Travel experts give their picks for great escapes this winter.

Best in Europe

For standout beaches, amazing culture and incredible food, Kiwis should head to the region of Puglia in Italy. Escape the dark and cold to explore some of Italy's most stunning beaches that are less crowded than the tourist-saturated spots of the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre. From Rome, catch a train south to Bari and spend your days discovering new sundrenched spots along the coast and soak up that vitamin D. Last year, Expedia's flight prices to Rome between June and August averaged from $1668.

- Megan Smith, Expedia Travel Expert.
Best in Southeast Asia

If you're looking for a winter escape somewhere off the beaten path and adventure is your bag, put the Philippines island of Cebu on your list. With white sands and jewelled seas, Cebu is also a gateway to explore the Visayan Islands, which are a mecca for divers and the rugged interior is ideal for mountain bike treks. If it's ideal beach vibes you're after, Boracay Island is home to the world-famous White Beach, which has been dropping jaws for decades. Malay also has stunning beaches, minus the crowds. It's the perfect base for exploring nearby Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park, where you'll find soft trekking trails, waterfalls and caves, one of which — the almost 300m-long Pangihan Cave — served as a hideout for locals during World War II.


- Sue Matson, Flight Centre NZ general manager retail
Best in Cruise

For many, Tahiti has been a wishlist destination, but how do you choose which resort or overwater bungalow? There is a solution — Windstar Cruises. Aptly named, their seven-night Dreams of Tahiti cruise sails from Papeete through the French Polynesian islands. You'll discover picture-perfect colours and the perfect blend of European chic and Polynesian charm. From $4699 per person share double, the package includes return economy airfares from Auckland, a seven-night cruise including all meals and some activities, three nights in Papeete and all transfers in Tahiti. This is based on a sailing date of July 27, however other cruise dates are available.

- Leanne Schou, Product Manager, Our Cruise
Best in the Pacific Islands

Arrive in Rarotonga and you will find yourself embraced by fabulous warm weather and the fresh scent of frangipani and the ocean. The island takes only an hour to drive around and is surrounded by pristine beaches with beautiful white sand and warm water. After exploring, lounging on an amazing beach and taking a refreshing dip in the sea, you may be ready to quench your thirst. There are some great beach bars where you can sit with your feet in the sand and watch a stunning sunset. After working up an appetite, take your pick from the plethora of wonderful restaurants serving mouth-watering cuisine.

- Madeleine Fay, Marketing Executive, helloworld