Some things in life you just can’t escape… like the cold touch of winter. But, although set in stone, nothing stops you from eluding its freezing embrace by jetting off to a winter sun destination.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves. There’s no shortage of spots to run to when the winds of winter start to creep up. A few of the best winter sun destinations in Europe quickly come to mind. But why stop there?
I, for one, love a bit (okay, more than a bit) of globetrotting. And finding the best winter sun destinations around the world seems as good a reason as any to do so.
So let’s see what’s on offer, shall we?
Best Winter Sun Destinations
How do ultra-luxurious resorts bathed in golden sun rays and surrounded by crystal clear ocean waters sound? Idyllic springs to mind. And that’s precisely what the island archipelago of the Maldives is, and so much more.
The stunning collection of islands sees an average temperature of 27°C daily. This, paired with activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, and jet-skiing, make this the perfect winter sun destination.
How to Get There: Flight time – 10 hrs from the UK
Praia, Cape Verde
Off the west coast of Africa lies the island nation of Cape Verde. I don’t know about you, but I think the warm African sun mixing with a blissful island breeze is unbeatable. And the capital city of Praia uses that to create the perfect answer for where to go for winter sun.
Delicious cuisine, a vibrant nightlife, and a laid-back atmosphere make the city a stellar getaway spot.
With daily temperatures never dropping below 19°C, head to its stunning beach for diving, surfing, or kitesurfing.
How to Get There: Flight time – 6 hrs 10 mins
Garden Route, South Africa
For something a little bit different to most beach breakaways as a winter holiday destination, why not head to sunny South Africa? More specifically, the Garden Route, in its Western Cape Province.
It stretches from Mossel Bay in the west through beautiful Knysna in the middle and ends in the east at Storms River. Heading out on its 300 km route is what road trip dreams are made of. You can expect comfortable weather as temperatures peak at 30°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 11 hrs 30 mins to Cape Town International Airport
Nicknamed the “island of eternal spring”, Madeira sits quite close to the more famous Canary Islands. But it deserves equally as much renown. Its sub-tropical weather and glorious Spanish sun make it a contender amongst the best winter sun holiday destinations.
The capital, Funchal, is a quintessential sun-kissed delight, with excellent beaches, fantastic seafood restaurants, and fun activities like dolphin-watching.
With average winter temperatures of around 16°C, days here are blissful.
How to Get There: Flight time – 3 hrs 51 mins
You know you’re doing something right when Rihanna is your official tourism ambassador. Barbados is another island paradise perfect as a warm winter holiday destination.
The western side is abuzz with beach parties and nightlife. In the east, you’ll find many things to do in Barbados, like surfing and diving. Winter in Barbados means little to no rain and hot sunny days with an average high of 26°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 8 hrs 50 mins
Marrakesh, in winter, is a stellar destination. It’s the perfect blend of warm weather and rainy days to break the heat. But you don’t go to Marrakech purely for its weather – the exotic atmosphere and vibrant tropical lifestyle you’ll find here make it a paradise.
Belly dancers, snake charmers, and jugglers in Djemaa el Fna square are quite something. And the shopping souks throughout – paired with stunning architecture – elevate your days here. Which, by the way, peaks at 13°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 3 hrs 35 mins
Looking for a more solo-travel-focused alternative to the Maldives? Well, look no further than the stunning island of Mauritius. It has picturesque sandy beaches to rival its Indian Ocean counterpart, with a few added extras.
Fill your days here by sunbathing or snorkelling. And, if you’re more adventurous, go hiking in its rainforest gorges or paraglide off the volcanic peaks. Winter in Mauritius sees temperatures rise to about 26°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 12 hrs 55 mins
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While some places thrive during the summer, Dubai is best experienced during the winter. With dropping temperatures, you can explore everything that makes it great.
Dubai is filled with plenty of brilliant things to see and do, including the Burj Khalifa and IMG Worlds of Adventure – and it’s easy to spend hours in its shopping malls. All of which are topped with average winter highs of 19°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 6 hrs 59 mins
Koh Samui, Thailand
What most know to be a backpacker’s nirvana (it is), Koh Samui is also an island with the potential to be one of the best winter holiday destinations. You won’t find any cold days here, but you can bet on stunning powder-soft beaches.
Add to that its raucous nightlife, idyllic dense rainforests perfect for hiking, and attractions like the Big Buddha. Humid days with winter temperatures of 27°C will welcome you here.
How to Get There: Flight time – 14 hrs 45 mins
Back to the Caribbean for another top-tier choice for places to go for winter sun, Nevis. This is the second island that makes up the Nation of Kitts and Nevis, and offers a more refined beach escape.
