As we are currently overwintering in the southern parts of Europe during the cold winter months, the best winter sun destinations in Europe are on top of our minds. We built our own camper van to take us and our travel baby to the European winter sun in the southern countries of this continent, visiting the most beautiful destinations in Portugal and Spain. To help you find that warm winter sun as well, we asked some of our favorite international travel bloggers for their best tips for sunny destinations during the winter months. We teamed up to create this bucket list with the best winter sun destinations in Europe, so get inspired and book a ticket to escape the cold winter months right away!
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The 20 Best Winter Sun Destinations in Europe
#1 Gran Canaria
recommended by us
One of the ultimate places to find the European winter sun is the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. This tropical island is part of the Canary Islands. Although it is part of Spain, the islands are just off the Moroccan coast and at that perfect location it has warm temperatures and sunny days all year round.
If winter sun means lounging on a tropical sandy beach for you, Gran Canaria should be at the top of your wish list! Known for beautiful sandy beaches, Maspalomas is one of the most popular beach destinations on the island. Or head out to sea for a boat trip! From the town of Puerto Rico you can book a tour to spot dolphins in the wild and enjoy Gran Canaria from the sea.
Gran Canaria is also a top choice if you’re looking for a more active winter trip. It is the perfect place for amazing hikes, beautiful nature and scenic road trips across the island. And did you know that Gran Canaria has the most beautiful national parks, picturesque white villages and vast sand dunes?
Highly recommended for nature lovers are the photogenic gorge Barranco de las Vacas with red and orange stone and the unearthly sand dunes Dunas or Maspalomas during sunset. You can enjoy beautiful hikes in various places on Gran Canaria, such as the 10 kilometres long Camino de Santiago or a hike to the famous, volcanic rock Roque Nublo of just over 4 kilometres.
The Tamadaba National Park is unfortunately not open to visitors, but it is the best destination for a beautiful road trip via the GC-200 along extensive landscapes and the coast. We absolutely recommend that you book a rental car for your trip, so you are free to visit all beautiful corners of the island and make great mini-road trips. In Tamadaba National Park, make at least one stop at Mirador del Balcón for an impressive view over the coast. The mountains in the heart of the Spanish island are also perfect for a road trip, where you can visit scenic mountain villages such as Frigas while touring between banana plantations and impressive landscapes. The highest point on the island is the Pico de las Nieves mountain peak and you don’t even have to hike to the top, because you can drive your rental car all the way up to the top.
If picturesque villages are your thing, the fishing village of Puerto de Mogán with brightly colored houses and canals with bridges, sunny Arucas with its iconic cathedral and lovely terraces or the white towns of Tejeda, Fataga and Tufia. You don’t want to miss the capital Las Palmas on your holiday to Gran Canaria. The old neighborhood of Vequeta is full of sights, nice boutique shops and photogenic streets.
You can already explore Gran Canaria during a weekend trip, but be sure to book at least a week-long holiday to Gran Canaria to really enjoy this versatile winter sun destination. Did you know that there are always great deals to be found for tickets or all-inclusives and there are cheap flights to this Canary Island from pretty much all European airports?
recommended by Caroline of Veggie Wayfarer
The Mediterranean island of Malta is the very best place to catch some wintersun in Europe. Average temperatures in the winter hover around 17°C and the island receives over 10 hours of daylight (compared to a mere 8 in Brussels). Another reason you might want to add Malta to your bucketlist for winter is the fact the sea temperature never dips below 17°C, even during the coldest days in winter. Meaning that with a stroke of luck, you could get a tan and go for a swim while the rest of Europe is huddled up around a cozy fire!
Malta is made up of three islands, two of which can be visited freely. Gozo is the quieter island and great if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and just chill out. One of the highlights of the island is a visit to the Gozo Cathedral, built in limestone on the site of a Roman temple. If culture, a buzzing nightlife and prolific culinary scene is what you are after than stick to the largest island of the the three – Malta. Learn about the Knights of Saint John and how they fought to keep this group of islands safe from conquerors, marvel at the colourful balconies in Valetta or try some of the scrumptious local vegetarian Maltese dishes.
