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Best places to travel in January with the family

Start your New Year’s resolution to travel more as you mean to go on with a January escape to one of these Mumsnetter recommended destinations. 

By Dina Mahmoud | Last updated Sep 14, 2022

Best places to travel to in January with kids

From hot climates to winter wonderlands, there’s plenty to do in January if you’re wishing to travel abroad and escape the UK’s long, dark days. 

While a colder climate may not be on your radar - and understandably so, who really wants to travel from one cold country to another? - don’t write them off just yet. Some countries present winter in a completely different light. With winter adventures, solitude amongst the natural mountains, jaw-dropping views of the Aurora Borealis and mind-blowing views of nature, some places like Iceland and Canada are truly worth the hype.

On the flip side, warm climates like Dubai’s bring deserts, beaches, ocean views and all there is to see and learn about animals and marine life. For relaxation, adventure and some much needed fun in the sun, travelling to a hotter country in January may be exactly what you need.

After all, there’s no denying January can be a gloomy time of year. As you begin to come out of your eggnog and turkey haze, and the Christmas holiday season comes to a close, dark days can be bleak. But, it doesn’t have to be that way - so if you’re looking to beat the winter blues, we’ve got you covered. 

Here are the best places to travel in January with family, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

Where to travel with family in January: a roundup

  • Best place for exploring in January: Egypt
  • Best January destination for nature: Thailand
  • Best place for beaches in January: Mexico
  • Best place for snow in January: Iceland
  • Best January destination for kids: Dubai, UAE

1. Best January destination for exploring: Egypt

Egypt

Egypt | Find a hotel in Egypt

January brings great weather in this North African country, offering visitors ample opportunity to enjoy sightseeing, beach visits, cruises and relaxation. With great weather that presents warm days and breezy nights, Egypt’s temperatures average around 19°C in the daytime to about 11°C at night if you stay in or near Cairo.

The country is a wonderful destination for families seeking to combine history, exploration and relaxation. While visiting the Pyramids of Giza will likely be on your bucket list, there’s more to explore in the land of the pharaohs than you may think. As southern areas of Egypt experience clear skies and mild temperatures during this time, sightseeing cities such as Luxor and Aswan are a perfect getaway.

January is the high-season in Egypt, making it a perfect time to go on a Nile cruise to visit these ancient cities. Aside from having an enriching cultural experience on the cruise, Luxor and Aswan boast astonishing temples, tombs and many other ancient Egyptian sites that date back to thousands of years ago.

The Sinai Peninsula is also a great place to visit during your holidays. With the southern coastal regions being scorching hot in the summer, January makes for a perfect month to enjoy the warm weather and have a dip in the crystal clear water without being too hot.

Places like Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, or Marsa Alam are known for their colourful reefs and diving opportunities and are home to a number of all-inclusive resorts

With January being one of the best months to experience Egypt’s rich history and one of a kind culture, it’s easy to forget about the crowds. The month is peak season for a reason, and with friendly locals and extraordinary sights, your visit will surely be a pleasure.

What Mumsnet users say

“Flight time to Egypt from London is around 5 hours and there’s not a lot of time difference, so it’s easy on your body for a shortish break. Jungle Aqua Park had heated pools.” Fivemoreminutes1

“We've been to Egypt in January before, wasn't boiling but was sunbathing weather and pretty sure we went in the pool.” mummyh2016 

“We went to Egypt in Jan a few years ago, the weather was lovely, like a mild summer day in England.” JimboJetSet

2. Best January destination for nature: Thailand

Thailand

Thailand | Find a hotel in Thailand

With its beautiful tropical beaches and islands, romantic boat cruises, floating markets and shopping experience, Thailand brings all that and more in a bundled, perfect package.

January is the best time of the year to visit Thailand as the weather is fairly warm with average lows of 22°C and highs at about 32°C. With these comfortable conditions, it is not surprising that Thailand would make it to the list of best family holiday destinations in January.

