Winter sun holiday destinations

Let us help you find the perfect winter sun holiday destination. Here, we share our pick of the best destinations by month as well as our winter holiday destination finder that lets you browse places that match your specific criteria.

Did you know? When it comes to travel, the northern hemisphere's winter runs from December and February, while the southern hemisphere's winter is from June to August. Our finder is based on the northern hemisphere's winter sun season.

Winter holiday destination finder

Use our bespoke winter sun holiday finder, above, to search for destinations based on your preferred weather, how far you want to travel and what sort of destination you're looking for.

Best winter sun destinations by month

Deciding where to go can be a real head-scratcher, which is why using the weather as a critical factor is an excellent way of narrowing down your search. Even then, creating a list of finalists is tricky - trust us, we know!

We've paired our detailed weather data and expert knowledge of destinations to create an eclectic selection of places for December, January and February that promises to offer something for everyone.

Le Morne Brabant, Mauritius © Bamba Sourang - Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority
Le Morne Brabant, Mauritius © Bamba Sourang - Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority

The one thing you can count on is sunshine! Every place listed offers an average of at least six hours of sunshine per day, if not more.

Top winter sun holidays in December 2022/2023

  1. Goa, India
  2. Mauritius
  3. St Lucia
  4. Red Sea, Egypt
  5. Barbados
  6. Phuket, Thailand
  7. Gambia
  8. Marrakech, Morocco
  9. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
  10. Oman

Whether you're looking to escape the flurry of festivities or simply need some seasonal sunshine, there's a wealth of desirable places to choose from when it comes to finding winter sun in December.

As you might expect at this time, reaching truly hot and sunny conditions requires a mid-to-long-haul flight, with Egypt's Red Sea resorts, such as Marsa Alam, and gorgeous Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands two of the closest viable options for a beach break.

If you're thinking of heading to either of these destinations, however, do book yourself accommodation with a heated pool to guarantee water warm enough for a good swim.

Sinquerim Beach, Goa © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH - Alamy Stock Photo
Sinquerim Beach, Goa © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH - Alamy Stock Photo

For something a little more exotic, you can see Mauritius, St Lucia and Barbados are sitting pretty in our top 10, and for good reason.

During this time, the luxurious Indian Ocean island enjoys hot and super sunny weather with just the outside chance of encountering a passing shower. Meanwhile, over in the Caribbean, it's the start of the dry winter season with hot days, the same amount of sunshine as Mauritius and slightly warmer sea temperatures, perfect for swimming or watersports.

Goa takes the crown in December for its abundance of sunshine (a whopping 10 hours per day) and high temperatures both in the sea and on land; it's a really glorious time to go to the west coast of India and make the most of those long golden beaches.

If you're looking for a city break to remember, the winding scented streets of Marrakech are wonderful in December. Expect seven hours of sunshine per day and pleasant conditions with temperatures around 20°C. Go for the good food, beautiful gardens and to experience souk-shopping for last-minute Christmas presents.

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Top winter sun holidays in January 2023/2024

  1. Goa, India
  2. Maldives
  3. Barbados
  4. Phuket, Thailand
  5. Mauritius
  6. Kerala, India
  7. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
  8. Cape Town, South Africa
  9. Grenada
  10. Marrakech, Morocco

What better way to kick start the new year than with a relaxing winter sun break? Many people choose to leave the chill behind to find warming sunshine, perfect for winding down after the festive season has come to an end.

If this sounds like your kind of January, consider Goa, which remains a hit during this month for much the same reason as December: think hot and sunny weather, ripe for lying on the beach or exploring the local resorts.

Looking further south, the beaches and backwaters of Kerala, are also very inviting in January, which is a great time to visit before it gets too hot and sticky from February onwards. Much like Goa, it is beautifully sunny and the sea is delightful in January.

Staying in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a super stylish option with so many incredible oceanfront properties oozing charm and sophistication in hot, sunny conditions. January marks the start of the dry season here, so you can bank on high temperatures and generally dry days.

While Mauritius is also an Indian Ocean companion, its location nearly 2,000 miles southwest of the Maldives and south of the equator means that January sits in the wet season. Don't let this put you off though: showers move on quickly leaving dry, hot and sunny weather in their wake.

Over in Southeast Asia, resorts such as Phuket in southern Thailand offer very hot and sunny conditions, perfect for making the most of the famed beaches, as well as a wide range of places to stay for all tastes and budgets.

Winter sun in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands © Robert Harding - Alamy Stock Photo
Winter sun in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands © Robert Harding - Alamy Stock Photo

We know not everyone likes it hot hot, so for a sunshine break without any crazy heat or humidity, Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands promises ample sunshine (seven hours per day, compared with two in the UK at the same time) and comfortable weather, with highs of around 19°C. Do seek out a heated pool if you think you want to swim, however.

Another great option for those not too fussed about the beach or high temperatures is cosmopolitan Cape Town in South Africa. Ascend Table Mountain, visit Robben Island and go penguin spotting under an incredible 11 hours of sunshine each day and warm daily highs of about 25°C.

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Top winter sun holidays in February 2023/2024

  1. Maldives
  2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  3. Goa, India
  4. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
  5. Cape Town, South Africa
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
  8. Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  10. Grenada

With half term and Valentine's Day in one month, there's no shortage of excuses to book a winter sun trip away in February. Once again, the real heat and long, sunny days are found closer to the equator in the likes of Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.

Big hitters like the Maldives, Thailand and Goa in India remain at the top of the list for their almost unbroken sunshine records in February.

Wild cherry blossom in February in the mountains of Northern Thailand © JZero - Fotolia.com
Wild cherry blossom in February in the mountains of Northern Thailand © JZero - Fotolia.com

Both the Maldives and the mountain city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand see their sunniest time of the year in February, and Goa isn't far behind.

All three destinations also bask in high temperatures as well as heat and humidity, ensuring things are hot, sunny and lapped by warm water where applicable.

Heading west, the Caribbean island nations of the Dominican Republic and Spice Isle of Grenada are deep into their dry seasons by this time, guaranteeing some pretty spectacular weather that was made for anyone wanting to recline and relax on a beach holiday.

Central and South America don't disappoint either, with both Costa Rica's Pacific coast haven of Tamarindo and the throbbing heart of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, offering dry, sunny, summery weather; ideal for exploring, hiking, beaching and just enjoying.

No winter sun rundown would be complete without a mention of the Canary Islands and Gran Canaria is back in the spotlight in February. Think Bournemouth in August and you're about as close to imagining what conditions are like there at this time, including a healthy seven hours of sunshine per day and warming daily highs in the low twenties.

Over in the Med, Majorca is the stand-out destination, thanks to its share of sunshine, which is greater than the likes of Greece or Italy. Just remember it isn't hot in February, so any winter sun break to the Balearics should feature activities centred around culture and adventure, not so much the beach.

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Whether you're seeking golden shores lapped by warm water or looking to dive into the sights, sounds and scents of one of the world's most enchanting cities, hopefully our winter sun holiday finder and pick of the top 10 destinations based on the weather by month have given you some food for thought.

Ready to book? Don't miss our selection of travel deals and discounts on winter sun holidays from the biggest names in the business. Search and book holidays, flights, hotels, car hire and so much more.

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