Roman Theatre view Malaga

18 Beautiful Winter Sun Destinations In Europe

If you’re craving some sun, there’s nothing better than going on holiday to a sunny destination.

If you’re located in Europe, you don’t need to go far to get the sun you want. There are incredible cities that not only are amazing in summer but in winter too.

In this blog, you’ll find the best winter sun destination in Europe, and tips to help you have a great experience. 

beautiful winter destinations in europe

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The Best Winter Sun Destinations in Europe In 2023

Albania

Sarande Albania

By Mal of Raw Mal Roams  

If you’re looking for winter sun destinations in Europe, you should consider the sea town of Sarande situated on the Albanian Riviera. 

Albania is still a hugely underrated holiday destination, extremely budget-friendly with gorgeous beaches, excellent cuisine and rich history

The temperature during winter hardly ever goes below 15 degrees Celsius during the day with plenty of sunshine which makes Sarande the perfect destination for the winter sun. 

Sarande is famous for its excellent seafood restaurants. Try the mouth-watering fresh mussels served in almost all restaurants in town accompanied by homemade Albanian wine.

While beach days are out of the question during winter, Serande and its nearby areas have plenty of interesting places to keep you entertained during your stay.  

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ancient Greek city of Butrint, situated an hour’s drive from Sarande. Hire a car and visit the local monasteries, including the most famous Monastery of Saint George which features a church dating back to the 14th century and stunning views over the Ionian Sea. 

And if you’re bored of Albania, take a day trip to the Greek island of Corfu, which is located a 30 minutes ferry ride from Sarande.  

Algarve

Algarve coast

By Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers

Algarve is one of the best places to get some vitamin D and escape the cold during the winter months.

There are so many great things to do in Algarve during the off-season and due to a lower number of tourists, you get the most stunning beaches in Portugal without the crowds.

But don’t expect to be all by yourself. Surf is up all year round in Algarve and the most popular beaches, especially on the west coast are busy.

Winter is also the best time of the year to go hiking along the sun-kissed, rugged cliffs lining the mesmerizing coast of Portugal as it’s not too hot.

There are also charming towns you have to visit, especially make sure you don’t miss out on Lagos, Albufeira, and Tavira. You can also go on a boat trip to see all the sea caves that the dramatic cliffs hide.

The most popular is Benagil Cave, hiding a beautiful beach lit up by an enormous sinkhole in the ceiling. It’s not allowed to get off the boat, so if you want to explore the beach itself, you have to rent a kayak or paddleboard at Benagil Beach.

Athens

Athens, Greece

By Erica of Trip Scholars

One of the most rewarding European destinations you can visit anytime is Athens, and winter is the perfect time for your trip!

The city is still brimming with archaeological wonders, world-class museums, and a fun social scene. But the crowds are significantly smaller than the massive summer surge. Additionally, hotel and airfare rates drop with the temperatures.

Summer heat in Athens can be stifling and many of the archaeological sites are very exposed with few trees and little shade. Summers have average highs of 32 degrees. Some days are much hotter, and it can make exploring the capital extremely uncomfortable.

Winter temperatures, on the other hand, are considerably more inviting! Between December and March, temperatures range from an average low of 6 to a high of 16 degrees. 

With the lower temperatures and manageable crowds, you can comfortably get to all the iconic sites in the city. Visit the Acropolis, Agora, Roman Agora, and Plaka as well as the Museum of the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum

Here are a couple of tips to enhance your winter trip to Athens. To appreciate all of the sites you will see, learn more about Greece before you go. Also consider getting the Combo Pass, which will allow you to skip the lines and save you money if you are visiting multiple sites. 

Benidorm

Benidorm city view

By PlacesofJuma

Benidorm in Spain is a coastal city and a popular destination as a warm destination to catch some winter sun. Its nickname is “Little Manhattan” because this city has the highest density of skyscrapers (in relation to the number of inhabitants) in the world!

Benidorm is also known for its endless sandy beaches, and the beautiful natural bays of the region, which are perfect for swimming even in winter.

Really great is the vibrant nightlife in Benidorm, and even in winter, there is always something going on here. There are really cool clubs and discos, countless pubs, restaurants, and cafes that invite you to go out in the evening.

But also older people, couples and families with children get their money’s worth during a vacation in Benidorm, because the range of leisure activities is ingenious. There are numerous cool amusement parks, water parks and zoos, but also nature and ingenious excursion destinations.

