Winter Sun in Europe is hard to come by and you have to go to the right place!
These Winter Sun destinations in Europe I’ve noted below, along with slightly further afar options in North Africa and the Middle East (most of which are still short-haul flights!) will help you get on holiday and get some well-needed sunshine in the colder months of December and January,
Whether that’s for an all-inclusive winter sun holiday, or a winter sun city break in Europe!
Winter Sun in Europe
A few things to consider about Winter Sun in Europe:
Before we get into the post about the best places for winter sun in Europe… there are a few things you have to be aware of.
Guaranteed Winter Sun?
I went on holiday in December to Antalya in Southern Turkey, and although it was sunny for half the trip and it was much nicer than the UK and many other parts of Europe, it wasn’t the best and I was a little disappointed and had hoped for nicer weather in Antalya in Winter!
This is a great example of not getting guaranteed winter sun in Europe because the weather is very temperamental in winter in Europe.
That’s also why I’ve included extra destinations in North Africa and the Middle East, most of which require a short-haul flight still, because you are going to have more guaranteed winter sun as you go further East and South.
Heated Swimming Pool
Something that was an absolute must for us on our winter sun holiday in Europe was a heated swimming pool and once we felt the cold swimming pool which was freezing compared to the heated pool at our hotel, we were so glad we got this!
We found it surprisingly hard to find hotels in Europe with heated pools and even harder to find Airbnb Villa’s in Europe with heated pools. But, I do recommend this as a MUST if you want a summer holiday type holiday and especially if you have children.
Europe Winter Sun Temperatures in December & January
Here’s a quick look at the average temperatures for all of the below best winter sun destinations in Europe, but be sure to keep reading to get more information on these winter sun destinations, why you should go, and what you can do there!
Best Places For Winter Sun in Europe
1. Canary Islands, Spain
There’s no doubt about it really, the BEST destination in Europe for winter sun are the Spanish Canary Islands thanks to their surprisingly Southern location to the side of Africa!
Out of all the islands, guide to the Canary Islands says that Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the hottest Canary Islands in Winter so be sure to look into these specifically if you are looking for the best temperature for sunbathing and relaxing by the pool.
Talking of pools, if you are going for an all-inclusive holiday where you want to relax in the hotel mainly, be sure to look for a hotel with a heated pool as if it’s not heated, it will probably be quite cold and off-putting.
The Canary Islands are a big hit with people who want an all-inclusive, lay by the pool holiday, but they offer so much more than this too!
If you like adventure and the outdoors, these islands have great hiking. Here are some incredibly impressive hikes in Gran Canaria so don’t let the usual stereotype of the Canary Islands put you off.
2. Ibiza, Spain
Thankfully, we can rely on Spain for some good European winter sun and although temperatures drop hugely compared to the summer, many places in Spain are still very pleasant to visit weather-wise, teamed with being much quieter and enjoyable in the off-season than high-season, which is a good reason to go to Ibiza in winter.
So many people love Ibiza and despite its party name, just like the Canary Islands, there is so much more to do there than we might expect. There’s a lot of history, great places to eat, and getting out into nature is one of the best things.
I really love this article on Ibiza in the winter, which explains why hiking in winter is the best time and gives plenty of examples of cafes and restaurants on the island that are still open and haven’t shut for winter.
3. Lagos, Portugal
Lagos which is part of the popular Algarve is definitely known for being a top summer destination, but it’s definitely one of the closest and best winter sun destinations in Europe to mainland Europe.
Lagos is a great place to base yourself in the Algarve in Winter, if you hire a car you can do trips along the coast, but it’s also a really nice town with a lovely community of locals and expats who also stay all year round.
So if you’re looking for a winter sun holiday with a bit of culture and day trips rather than an all-inclusive, Lagos is a great place to visit.
It’s not going to be hot and the temperature drops at night, will be one of the warmest towns in Europe in winter and one that still has a good buzz around it.
4. Sardinia, Italy
For the best winter destinations in Europe, we need to look for the islands and the Mediterranean! I don’t know about you, but I don’t often think of Italy as a country with islands, but Sardinia is a rather large island in the Med to the West of mainland Italy and it’s a delight to visit all year round!
Strictly Sardinia gives 13 amazing reasons to visit in winter including the fact that it is mostly sunny in the winter despite the cooler temperatures.
In the summer Sardinia is a hot spot for European tourists which increases prices and makes the island very busy. Low season in Sardinia gives you the chance to explore the island’s footpaths, beaches, cites, and archaeological sites without the crowds and for a cheaper price.
So if Sardinia is on your list to visit in Europe, and it is on many peoples, definitely consider Sardinia in winter for an alternative winter sun holiday in Europe.
