I’ve been home in Wales over the Christmas period, visiting friends and family and generally getting fatter and fatter with each day. Needless to say, I’m now desperate to escape the rainy grey skies and jet off to warmer climes for sun soaked days on the beach and sandy adventures in my flip flops.
From exotic paradise islands to 24-hour party cities, here are a few idyllic winter sun destinations to get your fix.
The Canary Islands
These sun-kissed Spanish islands are actually closer to Africa than they are to Spain, which means they’re blessed with year-round sunshine and winter temperatures that hover deliciously around the mid twenties! Head to Lanzarote, Gran Canaria or Tenerife for endless beaches, irresistible shopping and legendary nightlife, or fly to Fuerteventura for world-class watersports and spend Christmas Day learning how surf, kitesurf or windsail. Talk about ‘wet and wild’!
Nowhere on earth does tropical island living quite like the Caribbean Islands! Enjoy cocktails on the blissful beaches and warm-water snorkelling on islands like the Dominican Republic, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Lucia, which boast endless hours of sun from December to February. In need of a culture hit? Check out Cuba and discover a whole new world of gastronomy, music and history, and find out what everyone’s raving about for yourself.
With its sprawling beaches, endless supply of thrilling activities and irresistibly warm winters, this glitzy, razzle-dazzle metropolis is like nowhere else on earth. Spend your days soaking up some rays at the beach and enjoying watersports, or treat yourself to some retail therapy at one of the gargantuan mega-malls. It’s hardly surprising that Dubai has become such a firm favourite for families who want to get together for Christmas in the sun!
Done Dubai already? Try the equally spectacular city of Abu Dhabi, which is also perfect in winter.
For a fix of culture and sunshine, it really doesn’t get any better than this picture perfect Portuguese island. Stay in the capital city of Funchal and explore the ornate colonial architecture and fascinating museum, before exploring the ancient streets and sneaking into an old wine lodge for a taste of the local terroir. Enjoy the sunshine with boat trips and walks through the sub-tropical valleys, volcanic mountains and elegant gardens, or take it easy with a good book and a cold drink on one of the many beaches.
Boasting year-round sunshine and classic Mediterranean charm, Malta really does have it all. And in the winter months, when tourist numbers are at their lowest, you can see and do even more. Stay in the 16th century capital city of Valletta, which is a labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets that overflow with independent fashion boutiques and stores hawking one-off items. Enjoy a trip to see the Prehistoric temples of Hagar Qim, Tarxien and Ggantija, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids, and as the sun fizzles out, stroll over to the ever popular Paceville area to delve into delicious restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Famed for its Latino-infused culture, all-night salsa parties, prestigious art galleries and pristine beaches, Miami is unquestionably the place to be for winter fun in the sun. Explore the Art Deco district or lose yourself in the city centre, where you can see, smell and taste the American and Caribbean influences. Try a spot of scuba diving or simply relax at the beach with a cocktail and let the Calypso grooves wash over you.
Winter is actually the best time of year to visit Thailand because the temperatures are more manageable. Bangkok, with its sprawling street markets and vast supply of cultural attractions, is a full on sensory assault. Although for a real winter paradise you’ll want to head to the islands – castaway to the ivory-white sands of Koh Samui and Phuket to indulge at luxury spas and wild full-moon parties that you’ll remember for the rest of your days.
Winter needn’t be wearisome – fun in the sun is just a flight away!