10 Best Destinations for Winter Sun in Europe

Where to find the winter sun in Europe.

With the days getting shorter and the nights cooler, there’s no doubt that summer has come to a close. Memories of carefree days at the beach linger in our minds as we contemplate the increasingly cold months ahead. If you’re anything like me, you’ll already be dreaming up where to find sunnier shores this winter!

When I lived in New Zealand, our (affordable) options for a warm winter break were limited to South Pacific destinations such as Fiji or the Cook Islands. But now we’re living in France, it’s much easier to swap snow-capped mountains for sun umbrellas with the multitude sunny destinations only a short plane ride away. Below I’ve rounded up the best destinations to find winter sun in Europe!

Where to Find Winter Sun in Europe

Sicily, Italy

The charming island of Sicily is a tourist magnet during the summer months. But come winter, the days are accompanied by the gentle hum of fishing boats leaving the port and the scent of lemons hanging heavy on the trees. Temperatures in Sicily are mild in winter, making it the perfect weather to enjoy unobstructed views of the ancient Greek theatre of Taormina or to take a hands-on cooking class. If the days do get cooler, you can warm up by taking a dip in the natural hot springs of Segesta.

Where to find winter sun in Europe. Cefalu beach in Sicily.

Best Hotels in Sicily

Top pick for families: Vendura Resort

Top pick for value: Hotel Nizza

Top pick for luxury: Hotel Villa Belvedere

Best Things to do in Sicily

From Catania: Full-Day Mount Etna and Taormina Tour

Palermo 3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour

Sicily: Palermo Sailing Adventure

Gran Canaria, Spain

The Spanish island of Gran Canaria hangs off the coast of Northwestern Africa. With temperatures reaching up to 24°C in the winter months, Gran Canaria delivers buckets of winter sun! Enjoy a second summer while exploring the National Parks, dolphin watching off the coast or even taking a submarine tour of the underwater world! Those wanting to take it easy can visit one of the island’s vineyards or relax on the island’s black lava and white sand beaches. And as one of the more affordable islands on the list, it’s perfect for budget travellers too!

Reasons to visit Gran Canaria in winter. Dunes at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria.

Best Hotels in Gran Canaria

Top pick for families: Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa

Top pick for value: Hotel Riosol

Top pick for luxury: Lopesan Baobab Resort

Best Things to do in Gran Canaria

2.5-Hour Dolphin Watching Boat Tour

Mogán: 40-Minute Submarine Tour

Full-Day Gran Canaria by Vespa GPS Guided Tour

Sardinia, Italy

While the Mediterranean may only be swimmable by the bravest of souls, that’s no reason to skip the seductive island of Sardinia in winter. Take the opportunity to get acquainted with the island’s grottos, uncover hidden treasures in the hills, sample the unique flavours of Sardinian cuisine, and visit the villages clutching the edge of towering limestone cliffs. The winter months see temps in the teens, and it’s the best time to get involved in the island’s festivities.

Best destinations for winter sun in Europe.

Best Hotels in Sardinia

Top pick for families: Chia Laguna – Hotel Village

Top pick for luxury: Forte Village Resort

Top pick for value: Albergo Diffuso Mannois

Best Things to do in Sardinia

Alghero: Sardinian Home Cooking Class and Lunch

7-Hour La Maddalena Archipelago Boat Tour

Cagliari: Food and Wine Tour to the Island Wineries

Crete, Greece

I love visiting Greece in winter. So it’s no surprise that my favourite Greek island made this list! Though the temperatures can fluctuate from the low teens to the early twenties, it’s a fabulous time to enjoy the warmth of the local hospitality. Devour the locally made delicacies, happy in the knowledge that what’s being served up “off-season” is what the locals like to eat. Make the most of the quiet to stroll the empty alleyways, and take in uninterrupted views as you walk the island’s many trails.

Where to go for winter sun in europe

Best Hotels in Crete

Top pick for families: Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection

Top pick for luxury: Cape Sounio, Grecotel Exclusive Resort

Top pick for value: Lato Boutique Hotel

Best Things to do in Crete

Crete: Hiking Tour in Samaria Gorge

Day Tour of Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda & Plaka

The Miracle of Wine and Olive Oil: Day Tour from Chania

Tenerife, Spain

The largest of the Canaries is home to the 3rd highest volcano in the world, the highest peak in Spain, and Europe’s largest water park. There’s no doubt the island of Tenerife is a winter destination on a grand scale. With temps nudging 20°C in January – Tenerife doesn’t really do winter. So it’s a safe bet for some off-season sun. And if you needed one more reason to visit Tenerife in winter, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (the worlds most renowned carnival outside of Rio) is it!

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Where to find sun in winter.

Best Hotels in Tenerife

Top pick for families: Iberostar Hotel Anthelia

Top pick for luxury: Las Terrazas de Abama

Top pick for value: Ona el Marqués

Best Things to do in Tenerife

Luxury Yacht Cruise with Whale and Dolphin Watching

Tenerife: Masca Gorge 1-Day Hiking Tour with Picnic

Teide Night Experience with Dinner and Stargazing

Malta

In just a few short hours you could be whisked away from dodging puddles on a cold grey day, to a land that tops the charts for winter sunshine hours in Europe. Malta enjoys an average of seven sunshine hours each day during January, making it an excellent choice for a winter holiday in Europe. Unlike some popular tourist destinations, life continues as normal in Malta during the winter months, meaning there’s always plenty to see & do at any time of the year!

