Exit45 Travels - Northern Lights in Norway in January with dog sled in foreground

21 of the Best Countries to Visit in January 2024

Exit45 Travels Disclaimer

Here is our list of the best countries to visit in January, no matter where you are in the world!

Wondering which are the best countries to visit in January? This will vary greatly from one person to another depending upon what one is looking for in a holiday. Are you looking for a tropical climate, lots of things to do, off season prices with fewer crowds, unique festivals in January, nature, wildlife spotting or adventure?

As fulltime travellers, this is something we are constantly needing to research and consider when doing our travel planning, and designing our itineraries. We like to slow travel and we are on a budget, so we try to choose destinations where it is the low to shoulder season. In most cases, this means less tourists, lower prices and more bang-for-our-buck when it comes to booking accommodation.

No matter what your requirements and desires, here is our round up of 21 of the best countries to visit in January. With an extensive number of options, travellers are spoilt for choice and there is something there to suit every type of traveller!

So why wait? Pack your bags and embark on a journey to one of these best travel destinations in January. Get ready for an adventure like no other as you explore captivating destinations that promise memories to last a lifetime.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favourite Resources Below!

AccommodationWe recommend Booking.com
FlightsWe recommend Skyscanner
Tours / ExperiencesWe recommend Viator
Car RentalWe recommend DiscoverCars
Travel InsuranceWe recommend SafetyWing

“January is the month for dreaming.”

– Jean Hersey –

Here is Our List of the 21 Best Countries to Visit in January

Are you planning a holiday in January? Check out our list of the best places to travel in January and enjoy your holiday like never before.

If you really love experiencing the local culture through festivals, you may want to read about the best festivals in January around the world to further assist with your planning.

Best Countries to Visit in January in Africa

Morocco – Warmest Place to Visit in January in this Region

Why is Morocco one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Great for trekking in the desert
  2. Crowds are fewer at the major tourist attractions
  3. Low-season rates

Located in Northern Africa, Morocco is ideal as a winter destination and is one of the warmest places to visit in January in this region. The influence of Arabian, European and Berber ways of life can clearly be seen throughout the country from the architecture through to art and local cuisines. From its diverse landscape of deserts and snow-capped hills, adventure is endless here, as is sightseeing, shopping and history.


  • Winter – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from 8 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius
  • Days are often warm and sunny, but can get chilly in the evening
  • Air is clear and free of dust (perfect for photography)

Things to Do: 

  • Visit the city of Marrakech and its many markets (medinas).
  • Explore the Sahara Desert either by hiring a 4WD to tour the sands, or take a camel safari to the old Bedouin settlements deep in the desert.
  • Hike in the Atlas Mountains but be aware of weather reports and rainfall as trails can flood.
  • Enjoy Casablanca with fewer crowds and visit Hassan II Mosque for its beautiful architecture.
  • Visit the imperial city of Fez which is famous for its leather tanneries and amazing medinas.
  • Explore the Blue Village of Chefchaouen known for everything being blue – houses, streets, door, walls.
  • If you are looking to go skiing, the snowy slopes of Oukaïmeden are best visited in December and January.

Festivals / Events:

YennayerCelebration of the Amazigh New Year on the 12th to 13th of January. Yennayer marks the start of the crop season in traditional Berber communities across the country where the locals sing, dance, and prepare traditional foods. The best celebrations can be found in the Middle Atlas Mountains Berber villages of Agadir or Tiznit.

Morocco’s Independence Day – The official day is in March, but the country also celebrates its first attempt at independence from French colonial rule on the 11th of January. Celebrated by street parades and festivals all over the country, The Proclamation of Independence is a national holiday in Morocco.

Exit45 Travels Moroccan desert in January with snow capped mountains in the background
Morocco – Image by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

South Africa – For Every Type of Traveller

Why is South Africa one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Best time of year to visit South Africa
  2. Wildlife safaris
  3. Abundance of other things to do: hikes, views, history, beaches and water sports, wine tasting

South Africa is well known for its wildlife safaris but it has so much more to offer, and January is the perfect time of year to visit as it is not too hot or cold. Enjoy scenic drives, stunning beaches, vineyards and adventurous activities such as shark cage diving.


  • Summer
  • Temperatures range from 19 degrees to 29 degrees Celsius
  • Hot and humid with a bit of rainfall
  • Rain is usually only in the afternoons and leaves the rest of the day for you to enjoy

Things to Do: 

  • Visit Cape Town and enjoy the views from the top of Table Mountain which is accessible via cable car. Easy trips form Cape Town include visiting Robben Island, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and seeing a colony of free roaming African Penguins at Boulders Beach Park. The scenic drive to the Cape of Good Hope where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet is a must, as is visiting the Stellenbosch region for wine lovers.
  • Most people come to South Africa to go on a safari for a very good reason. Kruger National Park is one of the best parks have self-drive and budget options. You will find the ‘Big Five’ here i.e. lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants and Cape buffalo, along with antelopes, hippos and giraffes. Other parks include Hluhluwe and iMfolozi National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Addo Elephant National Park are great for zebras, black and white rhinos, black-maned lions etc.  
  • If you are looking for some beach time, Clifton Beach or Muizenberg Beach is great from swimming and sunbaking, and for those that love to surf, head to Jeffrey’s Bay near Port Elizabeth, or Dungeons in Hout Bay or Long Beach near Cape Town.
  • Learn about apartheid at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
  • Hike the Drakensberg Mountains, the highest mountain range in the country.