For example, right next to the city is the Sierra Helada National Park, where you can go on wonderful cliff hikes. Also worth seeing is the white town of Alte, as well as the colourful town of Villajoyosa, just a few minutes drive away!

Cagliari

Cagliari sunset view

By Claudia Tavani of Strictly Sardinia

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is a lovely place to visit throughout the year and a fantastic destination in the winter. 

When northern Europe – and even northern Italy – shivers and is covered in a blanket of snow, Cagliari enjoys many sunny days with average day-time temperatures of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius which make it pleasant to go for a walk and even to sit outside to sip a coffee.

The city is packed with interesting places to visit. Start your exploration in the historic centre of town, visiting the old historic quarters of Castello, where you’ll be able to spot the Santa Maria Cathedral with its adjoint bell tower, the two protective towers of San Pancrazio and Dell’Elefante.

Located in Castello there’s the well-curated archaeology museum, where you can get a better understanding of the history of Sardinia. Make sure to get to Via Santa Croce terrace in time for a beautiful sunset!

Not far from Castello, the Roman Amphitheater and the Botanical Gardens are other must-sees.

From there, you can reach Stampace, where you will find more churches and archaeological sites. Cross into La Marina district to find some of the best wine bars and restaurants in Cagliari. Finally, Villanova is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in town.

To enjoy nature within the city, head to Poetto beach. You can walk along the shore or decide to access Molentargius Nature Reserve for a chance of spotting pink flamingos. 

Finally, if you fancy a hike just head to Calamosca beach and find the trail to hike to Sella del Diavolo, for incredible views of Poetto beach and Molentargius from above; or the one to Fortino di Sant’Ignazio, an abandoned 17th-century fort from where you can admire the Gulf of Cagliari.

Dubrovnik

Croatia, Duvronik

By Christine Rogador

Winter is arguably the best season to visit Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular Balkan destinations. Thanks to the popularity of Game of Thrones, this Croatian city has become more popular than ever. 

That being said, visiting during winter means fewer tourists, lower hotel prices, and milder weather

Winter sightseeing in Dubrovnik is also much easier. Apart from being less crowded, the winters in this part of Croatia are typically mild due to its southern location.

Winter in Dubrovnik provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk along the city’s 1,9 km old walls. Without the heat or the crowds, you can enjoy unobstructed views of the walls, forts, gates, and the Adriatic and learn the history of this medieval city. 

Another place to visit in the winter is the limestone-paved Stradun, Europe’s most beautiful pedestrian main street. If you go during the holidays, you’ll be in for a treat as the street comes alive with lights, sounds, flavours, and treats from the Advent Market.

If you’re visiting with a partner for a honeymoon or romantic holiday, take the cable car for a different perspective on the old town. Here, you’ll enjoy the views of the old city, the mountains and the Adriatic coast which is one of the most romantic things to do in Dubrovnik. 

Beaches in Europe during winter might sound strange but you can still enjoy a beach holiday in Croatia – albeit at a lower water temperature. Among the best beaches to visit in Dubrovnik are Uvala Lapad and Bellevue Beach. 

If you want to save more money while travelling in Dubrovnik, find accommodation outside of the Old City instead. Aside from being quieter, the views are also more spectacular with most hotels and apartments overlooking the Adriatic, the cliffs and the nearby islets. 

Malaga

Roman Theatre view Malaga

By Cristina of My Little World of Travelling

Malaga is often seen as a summer destination because of its incredible beaches, festivals and water activities. However, visiting Malaga in winter is a great option too, especially if you prefer to have a more relaxing experience.

Winter in Malaga is very mild in comparison to other European destinations, you’ll enjoy temperatures of a maximum of 18 degrees and a minimum of 10 degrees. 

Malaga is one of the best places for winter sun in Europe as it’s one of the sunniest cities in Spain!

In addition to this, there are plenty of things you can do in Malaga during this time of the year – from sightseeing and immersing yourself in the Spanish Christmas to going on a hiking trail.

Some of the things you can’t miss in Malaga are visiting La Alcazaba, a beautiful Moorish fortress-palace with beautiful views of the port; Castillo de Gibralfaro, an incredible castle on the top of a hill; Malaga Cathedral and the port.

