When you haven’t seen the sun in months, and the weather looks as though it’s shaping up to bring nothing but an endless stretch of grey clouds, cold wind and freezing rain, it’s inevitable you’ll start wishing summer would hurry up and arrive. But, there are plenty of places around the world enjoying warmer climes… Beautiful beaches, exotic scents and hot temperatures are all out there waiting for you, and all it requires is that you book yourself a holiday and jump on a plane. So, from European locations that demand a bottle of suncream to far flung destinations with twinkling seas, here’s where to go for winter sun.
The Canary Islands
If you’re wondering where to go for winter sun but don’t want a long haul flight, the Canary Islands are your best bet. In fact, they’re the most reliable winter sun in Europe, with temperatures averaging just a nip below 20℃. That’s because of their location just off the north west coast of Africa, ensuring the beaches remain strewn with sun loungers and beach towels. Consider Lanzarote for its spectacular volcanic scenery, Tenerife for its year-round water parks, and Gran Canaria for its wide sandy beaches and family-friendly Palmitos Park. But whichever island you choose, rest assured that you’re guaranteed pleasant temperatures and evenings that are warm enough for a sunset stroll along the beach.
Despite the fact that the middle of winter is the coldest time in Mexico, high temperatures nonetheless hover just a little below 30℃, with little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. The tropical resort enjoys its dry season at this time of year too, which draws sunseekers from all over the world to its Caribbean-edged coast with white sandy beaches and turquoise seas. Cancun is a great destination to consider if you fancy the hustle and bustle of a city with lively restaurants, nightclubs and bars, balanced with the awe and wonder of the ancient Mayan sites – the perfect sightseeing spot for culture vultures. Don’t miss the chance to go scuba diving to the underwater museum ‘Museo Subacuático de Arte’ if you head to the east coast.
America may not be your first thought if you’re wondering where to go for winter sun, but there’s one destination in particular that’s lovely and warm in winter – Florida. The ‘Sunshine State’ rarely drops below 20℃ at this time of year, and the sea stays nice and warm too – meaning you can bank on an afternoon swim if you’ve enjoyed a day relaxing on the beach. But, there’s plenty to do off the beach too, with Universal Studios Orlando to Walt Disney World offering entertainment for children and adults alike. If you want to head to Key West Florida in January you’ll get to enjoy the Florida Keys Seafood Festival, dining on lobster bisque, crab claws and other delicious seafood dishes. And if you’d prefer to head to the Everglades, now’s the perfect time to go: humidity is low, the biting bugs are mercifully nowhere to be seen, and the wildlife viewing tends to be at its best.
For some gentle winter sun without the long haul flight, consider Morocco. This North African destination is by no means the warmest place on this list of places to consider, but it’s certainly a lot warmer than it is back home – especially if you visit the south or middle of the country away from the North Atlantic coast. While it’s cold at night time, daytime temperatures tend to reach anywhere from 14℃ to 20℃, meaning you can comfortably explore the architecture, cafes and markets of vibrant places such as Marrakech without needing to wrap up. Pay a visit to the Jemaa el-Fna square for snake charmers, belly dancers and stalls brimming with gifts, or simply watch the world go by from a comfortable seat in a traditional cafe – it’s an unforgettable place and unlike anywhere you’re likely to have seen in Europe.
If you’re wondering where to go for winter sun but want more than a beach to keep you entertained, Dubai should be top of your list. This glistening location in United Arab Emirates is filled with towering skyscrapers, world-class shopping malls and marine-animal parks, and to crown it all, you can expect sea and land temperatures of anywhere from 20℃ to 25℃. It’s not the least bit humid and feels every bit as lovely as a warm summer’s day in England, but with more activities on offer. In fact, it’s arguably the best time of year to visit, considering that this desert destination is often sweltering later on in the year. So, what to do? Well, in addition to sunbathing beside the pool, you can dine in the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest skyscraper), take a boat ride along the Dubai Creek, see the Palm Jumeirah or experience the thrill of the IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor amusement park, just for starters.
East Asia is certainly somewhere to consider if you’re wondering where to go for winter sun. In fact, Thailand offers some of the most dependable warm weather for sun seekers, with a change of pace and culture that feels exotic, interesting and totally unlike anything back home. Temperatures in some parts of the country drop as low as 20℃ during January, but maximum temperatures often reach a balmy 28℃, so you’ll certainly be able to bring your holiday wardrobe along with you. Consider exploring the temples of Chiang Mao, the beaches of Koh Lanta, or the islands of Koh Phi Phi and Krabi, and get ready to embrace the Buddhist influence in Thailand’s culture – perfect for slowing down, reflecting and enjoying some quiet time after a busy Christmas and New Year.
November to April is the dry season in Cuba, making it the most popular time for tourists to visit – so now is the perfect time to hop on a plane and make your way over. Havana will be lively (the capital city is arguably the most beautiful, charming and vibrant part of Cuba), as will Santiago, but you can make your way over to Varadero (the seemingly endless stretch of white sand and crystal clear water has earnt it a top spot in the best beaches in the Caribbean) for some rest and relaxation. Once you’ve recharged under the Cuban sun, head to Disco Ayala in Trinidad to party the night away in an underground nightclub. This venue will see you descending a cave that’s kitted out with dance floors and bars, and there’ll even be snake dancers and acrobats. But if you’d prefer a quieter activity, check out Museo Romantico – it’s a colonial mansion filled with beautiful antiques, and you’ll get a great view of the city from the upper balcony.
Just 13 degrees north of the equator is Barbados – a Caribbean island that enjoys a lovely tropical climate and warm temperatures all year round. January is the beginning of the dry season, and you can look forward to sunbathing on the silky sand as temperatures tend to average around 28℃, and the sea is the perfect temperature too – 27℃ – with gentle waves on the west coast and wild waves on the east coast (perfect if you want to do a spot of surfing). Barbados is a foodie’s paradise, with Bajan dishes fusing cuisine from the West Indies, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, and the seafood is phenomenal too. And of course, the rum is excellent in Cuba – Mount Gay Rum was created here. Don’t be fooled into thinking Barbados is somewhere to just simply eat, drink and sunbathe, though – you can swim with turtles, trek through the forests and visit rum distilleries, as well as explore the towns and hang out in bars well into the night.
Those are just eight of our favourite destinations for winter sun. There are plenty more winter sun destinations here for you to consider, so have a look and treat yourself to a holiday. The extra dose of vitamin D and the change of pace is sure to do you good!