The Phoenician hotel is located right on the outskirts of Valetta and has a wonderful infinity pool with unbeatable views. This is the best hotel if you are looking to spend your days exploring the city. Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse has a more laid-back atmosphere but does offer a fabulous rooftop with a Jacuzzi. Perfect to try a glass of Maltese wine and hop in for a soak in the crisp winter air.
#3 Puglia in Italy
recommended by Corina of Another Milestone
Puglia is a stunning region in the southern part of Italy. Due to its southern location, it can be extremely hot during summer, but it has the perfect winter temperatures to enjoy a warm, sunny holiday in Europe. During those winter months, the average temperature is around 14 degrees Celsius, creating a mild climate to explore this less-visited part of Italy. Puglia is not as popular as the rest as Italy and especially during low season in the winter months, Puglia is a true hidden gem for a European winter trip.
You’ll need at least 3 to 7 days to explore the best highlights around Puglia. You must visit famous Alberobello, known for its beautiful, dwarf-like houses called trulli. Polignano a Mare is a small town on the seaside with the best-known beach in Puglia, Lama Monachile, which is definitely worth a visit as well. And make sure to explore Ostuni, the white city, and of course, capital and beach spot Bari as well. Though these destinations in Puglia are one of the best in Europa, you’ll rarely see any other tourists here during the winter months.
A holiday in Puglia can start in Bari, one of the largest cities in the region and the one equipped with an international airport. It is a perfect place to base yourself during your trip and explore the rest during day trips. The area is easy to explore by train if you don’t want to get a rental car, so you could choose to book a hotel in Bari near the train station. Zodiacus Residence is a great location if you want to be near Bari Centrale (the central train station) and Bari vecchia (the old town).
Another option to explore Puglia and probably the best one is by car. If you rent a car, bear in mind to take the smallest one because the streets in the historic old towns of Puglia are often narrow. Also, try to book a hotel for your stay with its own parking, as it can be hard to find good and affordable parking spots in the old town of Bari. Hotel Boston, a 4-star hotel near the charming old town of Bari provides also paid parking facilities.
Puglia may not be the first destination that comes to mind when booking a trip to Italy, but it is a place you’ll definitely fall in love with.
#4 The Italian island Sardinia
recommended by Lotte of phenomenalglobe.com
While Sardinia is a beautiful island to visit throughout the year, a Sardinia winter escape is extra special. There are no crowds, accommodation is very affordable and temperatures are much more comfortable than during the hot summer months.
While it’s not the season for swimming, temperatures on Sardinia are still around a comfortable 12-15 degrees Celsius on average, with some days even reaching 20°. Days are mostly sunny and the best way to spend them is by exploring Sardinia’s beautiful nature or strolling around one of its many pretty towns.
Spend at least a week on Sardinia, it’s a big island and there are many things to see and do. Hop on a boat tour around the Maddalena Archipelago, visit beautiful Bosa, admire the ancient Nuraghi spread around the island, or join a cooking class in Alghero.
As the capital of Sardinia, Cagliari is also a city that should be included in your Sardinia itinerary. Stroll its cobblestoned streets, admire the beautiful historic buildings and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. Lo Scoglio is highly recommended, it’s a little out of town but definitely worth the drive.
If you plan to stay in Oristano, one of the bigger cities on Sardinia, book a room at Sa Domu e Crakeras. The owners are very nice, the location is excellent and the room is clean and comfortable.
For those who want to base themselves in Alghero, the Flowery Inn Villa is a good option. It’s a little out of town but there are complimentary bikes available which make exploring Alghero even easier and more fun.
In Cagliari there is no shortage of hotels either, T Hotel is a good option if you’re looking for somewhere fancy without breaking the bank. Breakfast is included and extensive.
#5 San Sebastian in Spain
recommended by us
The Spanish town of San Sebastian is one of Spain’s hidden gems. The beautiful location on the Spanish west coast near the French border and white beaches in the heart of the city, but also the historical monuments and the great local cuisine are a unique combination that distinguishes the city from every other place in Spain. It’s a perfect destination for a city trip to Spain, yet you rarely hear about it. Time to change that!