Malaga is also an excellent base to go on a day trip to whitewashed villages such as Nerja, Mijas Pueblo or Frigiliana, or other beautiful destinations in Andalusia. 

If you aren’t sure about where to stay in Malaga, Room Mate Valeria is a great choice. The hotel is located in the heart of the city and has beautiful rooms and a lovely rooftop bar.

📌 Read more about things to do in Malaga for free

Malta

Malta

By Anne of Packing Light Travel

If you’re looking for a warm winter destination in Europe, Malta is an excellent choice. With December temperatures averaging highs of 17 and lows of 11 degrees, one or two lightweight layers will see you comfortably dressed for exploring the best Malta has to offer.

This includes enjoying delicious seafood at a seaside restaurant, basking in the opulence of Saint John’s Co-cathedral, crossing the magnificent Valletta Harbour in a dgħajsa (a traditional water taxi), taking a boat trip out to the famous Blue Lagoon, and admiring the rich architecture gracing the streets of Valletta or Mdina.     

Besides agreeable weather, another advantage is that the euro goes much further in Malta than it does in many other countries in the Eurozone. And, for English-speaking travellers, it’s easy to get around and interact with residents as English is widely spoken; it’s one of the country’s official languages.

If driving on the left is a concern, the good news is that the public bus service is affordable and reliable enough to explore the islands of Malta and Gozo.

Marseille

Marseille port

By Nadine of Le Long Weekend

The South of France is a popular destination in the warmer months, but many don’t realise that winter can be a fantastic time to visit too.

Known as France’s “second city”, Marseille is a particularly vibrant and engaging place to visit in winter, as it offers a myriad of things to do and is typically blessed with a mild climate.

Daytime temperatures linger in the low-mid teens, so on a sunny afternoon, it’s not uncommon to see the locals enjoying the many beaches and baring their skin to the sun’s rays.

It’s the ideal time to take a walk along the city’s famous waterfront promenade, go hiking in the formidable Calanques and get acquainted with some of Marseille’s top attractions

Learn about the history of this multicultural city at the ultra-modern MuCEM, shop at the bustling markets, take a wander through the colourful Le Panier district and climb the stairs to Notre-Dame de la Garde for the best views in town.

Nice

A view of Nice, France

By Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast

If you want to experience French charm in the middle of winter, Nice is the perfect city to head to. Situated on the coast, Nice is a charming yet upscale blend of laid-back Mediterranean culture and classic French architecture and style.

Winter sees many fewer visitors than any other season, but still experiences mild temperatures, especially compared to other popular French destinations like Paris.

While it is too cold to go swimming, you can still enjoy many of the beautiful features Nice has to offer. Walk down the Promenade des Anglais – the wide walking path that spans the coast for several miles. The sea views are stunning and the people-watching is top-notch.

Walk through the Jardin Albert I and enjoy the sculptures, green spaces, water features, and playgrounds that are featured in this space that is popular with locals and tourists alike.

Visit Castle Hill for the stunning views of Nice down the Promenade and into the old town.

While in Nice, definitely get some socca (essentially a chickpea pancake) or pissaladiere (pizza-like bread with olives and onions) – specialities of Nice that you absolutely must try!

Nicosia

Buyuk Han Nicosia in Cyprus

By Yaren

Cyprus is known for its good weather and in winter, the average temperature is 16-17 degrees.

Most tourists go to Cyprus during the summer months but visiting Cyprus during winter is not a bad idea at all! There are way fewer tourists and it is possible to go to the beach even in the winter months for some people.

If you are planning to visit Cyprus during winter, Nicosia is a good place to stay!

Nicosia is home to many great cafes and bars, historic buildings and great street art. When in Nicosia, you can cross the border from the north to the south of the city to have a unique experience of crossing the border in Europe’s last divided capital.

There is a crossing point located near the Walled City, also known as the old town. You should definitely visit Buyuk Han (The Great Inn), the largest inn on the island, NIMAC, the contemporary art centre, Ledras Street and Selimiye Mosque.

Paros

Paros greece

By Paulina of Paulina on the Road

If you are looking for warm beautiful destinations in Europe in Winter, Paros is the perfect solitude getaway. It is situated around the beautiful waters of the Aegean Sea, in the centre of Cyclades islands.

It is a less travel destination where you can find deserted beaches and warm environments for a perfect winter vacation.

