Winter sun destinations

Escape the gloom with a winter break to sunnyville

Winter sun destinations Surfing on Sydney's northern beaches - © Heloise Bergman/Time Out
By Lorna Gledhill

The snow and ice were fun for a while but some of us are just getting SAD. Lorna Gledhill chooses ten hot spots to suit all budgets.

Kefalonia, Greece

About

Sitting south in the Ionian group of islands, Kefalonia is a stunning, verdant inland fringed by some of the most picturesque beaches in the world.

Head north towards Assos for a glimpse into the island’s Byzantine past, or relax in one of the south-coast resorts for a beach holiday. You’ll enjoy quieter towns and reduced prices for prime sunspots if you catch the Greek Islands before the tourist rush that comes every summer.

Forecast

Hitting maximum temperatures of around 16C in March and climbing to 20C in April. No risk of strong winds, so temperatures stay high even in the early spring, but sea temperatures may drop.

Getting there

Flights range between £200 and £300 return with Olympic Air, with a connecting flight between Athens and Kefalonia.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Faro, Portugal

About

Although best known as the gateway to the rest of the Algarve, Faro is a destination in its own right.

Beautifully diverse architecture, from grand Moorish castles to the old town’s thirteenth century sé (cathedral), puts Faro’s rich history on show. Don’t miss the stunning Ria Formosa lagoon that runs up the east coast to the village of Cacela Vehla.

Forecast

Highs of 18C in March and an average of seven hours sunshine a day. One of Portugal’s warmest spots. Slight chance of brief showers, but hardly ever persistent.

Getting there

Well-established routes on budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair mean flights average out at about £60 for a return, but keep an eye out for last-minute reductions.

Book with Expedia for great deals.
 

Hammamet, Tunisia

About

If winter has left you yearning for pampering, then the so-called ‘St Tropez of Tunisia’ will lull you into a luxurius state.

Meander through the ancient medina quarter’s narrow streets and wander the beaches of deluxe hotels. Catch the more forgiving sun in early spring before the rest of the world descends on Tunisia’s coastal jewel.

Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for the latest travel advice and restrictions.

Forecast

Expect highs of 18-20C in early spring, but temperatures can drop at night. Slight possibility of rain, but a healthy sea breeze stops humidity rising too high.

Getting there

Flights start at around £200 return to Tunis Carthage with national carrier Tunisair.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

About

Possibly because of the guaranteed blazing sunshine and stunning coral reefs, Egypt’s Sharm-el-Sheikh is not going out of fashion.

Whether you follow the bright lights to Na’ama Bay or head underwater for some aquatic sightseeing, this spot on the Red Sea really is a high-value choice for winter sun-seekers.

Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for the latest travel advice and restrictions.

Forecast

Creeping up to average highs of 30C in April, the only thing that may be slightly chilly is the sea. With no serious rainfall ever recorded for the summer months, the likelihood of any showers – even in March – is extremely slim.

Getting there

Another favourite of the budget airlines. Return flights with easyJet often come in lower than £200.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

About

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous than a beach holiday, throw yourself into a full-blown expedition-cum-holiday in Botswana.

Maun and its surrounding parkland offer unbeatable safari experiences, many taking in part of the 17,000-square-kilometre Okavango Delta that sprawls across the north-east of the country. This vast labyrinth of islands, lakes and glistening lagoons is a magnet for varied wildlife and tourists alike.

Forecast

Averaging around 32C in the north and 30C in the south, March in Botswana is unequivocally hot and dry.

Getting there

Expect to pay upwards of £800 for flights to Gaborone, the country’s capital, or Maun in the north. See skyscanner to compare prices and routes.

Australia

About

February to May is a great time to visit Australia. Use Sydney, Perth or Melbourne as your gateways – the cities have a very different feel and once the cricket bores have left, you’ll be free to sample Aussie wines, Pacific Rim cuisine and cultural life.

Go back to basics in Litchfield National Park near Darwin in the tropical ‘top end’. The wet season lasts until March, which means tropical downpours, heat and humidity can be expected - but on the plus side, vegetation is lush, and you can visit overflowing lakes, rivers, and gushing waterfalls such as Florence Falls.

See Time Out Sydney online  for city guides and travel ideas for Australia.

Forecast

In the southern states days are typically warm (in the mid 20s) and dry; in Darwin it’ll be in the 30s and when it’s not raining it’s steamy.

Getting there

Dozens of airlines compete on the London-Australia routes, including British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and several Gulf-based airlines. Expect to pay upwards of £800.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Montevideo, Uruguay

About

Fancy a South American sojourn? Flee the fashionistas – who are always late, anyway – and swap Buenos Aires’s tango, malbec and general aggro for the African beat of candombe, sturdy taste of tannat and the slow rhythm of the Uruguayan capital.

Only footy fans will want to make the slog to pay homage at the Centenario stadium – where the first ever World Cup was played in 1930 – and its football museum, but all visitors will enjoy the steaks and ambience of the old Mercado del Puerto and the crumbling elegance of the Ciudad Vieja.

Pick up Time Out’s Argentina & Uruguay: Perfect places to stay, eat and explore before you go. Available from the Time Out shop.

Forecast

A balmy 30C for Jan through to early March, with occasional tropical storms, which mean wonderful son et lumière spectacles over the River Plate.

Getting there

Tam flies Heathrow-Montevideo with a single stopover in Sao Paulo. Summer return flights cost in excess of £1,000.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Kerala, India

About

India-lite it may be but you can’t fault a trip that takes in the rivers, canals and lagoons of the backwaters, Fort Cochin’s spice markets and multicultural history, Thiruvananthapuram’s temples, and the sandy beaches of the Malabar Coast – cliff-edged Varkala is our Arabian Sea beach choice for this winter.

Forecast

Expect 20-30C for the duration of your stay, and nice sea breezes. There’s unlikely to be any rain until February and even then it won’t be monsoon-style until June.

Getting there

Heathrow-Thiruvananthapuram with Qatar Airways via Doha comes in under £500.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

About

Avoiding the gap-yah travellers swarming around Thailand, the tropical paradise of southern Vietnam encourages a far less hedonistic South East Asian experience.

Explore the multi-faceted metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, travel west to the haven of Phu Quoc Island, or, if you’re feeling courageous, brave the lengthy train journey and visit Hoi An for some of the best bespoke tailoring in Vietnam.

Forecast

Temperatures vary from 26-28C in Phu Quoc to 34C in Ho Chi Minh City in March, with humidity always relatively high. Avoid the monsoon by travelling before June.

Getting there

Although some flights are available at around £600, others can reach beyond £1,000. Connecting flights to Phu Quoc Island average around £160 on local airlines. See Air Asia for cheap deals.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

Orford and the east coast, Tasmania

About

Escape the tourist traps and enjoy rural tranquillity in the small fishing town of Orford on the east coast of Tasmania.

Perfectly situated to explore the national parks and marine reserves of Maria Island, Orford’s reputation as a fisherman’s haven means exceptional seafood.

Gradually wind your way up the east coast towards Swansea, the region’s historical centre, taking in some of the best beaches and stunning wildlife that Tasmania has to offer.

Forecast

Tasmania’s summer season runs from December to March, hitting average high temperatures of around 23C in March. Unlike the drizzly west coast, Hobart has one of Australia’s lowest average rainfalls.

Getting there

Prices for return flights rarely drop lower than £950 and expect at least two stop-offs (often Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne) to get you to Hobart. Check out Qantas and Malaysia Airlines for good deals.

Book with Expedia for great deals.

More winter sun escapes

From the Azores to the Gambia to Beirut – check out our Winter sun escapes guide to find out where to get that much-needed dose of vitiamin D.

Time Out guidebooks

1000 Great Holiday Ideas

Plan your perfect trip with this inspirational compendium of failsafe holiday suggestions. It's packed with fresh ideas for traditional breaks, from beach idylls to winter sun and family camping, along with great suggestions for trying something different – all around the world. Whether you're looking for a weekend break or the trip of a lifetime, Time Out's worldwide team of travel specialists can take you there.

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Comments

By Rachel - Jan 20 2011

you may want to take Tunisia off the list!

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