Festivals / Events:

Cape Town Minstrel Carnival (Kaapse Klopse) – This annual street parade dates back to the mid-19th Century when slaves in Cape Town were given one day off per year. The festival is a colourful array of music and dancing with songs dating back to the 1800’s.

Exit45 Travels South Africa in January image of tree in a safari park at sunset
South Africa – Image by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash

Tanzania – Witness the Great Migration

Why is Tanzania one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Witness the great Wildebeest Migration
  2. Perfect time of year to visit Zanzibar
  3. Cheaper safari options

Tanzania, in Eastern Africa, is one of the best places to travel in January if you’re looking for a mix of culture, wildlife, adventure and relaxation, without the high price tag. The main reason Tanzania is one of the best places to travel in January is its wildlife and to witness the Great Migration. Also expect to see other wildlife including hippos, giant elephants, crocodiles, lions, giraffes, and many more animals. With exotic, diverse wildlife and pristine beaches, Tanzania is a paradise.


  • January is part of the wet season (November to May) however, you can experience a short dry season in the northern game parks such as the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro during January and February. A short dry Season means less vegetation and lower chances of a rainstorm. This makes for ideal conditions for spotting wildlife. 
  • Temperatures range from 26 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius
  • High humidity in general, but the Ngorongoro Crater is at a high altitude so you won’t feel the heat here as much as you would in other parts of the country. 

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

The Great Migration – Each year, herds of millions of wildebeest cross the northern Serengeti plains in Tanzania to Masai Mara National Park in Kenya in search of greener pastures and drinking water. It is considered by many to be one of the premier wildlife spectacles in the world. 

N.B. January is the perfect time to join a safari not only in Tanzania (as listed above), but in Kenya and Uganda as well. So if you fancy heading to Africa this winter, January could be the perfect time to do it.

The animals in the parks are generally congregating around watering holes, there’s plenty of action in the grasslands and you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot the animals you’re hoping to see.  

Exit45 Travels-Tanzania in January-Great Migration of wilderbeest crossing a river
The Great Migration in Tanzania – Image by Jorge Tung on Unsplash

Best Countries to Visit in January in Asia

Cambodia – Amazing Diversity

Why is Cambodia one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Best time of year to visit
  2. Avoid crowds and head for Kep and Kampot, or Ta Prohm instead of Angkor Wat

Cambodia has something to offer every type of tourist. From world heritage sites, amazing temples, and beautiful beaches, to wonderful landscapes and cosmopolitan cities. January really is the perfect time to visit when the weather is neither too hot, nor too cold.


  • Dry season – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from 20 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius
  • Blue skies, little or no rain and pleasant temperatures

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Victory Over Genocide Day –January 7th commemorates the end of Pol Pot’s terrible regime in 1979. Cambodians mark this day by remembrance services for those who lost their lives during that dark period.

Exit45 Travels-Cambodia in January-the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap
Cambodia – The Temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

India – Unique Festivals

Why is India one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Unique and fascinating festivals held across the country
  2. Winter season offers milder weather

India can be a challenging country to travel in when the weather is warm, but January is in the middle of winter and offers the perfect weather to really see all that India offers. The major drawcard in January are the many regions like Rajasthan and Gujarart that organize different festivals / events to showcase the heritage of their region. In addition, beach areas like Goa are fantastic for the beach lovers and for the snow lovers, heading to the northern and Himalayan destinations offer snow and ice activities.


  • Winter – one of the coldest months of the year
  • Temperatures range from 5 degrees to 27 degrees Celsius
  • Days are often warm and sunny, but can get very cool in the evening
  • Temperatures in different regional areas in India vary greatly so check your destination/s specifically

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

International Kite Festival – Held in Gujarat, India on the 14th January each year, thousands gather from around the world to witness the display of ginormous, often creative and colourful, kite designs. The festival’s been one of the biggest and most important in India since its inception in 1989, as it celebrates the Indian calendar’s transition from winter to summer.

Chennai Dance and Music Festival – Held in Chennai in the middle of January, this is a celebration of Southgern India’s dance and music forms.  This festival started in 1927 and it was initially called the Margazhi festival.

Bikaner Camel Festival – This two day festival is one of the famous camel fairs of Rajasthan. This festival is conducted to celebrate the wealth of camels in this region. Expect to see camel races, a camel beauty contest, traditional cultural performances, and fireworks.

Pongal – This four day festival is celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu in village regions. Each day is celebrated in a different way i.e. Day 1 – thank the Rain God for his generous showers, Day 2 – dedicated to the Sun God and marks the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer season for harvest and cultivation, Day 3 – is dedicated to cows which are essential for farming and other activities, and Day 4 – also known as Katya Pongal or Kaanum Pongal, and this day is celebrated for the well-being of family and friends.

Kerala Village Fair – A ten-day long festival held in Kovalam in Kerala which aims to re-create the traditions of the land. You will find locals in ethnic dresses, traditional works on display, and an entire village set up in the traditional way.

Modhera Dance Festival – This is a dance and cultural celebration conducted as a tribute to the Sun God at the Sun Temple of Modhera, Gujarat. This festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of the sun’s transit towards the north.

Nagaur Fair – This annual cattle trade fair is conducted in Nagaur, a historic town in Rajasthan. Traders, buyers, tourists, and others flock to the region to watch more than 75,000 camels, bullocks and horses being traded. Apart from trading, many other entertainment and cultural activities are conducted throughout the fair.

