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Bob Glazier Content Writer 5 months ago

10 Long Stays to Escape the North American Winter

  • Casco Viejo

Nothing beats a vacation while escaping from our winter for a period of time. Many places in the world offer us not only warmer weather but also an opportunity to enjoy a foreign destination.

The following long stay suggestions have been carefully selected by Goway. You can usually take advantage of better than usual prices, the longer you are away – three weeks, one, two, three months. The choice is yours.

1. Australia

While North Americans are putting up with winter, it is summer in Australia where annually in Queensland (the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast), there are well over 200 days of sunshine. That’s a good start for an Australian vacation.

The Sunshine Coast 

Hinterland Hiking Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is located 100 kilometres/62 miles north of Brisbane so very easy to get to.  A major attraction is the long sandy beaches which simply invite you to swim, relax, soak up the sun and, in between, enjoy some local attractions and activities. These include snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming with humpback whales, go horseback riding, visit the interesting Air Museum, hang out at the colourful outdoor Eumundi Markets, spend time at the excellent Australia Zoo, visit Noosa National Park with its spectacular scenery and views and go hiking in the scenic Glass Mountains National Park with its ancient volcanic peaks.

The Gold Coast

Gold Coast, Australia

The Gold Coast is located 95 kilometres/60 miles to the south of Brisbane, and again, conveniently handy. The sandy coastline stretches for almost 60 kilometres/48 miles and is very popular with visitors wanting to enjoy a beach vacation, surf and partake in various other water sports. But that’s certainly not all. The amount of available activities is almost endless. There are theme parks for the family, whale watching, cruises, excellent shopping, open-air markets and a lively nightlife. Further afield, you can visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Lamington National Park offering great walks through lush rainforest and by spectacular waterfalls and Springbrook National Park with similar attractions. 

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2. New Zealand

Bay of Plenty, Mount Maunganui

Goway offers the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island as a great spot for a long stay New Zealand vacation. This is one of the sunniest regions in the country as well as a very scenic one and it is never overly hot. Accommodation is in Mount Maunganui, a large seaport which also has excellent beaches. Apart from swimming and watersports such as surfing, kayaking, white-water rafting, you can go skydiving, horseback riding, play golf, visit local museums and botanical gardens or simply relax at one of the numerous cafes on the beachfront or go shopping. The many excellent local restaurants specialize in seafood. For additional activities, you can go hiking in the mountains or have a day out to Rotorua with its thermal springs and geysers which is less than one hour away by road. You can take trips to other nearby beach resorts. The possibilities of filling your time here are endless. 

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3. Cook Islands

The Cook Islands lie approximately between New Zealand and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean and are made up of a total of 15 islands. With a tropical climate all-year-round, this destination is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and inland has lush scenery consisting of volcanic peaks and dense woodland. You will also feel at home with friendly people with their colourful Polynesian culture. Accommodation is on the main island of Rarotonga which is only 32 kilometres/ 20 miles in circumference so very accessible.   Activities in which you can indulge include swimming, cycling, surfing, taking bush walks and visit local churches. You can catch an ‘island night”, an evening of local culture which includes dancing, music and enjoying local food. On occasion, you might be lucky and find a local festival on your Cook Islands vacation.  You can take a short plane ride to the less populated island, Aitutaki, a veritable tropical island paradise with good beaches, a large lagoon and coral reefs. The Cook Islands is a wonderful destination in which to escape winter. 


4. Spain

The Costa del Sol literally translates as the Sun Coast. Hot in the summer but warm in the winter means ideal pleasant weather for a long stay. Benalmadena is a resort known for its lovely beaches and an active nightlife. Apart from the usual beach activities, you can take a cable car up to the top of the Calamorro Mountain and experience outstanding panoramic scenic views of the Costa del Sol, visit Tivoli World, a theme park, spend time in the quaint authentic Spanish village of Benalmadena Pueblo, visit the Colomares Castle, dedicated to the explorer, Christopher Columbus, get up close to 1500 exotic butterflies at the Butterfly Park and go to the local aquarium. Benalmadena is roughly 12 kilometres/7 miles from Malaga where you can fill your time adequately with visits to the historic old quarter, the Alcazaba Fortress, the Picasso Museum and one of the several beautiful parks. Further afield, you can have a day out to Seville in Andalusia, the quaint historic and charming town in the mountains, Ronda and also travel to other Costa del Sol resorts such as upscale Marbella. You should never be bored in Benalmadena.

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5. Portugal

The Algarve region on the Mediterranean Sea in the south of Portugal is Portugal’s answer to the Costa del Sol in Spain? Yes, in some respects such as mild weather and beautiful beaches. But Portugal has its own characteristics both scenically and culturally.  The region has outstanding coastal scenery wild in places with rugged cliffs interspersed with safe, sandy beaches. Albufeira, Goway’s choice of resort, is the liveliest of all the Algarve resorts. You can choose from a walk through the old town with its cobblestone streets and Moorish influences or simply stroll along the promenade which is full of restaurants and bars. Locally, you can walk along the stunningly beautiful cliff tops of one of the longest beaches in Portugal, the nearby Praia da Falesia. With good bus services, you can easily enjoy a day away visiting other resorts such as Portimao and Vilamoura or the attractive inland historic town of Silves on Portugal vacations. For golfers, there is no lack of first-class courses available. There are around 50 of them in the Algarve.


