We all love a bit of festive fun, and sometimes being snuggled up is cosy – BUT let’s be honest, when we’re putting on our fourth layer of clothing and our teeth are chattering, some sun is ALL we crave. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best winter sun destinations to get some much-needed vitamin D – without breaking the budget. Read on for 8 of the best places to find some cheap winter sun.
If you’re looking for winter sun destinations, look no further than Tenerife, which offers temperatures between 19-21°C during the winter months. If beaches are your main concern, El Medáno or Los Gigantes are your best bets. For exploring, stay in central Santa Cruz, where you’ll find shopping, museums, gardens and art. Do not miss the Teide National Park and Volcan El Teide, the huge volcano on the island, reached via cable car or a hike. As you reach the top you’ll be greeted with amazing panoramic views over Tenerife – but wrap up, it’s freezing at the top! If you’re looking for bars and nightlife (the clubbing scene is huge!), Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje are both great options.
Due to the high tourist numbers, eating out in Tenerife can be expensive, so stick to smaller local restaurants if you do want to eat out. Head to Restaurante Los Pinchitos in Santa Cruz for some cheap but delicious seafood – this one is popular with locals so arrive early! Stay at Los Amigos Backpackers Hostel, which is right on El Medáno beach with a great swimming pool, or La Tortuga Hostel, which has a great cosy vibe in Costa Adeje, and is near nightlife and the El Duque beach that offers beautiful sunsets.
Flights from the UK: 4.5 hours, from £60
Dec-Feb temperature: 19-21°C
Madeira is more than just winter sun, it’s also beautiful mountains, landscapes and coastline. The most popular area in Madeira to stay is Funchal, the super laid back capital that offers charm by the bucketload – particularly the Old Town. The south coast boasts beautiful beaches, but as the island is relatively small, getting to beaches and mountains from Funchal isn’t a problem, particularly if you rent a car which can be done from around £80 for a week. For gorgeous tropical beach vibes, head to Porto Santo, a small island great for diving, relaxing and admiring the beautiful beach – ferries run regularly from Funchal.
If you’re into hiking, don’t miss Ponta de Sao Lourenco, a gorgeous walk along the peninsula in the east of Madeira with stunning cliff scenery, and Pico do Arieiro, a popular hike that can be done from Funchal (or by car, if you’re feeling super lazy), for extraordinary views of the island. You don’t always need to hike deep into the mountains though, Madeira is full of greenery and gardens that can be explored, such as Parque Forestal de Queimadas – an absolutely enchanting forest where you can easily while away the hours. For traditional Portuguese fare, try O Garrafao and O Avo restaurants in Funchal for great local food and cheap prices. Native Motion Hostel is fantastic for surfing, has a gorgeous view, and even has a penthouse apartment if you’re feeling *swanky*.
Flights from the UK: 4 hours, from £100
Dec-Feb temperature: 17-18°C
3. Gran Canaria
One of the most versatile winter sun destinations, Gran Canaria has a HUGE variety of things to do, whether you just want to chill on a beach, check out ancient museums or even water ski. If nightlife is high on your agenda, stay in Las Palmas, the buzzing city centre. Within Las Palmas itself, the Catedral de Santa Ana is a beautiful imposing cathedral and a must see, as is the historic old Vegueta quarter, with markets and restaurants galore. Don’t miss Natural Burguer in Las Palmas for healthy burgers, great veggie options and smoothies. Let Me Take U is another must try – their croquettes are to die for 😍.
Combine this with a stay in Puerto de Mogán, a charming fishing village known as ‘Little Venice’, with a harbour and loads of bars and cafes. It’s a 2 hour drive from Las Palmas or you could stop off at Puerto Rico which, whilst rather busy with tourists, does have a beaut beach.
For a different experience, head to Caldera de Bandama, an awesome 200 metre deep crater you can drive on. If you fancy being a bit more active, hire a bike or horse and ride through the stunning and huge Cumbre Vieja National Park. Volver Beach Hostel in the gorgeous Puerto de Mogán offers fabulous breakfast and views, whilst Big Fish Las Palmas Hostel is 2 minutes from the beach and great for surfing.
Flights from the UK: 4 hours, from £40
Dec-Feb temperature: 18-20°C
Morocco is a country of great diversity, but if you want guaranteed sun, head to the capital city of Marrakesh where it stays around 19 degrees in the winter months (the coasts can be a bit windy and cold). Marrakesh has medinas, gorgeous food and stunning architecture galore – you can’t come without experiencing a souk. This is an endless market place filled with food, materials of gorgeous patterns, and unusual souvenirs.
If art is more your thing (or even if it isn’t – Morocco is known for its amazing art exhibitions so you should try and visit at least one), Marrakesh offers galleries in abundance. Don’t miss the Matisse Art Gallery, with art by some of the most famous artists in the country; David Bloch, a contemporary gallery; and La Qoubba Galerie D’Art for an authentic feel with vibrant pieces by local artists. If you can, visit a mosque – the Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret in central Marrakesh is absolutely stunning. Head to Kechmara for divine cocktails, and if you’re looking to eat cheap, check out Jemma el Fna, an ever popular stall serving traditional Moroccan fare; La Crèperie, for any variation of crepe you can think of; or Bejganni for a fabulous mixed grill. A riad is a typical stay of choice in Morocco – stay at Riad Basma, Riad Zineb, or Riad Menzeh, beautiful 10.0 rated central riads in Marrakesh that all offer free breakfast.
