Escape the Cold in These 7 Places Where It’s Summer Right Now

Sick of winter? These Southern Hemisphere spots offer summer sunshine from December through February.

Aerial view of turquoise rectangular swimming pool located immediately next to the ocean with a few swimmers; crowded sandy beach in distant background

The iconic Bondi Icebergs swimming pool, outside of Sydney, doesn’t live up to its chilly namesake—it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a sunny Southern Hemisphere summer.

Photo by Jessie Beck

Whether you’re in the United States, Canada, or somewhere in Europe, if you’re currently anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s a solid chance that frigid winter temperatures have you craving a sunnier season. Summer, with its long days and warm evenings, is all about relaxing and enjoying life outdoors. If you can’t wait until the summer solstice (June 21) to revel in warmer weather above the equator, here are seven places in the Southern Hemisphere where you can escape winter’s dreary chill and travel straight to summertime.


Surf, sun, and great coffee—what more could you want from a winter getaway? New South Wales, a southeastern Australian state known for its coastal cities and lush national parks, offers all of that and more. Visit the capital of NSW, Sydney, to explore neighborhoods bustling with boutique stores and trendy coffee shops. Areas such as Darlinghurst, Newtown, and Rozelle host an array of vintage shops and eclectic bars, and formerly industrial neighborhoods such as Potts Point and Surry Hills offer some of the best eats in Sydney. Soak up the sun at the seaside spot of your choice in suburbs from North Bondi to Maroubra; the city boasts more than 100 beaches, not to mention some seriously unsurpassed oceanside swimming holes.

A wombat on a patch of grass overlooking a body of water, with sand and another distant shore in background

Wombats are so plentiful on Tasmania’s Maria Island that visitors are asked to pledge that they won’t pick one up.

Photo by Nicholas DeRenzo

Increasingly accessible due to new direct flights from the United States is Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane, which enjoys balmy seasonal highs in the mid-80s Fahrenheit this season. The country’s third-largest—but often-overlooked—city is set to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, and it’s preparing for its turn on the international stage with major developments like the upcoming $2.4 billion Queen’s Wharf district, which will start its phased opening in April and include the continent’s first Rosewood hotel. It’ll join the Calile, a modernist-inspired newcomer that we included on our Stay List of the world’s best new hotels in 2019.

From this northern gateway, you can have your pick of Queensland’s varied offerings: Go north for the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef; south for the Gold Coast and its collection of beachfront resorts (like the new Langham); east for offshore islands like Moreton Island, with its shipwrecks and the world’s tallest coastal sand dunes; and west for the Outback, where you can visit the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils on the planet.

For slightly more moderate temperatures, head farther south to Tasmania, which increasingly has something to offer for every kind of traveler, including Hobart’s boundary-breaking Museum of Old and New Art (which boasts architecture almost as daring as its collection) and the design-forward the Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel. To truly immerse yourself in the area’s abundant wildlife, consider a multi-day “great walk” on Maria Island, where the wombats are so plentiful that visitors are asked to sign a cheeky pledge that they won’t try to pick up or take a selfie with the cuddly-looking marsupials.

Rocky valley leading down to a sandy beach, overlooking ocean with mountains in distance

The Galápagos Islands have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews


Straddling the equator, Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands experience stable warm weather throughout the year. From December through May, the volcanic island chain sees some light rainfall, which actually produces a calmer ocean—better for cruising, scuba diving, and snorkeling. On Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Floreana, and Isabela—the only islands inhabited by humans—restaurants and hotel accommodations are simple (one reason why some people opt to explore the archipelago by ship). Still, most travelers don’t visit the Galápagos for a swanky experience; a trip to these islands is all about viewing the incredible variety of species that coexist within its ecosystem.