What makes San Sebastian such a unique winter sun destination in Europe are the idyllic sandy beaches in the middle of the city. The town is located on a beautiful bay and has three beautiful sand beaches right next to the historic center: Playa de Ondaretta, Playa La Concha and Playa Zurriola. We found the sea during our winter visit in November a bit too cool, but saw several people enjoying the winter sun on the sand beach, some of which even dared to go into the water. We loved strolling along the boulevard in the sun – tip: bring your sunscreen, because we almost got a sunburn – and we recommend that you do this during sunset. A beautiful sight!
The best views of the city are from the two peaks on either side of the San Sebastian bay, Monte Igueldo and Monte Urgull. At the top of the Urgull is a large Jesus statue and you can hike straight up from the center or the beach. The Monte Iguelde is recommended for the less avid hiker, as you can also go up with a cable car.
If you want to enjoy the local culture during your winter trip as well, explore the historic center next to the beaches. In the old town – or Parte Vieja – the monumental San Sebastián Cathedral, the richly decorated Santa Maria del Coro and the Gothic Iglesia San Vicente with beautiful stained glass windows are recommended. As you walk through the narrow streets and wide squares of the old town, you will notice how many cozy eateries there are in this part of San Sebastian. Or more exact: pinxto bars! Did you know that pinxtos are the most well-known Basque specialty and that you can enjoy them at pretty much each bar in San Sebastian? It is a kind of tapas sandwich, of which you often see dozens of them on display at the bar. We recommended you try several pinxtos bars and choose one or two tapas at each place.
You can easily combine a visit to San Sebastian with a longer trip to the Basque Country or the Spanish Pyrenees. Are you coming for a weekend away or a city trip? San Sebastian has its own airport and there are flights from the different European airports, but they are usually not cheap. We therefore recommend flying to that other major city in the region: Bilbao, the Basque capital, and heading to San Sebastian from Bilbao.
#6 Dubrovnik in Croatia
recommended by Una of wandernity.com
Dubrovnik is often called the Adriatic Pearl, as it’s an absolutely stunning destination, especially to visit in winter. Due to its location, the Mediterranean climate allows winters to be still sunny and relatively warm. In the coldest winter month of January, the average daily temperature is around 12 degrees Celsius. Any other of the low-season months will be even warmer.
There are many advantages to visiting Dubrovnik in winter. It’s less crowded as the cruise ships operate in the summer months. You can experience a more authentic vibe of the city without crowds and take really nice photos of all the historical buildings. Dubrovnik in winter is also cheaper – you can book hotels, enjoy a spa, go on tours, and visit many other attractions for a lower price than in the high season.
Some of the best things to do in Dubrovnik are walking around the Old Town on City Walls, taking the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Mount Srd to soak in panoramic views of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic sea, as well as going on a Game of Thrones tour to see all of the filming locations of the famous TV show.
The length of your stay can vary from a weekend to a much longer time. If you just want to see the highlights of Dubrovnik, 2 days should be enough for you to explore the Old Town, enjoy the Croatian cuisine and the famous wine, and check out the must-see attractions. However, if you wish to take advantage of the cheaper spa procedures, and maybe go on some day trips from Dubrovnik to the nearby islands, Montenegro or Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, then you should go for a full week.
Scalini Palace is a great choice for staying in Dubrovnik. It’s located in the Old Town just a few steps from the Stradun Promenade. Beautifully furnished, this is a perfect place for people who want to be a walking distance away from many restaurants, famous buildings, and the sea.
Grand Hotel Park is located further away from the Old Town, but it has a lot to facilities. It’s located just 100 m away from a beach, and it has a modern SPA area with an indoor pool and a designated children’s area. As it is too cold to swim in the sea in winter, an indoor pool is a great bonus during a vacation. The spa area can be used free of charge, if you are a hotel guest.
#7 The Portuguese island of Madeira
recommended by Claire of ZigZag On Earth
If you are looking for winter sun in Europe, Madeira is a perfect choice. The Portuguese island is known as the island of Eternal Spring, as it has optimal weather conditions all year round, even in winter.
