Nine of the best trips to take this winter
As the summer draws to an end, and the first chills of autumn arrive along with shorter evenings, we're already thinking about embracing the cold and booking a lovely winter escape.
The prospect of a winter holiday can help make saying goodbye to summer a little easier. It's all about making the most of the good parts of winter - think cosy nights in front of a log fire, spiced mulled wine in a pretty German market, and Christmas shopping along quaint cobbled streets illuminated by fairy lights.
Of course, traditional wintery holidays aren't for everyone. If you're someone who'd rather escape the cold during the winter, then going on holiday in search of winter sun for a couple of weeks can be a great way to do this - it'll just involve flying a little further afield.
To help you kickstart your planning, we've rounded up some top-class holidays for you to take this winter, from cosy, Christmas-market visits in Europe to winter sun destinations in Asia and the Caribbean.
Spend two weeks voyaging around Norway's heavenly fjords and rugged coastline, visiting destinations like Tromsø, Lofoten and Narvik in pursuit of the Northern Lights. When sailing to Norway during winter, and particularly north of the Arctic Circle, you're almost guaranteed to see the aurora borealis at least once, filling the skies with dazzling colour. You'll be sailing in the company of experts on expedition ship MS Maud on this cruise, making your chances of catching a display even higher.
Marvel at the beauty of the Swiss and Italian Alps from an elegant, 19th-century hotel base on the shores of Lake Como. On this seven-night holiday you'll explore elegant villages, chic restaurants, and ornate lakeside villas and take a day trip to elegant St Moritz on the Bernina Railway. This unforgettable train ride takes you along the highest railway line in the Alps, allowing you to glimpse some of the most spectacular Alpine landscapes in Europe.
Travel to beautiful snowy Switzerland by Eurostar and high-speed train, arriving at the historic Hotel Carlton-Europe in Interlaken, close to the emerald waters of Lake Thun. From Interlaken, you'll spend the next three days exploring the surrounding mountains by rail. A highlight is sure to be a day riding the magical Glacier Express, enjoying a delicious three-course lunch on board as the train spirals its way towards the Oberalp Pass, before descending to the Rhône valley and stopping at Brig.
This trip starts with three nights in Bucharest, where you'll be staying in the buzzy Lipscani district, where you can spend time getting to know the city's mediaeval heart. You'll then head into the snow-capped peaks and frosty forests of the Fagaras Mountains and check into the unique Hotel of Ice, carved each year entirely out of ice from a nearby glacial lake. You'll be able to try snow sports like snow rafting and off-piste skiing, or simply kick back with a drink and enjoy the scenery.
Enjoy a real winter wonderland in January, with snowy forests, reindeer and more. You'll check into the cosy boutique hotel Iso-Syöte, which is designed to make the most of the hotel's lofty position with spectacular panoramic vistas. You'll get the opportunity to explore these landscapes by husky sled, reindeer safari, and snowmobile, and you might even spot the Northern Lights in the skies, if the conditions are right.
See the pristine ice-capped landscapes and jaw-dropping wildlife of Antarctica on this incredible cruise to the White Continent. You'll be sailing with an expert expedition team on board MS Fridtjof Nansen, a ship custom-built specifically for exploring the polar waters of Antarctica. Your adventure will begin in Buenos Aires, where you'll have a day to explore the 'Paris of South America', before cruising to Ushuaia and on to Antarctica, where your expedition team will tailor your excursions based upon the conditions.
Join an all-female tour of Jordan, including visits to the incredible ancient city of Petra, carved out of pink sandstone, and the otherworldly Wadi Rum desert. Your trip will begin in the capital, Amman, where you'll see the ancient ruins of Jebel Al Qala'a, the Citadel, where you'll get a panoramic city view. There's the opportunity to enjoy the local food on a tasting tour. In Petra, you'll see part of the city illuminated by candlelight and will explore the buildings in daylight on a guided tour.
Discover two of southeast Asia's most scenic countries on this 17-day adventure through Vietnam and Cambodia, which includes a seven-night cruise along the Mekong River in a suite on board the luxurious Mekong Jewel. You'll have 13 immersive excursions included in your voyage, all hosted by knowledgeable, English speaking local guides, and will get to explore Phnom Penh, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as many small villages along the Mekong.
The perfect cruise for anyone seeking winter sun, this sailing on board a masted clipper ship will take you on a journey of a lifetime down the west coast of Central America on a week-long exploration. You'll cruise from Puntarenas in Costa Rica down to Panama, stopping at paradisiacal islands - including Coiba Island and Parida Island - along the way. This part of Central America is known for its pristine beaches lapped with jade water, where you can relax under the shade of a palm tree and take a refreshing dip.