Most people spend so much time planning out their Spring and Summer vacations that they tend to forget the best season to travel – Winter! What’s better than heading off for some fun in the sun while it’s snowing back at home or indulging in cold but fun winter activities? Here’s 5 destinations that you should check out this winter season.
With an average temperature in January of 85 degrees, Puerto Rico is a fantastic destination to head to this winter if you’re looking to escape the cold. This little island is rich in culture and offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. Puerto Rico is also a foodie’s paradise! (Tip: Make sure to order the mofongo at least once during your visit and don’t leave the island without having a piraqua) Walking tours, rum tastings, ziplining, snorkeling or just relaxing on a beach chair with a pina colada in hand… the possibilities are endless.
Quebec City is one of my favorite winter destinations. Is it cold? Yes – very. But nothing layers and a warm drink can’t help. If visiting between the end of November and December they have a small Christmas Market set up as well as Santa Claus outside meeting with the children which is super cute if traveling with little ones. Some other great things to do is stay overnight at the Ice Hotel, go down the Toboggan slide, celebrate the Quebec Winter Carnival and make a visit to the Siberia Spa.
The Bahamas are made up of 700 islands. With the devastation that has occurred due to Hurricane Dorian to Abaco and the Grand Bahama Island – they need our tourism dollars more now than ever. The Bahamas are still OPEN and the best thing you can do to help is to visit. The winter months happen to be some of the best to visit the Bahamas. You will be exchanging the cold and white snow for white sand and sunshine. Adult only or some family fun – there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can take advantage of eco tours, fine dining, fishing or simply sinking your toes in the sand. Some other fun events that place during the winter are Junkanoo and Marathon Bahamas.
Iceland is the perfect destination year round, but during winter – it is pure magic. Get ready for a winter adventure as you can chase the Northern Lights, snorkel between tectonic plates, check out numerous waterfalls, visit a black sand beach, relax in the Blue Lagoon and so much more.
It’s often said that the Florida Keys are America’s Caribbean Islands. Key West is busy during the winter months and for good reason. This is the perfect destination if you want to stay within the US but feel like you’re on a remote island. Duval Street has endless options to keep you busy! Join a bar crawl, go on a ghost tour, catch a drag queen show or watch the stunning sunset at Mallory Square – there is something for everyone. Some other activities you can do is visit the Dry Tortugas and catch a charter boat and spend the day fishing. (Tip: Visit Cuban Coffee Queen for a Cafe con Leche, Blue Heaven for Brunch and Better than Sex for dessert)
My first visit to Iceland was back in February of 2017 and tourism was booming then and even more so now, so I’m not surprised by the amount of people taking advantage of a 24 hour layover before continuing to their final destination. I loved my time in Iceland so much that I did just that a few months later on the way to Paris. This was my first time experiencing a 24 layover anywhere and since my time was limited, I made sure to put in that work to research exactly what I wanted to do. Headed to Iceland on a layover soon and not sure what to do? No worries – here are some of my suggestions to make the most of your time in the Land of Fire & Ice.
First, I want to note that I would encourage you to rent a car/truck – depending on the season. With only 24 hours, tours will limit what you can see but if you’re headed there in the winter and nervous about the ever-changing weather, booking an all day tour will work too. While you can make Reykjavik your home base (this will be your ideal location if you decide to book a tour), I personally would suggest staying local to Keflavik Airport. I like the Grindavik area but there are a lot of other surrounding towns that will work as well.
- Snorkeling Silfra – This has to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had during my travels. Silfra is one of the top dive sites in the world and situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir. Silfra is a freshwater fissure about 200 feet deep, where you can almost see end to end as the water is so clear. It’s also one of the few places where you can dive or float between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are gradually drifting farther apart. The experience is cold, beautiful and one of a kind. I went with snorkeling in a drysuit but you can also dive. You can read more about my experience HERE and check out a short video I captured on my GoPro HERE.
- Visiting the Blue Lagoon – I love, love, love the Blue Lagoon. Is it touristy? YES but who cares. It’s beautiful and so relaxing… oh, and they have a swim up bar! There’s also a ton of add-on services such as spa amenities, in water massages and 2 separate spots to grab some food. I would say to either do this at the very beginning of the day or at the end of your busy day to wind down.
- Northern Lights Tour – If your layover happens to be between September and April, this would be a great way to end your evening before catching your flight the next morning. There is never a guarantee that you will see them, but chasing them is thrilling and the reward if you do end up being able to see them is priceless.
- Drive the Golden Circle – This is the perfect driving route when you do not have much time to explore. You will be able to visit Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, Gullfose Waterfall and Kerid Crater.
- Explore Southern Iceland – If you chose this route, it will take all day but it will be worth it. The southern part of Iceland has to be my favorite. You will be able to visit Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier, Black Sand Beach and the village of Vik.
If you decide that taking a tour is better for you, click HERE to checkout my favorite tours. I’m partial to the tour company mentioned in that post because I booked multiple tours with them during my first visit there but you can also check out TripAdvisor and Viator to see others that people recommend. You may have also noticed I left out exploring Reykavik. With only 24 hours, I personally would say skip it as you can always do that on a later trip. While the downtown is nice, the restaurants and bars are very expensive and in my opinion, you can spend your limited time there doing something more thrilling.
A 24 hour layover isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s a great way to get out there and experience a little bit of a place that you always wanted to visit – so to me, it’s totally worth it.
This post may contain referral/affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.
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