Between Italy and North Africa in the Mediterranean Sea sits the small island of Malta. Malta is known for its diving and coastlines and gets really busy in the summer.
Whilst visiting Malta in winter won’t give you the same experience as in summer, you can visit the island in a different way, like a winter-sun-city-break type way!
Valletta is the island’s capital city, it’s a small one but it’s a great base in winter and from what I’ve seen on Skyscanner, flights there Valletta can be really cheap in the off-season!
Hire a car or use the good public transport to visit the many attractions in Malta including a huge number of temples and historical sites, go hiking, climbing and still visit popular places like the fishing village.
The Maltese Culture is incredibly rich which Here to Travel says you can sense a lot more in winter, than summer.
The weather will be cooler, especially at night but if you’re visiting from Northern Europe it’s likely to be much more pleasant than there and more pleasant than many other winter city breaks in Europe at this time.
Cyprus has a mild Mediterranean winter which is very appealing when coming from Northern Europe and definitely one of the warmer winter destinations in Europe.
There are many areas in Cyrpus to stay in, depending on whether you’re looking for an all-inclusive hotel-based winter holiday or if you want to feel local life and get out and explore the history and culture of Cyprus.
If you’re looking for an earlier winter holiday in November for example, Cyprus is a great destination as temperatures are much warmer still.
7. Corfu, Greece
Greece is a definite good option for winter sun holidays in Europe. However, you do need to pick Greek Islands that rely on tourism infrastructure and students otherwise you might end up on an island that closes down for the winter!
Islands like Crete and Corfu are the best for Greek islands to visit in the winter for their temperature and off-season facilities.
When searching for the hottest Greek Island in winter, Crete came up as the most suggested with Corfu afterward, however, like with everywhere on this list, sunshine isn’t guaranteed and colder weather is likely so I recommend Corfu as Corfu Town offers visitors a small city break type holiday with more things to do in winter other than the beaches.
8. Antalya, Turkey
I recently went to Antalya in Winter and although it wasn’t quite as warm as I expected and we had a day of non-stop rain because of a storm, it was a good winter holiday destination within Europe.
Antalya has a large population so a lot of restaurants and indoor activities are still open. We went to the Land of Legends Theme Park which is one of the biggest family attractions in Antalya, some areas like the Aquapark were closed but the Theme Park was open and hugely benefited from no queues.
We decided to go all-inclusive in Antalya which was a great option, we chose Rixos Downtown Hotel as it has a heated pool and this really made our winter holiday to Turkey enjoyable and I really recommend the hotel.
Now I’ve gone through the hottest countries in Europe in January and December for a winter sun holiday. I’m going to go into some options very close to Europe, many of which are still a short-haul flight.
9. Essaouria, Morocco
Essaouria on the coast of Morocco is a very popular winter destination.
Essaouria is known as the Windy City and this is especially true in winter, and although nighttime temperatures drop quite a lot, daytime temperatures in Essaouria can be very mild and like the Spring in the UK.
Sometimes we all need is some blue sky when we want to escape the depths of the cold in the UK and Northern Europe, even if we are in a coat and jumper, which is what Essaouria is likely to give you too.
You can choose to stay in Essaouria city in the old Medina which is great for exploring whilst stopping regularly to shop and drink Moroccan Mint Tea,
Or you could look into the huge about of villa’s near Essaouria and further along the coast for a Moroccan villa holiday using Essaouria Airport to fly in and out which is an option we nearly did for our winter holiday in Europe.
10. Marrakesh, Morocco
Marrakesh is on most people’s bucket list and it’s so easy and quick to fly there from the UK and Northern Europe despite being in North Africa.
Marrakesh offers a few types of holidays, you can stay in the old part of the city and have a buzzing city break, you can stay in a fancy 5* hotel resort, or you can hire a villa near to the city and relax on your own with a pool, the Moroccan sun and even pay for someone to cook meals for you, which is what we very nearly did.
The best thing about visiting Marrakesh in winter is that the tourist crowds are much less in the city which makes it easier to navigate the small, old lanes. And the amazing hotels on offer are cheaper.
There is a huge amount of villa’s in and around Marrakesh on Vrbo here which will truly give you a summer holiday feel, even in winter in Morocco. Just be mindful that not all pools are heated and be sure to check with the owner before you book if that’s important to you.
11. Hurghada, Egypt
Carrying on in North Africa, Egypt is a brilliant destination for the best places to go for the Winter sun, because of the temperatures in December and January and notably higher than the rest of Europe at highs of 24c.
