Travel by Month: A Year's Guide to Following the Sunshine Around the World

From www.justluxe.com, by Nicolle Monico
Travel by Month: A Year's Guide to Following the Sunshine Around the World

We love the start of a new year; and not just because all the “New Year, New You” hype, but more so because it means 365 days of potential travel ahead. For 2015, to assist you with your own travel plans, we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favorite destinations to visit by month. Keeping in mind that sightseeing is typically an outdoor activity, we chose each destination based on its sunniest and/or its most pleasant weather months. 

So if you’re looking toward Europe for a springtime visit, consider Sicily; but if you’re jonesing for a warm fall destination, head to Buenos Aires. If you’re really feeling adventurous, how about jet-setting to each of our 11 recommended trips in 2015 (and one in 2016)? Go ahead, we dare you.

We love the start of a new year; and not just because all the “New Year, New You” hype, but more so because it means 365 days of potential travel ahead. For 2015, to assist you with your own travel plans, we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favorite destinations to visit by month. Keeping in mind that sightseeing is typically an outdoor activity, we chose each destination based on its sunniest and/or its most pleasant weather months. 

So if you’re looking toward Europe for a springtime visit, consider Sicily; but if you’re jonesing for a warm fall destination, head to Buenos Aires. If you’re really feeling adventurous, how about jet-setting to each of our 11 recommended trips in 2015 (and one in 2016)? Go ahead, we dare you.

February — Mumbai (Bombay), India

Mumbai marches to the beat of its own drum; it’s a destination of high highs and low lows. Along with flashy architecture, Bollywood starlets and sacred temples, the city also includes some of Asia’s largest slums, the hardest-working laborers and is a place conflicted with religious tension. But it’s these contrasts that make this city one of the most interesting and most visited destinations in the world. There’s so much to explore here, from the city’s numerous art and history museums to its warm beaches and Indian cinema on the big screen. It also holds one of the world’s top five most expensive homes, which makes sense as it is India’s financial powerhouse. This larger-than-life, cosmopolitan destination is a bustling metropolis that any New Yorker, Londonite or city-lover can appreciate. From December to February, Mumbai is in its driest and coolest months, so it’s a little more bearable than its hot and humid monsoon season (mid-June through August). 

Temps: Highs – 93 F; Lows – 71 F

Where to Stay: The Oberoi, Mumbai

Don’t Miss: Elephanta Island

March — Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Costa Rica has always been one of my personal favorite places, and I’m definitely not alone in this. It is consistently voted as one of the hottest adventure-travel destinations in Latin America. In 2014, it was named the most recommended location by travelers (based on their experiences) to other travelers as identified by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey. March is one of the best months to visit the tropical paradise due to the dry weather that overtakes the normally humid country. It’s also typically sunny, which means plenty of opportunities for beach days and sunbathing. Calling their eternal optimism and love of life, “Pura Vida,” the ticos and ticas (locals) are some of the friendliest and welcoming people around. There’s also an abundance of wildlife to view such as monkeys, sloths, exotic birds and turtles. Whether zip lining through the lush rainforests, bathing in Arenal Volcano’s hot springs, or enjoying Gallo Pinto at a local restaurant, we’re pretty sure you won’t find yourself disappointed while visiting.

Temps: Highs – 85 F; Lows – 64 F

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Don’t Miss: Hiking through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

April — Amsterdam, The Netherlands

When you think of Amsterdam, you may immediately think of its infamous Red Light District, cannabis coffee shops and party reputation. But of course, the popular European destination has much more to offer than its stereotypes. During the springtime, tulips are in full bloom, coloring the city that is home to 1,280 bridges, 165 waterways and thousands of 17th-century mansions. It is also a city of art, with some of the most impressive museums in the world, such as the Van Gogh museum, located in its towns. On P.C. Hooftstraat, travelers can shop their favorite designers such as Dior, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Prada along the street. Every April, the city celebrates King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) and the streets come alive with DJs, parties, live music and orange apparel signifying Amsterdam pride. This year’s celebration is being held on Monday, April 27.

Temps: Highs – 59 F; Lows – 40 F

Where to Stay: Hotel de l'Europe

Don’t Miss: Anne Frank House

May — Sicily, Italy

Sicily is beautiful year-round, however, during the summer months, the sweltering heat can get a little unbearable. So to avoid having to duck into the shade often, May is one of our favorite months to visit, when the days are longer and the sea breezes are just right. The island is full of charisma, and from its ancient Greek temples to its relaxing beaches, vibrant street markets, delectable gelato and Mt. Etna’s volcano, the city is a rich tapestry of culture, art and history. And Agrigento Valley holds the world's largest collection of Greek temples dating back from the 5th century B.C. This being Italy, be sure to spend time savoring the plethora of local cuisines on the island, including its plethora of desserts (such as the cassata siciliana and cannolo) which it is famous for.  

