Want to escape the winter blues? From city breaks to beach escapes, there are plenty of short haul options that will help you to escape the winter chill. So grab a cup of tea and discover the warmest winter sun destinations in Europe, chosen by my fellow travel bloggers.
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Map of the Best Destinations for Winter Sun in Europe
Take a break from the bleak winter and head south to get your Vitamin D fix.
Where is the Warmest Place in Europe in Winter?
From the comparison table below you can see how warm each of these European destinations are in winter.
|Winter Sun Destination||Avg Temp (C)||Avg Temp (F)|
|Canary Islands, Spain||18-23||65-73|
15 Top Warmest Destinations in Europe in Winter
Avoid the hassle of long haul and visit one (or more) of these Europe winter sun destinations. With a higher chance of blue skies and sunshine, they are the perfect choice for your winter escape in December, January and February.
The Canary Islands located off the north-west coast of Africa are a popular European destination for winter sun.
Eight islands make up “The Canaries” as they are fondly known, with the four largest Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote being most favoured by holidaymakers.
You can be assured that when visiting the islands in the winter months the temperature can hit highs of 23 degrees celsius, so you can spend your days on the beach enjoying the warmth of the winter sun that the Canary Islands guarantee.
When you visit the Canary Islands you’ll be able to choose from a wealth of excursions if you decide to tear yourself away from the beach.
In Tenerife take a tour of the beautiful Mount Teide.
In Fuerteventura you have to explore the sand dunes and in Gran Canaria you can hop aboard a pirate ship and be taken out on a day cruise.
Submitted by Angela Price from Where Angie Wanders
Located 300 miles off the coast of Africa, the small Portuguese island of Madeira, is commonly known as the island of eternal spring.
This is due to its year round warm and pleasant climate, that makes the island great for sun seekers.
Even though the island has a rugged coastline, there are a number of sandy beaches in between that are often empty in winter.
The best beaches are Caniçal, Machico and Calheta, which are all great for a picnic.
Madeira is also an amazing place for a winter adventure break, there are plenty of adrenaline pumping things to do in Madeira including mountain biking and hiking the unique levada trails that traverse the island.
Madeira island is relatively small so it makes sense to stay in Funchal (the Vine Hotel has an amazing rooftop pool) and then hire a car to explore the whole of the island.
Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, the small island of Malta is blessed with gorgeous weather all year round.
Malta is a popular summer destination, but if you want to experience the island’s beautiful old cities and stunning beaches without the crowds, visit the island in winter.
While Malta weather does include the occasional storm in winter, the weather tends to be pleasant and mild, with average temperatures ranging from 13-21 degrees Celsius in the winter months.
There are plenty of amazing things to do in Malta including visiting the island’s prehistoric temples that are older than the Egyptian pyramids. A walking tour of the capital, Valletta, is a must.
You can explore the Baroque palaces and beautiful old churches that make Valletta a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Additionally, the city streets are lined with colourful balconies, lavish old buildings, and cute cafes.
Another must see is Mdina, an old fortified city with a maze of quaint alleys and an impressive Cathedral.
On rainy days, you can explore the various attractions including the Museum of Archaeology and St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which houses a wealth of art objects, including paintings by Caravaggio.
For a truly authentic experience, stay at a small guesthouse in a traditional Maltese town, like Lemon Tree Bed & Breakfast in Zabbar.
Submitted by Daniela Frendo from Grumpy Camel
Seville, in Spain’s Andalusia region, is one of the best European destinations for winter sun.
The cooler months are the ideal time to explore Seville; the scorching temperatures of July and August are replaced by a much more sightseeing-friendly climate.
Seville’s compact and atmospheric city centre is packed with sights. Top things to do in Seville include visiting the beautiful Real Alcazar gardens, taking in amazing skyline views on the world’s largest wooden structure, the Metropol Parasol, and exploring the lake that surrounds the semicircular Plaza de España in a rowing boat.
The must visit sight in Seville has to be the cathedral. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the world’s third-largest church!