Exit45 Travels-woman dressed in a a red and gold sari in India in January

Laos – To Explore the Ancient Temples

Why is Laos one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Cheapest place to travel in January
  2. The perfect time of year (weather wise), especially for a visit to Luang Prabang

The Southeast Asian country of Laos is a hidden gem with a rich cultural diversity from the 49 ethnic groups that influence the food, arts, customs, and festivals in the country. Buddhist monasteries, French colonial architecture, and lush landscapes complete with magnificent waterfalls create an inviting atmosphere. 


  • Dry season
  • Temperatures range from 15 degrees to 27 degrees Celsius
  • Sunny days and low rainfall
  • Southern Regions such as Pakse will be slightly warmer with possible highs of 30 degrees Celsius

Things to Do: 

  • A visit to the Paris-esque capital city of Vientiane is the ideal way to get an understanding and culture of the country. Some of the key tourist attractions include the Patuxay Monument, COPE Visitor Centre, Wat Si Saket, Wat Phra Keo, and Buddha Park.
  • Luang Prabang, arguably the most famous city in Laos, is a beautiful city with UNESCO World Heritage status. Some of the must see sights here include visiting the Golden City Temple (Wat Xieng Thong), one of 33 temples around the city, Kuang Si caves and waterfalls, and the Elephant Village Sanctuary.
  • January is the best time to take a tour down the Mekong River to the south of Laos with stunning scenery along the way.
  • Other popular tourist attractions include the 4000 islands in the southern tip of the country such as Don Khong, Don Khon, and Don Det, Kong Lor Caves, Wat Phu, Pha Pheng Waterfall, and the Viewpoint Nong Khiaw.

Festivals / Events:

Bun Pha Vet FestivalThe festival is held on different dates in the first month of the year in all temples throughout Laos. It celebrates Jataka or the birth-tale of Prince Vessanthara, the Buddha’s penultimate existence. Bun Pha Vet is also considered particularly auspicious time for the ordination of the men into monkhood. 

Exit45 Travels-Laos in January with rice paddies and mountains in background
Laos – Image by Anna Hoch Kenney on Unsplash

Sri Lanka – So Much to See and Do

Why is Sri Lanka one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Main tourist areas in the southwest are cool and dry
  2. Miss the tourist rush in December
  3. Sri Lanka is a small country and has lots to offer


  • Winter
  • Dry season – southwest of the island
  • Monsoon season coming to an end – northeastern region of the country
  • Cultural Triangle (AnuradhapuraSigiriyaPolonnaruwa etc.) – pleasant weather with little rain
  • Temperatures in most parts of Sri Lanka stay the same year-round
  • Temperatures range from 20 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Duruthu Poya – Is held on the full moon and marks the first of Lord Buddha’s three visits to Sri Lanka. Practicing Buddhists visit a temple on these days, and the shops are often closed. 

Thai Pongal – This Hindu harvest festival is celebrated by Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. It is dedicated to the Sun God, and is celebrated by eating a sweetened rice dish called pongal.

Exit45 Travels-Sri Lanka-Ella in January overlooking mountains at sunset
Ella in Sri Lanka

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Arabian Nights

Why is Dubai one of the best places to visit in January?

  1. January shopping festival – clothes, gold jewellery, perfumes, gadgets and much more
  2. Experience the old and new of Dubai
  3. Low humidity


  • Winter season
  • Temperatures range from 14 degrees to 24 degrees Celsius
  • Dry weather with low humidity

Things to Do: 

  • If you are looking to experience ‘The New’ of Dubai, visit the Bhurj Khalifa (world’s tallest building), the Dubai Fountain (world’s largest choreographed fountain show), Jumeirah Beach and the Palm Islands, Burj Al Arab (amazing architecture), Jumeirah Mosque, Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai Frame, and the Dubai Marina.
  • Places to experiences ‘The Old’ of Dubai include Bastakiya Quarter (the city’s historic quarter), Dubai Museum, abra (boat) ride across Dubai Creek, Gold and Spice Souks, and Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
  • Shopping – January is the best time to visit for shoppers due to the Dubai Shopping Festival. You will find specials on clothes, gold jewellery, perfumes, tech gear and much more. You will find great deals at Dubai Mall and the Gold and Spice Souks.
  • For the adventure lovers, visit the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (Arabian Desert), just 20 minutes’ drive from Downtown Dubai for quad-biking, sandboarding, camel rides and desert safaris. Some other options include Skydive Dubai, Ski Dubai, and Kite Beach for water sports.

Festivals / Events:

Dubai Shopping Festival – Held throughout the month of January at venues all over the city, people travel from all over the globe to visit the Dubai souks and malls to find amazing bargains.

Dubai Marathon –Said to be the richest race in the world, there is prize money of about 1 million dollars for anyone who establishes a world record

Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Held towards the end of the month, this elegant and first-class golf tournament attracts the world’s best golfers.

Exit45 Travels-Dubai Skyline in January with beach in forefront
Dubai Skyline

Best Countries to Visit in January in The Caribbean

Barbados – The Ultimate Tropical Holiday

Why is Barbados one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Stunning beaches
  2. Shoulder season
  3. Caribbean Rum

There are shipwrecks and wildlife and marine life making the underwater here in Barbados all the more lucrative for divers. While the lush flora is breath-taking for land explorers. Their famous Rum though, is available for all.

Barbados is a great place to visit in January with a vast variety of beautiful beaches and marine life, and an abundance of things to do. Explore shipwrecks, the Rum distilleries, delicious cuisine and a rich Caribbean culture, there’s something for every type of traveller.