Thanks to its lower latitude, days remain quite long, with around 10 hours of daylight even during the darkest winter months. Madeira has several daily hours of sunshine and temperatures around 20°C (68°F) in winter, making this the perfect winter sun destination to enjoy the beaches, the natural pools, the hikes, the majestic cliffs, gardens and more. Since Madeira is a year-round destination, most tours remain active in the Winter, so you can go explore the levadas, learn about the Santana traditional houses or go whale watching.
The iconic locations not to be missed on your Madeira trip are the sharp summits around Pico do Arieiro, the volcanic cliffs of Ponta de Sao Lourenço, the glass platform at Cabo Girao, the charming village of Camara de Lobos, the impressive Curral das Freiras-valley and the magnificent Monte Palace Garden.
When visiting Madeira in Winter, the best place to stay is on the South Coast, for more hours of sunshine. Ponta do Sol is famous for being the sunniest town on the island. You could, for example, enjoy a unique stay at its most well-known hotel, the 1905 Zino’s Palace. Otherwise, the capital Funchal is a great location to explore the island without a rental car. There are plenty of rentals such as The Wine Lodges apartments.
A trip to Madeira should not be less than 5 days (considering its location and accessibility), but to be able to explore most of the island, the ideal length is 10 days. And make it a 2-week trip, if you want to discover the neighboring island of Porto Santo with its long sandy beach, volcanic features and sand dunes as well.
#8 The Spanish island of Mallorca
recommended by Nadine of Le Long Weekend
The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is the perfect place to indulge in some winter sun, especially if you’re after somewhere that’s still a little lively, even in the off-season. It’s the ideal time to visit the island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, to discover the museums, galleries and historical sites, minus the crowds. And you’ll love shopping in the charming boutiques and eating in authentic establishments without having to vie for space.
From Palma, you can take the Soller train to the hilltop town of the same name, and the tram the rest of the way down to the colourful port. Away from the capital, you can experience island life in the villages and small towns, where you’ll still see plenty of local’s going about their daily business. And while Mallorca’s beaches are always beautiful, there’s something special about a winter walk along a deserted cove.
Winter also makes an excellent time to get on your bike and enjoy the quieter than usual roads, or to go hiking through the Nature Parks. Visit in December to take advantage of the Christmas festivities, especially in the capital, or stay in January or February for cool, clear days with daytime temperatures reaching into the mid-teens.
You’ll want to allow at least a week to do a little sightseeing and allow time to simply relax and enjoy the sun in between. The best place to stay in Mallorca depends on whether you’re looking for a city break, or a countryside escape. But Palma is an excellent choice for those wanting plenty of things to do, and the hillside village of Valldemossa cannot be beaten for an authentic taste of the real Mallorca. In the former, choose Hotel Cort in the heart of the old town, or Es Princep for seafront views. In Valldemossa, you can’t go wrong with the stunning Mirabó de Valldemossa.
#9 Kotor in Montenegro
recommended by Martina of PlacesofJuma
A really lovely destination to get some nice winter sun is definitely Kotor in Montenegro. On a winter trip, you can expect pleasant temperatures mostly around 10 degrees and you are welcomed with lots of blue sky and sun. Of course, you do need a jacket, but still, the weather is usually much much better than in the north of Europe. A visit in November is especially recommended when the temperatures are still the mildest and the weather still shows its warmest side.
It is best to go to Kotor first, explore all the Kotor bay with its numerous romantic places and of course the old town of Kotor. But there is more waiting for you! The best thing to do is to plan a little round trip through the country. Two weeks through Montenegro is the perfect period to explore all the beautiful highlights.
But even if you’re sticking to Kotor, this city has a lot to offer. The highlight is the historic old town of Kotor, which together with the 30 kilometers long Kotor Bay is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Especially in winter, you have the advantage of having this coastal town, which is actually completely crowded in summer, almost to yourself. Perfect if you like to take pictures or if you like to experience interesting cities away from mass tourism.
