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Travellers choosing winter getaways over a summer holiday in 2021

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Many travellers are opting for fun winter getaways this year instead of their usual summer trips. And for good reason, too! While the summer months in Canada are perfect for staycations, a sunny escape during the colder months is the perfect way to break up our long winter season of what seems like endless sessions of shovelling snow. Plus, an off-season winter vacation can mean fewer crowds, better travel deals, and the ability to explore more off-the-beaten-path locations.

It’s the lure of sunshine and adventure that gets us through those cold months in Canada, so now’s the time to start planning your winter holiday 2021 and put those vacation days you’ve been saving to good use. Here are some of the best vacation destinations for that blissful escape you’ve been waiting for.

When is the best time to book your winter vacation?

Palm trees and beach with winter break sunset
Destinations for a winter vacation 2021

Booking a trip in advance comes with a lot of benefits. While last-minute deals for sunny vacations may crop up, it’s best to be prepared and lock in an early travel deal. If you’re thinking about getting away during Thanksgiving this year or other popular school winter breaks like Christmas Break 2021, now’s the time to explore and secure your winter vacation for that healthy dose of vitamin D!

According to the data on the best time to book, the cheapest months to book a domestic flight in Canada is January, February, or September. When booking international flights, the cheapest months are January-March or the month of August. The best day to book a flight tends to vary, so it’s always a good idea to check flight prices regularly throughout the week to find the best deals for winter getaways. To save time, download the Skyscanner travel app and set a price alert for your chosen destination. This handy tool will notify you when the flight price goes down, so you can grab that travel deal once it’s available.

Keep in mind that shoulder season travel to popular vacation destinations like Napa Valley and Riviera Maya will not only allow you to avoid the big crowds, but will also help you stick to a travel budget with more opportunities to book boutique hotel stays and local day tours and experiences for a more reasonable price.

boat coming through mist into marshland
Travellers choosing winter getaways over a summer holiday in 2021

While some of the best vacation destinations in Europe and North America are always fun for Canadians to explore in the summer, they’re also fabulous in the winter. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for!

Beach time for winter getaways in Florida

two people walking by the storefronts in st augustine florida on aviles street
Travellers choosing winter getaways over a summer holiday in 2021

If you’re looking for hot places to travel to this winter, Florida is a vacation destination that offers a variety of options for any type of traveller. The weather is still warm in Florida from November to March, and you can enjoy living the-shorts-and-sandals life only a short flight away from major Canadian cities. Family travellers can splurge on a luxurious resort stay in Kissimmee, which provides close proximity to Walt Disney World® Resort without sacrificing space or budget.

For a more relaxed vacation, swap Disney for some sun and sand and head towards the beaches of Sanibel, Dunedin, or St. Augustine for your winter getaway. These quaint Florida beach towns along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts offer a mix of city exploring and state parks where you can immerse yourself in nature.

Or, why not travel all the way down south and discover the beauty of the Florida Keys? The Keys are some of the warmest places in Florida, where you can sip daiquiris, experience some of the most amazing sunsets, and book eco tours for the whole family.

Warm places to travel to in Europe during winter

rock formations in Cyprus, a great destination for winter getaways
Warm places to travel to in Europe in winter: Cyprus

A European escape in the winter isn’t a bad idea either. Look towards Mijas, Spain, and Cyprus if you still want to experience warm waters by day and cool (but not too cold) sea breezes by night. With temperatures still in the 20ºC range, winters in Mijas and Cyprus are some of the warmest places you can find in Europe during the winter. These are just some of the things which make them two of the best vacation destinations for a sunny winter holiday.

In Mijas, you can wander and explore the architecture of this beautiful Andalusian village, or get some sun and great vibes at Playa de los Boliches. Then, head to the downtown area of La Cala de Mijas to sample amazing foods at the cafés and restaurants late into the night. Water activities, idyllic landscapes, and historic architecture await you in Cyprus, where night time temperatures rarely dip below 15ºC.

If you want a winter vacation with some snow, try destinations like Germany, France, or Switzerland, as their Christmas markets alone will be worth the trip.

Camping, cottaging, and winter festivals in Canada

Muskoka Chairs overlooking the water at sunset
Spend your winter vacation at a cottage in Canada

For those who want to chase frozen waterfalls or go cross-country skiing in some pretty provincial parks, Nova Scotia is a great choice when it comes to winter destinations. You still get to indulge in local eats and be engulfed in the warm East Coast hospitality during a Nova Scotia winter road trip.

Equally magical is winter camping and cottaging in Ontario. Cottage accommodation costs are much lower in the winter and still give you the chance to roast marshmallows over the bonfires. And, of course, there’s no shortage of ideas when it comes to the best camping in Canada. Nature lovers can still camp at some of Canada’s many campgrounds during the cooler months for a winter getaway.

