For those in the northern hemisphere, winter can be long and dreary. From November to February, the colder temperatures and icy winds have us all dreaming of soaking up the rays somewhere on an exotic beach. Most likely with a cocktail in hand.
Fortunately, the sun is always shining somewhere on the planet. You just need to know where to go. So whether you’re looking to spend Christmas on the beach or to beat the January blues, here are the best winter sun destinations guaranteed to warm you up.
Cape Town, South Africa
Summer lasts from October to April in South Africa, with sunny skies and high temperatures making the country an ideal winter sun destination. And the place to go? It can only be Cape Town.
Backed by stunning mountains, Cape Town boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Head to Clifton, Camps Bay, Noordhoek, Llandudno or Hout Bay to see what all the fuss is about. Or for those looking for a little more action, why not climb Table Mountain or road trip the famous Garden Route?
Thailand’s exotic beaches and jungle-clad islets are no secret. And the province of Krabi in southern Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful of them all.
Boasting over 150 islands off its 120 kilometre-long coastline, Krabi spoils you for choice when it comes to finding your perfect winter destination. But with white sands, turquoise waters and countless activities on offer, you’re guaranteed to have fun in the sun wherever you go.
If you’re looking for a city break in the sun, Dubai is a great choice as it only really experiences one season. Expect hot and dry weather year-round, however from November to March the heat is a little less fierce, making this a great time to unwind on the city’s fantastic beaches.
However, there are countless options for spending your time in Dubai. Beyond the city’s gleaming skyscrapers and palm-shaped islands, you’ll find historic buildings and colourful souks to explore. Or venture outside the city to experience the Arabian Desert on an exhilarating 4×4 safari.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Combining Colonial cities, Maya ruins and a host of tropical beaches, the Yucatan Peninsula offers you the best of Mexico in one bite-sized chunk. The capital of Yucatan is Merida, with its beautiful colonial architecture and wonderful restaurants. Then just a day trip away you’ll find the ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Add to this the beachside ruins of Tulum, endless sands of Cancun and palm-lined Playa del Carmen, and you’ve found yourself one incredible winter sun destination. With virtually no rain, December to April is by far the best time to visit.
One of the more obvious winter sun destinations, Australia’s East Coast is at its best during the summer months from December to February. This is the perfect time to visit Sydney, a city well-known for its outdoor lifestyle.
As well as iconic landmarks, this harbour city offers gorgeous beaches, coastal walks and the fantastic Royal Botanical Garden. The UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains National Park is also close by, where you can enjoy a weekend away hiking.
South Coast, Sri Lanka
Another fabulous winter sun destination, Sri Lanka is best visited from December to March. During these months it’s mostly dry across the popular Cultural Triangle, so you can marvel at the ruins of Polonnaruwa and the magnificent rock fortress of Siriya free from the monsoon rains.
Once you’ve finished sightseeing, this is the ideal time for visiting the Teardrop Isle’s southern coastline. Here you’ll find the beach resorts of Bentota, Unawatuna and Tangalle, where you can enjoy some time unwinding on their tropical shores.
During the winter, Goa is one of the warmest places you can visit in the northern hemisphere. Set midway down India’s western coast, this tiny state has been a holiday destination since colonial times. And with its golden, palm-fringed beaches, it’s easy to see why.
Whether you’re after luxury resorts or budget hostels, quiet escapes or buzzing nightlife, Goa’s beaches have something to offer everyone. Add delicious cuisine and spectacular sunsets to the mix, and it doesn’t really get any better than this.
Pacific Coast, Costa Rica
Located on the narrowest strip of Central America, Costa Rica draws winter visitors to its lush rainforests and idyllic beaches. The rainy season ends by December, meaning the landscape remains lush into the New Year and you can enjoy sunny, relatively dry weather on the Pacific coast.
These months are also one of the best times for wildlife viewing. Migrating whales come to give birth in warmer waters and migrant bird species arrive from the north. Sea turtles also come to nest, with giant leatherbacks arriving at the beaches in Las Baulas National Marine Park.
A unique holiday destination, Cuba offers you the chance to step back in time. Classic ’50s cars cruise down streets lined with colonial architecture and, as diplomatic relations with the US have only recently been restored, the island remains largely undiscovered.
Explore the capital Havana and embrace the Latino culture. November to April marks the dry season, so next head along the coast and find a place amongst the palms on the nearby beaches. Just over two hours east of Havana is Varadero, offering 20 kilometres of uninterrupted yellow sands for you to enjoy.
Located along Egypt’s Red Sea coast, the resort town of Hurghada boasts a hot climate year-round. However in the winter months, temperatures are slightly cooler – making sunbathing a much more comfortable experience.
The sea is still beautifully warm at this time, so you can spend your days swimming, snorkelling or checking out the watersports on offer. Then by night, dine in one of the many restaurants by the marina and soak up the views.
Find your perfect winter escape with our holiday ideas by month guide.