Escaping to sunny climes for Christmas and New Year is as popular as the traditional family summer holiday. And why not? It makes complete sense to enjoy the summer sun at home in the UK and flee like a refugee once the cold chill kicks in.
Granted, the winter months at home are typically more expensive given the seasonal festivities together with increased heating bills you can be forgiven for thinking the cost of a winter holiday is out of the question.
The good news is, a host of top destinations offer winter breaks for excellent prices so you can enjoy a cultural experience in the sun without putting too much of a dent in your bank account. Here is a list of the best budget destinations where you can enjoy a family Christmas this winter.
Gambia is only a six hour flight from the UK and with daily temperatures averaging 24-28C, the glorious west coast of Africa is an iconic tourist destination. Although the tropical climate is primed for lounging on a beach sipping cocktails from a coconut, the Gambia has more to offer than sandy beaches and ample sunshine. Explore the mangroves and nearby islands to discover an abundance of fascinating wildlife including the entertaining ape families of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust in the River Gambia National Park.
If you go in December, you will experience the infectious festivities as locals cheers cyclist partaking in the legendary, London to Dakar bike race. In January the Banjul Demba Cultural Festival sees parades packing the streets of the capital to celebrate the country’s culture and heritage.
Far-flung destinations like Goa are surprisingly cheap in the winter months providing you shop around for a budget package. It’s actually worth plumping for one of the cheapest and tackiest deals you can find as the airfares tend to be less expensive than flight-only deals. Book your accommodation independently and you already save a couple of hundred.
North Goa is slightly less expensive, but is also busy and tacky, so to escape the throngs and tourist traps, head south to the hippy Arambol, the beautiful Patnem beach resort or the low-lying Rajbag. But just about anywhere you go in Goa offers a great experience and the glory of its tropical beaches.
Mention a Caribbean holiday and your friends are immediately soaked with envy. It’s surprising more people don’t do it, but most are put off by the hefty prices. They should have looked at the Dominican Republic, a fantastic location with packages that are far less expensive than most Caribbean destinations. You will find the hotels along the tropical coastline of Punta Cana offer the best quality, but don’t overlook the peaks on the peninsula of Semana, the historic city of Playa Dorada or the capital, Cabarate. With an awe-inspiring landscape, don’t pass up on the opportunity to explore the islands wealth of valleys and peaks where you can explore the jungle and discover hidden waterfalls.
The other budget-friendly option in the Caribbean is Cuba. With its hot and lively culture, quaint colonial architecture and fascinating revolutionary history, Cuba is the most culturally rewarding destination of the Caribbean islands. You will find the best deals in Old Havana, a bustling city with atmospheric docks, quirky hotels, an abundance of art galleries and a slow pace of life. If the beach is the top of your wish list, the tropical setting doesn’t get any better than Varadero, whereas Camaguey is the cultural centre and has a fun-filled and varied nightlife all the family can enjoy. Take the opportunity to explore the island as there is an abundance of amazing sights to see and friendly people in amicable fishing villages. This rundown of regional areas and cities will give you plenty of ideas.
The best bargains for a Christmas getaway are in the Canaries and the raw beauty of Lanzarote and the huge amount of activities is ideal for families. The rugged landscape that emerged from the molten lava of the gargantuan volcanic explosion in the 1800’s provides awe-inspiring scenery and sweeping golden sands. The best resorts are situated along the south coast and offer a variety of facilities that meet the needs for families of all kinds, for more details read this article. The notable landscape of Lanzarote is personified by the Timanfaya National Park where you will find the valley of the volcanoes and “montanas del fuego” where the most severe eruptions took place. Also be sure to check out the remarkable creations of the islands legendary artist and architect who used the natural surroundings to build habitats and public spaces, starting with his home, Jameos del Agua which he built into a collapsed lava tube in 1966.
Mexico has lured UK holidaymakers to its sultry shores for at least two decades now and Cancun, together with the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan peninsula, is home to some of the most affordable all-inclusive hotels in the world. Situated on the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the warm climate and exotic coastline provide an idyllic setting and chilled-out atmosphere. The Yucatan was once home to the legendary ancient Maya and one of their most astounding settlements, Chichen Itza is named as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. If you can handle an 11-hour flight, Mexico promises to be a hugely rewarding trip.
The family Christmas holiday doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and escaping the bitter cold winds, rain and snow of the UK is worth every penny.