European winter destinations for sun: ITALIAN TRIP ABROAD | Best UK Travel Couple Blog 2020
Escape the cold with these 9 winter sun destinations that suit a tight budget
The cost of living crisis has many of us tightening our belts and reconsidering our travel plans for next year.
But it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on winter sun. The off-season is a great time to find deals on holidays in warmer climes.
To find out where it is least expensive to travel during the 2023 February half term, OTA Insight looked at the average hotel room price per night for all star ratings.
The analysis picked out key cities and destinations that are usually warmer during the winter months where you can stay for €100 per night or less.
Here are the nine cheapest destinations for some winter sun.
9. Stay in Sardinia, Italy for €100 per night
Sardinia just tips over the €100 mark for the average night’s stay but it has a lot to offer. Though sunbathing on the beach might be off the cards in February, you can still stroll along the beautiful beaches and take in the sights.
There are plenty of cultural and culinary experiences to take up your time and it’s practically empty of visitors during the winter season.
Sardinia sees around five hours of sunshine a day in February and average daily maximum temperatures of 15C. There isn’t much rain but it’s still quite wintery so bring lots of layers to wrap up when it gets cold.
Winter is the perfect time to explore more than just Sardinia beaches.Pexels
8. Stay in Nice, France for €99 per night
This glamorous city is still just as classy during the winter months. And, as a bonus, its usual crowds of visitors are greatly reduced.
Enjoy stunning evening sunsets from one of the cafes or bars on Nice’s famous promenade overlooking the bay.
Temperatures in Nice start to heat up again from January making it a pleasantly mild place to seek some winter sun. Average daily maximums can hit 13C with nine hours of sunshine, but pack clothing to wrap up warm at night.
Stay in Marbella, Spain for €99 per night
The Costa del Sol is famous for sunny summer holidays but it is also a great choice for a winter break. Switch lounging on the beach for some of the sporting facilities Marbella has to offer instead.
Take advantage of the cooler weather to hike through the surrounding countryside or enjoy one of the 70 golf courses scattered across the region.
Marbella has a sheltered microclimate that sees average February highs of 16C and seven hours of sunshine a day. The average rainfall is lower than in January but it’s still one of the wettest months so make sure you take an umbrella.
Enjoy beautiful sunsets in Marbella.Manolo Franco/Pixabay
6. Stay in Montpellier, France for €90 per night
On average, accommodation in Montpellier will cost you €90 per night in February. It may not be as hot as the summer months but winter is the best time to enjoy cultural festivals and everything else the city has to offer.
Visit one of its many tea rooms, wrap up in a blanket and sip on a steamy hot chocolate.
The weather in Montpellier during February is cool and breezy, with highs of 12C, but only an 18 per cent chance of rain.
5. Stay in Casablanca, Morocco for €87 per night
Morocco sees fewer tourists in February so it’s a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. It also means you’ll pay less for accommodation, on average €87 a night.
Absorb the city’s unique architecture without the usual throng of tourists, or enjoy trekking in the cooler weather.
It is one of the warmest destinations on this list with an average daily maximum of 18C. You can expect around seven hours of sunshine a day. February is the wettest month, however, so make sure you take appropriate clothing.
Casablanca is still glamorous and sunny even in winter.George Paris/Pixabay
4. Stay in Malta for €86 per night
The average cost of accommodation is lower in Malta during the off-season. On average it will set you back €86 a night during February.
Major historical sites and museums are likely to be less busy too without the usual summer crowds. It’s also a great time to explore Malta’s restaurants, bars and pubs.
Winter is cooler on the island but it’s still warmer and sunnier than in most parts of Europe. Malta enjoys an average of eight hours of sunshine in February and average daily high temperatures of 16C.
3. Stay in Crete, Greece for €80 per night
There are far fewer tourists in Crete over winter meaning the average price of accommodation drops to €80 per night.
It’s also greener and the mountains are covered in snow at this time of year, making it arguably more beautiful than during the dry summer. There won’t be crowds at famous sites like Knossos or Elafonisi either.
