18 Best Winter Sun Destinations in Europe!

Winter can be a dreary time in the UK. To be honest, Gosia really doesn’t like this part of the year. The sky is grey, your bones feel like icicles, and the siren call of a winter sun holiday beckons. But don’t despair! Europe is sprinkled with hidden gems where the sun is still gracious enough to make an appearance during the colder months. Every year we try to get some winter sun in Europe. So, what say we swap snowflakes for sun rays, eh?

With that in mind, we’ve prepared for you a list of 18 European destinations that are perfect for soaking up some winter sun. Trust us, we’ve donned our sunglasses and tested the waters (sometimes quite literally) to bring you this sun-kissed guide.

Are you ready to escape the winter chill and catch some rays? Let’s dive in, shall we?

Winter Sun Europe – car hire:

We have rented cars many times during winter sun breaks in Europe and we always used discovercars.com

Check out our guide to the best European rental car companies or simply explore the options directly on discovercars.com if you need a car during a trip in Europe.

Best places for winter sun in Europe
Best winter sun Europe

Winter sun destinations Europe

1. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Sun-Soaked Sands Meet Lunar Landscapes

Where to go for winter sun in Europe? When you’re not sure whether you’ve landed on the moon or a beach paradise, you’re likely in Fuerteventura. Winters here are a balmy 18°C to 24°C. I have to say, Fuerta is my favourite winter destination in Europe – you will love it too! 🙂

  • Best for: Beach bums, water sports enthusiasts, families
  • Don’t miss: Corralejo Dunes, El Cotillo beaches, Lobos Island
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Fuerteventura Airport

Fuerteventura Frolics

  1. Kite surfing
  2. Buggy Safari Tour
  3. Dolphin and whale watching
Fuerteventura’s FinestDon’t Miss This
BetancuriaOldest town
Ajuy CavesCoastal wonders
Oasis ParkAnimal adventure
Isla de LobosUnspoilt beauty
Darek during winter sun Europe trip to Fuerteventura
Hottest winter sun Europe – Fuerteventura

2. Algarve, Portugal

Sun’s Out, Fun’s Out!

Ah, the Algarve. A classic sun-seeker destination, with good reason. A mild climate, delightful beaches, and scrumptious cuisine await you here. The southern coast of Portugal is one of the most enchanting places you could hope to visit in the wintertime. With temperatures ranging from 12°C to 19°C, the Algarve will make you forget winter ever existed. Did we mention there there many stunning beaches on the Algarve Coast? We absolutely love this part of Europe!

  • Best for: Beach bums, foodies, golfers
  • Don’t miss: Faro’s historical centre, the dramatic cliffs at Ponta da Piedade
  • Getting there: Direct flights from various UK airports to Faro Airport

Activities to Try

  1. Beach-hopping
  2. Benagil caves
  3. Golfing
Algarve HighlightsWhy Visit?
Praia da Marinha BeachOne of the best in Europe
Albufeira Old TownHistory with a view
Silves CastleStep back in time
Ria Formosa Natural ParkA birdwatcher’s paradise
Best winter sun destinations in Europe - Algarve
Places to go for winter sun in Europe – Algarve

3. Barcelona, Spain

Sun, Sangria, and Sagrada Familia

Barcelona, the Catalan jewel, is the perfect winter sun destination for culture vultures and beach enthusiasts alike. While you might not get a tan, the mild winter temps (10°C-16°C) are a welcome relief from the UK’s icy grip.

  • Best for: Culture buffs, architecture lovers, nightlife enthusiasts
  • Don’t miss: Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter, the magic of Montjuic
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Barcelona-El Prat Airport

Things to See and Do

  1. Visit Gaudi’s masterpieces
  2. Walk down La Rambla
  3. Sagrada Familia
Barcelona HighlightsWhat Makes It Special
Park GüellGaudi’s playground
Casa BatllóArchitecture at its finest
Mercat de la BoqueriaFoodie’s paradise
Magic FountainLight and music show
Best winter destinations in Europe - Barcelona
Best winter holidays in Europe – Barcelona

4. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

It’s Always Summer Somewhere!

Talk about an eternal summer. Gran Canaria, part of Spain’s Canary Islands, boasts an average winter temperature of around 22°C. No joke! Ideal for Brits looking to escape the chill without jetting halfway across the globe.

  • Best for: Beach lovers, families, hikers
  • Don’t miss: Maspalomas Dunes, Las Palmas, Roque Nublo
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Airport

Ideal Activities

  1. Submarine tour
  2. Whale watching
  3. Hiking
Gran Canaria’s Must-DosWhy They’re Hot
Maspalomas LighthouseIconic spot
Puerto de MogánVenice of the Canaries
Palmitos ParkAnimal-friendly fun
Playa de AmadoresFor the perfect sunsets
Gosia exploring Gran Canaria during Europe winter sun trip
Best European winter sun destinations – Gran Canaria

5. Nice, France

A Riviera Gem

Nice is, well, more than just nice – it’s splendid! The Queen of the French Riviera shines even in winter, with temps between 10°C-16°C. It’s less crowded, too, which means more room on the Promenade des Anglais for you!

  • Best for: Art lovers, food enthusiasts, luxury seekers
  • Don’t miss: Marc Chagall National Museum, Nice Old Town, Promenade des Anglais
  • Getting there: Direct flights from several UK airports to Nice Côte d’Azur Airport

Must-Do Activities

  1. Discover Nice Old Town
  2. Eze, Monaco and Monte Carlo from Nice
  3. Eat Socca, the local pancake
Nice ExperiencesReasons to Go
Cours Saleya MarketFresh produce galore
Colline du ChateauPanoramic views
Parc PhoenixFor botanical enthusiasts
Place MassénaCultural hub
Places to go for winter sun in Europe - Nice
Best winter sun in Europe – Nice

6. Athens, Greece

Sunshine and Souvlaki

Ah, Athens! The cradle of Western civilisation knows how to put on a show, even in winter. With average temperatures between 10°C and 17°C, it’s a lovely escape. Plus, fewer crowds mean a more intimate experience with those iconic ruins.

  • Best for: History buffs, foodies, city explorers
  • Don’t miss: Acropolis, Plaka neighbourhood, Syntagma Square
  • Getting there: Direct flights from various UK airports to Athens International Airport

Unmissable Athens Moments

  1. Visit the Acropolis
  2. Explore the Plaka
  3. Try a traditional Greek coffee
Athens HighlightsSpecial Features
Ancient AgoraA walk through history
Lycabettus HillBest view in town
Varvakios AgoraFood market extravaganza
Ermou StreetShop ’til you drop
Winter sun Europe - Athens
Hot winter holiday destinations – Athens

7. Antalya, Turkey

Where East Meets West in Winter

You don’t have to give up on sun, sea, and sand in Turkey during the winter. Antalya offers mild temperatures between 10°C and 16°C.

  • Best for: History lovers, couples, families
  • Don’t miss: Düden Waterfalls, Hadrian’s Gate, Kaleiçi
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Antalya Airport

Antalyan Activities

  1. Suluada Island boat tour
  2. Ancient ruins exploration
  3. Turkish bath experience
Antalyan AttractionsWorth the Trip
Konyaaltı BeachSun and sea
Aspendos TheatreRoman relic
Antalya MuseumCultural escapade
PergeArchaeological wonder
Winter sun in Europe - Antalya
European winter sun destinations – Antalya

8. Malta

The Heart of the Mediterranean

Fancy a slice of history with your sun? Malta’s your go-to. With winter temperatures ranging between 12°C-20°C, you won’t need to lug around your winter coat here. Gosia loves Malta – we had an amazing time during our visit in February!

  • Best for: History lovers, divers, adventurers
  • Don’t miss: Mdina, Blue Grotto, Valletta’s baroque architecture
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Malta International Airport

Malta’s Best Bits

  1. Blue Lagoon
  2. Tour of Mdina
  3. Valletta city walk
Malta HighlightsMust Experience
St. John’s Co-CathedralBaroque brilliance
Gozo IslandTranquil beauty
Dingli CliffsNatural splendour
MarsaxlokkFishing village charm
Best winter holidays in Europe - Malta
Best European country for winter sun – Malta

9. Cyprus

Island of Love

Aphrodite’s Isle has more to offer than just love in the air. How about mild winters with temperatures between 12°C-20°C? Perfect for beach strolls.

  • Best for: Couples, families, nature lovers
  • Don’t miss: Paphos Archaeological Park, Troodos Mountains
  • Getting there: Direct flights from various UK airports to Larnaca or Paphos

Cypriot Charms

  1. Beach lounging
  2. Blue Lagoon boat trip
  3. Explore Nicosia
Cyprus DelightsWhy Go?
Ayia NapaParty central
Petra tou RomiouAphrodite’s Rock
KourionAncient ruins
Akamas PeninsulaUntamed wilderness
Where to go for winter sun in Europe - Cyprus
Best winter sun destinations Europe – Cyprus

10. Seville, Spain

Ole for Sunshine!

Spain’s southern belle rarely disappoints, especially in winter. The temps typically hover between 10°C-18°C, making Seville ideal for sightseeing without the sweat.

  • Best for: History enthusiasts, foodies, flamenco fans
  • Don’t miss: Alcazar, Plaza de España, tapas crawls
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Seville Airport

Seville Must-Dos

  1. Alcazar visit
  2. Flamenco show
  3. Catch a bullfight
Seville HighlightsPure Magic
Metropol ParasolThe Mushrooms
Barrio Santa CruzAtmospheric quarters
Guadalquivir RiverRiverside charm
TrianaCeramic treasures
Warmest winter destination in Europe - Seville
Best places in Europe for winter sun – Seville

11. Madeira, Portugal

Floral Fantasy

This Portuguese archipelago is a horticultural dream, with winter temps of 16°C-22°C. Imagine taking your morning tea surrounded by blooming orchids in December!

Madeira really is one of our favourite islands in Europe – perfect for a winter trip!

  • Best for: Nature lovers, hikers, retirees
  • Don’t miss: Funchal’s Botanical Garden, Levada walks
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Madeira Airport

Things to Do in Madeira

  1. Cable car ride
  2. Dolphin and whale watching
  3. Botanical garden visit
Madeira’s GemsCan’t-Miss
Pico RuivoHighest peak
Porto MonizNatural pools
Monte Palace GardensGarden goals
São Vicente CavesSubterranean adventure
Gosia enjoying sun during winter sun holiday in Madeira
Best places for Christmas sun – Madeira

12. Bodrum, Turkey

Turkish Delight, Indeed

Forget the sweet; Bodrum is a Turkish delight all its own. With winter temperatures hovering between 12°C and 19°C, it’s perfect for those who want to skip the summer crowds.

  • Best for: History enthusiasts, boating buffs, couples
  • Don’t miss: Bodrum Castle, Antique Theatre, Windmills
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Bodrum Airport

Best of Bodrum

  1. Castle tours
  2. Orak Island boat trip
  3. Windmill vistas
Bodrum’s BestSights to See
GümüşlükPeaceful village
Mausoleum at HalicarnassusWonder of the ancient world
Bodrum AmphitheatreRoman ruins
Zeki Müren MuseumPop culture
Best places for winter sun in Europe - Bodrum
Best places to visit for winter sun – Bodrum

13. Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Pearl of the Adriatic

Winter sees Dubrovnik sans the tourist swarms, making it the best time to explore. With temps between 9°C-15°C, it’s no sunbathing holiday, but still a worthy winter escape.

  • Best for: History buffs, Game of Thrones fans, couples
  • Don’t miss: Old Town, city walls, Sponza Palace
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Dubrovnik Airport

Must-See Dubrovnik

  1. Game of Thrones walking tour
  2. Old Town tour
  3. Visit Lokrum Island
Dubrovnik HighlightsWhy It’s Fab
Rector’s PalaceRenaissance wonder
Dubrovnik CathedralBaroque beauty
Fort Lovrijenac“Croatian Gibraltar”
StradunMain thoroughfare
Best places for sun in Europe in winter - Dubrovnik
Sunniest places in Europe winter – Dubrovnik

14. Sicily, Italy

Where Winter Takes a Siesta

Sicily, the football at Italy’s toe, offers surprisingly mild winters, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 17°C. Perfect for outdoor escapades sans the stifling heat of summer.

  • Best for: Food enthusiasts, history buffs, beach goers
  • Don’t miss: Mount Etna, Valley of the Temples, Taormina
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Catania or Palermo

Sicilian Sojourns

  1. Mount Etna hike
  2. Ancient ruins exploration
  3. Cannoli indulgence
Sicilian WondersWhy Visit?
SyracuseHistoric treasure
RagusaBaroque charm
Aeolian IslandsNatural wonders
Catania Fish MarketCulinary adventure
Winter sun destinations in Europe - Sicily
Europe winter sun destinations – Sicily

15. Lanzarote, Canary Islands

A Volcanic Paradise

Lanzarote offers a unique blend of natural beauty and agreeable climate. Expect temperatures from 17°C to 24°C – even in December! Fancy visiting Lanzarote during Christmas? We did it and it was one of the best trips ever!