  • Winter – warm dry season
  • Temperatures range from 26 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius
  • Tropical weather with clear skies and sunshine

Things to Do: 

  • Bathsheba Beach on west coast / Atlantic side of the island is a favourite for surfers and photographers.
  • Carlisle Bay is a beautiful, calm water crescent shaped bay close to Bridgetown. The marine park located at Carlisle Bay is a great spot for scuba diving and snorkelling. Six shipwrecks in the bay attract an abundance of marine life including tropical fish, sea horses, rays, octopus, turtles and eels.
  • Other beaches worth a visit are Crane Beach, Accra Beach, Dover Beach, and Gibbs Beach and Folkestone Beach for snorkelling.
  • The Caribbean is known for producing some of the best rum in the world and rum distilleries like Mount Gay Rum and West Indies Rum are definitely worth a tour.
  • Other attractions here include Barbados Boardwalk, Harrison’s Cave (limestone formations), Botanical gardens, and Barbados Wildlife Reserve.

Festivals / Events:

Barbados Sailing Week – Takes place in mid to late January and is the start of the sailing season and sailing events around the Caribbean.

Annual Flower and Garden Show – The Barbados Horticultural Society’s hosts this even annually at the end of the month.  View award winning plants, flowers, herbs and fruit, and floral art displays. Barbados is a regular exhibitor at the UK’s Annual Chelsea Flower Show and have won many gold medals.

Exit45 Travels- white sand beach in Barbados in January with sailboats in distance
Barbados – Image by Elly H on Unsplash

Best Countries to Visit in January in Central and South America

Colombia – Wide Range of Options for All

Why is Colombia one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Great weather
  2. Lots of things to see and do
  3. Friendly locals

Colombia offers an enormous diversity across each of its regions meaning it offers travellers plenty of options. Visit Colombia’s coffee country for a greater appreciation of your favourite drink, hike to ancient ruins set deep in the jungle, swim at beautiful beaches, or wander through the streets of old towns and appreciate the history and architecture. One thing to note is that January is a busy month for tourists, both local and international alike, so prices will be a little higher.


  • Dry season
  • Temperatures range from 17.5 degrees to 25.5 degrees Celsius
  • Temperatures and number of rainy days will vary significantly depending on which area you are travelling to. Do your research on your chosen destination/s.

Things to Do: 

  • In January, Cartagena is the best place to visit in Colombia as the weather here is ideal. Wander through the walled city of Cartagena, eat your way around the Mercado de Bazurto, and take a trip out to the Caribbean white-sand beach of Playa Blanca.
  • When people think of Medellin, they think Pablo Escobar, cocaine, drugs and murder, but in recent years this city has shaken off this reputation and is worth visiting. The best way to experience the city is by taking a tour of Comuna 13, appreciate the artwork in Plaza Botero, and visit the town of Quatape.
  • If visiting Bogota, check out the street art by wander the streets of the Candelaria neighbourhood, especially around Plaza Chorro de Quevedo, visit the Museo del Oro, and the Botanical Garden of Bogota.
  • For the coffee lovers, no trip to Colombia is complete without a visit to Zona Cafetera (coffee country) to experience working coffee plantations, hike the Valle de Cocora, or visit some of the colourful mountain towns such as Salento.
  • Some of the other most popular tourist attractions include Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona to experience a biodiverse rainforest and beautiful beaches, Rosario Islands for snorkelling, Lost City of Teyuna, taking a mud bath at Totumo Volcano, and trekking to Cocora Valley cloud forest.

Festivals / Events:

Feria de ManizalesIn early January, Manizales (a coffee-producing city on Zona Cafetera) holds an amazing party featuring parades, beautiful costumes, live music, tango dancing, etc.

Hay Literary Festival The Hay Literary Festival takes place at the end of January in Cartagena and focuses on literature, art, cinema, music, geopolitics, and the environment. It is intended to promote culture and social responsibility.

Carnival de PastoHeld in the southwestern city of Pasto, this annual carnival takes place at the beginning of January and includes a few days of revelry. Expect to see face painted with black grease and white flour signifies the emancipation of slaves, and there are floats and processions.

Exit45 Travels-Colombia-view of Medellin in January from above
Medellin in Colombia

Costa Rica – Feel the ‘Pura Vida’

Why is Costa Rica one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Wildlife spotting
  2. Great weather
  3. Low-season rates

Costa Rica is a luxurious rainforest destination in Central America and has a rich biodiversity. The term “Pura Vida” is synonymous with the Costa Rican way of life and means “pure life” or “simple life”. A holiday in Costa Rica means you can simply relax, go on a detox holiday, or be as active and adventurous as you choose. Visit lush rainforest, sparkling waterfalls and beautiful beaches, explore nature on hikes and spot wildlife in their natural habitat. Due to the beautiful weather, holiday season the celebration of the Palmares Festival in the middle of the month, it is the high travel season so Costa Rica is best visited towards the latter part of the month. 


  • Start of the dry season
  • Temperatures range from 24 degrees to 29 degrees Celsius
  • Days are warm and sunny
  • The Pacific coast side and central valley of Costa Rica are dry in January.
  • The Caribbean coast side is still wet during this month.