For your trip, there are many great and especially cheap accommodations in Kotor in winter. Accommodations can be really expensive in summer, but in winter you can expect great deals! Highly recommended is the Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro, a great 4-star hotel directly in the old town. Or the 5-star Hotel Blue Kotor Bay Premium Spa Resort with a great spa area.
recommended by Greta of Greta’s Travels
If you’re looking for the best winter sun destinations in Europe, then you have to add Tenerife in Spain to your bucket list. Located just 100km from the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are blessed with year round sunshine and warm weather.
Temperatures in winter remain mild, ranging from 15°C to 20°C in the months from November to February, with as little as 5 rainfall days per month. While the weather is fairly constant in that period, the best time to visit is outside the main festive period, so as to avoid the holiday crowds.
Tenerife is the biggest amongst the Canary Islands, and concentrated in its 2,034 square kilometres you will find a huge variety of landscapes and activities.
If you enjoy hiking and being outdoors then you will love Mount Teide and Anaga Rural Park. Sitting tall at 3,715m, Mount Teide is the highest peak in Spain. The unique lunar landscape of the volcano provides many incredible hiking opportunities.Anaga, located in the north of the island, has a completely different landscape, but amongst its distinctive green mountains you will also find lots of awesome hiking trails.
Tenerife is also the perfect destination for water sports lovers. Thanks to the consistent wind and wave conditions you can practice surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing at any time of year, but especially so in winter, when the waves and winds are strongest.
There are lots of great places to stay in Tenerife. Most people stay in the south, in the coastline from Costa Adeje to Los Cristianos, as it’s the warmest and sunniest. Some lovely hotels you can stay at are the Ritz Carlton in Abama or the Hotel Rural La Correa del Almendro in Arona.
Tenerife is a great destination for European winter escapes, which offers something for every type of traveller, so make sure to add it to your bucket list!
#11 Calabria in Italy
recommended by Linda of La Dolce Fit Vita
What better way to escape the bitter Winter cold than to head to sunny southern Italy? That’s right, Italy. It’s not just a summer destination and you can indeed get that dose of gelato in even if it’s December. One of the best places to get in some fun and sun in Italy is Calabria, located on the “toe” of the Italian boot.
With over 800 km of coast, Calabria boasts some of the most stunning coastal towns and has very mild winters. From the jaw-dropping sea views to the local cuisine you can try, I guarantee each town will prove better than the next. Starting with Chianalea di Scilla in the south, this little fishing town will steal your heart. With houses built right up to the waterfront, the town resembles a little Venice with its very narrow alleys. Wander around streets, visit the Castle (Castello Ruffo) or have your try at their world-famous swordfish burger. Or if you’re more of a gelato fan, you can’t miss the picturesque town of Pizzo. Lined with dozens of ice-cream shops, the town is famous for its ‘tartufo’, an ice-cream dessert filled with a warm fudge interior. Grab a spot on the panoramic terrace and slowly eat away at your ice cream as the sun sets. If you look closely, you can even spot the Stromboli volcano in the horizon.
If you’re more of a beach bum, you might not be able to go for a swim, but you will have exclusive access to some of the most pristine beaches in all of Europe. From Zambrone to Capo Vaticano, you’ll get to experience these Calabrian beaches without crowds and with no parking issues! Pack a lunch and opt for a romantic picnic.
While in Calabria you will definitely need a car to get around and explore. I recommend staying at least 4 days so that you have the time to explore different towns in the region. To base yourself, I recommend staying in either Pizzo or Tropea. Great options for accommodations here are B&B Casa Angelieri in Pizzo or B&B Laudato Sii in Tropea.
#12 Malaga in Southern Spain
recommended by Milijana of World Travel Connector
Sunny Malaga on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain is one of the sunniest winter destinations in Europe.
Beautiful Malaga is the capital of Costa del Sol. The city of Malaga is one of the best beach cities in Spain. Sandy Malaga beaches are well-known as some of the finest beaches in Europe. As expected, Malaga is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe. The high tourist season in Malaga is summer, of course. But if you need some vitamin D in Europe in winter, Malaga is a perfect winter destination. Malaga is one of the warmest winter destinations in Europe. The average daily air temperature in winter is 17 °C (63° F), but the temperature gets up to 22-23 °C (72° F) during the day.
