Winter sun holidays: travel experts pick the best destinations

Autumn and Winter in the UK can be pretty, and atmospheric – but nobody’s going to rate it for sunshine levels. If you want to bathe in some blissfully warm sunshine, winter sun holidays might be order. But where to go? There are so many great destinations. It’s a tricky choice. And sometimes, just reading about a place can make you feel all warm and toasty inside. So snuggle up in a blanket, grab a mug of hot cocoa, and let these family travel experts transport you to warmer climes…..

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Winter family holidays: Majorca

cove in Majorca

Majorca’s coastline is sprinkled with sheltered coves and sandy beaches

Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, enjoys a mild climate for most of the year. Expect a temperature of 21°C in September. This dips to 14°C in November, but it rarely gets below 10°C through the coldest winter months. The turquoise waters along its Mediterranean coastline, and wide sandy coves, are just part of the country’s attractions. Further inland, there’s the UNESCO Heritage site of the Tramuntana mountains. This natural paradise is festooned with a heady mixture of orange, lemon and almond trees.

Majorca is a popular tourist destination, with hotels in Majorca catering for all types of holidaymakers. People who want a vibrant nightlife and cocktails with their tapas can head to Palma, Palma Nova or Magaluf. A more chilled family vibe can be found in the north side of the country, where resort towns like Puerto Pollensa offer beachside restaurants and cafes. And Alcudia‘s definitely worth a look for anyone travelling with kids. The pretty walled town dates back to the 13th Century. Nearby is Majorca’s longest beach, with a 14km swathe of fine sand. For beachside resort hotels in Alcudia try Iberostar Cuidad Blanca, As well as pools with waterslides and a kids’ club, the resort offers single use plastic-free rooms.

Winter sun breaks: Tunisia

Hotel Manar Tunisia

This picture was taken at the Manar Resort Hotel, in Hammamet, Tunisia

With a Mediterranean climate in the north, and a Saharan climate in the south, Tunisia’s an excellent destination for year-round sun. The North African country has become a world-renowned destination for thalassotherapy. Lots of hotels offer this spa treatment that uses seawater, and other marine-based treatments like seaweed wraps, to prompt wellbeing. With flights from London running at only two and a half hours, Tunisia’s an easy destination for people looking for a winter escape from the UK.

From boutique hotels to lush, wide family-friendly resorts with direct beach access, Tunisia is awash with accommodation options. Charming villages like Sidi Bou Said, with its whitewashed walls and vibrant blue doorways, make for great day trips. Visitors can wander round the souqs and medinas of seaside towns like Hammamet, or Nabeul, where artisans make colourful ceramics, and where you can haggle over the most delicious harissa. Golfing, sailing, wind-surfing and dune yachting are all popular holiday pastimes in Tunisia. With reliably warm weather throughout most of the winter, visitors can enjoy soaking up some sunshine while it’s cold and wet back at home.

Read more about holidays in Tunisia in this feature.

Winter sun holidays: Lanzarote

by Jen and Susanna from BritMums


Image copyright Susanna Scott

With nigh-on guaranteed good weather, Lanzarote has the basics covered. But with its dramatic volcanic landscapes, legendary artistic communities, and unforgettable beaches, it makes for a truly special family getaway.

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 island’s an interesting melange of African climate and Spanish culture. There’s something for everyone. Kids can learn more about geology, 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 sailing, waterskiing, bodyboarding …..all sorts of water-based 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?

Sun holidays in January: 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. It 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.

Sunshine holidays: Mexico

by Katja from Globetotting


Tulum in Mexico. Image copyright Katja Gaskell.

If I’m looking for winter sun holidays (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 break, 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!

Christmas sun: 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, the flight there takes 12 hours. But once you’ve touched down, there’s only a 2-hour time difference. And 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. 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…

Winter sun holiday destinations: Thailand

by Carrie from Flying with a Baby


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 (although there’s no 7/11 in sight!). With various accommodation options to choose 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.

Best winter sun: Jordan

by Nicky from Go Live Young

winter sun

Image copyright Go Live Young

For a relatively small country, Jordan offers an astounding variety of adventure. 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 recommend for winter sun holidays?

If you’re interested in reading about other destinations that are likely to be warmer than the UK at this time of year, check out these features on Asturias, Spain and Puglia, Italy.

We’ve also written a guide to picking those sunshine travel essentials: sunglasses and swimsuits.

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  • Plutonium Sox
    October 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Some fab ideas, I’d agree with South Africa and Thailand. I love New Zealand for winter sun too. And I’d love to visit Jordan, it looks stunning.

    • Nell
      October 16, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      Doesn’t it? That one’s high up on my list, too.


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