You can spend several hours inside the cathedral, exploring the beautiful chapels and the main attraction, the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
On a sunny day make sure you get tickets for the rooftop tour of the cathedral; you’ll be treated to a fascinating explanation of how the cathedral was built along with behind-the-scenes access through secret passages inside the cathedral’s giant columns and along the roof of the nave.
The best place to stay in Seville is the historic city centre. For a romantic, well-reviewed hotel, try the Hotel Casa Del Poeta.
It’s only 250m from the cathedral and well-placed for the other sights in Seville.
Submitted by Helen from Helen on her Holidays
One of the top European winter sun destinations is located in the south of Turkey, Antalya. The mild winter weather makes it perfect for exploring all the fun things to do in Antalya without overheating.
Some of the best things to do include strolling the old part of the city, Kaleiçi, and the Karaalioğlu Park.
Antalya is also a great place to hike, such as Düden Waterfalls, the Kurşunlu Falls, or Köprülü Canyon National Park.
For history buffs, a visit to the ruins of the theatre of Termessos is a must. And of course, you can’t leave Antalya without soaking in the stunning Mediterranean scenery of Konyaalti beach.
If you do happen to be in Antalya on a rainy day, there are also some fun indoor things to do.
You could explore the Antalya Archaeological Museum or relax at a Turkish Hammam and get a massage.
There are plenty of great places to stay in Antalya, especially around Kaleiçi, such as Sibel Pension.
Submitted by Lara from Both Feet On The Road
Millions of travelers flock to Athens every year to experience the city of mythology, graffiti, and ancient landmarks.
Many visitors perceive Greece and it’s islands, exclusively as a summer destination. However, it’s a great idea to postpone your trip to the Greek capital until the winter months.
December is the warmest winter month in Athens while it gets colder in January, and often rains in February.
In December, the weather pleases tourists with sunny days and quite comfortable temperatures of around 10-20°C. The most courageous people can even go for a swim since the sea water temperature does not drop below 18 °C.
Besides, the traditional Athens Christmas markets and numerous concerts you can walk along the streets, sparkling with colourful New Year’s lights, and listen to traditional Greek music.
Instead of Christmas trees, you can enjoy orange trees with fruit that grow naturally along the sidewalks.
The symbol of Athens is the Acropolis. It is impossible not to notice it – all paths lead there, it rises above the city and is visible from any point of it.
In winter, the number of visitors declines, and the lucky winter visitors can enjoy a quiet walk and get photos without tourist crowds in the background.
Plaka is the most popular neighbourhood in Athens, lined with narrow streets, souvenir shops, and restaurants, it is the perfect places to try a gyros – the Greek version of the Turkish doner.
Athens Studios is a mid-range hostel/hotel with excellent location, amenities, and price. Located at the foot of the Acropolis, it offers a welcoming environment in private and dorm rooms.
Submitted by Inna Nedostupenko from Executive Thrillseeker
The Algarve is known for having more than 300 days of sunshine a year making it a fantastic winter sun destination in Europe. The best way to explore the southern part of Portugal is on an Algarve road trip.
Start your trip in Faro and explore the charming tourist town of Albufeira before heading to Carvoeiro. This charming little coastal town sits right next to some of the most breathtaking places in the Algarve.
Top things to do in the region include traversing the Carvoeiro boardwalk to Algar Seco, which leads you to a natural pool. You can also hike the Seven Hanging Valleys coastal trail past the famous, Benagil Cave, which is best explored on a kayak trip.
After Carvoeiro, head to Lagos for a few days and stay at the Lagos Atlantic Hotel. In Lagos you can enjoy the mesmerising Camilo Beach or take a trip to see the cliff formations at Ponta de Piedade and the impressive cliff walls in Sagres.
If it rains, explore the museums and churches in the Algarve. Or if you’re adventurous, why not try scuba diving as you’ll get wet anyway!
