Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in January? We've selected our pick of destinations for a food lover's break this winter: street food in the winter sun, plant-based inspiration for those taking part in Veganuary, and a curation of health retreats for those wanting to relax with the promise of vibrant, nourishing food. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides, click here for more inspiration, or check out our pick of the best UK culinary escapes for 2022 and Europe's top food trips for 2022. We also have our pick of destinations to visit in February and March.

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Vegan breaks

Whether you’re taking part in Veganuary, a flexitarian or plant-curious, January is a great time to explore the new crop of vegan hotels popping up in the UK and Europe.

Saorsa 1875, the UK’s first 100% vegan boutique hotel in the Scottish Highlands’ pretty Pitlochry, is a showcase for stylish plant-based living. Everything from five-course dinners served around a communal table to cocktails, toiletries and green energy is Vegan Society certified.

At meat-free hotel Almodóvar in Berlin, you’ll find everything from vegan curried sausage to plant-based charcuterie at the in-house deli. Nearby spots include Thai-style vegan ice cream parlour, Delabuu, and vegan kebabs at Vöner. Or venture further for plant-based Korean food at Feel Seoul Good followed by Brammibal’s vegan donuts.

Southern Sweden’s capital city, Malmö, is a forward-thinking foodie hub that capitalises on its location between culinary trend-setting Copenhagen and Skåne’s fruitful larder. Not least when it comes to vegan dining, one trend that has really taken off in the area around Folkets Park (People’s Park) with a tight-knit community of veg-focussed entrepreneurs, each satisfying a different niche. There are even two food tours specifically catered to vegans in the city (Lotta Ranert’s self-guided MovEat and Linda Dahl’s guided Matkaravan). Join one of them, or follow your own with hummus bowls and plant-based bakes at dedicated vegan brunch spot JORD, colourful plant-based dishes at 100% vegan restaurant and wine bar MINERAL, or a congregation of street food options at rejuvenated Mitt Möllan.

Our trends columnnist, Gurdeep Loyal, has highlighted Ghent in Belgium as a vegan hotspot. Touted as ‘the vegetarian capital of Europe’, the medieval city of Ghent has experienced something of a plant-based revolution in the past five years. Today, there are more than 100 vegetarian and vegan foodie hotspots around the city, which celebrates a Thursday Veggie Day each week and is a pioneer in sustainable food initiatives. Bohemian cafe Le Botaniste (@le_botaniste) serves organic, plant-based food and natural wines – including a Tibetan coconut-peanut curry, red beet caviar and ‘apple volcano’ dessert. The innovative Plant A Pizza (@plant.a.pizza) creates its own homemade cashew mozzarella, celeriac bacon and vegan ’nduja for topping stone-baked Neapolitan bases. And at the inventive restaurant Souvenir (@souvenirrestaurant), chef Vilhjalmur Sigurdarson’s menu champions local, seasonal and sustainably produced ingredients with unexpected combinations in a stylish setting. You can get to Ghent by train from St Pancras International, making it a great green getaway.

Vegan dish of the day at Saltimporten

Caribbean fish fry

The tropical climate of the Caribbean makes this cluster of islands with white sand beaches a go-to destination for winter sun. Friday night fish fries are where locals and tourists come together to drink rum, hang out, play dominos and eat fresh fish to a back drop of live music in the open air. Fresh fish, such as mahi-mahi, tuna and swordfish, are cooked in front of you over flames. In the Bahamas, Nassau’s colourful Arawak Cay harbour hosts a fish fry every night. Taste unique dishes that vary between each of the 700 islands of the Bahamas, such as conch salads and fritters, guava duffs and ‘cracked’ battered fish washed down with sky juice or local beers.

Chef David Carter, who grew up in Barbados, says: “The best is at Oistins – a local fish market by day, fish-fry/grill by night. It has fast become one of the islands most famed hot spots, especially on a Friday night. Locals and tourist alike converge in masses to take in the atmosphere. Expect big open grills, picnic trestle tables, open-air market vibes and hearty portions. Beyond the food, there are street hawkers selling local crafts, steel-pan drums and karaoke. Mahi-mahi, known locally as dolphin, is a local meaty white fish. It takes to the grills particularly well. Undeniably, my death row meal.”

Oistins fish market

Tobago's famous curried crab

In Tobago, get your seafood fix from the Store Bay Ladies, who have been selling their homemade crab and dumplings at the idyllic turquoise bay of the same name for decades. Head to Miss Trim’s – set up by 86-year-old Miss Trim who recently passed the business on to her eighth child, Meisha – to enjoy blue-black crab in a blend of coconut milk and spices. Other iconic spots for curried crab include Scarborough’s Blue Crab, run by charming 80-year-old Alison and her husband Kenneth. Further up the north coast lies Castara, a small Caribbean beach town with a laid-back local culture. Marguarite’s, set back from the beach, is well known for its own take on curry crab and dumplings. Stay at Castara Retreats, a collection of treehouses nestled into lush hillside rainforest, with breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Caribbean Sea, best enjoyed from hammocks strung across large private decks. You can try the island’s fresh ingredients in dishes such as grilled red snapper with homemade salsa, Jamaican jerk fish, and passion fruit mojitos at on-site, open-air restaurant, Caribbean Kitchen. A mooch down the hill leads you to Cheno’s Coffee Shop, a no-frills café that serves as a local meeting point over breakfasts of coconut bake, salt fish and tropical star fruit salads.

Crab and dumplings at Store Bay, Tobago

Health retreats

Start the new year with a mood-boosting holiday to return nourished, rested and rejuvenated for the months ahead.

Sri Lanka’s south coast boasts plenty of sunshine in January, without much rain. Tropical fruits such as electrolyte-rich coconuts, pineapples and papaya are in abundance all year round, as are vibrant vegetarian curries that include plenty of turmeric and nourishing veg. Peace-seeking visitors seek solace at traditional village Ulpotha, cocooned by mountains and paddy fields. You can stay in a hut on the 22-acre organic farm and spend time swimming in lakes dotted with water lilies or practicing yoga and tai chi. Stomachs are nourished as well as souls, with fresh fruit juices to drink (watermelon, custard apple, hibiscus flower) and homemade organic curries and sambals to eat.

Palmaïa, The House of AïA, offers a secluded sanctuary in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. With oceanfront suites, a jungle spa and five gourmet plant-based restaurants on-site, Palmaïa is truly a place to rest and rejuvenate in style. The all inclusive resort offers a daily schedule of activities from guided meditation to yoga, sound baths, full body workouts and even beachfront art classes. The approach to wellness is very personal so guests can decide how deeply they want to immerse themselves on any given day, whether that's reading a book by the water and grabbing a fresh vegan taco or waking up early for a sunrise yoga session, you get to decide.

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For a retreat closer to home, Drift, on the west coast of Jersey, immerses guests in morning yoga sessions, brisk sea swims, surf lessons and evening beach walks (during which you can forage for wild dinner ingredients). Food is all healthy fuel – mainly vegetarian, organic and raw – and a day’s menu might include chai coconut porridge, raw almond bread with beetroot carpaccio, tiger nut muffins at snack time and chickpea farinata with a local seaweed salad for dinner.

King coconuts, a variety native to Sri Lanka with a yellow orange exterior

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Alex CrossleyDigital Editor

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