Temps: Highs – 72 F; Lows – 61 F              

Where to Stay: San Domenico Palace Hotel, Taormina

Don’t Miss: The medieval streets and architecture of Palermo

June — Istanbul, Turkey

In 2014, we shared that TripAdvisor had ranked Istanbul as the #1 Most Popular Travel Destination in the World. And even though it’s now 2015, we’re still loving this Turkish city. Straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a magical meeting place of East and West. The picturesque destination combines the old and new worlds within its city walls with sleek skyscrapers, ancient palaces and sacred mosques creating its skyline. Due to its variety of cultures, Istanbul also offers cuisines as diverse as its heritage. Travelers can taste everything from classic kebabs to Asian fusion dishes and freshly-caught seafood, the city’s signature fare. Be sure to check on dates for the International Istanbul Music Festival that takes place in June. Dates are yet to be released but the event is one of the biggest fests of its kind in Turkey that features classical and opera performances as well as local, national and international artists on its stages.

Temps: Highs – 79 F; Lows – 63 F

Where to Stay: Raffles Istanbul

Don’t Miss: Topkapi Palace

July — Bali, Indonesia

Bali needs no introduction. This tropical island destination in the South Pacific might just be on everyone’s bucket lists (unless you hate beautiful beaches and idyllic settings, then we can’t help you). This Indonesian destination really is as alluring as it seems, with world-class hotels and resorts, great surfing, golf, renowned dive sites and magnetic volcanoes, all in an area slightly bigger than Delaware. It is also part of the Coral Triangle, which has the highest diversity of marine species. The dry season runs from April to September, making July one of the best times to climb its volcanoes, and avoid frequent showers and humid conditions. What sets Bali apart from its neighboring islands is its Balinese traditions and deeply-rooted spiritual culture. Everywhere you look, you’ll notice temples and palaces dedicated to good spirits and locals work hard to create a perfect harmony in their lives with nature, others and their gods. Because of their beliefs, they are also some of the warmest people. If you do visit in July, be sure to check out the traditional Negara bull races that occur every other Sunday until October.

Temps: Highs – 88 F; Lows – 72 F

Where to Stay: Damai Lovina

Don’t Miss: Ubud and the Monkey Sanctuary

August —  Côte d’Azur, The French Riviera

The French Riviera is, in a word: surreal. Winding its way along the Mediterranean, Côte d’Azur has long been a favorite of jetsetters, artists and carefree dreamers (albeit billionaire idealists). Known for its zillion-dollar residences, The French Riviera isn’t for the faint of heart. Since August is one of the best months to visit due to warm, dry weather, it’s also when already high costs go up even further. Many sites will caution against visiting at this time, but we know you’re not worried about a little price hike. On August 8, Cowes Week Regatta 2015 begins in St. Tropez with 40 daily races and up to 1,000 boats. It is considered one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world and attracts around 8,000 competitors from around the world including Olympic, professional and weekend sailors. Of course, Côte d’Azur is a mecca for art as well with a number of museums and galleries holding works by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Léger. (Note: You can just as easily visit in May if you’re attending the Cannes International Film Fest, but we figured that was an obvious month choice for the destination.)

Temps: Highs – 85 F, Lows – 58 F

Where to Stay: Hotel Cap Estel

Don’t Miss: Cours Saleya Market in Nice

September — New York City, New York

Is there anything better than experiencing The Big Apple in the fall? The changing orange and crimson leaves, the warm days with cool nighttime breezes, and the less crowded streets, September is a wonderful time to visit New York City. It’s an ambitious metropolis full of opportunities and pulsating energy; it’s also the place where the phrase, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere,” was coined. This trendsetting destination is famous for so many things—it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few attractions to visit—but first-time visitors should experience The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, The Metropolitan Opera, Madison Avenue and the MoMA. Also, September just-so-happens to play host to New York Fashion Week as well (yes, we planned ahead for you). If you’re more of a sports fan though, hit up Yankee stadium for the final games leading up to October playoffs or head to the US Open Tennis Championships from August 21-September 13. And no trip to New York City is complete without visiting its many, many local restaurants that are almost-always amazing, no matter how small or large.

