What better way to banish the winter blues than with a bit of last minute travel? January can feel like a bit of a downer after the joy and excitement of the holiday season, but there’s a quick fix.

Give yourself something to look forward to by planning some last minute travel somewhere new. Whether you’re on a tight budget or fancy splashing out on some long-haul winter sun, these destinations are sure to get 2023 off to an exciting start.

1. Dubai

Glitz, glamour and that coveted winter sun make Dubai an excellent choice for a last-minute January trip.

Things to do in Dubai in January

  • Snap up a bargain the Dubai Shopping Festival, taking place from 15 December 2022 until 29 January 2023. As well as deep discounts and freebies, there are also street performers to watch
  • Slide through shark infested waters at Atlantis Aquaventure: the world’s largest waterpark
  • Soak up the sun on one of the city’s many beautiful beaches – the average high temperature in January is a lovely 24°C
  • Go adventuring in the desert. There are lots of tour companies offering the chance to hit the dunes on quad bikes, 4x4s or even on a camel
  • Sip cocktails in one of the city’s many rooftop bars
  • Get a taste of Middle Eastern culture in Deira market. Haggle for jewellery in the gold souk, restock your pantry in the spice souk or discover your new signature scent in the perfume souk.

2. Bangkok

You’ll need more than a couple of nights in Bangkok to get to grips with Thailand’s buzzing capital.

Things to do in Bangkok in January

  • Celebrate Lunar New Year from 21 January until 4 February 2023. Yaowarat (Chinatown) is famous for its exuberant parades with acrobatic performances, dragon dances and firecrackers
  • Take a longtail boat trip along the Chao Phraya River. The tour takes you past modern skyscrapers and ancient temples, giving you a unique viewpoint of the city
  • Party with backpackers on the infamous Khao San Road
  • Visit the city’s iconic temples and pay respect to the Buddha. Wat Pho is home to the enormous Reclining Buddha, and the nearby Wat Phra Kaewand is home to the famous Emerald Budda
  • Pick up some bargains (and delicious street food) at Chatuchak Weekend Market
  • Treat yourself to an invigorating Thai massage.

3. Amsterdam

With its eclectic museums, boutique shopping and famous café culture, there’s good reason why Amsterdam is a popular choice for a last minute trip.

Things to do in Amsterdam in January

  • Immerse yourself in art at Fabrique des Lumières – an exhibition using light projections and music to bring to life iconic pieces by artists like Gustav Klimt (of The Kiss fame)
  • Pay your respects at the Anne Frank Museum, and see the tiny annexe where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis
  • Live like a hipster in De Negen Straatjes (the Nine Streets). This trendy corner of the Jordaan is home to indie shops, vintage boutiques and plenty of cute cafés where you can enjoy an artisanal lunch
  • Tuck into street food at Foodhallen. This former tram depo in the Oud-West district is home to 21 street food stalls and bars, selling local delicacies like bitterballen and international favourites like dim sum and tacos
  • Learn the history of Amsterdam’s most famous beer at the surprisingly fun, interactive Heineken Experience.

4. Paris

Is there any better place for some spontaneous last-minute travel than the city of love?

Things to do in Paris in January

  • Treat yourself to designer markdowns in the famous Paris winter sales. Labels like Chanel, Valentino and Hermés are known to cut prices by up to 80 per cent towards the end of the month
  • Admire some of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s favourite sculptures and paintings on a special Louvre Highlights tour of the pieces seen in the power couple’s ‘APES**T’ music video
  • Get a glimpse of the city’s macabre side. Tour the ornate Père Lachaise Cemetery (the final resting place of musician Jim Morrison and playwright Oscar Wilde) and the Paris Catacombs – a labyrinth of bone-lined tunnels underneath the city
  • Watch the famous Eiffel Tower illuminations and light show. It takes place every hour on the hour from dusk until 11:45pm. As the sun sets around 5:20pm in mid-January, you won’t have to stay up too late to see the sparkles
  • Get local insights into the best places to eat on a guided food tour. France is world famous for its gastronomy, from sweet treats and wine to gourmet cheese.

5. Tenerife

Known as the ‘island of eternal spring’ thanks to its year-round mild climate, Tenerife is a great choice for some last-minute travel in the January sunshine.

Things to do in Tenerife in January

  • Bask on the black sand beaches. The average high temperature in January is 20°C, which is more than pleasant enough for a little bit of sunbathing
  • Admire the view  from the top of Spain’s tallest mountain, Mount Teide. You can either take the cable car or hike to the summit, but either way you’re likely to encounter snow at this time of year – a fun contrast if you’re spending the rest of your trip on the beach
  • Take a wine-tasting tour and discover the island’s unique volcanic wines, sometimes made from ancient grape varieties that were wiped out by a virus on mainland Europe
  • Go whale watching. You can do this in Tenerife year round, but from November to February you’re likely to see migrating species like humpback whales, blue whales and fin whales
  • Head to the rugged coast and swim in the rockpools. These naturally formed swimming pools were created by ancient lava flows, and now provide a unique place to swim that’s a bit calmer than the open ocean.

6. Barcelona

Get the perfect combination of beach and city with some last-minute travel to Barcelona, Catalonia’s cool capital.

Things to do in Barcelona in January

  • Enjoy one of the most iconic views of the city at Park Güell. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its colourful mosaics and playful architecture, designed by Modernista legend Antoni Gaudí
  • Pick up a picnic at La Boqueria, the sprawling food market just off La Rambla. There are more than 200 stalls selling everything from fresh fruit smoothies to melt-in-the-mouth jamon Iberico
  • Take a tour of the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudí’s masterwork is one of the best things to see in Barcelona, with striking architecture drawing upon natural shapes and Art Nouveau
  • Temperatures sit at around 15°C in January – a little too cool for sunbathing and swimming, but absolutely ideal for a stroll along Barceloneta Beach. Follow it with a bite to eat in one of the many beach bars
  • Go for a tapas crawl in Poble Sec. This small enclave in the shadow of Montjuïc Hill is famous for its pintxo bars, modern restaurants and traditional eateries.

7. İstanbul

With its unique blend of cultures and wealth of diverse attractions, ultra-chic Istanbul is another top destination for last minute travel this January.

Things to do in İstanbul in January

  • İstanbul straddles Europe and Asia, so hop on a commuter ferry across the Bosphorus and visit Asia for the day. Most boats stop in the stylish Kadıköy neighbourhood with its stylish bars and colourful street art
  • Visit spectacular mosques like the Hagia Sophia. Originally a church, it was converted to a mosque, then a museum, and is now a mosque again. Another important building is the Blue Mosque, famous for its intricate tilework
  • Treat yourself to a spa day. Istanbul is famous for its hammams and Turkish baths, where you can treat your skin to a traditional body scrub and massage
  • Come face to face with Medusa in the Basilica Cistern. This underground attraction was built in the 6th century to store water for İstanbul’s palaces, and is famous for its mesmerising columns, particularly two column bases featuring Medusa’s upside-down head
  • Start your day properly with kahvalti – a full Turkish breakfast. This veritable feast usually includes cheeses, cold meats, crusty simit bread, jam, honey as well as veggie bits like olives, cucumber and tomato. It’s all washed down with dark Turkish tea, served black in tulip-shaped glasses.

Ready to book January travel?

With the New Year just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about last-minute January travel. Whether you want to venture near or far, you’ll always find the best flight prices with Skyscanner.

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