Temperatures in Crete in February reach an average daily maximum of 16C. You have a 55 per cent chance of a perfectly sunny day. The sea is likely to be too cold for a swim, however, so it’s best to stick to a heated pool if you fancy taking a dip.
2. Stay in Rhodes, Greece for €78 per night
The price of accommodation in Rhodes in February drops to an average of €78 per night.
Hiking in the summer heat can be a tough experience so take advantage of the cooler weather to walk some of the island’s winding paths. In winter, the sea is still warmer here than in northern Europe – ideal if you are a water sports fan.
Rhodes sees an average of five hours of sunshine a day in February. Temperatures hit a daily maximum of 15C but don’t drop as low as some of the other destinations on this list at night. The weather can be a bit unpredictable at this time of year, however, so prepare for all eventualities.
Winter is the perfect time to see historic sites in Rhodes without the crowds.Pixabay
1. Stay in Portimão, Portugal for €77 per night
At an average of €77 per night, Portimão is cheaper than many other winter sun destinations in Portugal. It is the largest city in the western Algarve but is often far less hectic than the surrounding beach towns.
In February, the average daily maximum temperature is around 16C – not as warm as some others on the list but definitely hotter than northern Europe. Make sure you take warm clothes if you plan to venture out after dark as temperatures can drop dramatically when the sun goes down.
Winter Sun Holidays in Europe  Cheap Destinations
Many travellers prefer warm, sunny places for a winter holiday. For Europeans, this often means visiting mid or long-haul destinations like Dubai, Morocco and Australia. But not everyone has the time or money to travel far for winter holidays in the sun.
It’s not particularly sustainable, either. It’s more eco-friendly travelling closer to home, taking the train or other public transport where possible.
The question is, where can you take a winter sun holiday in Europe this season?
There are more options than you might think. Sure, you won’t find many winter destinations with temperatures in the mid-20s or higher, but there are definitely places where the sun is shining and only a handful of rainy days per month.
The obvious answer on where to go is southern Europe. A short break on the Mediterranean is a quick and easy way to get away from bleak wintry conditions at home and depending on where you live, you should be able to take the train or drive if you prefer.
So southern Europe is a great choice for a sunny winter break, but that still leaves a lot of options.
When I was travelling long term, I spent most of my European winters in warmer places like Spain, France, Croatia and Albania.
Below I’ve listed those I’ve found to be the best winter sun holidays in Europe. I’ve included where to go in December, January and February. Plus, I’ve made specific suggestions for Christmas and New Year.
Where to go on holiday in December
I recommend one of the following cities for a warmer December or Christmas holiday in the sun.
- Rome, Italy – Rome has relatively mild winter weather giving you ample opportunities to walk around the historic centre and sights like the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain. While alfresco dining might be out of the question, you can take advantage of visiting at a quiet time of the year, relaxing at a cafe window seat directly on famous squares like Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna.
- Marseille, France – Marseille is one of those cities with crisp, cool winter air and sunny skies practically all winter long. It’s an interesting port city with a unique blend of cultures, reflected in the delicious Marseillaise cuisine. The city is reachable on the high-speed TGV train from the north of France.
- Kotor, Montenegro – If you prefer to get off the beaten path, Kotor has one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the Balkans and during December, you’ll be one of the few tourists to experience the city. This historic city is protected from the weather thanks to its location on the beautiful Bay of Kotor. Make sure you walk up to the fortress for sunrise or sunset. Look for cheap flights to Tivat or across the border in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Where to go on holiday in January
If you would prefer a January holiday in Europe, start looking as far south as possible if you want some winter sun.
- Sicily, Italy – Southern Italy is very different from the north, especially in Sicily. The food and lifestyle are more relaxed and warm, and prices are ideal if you’re looking for a cheap January holiday. Catania is one of Sicily’s most visited areas, but you might also consider visiting Palermo, Syracuse, Taormina or smaller cities like Cefalu or Messina.
- Perpignan, France – France’s southern coast has some peaceful winter sun destinations, especially along the southwest coast from Perpignan to Montpellier. There are opportunities for winter hiking or sunny beach walks if it’s not too windy while you’re there. From Perpignan, you could take a day trip to medieval Carcassonne, an incredible walled city, or cross the border into Spain to visit the Dali Museum in Figueres or the coastal town Cadaques.
