With the Christmas decorations down and the enthusiasm for the New Year rapidly decreasing, the mental image of the blue sea, gold sand, and palm trees becomes an obsession.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a trip to Bermuda or the Caribbean. Fortunately, you don’t have to fly that far to find the winter sun.
Here is a list of some of the best places you can travel to for a winter tan:
8 Places to Enjoy the Winter Sun
One of my favorite winter destinations, Morocco, can put a spell on you. Just like the snake charmers, you will encounter at every street corner, Morocco will enchant you with its unique beauty.
Experience the striking contrast between the outer chaos present in the streets and the inner peace found in the comfort of your hotel.
Don’t leave Morocco without feeling the energy of the city in the market and Djemaa el-Fna, the most famous square here, and a great spot to people watch. Spend some time relaxing in the courtyard of a riad with some mint tea and pamper yourself in a hammam (Turkish bath.) You won’t regret it.
The Canary Islands are a great and affordable option for those looking for the classic beach vacation. Not to mention the fact that the flight takes just three hours from London.
Thanks to the great climate, there is essentially nothing you can’t do while you’re here. The Teide National Park, home to the third highest volcano in the world is a must see. Take a stroll through La Laguna Old Town, an unfortified colonial town that now has a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Then visit the Siam Park, the largest water park in Europe. I promise that you’ll have a blast there.
If you love Portugal, then you will definitely fall in love with Madeira. This Portuguese archipelago is a destination that will charm you with its scenery, its garden collection, and its quirky attractions. As you explore the islands, Madeira will seem like a refuge of calmness and tranquility.
If you feel particularly active or adventurous, don’t worry. You’ll find suitable activities, such as hang gliding, paragliding, mountain biking, diving, and surfing. Madeira is, after all, known as the Hawaii of the Atlantic.
4) Cape Verde
An isolated, volcanic archipelago located about 500 km off the West African coast and just a few hours away by plane from the UK, Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony. This group of scattered islands represents the embodiment of the tropical island experience. If you’re looking for a truly relaxing vacation, this is the spot for you.
But don’t be fooled by the laid-back atmosphere of this destination. Cape Verde is more than just a tranquility resort. Its rich culture, scenery, and exciting activities make Cape Verde a preferred destination for European travelers during winter.
Windsurfing in Sal and Boa Vista is especially sought out in the months of January and February. You can also enjoy scuba diving, fishing, and bird watching.
You probably wouldn’t think of Dubai as a cheap holiday destination, but you’d be surprised to know it’s not as expensive as it seems. Even on a budget, it’s impossible not to feel the sense of luxury that surrounds you everywhere in the city.
Don’t leave without visiting a few of the top attractions, like the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, the Ski Dubai, the Dubai Marina or without experiencing a safari.
If you’re there in the cold season, know that they have several exciting seasonal events, such as the Dubai Shopping Festival held in January, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, the Dubai Food Festival held from February to March, and March’s Art Dubai.
6) The Gambia
Located on the west side of Africa and surrounded by Senegal, The Republic of the Gambia is the smallest country on the continent. With approximately only 2 million inhabitants and no significant political or social turmoil, the country is the perfect destination for those who want to enjoy the winter sun but can’t afford to pay for an exotic holiday in Mauritius or the Bahamas.
Despite the fact that it only has 80 km of coastline, the incredible beaches, the quaint fishing villages and the diverse ecosystems will take your breath away. If you have enough time to spend here, you should check out the capital Banjul as well as other cities, like Serekunda or Brikama to get a feel of the history and local culture.
Another great attraction is the Makasutu Culture Forest. With more than 500 species of birds, the forest is the perfect place for bird watching and enjoying nature. December to April is an excellent timeframe to visit West Africa if you wish to see the wildlife in its natural habitat. Because the grass is burnt by the sun, you have better visibility than during other months. Moreover, the chances of spotting animals as they gather around watering holes increases as well.
You can book a day trip to explore the Makasutu Culture Forest, or you can rent a canoe and float down the river. Or, you can even enroll in an art project called Wide Open Walls. So, be sure to take advantage of everything that the Gambia has to offer.
Located on Costa del Sol, a region in the South of Spain, Malaga might seem a surprising choice, as it is often overlooked by travelers in search of some winter sun. Most people tend to choose cities like Granada, Cordoba or Seville due to their historical and cultural heritage. However, Malaga has come a long way and is slowly but surely making its way into the top Spanish vacation destinations. Its dynamism, rich history, culture and renowned and constantly developing art scene, are just some of the few reasons that make Malaga a great holiday destination all year round.
Unknown to many, Malaga is the birthplace of famous artist Pablo Picasso, so it’s only natural that you’ll find an excellent art museum right in the heart of the city. If you’re a true fan, you can also visit Casa Natal de Picasso, where you’ll learn more about the artist’s personal life and where you can see a replica of his studio.
Another spectacular spot is the gothic Malaga Cathedral, built in the 16th century, where you can still see remnants of the former mosque that existed on this same site. It’s also worth it to climb the 200 steps and enjoy the panorama from the tower. As a fun fact, the cathedral is called La Manquita (the one-armed lady), because one of its two bell towers has been left incomplete.
Winter is the absolute best period you can choose for a holiday in Egypt. And, if you’re looking for the perfect spot where you can soak up the vibrant culture of the country as well as enjoy the sun, Alexandria is an excellent choice. Once home to one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the city is now a lively place, full of history, impressive landmarks, and relaxing beaches.
To get a sense of the majesty and luxury the city once had, visit Alexandria’s National Museum, where you will be introduced to its history from the Pharaonic era up to the Byzantine and Islamic ones. Then, top it all off with a visit to the city’s downtown waterfront road to fully understand the changes it went through during the 19th and 20th century. Feel the elegance of the long-lost days and keep your eyes open for the Cecil Hotel and Windsor Palace Hotel for a taste of some colonial architecture.
You’ll also want to visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a contemporary resurrection of the renowned but lost Alexandria Library, a cultural gem the civilization lost almost 2,300 years ago. Now, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major cultural venue and boasts four permanent museums, numerous exhibitions, and even a planetarium.
Other spots you shouldn’t miss are the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa, considered the largest Roman burial site in Egypt, Pompey’s Pillar, the Temple of Serapeum and Fort Qaitbey that has been guarding Alexandria’s harbor since 1480.
The city is a legend in its truest form and how could it not be since it was the former seat of Queen Cleopatra? Alexandria has that certain something that will seduce you – a sort of bohemian vibe you can’t find anywhere else and that you shouldn’t miss if you’re a true lover of history at heart.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless nowadays. If you’re anything like me, choosing one of these options over another is a tough decision. Let’s be honest; you’d probably love to see them all.
Think of what you want to do this vacation, stick to a general vibe (such as relaxed or active), choose accordingly, and most importantly, have fun.
Travel tip shared by John Miller