We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
Warm up with these brilliant ideas for winter holidays, from Caribbean beaches to Indian Ocean islands
When the days draw in, you might find yourself pining for sunnier climes and our favourite winter sun destinations are here to help you plan your escape during the UK‘s coldest months. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to start the year on a high or you’re an early bird thinking of next winter, you’ve come to the right place as we’ve selected the very best places to enjoy a spot of winter sun.
Perhaps a last-minute January holiday to Barbados or a sun-kissed Christmas break in the Canaries takes your fancy. Well, these winter sun destinations will have you topping up your vitamin D in no time.
From short-haul European islands where the weather remains mild during the winter months, to the heavenly sands of long-haul beach locations that are best experienced between November and March, you’ll want to keep reading for the places to soak up the warmest temperatures.
Check out the best winter sun destinations for 2022. And don’t forget to check the latest advice from the Foreign Office before booking a trip during Covid-19.
Madeira’s climate is agreeable year-round – so much so that it’s fondly described as the ‘Eternal Spring’. Nevertheless, winter is a particularly good time to visit as the island becomes less crowded and the price of accommodation drops. The scenery on this Portuguese island is incredible, and the best way to experience it is to go hiking among the subtropical forests, taking in small villages and waterfalls along the way. On the coast, look out for the species of dolphin and whale that visit in winter.
Where to stay: Love golf? The PortoBay Serra Golf is right by the 27-hole Santo da Serra course, and is housed in a whimsical building that dates back to the 1920s. Alternatively, organise activities such as snorkelling and fishing through Belvedere Boutique, where you can enjoy a glass of Madeira wine as you admire the view of the sea from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the colourful apartments.
GH’S BEST HOTELS IN MADEIRA
Once a stop on the Spice Route, Mauritius has been influenced by the French, African, Indian and Chinese cultures. This means that the food is brilliantly varied, with curries, dim sum and croissants all waiting to be tried in waterside restaurants and cafes across the island. What’s more, fresh ingredients abound, and you’ll find yourself winding past tea and sugar cane plantations, walking through fragrant markets piled high with pineapples, and wandering along fields of bananas as you explore the island.
Where to stay: Embrace Mauritius’ great outdoors at the Bubble Lodge Bois Chéri Plantation, where glass domes make for a quirky yet sophisticated place to stay among the tea leaves. Alternatively, the child-friendly Zilwa Attitude on the island’s north coast offers an impressive array of activities, with sunrise pirogue trips, an aqua gym, tai chi lessons and pétanque.
BROWSE HOTELS IN MAURITIUS
Less crowded than Dubai, but still offering sleek shopping malls, desert safaris and luxurious places to stay, Abu Dhabi is a superb Middle Eastern alternative. There’s plenty to keep you busy: the last race of the Formula 1 calendar takes place here each November; Warner Bros World is a great stop for those travelling with children; and there’s art and culture at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Dry, sunny days make winter the best time to visit Abu Dhabi, as in summer the emirate state’s temperatures rise to a stifling 40C or more.
Where to stay: For its eye-catching design alone, the Bab Al Qasr Hotel is worth staying in. Add a location right on the beach, spacious rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, and well-equipped kitchens, plus a spa and restaurant, and you’ll have everything you need for a stress-free stay in Abu Dhabi.
BROWSE HOTELS IN ABU DHABI
While not scorching hot, in winter the Algarve is one of the warmest places in Europe. And the great weather isn’t the only reason to visit Portugal’s southern region: the beaches are particularly picturesque, with their golden sand backed by limestone cliffs. Some of the best are Marinha Beach, Praia da Rocha and Praia do Camilo. As for where to make your base, choose Tavira for its whitewashed homes and medieval castle, Silves for its terracotta-roofed homes and the Moorish Silves Castle, and Vilamoura for teeing off in the winter sun – the Portuguese region has an impressive 31 golf courses – and luxury accommodation.
Where to stay: Stay in the delightful Azul Sul guesthouse in Tavira, to enjoy Portuguese wine in the pretty, sun-filled courtyard and walk to local restaurants. For a more lavish option, the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club offers understated elegance, the Michelin-starred Vistas Restaurant, and access to the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
BROWSE HOTELS IN THE ALGARVE
Picture an island paradise, and it would look a lot like Barbados. And with its palm-fringed beaches, flavoursome Bajan cuisine, and relaxed atmosphere, it’s one of the best winter destinations for a chilled-out holiday. Luckily, from December to April, the weather in Barbados is dry and sunny, hovering around 30C, making lying back on a sun lounger with a rum cocktail in hand even more tempting.
Where to stay: Check into the cheerful self-catered apartments at Legend Garden Condos, which are surrounded by a 350-year-old plantation, with patios and a pool among the lush vegetation. Or go all out with a suite at the pink hotel Cobblers Cove, which lies right on the beachfront and serves fantastic food – some of the best on the island – at its Camelot restaurant.
BROWSE HOTELS IN BARBADOS
With its palm-lined boulevards, slick high rises, vibrant neighbourhoods, tropical climate and famous beaches, Miami has an irresistible allure. As you’d expect, there’s a rich arts and cultural scene, with museums and modern art galleries to keep you busy. And you’ll eat well too, with a diverse food scene that takes in cuisines from all over the world. As if that wasn’t enough, the 35 miles of beach will give you plenty of space to chill out away from the throngs in the busiest areas.
Where to stay: Feel like you’re in the heart of the action as you laze in the poolside cabanas at the SLS Lux Brickell, featuring sumptuous rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking downtown Miami. In a Beaux Arts building that dates back to 1925, the Eurostars Langford is a smart hotel, with parking and a rooftop bar.
BROWSE HOTELS IN MIAMI
Sun, sea and good times are on the menu in Tenerife, where colourful beach bars spill out onto sandy beaches. But away from the tourist hotspots of this Canary Island, you’ll also find wonderful scenery in the interior, in the Parque Nacional del Teide’s pine forests, which surround the highest mountain in Spain, Mount Teide – take the cable car up for the best view on the island. Elsewhere, historic towns such as La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz abound with delicious Spanish and seafood restaurants.
Where to stay: Hotel Alhambra in La Oratova’s Old Town is housed in a charming mansion and features colourful tiled bathrooms, a courtyard swimming pool, a sauna and communal areas to relax in. Alternatively, within the UNESCO-listed valley of Santiago del Teide, try La Casona del Patio, with its terracotta-tiled roofs, gabled wooden ceilings and restaurants serving traditional cuisine.
BROWSE HOTELS IN TENERIFE
The paradisiacal Maldives is the place to go for an idyllic island retreat. The shallow, clear waters that surround each of the coral islands in the archipelago are rich in sea life, with clownfish and rays visible near the shore. Take a boat out to spot dolphins and manta rays, or simply snorkel leisurely around your island, looking out for turtles and eagle rays. No matter how you choose to spend your time, the islands’ all-inclusive resorts make it easy to completely unwind.
Where to stay: In the UNESCO-protected Baa Atoll, enjoy good food and great value at Reethi Beach Resort, where you can choose from villas that open out directly onto the sand and overwater villas on stilts. In the same atoll, relax in the overwater spa, take a sunset cruise, go wine tasting, or enjoy a stargazing dinner at the Anantara Kihavah – that’s if you can tear yourselves away from the luxurious overwater villas.
BROWSE HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES
Thanks to its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has been ruled by Romans, Moors, French and British over the centuries, which has given it a wealth of historic sites and influences. Add to these magnificent Baroque cathedrals, stunning rock formations, fascinating museums and ancient ruins, and you’ll find that the world’s 10th-smallest country punches far above its weight. With highs of 17C in winter, the island is ideal for a mild weather getaway close to home.
Where to stay: Housed in a tastefully restored 17th-century palazzo, the boutique Domus Zamittello, with its classical furniture and furnishings, is ideally located for taking advantage of Valletta’s cathedrals, squares and gardens. Also in Valletta, and with a pool that overlooks the harbour, the glamorous Phoenicia Hotel gives guests five-star luxury and is the perfect spot to enjoy fancy afternoon tea.
GH’S BEST HOTELS IN MALTA
On a list filled with destinations that are blessed with picture-perfect beaches, those of the Seychelles still manage to stand out. Here, lush greenery undulates down from the archipelago’s mountains, leading to bays of soft, white sand that curve onto the crystal-clear Indian Ocean. The north-west trade winds between December and January cool the island’s temperature to a comfortable 27 or 28C.
Where to stay: From the apartments at Treasure Island Retreat on Praslin, which have fully equipped kitchens and access to a barbecue, you can step right out onto the beach and walk to local restaurants. To really get away from it all, the Denis Private Island Seychelles feels truly remote, with a shallow lagoon where you can spot turtles, lots of birdlife, and nature tours, plus a restaurant serving food made from produce grown on the island.
BROWSE HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.