Where to go on holiday in winter. Valletta, Malta

Best Hotels in Malta

Top pick for families: The Westin Dragonara Resort

Top pick for luxury: The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux

Top pick for value: Sunseeker Holiday Complex

Best Things to do in Malta

Full-Day Gozo Island Excursion from Malta

Valletta: Medieval Walking Tour & The Malta Experience

Visit the Playmobil FunPark & Tour the Factory

Mallorca, Spain

Sunny days and crisp nights are the recipe for a winter holiday in Mallorca. The cooler months are the ideal time to visit the island’s capital, Palma, where you can browse the museums, visit the mystical Arab baths, and dine on Michelin-starred cuisine. Traverse the countryside in vintage style on the old Soller train, delight in tasting some of the island’s 300 locally grown wines, or hike into the Serra de Tramuntana – a UNESCO World Heritage site that is brimming with almond blossom from late January.

Where to go on holiday in winter. Sierra de Tramuntana, Mallorca

Best Hotels in Mallorca

Top pick for families: Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Top pick for value: Aparthotel Ona Cala Pi Club

Top pick for luxury: Castell Son Claret

Best Things to do in Mallorca

Discover Mallorca: panoramic tour from coast to coast

Cyprus

With winter temps hovering around 23°C you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to visit Cyprus in the winter months. If you feel like skipping the white Christmas this year, why not hit up the Xmas markets in Nicosia. At the month-long “Christmas Avenue” you’ll find all of your festive favourites – minus jack frost. Winter is the perfect time to learn about lost civilisations at the Tombs of the Kings. And if the warm weather gets too much, you can always retreat to the Troodos Mountains for a spot of skiing!

Where to go for a holiday in winter.

Best Hotels in Cyprus

Top pick for families: Amathus Beach Hotel Limassol

Top pick for value: Hotel Opera

Top pick for luxury: Londa Hotel

Best Things to do in Cyprus

East Coast National Park: Half-Day Cave Dwellers Tour

From Nicosia: Famagusta and Ghost Town Tour

Off-Road Excursion From Ayia Napa to an Enchanted Lagoon

Lanzarote, Spain

In case you hadn’t guessed already, the Canaries are a winner when it comes to finding sun in the winter months. And Lanzarote is no exception. This volcanic wonderland has a unique landscape recognised by its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. And it has only been enhanced by creations from local artist César Manrique. Step away from the resorts to experience the best of what the island has to offer, from exploring lava caves to visiting Europe’s first underwater museum!

Where to find sun in winter. Winter holidays in Europe.

Best Hotels in Lanzarote

Top pick for families: Gloria Izaro Club Hotel

Top pick for value: Plaza Azul

Top pick for luxury: Lani’s Suites de Luxe

Best Things to do in Lanzarote

Volcanoes and Caves: Full-Day Tour of Lanzarote

Lanzarote: 6-Hour Sailing Trip to La Graciosa

Lanzarote: 30-Minute Underwater Sea Walk

Madeira, Portugal

Every New Years Eve, Funchal, Madeira’s capital city, put on a fireworks display that has won recognition worldwide. It even won a Guinness World Record for the largest fireworks display! But if fireworks aren’t your thing – there’s still plenty of reasons to visit Madeira in winter. Take the cable car up to Monte Palace and visit the tropical gardens. Sample the local poison, a delicious concoction made from sugar cane, lemon, honey and fruit juice. Or simply enjoy the mild temperatures while dipping your feet in the natural salt water pools at Porto Moniz.

Best Hotels in Madeira

Top pick for families: Suite Hotel Eden Mar

Top pick for value: Hotel do Carmo

Top pick for luxury: Belmond Reid’s Palace

Best Things to do in Madeira

Madeira: Best of the West Tour from Funchal

Madeira: Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour from Funchal

Half-Day São Vicente Caves and Volcano Center Tour


In Europe, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding sunshine in the winter months. With so many fantastic destinations just waiting to be explored, which will you choose for your warm winter holiday?

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Searching for sun this winter? Find the top 10 European destinations for guaranteed sunshine to beat the blues this winter... Find out where to find the sun this winter.

Looking for some sunshine this winter? Read our roundup of the best places to find winter sun in Europe! #Europe #winterholidays #vacationsineurope
Searching for sun this winter? Find the top 10 European destinations for guaranteed sunshine to beat the blues this winter... Find out where to find the sun this winter.

 

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6 Comment

  1. Reply
    Steph
    December 7, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I’m really tempted by a little getaway to Cyprus in the new year. 23 degrees, yes please!

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      It sounds like bliss right about now doesn’t it!

  2. Reply
    Lisa - The Wandering Lens
    December 12, 2017 at 6:05 am

    What a list! Sicily is still at the top of my list for places to photograph in Europe…I’ll just have to come and visit 🙂

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      December 19, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      You must! I’d love to see your photos from Sicily 🙂

  3. Reply
    Femi
    May 23, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Thanks for your interesting list! Do you have any suggestions about anywhere on the costa blanca in winter for months long stay? How are your suggested locations for months long stay and exploration for seniors?
    Cheers

    1. Reply
      Nadine Maffre
      May 28, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Hi Femi! Thanks so much for your comment and apologies for the delayed response. I’m not overly familiar with the Costa Blanca. But I’ve spent a lot of time further north around the Costa Brava and it’s lovely in winter! I think you could stay there for a month and be happy exploring the surroundings, including the towns and villages inland. Otherwise, Crete is amazing in winter (stay away from the resort areas), and we’ve just come back from Mallorca which was lovely and quiet at the beginning of May. The island is easy to get around, and I think it’d be very interesting to stay in for a month. We stayed at a lively Airbnb in Maria de la Salut – a rural village in the centre of Mallorca. Hope this helps!

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