If you're super organised, you'll have all your presents wrapped up and under the tree, and your greetings cards mailed. After all that, we think you deserve a little yuletide gift for yourself, so when your Christmas is all wrapped up, start planning a little sunshine getaway. Here are my 12 top holiday destinations to shake off the winter blues.

Bodrum, Turkey

The colourful port city of Bodrum on the west coast of Turkey, is fringed by the Aegean and has a distinctly European feel. Ease yourself in with a scenic boat trip across the dazzling waters of the peninsula. With the wind in your sails, you'll work up an appetite for lunch, and a sumptuous Turkish meze served with traditional kebabs is in order.

Back on land, take a leisurely tour of Bodrum Castle. Completely renovated, it takes centre stage in the bay. As well as spectacular views, it's also home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, so you can explore life above and below the waves.

Not to try a hamam here is like visiting Lapland and avoiding Santa. Bardakçı Hamam is the oldest of these establishments, dating back to the 1700s. Look past the unassuming exterior and step inside for a rigorous spa treatment. Many baths here in Turkey are segregated, but Bardakçı is mixed bathing, so it's perfect for couples to relax together.

Lakeland,, Finland

The Finnish lakes region is easily the most jaw-dropping serene place you can visit during springtime, so cameras at the ready for capturing the perfect Instagram.

The Lakeland area is immense, but with 17 RCI resorts in this region, you have more than enough places you could be calling home for a week. Kuortane in western Finland has an expansive range of activities to get involved in, with golf, fishing, scuba diving, hiking and biking just a selection of the ways you can enjoy the delights of the great outdoors.

Leave those who enjoy teeing off at the nine-hole golf course, while you enjoy a few hours at the neighbouring art gallery, Soile Yli-Mäyry Taidehalli, open, from May to August. While away a few hours admiring Yli-Mäyry’s inspirational and curious artworks. As a doctor and a painter for more than 30 years, Yli-Mäyry crafts her works using a palette knife for a 3D effect. Themes include humanity and people’s alienation from nature, so it's a thought-provoking way to spend a few hours.

​Kuortane has an expansive range of activities to get involved in with golf, fishing, scuba diving, hiking and biking to enjoy the delights of the great outdoors.

​Kuortane has an expansive range of activities to get involved in with golf, fishing, scuba diving, hiking and biking to enjoy the delights of the great outdoors.

Algarve, Portugal

If you had to define the Algarve in brief, 'selection box' would be the phrase owing to the variety of things to see and do here.

It's the number one place to leave behind the grey of winter, and head for the vibrant blues of the Algarve's beaches. You'll spot bright azulejos tiles at every turn and the 18th-century São Lourenço Church near Almancil is the perfect example (although its whitewashed exterior is deceptive). Inside, the floors, walls and ceiling are covered in the hand-painted tiles which overload the senses, and they make the opulent gold-gilded altar look tame in comparison.

Around the sunny region there is a healthy splash of waterparks, golf courses and watersports to be enjoyed, but for treasured memories you should explore the region's artisan handicrafts culture. Visit Porches Pottery near Lagoa to pick up some souvenir ceramics to take home, decorated in eye-catching blues, greens and yellows.

Daytona Beach, Florida

To shrug off the winter chill round up the clan for a sunshine family break in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Those struggling to ease into holiday mode should visit Daytona International Speedway, a mecca for motorsports. Daily tours provide access to the track, winner's podium, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and you can grab a close up with the winning car from the Daytona 500. Held in February, the annual race day showcases skill, speed and determination as drivers compete on the 2.5-mile track for the coveted title.

Find your own spot of sand to unwind on, along the 23-mile long Daytona Beach. Stroll along the boardwalk and dine at Joe's Crab Shack on Main Street Pier for some light bites - plus the views are fabulous. Elsewhere, you can visit the world's tallest lighthouse, the Ponce Inlet, and as the festival capital of Florida, there's always something going on in Daytona, so check out the events calendar before you travel.

Find your own spot of sand to unplug from routine along the 23-mile long Daytona Beach.