It is recognized as one of the best-kept secrets of Greece. After spending some time there, you’ll know why.

Travellers should visit this island in winter as it is the hub of activities and becomes welcoming especially during winter. Winter reveals another side of Paros with bright lights and shops awaiting your visit. 

The winter festivals including Epiphany, Carnival, and Clean Monday make the winter in Paros more happening for the travellers.

The special thing about visiting Paros is the cobblestone streets that offer photo opportunities at every turn. You can visit Panagia Ekatontapiliani, sunbathe at the beautiful beaches, take a ferry ride to the nearest islands, take a boat tour, and have wine at Moraitis.

Tip – Due to the winter season, you may not find where to stay in Paros. But there are a lot of Airbnbs that offer wonderful stays.  

Puglia

vieste sea view

By Cristina of LooknWalk

Puglia (Engl: Apulia), the land of sea, mountains, and hills attracts visitors due to its extensive Adriatic Coast, picturesque villages, ancient flavours, and outstanding weather.

On average, during winter, the temperatures rarely drop below 10ºC (during the day) throughout the area, but local exceptions exist (due to microclimate). It’s also very much possible to enjoy temperatures close to 20ºC in December, ideal for long walks by the deserted sea, hiking in the mountains, or even a boat ride.

Visiting the charming villages and towns, as well as trying the local foods is exactly what you should focus on during winter in Puglia. Make sure to rent a car for more flexibility.

From the trulli of Alberobello to the “White City” (Ostuni), and the Pearl of the Adriatic (Vieste), there are plenty of places to explore. If you fancy spending a long time here (and maybe, working remotely from Italy), it’s best to choose cities like Bari (the capital of the region) or Lecce (the Baroque jewel). Both are great bases to explore the area.

Rhodes

Rhodes in Greece

By Alice of Adventures of Alice

During the winter, Rhodes is fairly warmer than Greece’s mainland. With high temperatures ranging from about 14°C-16°C and low temperatures from 9°C-11°C. This is certainly not the warmest winter destination; however, it provides the perfect conditions for taking part in outdoor activities such as hiking, plus you won’t get too hot at night

There are so many things to do in Rhodes. The place is filled with rich history and amazing architecture. One of the best things to do is visit the Acropolis of Lindos. These ruins are from the 4th century BC.

It gives beautiful views across the valley and of St Paul’s bay below. To reach it you have to climb a steep hill as the ruins are placed on a 116m rock, this is where you’ll be glad it’s only 16°C.

Some other things to do include visiting Rhodes old town, the Palace of the Grand Master, the valley of the butterflies, Agios Pavlos beach and St Pauls Bay

Santorini

Santorini view

By Dymphe of Dymabroad

Santorini is one of the best warm European destinations to visit in winter. Santorini is an island in Greece that is very beautiful, and the weather is very comfortable in winter compared to many other places in Europe.

When you go here, you can visit picturesque villages, such as Oia, where you can find the iconic blue domes. Furthermore, what’s great during winter is that it is less hot outside, so some activities are more doable.

Hiking is great in Santorini and doing it is much better in winter. Another thing that makes visiting Santorini in winter better is that there are fewer people. This will give you a much more local experience of the island.

Also, exploring the villages is a great reason to visit Santorini, and it’s more fun to explore some villages without the crowds. Furthermore, accommodation on the island is much more affordable during this time.

Keep in mind that the bus schedule is different in winter and buses run less often. That’s why renting a car is more convenient during winter.

Sicily

A street in sicily, italy

By Samantha of The Wandering Wanderluster

When you think of Italy in the winter, your mind may jump to images of the snow-capped Alpine Mountains and people skiing, but head further south to the island of Sicily and you’ll find more moderate temperatures, making the island a great destination for a European winter escape. 

While the summer months see flocks of tourists heading to the island, visiting Sicily in the winter has some benefits including fewer crowds and cheaper airfare and hotel prices.

While you’d have to be a brave soul to swim in the sea during the winter, there are endless places to visit in Sicily that will easily fill your days. Choose from a plethora of ancient archaeological sites, fascinating museums, stunning churches and beautiful baroque cities. 

For a touch of nature, head to Mount Etna for a spot of hiking (with snow!), a trip up the volcano by cable car or simply a casual stroll around some of its historic craters and enjoy the view out over the Ionian Sea.  And, of course, a trip to Sicily wouldn’t be complete without indulging in copious amounts of delicious food and Sicilian wine.

