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Short haul winter sun 2016/2017: Deals & destinations
Looking for short haul winter sun holiday deals in 2016/2017? We uncover five favourite spots where you can soak up some off-season sunshine within six hours flying time from the UK, as well as share the latest online deals and discounts to get you there for less.
Latest short haul winter sun holiday deals 2016/2017
Check out the latest online deals and discounts on short haul winter sun breaks in 2016/2017 from leading travel brands:
- Save £200 on selected destinations in winter 2016/2017
- Including the Canaries, Balearics, Cape Verde, Gambia & Spain
- Travel between 1st Nov 2016 & 30th Apr 2017 (inclusive)
- Save £200 on holidays per couple (£400 per family of 4)
- Depart from airports across the UK in 2016/2017
- Jet2holidays discount code automatically applied
- Browse best offers on holidays to long haul destinations
- Including the USA, Caribbean, Indian Ocean & South East Asia
- Holidays in 2016/2017 to Dubai, Mauritius, Sri Lanka & more
- Book cheap holidays in 2016 from just £99 per person
- Save on family & couples breaks and all inclusive holidays
- £20 deposits - final payment 2 weeks before you fly
- Visit Christmas markets in Europe with British Airways
- Book flight+hotel from £110 per person
- Cities include Prague, Berlin, Vienna & Munich
Short haul winter sun destinations: top destinations close to home
Our guide to five fantastic short haul winter sun destinations takes you on a tour of the African continent, from West Africa's smallest nation, The Gambia, to Egypt, home of the pharaohs, via the exotic Kingdom of Morocco, archipelago of Cape Verde, and the well-known holiday haven of the Canary Islands, which are uniquely African in their geography yet culturally European.
Each of these short haul winter sun destinations has a huge amount to offer those seeking a seasonal break, picking which to visit is the hardest part...
If you're looking for a truly exotic destination for your short haul winter sun break in 2016/2017, this English-speaking slice of West Africa, surrounded entirely by French Senegal, is the place to try. It's estimated that around 100,000 UK travellers visit Gambia on holiday each year, and many come during the winter months due to the eight to nine hours of sunshine, and temperatures in the low thirties every day.
At just six hours from the UK, and sharing the same time zone as Britain, Gambia makes a perfect short haul winter sun beach break; but Gambia's laidback vibe has given GMT a different meaning here: 'Gambia Maybe Time'; it won't take you long to adjust to the relaxed and leisurely pace of life African-style.
Of course another way to learn more about a destination is through its food, and tourists can try an authentic and tasty way to get under the skin of Gambian cuisine and culture with The Gambian Home Cooking School. This combines dressing up in traditional Gambian outfits with a visit to the colourful and atmospheric Tanji fish market to buy the catch of the day direct from the fishermen, before preparing it in the traditional way, over an outdoor fire.
Gambia's markets (Brikama is the biggest and best) make a wonderful way to interact with the local culture and people, but more adventurous travellers might like to meet a different kind of local at Kachikally Crocodile Pond.
Here you can get up close and personal with a pool of crocs, touching those that venture out into the sun. Gambians believe that women can swim with these crocodiles to be blessed with a baby, who they the name Kachikally in honour of the fertile pond's powers - though you may prefer to simply pick up a crocodile tooth necklace, or colourful bracelet from one of the local sellers as a souvenir of your short haul winter sun day out.
2. Cape Verde
A relative newcomer to British holidaymakers looking for white sands in winter, the ex-Portuguese colony of the Cape Verde islands was impossible to reach direct from the UK up until 2006, and the secret of its accessible, mid twenties, winter climate is still only partially out.
This 10-island archipelago is an adventurer's choice for a short haul winter sun holiday in 2016/2017, especially if you're keen to try a destination which has a unique geographical setting and cultural mix that hasn't yet been totally transformed by tourism, though you might want to brush up on your Portuguese!
It's just six hours from London to Sal or Boa Vista, the islands' international hubs, but you'll step off the plane to a different world, and one where the traditional short haul winter sun tourist resort doesn't exist in large quantities. This set of tropical volcanic islands, situated 500 kms off the coast of West Africa directly west of Senegal, offer a mixture of European and African influences shaped by the slave trade and Portuguese settlement from the 1450s.
Cape Verde has an arid climate, which means you're most unlucky to encounter any real rain, making it the perfect destination for exploring the sandy shores whether on horseback or volcanic trails on foot. Thanks to the ever present northeast trade winds, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing are also popular activities.
You could time your visit to experience the Sao Vicente Creole Carnival in February, when the island's nightlife scene really heats up with Brazilian samba, but come in November for the highest winter sun temperatures, when it reaches around 29°C.
Egypt's well known Red Sea coastal resorts enjoy up to 10 hours of sunshine even in winter, and with an average flying time of just five hours before you're enjoying warm temperatures of up to 22°C, it's easy to see why so many Brits head to Egypt for their short haul winter sun holiday.