The capital of Charlestown has an eclectic blend of island life and colonial architecture. And its palm-fringed Pinney’s Beach and the enclave of Oualie Beach are perfect for a spot of total relaxation.
How to Get There: Flight time – 8 hrs 45 mins
The island archipelago of Malta in the Mediterranean easily ranks high as a cold winter holiday destination. Cold, yes, but equally as sunny and pleasant still. And its capital Valletta sees comfortable mild winters.
Nicknamed “Superbissima”, which translates to “most proud”, it’s perfect for a cultural trip. With a rich history, you can explore its past at sites like the Church Of Our Lady of Victories. Alternatively, head to its sheltered beach, where you might just find a shipwreck when diving.
How to Get There: Flight time – 3 hrs 10 mins
On the coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula sits the epic hot winter holiday destination of Tulum. With perfect weather for eager explorers, you will enjoy adventures in its preserved Mayan port ruins.
You’ll easily spot the area’s other attractions from its central building, El Castillo, perched atop a rocky cliff. These are the stunning white sand beaches and turquoise waters. All of this is open for adventure with daily temperatures of 22°C.
How to Get There: Flight time – 10 hrs 25 mins
Keen to indulge in the best of the Sunshine State? I’d hope so because Miami is a great winter holiday destination in the sun. Who could say no to its vibrant art-deco hotels, globally-known nightlife, and Latin flair?
And if you’re not sold yet, throw in exhilarating sailing adventures in the Everglades. Or how about a beach road trip to the Florida Keys at a cool 20°C? Two words — yes, please.
How to Get There: Flight time – 9 hrs 20 mins
One of the warmest destinations in the northern hemisphere, Goa, India, is a bohemian getaway you shouldn’t skip. It’s far different from the rest of India with its historically Portuguese past.
Add Kala Academy to your trip to see Goa’s culture and arts hub. Or head to any of the beaches along its 103 km long coastline. Baga is the place to be for partying, and Cavelossim is for when you want to avoid crowds.
How to Get There: Flight time – 9 hrs 35 mins
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The winter months bring something unique to Rio de Janeiro. Days are sunny with some rainfall and chilly nights, but the city is a vibrant place to explore regardless.
And the best bit? The weather is still ideal for some beach trips, especially to Ilha Grande thrown in the mix.
And you can explore other highlights like Sugar Loaf Mountain and Ilha Grande with warm days at 20°C. Another perk? Winter here sees fewer tourists at attractions such as Christ The Redeemer.
How to Get There: Flight time – 11 hrs 40 mins
Fraser Island, Australia
Right off the coast of Queensland in Australia is Fraser Island. Clocking in at 120 km in length, the entire island is a World Heritage site. Why? Well, for one, it’s the only place where rainforests grow from sandy beaches.
The Cathedrals are cliffs of coloured sands, and its Great Sandy Strait is a protected wetland. There are also more than 100 freshwater lakes like Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby.
How to Get There: Flight time – 27 hrs 50 mins, no direct flights available
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Now over to the (more than) 100 islands you might know as French Polynesia. Bora Bora comes right from your best castaway paradise dream. For your consideration, I present its wide array of luxury resorts, spas and villas.
It might not be a cheap winter sun holiday destination, but it’s worth every penny. Some of the best spots to hike and dive in the world are here. And at a high of 30°C, days are perfect for beach breaks.
How to Get There: Flight time – 31 hrs, connecting flights only
Around 1,600 km off the eastern mainland of Africa lies Seychelles. Crystal clear waters and picturesque beaches blend with private-island resorts. And on its main island, Mahé, boutique hotels and authentic Creole eateries line the streets.
Relax on the beaches or venture into the gorgeous and wildlife-rich rainforests on many of its islands. And at a warm 27°C on average, no time here is remotely like a cold winter’s day.
How to Get There: Flight time – 12 hrs 20 mins
Party central in the Canary Islands, Tenerife, is a favourite as one of the best warm winter holiday destinations. And no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll experience euphoria on its beaches.
You can expect fantastic activities like watersports, beach staples, and even spectacular water parks to welcome you here. Or explore the capital of Santa Cruz and Pico del Teide, the tallest mountain in Spain.
How to Get There: Flight time – 4 hrs 30 mins
Best Destinations for Winter Sun: Practical Tips for Booking Your Trip
- Winter bookings at many properties, especially large resorts, aren’t always available. So opt for boutique hotels and Airbnb offerings (or these eight best Airbnb alternatives).
- The same goes for activities and attractions. Check which are open and operational and plan accordingly.
- Check out my other travel tips and thoughts for some extra helpful hints and inspiration.