Regardless of seasons and weather, Malaga is an exciting city. It is well known for numerous Michelin star restaurants, trendy cocktail bars, traditional bodegas, and cozy tapas bars. Crawling fantastic tapas bars is one of the best things to do in Malaga. Gorgeous Malaga is a city of art as well. There are more than 30 museums in Malaga to make arty souls happy. Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga. Marvelous Museo Pablo Picasso is a must-see for admirers of Pablo Picasso’s art. There’s so much to do in the vibrant city of Malaga. History lovers especially appreciate the impressive Moorish Alcazaba fortress, and ancient Roman Theatre in Malaga, while hedonists enjoy amazing Arab baths and tasty Andalusian food in Malaga.
When you are looking for a place to stay, you have to choose between the coast and the center. On the coast, Soho Boutique Las Vegas with a pool and a view of the beach is a must. In the center, the colorful Barcelo Málaga should be your choice.
Visiting traditional pueblo blancos and luxurious Marbella on a day trip from Malaga is one of the best things to do while in Malaga. But a true adrenaline booster is hiking nearby the famous El Caminito del Rey (the Little Pathway of the King).
Malaga is a top winter sun destination in Europe. It is a prominent tourist destination for a weekend city break, a several-day vacation, and even staying all winter. Be sure, Malaga and Costa del Sol will supply you with much-needed vitamin D in winter.
#13 Crete in Greece
recommended by Nichola of Family Hotel Expert
The Greek island of Crete is a wonderful destination for some winter sun and while, like most places in Europe, it isn’t guaranteed you do have a good chance of bright, blue skies and sunshine. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and there is plenty to do here to keep you occupied.
Visit the amazing archaeological site of Knossos which is a series of Minoan palaces believed to have been occupied from Neolithic times up to around the 5th century making it one of Europe’s oldest cities. Don’t miss the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion where many of the treasures discovered at Knossos were taken. There’s so much to see here and the artefacts really bring the history of Crete alive.
The Greeks do fantastic coffee and the whole of Crete is peppered with lovely coffee shops so make sure you stop for plenty along with a plateful of loukoumades, Greek doughnuts drenched in honey and walnuts or sesame seeds. There are plenty of other places to visit on the island from Zeus’s cave high up on the Lasithi Plateau to the pretty town of Agios Nikolaos.
The island’s capital Heraklion is one of the nicest, laid back cities you’ll come across and is perfect for a wander no matter what the weather. Stop here for some spanikopita and shop for sponges and sweet treats in the back streets of this happy city.
You’ll want to stay in Crete for at least a week to really soak up the slow paced lovely way of life and get to properly relax. The sunshine in Crete makes everything feel happy. There are some fantastic family resorts in Crete including The Village Heights Resort just outside of Heronissos and Paradise Island Villas both of which are the perfect base from which to explore.
recommended by Dymphe of Dym Abroad
One of the best winter sun destinations in Europe is the country of Monaco. Monaco is a city-state that is part of the French Riviera. The country is very small. In fact, it is one of the smallest countries in the world. You can comfortably walk from one side of the country to the other side.
The weather in Monaco is great in winter, as the temperature is comfortable during these months, and there are very few days with rain. Also, the sky is often very clear, which makes it perfect if you want to experience winter sun in Europe. Monaco is great to visit during the whole winter season. There are many things to do and see in Monaco especially during winter. One of the best winter activities in Monaco is going ice skating in the city. Each year, there is an open-air ice skating rink where you can have a lot of fun!
When visiting Monaco during the winter months, you should definitely visit the Exotic Garden in winter. It has many plants that flower in winter, making the garden is one of the best reasons to visit Monaco during this time of the year. There are also many events that take place in winter, like the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival in January. It is one of the best circus events in the world. Also make sure to enjoy the many Christmas festivities during December.
