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News Travellers choose winter sun over a summer holiday in 2021

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Travellers choose winter sun over a summer holiday in 2021

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure – whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Although the summer is a great time to explore Australia, many travellers are making the change to get winter sun from their holiday by staying in the country.

Normally a popular time to head to the northern hemisphere, travel restrictions enforced because of COVID-19 have changed the way we holiday. Gone are the times when we visit London, New York and Tokyo in a big holiday trip. Now, the Daintree Rainforest, Darwin and Gold Coast are taking over holiday headlines.

Gold Coast - becoming an increasingly popular winter holiday destination
Discover sunshine on the Gold Coast

Please note: Travel restrictions can change at any time and without notice. Stay updated on the latest health and travel restrictions on the Australian Government Department of Health website and Smartraveller.gov.au.

When is the best time to book a holiday?

As a general rule, it’s cheaper to book at least three or four months ahead for a major holiday—it doesn’t matter if you’re visiting Queensland for a winter sun holiday or heading to the Northern Territory to see Uluru. However, some people lack the confidence to book so far ahead these days. Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks before a flight departs are also the most expensive. Picking a flexible fare or buying insurance that protects against travel restrictions and lockdowns is a wise thing to do.

In terms of when to choose your flight, May tends to be the month with the lowest fares. If you can book your winter holiday for then, you’re likely to save even more money (and avoid families on school holidays). December is the most expensive time, with both Christmas and the school summer holidays freeing people up for travel. For extra savings, fly on a Monday or Tuesday. Friday is the most popular day to fly, according to our 2020 Travel Trends report, and is also the most expensive.

In the days before COVID, Australians tended to head north during our winter – essentially getting a second summer. Destinations around Asia, Europe and North America were all very popular.

Nowadays, domestic travel is the more likely option. Again, we tend to head north. Queensland and the Northern Territory have the best destinations for winter sun holidays in Australia. From the national parks around Darwin to the city draw of Brisbane, there are plenty of exciting spots to visit up north for winter sunshine.

Kakadu National Park: a popular winter sun holiday destination in NT
Kakadu National Park is worth visiting for winter sun

During summer, domestic holidays for the more southerly areas peak. Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide are all more popular.

There’s still plenty to see and do during the winter, but often it’s outside. These areas boast some of the country’s best museums and art galleries, as well as restaurants and cafes. They’re also big on sporting and gig venues, but as we’ve seen, those might not always be open to capacity.

Some outdoor activities are still available, and even preferable, during winter. Hiking is a lot cooler in the winter, but camping definitely not as cosy. And some places, like the beaches of Newcastle, Sydney and the rest of the east coast of New South Wales are not as inviting thanks to frigid sea temperatures.

What about a real winter holiday in Australia?

Winter in many parts of the world is about snow. And while we don’t get a lot of that in Australia, you can find it if you want it.

The Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park are home to Australia’s tallest mountains and highest snowfall levels. Each year, skiing and snowboarding fanatics descend on the area for their favourite snowy winter activities.

You can also find snow down in Tasmania most winters, but you’re unlikely to get the same level of cover as you do around Perisher and Thredbo.

Head to the Snowy Mountains for a holiday on the slopes
For a white winter, head south

FAQs about winter sun holidays in Australia

Where is the warmest place in Australia in winter?

Generally, you want to head north if you want to find winter sun in Australia. Queensland and the Northern Territory are both warm, but the hottest spots tend to be in northern Western Australia in towns like Exmouth or Broome.

Where in Australia has the best weather all year round?

Surprisingly, CSIRO says that the best climate in Australia is actually in the New South Wales town of Port Macquarie. You’ll find the most comfortable difference between winter and summer temperatures, and an ocean that’s nice to swim in no matter what page in the calendar you’re up to.

What is the coldest month in Australia?

In most years, we experience our coldest month in July. June, however, is the wettest which may put some travel options off the list.

Where’s the coldest place in Australia?

The town that has the coldest average temperature in Australia is Liawenee, Tasmania. This is found on the bank of the impressively named Great Lake, in the centre of the Apple Isle.

When does it snow in Australia?

If you want to go away for a traditional winter holiday in Australia, you’re best to do this between June and September. In most years, you’ll only see snow in the mountainous regions of the country.

Where can I go?

Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

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Travel restrictions are constantly changing. Find out about the latest coronavirus travel restrictions here to make sure you’re aware of where you can and can’t go.

See some of our tips for the best winter sun holiday destinations in Australia. From the Whitsundays and Kakadu to Ningaloo and Augusta.

Just because it’s cold in Tasmania, doesn’t mean you have to strike it off your list. Find out what it’s like in Tassie in their off season.