Temps: Highs – 76 F, Lows 61 – F

Where to Stay: The New York Palace Hotel (XOXO, Gossip Girl)

Don’t Miss: Secret Gardens of Rockefeller Center, Secret Train Platform Under the Waldorf Astoria

October — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Can't you just picture yourself dancing in the warm South American breezes of Buenos Aires against the backdrop of neoclassical architecture, sidewalk cafés and the twinkling city lights of Argentina’s capital this fall? Nicknamed “the Paris of South America,” it’s not hard to wonder why tourists have long had a love affair with this part European and part Latin American metropolis. Buenos Aires has a rich culture of art and music, and visitors can find tango salons around every corner, designer fashions mixed in with local boutiques and culinary masterminds behind the city’s best restaurants. During October, you’ll find beautiful violet jacaranda trees blooming, 1,000 different colorful roses at the Paseo del Rosedal, and temperatures in the 70’s. The air is also crisp with aromatic scents of florals as this is the country’s springtime. While it is warmer during the summer months, the humidity is also greater (you wouldn’t want to mess up your new blowout), and the crowds tend to overtake the city. As the birthplace of tango, Buenos Aires is also incredibly sexy and has a way of getting under your skin from the moment you arrive. Beautiful and alive, Argentina’s capital is a place you’ll remember for years to come.

Temps: Highs – 73 F, Lows – 57 F

Where to Stay: Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau

Don’t Miss: El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore

November — Cape Town, South Africa

November is just before South Africa’s summer season, so temperatures are much more bearable and springtime foliage is still in full bloom. Cape Town is nicknamed “The Mother City” and offers both a cosmopolitan destination and a nature-lovers’ playground within its territory. Its strikingly-picturesque topography is filled with beaches, mountains, gardens and parks which lend themselves to plenty of outdoor activities. Travelers can enjoy windsurfing, wine tasting, mountain climbing and surfing, or can venture into world-class shops and colorful local boutiques. November is also prime time for whale watching, specifically at the self-proclaimed whale-watching capital of the world, Hermanus (a two-hour drive from Cape Town). In the city, they can also be seen from the road along the False Bay coast. One of the main draws to this destination is also its vibrant multiculturalism. Experience Zulu groups sharing their heritage through song and dance, stand in Neslon Mandela’s old cell at Robben Island or sip local wines on a historic farm in Constantia. During the month, daring visitors can participate in The Big Walk, an over 50-mile charity march from Simon’s Town to Cape Town. Or, if that sounds too aggressive for you, you could simply opt for a cold one and attend the three-day Cape Town Festival of Beer. The fest celebrates all things beer and features local micro breweries, world-class brewers, delicious cuisines and local entertainment.

Temps: Highs – 73 F, Lows – 55 F

Where to Stay: One&Only Cape Town

Don’t Miss: Table Mountain Arial Cableway

December — Rio de Janiero, Brazil

By now, if you’ve been following our travel stories, you may have noticed that I am a pretty consistent cheerleader for Rio. So of course it’s going to make this list, especially since it boasts one of the best ways to rings in the new year. The Brazilian city is home to gorgeous mountains, lush rainforests and 23 beaches including the world-famous Copacabana beach. On Reveillon (New Year's Eve), the shoreline is filled with around two-million people in all white celebrating the exciting event. Leading up to the parties, travelers will have no shortage of things to do in the sexy city. The sounds of samba fill the streets and open-air cafes beg to be visited while Christ the Redeemer keeps his watch over Rio’s residents. Brazilians are a lively people and extremely friendly; you may even find yourself caught up in a conversation that lingers long into the night, it’s a part of what makes this destination so special. If you’re planning on checking out the nightlife, be sure to get a late start since the scene doesn’t start picking up until well after midnight. (Also, don’t forget your teeny-weeny bikini for daytime activities.)

Temps: Highs – 86 F, Lows – 73 F

Where to Stay: Belmond Copacabana Palace

Don’t Miss: Taking the 123-year-old train to the summit of Corcovado

January — The Maldives

Scattered across 500 miles of Indian Ocean on over a thousand tiny islands, the Maldives offer some of the world’s most stunning beaches and the best dive sites due to its waters boasting exceptional visibility. The combined land of the 1,200 islands is only about 100 square miles, meaning, no matter where you are, you’re sure to be close to the beach. Many of the country’s accommodations are also built right on the water. Because the Maldives are spread out over 26 coral atolls, travelers can not only view beautiful reefs, but also a vast array of tropical fish such as neon clownfish and manta rays in one of the world's healthiest marine environments. Partake in sunset catamaran cruises, head to nearby islands on a floatplane ride or simply spend a day at the spa watching colorful fish swim past in glass-bottom treatment rooms.

Temps: Highs - 84 F, Lows – 77 F

Where to Stay: Constance Halaveli

Don’t Miss: Submarine Diving