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December 2017

Where to Travel this Winter for a Cultural Getaway

Get warm and discover unique destinations this winter

Many cities around the world are already facing rain and snow and general coldness. If you’re in one of these places, you’ve no doubt daydreamed about a nice, warm getaway. But escaping to a tropical paradise doesn’t have to be solely for vacation; we can discover many unique cultures through our travels.

Despite all the talk of the ‘winter wonderland’ that is the holiday season, winter does not officially begin until December 21, 2017, and it continues on until March 20, 2018. Much of this period is also great for travel, if you can afford the time off, as plane ticket costs drop dramatically after New Year’s-related holiday.

So where are some nice places you could consider? Let’s take a look.

Hawaii, USA

Pretty much everyone in the world is familiar with what Hawaii represents: tropical islands, palm trees, hula dancing, and surfing. But when it comes to the specifics, even some Americans don’t have them down straight. Hawaii, while being the 50th state of the United States of America, is a unique travel destination with its own unique language (Hawaiian; Hawaiian Pidgin, a creole language, is also now an official state language) and culture. Yes, they use the U.S. dollar here and, yes, everyone predominantly speaks English, but being as the islands are in the middle of the Pacific, there is an international mix of people from Japan, China, the Philippines, Australia, and beyond.


Curaçao is a country-island located in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. Formerly a Dutch trading port run by the Dutch West India Company, Curaçao remains today a constituent country of the Netherlands. As such, Dutch is one of the official languages of the country, the other two being Papiamento (a Portuguese-based creole language of the Dutch West Indies), and English. This mix of international history makes Curaçao a unique tropical destination. It’s natural beauty makes it ideal for anyone hoping to get some nature too.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, located on the northern coast of Colombia, was founded in 1533 to serve as a major port for the Spanish empire. It was a stronghold against pirates, ideal as the port exported Peruvian silver. Because of the Spanish influence, Cartagena's old quarter is a beautiful walled town reminiscent of those one might find in Spain, and it is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not surprisingly, Spanish is the predominant language of Cartagena.

Tasmania, Australia

An island located in the far south of Australia, Tasmania is about as far a getaway as most people can find. Its people descend from both the Australian aborigines and the British who later arrived in Australia. Being so distant from the rest of the world, Tasmania has its own unique offerings in culture and cuisine. Seafood is a big export from this island, and Tasmanian smoked salmon is a local dish. Perhaps most unique is the flora and fauna of the island; for those looking to discover different animals like the famous Tasmanian devil, they can only look here.


Over 90% of the wildlife of this African island can be found nowhere else on earth but here. Appropriately, eco-tourism is a major draw for visitors of Madagascar. Throughout its history, Madagascar has served as an important trading post for the Europeans, the Arabs, and pirates from all over. In 1883, France colonised the island by force, prompting the first Franco-Hova War. Now independent, French remains a language spoken by many in Madagascar alongside the native Malagasy. The country remains relatively undeveloped, which bodes well for the threatened ecology. Those hoping to see Madagascar’s unique offerings may not have long to do it.

Which is your favorite warm weather destination? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language and culture from around the world!

Picture: (c) Fotolia, Nikolai Sorokin