Europe in winter is pristine with snow, and yet there are parts of the continent that enjoy that warm sun even during those freezing months.
These winter sun destinations are a great escape from the shivering and teeth chattering.
What’s more? They are romantic, booming with things to do, places to explore, and have a certain footloose and fancy-free vibe about them.
Read on and dive into the post to learn about the 10 best winter sun destinations in Europe, which will make your chilled months memorable.
Winter temperature in Algarve: 9°C to 19°C
Brimming with beaches, full of salty sea breezes, and painted in cliff-ringed scenery, the Algarve has to be one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe.
Nestled in Portugal, the place sees mild and sunny days during the cold season, allowing its visitors to spend pleasant days on the sandy stripes.
The best time to spend the chilly days in the Algarve is between February and March.
While most of Europe and America are still deep in winter and sometimes covered in snow, it is already Spring in this beachside warm winter destination.
Most refrain from visiting the region during peak winter. While you’ll be able to enjoy the beach, the freezing cold Atlantic will be off-limits.
But there are plenty of good reasons to travel to the Algarve in winter as it is the off-peak season.
You will have plenty of beautiful and almost-empty Algarve beaches for yourself. Imagine sauntering, running, relaxing at lonesome Praia de Marinha, and exploring sans-traffic Sagres.
Winter temperature in Malta: 15°C to 20°C
Positioned lower down on the continent, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta enjoys lovely weather throughout the year.
Visit this top winter sun destination in Europe to turn the dial from bleak winter to rejuvenating sunshine. Did you know it is also one of the cheapest destinations to travel to in Europe?
Malta’s landscape is teeming with eye-widening pre-historic architecture, a rock-strewn coast, red-gold beaches, intriguing hidden coves, and fossil-studded cliffs. Come here to explore its remarkable history, and for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The archipelago’s marinas jostle with boats, yachts, traditional crafts, and speedboats. Never miss the ferry to the Grand Harbour in Valletta.
Dive underwater to watch a world of caves and wrecks unravel before you. Remain on the land to navigate through several coves and historical structures.
However, history is not all that Malta is about. The city aces at 21st-century sophistication too with its punch-packed cocktails, inviting dining scene, and welcoming hotels.
Winter temperature in Lisbon: 12°C to 20°C
The capital of Portugal, the City of Light, Lisbon, is an Instagrammable destination to explore.
Turns out, it is also among the best places to enjoy the winter sun in Europe.
You can beat the crowd, the high prices, and savor pastel de nata – all while basking in the warm sun.
Lisbon has an olde-worlde charm that reflects in its vintage funicular, pastel buildings, garden windows, and medieval edifices like San Jorge Castle, one of the best places to watch the sunset in Lisbon.
Here, you will also find several miradouros and graffiti-filled streets.
Lisbon landscape is pegged with lots of hills.
Unlike in summer, climbing those viewpoints won’t get you dripping in sweat and burnt out. Port wine of Portugal also pairs better with winter than summer.
If you are photography enthusiasts or a sucker for picturesque landscapes, you will find winter more rewarding with its soft light, street lamps, and fewer tourists.
Winter temperature in The Azores: 8°C to 17°C
Abound with adventure, this hot winter destination in Europe is also known as the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic.
Apart from the mainstream watersport, the place offers equestrian fun of riding a horse in beautiful green patches overlooking the sea.
If you are a thrill-seeker, paragliding should be the “it” activity for you!
The best things to do in The Azores during winter is to hike to Salto do Prego, the Lagoa do Fogo, and Mt. Pico.
You may be huffy-puffy at the peak but not sweaty sticky.
Since the weather will be pleasant, kayaking in volcanic lakes would be a lot more comfortable as well.
Come to The Azores to pull over at its several incredible scenic overlooks and simply spend time in the lap of raw nature.
Winter temperature in Cyprus: 16°C to 17°C
If you are looking for warm winter destinations in Europe that won’t stray you far from the mainland continent, then Cyprus is the place for you.
Tucked in the southeast Mediterranean, around 4.5 hours from the UK, this island country is blessed with pleasant weather all through the year.
On average, it gets much more sun (300 days) than the rest of Europe. If you are a heliophile, there is no better place to travel and ditch the blanket of snow for apricity.
While the water may still be too chilly to dive in, there is so much more to do in this small, welcoming winter sun destination in Europe.
You can spend time at Latchi beach, take boat rides, go parasailing, and explore historical sites like Paphos Castle and Choirokoitia Village.
Cyprus in winter is not just more relaxing but also less crowded and less expensive. It means you can stay at luxury resorts for a comparatively lower price and sample local food without getting in queues.
Best time to visit?
The best months to visit the country are October, November, and February. December is the rainiest season, and best avoided.
Winter temperature in Cyprus: 12°C to 16°C
Escape the bleak, cold, and slush at the Balearic Island of Mallorca.
Although famous as a dreamy summer vacation destination, the island turns tranquil and one of the hot winter destinations in Europe during winter.
Blessed with pleasant weather and plenty of sunshine, it fits the bill for a perfect off-season winter vacation.
Best time to visit?
Come between October and December to skip the crowds. Browse historical monuments, go retail therapy at trendy boutiques, enjoy the upbeat atmosphere, and have beaches to yourself.
Come in January to attend the several local winter festivals such as Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià celebrations. Palma honors its revered saints with a variety of programs, including concerts and a night of fire. Come in February to be a part of the Sa Rua Carnival and Fira de S’Ametler almond fair.
