Sri Lanka's world-famous beaches

Trending Now: Winter Sun Escapes

Some like it hot, and if you’re already missing the summer sun, then you’re not alone…

There’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve got a holiday to look forward to. As the British skies start to take on a gloomy tinge, the promise of having a week or two of woolly-jumper-free sunshine coming up can be the guiding light to get you through the shortening daylight hours. With the autumn equinox – the day when the days start getting shorter and the nights closing in sooner – long gone, more and more of us are wondering where we'd rather be.

However, the warmth seeking traveller is far from a new trending phenomenon. In the days when travel was a luxury afforded only to the wealthiest in society, heading south for the winter was common practice. Thankfully nowadays you don’t need to be minor royalty or landed gentry to be able to seek respite in warmer climes. Exodus customer Gillian Bruce tells us about her immersive winter journey through sun-soaked Sri Lanka.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Sri Lanka,” says Gillian, who was drawn to the alluring island by its exotic culture, rare wildlife and sandy palm-fringed beaches. “The sunshine and laid-back pace of life were a welcome break from the British winter!”

Topping up your winter sun doesn’t mean a monotonous week lying on a beach. Heat seekers can still find that immersive, cultural escape. “There was such a broad range of stuff to do, from exploring paddy fields by bike to walking in the highland tea plantations, and discovering the history of the colourful cave temples of Dambulla.” Gillian explains. But the real highlight of the holiday was getting a rare glimpse of ordinary life. “Exodus took us down the back lanes and you felt you were getting an authentic experience. It wasn’t all sanitised, it was real. We had lunch with local people in their garden – it was one of the homes built by Exodus for tsunami victims – and they shared their stories. It felt like you could get under the skin of the place.”

And if everyone you know has already taken their main summer holidays, you needn’t worry. Gillian had never travelled solo before: “But the group was just great, a real mix of age and circumstance, and I’m still in touch with some – we’ve already been for drinks. I paid a supplement for my own room, and it was worth having a place to unwind by myself.” It’s reassuring to know you don’t have to wait on other people’s schedules to have a holiday with like-minded people.

Where else tops our lists for sunny escapes? Asia is an obvious choice, with temperatures hitting the goldilocks moment outside of monsoon season. India is at its best in January and February, with glorious sunshine and low rainfall ready to chase away the post-festive blues for Brits waiting for spring. Vietnam is an alluring destination all year round, but you’ll appreciate its vibrant colours, bustling cheery streets and fragrant street food all the more when you’re leaving behind the grey.

If you’re dreaming of Central America, then you’re in luck – Costa Rica’s driest months are January, February and March, although what with it being the rainforest you shouldn’t be surprised by the occasional downpour regardless. Who wouldn’t be tempted to trade overcast English clouds for the biodiverse Cloud Forests of Santa Elena?

You don’t even have to go long haul to find the sun. Some of the hotspots closer to home are just as welcoming, from Greece’s largest yet least known island of Evia to the rugged coastline of Northern Cyprus, both of which are nothing short of idyllic for walkers hoping to squeeze in a hike at an unseasonable time of year back home.

After all, winter doesn’t have to be served chilled…

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