This weekend (25th October 2020), marks the clocks turning back in Europe, where the mornings become lighter and the evenings darker. Instead of spending the winter in the UK, I've escaped to Greece for a few weeks. With temperatures here of 24 degrees Celsius, it's definitely t-shirt weather and last week I was even on the beach! But Greece isn't the only country in Europe that is good for winter sun.
If the thought of spending another cold winter seems too much to bear, there are plenty of places to escape the winter blues. You don't have to limit a break away to only the summer months, as getting away in the winter is a chance to experience some winter sun. You don’t need to go as far as the Caribbean either, with many places on our European doorstep. Here are my best places for winter sun in Europe.
Tenerife is the largest island within the Canaries. It is the perfect place for some winter sun with temperatures in the 20’s. If you don’t want to stay where the crowds are then avoid Playa de las Americas and head north instead. With black volcanic beaches, a Spanish vibe and a volcano to explore, Tenerife is one of the most popular European destinations in the winter months. The other Canary Islands are generally good weather-wise too. Last January I visited Gran Canaria for its digital nomad feel and also Fuerteventura for some surfing vibes.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 19 to 21 degrees Celsius
You’re pretty much guaranteed the weather in Cyprus. It may not be sunbathing weather but it’s still warm enough to explore. Expect temperatures to be up to 20 degrees Celsius, (similar to that in Tenerife) with six hours of sunlight, and warm enough to visit historic and cultural sites. I spent a week on the island and loved Larnaca. I also stayed near Paphos. Meander around Old Paphos or take a boat ride along the coastline. Although it does have one of the best European winter sun, if you do visit in December, it can rain slightly so take a rain jacket just in case.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 17 to 21 degrees Celsius
Greek villages, archaeological sites and delicious cuisine, Greece has a great culture and can be visited outside of summer. Visit Athens, the Peloponnese or head to one of the islands to experience true Greek hospitality whilst enjoying some blue, sunny days.
Crete especially is a great winter destination and has the ideal weather for hiking and exploring Greek history amongst its old churches and castles. The south coast is the warmest spot on the island and the winter months allow the chance to visit villages and museums and see the natural beauty of Greece without the tourists.
I've even been escaping to the nearby islands on the weekends and on the beach in October. The ferries have a limited service in the winter months but some of the larger islands have their own airports so you could fly into Crete for some winter sun or come to Athens like me, and take a short ferry ride to the groups of islands nearby.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 14 to 18 degrees Celsius (for Athens)
It may not be a destination that’s on your bucket list but Malta is a paradise for those who love both walking and architecture. This country has galleries and museums galore and you could spend hours amongst the cultural gems that this island has to offer. I visited Malta two years ago and was surprised how pretty the island was.
It’s one of the more quieter Mediterranean islands, especially in the winter months and attracts those looking for a more peaceful destination. If you visit here, you have all the space that you need as you are guaranteed that it won’t be overrun by tourists. Plus there is always Gozo, Malta’s sister island to visit too.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 17 to 20 degrees Celsius
South of Spain
Spain is one of the best Europe winter sun destinations, and the south of Spain is where it's at. Avoid the Basque region or Catalonia (known for its capital, Barcelona), and head south to Seville or Marbella. I loved both of these destinations, especially Marbella where the mountains seem to meet the sea. If you can't speak Spanish you can get by here as most hospitality staff in the bars and restaurants speak English. See the stunning Plaza de Espana and Royal Alcazar of Seville, or just hang out in a cafe near the beach in Marbella enjoying some tapas or seafood. Gibraltar is only an 90 minutes away by bus too.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 16 to 20 degrees Celsius
Not really a destination for sunbathing in the winter, Turkey offers so much more than just beaches and the weather is perfect enough to walk around and explore. For those who prefer sightseeing, Istanbul is large enough to spend at least a week here. Being so big, there are many areas to explore and all within flying distance. For those who love adventure sports, the Eastern area of Turkey is great for winter sports within its mountainous regions. I really like Turkey and recommend visiting the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia if you visit. You can take an overnight bus from Istanbul or fly internally instead.
* Average temperatures for November/December: 15 to 19 degrees Celsius (in Marmaris)
These are just some of my favourite places to visit for some winter sun. I hope this article has given you some ideas to inspire you. Where are your best places in Europe for winter sun?