Travelling is so good for the soul – a change of scenery, new people, amazing local food and entertainment… it’s no wonder that the travel bug bites hard for so many.
With hectic schedules and limited breaks, it’s lucky that this big wide world is getting easier (not to mention a little cheaper) to explore. No matter when you’re free, there’s somewhere perfect at that time of year.
Check out this calendar of hot spots when planning your next big getaway:
January: Surigao del Sur, Philippines
The gorgeous, sprawling islands in the Philippines are an absolute must in January. The weather is flawless – the often scorching heat subsides after Christmas, and makes the visit a blissful romp in postcard-like lagoons and beaches. Enjoy swimming, beach eats and the best surfing around.
February: Northern Norway
It might be scorching thirty-eight degree days here in Australia, but February is peak European ski season. Northern Norway has something for everyone, and while the ski fields may beckon, the ultimate magic lies in the Northern Lights.
You can partake in tours, rooftop restaurant viewings and so much more, all in the pursuit of experiencing vivid colour dancing across the night sky. Simply astonishing.
March: Tokyo, Japan
Japan is a truly fascinating place, with vibrant culture than blends tradition with the ultra-modern. For something spectacular, head to Tokyo in late March for the annual blooming of cherry blossoms, far and wide. Ueno Park is one of the most popular viewing spots, and is central to big attractions like the National Museum.
With over one thousand trees lining the streets, it is easy to see why this place has been famous since the Meiji era. (For the eagle eyes: Ueno Park features in many Japanese anime productions; see if you can spot familiar scenes!)
Thailand is a popular destination for Australians, but few know that something very special happens on April 13-15… just prepare to get wet.
Known as Songkran, Thailand’s Lunar New Year is celebrated with a nationwide water fight. If you’re outside, you won’t be safe from water balloons, garden hoses and even high-powered water pistols. Tourists are encouraged to join in the fun, so let out your inner child and go wild.
May: Culebra Island (Isla Culebra), Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico boasts lovely weather for most of the year, but May is great as the days get warmer, and nights remain pleasantly cool.
Culebra Island is a small slice of heaven in the vast Caribbean, just seven miles long and three miles wide. It offers some of the best coral reefs in the world, clear water and hiking opportunities in unspoiled coves.
June: Lake Como, Italy
The picturesque Lake Como is one of the most scenic areas in all of Italy, and its mild Mediterranean-style weather ensures its popularity as a tourist destination.
The lake is dotted with ancient, opulent palaces, resorts and even an abbey that dates back to the 11th century. It’s an unmissable, stylish piece of history.
July: Porto, Portugal
Portugal in July is the gateway to a spectacular European summer, and one of the best places to soak in the atmosphere is Porto.
World-famous for its production of fine port wines, you can experience a thriving food culture, live music and street markets in the soul-warming sun.
August: Vitu Levu, Fiji
Vitu Levu is Fiji’s largest isle and home to the well-known capital, Suva. As an enviable tropical escape for any traveller, it is fantastic for curing the winter blues.
A simple taxi ride from Nadi International Airport to the Sabeto Range unlocks aromatic botanical gardens, hiking trails, lily ponds and resorts built for recharging and relaxation. It’s remote enough to chill you right out, while still being just fifteen minutes from the heart of Nadi.
September: Girona, Spain
The charming medieval city of Girona is nestled in Spain’s northeast region, Catalonia. A beautiful place with so much to explore, it is known as “The City of a Thousand Sieges”, thanks to its colourful ancient history of withstanding attacks and invasions from opposing armies.
No visit is complete without climbing the eighty-nine steps to view the Tapestry of the Creation at the Girona Cathedral, and the riverside is lined with cafes, markets and quaint shopping opportunities.
October: Hokitika Gorge, New Zealand
Hokitika Gorge is a simply superb location, within New Zealand’s South Island. It is an absolute gem, with the combination of glacier water, glassy sky and a healthy plankton population turning the river water an ethereal blue.
It is a must-visit spot for trail walkers and nature lovers; though swimming is an activity only for the brave… the water is freezing.
November: Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
You’d be hard-pressed finding somewhere that wasn’t home to stunning mountain backdrops and rich culture in Nepal, but Kathmandu Valley packs a lot into a little space. Despite being just 25km across, the area is packed with sacred sites, some still occupied by monks and nuns, and lush, fertile land that provides the best in local Nepalese cuisine.
One place to check out nearby is the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park – a forest wonder that can be accessed by 4WD (or motorcycle, in good weather).
December: Manhattan, New York
For Aussies dreaming of a white Christmas, New York is hard to beat.
The famous Central Park is often blanketed in fine snow, and activities like ice skating on the lakes, or taking a hansom cab ride around the perimeter, are in easy reach.
Some of New York’s most beloved stores have Christmas displays beyond your wildest imagination – head to mid-town at take a stroll to Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to check them out and feel your Christmas spirit swell.
You can roam in these countries and many more, with Optus International Roaming.