New Year, new you. Start off your new year’s resolution by expanding your horizons and visiting some fascinating new places, from European city breaks to some classic favourites in Great Britain. Here are HotelREZ’s top recommendations for January.
Best for city breaks
If you’re in search of some milder weather to escape the New Year’s blues, you could do a lot worse than Valletta; the Maltese capital is one of the least bleak European cities in January. It makes for a great winter city break, with temperatures averaging about 15°C during the day. A UNESCO World Heritage site, you won’t be short of things to see and do here. In fact, January is when Malta holds its annual celebration of its Baroque heritage, the Valletta International Baroque Festival. For two weeks you can watch as the city steps back in time to the 17th century, with a number of Baroque performances by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and other musicians in magnificent venues like St. John’s Co-Cathedral. For more on where to go in Malta and its lovely capital Valletta, download our Malta Mini Travel Guide.
You’re probably baffled. Florence in January? It might not be ideal if you’re chasing the sun, but you’ll have picked the perfect time to visit some of the world’s best art galleries with hardly any other tourists around! Another bonus of avoiding the hustle and bustle of high summer is that you’re sure to find some incredibly deals on both air fares and hotels. So, take your time pacing the halls of the Uffizi, poring over the finest renaissance art, or the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s legendary David. It’s the perfect city of culture and if you’re not so keen on the summer rush, January might just be the perfect time to go.
Best for countryside
If you’re feeling the January blues, you’re in good company. Roald Dahl once said that if he’d had his way he would ‘remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.’ We can’t promise you that, but if you want to experience a little bit of summer in darkest midwinter, head to the Buckinghamshire village that the beloved author called home and visit the Roald Dahl Museum. An obvious favourite for little ones and grown-ups alike, the museum and story centre is only a short drive away from High Wycombe and Chalfont St. Giles, where you’re bound to find some typically British countryside hotels. Another option is to visit Waddesdon Manor – just 17 minutes from Aylesbury – a Harry Potter-esque Victorian country house belonging to the National Trust, and a great family day out.
It might be chilly this time of year, but January is perhaps the best time to experience that most uniquely Scottish of holidays: Burns Night. On the 25th of the month, Scotland remembers the life and poetry of Robert Burns, whose work has made him the country’s national poet, a cultural icon of Scottish heritage, and for many people the greatest Scot who ever lived. Ayr, the home of the great man himself, is the best place to visit for the full experience. Pop into the Burns Cottage Museum down the road in Alloway, before sitting down to a typical Burns supper of haggis – the great chieftain o’ the puddin-race itself – with neeps and tatties. The traditional meal isn’t complete without the pipers, speeches and poetry, but even without them there’s no better way to enjoy Burns Night than in its native home.
Best for winter sun
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City has cleaned up its act in recent years, and is undergoing something of a cultural revival. This has contributed to the perfect atmosphere for a January escape. Explore bustling, cosmopolitan streets, fascinating culture and history, and some of the world’s best and most eclectic street food. You’ll find warmer weather here than in Europe, while gaining an appreciation for Mexico’s richness and diversity, from the Aztec archaeological site – the Templo Mayor – and the 19th-century colonial buildings of the city centre, to the colourful Frida Kahlo museum that celebrates one of Mexico’s most renowned artists. And then there’s the food: don’t miss some legendary Mexican classics like tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and tortillas, which can be found at any market, street vendor or fast-food stop.
Looking to travel on a different month?
Main Square Mexico City – image by Geraint Rowland via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Ayr: Sheriff Courthouse & County Buildings – image by David Nicholls via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Uffizi Gallery, Florence – image by cfwee via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
love boats – image by K.H.Reichert via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Il-Belt Valletta – image by Vasil Dakov via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire – image by ukgardenphotos via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Piedra del Sol – image by Aaron Rodriguez via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)