Winter Sun Short Breaks
Christmas, devoted as it is to preparing for/dealing with/recovering from family, often seems to beg the necessity of a second, post-holiday holiday. (Or, you know, maybe that's just me – but I rather suspect it's not.) Luckily, fitting in a shorter, sun-soaked auxiliary break isn't too tough with a little pre-planning. A well chosen winter sun short break can rival even the summer holidays for pure relaxation potential (especially considering the sometimes hefty savings you can take advantage of by travelling outside peak season – and what's more enjoyable than getting a good deal?).
Top destinations for sunny short breaks in winterThe ideal short winter break location is: nearby, sunny, and bustling enough to give you the option of both outdoor and indoor activities. And while few destinations in the Northern hemisphere are going to be able to guarantee non-stop sun during what is, after all, still winter; nonetheless, a Mediterranean winter is a far cry from a British one. The holiday locations below all offer a significant amount of daily light, and at least temperate climes – a great way to sneak a little warmth into your winter.
Winter sun holidays in Morocco
A trip to Morocco wouldn't be complete, especially for first timers, without a visit to Marrakech – the 'Red City', named for the roseate tint of its iconic walls – and its fabled Jemaa el-Fna square. Jemaa el-Fna may be the world's liveliest, most eclectic, and literally and figuratively spiciest bazaar; be sure to put on your haggling pants before you go! Alternately, if you fancy an overnight eco-friendly desert experience while there – think sumptous tents, compost toilets, camel rides, and mountainous sand dunes glittering as far as the eye can see – check out Ecological Camp Adounia, outside Marrakech. And for the beach lovers? The warm, honey-gold shores of Agadir, renowned in many places for their excellent surfing.
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Winter sun holidays in the Canary Islands
A four-hour flight away, the Canary Islands offer warm weather year round, and numerous holiday activities. The Parque Natural de Corralejo, for example, offers excellent wind surfing opportunities. On the south coast of Gran Canaria, the Centro de Talasoterapia is Europe's largest thalassotherapy (sea-water therapy) spa; a day's use of the facilities starts at €60. Another European superlative? The GREGOR telescope on Tenerife. As it turns out, the Canary Islands have some of the clearest, best-for-star-gazingest skies around. After a day lazing at the beach, why not a night lazing with heavenly bodies?
Winter sun holidays in Spain
Spain doesn't instantly make you think “holiday” for no reason. Temperatures in the 20s are common in Southern Spain even in winter, and beaches are considerably less crowded than in summer. Holiday rental prices are also at their off-peak lows. Granada, although not exactly a tropical paradise in winter, is sunnier than not, and contains some of Spain's most beautiful and iconic architecture – like the UNESCO-designated “castle city,” the Alhambra. Ronda, a shining white city set on a cliff amid olive and citrus orchards, practically begs to be photographed, and makes a delightful stop-off between Cordoba and Seville.
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Winter sun holidays in Cyprus
With some of the warmest temperatures in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a good bet for winter sun. There are five to six hours of sunshine a day even then – and beachworthy weather, although not strictly guaranteed, is hardly uncommon. And there's plenty to do: Nicosia has bright, crisp, traditionally Cypriot architecture in its older areas, and sleek modern high rises downtown, and there are museums, theatres, and other cultural pursuits to your heart's content. There are also Cyprus' famed beaches to comb, and lush and winding trails tat snake throughout the island's interior.
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Winter sun holidays in Turkey
Southern Turkey is temperate even in winter, and is a great place to escape British cold weather gloom without having to deal with the crowds. The old centre of Antalya is famous for its quaint cobblestone streets, tea shops and Ottoman-era architecture. And although winter is the rainiest time of year here, even December – the rainiest month on average – only sees about a week and a half of rainy days. Anatolia also offers some very unique holiday activities – fancy a bit of spelunking? There are innumerable caves throughout the country, and in the southeast especially. And don't miss Pammukale's iconic hot springs! The world heritage site's pale blue waters have been renowned as a natural health spa since Roman times.
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