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A sun-seekers guide to winter in Europe

A sun-seekers guide to winter in Europe

We all know heading south in the latter half of the year is the best guarantee of some hot, winter sun. Having said that, there are still many destinations offering gorgeous winter blue skies, in less than a five-hour flight from the UK! Avoid the long-haul drama with our selection of the best winter holiday destinations in Europe.

Algarve, Portugal

November to February temperature highs: 16-20°C

Flight time from UK: 2 hours 50 minutes

The village Carvoeiro in the Algarve Portugal

Steve Photography/ Shutterstock.com

The Algarve in Portugal is a great place for a winter sun holiday.  A less expensive option with a short flight time, you may not be able to saunter around in your swimwear every day but it’s still significantly better than what’s on offer in the UK!

Although spending your days laying on the beach may not be at the top of your list, there are lots of things to do whilst in the Algarve in winter. With highs between 16-20°C and approximately six hours of daily sunshine, these comfortable winter months can be the ideal time to sight-see.

Take advantage of the quieter surroundings and mild weather and go on a bike tour – it’s one of the best ways to explore this part of the world! Go off the beaten track or wherever the moment takes you and discover hidden gems. Wine tasting is another island must! The Algarve has the perfect climate for wine production, so you’ll find many tasting sessions throughout the region – each providing something a little different.

You need not even worry about closures due to it being low season, many resorts in the Algarve now stay permanently open. Albufeira is one of your livelier resorts with a buzzing atmosphere right the way through the festive period.

Malta

November to February temperature: 15-20°C

Flight time from UK: 3 hours 10 minutes

St. Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral, Valletta, Capital city of Malta

Kavalenkava/ Shutterstock.com

Malta has to be one of the best places for a winter sun holiday! The Mediterranean may not be your immediate go to, but visiting somewhere like Malta can give you so much more than sun, sea and sand.

Right through from November until February, Malta experiences very pleasant temperatures. With highs averaging from 15-20°C, Malta enjoys weather the UK can only dream of. You may experience some cloudy days but Malta’s winter climate is made for staying outdoors!

Low season does mean less tourists, and less tourists means less queues. Knowing this, you may be able to be a little more spontaneous in your planning. History buffs get ready to rejoice in the capital city of Valletta, where you can marvel over its cultured past before venturing on to witness the winter solstice at Mnajdra Temple, another UNESCO site.

Also, if you plan to be away over Christmas, Malta has one of the most amazing displays of Christmas lights with the city of Valletta being the most extravagant!

Crete, Greece

November to February temperature: 15-20°C

Flight time from UK: 3 hours 50 minutes

Trail through Samaria gorge, central part of Crete island, Greece

Banet/ Shutterstock.com

Looking for a warm winter in the Mediterranean? Greece can be one of your best bets for a winter sun holiday with over 350 days of sunshine a year!

The winter months offer you the chance to explore Greece uncrowded. Crete is one of the most popular destinations in Greece to visit over the months of November and February due to its temperatures staying rather mild. It may not be splashing around in the sea weather, but you can certainly flaunt some lighter clothing and make the most of seeing Crete’s stunning urban landscapes.

An idyllic time to rent a car and work your way through the mountain villages, you can drive right into the local spirit, often missed during the busy summer tourist season. – Plus you’ll find a lot of things are actually cheaper at this time of the year!

Benidorm, Mainland Spain

November to February temperature: 17-20°C

Flight time from UK: 2 hours 30 minutes

Benidorm skyscrapers towering over the beach

Nito/ Shutterstock.com

Benidorm is close to home, cheap, cheerful, friendly and it’s certainly one of the best winter holiday destination in Europe – especially if you’re still looking for that glorious sunshine. Boasting a semi-arid climate, winters never get that cold and summers stay wonderfully hot. – Perfect for those still wanting to hit the beach. If you do get the odd day of grey skies, Benidorm is home to fun and thrills at Terra Mitica theme park where you can spend your time riding the longest wooden roller coaster in Europe!

Benidorm doesn’t really have a low season, so for those wanting an energised nightlife, look no further! From a strip of lively bars and beach front locations, all providing their own shows and quirks, you’ll not struggle to stay entertained. The Benidorm Palace is another must-try experience, this well-known cabaret venue is fun anytime of the year.

Canary Islands, Spain

November to February temperature: 21-24°C

Flight time from UK: 4 hours, approximately

Cable cabin car on the top of volcano Teide. Tenerife. Canary Islands

Daniel Jedzura/ Shutterstock.com

The Canary Islands have to be one of the best places for winter sun in Europe. With a mild climate, these islands are always enjoyable to visit. The Canary Islands don’t have a winter as we think of it, temperatures don’t fall much below the mid-teens, so get ready to grab those shorts out from the back of your drawers and enjoy the feeling of heat on your skin once again.

Tenerife and Gran Canaria experience less wind than Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, so if you’re wanting the best island for winter sun, the first two will be your safer options. Relaxing on the beach is still possible over winter on these islands and you can even go dolphin and whale spotting off the coast of Tenerife! It can also be a great time to head to Teide National Park too. Low season has the benefit of less tourism crowds, meaning less wait times and easier access to Teide’s cable cars! – Plus you may even be lucky enough to see the beauty of Mount Teide with a snow topped peak.

Being Spanish islands, The Canaries have some pretty amazing food options and what better time to indulge than when on holiday! It’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself into a destinations culture. Work your way through the local cuisine which takes influence from Spain and Africa. – They say the Sanococho Canario, a salted fish in spicy sauce, is a must sample.

Madeira, Portugal

November to February temperature: 18-21°C

Flight time from UK: 3 hours 50 minutes

Balate Dorin/ Shutterstock.com

Quite the unknown gem within Europe, this Portuguese island is known for its warm, subtropical climate and is favoured by those who seek outdoor adventures!

If you love hiking among beautiful mountain scenery, doing a spot of running or even playing golf, Madeira is a stunning place to do it. The milder temperatures are perfect for outdoor sports and also makes the island very popular for those wishing to get in the waters. Sail, surf, swim or even dolphin watch! There’s something for everyone here.

In low season the beaches are also less crowded, as are restaurants and bars. So don’t worry about having to plan ahead, make bookings or wait too long to do anything. With highs that average between 18-21°C, you can say Madeira is one of the warmest places in Europe in winter. So grab those sunglasses, shorts and SPF and get ready to escape the UK’s icy winter to somewhere much nicer. – Plus if you’re heading to the capital over the festive season, Funchal has some amazing Christmas lights.

Marmaris, Turkey

November to February temperature: 15-21°C

Flight time from UK: 4 hours

jeep safari turkey

Although the weather may not be as blistering as the highs of summer, winter in Marmaris is still wonderfully mild. There may be a slight risk of rain but the weather is more like spring, than winter and perfect for getting out and about to explore your surroundings!

Temperatures can get as high as 21°C, so you may wish to spend those days basking in the winter sun around your hotel pool or down at the beach. For those days which aren’t so warm, there is still so much to see and do. Go horseback riding, take a jeep safari or walk on water at Jesus beach! See the outstanding Carian rock tombs along the Dalyan River and spend your evenings along the bar street of Marmaris.

It may be quieter during these months but that just means less time spent queuing – hurrah! If you’re looking to travel to one of the best winter destinations in Europe. Turkey should definitely be on your list.

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