Find your own spot of sand to unwind on, along the 23-mile long Daytona Beach.

Paphos, Cyprus

If you've already ticked the sights of ancient Egypt off your holiday list, consider Paphos for your next historical adventure.

Home to over 300 days of sunshine every year and scores of golden-glow beaches to languish on for a day, to really experience Paphos you need to head away from the coast and delve into its history. The city has been occupied since prehistoric times so it's fair to say there are fascinating stories to be told at popular attractions, including The Tomb of the Kings, Paphos Archaeological Park and Paphos Castle.

Fast forward and make time to visit some mountain villages to reveal the hidden charms of Cypriot life. A guided tour is a great way to get an overview, visiting medieval mountain castles, and learning about carob production or traditional basket weaving. Whichever tour you choose, be sure to pause and admire the scenic beauty of the Troodos Mountains and the pine forest surroundings.

Cancún, Mexico

If you're going all-inclusive, Mexico is the Rolls Royce of indulgence, with luxury resort titans all clamouring for attention from families, couples and honeymooners alike.

Nonetheless, they all carry similar features with premium drinks inclusions, numerous on-site dining opportunities, spacious rooms with personalised pillow menus and comprehensive spa, wellness and entertainment programmes.

Venture off resort to the popular Xcaret and Xel-Há theme parks which take care of the restless, and a day trip to witness the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá is undoubtedly a top choice.

But what about the lesser-known gems? La Isla is a luxury shopping village, home to international designer brands, plus canalside cafés and bars for breaks in between flexing the plastic in stores from Guess to Hugo Boss. Or go quirky at the underwater museum MUSA, featuring over 500 life-sized sculptures which blend art and environmental science. Visitors can dive, snorkel or board a glass-bottomed boat to view the internationally acclaimed exhibition.


For such a small island, Malta sure does pack a lot in. Keen history lovers can visit significant sites to journey through 7,000 years of history, from the Megalithic Temples in Ħaġar Qim - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - to shedding light on the island's centre stage in World War II as part of the Great Siege of Malta.

But if you're not into history, it doesn't mean Malta is off the menu. There are plenty of culinary experiences to give you a flavour of Maltese culture, with an eclectic mix of Mediterranean influences, as well as British and Arabic styles introduced by former island occupations.

The award-winning Ta'Marija Restaurant in Mosta is renowned for its authentic cuisine, and on Wednesdays and Fridays diners are treated to live Maltese music and entertainment. Start off with the Maltese aperitif - a mix of prickly pear liquor, Kinnie, and a secret ingredient, while rabbit and other game and fowl make a regular appearance on the plate. Finish off with the signature homemade Cassata Ta’ Marija, a cake infused with dates, apple and walnuts.

For such a small island, Malta sure does pack a lot in with history, food, spas and shopping.

For such a small island, Malta sure does pack a lot in with history, food, spas and shopping.

Castellón, Spain

Graced with the moniker, the 'city in the sea', Peñíscola's Templar Castle and its medieval walls are surrounded by water, and connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. The evocative beauty of this historical conservation area in the Valencian province of Castellón has not gone unnoticed. Used as a filming location for the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones, a wander around the town allows you to view the castle from many different vantage points.

Traditionally a fishing village, the area has long been a holiday favourite for Spanish tourists, so you know you're onto a good thing if you're looking for an escape without the unappealing tourist effect of cheesy themed bars, pubs and fried breakfasts!

If the views weren't mystifying enough, children and grown ups will be astounded by the Magic Museum by Yunke. The museum is close to the castle gates and draws you into the intriguing world of magic. Highlights include illusions originally performed by the legendary Houdini to live performances by Yunke himself - one of the greatest illusionists of all time.


Tenerife is a bit of an obvious one for escaping wintry weather, but whether you like variety from your travels or prefer the tried and well-tested approach, this eternally sunny Canarian island has your back on both counts.

Lazy days at the beach are a favourite pastime for the millions of visitors who flock to Tenerife each year, while hiking trails and trips up Mount Teide or around Masca keep the active ones in your group satiated.

