With winter months slowly creeping in and the holiday season on the horizon, we’re already thinking of sun-kissed getaways to escape the cold.
If posing with camels and diving in the warm waters of the Red Sea sounds like your kind of Christmas holiday, read on for our top five destinations where you can swap the chill for some fun in the sun:
1. The Canary Islands, Spain
Best for: White sand beaches
Known as one of the warmest destinations in Europe during winter months, Spain’s Canary Islands boast an average December temperature of 20°C.
The most popular islands on the seven-island archipelago are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, where you can get your dose of Vitamin D on pristine beaches and surround yourself with some of Europe’s best-kept natural and cultural sites, like the volcano cave Cueva de los Verdes in Lanzarote and the charming village of San Andrés in Tenerife.
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
Tatler tip: Just because it's warm doesn't mean you can't get your Christmas fix on the islands—La Laguna in Tenerife is the best place to partake in the holiday festivities.
2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Best for: A desert adventure
An obvious choice for year-round sunshine, Dubai has plenty to offer beyond sandy beaches with the backdrop of Burj Al Arab. The Gold Souk in Deira is a great alternative to the mega malls in Dubai for souvenir shopping, while a day tour in the desert offers adventurous activities from dune bashing to sandboarding and camel rides.
Of course, camels are not the only animal you'll find in the desert city—a wildlife safari in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve offers a rare opportunity to spot fascinating flora and fauna of the Arabian Desert including the Arabian gum tree, oryx, gazelles and falcons.
Where to stay: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
Tatler tip: For the best shopping experience, don't miss out on the Dubai Shopping Festival, a one-month celebration starting from December 26, with an exciting lineup of entertainment across the city.
3. Aqaba, Jordan
Best for: Diving
The Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba is home to vibrant coral reefs that are visible up to 40 metres and warm water temperature that's perfect for swimming and diving.
With over 20 dive sites to choose from, Aqaba is best known for wreck diving—the most famous site being the Cedar Pride, which is easily accessible from the shore and home to colourful fish, sea turtles and dolphins.
Where to stay: Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea
Tatler tip: Get a taste of life in Aqaba at the weekly street market ‘Souk By The Sea’ held every Friday evening, where you can shop handicrafts made by Jordanian artisans, try local delicacies and dance to live music.
4. Galle, Sri Lanka
Best for: A bit of everything
Dubbed ‘the pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is one of those rare destinations that truly has it all—a tropical paradise of lush tea plantations, rare wildlife, UNESCO heritage sites and golden beaches. The coastal city of Galle is best for soaking up plenty of sun on the sands, while Weligama and Unawatuna are go-to spots for beginner surfers all year round.
Where to stay: Cape Weligama
Tatler tip: Hop on the train that travels from the cultural hub of Kandy to the hilly town of Ella through tea estates, waterfalls and rice terraces and watch the scenery change by the minute.
5. Havana, Cuba
Best for: Culture in the caribbean
The Caribbean’s biggest island is easily one of the most culturally vibrant places in the world. Immerse yourself in the colour-drenched streets of Havana, where the art scene is on the rise and Cuban music is everywhere—add in rum, cigars and salsa and you’re in for a treat.
Oh, and you’re not far from the beach, either. The resort town of Varadero is just a two-hour drive away, with 20km of golden sands, turquoise waters and five-star all-inclusive hotels to choose from—the perfect beach holiday.
Where to stay: Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski
Tatler tip: Head to Jardines del 1830 on Sunday evenings, where you can watch (or join in) live salsa taking place in the gardens of a colonial building next to the sea.