- Lisbon, Portugal – While the weather is definitely warmer in southern Portugal, there is so much more to do in Lisbon. It’s one of Europe’s great cities with the perfect mix of historic sights, nightlife, shopping and incredible cuisine. It’s affordable, lively and packed with events all year round, even in winter.
Where to go on holiday in February
February holidays in Europe are for the brave! In February, you’ll likely face the bitter cold, rain and maybe even snow. This is really the time to go further away to places like the Canary Islands, Cyprus or Malta.
Christmas Holidays in the Sun
If you want to visit the warmer Christmas markets, you’ll have to look at destinations not typically known for their Christmas celebrations yet still have annual markets.
- Zadar, Croatia – The small coastal city of Zadar is known for its sunsets and musical water organ. It’s a beautiful, quiet place in winter with a small Christmas market which only started a few years ago. It’s not the easiest place to get to as there are no trains from Zagreb, only the bus, but that means most people in Zadar during winter are locals or a few slow-travelling tourists. The upside is the food is amazing, the sunsets over the islands are incredible, the Croatian coast is relatively warm in winter and it’s a cheap winter destination.
- Nice, France – The southern coast of France has some of the lowest winter rainfall in Europe. If you visit Nice at Christmas, it’s highly likely you’ll have sunshine and the possibility of warm(er) days, perfect for walking around the Christmas markets or along the Promenade des Anglais. There are regular fast trains to Nice.
- Genoa, Italy – Italy’s northern cities have the best Christmas markets in the country and Genoa has one of the biggest. The historic centre of Genoa is decorated with Christmas lights and Piazza Caricamento is transformed into a medieval village with market stalls and artisan traders.
New Years Holidays in the Sun
Finding a sunny European destination for New Year’s isn’t easy. I would suggest a bigger city known for its nightlife and events in southern Europe.
- Barcelona, Spain – A great city which never stops, Barcelona at New Years is a little crazy but loads of fun. Barcelona is often warm and sunny, and when the weather isn’t great, you can head indoors to eat and drink cava or visit one of the city’s famous museums or exhibitions.
- Ibiza, Spain – One of the most well-known party destinations in Europe, Ibiza is huge in summer but still popular, if not a little more laid back in winter.
- Athens, Greece – Athens will almost certainly be sunny for New Years. Many events will keep you occupied or enjoy New Year’s dining on delicious Greek food and ouzo.
Long Stay Breaks
If you have plenty of free time and the budget to go with it or are location independent, then you have the luxury of travelling slowly and choosing a long stay winter holiday into 2023.
I’d recommend a quiet, low-cost destination for this type of long-stay holiday.
- Costa Brava, Spain – There are many small resort towns on the Costa Brava that mostly close down for winter except for a few long-term residents. You can often find great deals on apartments over winter as these would otherwise be empty.
- Tirana, Albania – Tirana is absolutely full of low-cost apartments for rent. The city is lively all year round, even in winter, and is warmer than most capitals in the Balkans. Tirana is a vibrant, dynamic city with so many things to do in winter. It’s a great long-stay destination.
- Dubrovnik, Croatia – Dubrovnik has some of the cleanest, freshest air in the Mediterranean. The city is extremely quiet in the off-season, but you can still experience the Winter Festival and other regional events. The Dalmatian coast is so peaceful in winter, I highly recommend it.
Responsible Winter Travel
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. Here are some ideas for how we can travel more responsibly this winter in Europe:
- Look for locally-owned accommodations that use renewable energy sources and implement energy conservation measures.
- Use public transportation to get around the destination. Walk or bike whenever possible to reduce your carbon emissions.
- Reduce food waste by only ordering what you need and finding ways to use up leftovers.
- Consider opting for a sustainable diet while travelling, such as choosing locally-grown and organic foods and avoiding overconsumption of meat and dairy products.
- Support local businesses and communities by choosing locally-led tours and activities.
- Avoid flying and instead choose alternative modes of transportation, such as trains or buses, which have a lower carbon footprint.
By following these guidelines, you can help reduce your impact on the environment and support sustainable tourism practices while travelling in Europe during the winter season. Please share your sustainability tips in the comments.
Of course, you’ll have warmer weather further afield, but if you want to spend your holidays in Europe, there are some great sunny opportunities.
For more Europe inspiration, this post lists the best places to visit in Europe and where to go at specific times of the year. Or head to the Rearview Mirror home page to search destinations.
Where to go for winter sun holidays?
If you want to spend your winter holidays in Europe, then I suggest visiting southern Spain, Portugal and France or heading to Croatia for somewhere different this year.
Is it worth travelling in winter?
Europe in winter is a great time to travel if you like to avoid the crowds and potentially have a cheaper holiday.
Where are the warmest European winter destinations?
Southern European destinations are usually warmer, especially if you’re happy to go to the islands like the Canary Islands or Cyprus.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels in Europe. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.
best ski resorts of the CIS countries
Courchevel, Davos, Kitzbühel, Selden. Enumerate the names of famous European ski resorts can be infinitely long. However, why storm the snow-capped peaks of Europe, when in the CIS countries there are a lot of attractive resorts offering to spend the winter holidays at the highest level.
The rating of the most popular destinations for winter tourism and recreation within the Commonwealth of Independent States is made up of five countries – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia . Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
The first thing that can attract winter tourists in Kazakhstan is, of course, the variety of snow-covered slopes, the cost and well-developed tourist infrastructure, technical equipment that is not inferior to popular European or Russian ski bases.
The top places to visit in include Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, the Shymbulak (Chimbulak) resort, winter resorts in the mountains of Almaty, the Burabay (Borovoe) resort in the Akmola region and the ski resorts of the East Kazakhstan region (EKR). nine0005
One of the recently built ski bases “Myrzashoky” is very popular among athletes. The length of the tracks is from 800 to 1300 meters. Tourists value stunning fresh air and clean snow. With a small snow cover, the slopes of the mountains are sprinkled with artificial snow. Accommodation is possible in small cozy chalets and hotels. There is a cafe and equipment rental.
Relax at the European level, without overpaying, offers Azerbaijan .
Ski resorts – although a new holiday destination in this country, it has a lot of pluses. For example, there is no language barrier. And two large ski resorts – Shahdag and Tufandag – are located about 3 hours drive from Baku.
There are 12 lifts in Shahdag, ski and snowboard rentals. There are more than 10 ski slopes , which are processed with artificial snow, which allows you to extend the skiing season. The highest point of the resort is 2100 m. Also at the foot of the mountain there are many restaurants, three-star hotels and five-star hotels. nine0005
People come to the resort of Tufandag to relax both in winter and in summer. After all, not far from Mount Tufan, there are picturesque lakes. According to local legend, in one of the reservoirs there is a fragment of Noah’s ark. In summer, tourists “storm” Mount Bazarduzu, and also go to the sights of the city with ancient history – Gabala.
Kyrgyzstan boasts an impressive selection of ski resorts .
On the slopes of the Tien-Shan Mountains, there is the most famous ski base “Karakol” modernized according to modern standards. The ski season here lasts from November to April. nine0005
Too-Ashuu winter resort is located 130 kilometers from the capital. The base is equipped with a modern lift with twin chairs. The length of its path is 1500 meters.
At 2 kilometers 400 meters above the sea level rises the ski base “Kyzylbeles”. Due to the fact that this magnificent place for active winter recreation is located very high, the season for skiers here begins much earlier than than at many other bases.
Norus ski resort is located just 35 km from Bishkek. Connoisseurs of ski holidays who have visited these places claim that the infrastructure of the resort is so perfect that Norus could compete with the famous resorts of Europe. The territory of the base is equipped with a pair of cable cars. However, snow-covered trails are recommended only for well-trained skiers and snowboarders.
Ski base “Toguz Bulak” there are 9 ski slopes of different complexity. The average length of the trails is about 2 km 200 m.
In Uzbekistan, one of the most popular ski resorts in the country is the Chimgan tract, which is 80 kilometers northeast of Tashkent. There are about 10 ropeways in Chimgan, 24 pistes of all difficulty levels (mostly blue and red), going from a height of 1980 m. Also, through the most picturesque places of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, horse and safari routes pass through the regions of Shakhimardan and Pamir-Alay south of the Ferghana Valley. nine0005
The second popular mountain resort is located in the Beldersay tract, near Mount Kumbel, 7 kilometers from Chimgan. The upper part of the ski slopes is located at a mark of 2880 m, and their total length is about 3 km. There are 3 cable cars with a total length of 1265 m, and there are many boarding houses around the slopes. The ski season in the Uzbek mountains lasts from November to May.
Tsaghkadzor, Jemurk, Sevan – all these are ski resorts in Armenia .
The most famous ski resort with a long history – Tsakhkadzor is located near Yerevan and 75 km from the airport “Zvartnots”. The winter resort is located in a picturesque valley at the foot of Mount Teghenis. Over the past years, Olympic champions of Russia and many CIS countries have been actively training here.
A cable car delivers skiers and snowboarders to the start of the track. For a ten-minute trip, you can enjoy the picturesque panorama of Mount Ararat and Lake Sevan. nine0005
A great way to spend time in places with breathtaking views and exhilarating races down the snowy mountain slope is the Jemurk resort.
In addition to the ski slopes, here you can visit the Drinking Gallery – an architectural structure, from the walls of which taps with drinking water come out. Each faucet produces a certain type of water, and each successive faucet has warmer water than the previous one.
Tourists are also offered an excursion to the Arvi gorge, on the ledge of which is the oldest monastery Noravank (XIII century). nine0005
Beginners who are just starting their skiing career are advised to try the gentle slopes of the mountains of the Sevan ski complex.
But even if you don’t know how to ski or snowboard, it’s still worth going to a ski resort at least once in your life. Snow-capped peaks are, first of all, a journey into a winter fairy tale, clean mountain air and a feeling of a wonderful winter holiday.
Sources: turstat.com; must-see.top; make-trip.ru; tourister.ru; guide.travel.ru; onewaytour.com
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Exotic cruise destinations from Costa Cruises.
Costa Cruises has introduced some exciting exotic destinations for the 2019 winter seasons-2021 for those who want to spend their winter holidays in the warmth of the sun. Which combination of countries and islands do you prefer – India, Sri Lanka and Maldives; Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and the Seychelles; Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia or maybe the UAE, Oman and Qatar? Let’s take a closer look at the routes.
Indian Ocean from Male/Mumbai
One of the company’s most popular winter routes. We suggest you go on a contrasting journey and see the paradise Maldives, as well as colorful India and Sri Lanka in one tour. 8-day cruises depart from Male (Maldives) and Mumbai (India). In Male and Mumbai overnight parking is provided. Also on the route are Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Mormugao (India). The convenience of this route lies in the fact that, if desired, the trip can be planned in such a way as to spend an additional few days either on the paradise Maldives or in colorful Mumbai. It all depends on your preferences! nine0005
Indian Ocean from Port Louis
The Indian Ocean’s most desirable resorts in one big 15 day cruise tour. As part of this route, the liner will spend the night in Port Louis (Mauritius) after landing, then the liner will spend 2 days in the port of Saint-Denis on Reunion Island, which is called the little Paris in the Indian Ocean. After 2 relaxed days at sea, the liner stays for 3 days on the island of Mahe (Seychelles). Also, the route includes 2 ports at once on the unique island of Madagascar – Nosy Be and Tamatave. nine0005
Thanks to such a measured pace of the cruise, you will have enough time both for a beach holiday and for exploring local attractions (colored sand dunes in Mauritius, the Léon Diercks Museum with paintings by Paul Gauguin on Reunion Island, Lemuria Land Park in Nosy Be in Madagascar, etc.).
South East Asia from Singapore
A perfectly designed itinerary that takes you from futuristic Singapore, to lounging on the beach on Koh Samui, to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Thai flavor in Bangkok, and to feel like Indiana Jones in the jungles of Cambodia, going on a trip to the temple complex of Angkor Wat from Sainukville.