The mercury is dropping and the skies are looking decidedly grey – it is the perfect time to escape the British winter and jet away for a dose of vitamin D.
Here are 10 of the best places for some winter sun.
Thanks to Gran Canaria’s location off West Africa, temperatures rarely dip below the mid-teens, even in the middle of winter.
Once you arrive there’s plenty to do: from exploring the volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park to surfing at the island’s most northerly beaches. Stay in a resort such as Puerto del Carmen or head for one of the more secluded beaches, where you can kick back with a book or sip cocktails by the sea.
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Ryanair and easyJet fly to Lanzarote from £40 return
Gran Canaria’s capital Las Palmas is home to Playa de las Cantaras, one of the world’s finest city beaches.
During the quieter winter months the 3km stretch of sand attracts fewer tourists so there is plenty of room to enjoy the view or stroll along the seaside promenade. Visit the nearby Mercado del Puerto to buy fresh produce for your dinner, or venture further south and check out some of the island’s many vineyards.
Norwegian flies to Gran Canaria from around £100 return
Egypt remains a balmy 18 to 20 degrees through the colder months and it rarely rains, meaning you can dip your toes in the Red Sea all year round. The slightly cooler temperatures also makes sightseeing more enticing, and there is no shortage of history to take in. Base yourself in Cairo from where you can explore the famous pyramids, visit some of the numerous museums or take a romantic cruise down the Nile. The ancient city of Luxor is also worth a day trip.
EgyptAir flies to Cairo for around £400 return
Winter is the perfect time to visit Dubai in order to avoid the scorching heat of the summer months when it can be too hot to spend much time outside. The typical high temperature in Dubai during January is a pleasant 24 degrees, although you’ll want to bring some warmer clothes for the evenings. Spend your days shopping, eating, admiring the view from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, or taking a traditional Dhow Cruise down the marina.
Virgin Atlantic flies to Dubai from around £400 return
The island of Cyprus enjoys year-round sunshine, with plenty of beaches, quaint towns and breathtaking landscapes to enjoy. There are ancient ruins to explore in the city of Paphos including the Tombs of the Kings, a Unesco World Heritage Site, which contains a set of well-preserved underground tombs and chambers. Or take a trip to Salamis, a city that has hosted a string of ancient superpowers.
Ryanair flies to Paphos for around £50 return
Bangkok, the vibrant capital of Thailand, is a world away from grey English skies and miserable drizzle – the city only gets one or two days of rain in January and February. Explore the buzzy Chatuchak market, visit the reclining Buddha in nearby Wat Pho or ride the Sky Train to get a bird’s eye view of the streets below. Unwind with a relaxing Thai massage before spending your evenings sampling street food.
Etihad flies to Bangkok for around £430 return
Sri Lanka has a rich and varied culture and offers better value than many other islands in the Indian Ocean. The UK’s winter months fall outside monsoon season, so you are almost guaranteed to enjoy wall-to-wall sunshine. If you can drag yourself away from one of the country’s beautiful beaches there are tea plantations to visit, or you could take a trip to one of the more remote islands nearby for some true escapism.
Emirates flies to Colombo for around £500 return
While the UK is languishing in its darkest months, over in Australia it is time to hit the beach. Drive the 150-mile long Great Ocean Road taking in the Twelve Apostles; visit Sydney and climb the harbour bridge; or head out to one of the country’s national parks – there is more to do in this vast country than you could ever fit into a single trip.
Qantas flies to Sydney for around £1,100 return
Hit the buzzing streets of Hong Kong in January or February to avoid the rains and experience the city at its best. Hop on the historic Star Ferry for the best views of the iconic skyline or climb the Peak for sweeping views, then stop off at one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Tim Ho Wan, for its amazing barbecue pork buns.
Qatar Airways flies to Hong Kong for around £500 return
There is really only one reason to visit Orlando, and that is the theme parks: from Disney to Universal to the Kennedy Space Center, you can take in a different attraction each day. If you have kids, the weather during the UK’s February half term is usually dry and warm. If you don’t have kids and can take a trip in term-time, you can beat the queues.
Virgin Atlantic flies to Orlando for around £300 return