6. Malta

Gozo-Azure window on Gozo Island

Malta is one of Europe’s smallest countries, very easy to explore. The weather is consistently warm with lots of sunshine. It used to be a British colony so English is understood everywhere. Accommodations for long stays are in St. Paul’s, a quiet resort located on the north shore of the main island. Once a fishing village, today it caters to visitors wanting a beach vacation including activities. St. Paul’s is only 45 minutes away by frequent bus service from the capital, Valletta, a charming city with lots of character and history. Other places to enjoy for the day are the more glamourous and lively resort of Sliema and historic Mdina with its fortified city within the city. Not very far away from St. Paul’s is the nature reserve, Simar, an oasis for birds and other wildlife. You will not lack for interesting places in which to spend your leisure time on a Malta vacation.

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7. Mexico

Mexico has numerous resorts to choose from. Goway suggests considering the Oaxaca Emerald coast on the Pacific Ocean. The resort of Puerto Escondido is located on a stunning coastline with a 20 kilometre/12-mile stretch of sandy beach. The weather is guaranteed to be sunny.  It is a perfect mix of a fishing village, market town and resort. The Playa Zicatela, a 3.5 kilometre/2 mile-long beach with crashing waves is Mexico’s best-known surfing beach. Other beaches are fine for snorkelling, scuba diving and whale and dolphin watching. The nightlife is lively with a choice of cafes, restaurants and bars. When ready to explore further, you can head to the nearby resort of Huatulco or, if time permits for a stay of a couple of nights or so, head to Oaxaca reached by a longish bus ride with its indigenous flavour seen through its colonial architecture, fine churches and graceful plazas. The Templo de Santo Domingo is the most special of Oaxaca’s churches with a baroque facade and an interior to take your breath away.


8. Costa Rica

Ziplining in Costa Rica

You can choose from two properties, one on each coast. Located on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, Goway’s selected property is close to Jaco Beach, one of the destinations most developed beach resorts catering to everyone from fun lovers to families. Here you can swim, surf, fish, scuba dive and snorkel.  Other activities available are horseback riding, hiking, biking and golfing at an 18-hole course. Great days out can be arranged to the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park situated right on the Pacific Ocean where you can see an array of wildlife and birds as well as enjoy spectacular scenery and to the Monteverde Cloud Forest which is a private nature reserve complete with an orchid garden and a butterfly garden and again, the ability to view several different wildlife species. On the Caribbean Coast, Goway’s chosen property is near Puerto Viejo, a resort which has a reputation for excellent snorkelling and surfing. The activities available are very similar to the one listed for the Pacific Coast. Excursions are available to the Arenal Volcano National Park whose volcano is the most active in the country. The park is a great place for birdwatchers with more than 800 species making it their home. You can take a sky tram ride to enjoy amazing panoramic views. Another nearby attraction is the Tortuguero National Park which can only be reached by boat or plane. Here you can go turtle-watching and enjoy guided jungle walks on a Costa Rica vacation.

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9. Panama

Panama City has a reputation for being the wealthiest city in Central America.  It offers a combination of old and new with UNESCO World Heritage-listed Casco Viejo, the original site of the city with its old colonial houses and narrow cobblestone streets contrasting with the very contemporary aspects of the city.  In the old part is the Casa Reales with its wooden ramparts which is of historical importance and the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion which was built in the early 1600s. A big attraction, naturally, is the Panama Canal that traverses the country from the Pacific to the Caribbean. You can visit the interactive Miraflores Visitors Centre and learn about the history of the canal and stand on a viewing platform to observe the activity of ships travelling from one end to the other. If you just want to relax, there are several good beaches within close proximity to Panama City. There are also two cultural attractions worth visiting – the BioMuseo with its outstanding exhibits about the biodiversity of Panama and the privately-owned modern art museum.  For days out, you can visit the Mount Totumas Cloud Forest, an eco-resort situated in a remote cloud forest and the scenic San Blas Islands (365 of them) 2 hours north of Panama City which can be reached by speedboat from Panama City. 


10. Argentina

Casa Rosada, Argentina

If you are not into beach resorts and prefer a more urban setting for a winter escape, then consider Buenos Aires. Known as the “Paris of South America” because of its sophisticated lifestyles, wide boulevards and colourful and diverse neighbourhoods. You can spend time in the Plaza de Mayo where you will find the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace where Eva Peron (Evita) spoke to the adoring crowds from the balcony and the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral where Pope Francis was in residence. You might enjoy a performance of opera or music at the Teatro Colon, an elaborately-designed opera house both in its interior and outside. If a fan of Eva Peron, head to the Recoleta Cemetery with its splendid mausoleums including the Duarte tomb where she is interred. Exceptional neighbourhoods are La Boca with its Italian immigrants’ influences and street dancers showing off their tango expertise and San Telmo with its Sunday open-air market and plethora of restaurants. You can have a visit to one of the many tango clubs in Buenos Aires where you can both watch performers and also indulge in tango lessons if so inclined.  The final word on Buenos Aires is do try a steak and the excellent Argentinean wines at one of the many restaurants in the city that loves to eat.

Click here to view Argentina Long-Stays

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