On land, Galápagos tortoises, sea lions, flamingos, and marine iguanas bask casually and comfortably under the sun on white-sand beaches and in mangrove forests. But some of the archipelago’s best biodiversity-spotting occurs on the open ocean. Offshore, birds soar above the Pacific and sea lions glide at the water’s surface, both searching for fish to eat. And underwater, a colorful world filled with fish, rays, sharks, and turtles awaits. To explore it, sign up with a local, PADI-certified shop for a day of scuba diving at world-class sites off the coast of islands such as Fernandina and Darwin.

A bright red building with a large open window; inside is a man with a white shirt, under a sign for La Perla de Caminito café

Buenos Aires is filled with revered historic cafés like La Perla de Caminito, which has been open for more than 140 years.

Courtesy of Eduardo Sánchez / Unsplash


Summer temperatures in Argentina’s capital city are sweltering, which is why many Buenos Aires residents, known as porteños, clear out of the city during January and February. However, those who remain can be found sipping café con leche at sidewalk eateries or sharing maté with friends at green spaces across the city. Though summertime is quieter than usual in the sprawling Latin American city, peak porteño culture still heats up after the sun goes down. In hip neighborhoods such as San Telmo and Palermo, local dancers crowd the floors of traditional milongas (tango clubs); imaginative DJs mix cumbia, hip-hop, and house music in the city’s late-night dance clubs; and those “in the know” flock to speakeasy-style lounges such as Florería Atlántico, a cocktail and wine bar hidden beneath an unassuming flower shop in the upscale Retiro neighborhood.

If partying isn’t your idea of a good time, don’t cross Argentina off your list just yet. Head south to the country’s Lake District, known for its spectacular hiking, well-established microbreweries, specialty chocolate shops, and traditional Argentine asado restaurants. Stay in San Carlos de Bariloche, a Swiss-style town on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi and its corresponding national park. From Bariloche, neighboring alpine towns are easily reachable by car or bus, and day hikes to nearby volcanoes, lakes, and glaciers are plentiful.

South Africa

Three penguins on a sandy beach, with clear blue water and boulders in background

Boulders Beach, outside of Cape Town, proves that you don’t need icy conditions to see penguins.

Photo by Nicholas DeRenzo

South African cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg offer more than Southern Hemisphere sun—in more recent years, South Africa has become a hub for fine art, fashion, food, and wine. After climbing Table Mountain and exploring the penguin-dotted coast in Cape Town, visit the esteemed Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. If you have time, head to the Cape’s vineyard-strewn mountains to spend a weekend sipping world-class vintages at estates in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. And lodging in wine country doesn’t come much more stylish or immersive than Babylonstoren, a sprawling garden and farm stay that dates back to 1692.

Just a two-hour flight from Cape Town, Johannesburg also warrants a visit. What the inland city lacks in the beach department, it makes up for with its frenetic energy and cosmopolitan culture. During the day, soak up Joburg’s fashion scene in Newtown, a suburb located just over the city’s iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge. Then hit up the markets in Braamfontein and Maboneng, where the sounds of DJs playing Afrobeats from nearby rooftops set the background to your shopping experience. Any visit to Cape Town or Johannesburg should also include a guided township tour to learn more about apartheid and its lasting impact.

A skyline with a tall tower viewed from the edge of a green dormant volcano

Take in Auckland’s skyline from Maungawhau/Mount Eden, a volcanic cone within the city limits.

Photo by Henry Mcintosh/Unplash

New Zealand

If you love adventure sports, stunning natural beauty, and world-class wine, New Zealand is the summer escape for you. On the North Island, explore craggy coves and cliffside beaches along the Coromandel Peninsula, located just across the gulf from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. (Waiheke Island, which produces world-class chardonnays and syrahs, is also a short ferry ride from Auckland.) Visit Rotorua’s geothermal landscape—with its boiling mud pools and gushing geysers—to learn more about the country’s Indigenous Maori culture, and head to Tongariro National Park for an epic hike in Lord of the Rings territory.