Adventures at the breath-taking Phi Phi island along with exotic beaches, snorkelling, diving and swimming are just some of the things to do. Sightseeing options at Maya Bay, Pileh Bay and Loh Samah Bay are also an experience that is not to be missed. 

The Phi Phi island tour will offer a chance to experience the wildlife at Khao Sok National. Get up close and personal in a one-on-one elephant experience that is ethical, educational and fun. You may also want to keep your eyes open for all the other resident wildlife including the cheeky primates, Malayan sun bear, tigers, and leopards.

Finish off your adventure with a trip to Viking Cave and experience the crystal clear water and the vibrant tropical fish at Coral Bay.

Thailand is also a heavy hitter when it comes to good food. The lip-smacking Thai cuisine is also an added bonus to your trip along with the pristine backdrop.

What Mumsnet users say

“Def recommend Thailand - it's got amazing scenery, lovely people and food but do your research as some bits are now way too touristy IMO.” carlywurly

3. Best January destination for the beach: Mexico

Mexico

Mexico | Find a hotel in Mexico

Suitable for all ages and interests, Mexico offers a blend of irresistible beaches, decadent cuisine, a rich history and vibrant culture alongside an abundance of activities. Plus, with plenty of huge, family-friendly resorts available to book, no family member will be at a loss for what to do during a stay here.

January is during the country’s dry seasons, and the weather is hot and sunny with clear skies - a nice contrast to chilly UK temps. In the south of Mexico in areas like Cancun, you can expect temperatures of 28°C with heat and humidity, whilst in the north near Mexico City, temperatures average around 21°C with cool sunny days and chilly nights. 

This time of year brings a number of famous festivals to Mexico including Dia de los Reyes, also known as ‘three kings day’. Other festivals include the Feast of San Antonio Abad, Fiesta de Enero, and the Alamos FAOT Music Festival.

January is also one of the best months for whale watching in Mexico. While the whales can often be spotted from the shore, the best chance of seeing them is on a boat tour in the open water where humpback whales and their calves can be seen jumping out of the water. This enchanting wonder can be best seen from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.

The famous Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas both boast spectacular marine life and sea fishing is definitely worth trying here - especially if you have teenagers in tow.

What Mumsnet users say

“Had a lovely all inclusive in Mexico and also rio paradisus in Cuba was amazing.” carlywurly

4. Best January destination for snow: Iceland

Iceland

Iceland | Find a hotel in Iceland

Contrary to what people believe, Iceland isn’t as cold as you may think. Thanks to the Gulf Stream’s warm waters, Iceland is fairly mild in January. In fact, New York’s winter temperatures are cooler than that of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik.

While -1°C isn’t exactly warm, it is still a fairly reasonable trade off for all that you can experience in this breathtaking country. As you avoid the crowds, January brings you a winter wonderland with loads of activities that very few countries can claim - and nothing compares to that fresh, white, powdery Icelandic snow. 

This time of year is a great time for glacier adventures. With snow covering the land, conquering the snowy terrain and snowmobiling through your holiday may just be the most exciting adrenaline rush you’ve been looking for. Most snowmobile tours take place in Langjokull, the closest glacier to Reykjavik.

Some of the world’s best ice caves and ancient glaciers are also in Iceland and a crystal ice cave tour beneath Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull may be one of the coolest (pun intended) experiences you will embark on. Be sure to hire a guide for this excursion as it is not safe to do the ice cave tours without an experienced tour guide.

And when you’re feeling a little on the cool side, spend the evening warming up with a sip of Iceland’s signature drink, Brennivin, also known as burning wine. 

Iceland in January has fewer daylight hours and longer nights which means you have a better chance of catching unbelievable sights of the enchanting Northern Lights. And finally, end your holiday by taking a dip in the hot springs and bubbling pools of Geysir Geothermal Area - a must try if you can. 

