When the UK days close in and night begins to nestle in around 4 pm, it’s easy to want an escape from the dreary darkness, the frosty air, the biting wind chill and drizzle. Even though we are having an unseasonably mild winter so far (fingers crossed it stays that way) if holiday twinkle lights and festive Christmas markets can’t soothe your craving for light and fun, a holiday getaway may be in order. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can escape the UK during the cold months in search of some rays, here are places to go for winter sun in Europe to recharge your batteries and soak up the vitamin D.
#1 Tenerife, Spain, Canary Islands
Best for: sun worshipers, nature lovers, surfers
Winter temperature range: 11–21°C
Although not as hot as summer, most will find Tenerife’s winter temperatures sufficient enough to recharge their batteries and bask in the sun in the middle of winter. You’ll be on the beach reading your favourite light beach read and others will be pacing the Christmas markets trying to warm up with a hot chocolate. For more active sun-seekers, you can go on a catamaran for a whale-watching or dolphin-watching tour, hike in Teide National Park or on other trails, or catch the surf.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, off the coast of West Africa – and is about four and a half hours from London.
#2 Lanzarote, Spain, Canary Islands
Best for: sun seekers
Winter temperature range: 14-21°C
This Canary Island is known for its warm weather, beaches, and volcanic landscape. In the summer, windsurfers are drawn to the breezes that hit Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, another of the canary islands. The breeze is still there in winter so it does bring more of a chill than on some of the other islands like Tenerife or Gran Canaria but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to soak up the sunshine. Lanzarote’s microclimate provides more than 2,500 hours of sunshine each year, which is a record in Europe.
One of the island’s main attractions is Timanfaya National Park but the island is also great for relaxation, rest, and sunbathing on the beach. On Lanzarote, like in Tenerife, you can also go dolphin spotting – but on a sunset cruise.
#3 Paphos, Cyprus
Best for: nature and history lovers
Winter temperature range: 10-19°C
Cyprus is just 130 miles off the coast of Lebanon and the city of Paphos, on the southwest coast of this Mediterranean island, has been inhabited since Neolithic times. In Old Paphos, several sites related to the cult of the goddess Aphrodite, which is her mythical birthplace. The island’s location means that its winter temperatures align with the Levant instead of continental Europe, which means light clothing and t-shirts for those used to the UK’s chillier winter temperatures.
For nature lovers, there’s plenty to see on hikes in Cyprus through the dense forests where you can stumble upon fascinating Byzantine monasteries. The north has the island’s most attractive beaches where you can see loggerhead turtles and green turtles coming nest. For the most active holiday-seekers, the island has sailing, water sports, walks, and shopping.
#4 Crete, Greece
Best for: lovers of ancient ruins, buzzing cities, and breathtaking beaches
Winter temperature range: 15-17°C
In Crete, the Cretan diet is known to make centenarians of many of its inhabitants, but perhaps their secret isn’t from the olive oil found in the vineyards or in their wine or a diet high in fish and vegetables, but maybe from the year-round sunshine! In London, during December, you’re lucky to get one hour of sun per day but in Crete’s worst month you can enjoy at least five hours of full sunshine per day. For activities, you can do things like an afternoon sailing trip to Dia Island, an uninhabited island with coves to explore, or a full-day tour of Heraklion, Crete’s capital and port city, known for the Palace of Knossos. This island has beaches, hiking, history, beautiful landscapes, and ancient wonders.
#5 The Algarve, Portugal
Best for: a relaxing getaway
Winter temperature range: 9-18°C
The temperatures here might not be quite bikini weather, but The Algarve has its own sunny microclimate, making it warmer than the rest of Portugal. Even in winter, cities like Albufeira still retain a year-round buzz. You can see red-cliff coastlines and Moorish villages dotted among the hills, rife for exploration.
#6 The Azores, Portugal
Best for: eco-conscious adventurers, marine conservation parks, wildlife, nature
Winter temperature range: 13-18°C
This Atlantic archipelago is roughly a five-hour flight from London. This autonomous Portuguese region is known for its moderate climate and natural, dramatic landscapes, hot springs, lush forests, fishing villages, pastures, craters, caverns, wildlife, and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas. If you’re looking for some Maldives-style beaches, you won’t find those here. The islands are big on conservation with everything being sustainably managed and only five per cent of the land is developed and the islands are dotted with marine conservation parks. It’s perfect for an adventure-seeking, eco-friendly, nature lover.
#7 Madeira, Portugal
Best for: thrill-seekers, pensioners, dolphin watching, beaches, nature
Winter temperature range: 15-20°C
Madeira is often described as having the perfect climate, never being too hot or too cold. It’s a great place for leisure activities (like dolphin watching), sports activities (such as trekking), relaxing (like enjoying a day at the beach), or luxury hotels.
For those who love a good luxury hotel experience, The Belmond Reid’s Palace is a 5-star hotel that boasts famous former guests such as Winston Churchill and his wife, Baroness Spencer-Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and Empress Elizabeth I of Austria.
#8 Valetta, Malta
Best for: people who love design, relaxing, good hotels, cultural tourism, and gastronomy
Winter temperature range: 11-17°C
When in Malta, you can explore the island on some days and alternate with rest days by the heated pool. The winter temperatures average 16°C and it rarely drops below 14°C.
If you’re in the island’s capital, Valletta, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage City, you can go on food tours and walking tours, explore off-the-beat trails, or visit fortifications, bastions, Baroque palaces, gardens, and churches. But many travellers go to enjoy the luxury accommodation – or even take an hour and a half drive to see the famous rock arch, The Azure Window, in Gozo, one of 21 islands that make up the Maltese archipelago.
#9 Sicily, Italy
Best for: foodies, adventure-seekers, history buffs
Winter temperature range: 11-17°C
Sicily is Italy’s largest and southernmost island, closer to Tunis than Rome. It has the winter weather to match! In winter, you’ll beat the summer crowds and be able to get closer to Siciliy’s historical sites such as the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento. You’ll also enjoy the Valley of Temples, which are ruins of seven monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, seeing Byzantine mosaics at Capella Palatina, a former royal chapel in Palermo, and for thrill-seekers, you can visit Sicily’s eastern edge to see Mount Etna in its glory, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes. Plus, for foodies, the food culture is distinct and sea urchin season begins in January and is still good in February.
Where do you plan to escape this winter? Let us know on Tria Beauty UK’s social media if we missed your favourite winter Europe destination off our list.
Just don’t forget your essentials like your sunglasses, sunscreen, swimsuit, and, of course, your Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X or your Tria Beauty Anti-Ageing Laser. Check out our blog on luggage ideas that won’t break the bank and what to pack if you’re going on a first-time cruise. Happy travels! We’re totally not jealous!