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Carbon emissions apart, most of us try to make our travel worthwhile, so here are some suggestions for (northern hemisphere) winter and shoulder-season destinations where you might find some warmer weather and sunshine. We have guidebooks which cover most of the popular autumn, winter and spring destinations.
As a general rule, the best time of year to go to southern Europe tends to be the spring, generally from mid February through to May, before the summer heat. Early autumn (September and October) is also generally recommended, (except the Alps, where mountain huts are closed and passes start to accumulate snow).
Walking on islands such as Madeira, Mallorca, Malta, Menorca and the Canary islands, for which we now have separate guides for La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and Tenerife; Sicily and Sardinia. You can also consider Western Crete, and the High Mountains of Crete.
In mainland France, early autumn and spring walking is great in the Cathar Region and the Languedoc, while in Spain and Portugal, try the Algarve, or Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya, the Mountains of Nerja or one of the Northern Caminos, which can be walked throughout the year. You can try tackling The GR7 in Andalucia as a series of day walks, but it's best done as a trek in spring as facilities are limited by late autumn. Italy has some great destinations for autumn and spring walking. The Amalfi Coast offers year-round walking, although April-May are best, while the Italian Lakes, Sibillini and Abruzzo are best in spring (March-May). If you fancy snowshoeing or ski-touring, we've been told that the Sibillini is great in winter.
In Germany, one of the best times of year to go Hiking and Biking in the Black Forest is in October, with the full glory of the autumn tree colours.
Trekkers can enjoy various options, Trekking through Mallorca, or the GR130 and GR131 in the Canary Islands which are outlined in the individual books.
In December and January, the only areas that are likely to be suitable for walkers are Madeira, the Algarve, the Amalfi coast and Southern Catalunya. Otherwise go snowshoeing and ski-touring!
Climbers and mountaineers will enjoy Wadi Rum in Jordan, best in October/November, and in April/May. The High Atlas mountains, climbing in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas and Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas are best between January and April.
Himalayas – October and November (also March-May)
Patagonia – December to April, best in February and March
Kilimanjaro – January to March (also July to September)
Drakensburg – November-December best for flowers and birdlife, otherwise April, May and September.
Aconcagua – December to February