Winter is coming, which means the return of dark mornings, even darker nights and the kind of weather that makes you want to hibernate under a duvet with a hot water bottle. While some of us might be dusting off the skis or snowboards to hit the slopes, the sun worshippers among us are probably shivering at the mere thought of the weather in store.
So to help you beat the winter blues, we have researched 10 sizzling destinations that are bound to put a tan back on your face. Just don’t forget your sun cream!
Short haul winter sun destinations
Apart from the glorious weather there are plenty of reasons to visit Egypt. Frolic in the Red Sea Riviera, marvel at the astonishing ancient pyramids, explore the myriad of museums or go on a romantic cruise along the world’s longest river. It rarely rains in the winter meaning you’ll also have time to do plenty of sightseeing in the sunshine. Cairo, the largest city in the middle east and second largest in Africa, is a must visit.
- Best time to visit: October (32c) November (27c)
- Flight time from London: 6 hours
2. The Canary Islands
Located just off North-West Africa, there are 7 Spanish Canary Islands to choose from: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera or La Palma—each offering a wide range of landscapes, sun-drenched shores and activities. Blessed with a gentle summer climate, the islands have an average winter temperature of 19c. Other attractions include two UNESCO World Heritage sites, two World Biosphere Reserves, water sports, volcanoes and Saharan-style sand dunes.
- Best time to visit: November (21c)
- Flight time from London: 3/4 hour
An island country and the birthplace of the god of love Aphrodite, Cyprus is said to have the warmest winter climate in the Mediterranean, making this a must for those who don’t want to do long haul sun-seeking. You’ll find sandy beaches, ancient sites, championship golf courses, breathtaking mountain trails and luxurious hotels. British visitors tend to warm to this island as cars drive on the left, red pillar boxes line the streets and you’ll find shops like Marks & Spencer—a legacy of the island’s colonial past.
- Best time to visit: November (22c)
- Flight time from London: 5 hours
4. The Gambia
Temperatures in the Gambia rarely drop below 30c year round making it an alluring winter sun choice. Unlike the UK you’ll find almost non-stop sunshine and virtually no rain between November and June. It’s also much quieter than Mediterranean resorts and boasts plenty of stunning beaches to top up your tan.
- Best time to visit: Dec (31c), Jan (31c), Feb (32c) and March (34c)
- Flight time from London: 6 hours
Portugal’s beautiful Atlantic outpost is closer to Africa than Europe and lies just north west of the Canary Islands. Most importantly, it has daytime temperatures of 20c in the winter, giving you a dose of sunshine to eliminate those winter blues! Visit the capital Funchal and its charming cobblestone-lined old town, sail around the coast of the island or simply take a luxury bus tour. It’s also worth noting that the capital stages the world’s biggest fireworks display on New Year’s Eve and its Christmas illuminations are second to none.
- Best time to visit: Christmas/New Year’s Eve (20c)
- Flight time from London: 4 hours
Long haul destinations
If you’ve got more holiday time to play with and the idea of having a nap or watching a few in-flight movies sounds rather appealing, why not consider these far flung destinations?
6. South Africa
South Africa is in the same time zone as the UK so you won’t get jet lag if you’re planning to visit. Flights and accommodation at safari lodges are cheaper in the winter, which is great news if you plan on seeing the big five game animals: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros. The resort city of Cape Town is one of the more popular destinations, boasting pristine white beaches, a bustling urban centre and stunning panoramic views from Table Mountain.
- Best time to visit: October and November (28c)
- Flight time from London: 12/13 hours
It’s not called the Sunshine State for nothing! Florida has an excellent winter climate and has the highest average January temperatures in the USA. As for South Florida, it’s subtropical and balmy all year round. Add to this the fact there are more beach resorts in the Gulf of Mexico than you can flick a towel at and you’ve got yourself the makings of a great winter get away. Plus, if you’re looking for the hottest temperatures, Miami is several degrees warmer than Orlando.
- Best time to visit: November (25c) or March (26c)
- Flight time from London: 9/10 hours
Australia has a plethora of winter-blues busting destinations—just take your pick! Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, the continent’s seasons are opposite to those in the UK, meaning December to February is the height of summer. Try the popular tourist resort of Cairns, when the UK winter months are the best time to visit and bask in the sunshine. You can also snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef or take a scenic railway to Kuranda. On the other hand, Sydney, with its Opera House, Harbour Bridge, beaches and museums, is another top destination.
- Best time to visit: December to February (28c)
- Flight time from London: 20 hours
9. Sri Lanka
The sun-kissed tropical island of Sri Lanka has it all—sun drenched beaches, tons of elephants, adrenaline pumping adventure sports, eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the oldest cities in the world. Other highlights include; the capital Colombo, a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Aukana Buddha and the Bundala National Park.
- Best time to visit: January (30c)
- Flight time from London: 12 hours
10. The Caribbean
Yes you knew the Caribbean would be in here somewhere didn’t you! Soak up the rays in a tropical climate where the sun blazes down for eight hours a day and temperatures hover in the high 20s. There’s more than a dozen islands, all offering different languages, cultures and climates to suit all tastes. Although the warmest islands are listed above, you may also want to visit the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Curacao, who all pack a punch in the heat department.
- Best time to visit: January: Cayman Islands (31c), Jamaica (31c) and Trinidad (31c)
- Flight time from London: 9-10 hours
Feeling a bit warmer now? We hope we’ve inspired you to chase that summer sunshine around the world. Now all you have to do is let your imagination take flight and choose a winter sun destination!