While many of the vineyards will be closed, you can still part-take in cooking classes throughout the region during the winter months which are often accompanied by some kind of wine tasting experience where you have the opportunity to try some of Sicily’s delectable nectars. 

Tbilisi

Tbilisi city view

By Anna of No Space In My Passport

If you are looking for a warm European getaway during winter, then look no further than Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Although summer is the most popular time to visit Tbilisi, the city will not disappoint you in winter.

There are a lot of things to do in Tbilisi, including visiting the Old Town, taking the funicular to see magnificent views of the city, eating some local Georgian food and drinking wine. There is nothing better than a warm Adjarian khachapuri on a cold winter’s day.

If you are a ski lover, within only a few hours’ time, you can find yourself at a ski resort. The most popular one is called Gudauri and offers some good skiing opportunities.

There are some things to know before you visit Tbilisi. In the city, there is no uber. Instead, you can use Yandex Taxi or hail a cab in the street. Georgian is also famous for its traditions, such as the supra (long table with a lot of food), so be prepared to eat and drink a lot.

Tenerife

18 Beautiful Winter Sun Destinations In Europe 18 Beautiful Winter Sun Destinations In Europe

By Tjasa of The Travel Momento

Are you looking for a stunning destination that offers sunny and warm weather year-round? Then look no further.

Tenerife, a Spanish archipelago located off the coast of West Africa and one of Spain’s largest the Canary Islands, is a holiday favourite destination for the winter months.

You might not think there is anything to do next to relaxing at beautiful black or white sand beaches, but Tenerife has something for any traveller, despite being known for being one of the best islands for families in Spain.

You can enjoy the views over contrasting landscapes, snorkel and watch dolphins in their natural habitat, drive through crazy mountain roads to reach awe-spiring villages, taste volcanic wine, hike one of hundreds of hiking trails or climb Mount Teide, the famous volcano part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prepare to take billion of photos in all of these photogenic places. To make your trip unforgettable, check out this collection of all essential information and travel tips for visiting Tenerife


Which winter sun destinations in Europe would you like to visit next? Let me know in the comments below.

If you have any questions about European destinations to visit in winter, you can reach me via email or Instagram. I’m happy to help!

Safe adventures,

Cristina x

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20 Comments

  1. Lovely suggestions! Always great to be able to soak up some sunny destinations in winter in Europe.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am glad you like the suggestions 🙂

  2. Such a good idea to escape the cold in winter in these sunny destinations! I hope to do that this year in January or February!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Absolutely! I hope you do 🙂

  3. Great post – especially for someone like me who is desperate for a bit of sun & living in the UK! Lots of ideas here, so just need to make some decisions now!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Sue! I miss the sun too. Unfortunately, there are not many sunny days in the UK during this time of the year.

  4. Fantastic list you’ve put together! I’m looking for a new sunny destinations to visit after Christmas so I’ll definitely look into some of these.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krista!

  5. This is a great, well rounded list. I’m always telling people about Puglia (where my dad is from) for off season and Portugal was perfect in late November!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Ella! I haven’t visited Puglia yet, but I loved visiting Portugal in late February.

  6. Gosh, I wish I could get to all of them this winter! I’m all about sunshine as much as possible. I’d really love to check out Sardinia!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Me too 🙂 Sardinia sounds like a lovely place too!

  7. Wow, lots of great ideas, here some of which were totally off my radar! I’m always up for chasing the sun. I’d love to check out Sicily and Sardinia!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Cynthia! I am also chasing the sun all the time. Sicily and Sardinia look amazing.

  8. We visited Europe in winter a couple of years ago. The lack of crowds and better rates on accommodation were certainly pluses. But we could have chosen a few more of these destinations to get some sunshine and warmth! Great list, I’ve put more on my bucket list for next time.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Megan! I also love travelling during winter because of great deals on accommodation and flights, and fewer crowds.

  9. Thanks for the inspiration. It is always nice to get some winter sun.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      You’re welcome!! I agree it’s always great to get some sun during the winter months.

  10. Jen Ciesielski says:

    This comes at the perfect moment. There’s quite a bit of clouds here in Strasbourg and I was looking to get some sun! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Amazing! I hope you visit some of these destinations next winter 🙂

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