What Mumsnet users say

“I was going to suggest Iceland too. Northern lights, husky sledding etc. Cosy fires. Or a top class ski resort if you like skiing.” drumandthebass

“Iceland! It's a little pricey but so worth it. We only did 4 days and it was enough.” Hopefulmidwife

“I went to Iceland in January and it was beautiful. Snow, fairy lights, amazing hot chocolate.... expensive but worth it.” GoldenPlatitudes

5. Best January destination for kids: Dubai, UAE

Dubai, UAE

Dubai, UAE | Find a hotel in Dubai

Channel your inner Jane Jetson and discover what the future holds in the innovative emirate of Dubai. With warm temperatures and a bustling city life, Dubai is the land of endless possibilities.

With little ones in tow, a holiday in Dubai is the perfect balance for both adults and children. The luxurious shopping malls and magnificent skyscrapers will keep both parents and children alike stricken with awe.

Tanning on the beach with views of kite surfers and sky divers is not an uncommon scene here. Most of the emirate’s huge, family-friendly resorts have their own private beaches for you to use. And if sand isn’t quite your thing, there’s plenty of impressive pools available to enjoy. 

Sightseeing, and visiting the waterparks are also on tap in the emirate. There are also plenty of theme parks for the kids to enjoy such as the Hollywood-inspired Motiongate Dubai, LEGOLAND® Dubai, IMG World of Adventure, and Dubai’s first experiential play museum OliOli®, and the 3D World Selfie Museum Dubai.

That’s not all! The kids may also want to have a one-on-one interaction with Gentoo and King penguins at Ski Dubai or head over to La Mer or Kite Beach where your backdrop will be the sandy beach, calm blue waters and kite surfers all around.

End your holiday with a Dubai ‘must-do’ activity for families - dinner and a show in the desert underneath the stars after spending the day sand duning in the desert. We’re sure the kids will be in awe of the size of the Big Red sand dune! 

What Mumsnet users say

“Dubai? not sure what the covid regs are but you are almost guaranteed decent weather. Its good for a short break if you want to lie on a beach and there are some nice cultural things to do.” FrenchMustard

6. Best January destination for teenagers: California, USA

California, USA

California | Find a hotel in California

It’s worth considering a trip to California during January if you want to avoid the crowds that come with spring and summer. Enjoy some of California’s top attractions in peace and in comfortable temperatures that mimic a mild UK summer’s day (highs of 18°C, lows of 8°C at night).  

One of the most sought after locations is Joshua National Park and an ideal time to visit is actually in the winter. With the summer being painfully hot, and the winter being fairly mild, January in Joshua Tree is the perfect time to enjoy a family hike with breathtaking views of rugged rock formations, and the vast desert backdrop. 

If you’re looking for a warm winter escape, there’s no doubt that Palm Springs should be on your bucket list. The beautiful desert, known for its incredibly unique hues is a sight that you have to see to believe. Palm Springs is also a fantastic place to visit in January as the bright blue skies, warm sun and sun kissed skin are common sights.

With natural hot springs, restaurants, golf courses and resorts, Palm Springs is a favourite destination for tourists and celebrities alike. 

California also has beautiful beach sunsets and if you’re lucky, you might be able to witness migrating blue whales, fresh snowfall in the High Sierras and the stunning desert vistas. 

What Mumsnet users say

“California fits the bill weatherwise. Loads of scenic and interesting places nearby.” MakkaPakkas

7. Best January destination for winter sports: Canada

Canada

Canada | Find a hotel in Canada

We aren’t going to sugar-coat this one. Canada is cold... Freezing, in fact. 

However, January in Canada offers a beautiful winter wonderland with adventures and sights that are unmatched. The chilly season brings activities such as skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding in natural snow.

Canada is a large country and each province brings its own unique charm. With a variety of scenes, climates and sites, the country is home to mountains, woodlands, beautiful shorelines, large waterfalls and more.

