If you’re struggling with the winter blues it’s not too late to book a last-minute holiday in the sun. While the rest of Europe is shivering under blankets of snow, there are some destinations that offer a great escape from the gloomy weather. Here are some of my favourite winter warmers to see you through until the warm weather arrives.
The Canary Islands are always a winner in winter. The third largest island, Gran Canaria, has a subtropical climate in the south, with an average winter temperature of 21°C. When you’re not basking in the winter sun on beaches like Playa de los Amadores or Playa del Inglés, you can see the sand dunes in Maspalomas, watch a dolphin show at Palmitos Park, or go hiking on one of the many marked trails and enjoy a winter picnic in the mountains. With so much to do it’s a great option if you’re traveling with kids.
Although winter sun isn’t guaranteed in the south of Spain, with 300 days of sunshine a year the Andalusian province of Málaga is a pretty solid bet. The city of Málaga is protected by the mountains and the Mediterranean climate of the province means winter temperatures are around 17°C. When you’re not on the beach there is plenty to see and do thanks to attractions like Museo Picasso Málaga, the Alcazaba, Castillo de Gibralfaro, the Roman Theatre and the birthplace of Picasso. If you travel in February you can also experience the costumes, flamenco dancing and festivities of the Fiestas de Carnaval.
The island of Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and another great place to escape the winter blues. The south of the island temperatures in winter are usually between 17°C and 19°C, although you’ll need to pack some warm clothes because it’s the windy season and the evenings get chilly. You can spend your days exploring the fascinating rock formations in the Parque Nacional del Teide, join in the fun at Loro Parque or Siam Park theme parks, or sunbathe on Playa de las Teresitas. It’s winter sun fun for the whole family.
One of the best things about Cyprus is its year-round great weather. Water temperatures may be a bit too chilly for a swim, save for the brave few, but if your idea of a great winter holiday is long, sunny days with mild temperatures around 18°C, then Cyprus is the winter sun destination for you. Winter conditions are ideal for exploring the countryside, from the Yioulou valley near Paphos, to the small fishing villages that dot the coastline. On your winter break take some time out to see Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, Ayia Napa Monastery and Kyrenia Castle. With BA, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson Airways all flying to Cyprus you’re bound to find a good deal on flights.
Only 70 miles off the coast of Africa, the island of Lanzarote is an ideal winter sun destination that is famous for its beautiful black volcanic sand beaches. With an average winter temperature of 20°C you’re sure to have some good weather. While you’re staying in a Lanzarote holiday rental, take some time out to visit the volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park, shop at the Sunday street market in Teguise, take the kids to Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park in Peurto Del Carmen, explore the Cueva de los Verdes, and soak up some of that winter sun on Playa de Papagayo. There is plenty to do for the whole family.
Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit because this one is not actually in Europe, but with a flying time of only 4 hours from the UK, it’s closer than many other European destinations and one of the best places to go if you’re looking for sunshine. When you’re not soaking up the sun next to the pool, you can do some haggling in the Marrakech souks, explore narrow alleyways , or drink mint tea in a café overlooking the bustling Djeema el-Fna market square. Winter temperatures in Marrakech are positively balmy, with an average temperature in February of 20°C, although it can get as hot as 26°C.
The Mediterranean island of Gozo is another great option for a late winter break. The average temperature in February is a pleasant 19°C, although you should carry a light rain jacket as you may experience rainfall. The best way to experience the island is on one of the “hop on, hop off” sightseeing buses. This will give you a chance to explore attractions like the Azure Window, Xlendi beach and caves, the Citadel, St. George’s Basilica and Xerri’s Grotto at your leisure. Although the water temperature is colder than the summer months, visibility is still good in winter which makes Gozo a good scuba diving destination throughout the year.
A favourite winter sun destinations for British holidaymakers is the Portuguese island of Madeira. The island has a beautifully mild climate and although there is always the risk of rain in winter, the average temperature is around 19°C. Not only will you find rugged landscapes and beautiful volcanic sand beaches basking in the winter sun, but February is also Mardi Gras month in Madeira. On Carnival Saturday (21st February) and Shrove Tuesday (24th February) the streets of the capital city Funchal come alive with music and dancing. Attractions not to be missed include Lava Pools at Porto Moniz, the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, the Monte Cable Car and Ribeira Brava and Porto Santo beaches. An exciting way to explore the natural beauty of the island is on horseback.
For more winter sun holiday ideas you can visit HomeAway.co.uk.