  • Best for: Nature lovers, surfers, families
  • Don’t miss: Timanfaya National Park, Playa Blanca, Papagayo Beach
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Lanzarote Airport

Lanzarote Must-Dos

  1. Volcano tour
  2. La Graciosa luxury catamaran cruise
  3. Wine tasting in La Geria
Lanzarote HighlightsWhy Go?
Cueva de los VerdesLava tube exploration
Jameos del AguaNatural attraction
Playa del PapagayoIdyllic beach
Mirador del RíoBest views in the island
Darek at sunrise in Lanzarote - winter sun holidays
Best winter sun holidays Europe – Lanzarote

16. Ibiza, Spain

More Than Just Nightclubs

Ibiza isn’t just a party island; it’s also a winter retreat. The party crowd’s absence makes it peaceful, and with temps from 12°C to 17°C, it’s still quite warm.

  • Best for: Couples, friends, music lovers
  • Don’t miss: Dalt Vila, Cala Salada Beach, Ibiza Old Town
  • Getting there: Flights from various UK airports to Ibiza Airport

Ibiza Experiences

  1. Explore Dalt Vila
  2. Sunset at Café del Mar
  3. Beach hopping
Ibiza TreasuresWhy Visit?
Es VedràMystical rock formation
Las Dalias MarketHippie market
FormenteraDay-trip paradise
Cala d’HortScenic beach
Winter sun destinations Europe - Ibiza
Best warm winter destinations in Europe – Ibiza

17. Tenerife, Canary Islands

Winter? Never Heard of Her!

Tenerife is another Canary Island gem where winter seems to have lost its way. Temperatures between 17°C and 24°C make it a delightful December destination.

  • Best for: Families, couples, hikers
  • Don’t miss: Mount Teide, Playa de las Américas, Siam Park
  • Getting there: Direct flights from multiple UK airports to Tenerife South Airport

Tenerife’s Top Picks

  1. Teide National Park
  2. Loro Parque and Siam Park
  3. Whale watching
Tenerife’s Best BitsSpecial Features
Anaga MountainsHiking heaven
Loro ParqueWildlife adventure
Los CristianosSeaside fun
Santa Cruz CarnivalAnnual festivity
Best sun holidays in winter Europe - Tenerife
Best places to go in the winter for sun – Tenerife

18. Marrakech, Morocco

A Non-European Intruder

Alright, it’s not in Europe, but it’s a stone’s throw away. Marrakech offers a different kind of winter sun with temperatures from 14°C to 20°C. Plus, it’s a whole new world of experiences!

  • Best for: Culture seekers, foodies, shoppers
  • Don’t miss: Jardin Majorelle, Bahia Palace, Souks
  • Getting there: Direct flights from various UK airports to Marrakech Airport

Marrakech Moments

  1. Ouzoud waterfalls
  2. Jardin Majorelle
  3. Marrakech quad bike experience
Marrakech Must-SeesCan’t-Miss
Koutoubia MosqueArchitectural marvel
Djemaa el FnaThe heart of the city
Saadian TombsHidden history
Atlas MountainsA day trip away
Best winter sun places - Marrakech
Hot winter destinations – Marrakech

There you have it, a complete round-up of 18 fantastic destinations for the European winter sun (with one cheeky non-European guest). We’ve scoured the continent (and a bit beyond) to curate this list of winter wonders just for you. So pack those sunnies and leave the brolly behind, for your winter sun escape awaits. Off you pop, the world’s your sunny oyster!

Is Europe good for winter sun?

Absolutely, old chap! While Europe may conjure up images of cosy winter markets and snow-covered Alps, let’s not forget it’s a continent of climatic diversity. The southern parts, like the Canary Islands, the Algarve, and Sicily, are particularly smashing for catching some winter rays.

Plus, you’ll find these destinations less crowded, offering a more relaxed vibe than the bustling summer months. It’s like having your cake and eating it too, only your cake is on a sunny beach and you’re eating it in the middle of December!