Niagara Falls in the winter, for example, is a sight to behold as the natural wonder spreads across the Canadian and American border. As the falls freeze, tourists can experience the frozen rapids and the ice model cascade. As for the kids, Lundy’s Lane is a main attraction of Niagara Falls. With haunted houses, wax museums, indoor amusement parks, mystery mazes, bird and butterfly conservatories, and so much more... Niagara Falls isn’t exclusive to just a pretty view, and offers lots of things the kids will enjoy.

For a truly Canadian experience, skiing through the snowy slopes of British Columbia is something that all ages can enjoy. With breathtaking views of the mountain, taking in that fresh mountain air is wonderful. The tours are made for everyone and the slopes are just as friendly as the Canadians.

While you are in British Columbia, a trip to Vancouver and Banff will bring you stunning natural views of winter foliage and the rocky mountains all laden with snow. This tour will truly give you the experience of a lifetime as you catch the raw views of the beauty of Canada, which looks especially remarkable in the winter.

The lesser visited territory of Yukon is one of the places in Canada that will truly hypnotise you. While temperatures can drop to -13°C to -40°C. The long, dark months make for the perfect opportunity to gaze at the most incredible natural phenomena, the aurora borealis. The natural lightshow will have you fixated in complete awe.

What Mumsnet users say

“Somewhere with snow. Austria/Switzerland are no guarantees for snow on Christmas so either Scandinavia or Canada.” reluctantbrit

8. Best for a cultural experience in January: Jordan

Jordan

Jordan | Find a hotel in Jordan

Contrary to popular belief, the Middle East isn’t always warm. In fact, Jordan in January is a little chilly. However, if you pack the appropriate clothing for the cooler weather, Jordan might just be the perfect winter getaway. 

Just over a five hour flight from the UK, Jordan in January is full of surprises. The Jordanian winter is a low season, which means it’s likely that you will find yourself alone in the major tourist attractions. However, almost everything is at your disposal here. 

The famous Petra is open all year, as well as Wadi Rum. Both tourist attractions are easily accessible if you wish to stay in the country’s capital, Amman. Amman itself is home to The Citadel, a historic Roman Theatre, City Mall, The Jordan Museum and Downtown Amman. There’s even a Children’s Museum designed with little ones in mind. 

Alternatively if you wish to explore more of Jordan outside of Amman, consider staying in Al Salt for a night - the views of Palestine’s West Bank are unparalleled!

If you haven’t dined at a Jordanian restaurant before, you are in for a treat. With mansaf, falafel, maqluba and kunafa all on the menu, along with a warm and friendly atmosphere, you will always feel welcome in Jordan.

What Mumsnet users say

“Jordan is just right in January.” Soffit

“Jordan is a great country and very child friendly. My dh is Jordanian and I have been a few times to visit with our two dc's. Petra and Aqaba are well worth a visit, as well as Wadi Rum. The Jordanians on the whole are very friendly and hospitable. Most speak good English (most signs are translated into English too), which help us non arabic speakers! Hope you have a great time, Jordan is fab!” mamasmissionimpossible

9. Best January destination for wildlife: South Africa

South Africa

South Africa | Find a hotel in South Africa

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa’s seasons are opposite of that of the UK. While it is winter in January, it is summer in South Africa. The month sees hot and dry weather conditions and temperatures between 28°C and 35°C. 

For outdoorsy families, January is a great time to visit here. There’s plenty of things to do outdoors as you make the most of the dry weather. Enjoy a day of hiking at Table Mountain, or choose a trip to Cape Town where you’ll find incredible beaches, vast wildlife, breath-taking landscapes and delicious food and drink. 

Of course, if you are heading to South Africa, you can’t miss the infamous safari tours. Kruger National Park is one of the best places for safari, particularly in the winter. 

