Recent frigid temperatures, relentless snowfall, and icy roads are enough to make any Canadian want to head south until April. But many of us in the Great White North stay put, enduring the winter blues through most trying months, because the thought of heading south for any amount of time sounds way too expensive.
However, traveling south of the border until spring may not be as expensive as many Canadians think. The travel experts at FlightNetwork.com recently created a comprehensive list of the Top Winter Sun Destinations for 2017, outlining the most impressive Central American, South American, and Caribbean destinations where your Canadian dollar can go up to 43-percent farther this winter. These four must-visit destinations are the ones that sit at the top of their list in terms of affordability, desirable winter weather, cultural experiences, and natural beauty.
Cancun, Mexico -- 36.25% Cheaper Than Last Year
Photo credit: f. ermert
Cancun is one of the most affordable warm weather destinations south of the border, and a strong Canadian dollar is making trips there an even better value this year. Located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is famous for its sugar-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and bustling restaurant and nightlife scenes. Many adventurous travelers choose Cancun as their home base for exploring ancient Mayan ruins and discovering nearby islands with secluded beaches and more authentic Mexican atmospheres. On average, you'll save $558 per person by visiting Cancun this year instead of last.
Cartagena, Colombia -- 30% Cheaper Than Last Year
Travelers seeking more culture with their warm weather escape will love the historic Colombian city of Cartagena. A UNESCO World Heritage-protected fortress surrounds the city, but that doesn't mean you won't be welcomed by the locals with open arms. There's no better place to explore some of South America's top museums (don't miss the Afro Caribbean Museum or the Gold Museum) while forgetting about winter in the comfort of shorts and a t-shirt. The nearby Rosario Islands, Tierra Bomba, Playa Blanca, and several other beaches ensure you have plenty of time on the sand during your winter escape too. Best of all, you'll save an average of $770 per person by visiting Cartagena this year instead of last.
Leon, Nicaragua -- 21.44% Cheaper Than Last Year
Photo credit: Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner
Nicaragua is one of Central America's top up-and-coming travel destinations, and Leon is the country's historic and culture-filled former capital. As the second-largest city in Nicaragua, Leon boasts architectural grandeur, impressive art collections, and cosmopolitan restaurants (try Pan y Paz and Cafe La Nicaraguita) that rival those in capital cities across the globe. Thrill-seeking visitors can venture to the nearby Cerro Negro Volcano and slide down at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, while others can climb to the top of the Leon Cathedral or simply spend days shopping for souvenirs on the historic streets. Just one Canadian dollar equals 22.17 Nicaraguan cordoba, so you'll have plenty to spend on dining, shopping, and museum hopping.
Tulum, Mexico -- 26% Cheaper Than Last Year
Tulum is one of those beach destinations that will steal your heart and hold it forever. Palm trees bend from the edges of white sand beaches over the turquoise Caribbean Sea, creating scenery you'd only expect to see in a magazine. But you don't have to daydream about Tulum, because you'll average a savings of $359 per person when visiting this year as opposed to last. There's arguably no better place in Mexico to lounge under palm trees, explore ancient Mayan ruins, and enjoy laid-back Bohemian vibes in practically perfect 28-degree weather.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your winter sun getaway and stop shoveling -- at least for a little while.
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