Winter sun: top 9 destinations

If you are already sick of winter and looking to escape to somewhere where the sun is still shining and temperatures remain in the 20s, we have you covered. Here are our top destinations for a large dose of much-needed sunshine...
Teresitas beach near Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Canary islands, Spain. Photo: Shutterstock
Teresitas beach near Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Canary islands, Spain. Photo: Shutterstock


1. Dubai 

Winter in the Middle East is much like summer everywhere else. With average temperatures of 25–30°C (77°F–86°F) in October and February, it actually makes for a better time to visit than during the hot summer months. Stepping off the plane you will be greeted by uninterrupted blue skies that continue over the sky rise city, the orange sand beaches and the clear water of the Persian Gulf. Dubai is a playground with so much to occupy your time. Take to the water parks for a refreshing splash, or dive into the sea for some fun water activities. Head to the Arabian Desert in a 4x4 or just bask in the luxury that is Dubai. Do all this and more on Insight Guides' Family Stopover. Enjoy the five-star luxury that oozes throughout the city; go shopping in the worlds best malls; linger over a three-course meal in some of the world best restaurants; or just relax poolside in some of the best hotels. Dubai is the perfect destination to combine winter sun with lashings of luxury.    


2. Oman 

For a more authentic, quieter, Middle Eastern experience that includes just as much luxury, why not book onto Insight Guides’ The Best of Oman holiday? With year-round temperatures much the same as Dubai, Oman is cooler (but still hot) at this time of year, perfect for enjoying the rustic interior and natural features this country offers. Head into the desert, trek on camels through small villages, meet the Bedouin people and learn about their nomadic lifestyle. Explore the Wahiba Sands in a 4x4, camp under stars in the warm night air and cool off by bathing in an oasis. For the luxury and culture, head to the cities of Muscat and Nizwa, tour the forts and other local attractions while spending your evenings feasting on local dishes in the traditional restaurants. 


3. Abu Dhabi

With Abu Dhabi's final Grand Prix taking place in this November and temperatures of 25°C (77°F) accompanied by bright sunshine, what could be a better time to visit? The streets will be buzzing with atmosphere, with celebrations and parties around every corner. Insight Guides' Luxury Stopover includes a Yas driving experience to complete the Formula 1 theme. If Formula 1 is not your thing there is plenty more to keep you occupied. Tour the city to see the iconic Grand Mosque with its Swarovski crystal chandeliers and Persian carpets. Be one of the first to see the artwork exhibited in the new Abu Dhabi Louvre (opening November 2017) or marvel at the luxury goods on offer in the Marina Mall. 


Sunrise on the beach at Perian Gulf in Abu Dhabi

Sunrise on the beach at Perian Gulf in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Shutterstock


4. Tenerife

With a much shorter flight and no time difference with the UK, make more of your holiday by staying local(ish) and heading south to the Canary Islands. Tenerife has average temperatures of 24°C (75°F) throughout their winter (November to February) perfect for exploring the vast National Parks, which is practically impossible in the heat of the summer. With landscapes varying from barren volcanic rock to lush forests, the island is home to is an abundance of flora and fauna. Spend days hiking and biking across the landscape on mapped out routes before taking to the coast. Take advantage of the summer-warmed waters and try the multitude of water sports on offer such as kite surfing, paddle boarding and paragliding. Tour this diverse island on Insight Guides' Tenerife Explored trip. 


5. Baja California Sur

For some relaxed fun and winter sun indulge in Insight Guides' Baja: Pacific Coast Paradise tour. Head from the north of the peninsula to the south, following the sunshine and warmer temperatures. Stop at secluded beaches, cruising to tiny islands to spot the wildlife above and below the water, and taking in the local culture in the small towns and cities. Go way up north to tour the vineyards and taste some full-bodied cabernets and their fruity sauvignon blancs. Go to the hot springs for an unforgettable bathing experience, or take to the water for a whale-watching trip. Grey whales are in abundance throughout the winter after their migration to the warmer waters. Jump in and swim with the huge mammals, being sure to give them a quick stroke as they swim by. 


6. Thailand

Winter in Europe marks high season in Thailand. From November to February the weather is at its best, as the humidity subsides and the rain stops, leaving picture-perfect days of wall-to-wall sunshine. Spend the dry days strolling around the cities, exploring the temples, parks and palaces. Hop from island to island, making the most of the longer day lengths, and lay on the idyllic white-sand beaches, backed by a sea of tropical vegetation. Jump into the ocean and explore a colourful new world of coral; some of Jacques Cousteau's favourite dive sites lurk off these shores. Insight Guides' The Best of Thailand trip takes you from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Ko Samui for the full variation of sights in Thailand.


7. Maldives 

If all you want from your winter sun holiday is to lay on a perfect beach, occasionally slipping into the slightly cooler water in order to refresh, then the Maldives is for you. Spend every day waking up to sunny skies and temperatures of 27°C (80°F). Leave your luxury room for a tasty breakfast and then wander out onto the beach where you will stay marooned for the week. When you want to dip in the water to cool off, why not consider a bit more activity and take a mask and snorkel? There is tons going on under the water that surrounds these tiny, remote islands. For something even more active consider diving or surfing. Combine a trip to the Maldives with a stop in Sri Lanka on Insight Guides' Luxury Sri Lanka and the Maldives trip. 


Cocktails overlooking Maldives resortMaldives resort. Photo: Shutterstock


8. Malaysia 

Malaysia is hot and humid all year round. Between the months of November to February temperatures are around 27°C (80°F) with the humidity making it feel a lot warmer and bringing some afternoon rain showers. Nevertheless, you are guaranteed sunshine. Spend the sunny morning relaxing by the pool before exploring the city sights in the afternoon. Journey high up to the observation deck of the Petronas Towers to see Kuala Lumpur from above; visit the Batu Caves and search the local markets for traditional cuisine and Malaysian souvenirs. Head to the islands of Penang and Langkawi for pristine beaches in a rural and remote setting and see the Cameron Highlands in their verdant glory, whilst enjoying afternoon tea in the midst of the vast tea plantations. Do all this and more on Insight Guides' Taking in the Splendor of Malaysia trip.    


9. Cambodia

Take to Cambodia on Insight Guides' Beaches and Temples trip for something more traditional, cultural and slower paced. Cambodia's dry season runs from October through to April. Temperatures rarely dip below 20°C (68°F) during this season and the humidity is significantly lower, creating the perfect conditions to trek around the Khmer sites and the major cities. Start with the vast Angkor Wat, with its ruined temples engulfed by banyan tree roots. Cruise over Tonle Sap lake and walk the streets of Siem Reap before travelling to the capital, Phnom Phen, for a guided tour. For more of a relaxing time go south to laze in the sunshine on the sandy beaches as the clear water laps the shore.