Things to Do: 

  • San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, is an excellent hub for exploring the breathtaking rainforests throughout the country. Make sure you visit the National Theatre, the National Museum, the Jade Museum, sample some of the local craft beers, enjoy a day trip to Tortuga Island or go white-water rafting on the Sarapiquí or Toro Rivers.
  • For those looking for a laid back atmosphere, head to the beach town of Tamarindo and try surfing at this premiere surf beach, enjoy an estuary boat ride in the Marino Las Baulas National Park to see monkeys, birds, crocodiles, and other wildlife, or just relax with a drink in your hand and watch the magnificent sunset.
  • If you are seeking wildlife encounters, January is a great time to see leatherback sea turtles nesting on Playa Grande (Las Baulas National Marine Park), humpback whales migrating up from the north along the Pacific coast, and giant manta rays at the Cantina Islands. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities to see sloths and toucans.
  • Other amazing things to do in Costa Rica include taking a multi-day nature hike in the Osa Peninsula, tackle the zip-lines and suspension bridges of Monteverde, or enjoy the tropical beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Festivals / Events:

Palmares Festival – Costa Rica’s most popular civic festival (fiestas civicas) is hosted by the town of Palmares (near San Ramon) annually in mid-January. The multi-day festival features attractions including carnival rides, carnival games, food stalls, bull-riding competitions, and horse parades. The celebration has been likened to the German Oktoberfest.

Ocaso Underground Music Festival – This multi-day EDM (electronic dance music) festival takes place at various venues around Tamarindo during January and features music, dance, and lots and lots of strobe lights.

Exit45 Travels-volcano in Costa Rica in January
Costa Rica – Image by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Nicaragua – Hidden Beauty

Why is Nicaragua one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Best weather
  2. Green landscapes

Nicaragua in Central America boasts tropical forests, volcanoes and unspoilt beaches. Wander the streets Leon or Granada and admire the colonial Spanish influence prevalent in the architecture and cuisine. If you are seeking a little more adventure, hike to one of the many volcanic peaks dotted throughout the country, or head to the coast and enjoy surfing, or just relaxing one of the many beaches or islands just off the coast.


  • Dry season
  • Temperatures range from 25 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius
  • Days are sunny with minimal rainfall
  • May experience a tropical shower along the Caribbean coastline

Things to Do: 

  • Witness the Spanish colonial beauty of Granada and enjoy a hiking trip to Mombacho volcano, or a visit the nearby markets and local artisans in Masaya.
  • Leon is another beautiful colonial city and a visit to the Museum of the Revolution is a must, as is the Carro Negro volcano.
  • San Juan del Sur is the most popular beach destination in Nicaragua and is a great surfing spot with a laid back beach culture.
  • Some of the other major attractions worthy of a visit are the Corn Islands where you can enjoy Caribbean beach life, Ometepe Island known for its volcano, hiking, kayaking and cycling, Miraflores cloud forest and Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve.

Festivals / Events:

Caballo Español Pura Sangre Fair – This international event held showcases the best and most beautiful breed of horses for big prize money.  The exhibition of this Spanish breed of horse named “Caballo Pura Sangre” takes place at Granada’s Jockey Club.

Rio San Juan Carnival – This carnival is extremely popular and is held annually in San Carlos on the San Juan River from January 15th to 21st.  The carnival includes an aquatic float parade and local artisans.

Diriamba – Also known as the festival of San Sebastian, this festival takes place on the 19th to 20th January every year. It is a religious feast celebrated by all Nicaraguans combining the traditions of indigenous and Spanish roots. The dances, songs, and costumes reflect the indigenous culture that predates the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century.

Exit45 Travels-Nicaragua-a building in Granada in January
Granada in Nicaragua – Image by Emil Diallo on Unsplash

Panama – One of Central Americas Best Kept Secrets

Why is Panama one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Diversity
  2. Shoulder season
  3. Low-season rates

With untouched islands, Indigenous villages, lush rainforests, and cosmopolitan cities, Panama is definitely worth a visit, and January is one of the best times of the year to do so. It is still a busy time of year for both local and international tourists so prices are still quite high everywhere.


  • Dry season
  • Temperatures range from 26 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius
  • Lots of sun and only rare showers
  • Minimal rains will give you excellent underwater visibility for diving and snorkelling
  • May experience some showers in the highlands and along the Caribbean coastline

Things to Do: 

  • Panama City tends to be on every Panama itinerary. Check out the ruins of Panama Viejo, the historic quarter of Casco Viejo, hike in the rainforest in Parque Metropolitano, bike along the Amador Causeway or take the Panama Canal Railway to Colon to see the Central American highlight of the Panama Canal. Miraflores locks is also another great way to see this impressive engineering achievement.
  • Other popular attractions include a day trip to the San Blas Islands, trekking in the Chiriquí Highlands. Visit indigineous Embera Indians, go surfing or diving in Bocas Del Toro, and visit Coiba National Park.

Festivals / Events:

Boquete Flower and Coffee Festival – The Boquete Flowers and Coffee Festival is one of the biggest celebrations of flowers in the world, drawing thousands of people to Boquete over a 10 day period. You will find beautiful flower displays, regional arts and crafts, food and culture, and live music blasting music until the early hours of the morning.

Panama Jazz Festival – This 3 day weekend is hosted in Panama City and showcases live jazz performances by outstanding international musicians. The main and most crowded event of the festival is a free, outdoor concert.

The Thousand Polleras Parade – Women from all over the country gather in Las Tablas for this parade of Panamanian traditional dress. Considered by many to be the most beautiful dress in the world, la pollera is a luxury gown that every Panamanian woman dreams of wearing, at least once in their lifetime.

Exit45 Travels-A view of Panama Cityskyline from Casco Viejo
A view of Panama City from Casco Viejo

Best Countries to Visit in January in Europe

The month of January in Europe is one of the coldest months of the year, however, it is also a very beautiful time of the year to visit. The days are bright and crisp and perfect for enjoying winter sports. The biggest advantage of travelling in January to Europe is it is the low season so you will experience lower costs and less tourists.