Winter is an excellent time to visit the Algarve as this is when the beaches are visited by locals rather than tourists so it’s a great time opportunity to get local tips on where to eat.
Submitted by Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers
One of the best places for winter sun in Europe is Cyprus, famed for its crystal blue waters and white sand beaches, Cyprus has some incredible places to swim including Nissi Beach, Coral Bay, and Fig Tree.
It’s unlikely it will rain on a Cyprus winter holiday, but just in case it does there are some great indoor activities including visiting the Vouni Panayia Winery or the Agios Ioannis Lambadistis Monastery.
When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of options. If you prefer quick access to breathtaking beaches, Protaras is a popular resort town in eastern Cyprus and the Capo Bay Hotel is a wonderful choice.
If you’d rather stay close to the historic sites, Paphos is a coastal city which lies on the southwest of the country, and Aquamare Beach Hotel & Spa is a great choice.
Wherever you stay, you’ll surely fall in love with all that Cyprus has to offer in winter.
Submitted by Daisy Li from Beyond my Border
One of the top European winter sun holidays is to the Azores Islands, an archipelago situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Like Madeira, the islands are technically considered a part of Portugal, but are blessed with their own unique history, culture and landscapes.
Winter is a wonderful time to visit for cheaper accommodation, and transport to Ponta Delgada.
During this time the weather can vary but for the best chance of winter sun you should stick to the northern coast of Sao Miguel, the main island in the Azores.
One of the main reasons to visit the Azores is the local food. The climate lends itself to some fantastic ingredients, including Azorean pineapples and Europe’s only tea plantation.
There are also several hiking opportunities so you can book an Azores hotel somewhere close to the national parks, waterfalls, and mountains.
Submitted by Megan from Megan & Aram
Situated along the southeastern coast of Spain, Valencia lies in an idyllic location along the Mediterranean Sea.
The location ensures that Valencia enjoys warm weather all year round, making it one of the warmest destinations in Europe in winter.
In addition to enjoying the winter sun, there are plenty of things to do in Valencia, from exploring the stunning old town, to visiting the beautiful beaches, and admiring the marvellous city of Art and Sciences.
If you do encounter a rainy day, make sure you visit the central market to enjoy the fresh Paella on offer.
The best place to stay in Valencia is the UNIK Apartments located in an authentic Spanish neighbourhood within the old town.
Submitted by Samantha Karen from Sam Sees World
Compared to other places in Italy, Cagliari is significantly less visited. However it makes for a fabulous destination all year round – especially during winter.
When northern European countries, are experiencing bitter temperatures, Sardinia enjoys warm temperatures ranging from 10 to 19 degrees celsius during the day.
Easy to reach by plane from mainland Italy and via budget flights from many European cities, Cagliari can be explored on foot and by public transport.
However if you wish to visit the surroundings, renting a car or joining a guided tour is the best option.
You can enjoy many things to do in Cagliari such as a walking tour of the historic quarters of Castello, La Marina, Stampace and Villanova. The latter is the most colourful, but Castello offers the highest concentration of places to visit – including the Museum of Archeology where you can admire the Giants of Mont’e Prama, the Cathedral and the two watchtowers.
Castello also offers the best sunsets in town, from Via Santa Croce and overlooking the roofs of Stampace. If you do visit make sure to stop at Caffé Libarium for a sunset drink and the best views in town.
Not far from Castello, the Roman Amphitheater, the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu and Villa Tigellio are among the best archeological sites in town.
For a nature escape within the city borders, head to Poetto – Cagliari’s main urban beach.
It’s perfect for a walk and has a great running and biking trail. From there you can access Molentargius Nature Reserve, perfect for bird watching and a pink flamingos nesting place.
On the other side of Poetto, close to Calamosca (Cagliari’s second urban beach) you can access a trail to Sella del Diavolo promontory. Within 30 minutes along an easy trail you can reach one of the best viewpoints in town.
Submitted by Claudia Tavani from Strictly Sardinia
Part of the Costa del Sol, the Spanish destination of Málaga has an average daytime temperature of 15°C in winter.
In addition, the sun sets at around 6pm in December, much later than the rest of Northern Europe.
There are plenty things to do in Málaga such as visiting the Alcazaba of Málaga, a citadel dating back to the 11th-century Moorish period.
Or on rainy days you can visit the Antigua Casa de Guardia, Málaga’s oldest winery and tavern.
If art is more your thing, Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso so a visit to the Picasso Museum is a must.
One of the most affordable accommodation options in the city centre is Alcazaba Premium Hostel, ideally located so you can enjoy all that Málaga has to offer in winter.
Submitted by Jeanine Romo from Le Wild Explorer
Though best known for its blistering summer nightlife, Spain’s notorious party island also boasts a calmer side that makes it a joy to explore at any time of year.
In fact, those in-the-know argue that the best time to visit the whitewashed mecca of Ibiza is indeed during the more tranquil winter months.
During this time of year you can traverse the island without the maddening party goers that flock here in summer, and make the most of the secluded coves and beaches without fear of melting into the hot sand beneath you.
But fret not, young bikini lovers, for the sun shines year round in this part of the world and even December days are blessed with highs of 16°C.
Roam the ramparts of the 16th century Dalt Vila, or ‘High Town’ and get lost in the warren of alleyways and whitewashed buildings.
Escape to the secluded cove of Cala d’Hort and soak in the sweeping vistas of the iconic Es Vedrá islet, pausing for a tasty paella at the beachfront Restaurant el Carmen de Cala d’Hort.
In the rare case it does rain, simply make the most of Ibiza’s famous spas, such as Atzaró Spa Hotel (one of the island’s best loved spa hotels), where you can float your worries away in the pools and relax your mind with a tranquil yoga class.
Ibiza also boasts a wealth of cultural centres – the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ibiza (MACE) is always a winner and Can Ros in Santa Eulalia offers a fascinating insight into how the people of Ibiza used to live before tourism took over. ¡Pues vamos amigos!
Submitted by Ben Holbrook from Driftwood Journals
Even though Sicily is one of Europe’s top summer destinations, winter is actually one of the best times to visit.
In place of sun-worshippers and coach tours you’ll find fewer crowds, cooler temperatures and lower hotel and flight costs.
With average temperatures between 9 – 16°C, you can enjoy pleasant strolls around the island’s pretty Baroque towns and ancient archaeological sites and still take a refreshing dip in the sea.
There is the occasional rainy day during winter in Sicily, but there are plenty of indoor activities such as museums and churches in cities like Palermo and Catania.
You can also take part in a cooking class or visit the hot springs near Segesta to warm you up.
Submitted Samantha Barbagallo from The Wandering Wanderluster
For those who shy away from cold weather, the Greek island of Crete is one of the warmest European places to visit in winter. Crete enjoys a mild climate, with an average temperature of 15 degrees celcius in December.
Winter is still a great time to enjoy the best beaches in Crete as the pristine waters are calmer in winter than summer, making them more pleasant to swim in.
The island is also an amazing destination for those who love the mountains. The rivers and gorges are filled with water in winter and the landscape is also lush and green.
A trip during winter to Crete can be a great opportunity to discover some unique Greek Christmas traditions.
Visit the picturesque cities of Rethymnon or Chania without the summer crowds, and tour the museums and unique archaeological sites without waiting in line.
Winters in Crete are short and dry, and there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to take part in unique festivals, such as the Raki distillation festival. Raki, also known as tsikoudia, is Crete’s most popular liquor.
The festival involves plenty of Greek food, dancing, singing… and of course, tasting the new Raki of the season.
Submitted by Gabi Ancarola from The Tiny Book
That’s 15 Top European Destinations for Winter Sun
I hope these best winter sun Europe destinations have inspired you to enjoy a sunny getaway in December, January or February, and give you the Vitamin D fix that you’re looking for. If you need more winter sun inspiration check out the below posts: