Winter is upon us, which means our days and nights will soon be filled with plenty of delicious food, holiday cheer in liquid form and — for most of us — increasingly chilly temperatures. But why not escape to a warmer climate this year?
The following five spots will satisfy all your culinary wants and needs and, best of all, they do so without the need of your down coat.
All across Italy, the holiday season is a series of multi-course wine and seafood feasts, and sunny Sicily is one of the most delicious places to spend Christmas. Temperatures tend to hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a great place if you still want just a hint of chill in your winter vacation.
Here you can try treats like buccellato (a winter cake filled with fried fruits and nuts) and zabaglione (a Sicilian eggnog made with local Marsala wine) as a precursor to Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes traditional meal.
Trade in snow for sand by booking at the plush Verdura Golf Resort & Spa, located in Agrigento, on the southern coast of Sicily. Presidential suites feature private, heated pools and Jacuzzis with outdoor terraces and large dining areas that beg for entertaining.
Stock up on wine at nearby Stemmari (Feudo Arancio), where native grapes are used to produce the aromatic and tropical white called Grillo, an essential pairing for seafood feasts, and the velvety, red, fruit-forward Nero D’avola, which works nicely with red-sauce pastas, meats and cheeses.
Experience boat-to-table dining at its finest — and with an ocean view — at La Lampara and Ristorante Da Vittorio.
Though the dry season ends in October and picks back up again in January, the capital of Peru is located in both the western and southern hemispheres, so the holiday season is typically temperate to warm.
Book a presidential suite with a rooftop plunge pool at Belmond Miraflores Park to fully enjoy the atmosphere. This elegant hotel is set right along the coast, making beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the Lima skyline an indelible part of the experience.
Wander the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores Park. There’s plenty of shopping to do, and you’ll be in close proximity to restaurants that fully exhibit Peru’s diverse cuisine, which draws inspiration from Africa, Spain, Japan and more.
Mitsuharu Tsumura expertly blends Peruvian and Japanese elements at Maido.
If you love fresh ceviche, Virgilio Martínez masterfully prepares the raw delight at Central Restaurante.
For elevated local flavors, check out Rafael Osterling’s eponymous Rafael.
Explore the country’s burgeoning artisanal beer scene with plant tours, brewer workshops or tastings at Nuevo Mundo.
Colorful, festive street celebrations take place throughout the holidays, leading up to epic turkey and tamale spreads on Christmas Eve.
Margaret River, Australia
Located in Western Australia, Margaret River is another bustling gourmet region — and by the time the holiday season starts in America, summer is just beginning here.
Though it’s been a well-known wine-growing region since the 1960s, Margaret River has become a culinary hot spot in recent years. Chefs from around the world gather each year for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape to rediscover the lush produce and sustainable seafood in the area.
This season, stay at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, a luxury beach hotel featuring modern, eco-conscious villas surrounded by beautiful plant life. Private beach access leads to the turquoise waters of Bunker Bay along the Indian Ocean coastline. Beyond the views, each villa features plenty of kitchen and dining space for entertaining.
With the breathtaking seaside vista serving as a backdrop, chef Damon Georgiou will prepare a feast of epic proportions, including a massive charcuterie display, traditional roasts and a Christmas tree decked with sweets.
Located just 14 degrees north of the equator, Bangkok stays sunny for most of the year. The idyllic weather and its year-round status as a foodie’s paradise make it the ultimate tropical destination right now.
Though the majority of Thailand is Buddhist, Bangkok still adopts the aesthetics of American-style holiday celebrations bursting with giant light displays, Christmas trees and spirited carols broadcasting in store speakers.
Speaking of shopping, nothing compares to the experiences at upscale malls like Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, and Central Embassy. Explore Yaowarat Road, Chatuchak Weekend Market or the Train Market for a wealth of handmade goods and culinary delights that will make great last-minute presents or souvenirs to bring back home.
Experience the city from the lap of luxury by booking a spa sanctuary suite at Banyan Tree Bangkok. Each unit features sweeping views of the city and its own treatment room with bath and pillow menus to personalize the service.
The hotel also provides 10 different bar and restaurant options, which allows you to dine among the clouds on the 59th floor at Bai Yun or to try dinner at Apsara, a converted vintage rice barge floating down the Chao Phraya River.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is known for its next-level celebrations, and it sure doesn’t skimp on them around December 25. The season begins with the lighting of the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a floating Christmas tree in the city’s south zone, at the end of November.
The Festival de Presépios invites artists to create life-sized Nativity scenes across the city, and major shopping districts like Rio Sul and Botafogo Praia are aglow with decorations and holiday sales.
On Christmas Eve, the city shuts down early so friends and family can gather to watch fireworks on the lagoon and, on Christmas Day, bars and restaurants open back up for a full day and night of revelry.
For tranquil environs just minutes from urban exploration, stay at the exquisite Santa Teresa Hotel RJM Gallery by Sofitel. Lounge at the pool and soak in views of Guanabara Bay.
For sustenance, venture out in search of the city’s best Christmas feasts at restaurants like Fellini, which serves turkey and codfish alongside traditional dishes like fruit- and nut-stuffed Christmas rice, farofa (Brazilian stuffing), rabanadas (Portuguese-French toast) and toucinho do céu (Portuguese almond cake).