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Travel: Hello, sunshine! The best and hottest winter escapes

© Shutterstock / Galyna AndrushkoMajestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica. Tropical hike.; Shutterstock ID 1007072176; Purchase Order: Sunday Post; Job: Sunday Post
Majestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica. Tropical hike.; Shutterstock ID 1007072176; Purchase Order: Sunday Post; Job: Sunday Post

While most of us were still warming to the idea of a European holiday, our options suddenly expanded with news that the last remaining countries had been released from the UK’s red list.

Suddenly, long-haul breaks are an option, and it 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.

And 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

This popular Christmas and New Year destination is back in business.

One of the best ways to experience everything 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, savour the forests and beaches of Knysna and enjoy a safari at a private game reserve.

Along the way, sample world-class wine from the country’s finest vineyards, cycle through epic landscapes and hike along the coastline where two oceans collide.

© Shutterstock / Deyan Denchev
Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa.

How: Tropical Sky 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

The birthplace of 007, where Ian Fleming found inspiration for his Bond novels, Jamaica will be celebrating 60 years of independence in 2022. But go sooner to soak up some winter sun.

Beautiful beaches and a lively nightlife make Montego Bay a good option. British Airways flies direct from London and Virgin recently increased its number of flights.

How: Tropical Sky 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 quieter, allowing for relaxing city strolls.

Or visitors can head to the mountains for skiing and snowboarding. Although too cold for the beach, temperatures are pleasant.

At the entrance of Boka Bay, One&Only Portonovi honours a local winter tradition for gathering around fires by having a burning hearth in every room.

© Getty Images/iStockphoto
Mountain river Tara and forest in Montenegro.

During winter, guests can take part in a four-day Chenot De-Stress & Recharge programme.

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

Costa Rica

Lockdown taught us the benefits of slow and considerate travel. And 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.

© PA
Toucans in Costa Rica

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, monkey or sloth.

How: Steppes Travel 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.


P.S. 

Virgin Atlantic has a new Edinburgh to Barbados route.

It’s the airline’s first international flights from the city in its 37-year history and becomes Scotland’s only direct flight to the Caribbean.

A nine-hour trip will deliver you to sunkissed beaches and winter temperatures of 30 degrees.

Factfile

Visit tropicalsky.co.uk, oneandonlyresorts.com and steppestravel.com for more info.

For the latest Covid travel guidance, visit gov.uk and gov.scot