Whether you want to hit up Egypt's history by exploring the temples of ancient Aswan and Luxor, venture into the world under the Red Sea for superior snorkelling, ride a camel into the desert, peer at the Pyramids, see the Sphinx, or be entertained by traditional belly dancers and whirling dervishes, Egypt has plenty to offer those on short haul winter sun. It's worth noting that conditions do vary around this vast country during the winter months, with the likes of Aswan being a shade warmer than the resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
Sharm el Sheikh is, however, the undisputed tourist capital of Egypt. Situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, it's famous for its five star resort hotels, spas, nightlife and diving. Catering to European holidaymakers, the widespread use of English here makes it an easy place to 'fly and flop'. Sharm el Sheikh is also the closest world class short haul winter sun destination for diving.
Committed diving and snorkelling enthusiasts head to Ras Mohammed as well as the famous wrecks in the Red Sea for unforgettable underwater experiences.
Egypt's second big hit Red Sea resort of Hurghada is similarly synonymous with incredible undersea activities: the area is home to 260 species of marine life including dolphins and turtles as well as a rainbow of tropical fish and coral.
Back on dry land, the number one excursion from Egypt's Sinai is into the desert on a Bedouin star gazing and dinner experience. It's also easy to organise a day trip to Cairo from most of Egypt's beach resorts; visiting Africa's biggest city makes a great contrast to the leisurely pace of the coast.
Haggling for a traditional galabiya at the bazaar of Khan el-Khalili, taking a Nile cruise, visiting the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx and coming face to face with Tutankhamun's mask at the Egyptian Museum are true once in a lifetime experiences.
You're bound to hear the phrase 'Meya Meya' while you're here - it literally means '100, 100' in Arabic but translates to 'excellent, excellent', a phrase you'll almost certainly be using after you book your short haul winter sun holiday to Egypt.
4. Canary Islands
The Canary Islands need little introduction as the ease of accessibility, multitude of flight options, and warm sunny climate that have defined these Spanish islands as a perfect short haul winter sun paradise for UK travellers over the years.
Even during the bleakest winter months, most of the Canaries enjoy six to seven hours of sunshine each day with temperatures touching 20°C. Even though Tenerife is a shade cooler than the hottest of the archipelago, Gran Canaria, it makes up for this with its abundance of things to do and see.
Each island has a distinct offering all of its own for those on short haul winter sun holidays: Fuerteventura is the sleepiest of the main islands despite being the second largest, and is home to huge beaches rather than nightclubs, making it popular with families and windsurfing enthusiasts as opposed to party animals.
Gran Canaria lives up to its reputation as a continent in miniature, with a variety of jaw-dropping landscapes, from the sand dunes of Maspalomas in the far south to the national parks of the interior; you can easily forget that the resorts of Playa del Ingles are just a short drive away.
Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canary Islands, positioned at the northeastern point of the archipelago, and the closest of all the Canaries to the Sahara. As well as the lure of popular resorts such as Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote is also a nature lover's playground packed with stunning vistas, many of which are other worldly in their appearance, and often more fun to explore during the quieter, cooler season on a short haul winter sun break.
It's worth making time for Timanfaya, a volcanic national park created 300 years ago when an enormous eruption spewed tonnes of lava creating The Montañas del Fuego. For more raw natural beauty visit the Emerald Lake at El Golfo, one of Lanzarote's geological marvels made famous in the film One Million Years B.C. Inland, you can take an excursion to the charming town of Teguise where a market is held on Sunday mornings selling plenty of local crafts from pottery to lace in a quaint setting
Over on Tenerife, which attracts the largest share of the annual nine million visitors, there's the same mix of mainstream holidaying and authenticity. Tenerife is also home to Spain's highest mountain, as well as the third highest volcano on earth, Mount Teide, underlining the fact that whatever you're looking for from your short haul winter sun holiday, you'll be able to find it on one of the Canary Islands.
One of the most versatile of our short haul winter sun destinations, Morocco is perhaps best known for its atmospheric cities, but is equally blessed with natural attractions from sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches to the Saharan desert via the peaks of the Atlas Mountains.
For a country the size of the state of California, Morocco boasts a disproportionate number of sought-after city break options for Brits seeking a blend of sunshine and culture, from cinematic Casablanca to ever popular Marrakech, the exotic Imperial city of Fez and the port of Tangiers.
Those seeking a short haul winter sun destination will be pleased to know that in the winter months, temperatures in Marrakech hover around the 20°C, ideal conditions for sightseeing, while still providing respite from the cold climate of northern Europe.
This French-speaking country's urban highlights are undoubtedly exploring the bustling souks, eating at the chaotic food stalls, staying in traditional riads, and taking in the Arabesque architectural marvels from the medinas to the mosques.
Those searching for something a little more laidback should head to ex-hippy haven and sixties celebrity hangout Essaouira, an 18th Century fortified town and UNESCO World Heritage Site with an artsy vibe, packed with boutique shops and hotels.
For a more traditional package holiday resort experience, make for Agadir; this purpose built beach resort is extremely family-friendly and packed with high end resort-style hotels offering all inclusive packages, making it a popular and stress-free choice for short haul winter sun in Morocco.
Wherever you choose to go in the Kingdom of Morocco you can indulge in the country's classic pursuits, from drinking mint tea harvested by hand in the Atlas mountains, to shopping for spices in a souk, heating up in a hammam, and tucking into tasty tagine.
Each of our five favourite places to search out short haul winter sun in 2016/2017 has a distinct character of its own, and plenty to offer off-season sunshine seekers, all within a six hour flight from the UK. You just need to decide which short haul winter destination is right for you...
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