I was in my garden yesterday making the most of the unseasonably warm weather lopping some giant tree shoots.
Then it happened, for a fleeting moment the Sun came out. I felt the warmth on my back and saw the grim, grey cloud part to reveal a bright stream of ochre light. I felt good as I let it wash over me and then it was gone.
It brought to mind a beautiful scene in the 2007 Danny Boyle sci-film Sunshine where a crew is sent on a mission to reignite our dying sun. How wonderful is the Sun and how little of it we see in UK’s winter.
With positive talk of a vaccine by Christmas and speculation that the 14-day quarantine may be reduced at the end of this lockdown, I’m thinking some Winter Sun may still be on the cards.
I’d want to avoid the long haul drama so where’s best to go for winter sun in Europe?
1. Tenerife, Canary Islands
Located just 300 km from the shores of Africa, Tenerife belongs to Spain’s Canary Islands. Southern Tenerife in December has highs of 20˚C, seas warm enough to swim in and almost no crowds anywhere. It’s off-season, so there’s a chance some of the smaller attractions won’t be open. November to January temperatures: 19˚C – 21˚C
2. Malaga, Costa del Sol | Spain
Malaga in Spain is an incredible city which just happens to sit on one of the most popular coastlines in Europe.. Picasso was born here and Museo Picasso is fascinating – the ancient building is almost as stunning as the art. But there’s also a Pompidou Centre, CAC Malaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen (sister museum to Madrid’s legendary Thyssen-Bornemisza) and over 20 other astonishing museums: testimony to the millions Malaga’s invested in its cultural heritage over the past decade. 18˚C – 21˚C
3. Gran Canaria | Canary Islands
Over 60km of beaches ring the coast of Gran Canaria, but don’t dismiss it as the summer Canary – winter temperatures are often higher than Tenerife. It’s also home to more than half the population of the entire archipelago and the island capital of Las Palmas is Spain’s ninth-largest city. A lively, working city, it’s multi-cultural and full of character so there’s no shortage of places to see and things to do – even in January. 20˚C – 23˚C
4. Southern Cyprus
Cyprus gorgeous in summer but baking hot, so hot it’s almost impossible to peel yourself away from the beaches and, beautiful as they are, they’re far from all there is to this rich and complex country. Visit in winter and the sun still shines, but it’s cool enough to climb ranging peaks, wooded foothills and ramble endless coastal paths and historic trails. 16˚C – 20˚C
A fabulous country for adventuring, drenched in history, packed with charm and pleasantly sunny and warm in winter. The capital, Valletta, is like an enormous heritage playground stuffed with tales of knights, daring exploits, legendary voyages and more than a few bloodthirsty deeds. 18˚C – 22˚C
Lanzarote is just 78 kilometres off the coast of Africa and benefits from a similar warm climate. The name in the island’s native tongue translates to “one that is all ochre”, referring to the island’s picturesque red rock. Also known as the ‘island of the eternal spring, Lanzarote has plenty of natural attractions such as Timanfaya National Park with its geysers and rugged volcanic landscape to explore. 21- 24 degrees
With over 150 kilometres of golden beaches, Fuerteventura is a great holiday destination if you’re looking for sun, sea and sand. The entire island was given the award of UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Site in 2009 thanks to the volcanic landscape and unspoilt stretches of beach. 18- 21 degrees
8. Marmaris | Turkey
Enjoy fantastic value and sunny beaches with a break to the coastal resort of Marmaris. This popular tourist town has everything from historical monuments to fun-filled boat trips, and plenty in between. Choose villa accommodation up in the quiet hillsides or have everything taken care of with a package at one of the ocean-facing hotels. 18- 21 degrees
9. Madeira | Portugal
Commonly thought of as a Portuguese island, Madeira is actually an archipelago of four islands off the coast of Portugal. The main island of Madeira is a winter-sun haven off the north-west coast of Africa and was once described as “the most enviable island on earth, with every European comfort and almost every tropical luxury”. 16- 19 degrees
10. Sicily | Italy
The largest of the Mediterranean islands, Sicily is located just off the toe on the ‘boot’ of Italy and has plenty to do with children of all ages. Although not as hot as the other European countries, temperatures in November average a pleasant 17 degrees. 13- 17 degrees.