Winter in Europe usually evokes thoughts of freezing temperatures, bracing winds, short days and soggy grey skies. Yet believe it or not, there are several destinations within the continent offering up beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures even in the depths of winter. Want to know more? We thought as much…
The Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, and is globally known for its sunny Mediterranean climate and beautiful beach resorts. The region stays relatively warm and sunny throughout winter, and is a great spot if you want to enjoy the sun whilst staying busy with some of the great outdoor activities on offer. Hiking, cycling and quad biking are all great ways to explore the Algarve, or if water’s more your jam try out scuba diving, surfing or wind surfing. Just be sure to bring a wetsuit as whilst the sky may be sunny, the sea temperature is something of a different story.
The Canary Islands
Situated just off the North West coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are without doubt the warmest place to be in Europe during winter. The islands enjoy a staggering 200 hours of sunshine each winter, as well as temperatures warm enough to sunbathe in. With a huge range of activities on offer plus dramatic scenery in pretty much every direction, these islands don’t disappoint as a winter sun option. Vitamin D deficiencies can be fully restored on any of the Canary’s, namely Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerteventura.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast benefits from its southern location in winter, enjoying up to 7 hours of sunshine a day with temperatures as high as 17°C (63°F) even in the middle of winter. Squeezed between the Tyrhennian Sea and the gorgeous Dolomite Mountains, the Amalfi coast is a natural wonder so beautiful it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Picturesque towns are dotted along cliffs that overhang the ocean, whilst beautiful beaches and turquoise waters lure you in even in the bowels of winter. But whilst the sky may be clear and the sun warm, the sea is still genuinely freeeezing.
Greece’s largest island Crete isn’t all Greek mythology and Mezze, it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy some winter rays. Described as a ‘magical tapestry of splendid beaches, ancient treasures, and landscapes’, Crete is a must visit for travellers at any time of year, including winter, when it’s southerly position in the Med means that temperatures stay well above 15°C (59°F) throughout the bleaker months.
In addition to the plethora of beach side restaurants and bars offering up sunshine and sea views, Crete is a great choice for winter-phobic history fanatics as the island is considered to be Europe’s earliest recorded civilisation.
Morocco is a long established go to for those on the hunt for winter warmth. The country’s enigmatic capital Marrakech, enjoys temperatures of around 15°C (59°F) all winter, plus at least 7 hours of sunshine to boost the Vitamin D stores. The city’s epic range of markets offering everything from rugs and jewels to spices, furniture, leather everything and more will literally keep you entertained for days on end, and when the haggling all gets a bit much, escape to a tranquil riad for a cup of refreshing mint tea and some delectable Moroccan treats.
Affectionately known as France’s fifth city, riviera chic Nice is a well-established summer hotspot complete with French as hell promenades, bijoux beachfront cafés and a classy crowd to boot. But what does it have to offer come winter?
We’d be lying if we told you that Nice was warm all winter long – temperatures between October and March vary from 12 and 16°C (53°F) – but the sun most certainly does still shine. It’s definitely not frolicking in the ocean type heat, but with museums, galleries and endless patisseries to entertain you by day, and neighbouring Monte Carlo to drain your purse by night, there’s plenty to keep you busy.