Depending on where you live in Canada, Montreal may also be the perfect winter getaway for you. For a dose of culture and culinary delights, you can’t go wrong visiting Montreal on your winter vacation. The food tours are still in operation and many festivals and exhibits take place during the winter months. Staying at places like Hotel Bonaventure means you get to enjoy an outdoor swim and sauna session during a snowfall. Don’t forget to pack your skates because there’s always an ice rink nearby. There’s also plenty of winter festivals to choose from in Canada, so why not plan your winter holiday around those?

Where is it still hot in December and January?

Dubai for sand dunes and skyscrapers

Burj Al Arab with the glow of Palm Trees in December
Hot places to travel to in winter: Dubai

With average daytime temperatures hovering around 22ºC, the winter season is an ideal time to visit Dubai. Without the insane summer heat, between the months of October to March, you get to bask in glory at the beach, enjoy patio dining, and experience one of the many outdoor festivals which only happen during the comparatively cooler winter months. All of Dubai’s theme parks and attractions are open, as are shopping malls and desert safari excursions. It’s easy to see why winter break in Dubai is a popular choice for couples and families looking for hot places to travel to.

Check out these travel trends: here are some of the top vacation spots for Canadian travellers.

Golfing and hiking in Phoenix for a sunny winter vacation

Arizona sunset from Phoenix desert with cactus and red sand witnessed during winter break
Warm places to travel to in the U.S: Phoenix, Arizona

Whether you’re looking to flex your golf skills or show off your mountain climbing tricks, the warm and dry Phoenix weather during the winter months will make your workout more pleasurable. If you’re looking for active adventure during your winter vacation, hike up Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak for incomparable views of the valley. Looking for something a little less intense? Scope out one of the many museums and bars in downtown Phoenix.

There’s also a variety of great resorts in the Phoenix area if you’re looking for some true rest and relaxation on your winter holiday.

Winter holiday pool vibes and culture in Mexico

wind blown coconut trees at the beach with people under it
Best vacation places in winter: sunny Mexico

Is it time for you to order a froufrou cocktail, grab a pool chair, and say, “Aaah?” There’s no better place to do it than at one of the many resorts along the Riviera Maya. For a truly relaxing winter getaway where you don’t have to lift a finger to be entertained, fed, or looked after, book yourself an all-inclusive vacation. Riviera Maya’s tropical winter vibes and amazing cenotes beckons you. It’s best to visit the region between November and February for a truly comfortable winter vacation, where there’s less chance of rain or wind impacting your day.

Want to try something a little different on your winter getaway? Plan a trip to one Mexico’s many pueblos magicos (magic towns). An initiative from Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism, these towns best represent Mexico’s culture, traditions, history, and architecture. You can find pueblos magicos all across the country, from charming Cholula just south of Mexico City, to the sunny surfer town of Sayulita along the Pacific Coast. If you’re looking for inexpensive places to travel to, check out these budget-friendly vacation spots in Mexico.

With lots of direct flights available from Canada to destinations across Mexico and favourable weather throughout the year, Mexico is consistently one of the best vacation places for Canadians.

A winter getaway in Puerto Rico

fortress by the water in San Juan, Puerto Rico at sunset
Best vacation spots for winter: Puerto Rico

Look no further than Puerto Rico for a worry-free winter break 2021. This tropical U.S. territory enjoys summer time temperatures throughout the year. Even during Puerto Rico’s coldest month, January, you can expect temperatures in the 20-23ºC range. Whether you’re looking for the thrilling San Juan nightlife or the relaxing vibes at the many beaches and forests on the island, Puerto Rico has something for everyone.

Puerto Rico’s ecosystems of plankton is some of the best in the world, so much so that they are called Bioluminescent Bays. You can book an eco-friendly experience in Puerto Rico any time of year to experience this natural wonder. While the drier months in Puerto Rico are from December to April, you’re almost guaranteed sunny, balmy beach days any time of year, where you can dip your toes in pristine white sand and rock your salty beach-hair at the many roadside bars and food stops. Just remember to order one of their famous Piña Coladas to toast your much-deserved winter getaway.

If you’ve been saving your vacation days and summer’s speeding by, it’s time to hit pause and explore the idea of a winter holiday in 2021. With travel deals, fewer crowds, and moderate temperatures, it’s no surprise that many travellers are opting to switch their summer holiday for winter getaways. Get ready to turn your out-of-office message on!

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Winter getaways: FAQs

What are the best warm weather destinations during Christmas Break?

Florida, Cabo San Lucas, and Arizona are popular warm places to travel to for Canadians looking for winter getaways.

What are some winter vacation ideas for families?

Families love visiting Walt Disney World® Resort or Disneyland for winter getaways. An epic trip to Asia is always a popular budget-friendly option for many with kids. Places like Sri Lanka and Thailand are family-friendly destination choices if you’re looking for family winter vacation ideas in Southeast Asia.

What are some affordable winter getaways?

If time permits, exploring countries like Croatia, Spain, and Malaysia during the winter months will mean better deals and warm weather. Most places offer discounted rates on accommodations and attraction passes as well.

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