Winter warmers

Add some heat to your holiday with these seasonal sizzlers, says Jill Starley-GraingerTAKE THE PLUNGEBeneath Iceland’s chilly exterior lies a seething core. Blue Lagoon, 40 minutes from Reykjavik, is an open-air, natural geothermal pool. A dip in it will warm you up in no time. Originating 2,000 metres below the surface, by the time the water reaches the top, it’s packed with skin-soothing mineral salts, silica and algae.Tip: Escape the masses in the main pool by taking a cosy steam bath in a lava cave.Winter weather: 40˚C in the lagoon In ReykjavikFind out more: www.bluelagoon.comCHILLI OUTIf you can stand the heat, get into the kitchen in Mexico, where the weather is warm and the peppers are hot. Mexicans love them so much that peppers can be found in almost everything, from breakfast eggs to bedtime hot chocolate. Flavourful jalapeños are fiery enough for most people, but if you want to really break out in a sweat, add a little habañero to your huevos rancheros (Mexican eggs). Mexico’s gastronomic capital is the beautiful baroque city of Puebla, two hours from Mexico City.Tip: If you bite into a too-hot chilli, wash it down with a milk-based drink. Lactose binds with the fiery part to help get the heat out of your mouth.BLAZE OF GLORYGet fired up by venturing to an active volcano. Japan is literally chocka with them, including dormant Mount Fuji near Tokyo. To really hot things up, visit Sakurajima Volcano in Japan’s southern district of Kyushu. It’s so incendiary that there’s a permanent 3km no-go zone around the volcano, yet 500,000 brave souls live just 10km away in lush Kagoshima City. The volcano is permanently active, with lava bursting from its cone and flowing down its sides, making it an impressive sight all year round.Tip: Stay warm at night by trying one of the islands 120 brands of shochu – a Japanese distilled spirit that will keep you warm on the coldest of nights.Winter weather: 13-17˚C around the volcano, XX˚C inside itFind out more: – click on ‘Foreigner’ to access the English-language websiteA GLASS ACTFor tropical heat, you don’t need to fly to the equator. Just pop over to Cornwall’s Eden Project, where the insulated tropical domes guarantee year-round balmy weather. The coziest is the Humid Tropics Biome, with temperatures ranging from a pleasant 18C to a sweltering 35˚C. The largest conservatory in the world, it features a huge variety of flowers, ferns and trees as well as tropical crops like rice and sugar. Stay warm in the evenings by nabbing a place by the fire at the pub.Tip: Other UK hothouses can be found at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and Edinburgh and the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.Winter weather: 13-17˚C around the volcano, XX˚C inside itFind out more: www.edenproject.comFISHY BUSINESSGet your flippers ready for world-class winter snorkelling, right here in Europe. Zip down to Gozo, near Malta, where the water around the island is warm enough to swim in all year round. Not only is the temperature right, but visibility is fantastic down to around 30 metres, and often up to 60 metres, making it a favourite with scuba divers. If you want to learn, there are plenty of professional schools on the island to teach you. With its welcoming locals, varied geography and warm waters, it won’t be long before the masses arrive, so go to Gozo before everybody else does.Tip: Something fabulous to come here.Winter weather: Mid-teens, and the water is just a couple of degrees cooler.Find out more: For water temperature information around the world, check out www.bigblueplanet.comJUST DESERTSWant sand and celebrities to go with your sun? Movie buffs shouldn’t miss a visit to the Tabernas Desert, just north of Almería, Spain, where films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly were filmed. Theme parks have sprung up recounting the desert’s Hollywood glory days, but if you leave the park behind, you’ll have the sun and sand to yourself. Other Spanish semi-deserts can be found near Pamplona, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerta Ventura.Tip: Desert temperatures tend towards extremes, so don’t get caught in the cold. Leave well before sundown.Winter weather: 13-17˚C in the daytime, down to -5˚C in the eveningFind out more: