Travel experts pick the best destinations for winter sun

Travel experts pick the best destinations for winter sun

If you’re fed up with cold, grey days and want to bathe in some blissfully warm sunshine, a winter sun break might be order. But where to go? There are so many great destinations, where the sun shines when it’s cold and dark in the UK. So grab a mug of hot cocoa and let these family travel experts transport you to warmer climes…..

The Gambia

by Cathy from Mummy Travels

image copyright Cathy Winston

With temperatures into the 30s throughout January and February, you’re guaranteed the sun if you visit The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa. But that’s really only the start of what you can discover in the West African country.

The Gambia calls itself the ‘smiling coast’ of Africa and certainly lives up to that reputation; you’ll find that you introduce yourself multiple times a day as almost everyone you meet strikes up conversation. Away from the coast, the river and forests are a wildlife haven too: you can find almost 600 species of birds, plus monkeys and crocodiles, and if you travel deeper inland there are hippos in the river plus chimpanzees in an island rehabilitation centre.

It’s also a great place to learn a little more about African culture, with nine different tribes living alongside each other, all with their own traditions and rituals. Watch traditional wrestling with drummers providing the soundtrack or uncover the area’s darker history with a tour that traces the historic slave trade here.

Vibrant and colourful, it’s easy to get a glimpse of everyday life too – the perfect winter sun break that has more than just beach and sea.

Mexico

by Katja from Globetotting

Tulum

Tulum in Mexico. Image copyright Katja Gaskell.

If I’m looking for winter sun (and who isn’t right now?!) then Mexico is my go-to destination. We lived in Mexico City for 5.5 years and one of the things I miss most is the year-round sunshine. For a winter holiday, however, I would definitely head to the beach. There are the obvious sun and sand destinations such as Cancun but with more than 9,300km of coastline, Mexico has no shortage of beachside towns.

One of my favourite places is Tulum, a hip beach retreat that is popular with both Hollywood stars and families. For something a little more low key, I would head to the city of Merida, a colourful colonial town within easy reach of some beautiful beaches and some incredible Mayan ruins. On the Pacific side of the country there’s Ixtapa, where we spent many a happy beach holiday soaking up the sunshine and eating amazing seafood. And finally, there’s Sayulita. This laidback beach town was first discovered by surfers and is today a relaxed hippie town where life definitely moves more lento. Wherever you choose, however, you can’t go wrong. I can’t wait to go back!

Lanzarote

by Jen and Susanna from BritMums

Lanzarote

Image copyright Susanna Scott. Featuring other bloggers on the trip: Jen, Lisa, Carrie, Helen and Sarah.

A quick flight, affordable airfare, practically guaranteed good weather – for great winter sun, Lanzarote’s got the basics covered. But its dramatic volcanic landscapes and artistic side as well as the beach make it a truly special family getaway.

With an average temperature of 22C and 3,000 hours of sunshine, Lanzarote delivers warm weather. Hop on one of the budget airlines to Arrecife Airport – only 4 hours away – and you’ll find yourself in one of the oldest Canary Islands.

Lanzarote was formed more than 25 million years ago from volcanic activity that continued through the 1800s. The result: striking landscapes of black and brown from the volcanic ash, offset by white houses painted with lime (the practice is regulated by the government).

The African climate mixes with Spanish culture and something for everyone. Kids can expand their geology knowledge and experience volcanoes firsthand while practicing their Spanish. Art lovers will be inspired by the mark that the influential Lanzarote artist and architect César Manrique’s left on the island. There’s water sports and water fun. And of course there are the wide sandy beaches and all-inclusive resorts. The question isn’t why go to Lanzarote. It’s why haven’t you been there already?

Oman

by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels

Imae copyright Nichola West

Oman is the perfect place for some sunshine in the winter months. It’s warm in temperature and also in terms of the welcome. There are forts to explore, beaches to play on, camels to ride and adventures to be had everywhere you look. We loved taking a trip out to spot wild dolphin in the Gulf of Oman, and sleeping in a nomadic camp in the middle of the desert with Bedouin nomads was an experience none of us will forget. Every major town has souks to haggle in, and even the kids loved looking around for shiny trinkets and castle-shaped pots. My favourite part was glamping in Ras al Jinz, part of a research facility that monitors endangered turtles, and allows you on to the beach to watch Green Turtles lay their eggs and then heave themselves back in to the sea. It was one of the most magical experiences I have had whilst travelling. Oman has absolutely everything you could want from a trip with winter sun.

Malta and Gozo

by Clare from Suitcases and Sandcastles

Malta

Image copyright Clare Thomson

The Mediterranean island of Malta is having its moment. Lonely Planet has named it as one of the top countries to visit in 2018 and Valletta, its capital city, is this year’s European Capital of Culture.

With over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, it makes a great winter sun destination too. Valletta has a warmer winter than any other capital in Europe and 161 hours of sunshine in December compared to London’s 37. You can expect temperatures of around 16 degrees Celsius in January and February but it will be even warmer in December and March.

In winter you can enjoy the cultural and historic sights without the crowds. There are megalithic temples older than the Pyramids of Egypt, the beautifully preserved medieval cities of Rabat and Mdina and the Baroque churches, forts and palaces left from the crusading Knights of St John.

You’ll be charmed by the colourfully painted fishing boats in the pretty harbour at Marsaxlokk and you can avoid the summer crowds at the famous Blue Lagoon. And don’t miss the chance to explore the enchanting island of Gozo either – its laidback pace and stunningly beautiful coastline will capture your heart.

South Africa

by Ting from My Travel Monkey

Image copyright Ting Dalton from My Travel Monkey

South Africa has so much to offer in terms of a family winter sun destination. Sure you’ve got a 12-hour flight but once there, it’s only a 2-hour time difference plus you’re pretty much guaranteed sunshine, as it’s their summer.

We were totally blown away by our trip. From the hustle and bustle of Cape Town to the breathtaking scenery and natural landscapes along the Garden Route. There is so much to see and do that it was impossible to fit everything in – from beach walks, penguin spotting to safari, there is plenty to satisfy the whole family.

We also couldn’t get over the hospitality shown to us from every person we encountered along the way – as well as the delicious food and wine. We are already talking about what we’d do next time…

Cuba

by Sam from North East Family Fun

Image copyright Sam from North East Family Fun

Cuba enjoys warm, sunny weather with temperatures reaching the high 20s in the winter months. This tropical island is diverse and is perfect if you’re looking for a holiday which combines sunshine, a range of activities and relaxation. Perhaps a visit to a cigar factory or a walking tour around Havana will be of interest or maybe you’d like to sample mojitos and dance the night away at the legendary Tropicana show? Head to Varadero if you’re looking for some of the best beaches in the world and don’t forget to check out the local markets too.

Cyprus

by Karen from Mini Travellers

Image copyright Karen Beddow

For me Cyprus is a fantastic winter sun destination. It’s only 4 hours away from the UK, with convenient flights from across the UK. The time difference works out really well, too. We kept our kids on UK time, which meant if we put them to bed at 10pm (UK time) they slept until 9am (UK time). It was a win-win for all of us.

The weather in October is usually nice enough for some sunbathing, but even if it isn’t, there are some fantastic archaeological sites to visit, with no ropes to really keep you from going anywhere. The kids loved the freedom to run about, whereas in the UK, there might have been signs to say ‘don’t go there!’  We happily spent a couple of hours exploring sites a couple of times in the week, until it got too hot and we returned to the swimming pool to cool off.  Take water and snacks whatever the time of year! Additional activities like Donkey Safaris and Water Parks also keep the kids busy whatever the time of year.

Thailand

by Carrie from Flying with a Baby

Tulum

Image copyright Carrie Bradley

Thailand is a wonderful contender for some winter sun. Although there may be the odd (warm) rain shower, these often pass very quickly. Whether you are a culture vulture, an active sporty family or prefer to relax and unwind – there really is something for everyone. One of my preferred holidays in Thailand is exploring the various islands. Recently, we went off the beaten track and visited Koh Jum after a short stay in Krabi. An hour taxi ride followed by a 45 minute long boat ride brought us to this idyllic island spot. Think Thailand before mass tourism descended but with all the comforts (but with no 7/11 in sight!) With various accommodation options from there is something suitable for all budgets. Koh Jum is a perfect island base for complete relaxation and those famous Thai massages. Boat trips can be taken to the amazing Monkey Island with its powder white beaches and cheeky little wild local monkeys. The famous Phi Phi is also nearby. Kayaks and snorkels can be easily hired and of course it’s a diving paradise. The undersea life is full of the most colourful fish living in the aquamarine sea.

Jordan

by Nicky from Go Live Young

winter sun

Image copyright Go Live Young

Jordan offers an astounding variety of adventure within a relatively small country. With little rain and mild winters it is perfect for some winter sun.

Ride a camel through the desert at Wadi Rum and sleep overnight at a bedouin camp. At night, watch a star show like you’ve never seen before. Next morning hike through the desert imagining you’re Lawrence of Arabia. Float in the salty water of the Dead Sea and cover yourself in therapeutic mud! See the historical lost city of Petra, marvelling at the ancient buildings built into the sandstone cliffs. For outstanding views hike to the Monastery, up to the High Place of Sacrifice and to see the Treasury from above. The waters of the Red Sea, off the coast of Aqaba are bath-warm all year around. Try snorkelling or scuba diving for some of the best underwater sights anywhere in the world. If that’s not enough, head to the ancient Roman city at Jerash.

Jordan is very family friendly and there’s plenty to keep children entertained. If you’re looking for fun and adventure Jordan is the perfect place for a winter getaway.

 

Where would you like to travel this winter?

 

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12 Comments

  1. January 2, 2018 / 8:24 am

    I love this! So many ideas. Xxx

  2. January 2, 2018 / 4:51 pm

    Some great suggestions. I love South Africa, that would probably be top of my list of places I’ve already been. In terms of places I haven’t visited yet, I’d definitely go for the Gambia, it sounds idyllic!
    Nat.x

    • January 5, 2018 / 11:59 am

      It does sound amazing, doesn’t it.

  3. January 2, 2018 / 6:31 pm

    Choices, choices! I think I’d be tempted by Mexico although the proximity and familiarity of Lanzarote are quite appealing too…

    • January 5, 2018 / 12:00 pm

      I know. Far too many choices to easily narrow it down!

  4. January 3, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    Thanks so much for including me, Nell. This is a fabulous post filled with winter sun inspiration. I’d love to return to Thailand – this time with the kids – and I’ve always wanted to visit Mexico.

    • January 5, 2018 / 12:03 pm

      Yes, Mexico looks amazing. I’d find it hard to pick out a favourite from this lot.

  5. January 3, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    Thank you so much for including me, lots of great ideas here, they make me want to start planning 🙂

    • January 5, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      I know – me too! x

  6. January 6, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    So many great ideas – I definitely fancy some sunshine. And thanks for including my tip!

    • January 8, 2018 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks for contributing! x

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