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12 Places to Visit Where It’s Summer Right Now

Not a fan of a snow-covered winter? We feel you. Say goodbye to your scarf and hat, and head south, way south, to these Southern Hemisphere hot spots where the warmest days of their "summer" heat up while we're feeling the freeze up north.

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beautiful tropical sceneMaria Skaldina/Shutterstock

Escape the cold

These sunny vacation spots all have one important thing in common: they’re located in the Southern Hemisphere. This means they’re experiencing the height of summer in December through March, coinciding with when it’s the most frigid time of year throughout North American and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Soak up the sun and get a warm and wonderful respite from winter weather with palm trees, sunshine, and warm surf at these guaranteed summer-in-winter spots. Traveling with kids? Then you’ll want to check out these 20 warm-weather winter getaways for families.

Colorful bathhouses at Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, standing in a row.E. P. Adler/Shutterstock

Cape Town, South Africa

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The southernmost city in Africa is framed by golden beaches and stunning mountains, creating a perfect setting for sunning during the warm sunshine-filled months of December through March. It’s also when the cosmopolitan city comes alive with outdoor music festivals, including the Ultra in February, Africa’s largest electronic music festival, and the world-renowned Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March. Ellerman House is the perfect perch to enjoy the South African sunshine. Extra bonus: United just launched the first nonstop flight from the New York area to Cape Town, one of the many reasons the city is one of our 20 places you need to go in 2020.

Otemanu mountain and luxury bungalow at Bora Bora island, Tahiti, French Polynesia18042011/Shutterstock

Tahiti

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Want to get a glimpse of what Hawaii was like 50 years ago? Head to French Polynesia and the Pacific islands of Tahiti, which are more accessible than ever this winter thanks to a new budget airline (French Bee) and new flights from United Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui (where kids fly free), according to Laura Begley Bloom, chief content officer at FamilyTraveller. With the increase in popularity, resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora are spiffing up to welcome all the new visitors. You’ll also find an increasing focus on sustainability, with programs like an EcoTour in Moorea from the Coral Gardeners, a group working to preserve the oceans. These are the best beach vacation for every month of the year.

Leme and Copacabana beach with palms and mosaic of sidewalk in Rio de JaneiroCatarina Belova/Shutterstock

Rio de Janeiro

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Now that Brazil has removed their visa restrictions for the U.S citizens., it’s simpler than ever to visit South America’s biggest country, which has more than 2,000 beaches that stretch along its shoreline. Some highlights to keep an eye out for: Rio de Janeiro has been selected by UNESCO as the first World Capital of Architecture for 2020, and the city will host a variety of events and celebrations tied to architecture and art. Or plan to samba down the street in February, when Carnival is celebrated in Rio. While you’re there, plan a side trip to Iguazu Falls, one of the 10 most awe-inspiring World Heritage Sites everyone needs to visit.

San Cristobal - Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Aerial ShotPpito00/Shutterstock

Galapagos

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In the Galapagos Islands, winter means warm temperatures (85° Fahrenheit!), the perfect conditions for kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling at the area’s many beaches. Here you’ll find sandy sanctuaries filled with exotic wildlife, volcanic ruins, and clear blue waters. This is also the season when you can spot sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches of Santa Cruz Island alongside marine iguanas, pelicans, flamingos, and sea lions that inhabit the shores. To see this natural paradise up close, Quasar Expeditions offers luxury cruises on their newly renovated yachts the M/V Evolution and M/Y Grace. When you’re docked, keep an eye out for Darwin’s finches, one of the 12 birds you can only see in one place in the world.

 

A single elephant is reflected on the still surface of a waterhole on a beautiful day in BotswanaMike Dexter/Shutterstock

Botswana

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For amazing safaris filled with incredible wildlife viewing, Botswana, which has designated nearly 40 percent of the country as protected national parkland, including the vast, mesmerizing oasis of the Okavango Delta, is the ideal destination during the Southern Hemisphere summer months of December to April. You can explore the richly diverse natural habitat by boat along wending waterways, on 4-wheel-drive driving safaris, and on walks to encounter an exceptionally varied animal population, including lions, leopards, rhino, hippo, and herds of elephants. Explore the incredible natural areas in complete comfort with Micato Safaris. Some African safaris are even cheaper than a trip to Disney.

People relaxing on the Bondi beach in Sydney, Australia. Bondi beach is one of the most famous beach in the world. Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

Sydney

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It’s summer down under when it’s winter up north, so slather on the sunscreen and head to the country’s biggest city, sunny Sydney. Lace-up your sneakers to explore the sun-kissed coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee that stretches 3.7 miles along the coast. Enjoy the summer weather at Darling Harbour, or get your adrenaline pumping with a breathtaking climb up Sydney Harbour Bridge. You know who else loves the summer weather here? The adorable koalas and kangaroos at the Taronga Zoo. Find out the best time to visit Sydney—and other major cities.

Beautiful sunset over the bend of the river Clutha with Southern Alps peaks on the horizon, New ZealandFilip Fuxa/Shutterstock

New Zealand

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You might know New Zealand as the verdant natural setting of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, filled with soaring cliffs and incredible dense forests that spill out into the sea. All of this natural wonder is actually real, not a movie set, and best experienced in the New Zealand summer, when the Northern Hemisphere is feeling the deep freeze. Another highlight of this Pacific Ocean island country is the chance to see the rarest dolphin species in the world, Hector’s dolphin, which only lives in the coastal waters here.

LIMA, PERU: Paraglides in Miraflores.Christian Vinces/Shutterstock

Lima, Peru

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Lima is the beachside city you need to get to know. History and architecture here run the gamut from pre-Columbian temples to ancient Inca archaeological, Spanish colonial homes to modern high rises. And of course, don’t forget the beautiful beaches, especially popular Miraflores, where you can choose to either sun on the sand or soar above it in picturesque paragliders. Plus, Peru is surprisingly affordable.

The Palace of the Argentine National Congress (Palacio del Congreso) is a seat of the Argentine National Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentinasaiko3p/Shutterstock

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Known as the “Paris of South America,” Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital blends European glamour and Latin flavor, and the well-known culinary and cultural hub especially sizzles when it’s winter in North American but summer south of the equator with late-night al fresco parties, tango in outdoor squares under the stars, and grilled steaks on open-air parillas (barbecues). Not surprisingly, Buenos Aires is one of the most popular travel destinations in South America.

Tropical Beach, Solomon Islands, Honiaragracetown/Shutterstock

Solomon Islands

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Deep in the Pacific Ocean waters of the Southern Hemisphere is this faraway chain of islands comprised of active volcanoes, luscious jungle, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters. It’s one of the most unique natural environments in the world, and you can help with conservation efforts during a “summer” trip with Pelorus cruises. Some options include participating in a project to protect dugongs (seacows) and their seagrass habitats, including snorkeling with the gentle giants or lending a hand in tagging critically-endangered Hawksbill turtles before they are released into the wild. These are 14 more cruises you should only take in the winter.

View of Uluwatu cliff with pavilion and blue sea in Bali, IndonesiaVixit/Shutterstock

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

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If warm tropical air, swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, and unlimited sunshine are on your winter bucket list, then this tropical island paradise should be at the top of your winter travel list. It’s not all outdoor activities, Ubud also offers unique art shops that feature one-of-a-kind local handicrafts and some of Indonesia’s most delicious cuisine Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is the ultimate luxury perch from which to explore the spectacular island. If your budget doesn’t include a trip to Bali, try one of these Caribbean island vacations that will zap those winter blues.

 

Muelle de las Almas. Chiloe tourist landscapecesu39/Shutterstock

Chile

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Known for its remarkably diverse and naturally stunning scenery—including beaches, mountains, and desert landscapes—Chile is also incredibly affordable, making it a strong budget pick for a sunny getaway during our winter months. It’s also popular with adventure travelers who traverse the Andes Mountains, hike the Chilean Incan Trail, and explore Torres del Paine National Park. With a great mix of cities, beaches, mountains, and desert landscapes, Chile offers something for everyone. Good hotels start at less than $100 per night and meals, with local wine, will only set you back on average $20 per day; don’t miss these other affordable travel destinations for your bucket list.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.