France – Perfect Destination for Lovers of Winter Sports

Why is France one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Great for skiing
  2. Enjoy shopping at the semi-annual sales
  3. Low-season – good prices on flights and accommodation, no long waits for tourist attractions

Colder than other months of the year, January is the perfect month in France for cultural exploration, cozying up in a café with a mug of chocolate chaud and a croissant, and enjoying the French Riviera without the crowds. Also, France has a number of world-class mountains and ski resorts for the winter sports enthusiasts.


  • Winter – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from -1 degree to 6 degrees Celsius
  • In general, days will be cold but really clear and crisp, but expect to also experience some snow or rain
  • Expect colder weather in the country’s northern areas i.e. Strasbourg

Things to Do: 

  • January is a great time to visit Paris and experience all the famous tourist attractions such as The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, and an iconic show at the Moulin Rouge without the crowds.
  • Visit one of the many popular ski resorts such as Val d’Isere or Courchevel to enjoy any of the many outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, skating, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. In addition, the amazing après-ski experience on offer in the evening.
  • The French Riviera along the Côte d’Azur is where the wealthy French people have traditionally gone to escape winter and at this time of year, there will be few crowds and great deals on hotels.
  • Rent a car or ride the train through the countryside for optimal sightseeing and visit any number of chateaux, galleries, or museums across the nation. 

Festivals / Events:

New Year’s Day – Parisians know how to celebrate the New Year and on New Year’s Day head to Champs-Elysees for the 1:00 pm parade. Afterwards, go to a lolly shop or supermarket to pick up a traditional New Year’s papillotte (chocolates).

The Winter Sales – For those that love to shop, you can take advantage of France’s (government regulated) shopping sale offering amazing bargains with savings of up to 70 percent off. They begin in the middle of the month and last to mid-February.  Paris, of course, is a great place to take advantage of these sales due to the sheer number of shopping options available.

Paris Fashion Week – Paris caps off the international fashion season in mid-January after shows in New York, London, and Milan.

Limoux Carnaval – Held in southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, the world’s longest-running carnival begins in mid-January. For three months the city is alive with satirical revelry as the bandes de carnavaliers (bands of revellers) parade through the streets of this ancient town.

La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc – Said to be the longest and most arduous in the world, this international sled dog race goes for 11 days starting in Samoëns and goes from Haute Savoie to Savoie. It begins with a variety of events, including fireworks, igloo building, and snowshoeing.

Exit45 Travels-2 skiers going into a snowy forest at a France Ski Resort in January
France Ski Resorts – Image by Victoire Joncheray on Unsplash

Greece – Enjoy the Ancient Sites With No Crowds

Why is Greece one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Low-season rates
  2. Crowds are fewer at the major tourist attractions
  3. Enjoy a more authentic ‘local’ experience

Greece in the winter can be beautiful and it is the best time to take advantage of bargain prices in the country’s low season. This is a great time to focus on museums and cultural visits due to the lack or crowds and tourists. Explore the ancient sites such as the Acropolis in Athens, cruise its stunning archipelago and have the islands virtually to yourself, or do some skiing. Visit Greece in January and enjoy the sights without the crowds.


  • Winter – coldest month of the year (mild compared to Europe in general)
  • Temperatures range from 7 degree to 13 degrees Celsius
  • During the day, the sky will often be overcast and it rains about one day out of three
  • The islands are usually a degree or two warmer, but the seas can be rough
  • Colours are softer out of the glaring summer sunlight (perfect for photography)

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Feast of Saint Basil / New Year’s Day – The Feast of St. Basil is gift-giving day Greece’s (equivalent of Christmas Day). The day is spent feasting, playing card games, and other customs intended to bring good luck for the coming year. In some cities such as Athens, expect to see fireworks at midnight. 

Epiphany – During Epiphany (January 6) celebrations all over Greece, the local Orthodox priest leads a procession through town, visiting each house to offer a blessing. The procession usually ends at a body of water, into which the priest tosses a cross and swimmers dive in, hoping to retrieve it for good luck. The port in Athens, Piraeus, has the biggest such “Blessing of the Waters” celebration.

Patras Carnival – Said to be Greece’s largest festival, Patras explodes into colourful life for several weeks during the month of January with floats, boules (“transvestite” masquerades), pantomimes, and lots of parties.

Exit45 Travels-Chania Old Town - Crete - Old Venetian Port with Snow Capped Mountains in the Background
Chania Old Town in Crete – Old Venetian Port with Snow Capped Mountains in the Background

Italy – Lower Prices on Flights and Accommodation

Why is Italy one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Fewer crowds = shorter lines for major tourist attractions
  2. Lower prices on flights and hotels
  3. Great shopping – January is sales season

January is the middle of winter in Italy and the weather tends to be quite gloomy with shorter days. However, this is also a great time of year to visit as prices on flights and hotels are well priced and some of the top tourist attractions in Italy can be visited without the usual crowds. Foe those that enjoy winter-sports, you will find ideal skiing and snowboarding conditions in January.


