With August speeding past and September fast approaching, those who haven’t yet booked a summer holiday could be forgiven for looking forward to a little winter sun instead. While our British summer has been typically unpredictable, there’s enough of it left to make the most of at home, before jetting off to enjoy a second summer in hotter climes. Come autumn, when the wet weather and grey days return, these winter sun destinations will provide a welcome break for sun-starved skin.
With average temperatures in the high 20’s throughout November to March, Mexico is a great alternative to the Caribbean.
Culture vultures can head to the low-key but history-rich region of Tulum, where some of Mexico’s most impressive Mayan ruins overlook the beaches. The Mayan Riviera is another popular spot, thanks to its combination of powdery white beaches and historic artefacts; it’s here that you will find the ruins of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza.
If you’re looking for a livelier getaway, Cancun has it all. Good shopping, great nightlife, live music and countless excursions put everything you could ever need within easy reach of the area’s impressive beaches. Snorkelling and diving excursions depart Cancun for the warm waters of Isle Mujeres – home to Mexico’s busiest coral reef. The waters around Cancun and Isla Mujeres are also home to the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), the world’s largest underwater sculpture museum.
Thanks to its position in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus offers year round sun and winter temperatures of around 20 degrees. It is a destination often overlooked for winter sun, but with rugged coastlines, white beaches and plenty of history, it can provide the perfect combination of sunbathing and sightseeing.
Paphos is especially popular, thanks in part to the history that surrounds the region. The Tombs of the Kings are a favourite attraction, though never overrun, whilst the area around Paphos is decorated throughout with Roman mosaics and grand Venetian walls. With Byzantine castles and Roman monasteries aplenty, Cyprus certainly isn’t short of things to see.
A day in the Troodos Mountains replaces sand with snow in an unexpected skiing and snowboarding destination. Stick around to see the mountain villages below light up at night or head back to the beaches for an afternoon of sunbathing.
Golfer, water sports enthusiasts and walkers are also well catered for in Cyprus, whilst grape connoisseurs will appreciate vineyards and wine tasting tours. Don’t get us started on the food; a combination of Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern fare will have you looking at upping sticks back home and making things more permanent.
The 10 island archipelago of Cape Verde is often dubbed the African Caribbean, thanks in part to winter temperatures that tend to hover around 26 degrees. Suspended in the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde’s position between Brazil and Africa, plus the fact that it was founded by the Portuguese, makes for a heady mix of cultures.
Sal is the most popular of the Cape Verde islands, with watersports, vibrant nightlife and colourful towns creating a lively buzz about the place. Boa Vista is quieter in comparison, though the areas remote beaches and quaint but colourful towns create a Caribbean-like appeal that lures those in search of winter sun.
If you have been umming and ahhing over booking a river cruise to Cambodia, the chance to combine winter warmth and once-in-a-lifetime experiences could be what finally sends you sailing down the Mekong River. November to March is Cambodia’s dry season, with temperatures in the high 20’s cooled by a light breeze. Top tourist spots are quieter around November time, giving you more space to explore architectural wonders such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Wat. November is also the month of the Water Festival of Tonle Sap, with the region’s locals coming out of their stilt houses to celebrate the rising water levels and turning tide with boat races and a general carnival atmosphere.
A river cruise is the best possible way to get closer to the remote villages and floating markets that line the river banks, whilst visiting places that remain untouched by tourism. It isn’t all floating along idly on the river; back on dry land, you can take a quad bike or Vespa tour, cycle through rare bird sanctuaries and rice paddies, or even visit Cambodia’s immaculate beaches.
If you’re looking for something completely different to the usual winter sun beach break, Cambodia is the place.
The Canary Islands come up time and time again as a favourite winter sun destination. A short flight from the UK and home to ports on many Fred Olsen and Cunard itineraries, the region’s near perfect, year-round weather attracts Brits seeking sun and solace year after year.
Lanzarote offers a unique combination of pretty coastal towns, quiet beaches and Blue Flag bays, along with landscapes akin to what you might expect on Mars; the Timanfaya National Park is home to over 100 volcanoes, making for some impressive scenery that is now protected by the UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands and perhaps its most popular destination. The north of the island is incredibly scenic, with banana plantations, pine forests and mountainous landscapes. The north is more befitting of the traditional holiday resort, with plenty going on all year round. Head to Siam Reap waterpark if you’ve got a head for heights and your water wings firmly in place. If you’re looking for a quieter take on Tenerife, Costa Adeje has a more refined, cosmopolitan feel than other resorts.
Gran Canaria’s Puerto Rico boldly claims to be Spain’s sunniest spot, whilst the famous sand dunes of Maspalomas are reminiscent of a destination in the Middle East. If you’re looking for a home-from-home, Playa del Ingles has a friendly local feel with added sun, sea and sand.