As Monaco is a very small place, it doesn’t matter that much where you stay, as you can get around everywhere in a quick way. However, the most central spot for your stay is the capital Monte Carlo, where you can find many of the city’s sights. To get the most out of your trip, you need to spend at least 3 days in the principality. Two of the best hotels in the country are the luxurious Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo and Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel.
#15 Larnarca on Cyprus
recommended by Alina of World of Lina
Another one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe is the small city Larnaca in Cyprus. It’s warm all year round with temperatures between 10 – 15 degrees celsius in winter.
Larnaca is the third-largest city in Cyprus and one of the major tourist destinations. This is mostly because one of the island’s few airports can be found there and it’s a great starting point for different excursions such as a Troodos Mountains Tour. Besides its palm-tree seafront and beach promenade, there’s one thing Larnaca is really famous for.
In the western part of the city, you can find the Larnaca Salt Lake – a complex network of four salt lakes of different sizes. Covering an area of more than 2.2 km², it’s the second-largest salt lake in Cyprus after the one in Limassol. The most special part of the lake is the fact that every winter, thousands of Flamingos spend the cold months there to eat a special sort of shrimp which can be found in saltwater lakes only. You may be lucky and admire them from close up as they sometimes come to the shore.
At the bank of the lake lies Hala Sultan Tekke – a holy Muslim shrine that is possible to visit. Before you go there, make sure you’re properly dressed. Your shoulders and knees need to be covered, otherwise, you have to wear a cape they give you.
Due to its popularity, there’s plenty of accommodation to find in Larnaca. Some of the best-rated hotels include The Josephine Boutique Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel Larnaca and Sun Hall Hotel. If you prefer staying with locals, you will find a great number of Airbnbs in Larnaca as well.
#16 Rhodes in Greece
recommended by Roxanne of Faraway Worlds
If you’re after some winter sun, consider heading to Rhodes in the Dodecanese Islands in Greece. Situated closer to Turkey than Greece, Rhodes is usually a few degrees warmer than the mainland. It’s also a relatively large island, which means that there are more accommodation and entertainment options in winter compared with many of the smaller islands. Rhodes also has a fascinating history and many cultural attractions, giving you many good sightseeing options for those cooler days.
Most visitors start their trip in the medieval old town, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the most popular parts of the island. The medieval centre of Rhodes is walled, with charming streets and a range of shops and restaurants. There are also beautiful sea views from the top of the old walls. If you happen to have some rain during your visit, head to the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes and the Museum of Modern Greek Art – both are well worth visiting. The Ancient Knights Luxury Suites hotel is a wonderfully central location to stay for a couple of days while you explore the old town.
From Rhodes Town, head to Lindos, a beautiful town with white buildings and spectacular views. Lindos is known for its acropolis, with interesting ancient ruins to explore. Winter is a great time to visit the acropolis as it isn’t as hot as in the summer and makes for a pleasant trip with great photos. If the weather is good, there are plenty of beautiful beaches nearby and Ladiko, a small bay near Faliraki, makes for a good day trip. Stay at Thea Villas for good-quality accommodation close to both the town centre and the beach.
#17 Seville in Spain
recommended by Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel
As the warmest city year-round in continental Europe, Seville provides the perfect winter getaway. In fact, winter is perhaps the best time to visit Seville!
Located in the beautiful region of Andalusia, you can expect plenty of winter sun with average daily highs of 17-18°c (63-65°F) and more sunshine than some northern European countries’ summers! Along with perfect temperatures, the crowds are thinner making it ideal for exploring this beautiful city and getting great hotel deals.
You can explore most of the highlights with three days in Seville and enjoy the warm weather as you meander around the historic city. Take time to admire its opulent palaces, learn about its rich history, indulge in tapas, and stroll through exotic gardens.
Seville is home to three UNSECO World Heritage Sites; Real Alcázar, Seville Cathedral and the Gerald, and the General Archive of the Indies, so make sure you don’t miss these iconic sights. Additionally, ensure you spend at least one morning or afternoon at Plaza de España. Nestled into the edge of María Luisa park, the plaza and surrounding buildings are breathtakingly beautiful.
The city is also famed for its flamenco shows. So at the end of the day, unwind with tapas, sangria and a show for a truly Spanish experience.