  • Winter – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from 4 degree to 15 degrees Celsius
  • Days will be more overcast than sunny with some light rain

Things to Do: 

  • Hit the ski slopes and head to any number of world-class mountains and resorts such as Cortina d’ Ampezzo and Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomites, or Val D’Aosta in the Alps, or Sestriere near Turin.
  • Take a road trip on the Amalfi Coast and enjoy the Italian coastline.
  • Visit Rome and take in tourist favourites such as the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum, shopping and warming meals in a local trattoria.
  • Whilst Venice is cold in January, there are still plenty of things to do and with the benefit of few crowds. Explore local attractions such as Palazzo Ducale, walkthrough Ponte Dei Sospiri, take the Gondola ride at Canal Grande, and eat out at the many beautiful riverside restaurants.
  • Visit many of Florence’s famous museums such as the Uffizi Museum, visit hilltop villages, Tuscany’s main cities (Siena, Luca, Pisa), and sample Tuscan food with a warming glass of local red wine.

Festivals / Events:

EpiphanyEpiphany (La Festa dell’Epifania) is held on 6th January and marks the end of Italy’s “12 days of Christmas’. Children get excited as this is when an old witch called La Befana leaves gifts in their stockings.

Exit45 Travels-Italian Town in the Mountains in Winter lit up at night
Italian Town in the Mountains in Winter – Image on Pixabay

Norway – Check the Northern Lights Off Your Bucket List

Why is Norway one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Best time of year to see the Northern Lights
  2. Slowest travel month
  3. Low-season rates on hotels and flights

Norway in January is cold, but it also a beautiful winter wonderland at this time of year with lots of winter activities, smaller crowds, and lower costs than other times of the year. Add in a high possibility of seeing the Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle, and you will have the prefect winter holiday destination!


  • Winter – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from -2 degree to 6 degrees Celsius
  • Days are short with only 6-8 hours of sunlight a day in Oslo, and even less the further north you go

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Northern Lights Festival – This musical festival takes place at the end of January showcasing top artists from a wide variety of genres ranging from early music to modern, opera to jazz, and from chamber music to symphonic orchestras.

Tromsø International Film Festival – This very popular cultural festival is held in Tromsø for a week in mid-January. The program includes film screenings and talks at various locations around town including a few outdoor venues.

Exit45 Travels-Northern lights in Norway in January with dog sledding team in forefront
Northern Lights in Norway – Image by Thomas Lipke on Unsplash

Best Countries to Visit in January in North America

Canada – Winter Sports Wonderland

Why is Canada one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Great for ice and snow recreation enthusiasts
  2. Excellent winter festivals across the country
  3. Visit North America’s only ice hotel

Although Canada in January is extremely cold, it offers various adventurous experiences for visitors. From the more traditional winter activities such as skiing and skating to unique activities such as dog-sledding and ice fishing, there is something for everyone. Also, Canada boasts some of the worlds biggest and best winter festivals in January.


  • Winter – coldest month of the year
  • Temperatures range from -15 degree to 4 degrees Celsius
  • You may easily find yourself in knee deep snow

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Winter Festival of Lights – This annual festival is held each January in Niagara Falls and other cities across the country such as Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal. These festivals include amazing light shows, local food stalls, kids exhibitions and concerts.

Quebec Winter Carnival – Celebrated at the end of January through mid-February, this is the biggest winter carnival in the world. There are night parades, live music, ice sculptures, ice canoeing competitions, and authentic delicacies culinary offerings, including Québec’s wine tradition.

Exit45 Travels-Canada - Niagra Falls in January surrounded by snow
Niagra Falls in Canada – Image by Micah Giszack on Unsplash

Mexico – Ideal for a Beach Holiday

Why is Mexico one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Whale watching season
  2. Not as busy as December and February
  3. Great deals on flights and accommodation in Mexico City

A holiday to Mexico in January brings a lot of variety making it the ideal time for every type of traveller no matter whether you are looking for adventure, exploring, culture, or a relaxing holiday. You can enjoy water-based activities and boat tours, whale watching, sightseeing, quality beach time or great hiking adventures. And no matter what time of year you visit, you can enjoy authentic Mexican food with a cold cervesa.


  • Dry Season – little chance of rain
  • Temperatures range from 1 degree to 28 degrees Celsius
  • Weather varies widely depending on your destination

Things to Do: 

Festivals / Events:

Three Kings Day – Also called Epiphany, this festival is celebrated in early January completes the Christmas season with the representation of the Three Wise Men. It is one of the biggest and most significant events throughout the country.

Mayan Village Show at the Xcaret Park, Cancún. During this event, there are recreations Mayan festivals, including a celebration of the discovery of fire and a jungle walk. 

International Art Festival Merída – This festival in Mérida coincides with the founding of the city on January 6, 1542. The program includes concerts, cultural events, art exhibits, food tastings, and theatrical presentations over several weeks. 

Fiesta de Enero in Chiapas – This event is a folk and religious festival reflecting the history and culture of Mexico. You will witness beautiful processions and dancing throughout the Chiapa de Corzo state, with people wearing colourful costumes and masks.

Sayulita Film Festival – The event takes place at the end of January and lasts for five days. This festival is perfect for film, music, food, tequila, and surf lovers.

Exit45 Travels-Mexico-Chichen Itza main building
Chichen Itza in Mexico

Best Countries to Visit in January in Oceania

Australia – Beach Weather to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Why is Australia one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Stunning natural beauty
  2. Best weather to enjoy the beaches
  3. Celebrate Australia Day with the locals on the 26 January


  • Summer – one of the hottest months of the year
  • Temperatures range from 22 degrees Celsius (in Tasmania) to 36 degree Celsius (Alice Springs)
  • The temperatures will vary from city to city depending on their landscape and proximity to the sea.