In December 2023, United Airlines expanded its Pacific service with the first nonstop flight between the United States (San Francisco) and Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. Now it’ll be easier than ever to enjoy the otherworldly landscape of fjords, snow-capped peaks, rain forests, and alpine lakes. The best way to tackle the terrain is via one of the country’s epic long-distance hiking trails known as the Great Walks. The rugged Milford Track is famed for its waterfalls and fjords, and the newer Paparoa Track, a 34-mile hut-to-hut hiking route, traverses verdant forests in Paparoa National Park on the island’s western coast. After your adventures, treat yourself to a winetasting trip on the South Island’s northern tip in Marlborough. This region is famous for its sauvignon blanc—and what’s better than a cold glass of crisp white wine on a hot summer night?

Flamingos taking off from the surface of a body of water, with blurry grasslands in the background.

During Botswana’s rainy season, the Makgadikgadi Pan practically turns pink with the arrival of thousands of flamingos.

Courtesy of Natural Selection


In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, January and February aren’t ideal for safaris. The summer rainy season means the flora gets lush and overgrown—great for a gazelle trying to escape a lion’s gaze, not so great for spotting wildlife.

One of the few exceptions is Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, the largest salt flats in the world and the remains of an ancient lake that was bigger than Switzerland. In the dry season, the pans are flat, white, vast, and practically lunar, but when the rains start in November, the landscape shifts almost overnight, turning into a vibrant grassland. Flamingos flock here by the thousands to feed on the brine shrimp that have been trapped in the dry salt like pre-watered Sea-Monkeys, and zebras and wildebeest pass through as part of Africa’s second-largest mammal migration.

Natural Selection runs a series of safari camps in these parts, including the laid-back Camp Kalahari, the family-friendly Meno a Kwena, and the impeccably styled, tented Jack’s Camp, which combines a 1940s campaign style with an impressive new eco-friendly ethos; tent poles, for instance, are made from trees that have been naturally felled by elephants, and the whole camp runs on solar.


If you’re really craving the summer heat, you can dive headfirst into Rio de Janeiro—which, appropriately, is named for the month of January. The weather is toasty, with average highs in the upper 80s and very high humidity, but that means it’s the perfect excuse to spend all your time on the beach, embracing the city’s raucous waterfront party vibes. (Unsurprisingly, the sand is a popular spot to ring in the New Year.) Each beach in the city has its own character: quiet Praia Vermelha for calm waters and a hiking trail along the rocky shore in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain; upscale Ipanema for volleyball and soccer in the sand; Copacabana for caipirinhas and people-watching along the famed mosaic promenade; and 11-mile-long Barra da Tijuca for water-based adventures like surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing.

Of course, the city really comes alive in February, when Carnival celebrations draw millions of visitors to see the spectacle of parades and colorful costumes, all set to a pulsing samba beat. The best seat in the house is in the city’s Sambadrome, a 2,300-foot-long stadium that can accommodate about 90,000 people.

Aerial view of historic hospital (now hotel) with a plant-covered tower behind it surrounded by dozens of skyscrapers

The new Rosewood São Paulo comprises a historic maternity hospital and a new tower by Jean Nouvel that’s covered in a vertical garden.

Courtesy of Rosewood

Art and design lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to São Paulo, which is brimming with cultural institutions like the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and MASP, the São Paulo Museum of Art. The latter is set to expand its footprint dramatically in 2024 with a 14-story annex, but in the meantime, it is currently playing host to an exhibit called “Indigenous Histories” (through February 25) that spans native cultures in North and South America, Oceania, and Scandinavia.

The city’s most in-demand new stay is the Rosewood São Paulo, which opened in 2022. The hotel occupies an old-meets-new building that combines a historic maternity hospital and a new plant-covered tower by Jean Nouvel inspired by the surrounding Atlantic forest. It’s already one of the hottest hotels on the continent.

This article was originally published in 2019; it was updated on December 6, 2023, with current information.

Nicholas DeRenzo is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Brooklyn. A graduate of NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism program, he worked as an editor at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel and, most recently, as executive editor at Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset, Wine Enthusiast, and more.
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