15 of the best places for winter sun

18 Dec 2017

The temperature’s dropping, folks. If you can’t stand the idea of battling through dark and cold through the next few months, it’s time to start thinking about escaping for a winter sun holiday. Here we present a few of our top choices for 2017/2018, with options both near(ish) and far. 

1. Cape Verde

Flying time from the UK: 6 hrs

Why we love Cape Verde for winter sun: Still a surprisingly underrated and undiscovered destination, Cape Verde (a cluster of volcanic islands off the northwest coast of Africa) is blessed with some amazing beaches, where tall dunes meet clear tropical seas. The people are friendly and warm – just like the climate. Highs in January can reach the mid-20s.

See all our latest deals on Cape Verde holidays

2. Lanzarote


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Flying time from the UK: 4 hrs 

Why we love Lanzarote for winter sun: Well, calling it “winter” seems a little misleading. You can reasonably expect temperatures in the high teens and low 20s during Lanzarote's "colder" months. The sea might be more bracing than during the rest of the year, but basically, it’s still lovely. 

See our latest deals on holidays to Spain including Lanzarote

3. Costa Rica


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Flying time from the UK: 10 hrs 30 mins

Why we love Costa Rica for winter sun: For starters, it’s a lot easier to get to Costa Rica since BA started flying direct to San Jose. Plus, if you’re feeling the winter blues, few things will help more than a visit to the country that ranks number one on the “Happy Planet Index”. Over 25% of the land is dedicated to conservation and the wildlife is astonishing. February is a particularly good time to visit. It’s still the dry season, and average temperatures are around 28°C. It’s also the end of peak season, so the crowds have thinned out and the prices have fallen.

4. Cyprus

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Flying time from the UK: 4 hrs 30 mins

Why we love Cyprus for winter sun: If you’re looking a February getaway, this is the place to consider. February is actually coldest month, but you should definitely take that with a pinch of salt. Temperatures still get up to the low 20s (Celsius) and there’s only the occasional rainy day. It’s also time for the almond trees to bloom, bringing a splash of delicate pink to the landscape. Also (little-known fact alert), the Troodos Mountain Range is actually in prime skiing condition in February. Beach and skiing rolled into one? How’s that for a rarity?

See our latest deals on Cyprus holidays

5. Riviera Maya, Mexico


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Flying time from the UK: 9 hrs

Why we love Mexico for winter sun: The Riviera Maya is a feast for the eyes, with mangroves and jungles of iridescent green, turquoise seas fringed by beautiful reefs, and underground waterways with deep blue pools. Plus, there’s a holiday here for just about every traveller – from eco-lodge hideaways of Tulum  to the hedonistic super-resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

See our latest deals on holidays to Mexico

6. Florida 


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Flying time from the UK: 9 hrs

Why we love Florida for winter sun: Where to start? There’s the 1,350 miles of coastline stretching from the Atlantic to the Gulf Coast, taking in some of the finest beaches in all of the US. Then, right there in the middle, is the family mecca that is Orlando, with its titanic theme park attractions, Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. And if all that feels too sanitised, a trip into the wilderness of the Everglades National Park or down to the Keys should do the trick. The pound-dollar exchange might not exactly be in our favour right now, but that doesn’t seem to be putting anyone off!

See our latest deals on Florida holidays

7. Dubai


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Flying time from the UK: 6 hrs 45 mins

Why we love Dubai for winter sun: It almost never gets cold in Dubai, and the best thing about being here in winter is that you’ll be able to do some of those activities that aren’t possible in summer’s oppressive heat - taking a desert safari or going camel-trekking for example. Or you could just give in to Dubai’s other famed temptations – sun, sea and shopping.

See our latest deals on Dubai holidays

8. Oman


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Flying time from the UK: 7 hrs 30 mins

Why we love Oman for winter sun: Oman seems to be generating more of a buzz with every year, so it makes sense to go now before the secret is well and truly out! One of the country’s big draws is its wilderness adventures – from diving on remote coral reefs and wild swimming in fjords to hiking and camping in the desert. All of the above are much easier during the milder months from November to March, when temperatures remain at a deliciously warm 25°C or so.

9. Barbados


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Flying time from the UK: 8 hrs 50 mins

Why we love Barbados for winter sun: The dry season in Barbados runs from December to May – temperatures range from a high of 28°C to a low of 23°C. With clear blue skies, a cool breeze and umpteen world-class beaches, you’ll get the true Caribbean experience. No wonder Barbados remains the most popular of all the Caribbean islands among UK holidaymakers.

See our latest deals on holidays to the Caribbean, including Barbados

10. Melbourne, Australia


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Flying time from the UK: 21 hrs 

Why we love Melbourne for winter sun: As you’re no doubt aware, it’s a long old way to Australia. And, although you could quite reasonably pick any of its cities for a winter escape, Melbourne is our pick of the bunch. Their summer (our winter) goes like this: not too hot, very little rain, and festivities galore, from flower shows and art exhibitions to trade fairs, music festivals, food festivals and fashion festivals.

See our latest deals on Australia holidays

11. Cuba

Flying time from the UK: 9 hrs

Why we love Cuba for winter sun: November to April is the dry season in Cuba, meaning you can expect clear blue skies, plenty of sun and mercifully low humidity. You’ll find that makes it a whole lot easier to fully appreciate the beautiful colonial cities, white-sand beaches and rainforested interiors. We regularly run Cuba deals in the Travelzoo Top 20 that combine a Havana stay with a week on the beach - keep your eyes peeled!

See our latest deals on holidays to the Caribbean, including Cuba

12. Cape Town, South Africa

Flying time from the UK: 11 hrs 30 mins

Why we love Cape Town for winter sun: Just like Australia, Cape Town’s climate is essentially the reverse of ours. That means the arrival of winter here means summer down there. Huzzah. In other good news, this is one destination that remains solidly affordable (once you’re there) despite the struggling pound. Then there’s the white sandy beaches, iconic scenery, and exceptional cuisine and wine. 

See our latest deals on holidays to Africa, including South Africa

13. The Gambia

Flying time from the UK:
5 hrs 30 mins

Why we love The Gambia for winter sun: You’d be hard to pressed to find a destination within similar travel time that will transport you so completely from the UK winter. The “Smiling Coast”, a sliver of land in western Africa, is super-friendly, endlessly surprising and pleasingly affordable – one of our favourite destinations for good-value winter sun.

See our latest deals on holidays to Africa, including The Gambia

14. Hurghada

Flying time from the UK: 5 hrs 30 mins

Why we love Hurghada for winter sun: Hurghada’s winter temperatures settle in at comfortable 20°C or so and the seas are beautifully warm – it's a great time to be out there exploring beneath the surface of the water. The cerulean hues are splashed with colourful corals, and the sea is teeming with life. There are also a number of fascinating shipwrecks, which time has transformed into thriving artificial reefs.

See our latest deals on holidays to Hurghada

15. Koh Samui

Fly time from the UK: 13 hrs

Why we love Koh Samui for winter sun: Koh Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island, attracting visitors by the boatload for its pristine white beaches and upscale resorts. Late December heralds the arrival of the dry season and perfect beach weather, which continues until more or less May.

See our latest deals on holidays to Thailand, including Koh Samui

See all our latest deals on winter-sun holidays

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