6 of the best winter sun destinations to try this year

Algarve Portugal

At this time of year, as the weather starts to turn, millions of holidaymakers flock to Southern Europe in search of some sun, the perfect tonic for any hint of winter blues.

We take a look at five essential European winter sun destinations, exploring their highlights.

Updated – September 2019!

1. The Algarve

Winter Sun Holiday- Algarve

Proving quite popular with tourists in 2018, Portugal’s Algarve region is known for its climate and beaches.

Many a voyage of discovery began in the Algarve, with explorers setting off to far flung lands such as Brazil across the Atlantic.

Rather popular with golfers, there is a wide variety of golf courses in the region to choose from. Although deciding may be tricky!

Silves, capital of the region is a former fortress that lies on the bank of the Rio Arde River.

Lying in-land, away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches, the city was once a Moorish capital.

History buffs beware! Days can be lost exploring this town’s past. Castelo de Silves, once home to the lord of the city, has suffered over the years but turrets still remain accessible.

Related – Holidays to the Algarve

2. Madeira

Winter Sun Holiday - Madeira

Often referred to the as the ‘Floating Garden Island’, the island, close to mainland Portugal, rests in the path of the Gulf Stream and takes full advantage of this.

Madeira can boast of a mild climate that is comfortable and allows you to casually explore highlights including Funchal.

Named after the fennel plant commonly spotted on the island, capital city Funchal, once an important port, acted as a stepping stone onwards to the African continent and beyond.

Great walking tours are available that allow for some local insight and provide the perfect chance to socialise with other tourists arriving from far and wide to experience this beautiful city.

We recommend visiting the Farmer’s Market. Here, you will be able to take in the wide array of local produce available and perhaps sample some of the local Avocado or Anona – a juicy, exotic fruit with a distinct flavour.

Count gardening among your hobbies? Stop by Madeira Botanical Garden and you will be in your element.

Here, guests can observe a wide variety of plants and take in the views out across the city.

Broken into five areas, the garden boasts plants and trees originating from all over the world, including the Himalaya.

Related Holiday – Highlights of Madeira

3. Malta & Gozo

Winter Sun Holiday - Malta

Almost smack bang in the middle of the Mediterranean, the islands of Malta and Gozo attract tourists throughout the year.

Sadly, the collapse of the Azure window has robbed us of a fantastic landmark known around the world. However, these island still have a lot to offer.

Rugged inlet, Comino, a natural bird sanctuary, is the perfect day-trip and can provide avid hikers a challenge – crossing the island in a day before the last boat sails off!

Valletta, capital of Malta, rightly draws the crowds. The Grand Harbour is the city’s beating heart and bustling with activity.

Over 2,000 years old, the ancient harbour contrasts with the sleek and modern cruise ships that arrive and set sail on a regular basis.

Related Holiday – Malta & Gozo

4. Tenerife

Winter Sun Holiday - Tenerife

The largest of the Canaries (island, not bird!), Tenerife sits off the coast of Africa. This location provides the island with its magical (it’s nice and hot), climate.

One of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations, Tenerife is a walker’s paradise.

Shaped by volcanic activity, the island’s Teide National Park features some stark rock formations and interesting plant life.

A large portion of the park is actually the crater left behind after a huge volcanic eruption took place millions of years ago.

Related – Holidays to Tenerife

5. Cyprus

Winter Sun Holiday - Cyprus

Cyprus, an island entwined with Greek mythology, is another of the great winter sun destinations. Favourite destinations on the island include Paphos and the lively Ayia Napa.

Aphrodite’s Rock, source of great speculation, is a giant sea stack where it is said the goddess Aphrodite was born. This sharp-looking rock is a fitting symbol of the island.

Elsewhere, Limassol, known for its medieval castle and its range of fantastic beaches allows for some downtime to relax by the shoreline.

A stop at Governor’s Beach takes you slightly away from the other busier spots but still gives you access to a great sandy beach.

We recommend visiting The Limassol District Archaeological Museum, home to artefacts found on island dating back to the 4th century.

Related Holiday – Cyprus Discovered

6. Portugal

Tower of Belem

Stretching down into the south of Portugal, a holiday enjoying the sun along the Lisbon coast is a very agreeable option for holidaymakers searching for a sunny retreat.

One of the most well-known Portuguese cities, Lisbon is an extremely attractive holiday destination welcoming visitors with a blend of beautiful coastline, notable buildings, charming streets and major Portuguese landmarks.

Perhaps the most iconic of all Lisbon sights is the Belem Tower dating back to medieval times.

The city, characterised by some hilly stretches really is a wonderful city to explore, making it a firm city break favourite amongst holidaymakers globally.

Choosing between a base in the resorts of Estoril or Cascais, holidaymakers will have plenty time to experience the best of the city, visit the towns of Sintra, Obidos, Alcobaca and Nazare during included, expert-led excursions.

Related Holiday – Estoril & the Lisbon Coast

Similar Features

9 Terrific places to enjoy on a holiday to Tenerife

Admiring Malta – 5 breathtaking sights around the beautiful Mediterranean Island

Discovering the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, Madeira

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