What makes Mallorca one of the best sun holiday destinations in Europe is the long list of activities available to make the trip memorable.
Apart from hitting the museums and the beaches, you can also take wine tours, gourmet tours, dance the salsa, drink coffee in a 300-year old café, or go thrift shopping for the local craft.
The holidaymakers can go golfing, play tennis, pamper themselves in luxurious spas, visit the Palma Aquarium, or ramble in the Tramuntana mountains.
Winter temperature in Madeira: 7°C to 12°C
The raw nature mixes with pleasant weather to create the best sun holiday destinations in Europe viz. Madeira. The pristine landscapes here give serious Jurassic vibes, while cliff-strewn coast overlooks dolphin-filled waters.
Visiting Portugal’s magical Madeira during winter just doubles the fun.
You see fewer crowds, lower prices, and no queues.
Plus, there is basking under the sun in empty natural pools. Even so, these are not the only highlights of this volcanic island.
Making it one of the top winter sun destinations in Europe are also the forest-sprouting hills, serene hiking trails, botanical gardens, toboggan rides, Funchal, and the local food.
Dolphin watching and coasteering are popular activities in Madeira alongside SUP at Garajau Marine Nature Reserve and surfing in the Portuguese waves.
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit Madeira is between late November and February. When most of the world is blanketed in four layers of warmers, Madeira still enjoys the T-shirt weather.
Come near New Year’s Eve to witness the award-winning fireworks of Funchal.
Canary Islands, Spain
Winter temperature in the Canary Islands: 15°C to 22°C
Blessed with perennial sunny weather, it ranks high among the best places for winter sun in Europe.
This Spanish archipelago enjoys sunshine pretty much every single day. When off to enjoy apricity, you can’t go wrong with the Canary Islands.
Although stereotyped as a beach lover’s paradise, the Canary Islands offer so much more than just sandy strips and coastlines. Fuerteventura, the popular island with its dry mountainous landscape, boasts a certain Moroccan charm.
Dunes, quaint villages, and aquamarine water further highlight the beauty of the Canary Islands.
The archipelago also allows island-hopping if you are willing to sample a little of all islands.
So, you can browse the desert scenery of Fuerteventura and also breathe in the fresh air of tropical La Gomera.
However, if you are going to explore one island at a time, choose Tenerife, the warmest island during winter.
Now tell us if it isn’t one of the best sun holiday destinations in Europe!
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit the Canary Islands is between December and February. Located just 4-5 hours from the continent, the islands are easy to access.
Winter temperature in the Crete, Greece: 10°C to 15°C
Crete is Greece’s largest island that sits lower down of the country.
It may not be the warmest of all warm winter destinations in Europe, but still flaunts mild weather and lots to discover.
It is also one of the few Greek Islands that do not shut down during the cold season. (Hint: Santorini isn’t one of them.)
Crete is famous for its varied terrain that ranges from Elafonisi beaches to the White Mountains.
Towering the island is another landmark – Mount Ida, not only the tallest of the range but also home to Zeus’ birthplace – the Ideon Cave.
Whether you are a history buff, a Greek mythology enthusiast, or an excursionist, the Ideon Cave alone will intrigue you enough to plan a winter vacation in Crete.
The better news is the cave is not all that Crete has to offer.
The capital of the island, Heraklion, is also a fascinating city to explore. It is full of sites like the housing Minoan artifacts and Archaeological Museum.
You will also find Knossos, which is the largest Bronze Age settlement and Europe’s oldest city.
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit Crete’s winter sun in Europe is in December. You can spend time surfing and watching Santa dive!
Winter temperature in Crete, Greece: 9°C to 12°C
Italy’s largest island, Sardinia traces the Mediterranean Sea for across 2,000km.
It is possibly the coldest of all winter sun destinations in Europe. Sardinia sees most rain during the chilly season.
This is when its mountains get blanketed in snow.
And yet, the island feels warmer than most places on the continent with a great deal of sunshine.
The best time to visit the island is during February.
In Sardinia, it is the month of festivals, celebrations, parades, and carnivals. You can also plan your vacation in December, around Christmas, when Cagliari locals go for a walk on the beach or hike to enjoy the weather.
Nonetheless, the scenery here is always worth a vacation, no matter which wintry month.
The landscape here is a gorgeous concoction of sandy beaches, rock-strewn coast, and hiking trail-ringed rugged mountains.
Across the trails, you will find thousands of fascinating nuraghi, beehive-shaped Bronze Age stone ruins.
One of these largest and oldest stone ruins is called Su Nuraxi of Barumini. It dates back to 1500 B.C.
Other interesting sites include the Tharros coast, Alghero, Bosa, and Nuoro.
Although famous as a summer vacation destination, Europe can be truly charming all year round.
With its warm, sunny locations during October-February months, it welcomes globetrotters to sunbathe in the winter sun.
Whether you are looking for a destination near the mainland, off the beaten path, or on a coast, rest assured there’s a perfect place for you to enjoy the brightest and the best winter sun in Europe.
In this travel guide, we have mentioned the 10 top winter sun destinations in Europe, which you can consider while planning your next warm winter vacation.
These travel places hail from dreamy countries like Italy, Spain, UK, Greece, and Portugal.
Sprawled across them is a slew of excursion-worthy spots.
They range from stunning beaches and serene promenades to archeological sites and volcanic lakes.
You know whichever you decide to explore, you won’t be disappointed.