Counting craggy coastal cliffs, desert scrubland, impressive peaks and fertile farmland within its patchwork of diverse landscapes, the Dominican Republic takes up half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Last minute holidays here often come in the luxury all-inclusive variety. If that's your bag, it's one of the best places in the world for lying horizontal on palm-fringed stretches of sand. Step away from the tourist hotspots, however, to discover a wealth of fascinating cultural sights, architecture and natural beauty. In a country dancing to its own merengue rhythm, you'll find Victorian architecture in Puerto Plata, a kitesurfing hotspot at Cabarete, and humpback whales off the coast at Samana. The Zona Colonial in the capital, Santo Domingo, provides yet more photogenic architecture in the form of impressive forts, churches and homes. Venture off into the wilderness in search of waterfalls, lush surroundings and the tallest peak in the Antilles, Pico Duarte.
Offering a treasure trove of exciting travel destinations and ancient attractions to its visitors, Egypt provides a range of options for last minute holidays. The Red Sea Riviera, featuring resorts like Sharm El-Sheikh, showcases some of the world's most impressive underwater sights. Whether you prefer snorkelling or scuba diving, it's prime territory for spotting a rainbow of tropical sea life. Beyond the resort-style holidays, it's easy to find good deals on flights and hotels and work your own way around the country's fascinating collection of ancient artefacts. Cairo's Egyptian Museum houses coins, papyrus and mummies, featuring over 120,000 relics under one roof. Reminiscent of a set in a fantasy movie, the tomb of King Tut is open for viewing at the Valley of the Kings. Understand the importance of the Nile, Egypt's lifeblood, on a river cruise, but not before you've witnessed the main event: the wondrous Pyramids at Giza.
Another destination, which should feature high on your list of last minute holidays for escaping the winter, is Turkey. The skyline of stunning Istanbul is punctuated by minarets and Byzantine buildings, with water taxis on the Bosphorus providing the perfect way to circumnavigate the city. Head for the hillside village of Islamlar if you prefer a more sedate pace of living. Here you'll find peaceful villas surrounded by olive groves and fruit trees. For a fresh fish feast served against a backdrop of golden sandy beaches, make your way to the island of Bozcaada, which has managed to preserve its original architecture, unlike much of the touristy coast. Cappadocia's otherworldly rock formations are worthy of the trip there alone. Walk in the shoes of a troglodyte for a few days staying in one of the beautiful boutique hotels carved out of the caves.
(Photo by Roozbeh Rokni via Flickr)