Airlines like TUI, Thomas Cook, and EasyJet fly from the UK to Egypt so it’s really not that far and worth the extra hour of flying out of Europe for warmer temperatures I think.
Hurghada is a coastal beach town along the Red Sea and because of its amazing coral reefs it’s very popular for diving, and in December you should be able to get in the water ok.
What I love about Hurghada is that it offers all-inclusive holiday hotels, the same as Sharm-El-Sheikh does which I talk about below,
But if you feel like that’s not the type of holiday for you, Hurghada is a city with lots of things to do and a lot of history and culture too, like the Old Bazaar and big Mosques, as well as upscale restaurants and shopping.
You can also see a lot more of Egypt from Hurghada by going on Hurghada day trips or leaving for 2 nights to visit Cairo or Luxor.
12. Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt
Sharm-El-Sheikh is one of the most popular destinations in and around Europe known for it’s big all-inclusive hotels so if you are looking for a few days on a sun lounger by the pool in Winter, this is a great option for you!
The best time of year to go to Sharm-El-Sheikh is in Spring or Autumn anyway, not summer because of the incredibly high temperature in Summer, which means that winter is definitely not a bad option!
Although temperatures in winter in Sharm will not be super hot and will cool down at night, you will still be able to do a lot of the usual activities like diving, going on a desert safari, sunbathing in your hotel, shop and eat out.
13. Aqaba, Jordan
Jordan is a fantastic and hugely underrated, and very safe country to visit, and Aqaba located on the Red Sea is a brilliant place to go in winter and is the warmest place in Jordan in winter.
Like many holiday destinations in Egypt, Aqaba in Jordan is also known for its incredible diving in the Red Sea.
Temperatures do not drop much lower than 20c in Aqaba in winter and airlines like EasyJet fly there direct from the UK.
When visiting Aqaba in the winter you can go diving and enjoy the beaches, take a Red Sea cruise, explore historic areas like Aqaba Fort and Souk, and if you want, you can use Aqaba as a base to travel North to the famous ancient city of Petra and the incredible Wadi Rum Desert.
Although Petra and the Wadi Rum Desert will be much cooler and probably quite cold in winter. I think it’s worth leaving the warmer temperatures of Aqaba to see them for a few days.
Lastly, we’re going into some Middle Eastern and Gulf Destinations because THIS is where the best weather is during the winter months of November, December, January and February and where you are very likely to get guaranteed winter sun!
Flights here are a bit further and more expensive when flying from Europe but, it’s worth it and these destinations are best to visit in Winter, Spring and Autumn as Summertime gets unbearably hot!
14. Dubai, UAE
Of course, Dubai is a brilliant holiday destination in winter. Although it is a long-haul flight taking longer and costing more, in return, you’ll get pretty much-guaranteed sunshine, blue skies, warm weather and all activities available.
In Dubai, you can choose to stay in an all-inclusive hotel with a beach and sunbathe and swim until your heart is content, or you can stay in a hotel and take the days and evenings out to explore Dubai’s shopping malls, water parks, adventure activities like a Desert Safari and enjoy the amazing restaurants.
Related Post: 10 Things To Do in Dubai on a Girls Trip to Dubai!
15. Abu Dhabi, UAE
If you’ve been to Dubai already and or you want to visit the UAE but do something different, visiting Abu Dhabi is a great option!
Abu Dhabi has a surprisingly good amount of activities for families and children such as Yas Island and Ferrari World. It also has all of the modern aspects of Dubai as well as plenty of all-inclusive hotels and beach resorts but it does have a more local charm and great historical monuments to visit making it into more of a city break holiday.
Here in Abu Dhabi you can go kayaking, visit one of the most impressive mosques in the world the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, go to The Louvre, go on a Desert Safari, stay in a glamping tent on the beach, and much more!
All whilst benefitting from great weather with pretty much guaranteed blue skies, warm temperatures in the day, and a slightly cooler more comfortable temperature at night.
Related Post: 40 AMAZING Things To Do in Abu Dhabi!
16. Doha, Qatar
If you have been to Dubai and you want a new winter sun holiday destination, or you don’t fancy the hype of places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have you thought about Doha City in the country of Qatar??
Doha may surprise you in that it offers so many huge hotels right on the beach and water where you can relax in the sun, some beaches also feature women’s only areas if this is a concern for you.
However as well as chilling by the pool and on the beach, there are lots of things to do in Doha and with the World Cup being in Qatar in the winter of 2022, there is now even more tourism infrastructure.
Think, Middle Eastern Souqs, Mosques, Museums, Cultural Villages… this is where you’ll get a beautiful taste of the Middle East with beautiful weather where you can choose from a Museum or the Beach!