Articles

Best Winter Vacation Ideas for 2023: 23 Trip Ideas from Antigua to Zimbabwe

Save as PDF

As temperatures drop, we’re turning our attention to the places to be this winter. To help you plan your next winter vacation—this year or beyond—we’ve rounded up our favorite destinations for a much-deserved escape somewhere cozy, seaside, stylish, tropical, 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 23 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: Peru and Egypt

For a family adventure that is guaranteed to thrill everyone, from foodies and outdoor enthusiasts to history and culture buffs, Peru is a fascinatingly rich destination that is a rite of passage for sophisticated explorers. 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-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 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, expected this month) 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. As the world opens back up after the last two years, 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 favorites).

Related: Treasures of Egypt

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 enough style (and treats) to craft a relaxed vacation with 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 reported on the renovation of the property in 2015: “Part family-friendly enclave, part indulgent adult playground, One&Only Palmilla maintains a delicate balance between laid back and uber chic, 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 RockLe 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.

Related: Indagare Caribbean Islands Matchmaker: The Best Caribbean Islands for Every Traveler

Winter Vacations for Nature and Wellness Devotees: Belize, Panama and Costa Rica

Related: Indagare Spotlight: Chablé Yucatán

Winter Vacations for Skiing in Europe: The Alps

This winter, skiers and snow bunnies should escape to the Alps (French, Swiss 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.

Related: Passport to Everywhere: Melissa Biggs Bradley’s new Radio Show & Podcast on SiriusXM

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.

Related: The Best Places to See the Northern Lights

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 PlaceBelmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons 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: The Best Afternoon Teas in London

Winter Vacations for Classic Europe: Vienna, Prague and Budapest

Related: What’s New in Paris: What to See & Do, Where to Eat, Stay — Fall 2022

Winter Vacations for Wine Lovers: Croatia and Portugal

Related: 7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions to Know Now

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, who last visited Kenya in 2021: “As I went to bed on my first night, I started ticking off the regained 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 kept returning 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. Here, on a remote rock at sunset, I felt that urgency had been swallowed by eternity.”

Related: Indagare Matchmaker: Best Safaris in Africa

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 KulalaHoanib 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.

To quote Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley on the impact of traveling to both of these places—of Rwanda, she has said: “Go see for yourself how a country can rebuild after a massacre; you cannot help but feel hope for humanity;” of Namibia, she has written: “The silence isn’t just something you hear; you feel it. The open skies and unbroken horizons seem to reach into forever in a way that shifts perspective.”

Related: Just Back From: A Road Trip Safari in Namibia

Winter Vacations for Foodies and Trendsetters: Urban Mexico and Colombia

Together, Mexico City and Bogotá are home to three of 2022’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.

Related: The Top Hotels with Cooking Schools

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 MamouniaLe Royal Mansour, Kasbah Tamadot and Dar Ahlam are worth the trip alone.

Japan is now reopened to travelers—and with its numerous subcultures and trendy cult fashion, the Japanese capital of 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. In the words of Indagare staffer Grace Park, who is just back from scouting in the country, Japan is very eager and looking forward to welcoming tourists back with open arms: “Once you are through the airport, everything feels pretty normal. You do have to upload vaccine documentation to the MySOS app prior to your arrival, but otherwise it feels like pre-pandemic times.”

Related: Magical Morocco – Indagare Iconic Group Trip

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 wildlife such 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 on the island of Hawaii.

Indagare Tip: Protect your skin and the Hawaiian ecosystem with reef-safe sunscreen, made without the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to stunt the growth of juvenile coral and cause bleaching.

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 below are booking up quickly. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.

This article was created in partnership with Belmond and One&Only and published by Indagare Travel.

– Elizabeth Harvey on November 5, 2022

Column

Related Hotels

Become an Indagare Member Today!

Join sign in