Morocco is also one of our winter sun destinations where you can find world-class surfing. There’s a variety of breaks along the coast, which means you can find the perfect wave regardless of whether you’ve been surfing for 10 days or 10 years. Plenty of hostels cater to the surfers that visit Morocco every year, which means you can find plenty of cheap places to stay, like-minded people and maybe even a sunset yoga class to keep off that winter weight.
Whilst a bit colder, if you want to experience one of the coolest cities you’ll ever see, head to Chefchaouen (3 hours from Marrakesh) where the streets are covered in blue paint. It’s also just an hour from Marrakesh to the High Atlas mountains, for hiking and stunning views – great for a day trip.
Flights from the UK: 3.5 hours, from £60
Dec-Feb temperature: 19-20°C
Lanzarote hasn’t always had the greatest rep, but if you know where to look you can find beautiful volcanoes, empty beaches and yummy food – and on a budget for us thrifty travellers! There are beautiful landscapes galore, and at a rather lovely temperature it’s the perfect place to grab some of that much needed winter sun. The beaches themselves are stunning – if you don’t fancy being joined by tourists, head to Playa Francesa which is on its own island. The beaches of Papagayo are also all worth a visit with their calm turquoise waters, but if you want to catch a wave or two, check out Playa de Famara.
Puerto del Carmen is the main nightlife town if you’re looking for a few drinks after a day at the beach – check out The Dubliner for live music or The Scotch Corner for cosy vibes. If you want to do more than just beaching, head to El Golfo, an hour’s bike ride away from PDC where you’ll find an emerald green lake and the amazing Los Hervideros which translate as “boiling pots”, with strangely shaped cliffs and underwater caves. For cheap grub in a fun, casual setting, head to Aussies Beach Bar or The Purple Turtle in Puerto del Carmen for delicious food and a friendly atmosphere. Stay at Kalufa Surf House which has has a 9.7 rating and is in a small village half an hour from Puerto del Carmen (the island is pretty tiny!) away from tourists. It’s near a great surf area and has a huge pool and BBQ – sounds ideal!
Flights from the UK: 4 hours, from £40
Dec-Feb temperature: 19-21°C
Cyprus is a country of endless charm and is a pleasant 18 degrees on average whilst we’re de-icing our cars back here in Blighty. There are loads of areas you could stay in but Limmasol is one of the best, for great beaches, bars and wine. If you fancy getting historical, head to Paphos Archaeological site, next door to Limmasol, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ancient city that is fascinating to walk around. If you can’t travel without a bit of adventure, drive to the Troodos mountains, with scuba diving, cycling and hiking options galore.
To save those pennies, check out Aristos & Kiki Kebab House in Limmasol for traditional Cyprian fare, or Al Borgo Pizzeria, whose delicious pizza which will satisfy any cravings. Trip Yard Hostel is ideal to meet other travellers and is in the heart of Limmasol, and is just a 5 minute walk to the historical centre and beach.
Flights from the UK: 4.5 hours, from £50
Dec-Feb temperature: 17-19°C
7. Cape Verde
Cape Verde is truly a winter sun paradise, with gorgeously balmy temperatures and friendly locals – get us there pronto! Many tourists who head to Cape Verde stay on the island of Sal which has stunning beaches and fantastic scuba diving – don’t miss the gorgeous Santa Maria beach for whiling away the hours. Another option if you want more of a buzzing vibe is to head to Santiago, home to the capital, Praia. If partying is on the agenda, stay on the island of São Vicente for clubs and bars galore.
If your idea of winter sun destinations involves more than just beaches (lying horizontally can be hard work ya know), then head to the island of Fogo, which is home to the imposing Pico do Fogo volcano. For cheap eats, check out Beramar Grill or Tia Irene in Praia for simple, tasty meat or veggie dishes. Praiadise Hostel in Praia is a great choice for accommodation – it’s right on the coast of the town of Achada Santo Ant, and near loads of bars and budget food spots.
Flights from the UK: 6 hours, from £250
Dec-Feb temperature: 23-25°C
There are endless options in the stunning country of Egypt if you’re craving sunshine. The gorgeous Sharm el Sheikh is best for beautiful beaches, calm waters, and has loads of cheap bars and restaurants – it’s also a fantastic diving area. If you want more of a historic vibe, book a cheap domestic flight to Luxor in Upper Egypt and explore the world’s greatest open-air museum. Apart from the Great Pyramids of Giza, which are in Egypt’s capital Cairo, all famous and well-preserved sights from the time of the Pharaohs can be visited in this area. Make sure not to miss the Valley of the Kings and the Sound and Light Show at the Karnak Temple. Head then to Aswan, which is said to be the country’s most beautiful place, and take a trip on the Nile in a fishing boat. The climate in Luxor and Aswan comes close to a boiling pot in summer, so winter temperatures are perfection!
For delicious and cheap classic Egyptian fare, always look for places that are packed with locals. Even if they are not the most appealing spots, here you’ll get the best food and most authentic experience – trust us! The Nefertiti Hotel offers private rooms for cheap prices in a prime location in Luxor, and Oonas Dive Club in Sharm el Sheikh has an awesome rooftop area, that you’ll never want to leave again!
Flights from the UK: 5-7 hours, from £200
Dec-Feb temperature 22-24°C
Do you have any recommendations for other cheap winter sun destinations? Let us know in the comments below!