The country is also home to the Big 5 (lions, rhinoceros, buffalo, elephants, and leopards) and the natural beauty that surrounds them. There are ample opportunities to see the ferocious and majestic mammals. With less water available during the dry season, animals tend to congregate around water holes, making it easier for tourists to comfortably spot all five.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, a four-hour drive away from Cape Town will bring you to the Panorama Route which connects several cultural and natural points of interests while overlooking incredible landscapes, mountainous views and rugged terrains. The weather is dry with seasonally mild conditions, offering clear shots of the world’s largest canyon, Blyde River Canyon.

What Mumsnet users say

“South Africa, we’ve lived here 15 years and never go abroad for holidays as we have everything we need here - beach, bush, mountains, desert etc.” MsNorris

10. Best for city tours in January: Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Seville | Find a hotel in Seville

From tapas bars to flamenco dancers, to beautiful Cathedrals and beautiful street markets, Seville has everything for a January holiday.

Built in the 15th Century, Seville’s cathedral is the third largest church in the world. Famously known to house the remains of Christopher Columbus, the church is full of history and charm.

Wherever you may be in the city, you will find that eating and drinking is a social experience here with tapas bars, restaurants and cafes all around the city. In January, the tapas bars are made to give you a warm and welcoming atmosphere due to its mild Mediterranean climate that ranges between 16°C to 20°C.

If you’re looking to explore Spain’s rich culture, then you’ve come to the right place. Wander through the streets of Seville and you will find a variety of museums that will pique the interest of all ages. For a truly unique experience, learn to hold the ultimate fiesta by learning the basis of Spain’s culinary delights by taking up a tapas cooking class.

Follow that with an authentic flamenco class from the flamenco capital of the world. If dancing isn’t quite your thing, Seville offers international shops and local markets that boast fresh, local produce and market stalls for you to grab a bite.

To entertain the little ones, the Seville Aquarium is a wonderful place to take them. From rare marine species to dangerous jellyfish and exotic animals, the aquarium is a good ‘plan b’ for the rainy days.

What Mumsnet users say

“Seville. We sat in the park there on New Year's Day 2020 in t-shirts drinking wine. Beautiful interesting city, glorious climate, gorgeous food. A revelation. Would love to go back.” cptarapp

“Seville is really warm in January and not busy with lots of tourists.” Shoxfordian

Where is the nicest weather in January?

If you’re looking to get away from the cold and gloomy January weather, the options for a holiday with mild, sunny conditions are plentiful.

A wintery cold January is also not off the table because, well, winter sports come at a certain time each year. With the above recommendations in mind, here are a few popular holiday destinations with the best January weather be it cool or warm.

With hurricane season coming to a close, the Caribbean countries and islands welcome tourists with bright, sunny skies and warm, tropical temperatures.

Other countries that have mild or warm temperatures in January include:

Where in Europe is it hot in January?

Europe in January is a hit and miss when it comes to warmth. However, there are plenty of countries in the southern region of Europe that have mild temperatures and have the family-friendly atmosphere you’ve been looking for. 

Where is hot in January in the USA?

If you’re looking for a country that practically presents all four seasons at the same time, then turn your attention to the USA. As a hotspot for every season and every weather event, you can experience blistering cold temperatures in the north and tropical temperatures with sunny skies to the south.

The warmest areas in the USA are to the south and include:

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations by real parents

Before choosing any destination for our roundups, we first consult the Mumsnet forums. With over 10 million users per month, there’s a lot of suggestions by real parents who have been there, done that when travelling in January with the family. 

Expert guidance and traveller reviews

After we’ve collated our hotel picks, we then turn to the experts and consult the likes of TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia to see what their recommendations include for family holidays here. 

Here we’ll also check what travellers are saying about the best places to visit in January on these sites, taking into consideration both the positive and negative points of their trip to bring you a well-rounded and honest guide. 

Celebrated destinations

Finally, we cross-referenced all of the above information to find the best family holiday destinations in January that had won the most awards and recommendations across the board. We feel there’s something here for everyone, to suit every budget.

Why should you trust us?

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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