Located conveniently next to Plaza de España, Melia Sevilla is a great hotel option. It has the added bonus of a rooftop pool for making the most of the winter sun! Alternatively, if you prefer your rooftop pool with a view of the cathedral, consider Hotel Doña Maria.
#18 Algarve in Portugal
recommended by Nichola of Global Mouse Travels
When most of Europe is looking grey then head to the Algarve for almost guaranteed sunshine. This long strip at the bottom of Portugal seems to always be sunny and is packed with feel-good food and a lovely welcome wherever you go.
The beaches through the Algarve are legendary and in winter there’s something even lovelier about them. As well as the golden sand and sparkling seas of the south you can also head west to Sagres where the surf can be a little choppier. This is the site where the Romans believed the earth ended and looking out to sea here is a really evocative experience, imagining the terrors that they believed lay ahead. Thankfully the rest of the region feels much calmer.
Winter is a perfect time to try out golf or tennis and there are lots of sporting activities set up all across the Algarve along with horse riding and mountain biking. If you’re visiting the Algarve with kids then this can be a great time to take up some lessons in some of the sports here, out of the summer season you can pick up some great deals for those starting out.
Stay for at least a long weekend to really enjoy everything on offer here and longer if you can. There are some amazing hotels in this region including the Dona Filipa in the Vale do Lobo area and also Pine Cliffs in Albufeira. The region is open all year round so you can go at any time and still have a great time with enough activities on offer if you’re feeling active. Many of the lovely restaurants and cafes will also be open and markets such as the brilliant one in Loule will also still be happening and a great place to pick up some local treats.
recommended by Kerry of Adrenaline Junkiez
If you’re looking for the best winter sun destinations in Europe then the Canary Islands have to be one of your top choices. The Canaries are an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean between Spain and North Africa and benefit from luscious weather all year round.
Fuerteventura is one of the bigger Canary Islands and Corralejo is particularly popular in winter. The combination of warm weather and winds strike a balance between it being both an adventurous and relaxing destination. There are great stretches of sandy beaches and a vast harbour filled with restaurants, shops, and nightlife. On the other hand rent a sand dune buggy in Fuerteventura and go off-roading around the island and exploring local villages and mountains. Why not try your hand at windsurfing activities or a surf camp? There are many water activities in the area but you can also fly kites along the beach and will usually see many people enjoying themselves doing so.
One of the iconic features of the area is the extensive Parque de Dunas Corralejo where you can explore the mighty, natural sand dunes. Conveniently located across the road from the popular beaches, you will certainly get your fill of sand and sun in this beautiful location. Uniquely, on the beaches you will find windbreakers made of volcanic rock that make an interesting place to relax, as well as added privacy. Be prepared, many of the beaches in the area are nude or at least topless so be sure to read the signs to prevent any unexpected surprises.
Looking to venture further afield? Take a short day trip to nearby Lanzarote island or even stay a few days. Isla de Lobos is also only a short boat ride away where you can discover more walking trails and wonderful beaches.
recommended by Sandra of WOTY
How does it sound to you to enjoy the winter sun in Barcelona? The Spanish city is only a 2,5 hours drive from the Catalan Pyrenees. This beautiful mountain area has ski slopes for all levels. Both buses and trains run from Barcelona to the various ski areas in the winter months, creating an amazing combination of a winter sun city trip and ski trip at this destination.
The city has so many different things to do and see. Gaudi’s architecture makes the Barcelona buildings different from anything you’ve seen. Add to that the white beaches, the boulevard, the shops, the nightlife and skating, which is a very popular thing to do in Barcelona. During the December months, Barcelona is beautifully decorated with Christmas decorations and Christmas lights, creating a fairytale experience when walking around the city. Add to that the picturesque Christmas markets with locals buying Christmas gifts and music performances and you know where you want to go in December. Especially interesting is the Nativity Scene at Plaça Sant Jaume.
Looking for the local traditions? Then go to the Caga Tió, a stump that “poops” gifts for the children. And if local dishes is what you’re after, make sure to try the local Christmas treats like turrón, neulas and mazapanes!