New Year's Trip to North Africa, Middle East, Southern Europe?
September 18, 2013 8:24 AM   Subscribe

My extended family is trying to put together a trip to someplace interesting, warm and beach-y, to occur around New Year's. For a variety of complicated reasons related to where people will be traveling from, the Middle East, North Africa and far southern Europe are the most feasible destinations. Where should we consider going?

Southern Spain has been suggested, but I'd like to go somewhere on or off the coast of North Africa. Suggestions in Africa or elsewhere are very much appreciated!
posted by killdevil to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Morocco or Turkey might be nice. Lots of beaches

Another option would be a Cruise.

MSC has a 12 night cruise departing from Durban going to Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. What's nice is you unpack once, and then you get off and explore. It's a combination of fully relaxing and lots of activities, and good for folks of a variety of ages. This departs on Dec 28, so it will be after Chrismas and before New Year's Eve.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:42 AM on September 18, 2013

Sorry, Just saw, NORTHERN Africa.


MSC also has a Cruise from Dubai of the UAE and Oman. The itinerary is Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Khasab (Oman) and back to Dubai.

Another option is a Mediterranian Cruise. I did one of these and it was FANTASTIC! Norweigan (a fun cruiseline for sure) has one that stars in Rome and goes for 12 Days, hitting, Florence, Monte Carlo, Toulon, Barcelona, Valencia, Sardinia, Palermo, and Naples. If you haven't already, take the opportunity when in Naples to see Pompeii!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:53 AM on September 18, 2013

departing from Durban

Durban, South Africa, is 5133 miles south of Tangier, Morocco.

North Africa? How about Morocco + Beach Holidays
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:54 AM on September 18, 2013

Essaouira is really cool and had a big-ass beach. Bonus for any Game of Thrones fans: all of the Astapor exteriors were filmed there. (I believe the giant harpy statue was added digitally.)
posted by theodolite at 8:58 AM on September 18, 2013

It depends what you mean by warm.

It won't be warm enough anywhere in Southern Europe or the Northern coast of Africa to swim comfortably. For example, the daytime highs in somewhere like Marrakesh are just over 18 degrees celsius. So not cold, but not really warm either. Right by the coast at Agadir daytime highs are just over 14 degrees and the same is true over on the Spanish side. In Turkey, if you take a popular resort like Dalaman then temperature highes average 17 degree in December. Pleasant, but not warm as such.

By contrast, if you drop down a bit to, say, Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt then daytime highs are 23 degrees. Below that in places like Kenya the temperatures are warmer but you're also in peak season as holidaymakers from Europe go for summer sun and safaris.

Egypt is cheap at the moment, for obvious reasons. A Red Sea resort will probably be able to offer you a good group booking. I've been to Oman (average 22 degrees around Muscat) and it's more expensive than Egypt but pretty nice. The beaches aren't much to write home about though, but there are other things to do like explore the forts and go to a wadi.

If you're looking for somewhere a bit further off the beaten track then you could consider West Africa but getting there can be hard. I'm thinking about places like Gabon, Sao Tome, Cape Verde, Ghana - all of which are lovely, have some amazing beaches. Sierra Leone is starting to attract attention as a holiday spot. For much of West Africa, with the exception of Ghana and Cape Verde, only the French really know it as a tourist spot.

In short: don't go to Southern Europe. It will likely be cold. Northern Africa will not be much warmer by the coast. If you want ease try Oman, Dubai or a Red Sea resort. If you're prepared to travel a bit more and take a risk then I'd explore West Africa, where costs once you get there should not be as high as popular Southern/Eastern African destinations like South Africa or Kenya.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:00 AM on September 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: MuffinMan: we'd absolutely consider going a bit farther south to find someplace warm. We spent last year's winter holiday in Finland and need to compensate a bit for that.
posted by killdevil at 9:02 AM on September 18, 2013

What do you mean by "far Southern Europe" exactly? I did New Year's in Madeira last year, and it was fun and quite warm. They do one of the world's largest fireworks displays over New Year's. By day the temperature is about 20C, and at night aroud 15C. Last year it rained once during our two week stay. Because of how many people visit for the holiday, and how many cruise ships pass through, everything is open. Christmas lights are still up everywhere.

Besides the New Year's celebration itself, Madeira is a lot of fun to visit. The old town is good for walking, and has beautiful street art. The food is unforgettable (in my opinion, better than mainland Portugal). There are also a number of smaller villages you can visit for cultural points like traditional architecture and quaintness, as well as many gorgeous natural viewpoints.

The main downside I found to the place is that unless you want to stay in central Funchal, you are better off with a car, and driving there is insane. Not in the southern-Europe type of insane, but more in the crazy-dense-living-space combined with crazy-landscape steep hills and tight curves.
posted by whatzit at 9:09 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

West Africa will be plenty warm and you'd need to be unlucky not to get consistently good weather in Oman or Dubai.

If you want something for everyone then the Egypt or the Middle East is the best choice. The hotels are perfectly set up for that.

After that, Cape Verde is the more developed, socially, of the West African countries. Sao Tome and Sierra Leone both boast the beach/rainforest attractions but you take more of a risk in terms of quality of service or if people don't like seafood or want international food. Ghana has nice beaches but on the plus/minus side has been in mass tourism longer.

OK, so another one off the beaten track: Lake Malawi. Beautiful place. Brilliant for a week. You'd probably need to fly via Joburg. It is rainy season, but it won't rain all day.

I'd have recommended Madeira but you do take your chances with the weather. December is the start of its winter. If you're really lucky you get 25 degrees all day. If you're unlucky you can get a week of cold weather and rain - the weather starts to turn colder in November. You can swim in the sea at that time of year but it's a bit nippy.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:20 AM on September 18, 2013

Canary Islands. It's as warm as you can get in that part of the year while still being Europe. Fuerteventura if beaches and ocean is all you need, if you need a bit more action other islands might be better.
posted by dhoe at 9:30 AM on September 18, 2013

A Red Sea cruise could be an option.
posted by goo at 11:19 AM on September 18, 2013

Try Sharm El Sheikh or other sites on the Red Sea Riviera.
posted by ubiquity at 12:34 PM on September 18, 2013

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