Tenerife is an island that loves a good celebration, especially in February and March with plenty of carnivals around the capital Santa Cruz. Expect huge parades, zany costumes and high-energy partying in the streets which can carry on for days.

Holy Week and Easter are major dates in the calendar, with notable celebrations in Santa Cruz, Garachico, La Orotava and La Laguna. Aside from religious events, there is also a well-established music scene with July's prestigious classical music festival and the Sabandeño Festival in La Laguna in September, when local and international folklore bands take centre stage.

Tenerife is an island that loves a good celebration, especially in February and March with plenty of carnivals around the capital Santa Cruz.

Tenerife is an island that loves a good celebration, especially in February and March with plenty of carnivals around the capital Santa Cruz.

South Carolina, The US

There are so many cool and unusual things to do in South Carolina, that you can comfortably fill a two-week break here.

Unmissable attractions include the National Historic Landmark, Drayton Hall, which is the oldest unrestored plantation house in America that is still open to the public. A marvellous example of Georgian Palladian architecture, the house stands on a 600-acre plot, which forms part of a rice and indigo plantation.

Book a tour for an educational journey on African American, social history and the Revolutionary War, and step back in time while marvelling at the elaborate double stairs, ornamental ceilings and impressive wood panelling of the Charleston residence.

On the obscure front, around the state you can hunt down the world's largest peach in Gaffney, the world's largest fire hydrant in Columbia or pay a visit to the UFO Welcome Center in Bowman. Even more bizarre is The Button Museum in Bishopville - brought about by the late 'button king' Dalton Steven's bouts of insomnia and his subsequent obsession with the round fastener. Here you'll find an odd curation including a button-covered hearse.

Zell Am See, Austria

With 20 resorts sprinkled across Austria, narrowing down one area in which to base yourself is a tricky task but the Zell Am See-Kaprun area is the perfect place to surround yourself in a mesmerising array of landscapes, and a multitude of climates.

Like many Alpine towns here, Zell is famed for winter sports, but it's also a destination of two halves. Enjoy carving up some snow on the pistes in the morning followed by an afternoon bathing in the lake and basking in the sun. Start out on the viewing platform at Kitzsteinhorn Glacier which sits at 3,000 metres above sea level, and you'll find the panoramic views of the mountains nothing short of breathtaking.

Continuing to immerse yourself in the Alpine outdoors, book a mountain herb walk with a ranger in Schmittenhöhe, learn the fine art of Alpine calls at yodelling school, or join in one of the Zell Summer Nights Festivals every Wednesday evening in July and August, and dine on a delectable gourmet dinner in the town square.

Like many Alpine towns here, Zell is famed for winter sports, but there is so much more on offer for those who want to stay away from the slopes.

Like many Alpine towns here, Zell is famed for winter sports, but there is so much more on offer for those who want to stay away from the slopes.


Vietnam appears to be on everybody's lips right now and for a multitude of reasons.

On the tourist trail, Halong Bay is hailed as Vietnam's most beautiful spot with huge limestone rock formations rising from the turquoise waters. While the bay is huge, the arrival of cruise boats makes the area feel crowded. Skip the crowds and head for Bai Tu Long Bay, just a short boat ride from Halong City. It has the same stunning views just with fewer visitors, and you can also explore the uncrowded caves and tiny beaches.

Coffee aficionados should waste no time in ordering a 'weasel coffee' rumoured to be the world's best coffee - that's if you can stomach the idea. The weasel-like civet eats coffee berries and after passing them soon after, it gives the resulting product a bitter taste.

You cannot ignore Vietnam's turbulent history, and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum sensitively depicts the country's bloody past with a mix of photos, artefacts and memorabilia. Meanwhile, you'll discover first-person accounts from war veterans and observe chilling bomb remnants at the War Remnants Museum which provide a sobering reminder of life here not too long ago.

If you would like to visit any of the destinations featured in today's blog - or explore a world of holiday options - click on the RCI Resort Directory button below to start your search for the next fabulous holiday adventure you could be taking with RCI membership.

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