Rasjasthan's Amber Fort

Escape the grey skies of winter with a New Year break. Revitalise yourself by lapping up some sun on a tropical escape or choose an Arctic adventure to really kick start your way into 2013. You won’t regret it.

For sun-worshippers…

Short haul: La Gomera, Canaries

The clear, sunny skies and warm 21°C (70°F) temperatures of La Gomera offer a perfect antidote to the winter blues. One of the seven Canary Islands, it’s a less visited destination than more popular Tenerife, Lanzarote or Gran Canaria but has tons to offer.

Steep cliffs, tiny villages and hiking trails are abundant but if you want some beach time, beware that they are mostly pebbly or black in this corner of the Canaries. There are a several beach spots to choose from: El Ingles, popular with naturists; Santa Catalina for wind surfing; Valle Gran Rey, one of the few stretches of silica with golden sands and Playa de Santiago located close to a pretty fishing village.

Long haul: Mauritius

Coco IsleIdyllic Mauritius
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Temperatures rise to a toasty 30°C (86°F) in January, making Mauritius a tropical winner for a New Year getaway. This Indian Ocean idyll is renowned for its paradise beaches; many of the best ones are owned by luxury hotels. The greatest concentration can be found to the north and range from long, shallow, sweeping stretches of powder-white sand to tiny coves shaded by casuarinas trees, such as the silky La Cuvette.

Grand Baie offers a multitude of water-based activities, while the breezy east coast is ideal for wind surfing. Kite surfers head to Le Morne whilst in the wilder south west, around Gris Gris, dramatic surf crashes against basalt cliffs.

For culture vultures….

Short haul: Petra, Jordan

Treasury PetraPetra's Treasury
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Nothing quite prepares you for the moment you clap eyes on Jordan's spectacular rose red city. The drama starts as soon as you enter the Siq, a narrow, 1 km-long gorge fringed by towering cliffs. As you emerge blinking into the sunlight, you’re rewarded with the mind-boggling sight of the Treasury of Al-Khazneh. Cut out of a dusky pink rock-face, this inticately-carved former tomb is 30m (98ft) wide and 43m (141ft) high and dwarfs the gawping human specks at its entranceway.

This is just a taster; there are 800 other architectural treasures to explore in this vast UNESCO World Heritage site, including a giant Roman theatre, obelisks, temples, alters, baths and colonnaded streets all once built and inhabited by the Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago. Take a good pair of walking shoes when you visit and go in the early morning or late afternoon when the light best shows off the natural majesty of Petra.

Long haul: Rajasthan, India

The Indian state of Rajasthan encapsulates the best of what India has to offer replete with beautiful palaces, rugged fortresses, peaceful temples, sweeping deserts and shimmering lakes.

Most visitors start their journey in the state capital Jaipur, otherwise known as the ‘Pink City’, thanks to the colour of its sandstone facades. Clamber onto the back on an elephant to make a grand entrance into Amber Fort, offering a glimpse of the lavish lifestyles of former maharajas, with its intricate mirror work and soaring pavilions. Then head to Udaipur, renowned for Jag Niwas, a beautiful marble island palace floating like a pearl in the middle of picturesque Lake Pichola.

Wildlife lovers should set aside time to go tiger-spotting in Ranthambore National Park or on a camel safari to the Thar Desert.

For adventure lovers…

Short haul: Tromsø, Norway

TromsoWinter adventures
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For an authentic, get-back-to-nature experience, head to the polar city of Tromsø in northen Norway for a wilderness safari with a difference. Stay in a lavuu, a traditional Sami herdsman’s tent, under star-spangled, cloud-free skies at Camp Tamok to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, a visual extravaganza best seen in the winter.

Alternatively, discover the thrills of dog sledding where you whizz through a snow-blanketed winter wonderland behind a pack of eager huskies – the scenery and biting cold air will literally take your breath away. Reindeer safaris offer more sedate speeds but are just as special. For the real speed demons, nothing beats a spot of snow mobiling – blast your way across frozen lakes and wind-whipped plateaus; you won’t be able to stop grinning.

Long haul: Queenstown, New Zealand

Perched on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and framed by the jagged Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown located on the South Island is one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand. And it’s precisely these natural assets which make Queenstown one of the hottest tickets in the southern hemisphere for adventure-lovers.

Jet boatJet boat
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From the Kawaru Bridge Bungy to the Shotover Canyon Swing, you can throw yourself off dizzying heights amid unspoilt natural scenery for a high-octane thrill. If you want to add an extra frisson of terror, plummet into an abyss in sheer darkness from the Skyline complex.

If you like to get wet, try exhilarating river surfing or white water rafting through fast flowing rapids and whirlpools or take a hair-raising, white knuckle jet boat ride. But that’s not all - adrenalin junkies also can try their hand at tandem sky dives, off-road adventures, paragliding, canyoning, hang gliding, quad biking, ziplining and more. If there’s one thing you’ll need on a visit to Queenstown, it’s a strong stomach and nerves of steel.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.