Things to Do: 

  • Visit the Great Barrier Reef which is the world’s largest coral reef system and it is best explored by snorkelling and scuba diving. Although the reef can be explored from most of North-East Queensland, the best place to explore from is Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays.
  • Some of the best attractions in Sydney include climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a tour of Sydney Opera House, and a visit to the world famous Bondi beach.
  • The Gold Coast is popular for their beaches and amusement parks such as Dreamworld, Seaworld and Warner Bros Movie World.
  • Tasmania is located around 240km south of mainland Australia, and is a great time to visit for those that love nature and the great outdoors. Explore Mt Wellington, Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park, Wineglass Bay, the Bay of Fires, and see a Tasmanian Devil by visiting Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.

Festivals / Events:

Exit45 Travels-Kangaroo in Australia in January
Kangaroos can easily be seen in the wild in Australia

New Zealand – For the Adventure Lover

Why is New Zealand one of the best countries to visit in January?

  1. Breathtaking landscapes
  2. Perfect temperature – average of 25 degrees Celsius
  3. Best time of year to visit New Zealand

New Zealand is a breath-taking island in southwest Pacific. It has a breathtaking landscape and stunning terrain filled with volcanoes and glaciers. Experience amazing sunsets, national parks, spectacular mountains, lakes and beaches. New Zealand is the adventure junkies holy grail with scenic hiking, mountain biking, white-water rafting, jet boating, bungee jumping, swing and zip lines, and sky diving.


  • Summer – highest temperature of the year
  • Temperatures range between 20 degrees Celsius to 30 degree Celsius
  • Mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine
  • Air is clear and free of dust (perfect for photography)

Things to Do: 

  • New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington is home to the Wellington Botanic Garden, Zealandia, National Museum (Te Papa Tongarewa) and Weta Cave (‘Lord of the Rings’ movie shoot).
  • Some of the country’s best museums and cultural institutions can be found in Auckland including the Sky Tower, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, and SkyCity Auckland.
  • Queenstown is the home of adventure. Go bungee jumping from Kawarau Bridge, jet boat wild rivers or experience the rapids with white-water rafting, or you may prefer to cruise Milford Sound, taste wines at the surrounding wineries such as Gibbston Valley Winery and tour Lake Wakatipu.
  • A visit to Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua is great way to learn more about the tribes of New Zealand. Wai-O-Tapu is a Thermal Wonderland and great spot to relax.
  • If you have the time, don’t miss Bay of Island, hiking to Fox Glacier, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park.

Festivals / Events:

  • Auckland International Buskers Festival – The Auckland International Buskers Festival usually sees international street performers from around the world head to the Auckland waterfront to entertain and amaze you with their wide range of talents. The festival occurs during the last weekend in January and shows start daily at noon and run through into the evening.
Exit45 Travels-a view of Wellington in New Zealand from above
Wellington in New Zealand

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Countries To Visit In January

Where can I see the Northern Lights in January?

Some of the best places to see the northern lights in January are the following:

  1. Tromso, Norway
  2. Reykjavik, Iceland
  3. Yukon, Canada
  4. Ilulissat, Greenland
  5. Swedish Lapland

Where can I go for a beach vacation in January?

Some of the best beach destinations / places to visit in January are the following:

  1. Hawaii i.e. Maui
  2. Bora Bora, Tahiti
  3. Thailand i.e. Koh Lanta
  4. Philippines i.e. El Nido, Palawan
  5. Brazil i.e. Rio de Janeiro

Where are the best festivals in January?

Some of the best festivals in January are the following:

  1. Hogmanay, Scotland – New Years Eve / Day
  2. Chinese New Year, Worldwide
  3. Harbin (China) International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
  4. Up Helly Aa, Shetlands, Scotland – Last Tuesday in January
  5. Sundance Film Festival, USA – End of January

Where are the best places to cruise in January?

Some of the best places to cruise in January are the following:

  1. The ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao
  2. Argentina and Antarctica
  3. Western Caribbean i.e. Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Florida Keys
  4. Galapagos Islands
  5. Southeast Asia i.e. Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong

Where is the best skiing in January?

Some of the best places to go skiing in January are the following:

  1. Kitzbuhel, Austria
  2. Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
  3. St Moritz, Switzerland
  4. Hokkaido, Japan
  5. Aspen, Colorado

Best African safari destinations in January?

Some of the best African safari destinations in January are the following:

  1. Southern Serengeti, Tanzania – beginning of calving season of the Great Wildebeest Migration
  2. Massai Mara, Kenya – beginning of calving season for Wildebeest and Zebra
  3. Central Kalahari, Botswana – herds of Springbok and Oryx assemble to graze on new growth
  4. Cape Town, South Africa – Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands
  5. Rwanda – pleasant Gorilla-trekking conditions

Where is the cheapest destination for winter sun in January?

Some of the cheapest destinations for winter sun in January are the following:

  • Tenerife, Spain
  • Gran Canaria
  • Goa, India
  • Cape Verde
  • Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

In Summary – Now You Know the Best Countries to Visit in January

There are many beautiful countries to visit in January, but it depends on what you want from your destination. Whether you are looking to embrace the cold, relax on a beach, or do some sightseeing in the low-season when prices are cheaper, there are plenty of places to explore around the globe in the month of January.

There are many additional destinations that we could have listed as the best places to travel in January, but we feel that this list covered a variety of warm and cold weather destinations, activities, festivals and events.

Are you planning a holiday in January? Have you visited any of the recommended countries to visit in January listed above, or have we missed a country we should add to this list? Post your tips and questions below.

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