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Winter sun

8 ideas for last-minute winter sun

Photo of Anna HardyPhoto of Anna Hardy
By Anna Hardy

8 December 2023 | Updated 2 February 20246 min read

A pebbly beach in a narrow inlet flanked by cliffs in Gozo

Mgarr ix-Xini Bay, Gozo Wave goodbye to winter from Gozo's stunning, sunny shores.

Sunshine isn't just for summer. Skip the rest of winter and get a dose of vitamin D this February with a fabulous last-minute winter sun holiday.

Balmier-than-Britain beaches, cultural cities and sunshine-filled days are waiting along shores not too far from home this February. Just remember to dig out the sunscreen – you might be surprised to find you’ll need it!

1. Algarve, Portugal

The dreary British weather is well and truly left behind on the Algarve’s sunny shores. Temperatures remain in the high teens in February, and the milder weather means fewer crowds, cheap off-season deals and the chance to get stuck into activities without the scorching summer heat.

If you’re purely seeking a sunshine escape, the Algarve’s golden, sandy beaches are impossible to resist – Praia da Falesia is considered one of the region’s most beautiful. Kick back and relax in peace on the sun-kissed sands or try your hand at windsurfing, sea kayaking or paddleboarding.

Alternatively, head east to discover the Algarve’s quieter side in towns such as Olhão and Tavira or make the most of the cooler temperatures and explore the outdoors. Get your hike on, hop on a bike tour* or hit the green for a game of golf – the Algarve has some of the best courses in Europe.

2. Cyprus

Cyprus has some of the warmest winter temperatures in the Mediterranean, and it’s great value at this time of year, too. Many hotels slash their prices, you can often negotiate better rates on excursions, and restaurants offer special deals on lunch and dinner menus.

For beach bums and culture cravers, it’s hard to do better. Sandy azure beaches and ancient archaeological landmarks abound here, and you can enjoy popular activities without peak season crowds. Why not delve into the historic Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, join a jeep safari* to discover the caves of Ayia Napa or hike into the Troodos Mountains?

If that’s not for you, simply spend your days on the white sandy beaches of the south coast and tuck into traditional Cypriot cuisine in a seaside café.

3. Antalya, Turkey

As one of Turkey’s best resorts – and one of the most visited cities in the world – it’s no surprise that Antalya has some serious fans.

But even in winter, when the crowds thin out and the weather reaches highs of 15C, the city has plenty going on. Be charmed by the vibrant shops and cafes of Kaleici old town, visit historical sights such as Hadrian’s Gate or delve deeper into Turkish history at the Antalya Museum.

If you prefer a beach escape over a city break, Konyaalti Beach is a lovely 13km (8 miles) stretch of fine shingle shore with views that reach all the way to the Taurus Mountains.

Feeling adventurous? Leave your sun-lounger and take a trip out to Kurşunlu Falls.*The Güllük Mountain National Park, where you can visit the impressive Ancient Theatre of Termessos, is also a short drive from Antalya.

4. Malta

last-minute holiday to Malta is easy thanks to its short three-hour flight time from London. With a mild Mediterranean climate and 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s an obvious choice for a winter sun escape.

Stay in Malta’s capital, Valletta, for a city break in the sun. Discover winding alleyways, sample fresh seafood at weekly fish markets or head to the Grand Harbour for ocean views. The longest beach on the main island is Mellieha, with soft sand and calm waters, but little Gozo is the real beach queen – visit Ramla Bay for its red-gold sands and the best watersports centre around.

For even more peace and quiet, head into the countryside. Winter rainfall brings the island’s lush vegetation to life, so pack your walking boots for rocky rambles across cliff paths and heritage trails.

5. Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is a just three-and-a-half-hour flight from London, but it feels like a world away come wintertime, with pleasant temperatures around 20C. And while beaches aren’t quite on your doorstep – you’ll have to visit Essaouira or Agadir for that – it’s easy to be captivated by this vibrant city.

The central Jemaa el-Fna square buzzes from midday to midnight, while the UNESCO-listed medina is a colourful maze of souks – both are best explored without a map. Stay in the heart of the action in an oasis-like riad or, for the proper package holiday experience, choose an all-inclusive resort in the Palmeraie area. You can find some incredibly good-value deals during winter.

If you’re really yearning for the ocean, Essaouira is just easy enough to tick off in a day (around two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Marrakech).

6. Costa del Sol, Spain

No prizes for guessing what awaits in this Andalusian region that translates to ‘Coast of the Sun’. Winter temperatures hover around the late teens here and, with an average of 325 days of sun a year, there’s plenty of blue skies to go around.

A winter holiday to the laidback region is a great opportunity to enjoy a slower pace of living, Spanish style. Take your pick of Blue Flag beaches for sandy-toed strolls and lazy sunbathing sessions, or head out to sea on a boat tour* to spot passing pods of dolphins.

For culture and coast combined, stay in Malaga or Marbella, where you’ll find museums filled with thousands of years of history, contemporary art galleries and beachfront tapas bars. If you’re after a quieter escape, head to the pretty seaside town of Nerja for white-washed buildings and spectacular caves.

7. Sicily, Italy

There’s so much more to Sicily than sun, sand and sea – think ancient archaeological sites, delicious Sicillian cuisine and traditional old towns that are made for exploring.

Stay in the capital, Palermo, for a city and beach break combined. Culture buffs can discover landmarks including Piazza Pretoria’s ‘Fountain of Shame’ and the Cappella Palatina chapel, while beach enthusiasts can bask on the sandy shores of Mondello or Magaggiari beach. If temperatures dip, you can swap the sea for a soak in Segesta’s natural hot springs.

Have your fill of fresh seafood, arancini and sweet ​​cannoli before heading to Marsala on the west coast for wine tasting.* Or embrace the lower temperatures by getting your hike on and summiting volcanic Mount Etna.

8. Tenerife, Canary Islands

Tenerife is holiday heaven all year round but in winter, its sizzling sands and azure waters are the ultimate antidote to the dreary British weather.

Even better, great-value package deals are easy to come by during the winter months, and you can expect resorts to be quieter than in the summer. But what makes a winter holiday to this Canary Island even more compelling is the opportunity to enjoy adventure activities* without the scorching summer sun beating down.

Teide National Park is a playground for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies alike. Take a quad tour, hit the mountain bike trails, hike volcanic peaks or take a 4x4 drive around the park’s fascinating landscape. Or take to the hills of Anaga Rural Park to spot native wildlife and discover natural pools in a subtropical laurel forest.

Apartamentos Pez Azul

  • Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain
  • 29 February 2024
  • Self Catering
  • From Gatwick

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

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