Escape the Winter Blues

Winter blues? You’ll find plenty of blue hues at these travel destinations: blue skies, blue seas and even blue whales! Whether you’d prefer to be surrounded by snow-capped azure mountains, or cerulean waters and golden sands, these destinations all offer prime weather conditions for midwinter travel from October to March. Banish your winter blues with these blue escapes.

Iceland is the perfect destination for viewing the Northern Lights over winter, and can be visited on a short weekend break or longer, with regular departures from Bristol. The clue’s in the name with the famous Blue Lagoon, huge geothermal baths surrounded by volcanic landscape, complete with swim-up bars serving silica face masks to wear whilst soaking in the warm relaxing waters. The winter blues will soon float away with their indulgent signature in-water massage, draped in a warm blanket and supported by a floatation mat.

Costa Rica’s Tenorio Volcano National Park is home to the opaque and glowing turquoise waters of Rio Celeste (‘Heavenly River), one of the country’s many beautiful natural phenomena. The vivid blue colour of the fairytale river waters is so other-worldly that photographers are often wrongly accused of digitally enhancing the intense colours. The surrounding rainforest gives you the opportunity to see monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, along with ancient trees and lush vegetation. The scientific reason behind the river’s blue colour is rather dull when compared with local legend. It is said that the gods painted the sky blue and afterwards used the river to wash their paintbrushes.

Jamaica ticks lots of blue boxes, from the majestic Blue Mountains to the coast’s crystal clear warm azure Caribbean seas. The natural phenomenon of bright blue bioluminescence can be viewed here on a night trip to Luminous Lagoon. Harmless microorganisms in the dark water emit sapphire sparking light when disturbed, creating a shimmering effect. It’s a magical, dazzling experience and must be seen to be believed, an ocean of liquid aqua blue neon. Jamaica’s rivers offer several natural limestone pools and waterfalls known as ‘Blue Holes’ perfect for a refreshing dip. Hidden amidst the verdant rainforest these swim sports attract thrill seekers who jump, swing and dive into the pristine clear blue waters below.

Turkey‘s weather stays moderate through winter and Istanbul is frequently overlooked as a city break destination when months like November and March are still warm and pleasant for sightseeing. The sacred Sultan Ahmed Mosque in the heart of Istanbul’s historic centre is known as the ‘Blue Mosque’ due to the 20,000 handmade Iznik ceramic blue tiles used to decorate the walls of its interior in more than 50 tulip designs, with over 200 stained glass windows. Arachnophobes will be reassured to hear that ostrich eggs are placed on the chandeliers here to repel spiders, avoiding cobwebs inside the mosque.

Mexico‘s southern Baja Peninsula is at the junction between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez and is one of the best places on earth to see blue whales (as well as gray whales and giant sea turtles) between November and April. As many as 3,000 individual blue whales migrate north through this eastern Pacific area from tropical to polar waters each year. Los Cabos, at the southern tip of the peninsula, is one of the most reliable places to see them.

Sri Lanka is another hot spot for whale watching between December and March. It also offers the timeless ruins elephants, swaying palms, white sand beaches, tea plantations and lush dense jungle. Perfectly combined with a short hop to The Maldives for the ultimate luxury winter beach break where it’s all about the sapphire waters and cobalt clear skies, and it’s hard to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins.