15 best winter sun destinations for an amazing winter holiday

Cyprus Winter Sun

The memories of summer sunshine are becoming a distant haze. I don’t know about you, but the grey dismal days of winter are leaving me pining for a warm glow on your skin.

If you’re after a day without knits, a cocktail by the pool or an opportunity to wear your favourite sun dress, then I’m here to help you discover the best winter sun destinations.

Here I share my favourite places for winter sun, including both European and international destinations. Say goodbye to the cold and rain, and hello to blue skies and sunshine!

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

1. The Maldives

Best for: Crystal clear water

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The Maldives for Winter Sun

Without a doubt, one of the best places for winter sun is The Maldives. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the ultimate bucket list destination for winter sun.

It may be long haul from London, but for a good length sunny holiday during the UK’s winter, The Maldives ticks all the right boxes.

Expect picture perfect bright blue seas, luxury ocean lodges and water sports galore. The Maldives caters for winter sun seekers exceptionally well, especially the more discerning traveller.

Hotels in the Maldives are typically boutique, focusing on exceptional service and unique touches. Relaxation will be the name of the game.

If you want to step outside your resort, there are wonderful cultural attractions to discover – I’d recommend exploring the Male markets.

2. Canary Islands

Best for: Volcanic islands

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Tenerife Winter Sun Destination

The Canary Islands is one of the best winter sun destinations from the UK as you can be there in around four hours.

From Tenerife to Gran Canaria, there is an island to suit everyone and I’ve been lucky to visit a number of them myself.

Found off the coast of West Africa, the Spanish culture here ensures you feel a million miles from home for a restorative break.

What I love about the Canary Islands is that you can choose exactly the type of break you’re looking for, catered for your specific needs.

Whether you want a few days chilling by the pool with a book or you want to do excursions, you’ll find both relaxation and adventure here.

You can expect it to be a just-perfect 24 degrees Celsius in December. So not too hot, but much better than the chillier temperatures of a UK winter.

Personally, I don’t like really hot weather (I’m a pale Brit who doesn’t fare well in the sun!), so that temperature is just perfect for me.

3. South Africa

Best for: Once in a lifetime experiences

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Winter sun holiday destinations don’t get much more exciting than a trip to South Africa.

Right down in the southern hemisphere, South Africa is perfect for a UK winter month’s visit.  There are so many different options for holidays in South Africa.

Enjoy a Big 5 safari in Kruger National Park, hike in the Drakensberg Mountains, or the winelands near Cape Town before embarking on the beautiful Garden Route.

I recommend trying to combine them all, to really make the most of your trip.

4. Zanzibar

Best for: Culture to spare

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Zanzibar Winter Sun

The best place for winter sun, when you want a truly unique and memorable holiday, is Zanzibar.

Just off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a rich cultural melting pot which will leave its mark on your heart. 

I visited Zanzibar a few years back after climbing Kilimanjaro – and it was exactly the respite I needed after a gruelling challenge!

There is so much to do for cultural experiences on the spice island. But there are also ample beach resorts where you can simply unwind in beautiful tropical surroundings.

Zanzibar Old Town is great to explore, but you can also enjoy cocktails on the beach. It’s also possible to island hop to places such as Pemba for a remote getaway. 

5. Thailand

Best for: Jungle living

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Thailand Winter Sun

Anyone who follows my adventures on Instagram and here on my blog knows my deep love affair with Thailand.

Thailand offers so much for all travellers and is, in my opinion, one of my favourite winter sun destinations.

In Bangkok you can enjoy street food, the hustle and bustle of a booming Asian city, and see top sights like the Grand Palace and floating markets.

I recommend you head to Southern Thailand for beach escapes and also jungle experiences in national parks.

I particularly recommend visiting Khao Sok National Park or staying in Krabi. Plus, don’t miss out on a trip to the popular Phi Phi Islands.

There is huge choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Thailand so you can be sure of utter indulgence on your Thai holiday.

6. St Lucia

Best for: Caribbean travel

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St Lucia Winter Sun Destination

When you are wondering where to go for winter sun, you’ll of course think of the Caribbean. St Lucia is a great option for Caribbean travel with good UK connections.

Here you’ll find everything you expect of a lush Caribbean island, from jungle excursions to rum cocktails on the beach.

7. Dubai

Best for: Ultimate luxury

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Dubai Winter Sun

Dubai is, of course, one of the best countries for winter sun. The UK winter is a great time to visit if you don’t want it to be as scorching hot as it is in summer.

Around a six hour flight time from London, Dubai is the ultimate luxury winter sun destination.

Expect world-class resorts with outstanding service, wonderful experiences exploring souks and bazaars, and adventures out in the desert dunes. 

8. Mexico

Best for: Tropical vibes

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Mexico is one of the top winter sun destinations for Brits and Americans alike. Close to the equator, there’s near guaranteed good weather during the northern hemisphere’s winter months.

Mexico offers a fantastic array of choice when it comes to holidays. You can enjoy a tropical feel beach resort, with many all-inclusive options available.

Two centre stays are also popular – I’d recommend Cancun and Tulum – and consider whether you want to add in a city or a jungle experience too.

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9. Bali

Best for: Island living

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Bali is a tropical island paradise that’s a much adored winter sun destination.

If sipping from a coconut on the beach before moseying into the spa for a blissful massage is your kind of holiday then Bali is for you. Sign me up!

Balinese service is outstanding and you’ll be made to feel welcome at every turn.

If you’d like to explore outside of the resort then Bali has unique experiences from temple visits to wildlife safaris.

Bali is a perfect luxury winter sun destination where you can be sure of incredible food too.

10. Cape Verde

Best for: High temperatures

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If the Canary Islands aren’t quite warm enough, and you’re looking for greater heat, then I’d recommend heading further south to Cape Verde where temperatures will be pleasant but a little higher.

Another volcanic collection of islands, there’s a distinctive Portuguese feel and it’ll take you around six hours to get here from the UK. 

In Cape Verde, your winter sun holiday can be quite diverse. Climb volcanoes, enjoy the beach or visit epic caves.

11. Cyprus

Best for: Water sports

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Cyprus Winter Sun

If you’re looking for winter sun in Europe, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Cyprus.

Indeed, I would argue that Cyprus is one of the best places for winter sun in Europe because it’s nearly guaranteed.

Visiting Cyprus in the summer can actually be too hot, but in the winter months you can expect some balmy sunshine that’s still warm enough for sipping drinks by the pool and taking the occasional dip.

Depending on your resort, there are usually good water sports too.

Not everything and everywhere is open in the winter season, so I’d recommend checking that your resort has everything that you need and expect from a winter sun destination.

12. Australia

Best for: Eclectic mix of things to do

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Like with South Africa, zip down to the southern hemisphere for the best chance of winter sun with a visit to Australia.

A trip to Australia is best planned for UK winter months when you can expect better weather, especially in more seasonal destinations like Melbourne.

The land of kangaroos and didgeridoos has so much to offer. Explore vibrant cities like Perth or Sydney. Hunt for crocs and explore jungles around Darwin and the Northern Territory.

Dive and enjoy beach holidays at The Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy a road trip through the Blue Mountains or along The Great Ocean Road.

Australia is vast and has so much to experience and do, all while enjoying some sun!

13. Sri Lanka

Best for: An escape in nature

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Sri Lanka, off the southern coast of India, offers a unique winter sun holiday destination – and it’s one of my top places to visit in the world!

For a cultural fix that will ignite your senses, it’s harder to do better than Sri Lanka. A land of temples and elephants, there’s so much diversity of experience.

More and more luxury hotels and resorts are becoming the norm in Sri Lanka. So much so that it’s gaining a reputation as one of the best luxury travel destinations

A winter sun travel itinerary in Sri Lanka will take some planning to include everything from market experiences to spotting monkeys, but it’s a destination you’ll never forget.

14. Bora Bora

Best for: Exclusive resorts

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Bora Bora Best Winter Sun Destination

Not just a honeymoon destination, Bora Bora is one of the best destinations for winter sun – although be warned that it does come with a price tag!

Expect exclusive resorts with unrivalled service. The food here is typically seafood heavy with understated flair.

Your lazy days can be spent dipping into clear blue seas, perhaps going for a leisurely snorkel and marvelling at the underwater life. 

Your flight to Bora Bora from the UK is quite long, so it’s worth visiting for at least a week. Besides, as a tropical ocean destination, you won’t want to leave in a hurry.

15. Costa Rica

Best for: An eco stay

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Costa Rica Winter Sun

Costa Rica is one of the winter sun destinations that absolutely should be on your bucket list.

I’d recommend staying in a treehouse and listenining to parrots (and spy them in the trees!), plus enjoy adventurous activities like zip lining through the jungle.

In Costa Rica you can also experience varied and colourful wildlife and plants in a way that is exotic and beguiling. Then of course, there are beaches which are some of the best in the world.

Costa Rica was once the preserve of backpackers, but increasingly luxury resorts with a focus on eco-credentials are gaining traction, which I’m so happy to see.

his makes it a perfect place to enjoy some winter sun.

There’s so much choice when it comes to the best winter sun destinations. Get imaginative and get the dazzle of sun on your skin. Let me know your favourites in the comments or get in touch on social media!

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


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Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.