater to couples and families. Although Awasi Iguazú is a destination in its own right, Indagare can also arrange trips that include stops at the Awasi sister properties in Chilean Patagonia and the Atacama Desert (subject to availability, which may be very limited) for a more dynamic South American adventure, where outdoor enthusiasts can trek, bike or horseback ride through mountain ranges and glacial valleys that are home to such wildlife as condors, guanacos and pumas.
For nature lovers who also want to lounge on the beach, Hawaii offers the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation. The 50th state abounds in breathtaking natural beauty as well as spectacular ways for active travelers to experience it, from surfing on Oahu and snorkeling on the Big Island to hiking through Kauai’s jungle and climbing Mauna Kea volcano.
Related: The 34 Best Hotel Pools in the World
Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning winter vacations for this year and the future. Beloved destinations like the ones listed here are booking up quickly. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.
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