Beautiful Places Around the World to Soak up the Winter Sun

Bask in the winter sun of Costa Rica
Bask in the winter sun of Costa Rica | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Konstantina Pyrnokoki
Travel Writer22 September 2021

Pink-sand beaches in the Bahamas, nature reserves doubling as sumptuous island resorts in the Seychelles and bright green paddies in Sri Lanka: the world is filled with places where the sun never leaves. We’ve picked some of the most beautiful spots where you can enjoy sunny days and balmy nights, even in the middle of winter.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Considering that Dubai can reach over 40C (104F) in the summer, there’s no better time to visit the extravagant emirate than winter, when temperatures range from 20C to 25C (68F to 77F) and the sun still shines bright. Take a boat ride along the peaceful Dubai Creek, go textile shopping at the Old Souk and browse through international artworks in the creative spaces of the Al Quoz district. Don’t forget to pass by the artificial Palm Islands for some much-needed beach time – Palm Jumeirah is where all the lavish hotels are – or dine in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Dubai marina | © eye35.pix / Alamy Stock Photo

The Caribbean

You’d probably assume that the Caribbean would be best included in a summer guide, yet this tropical region dotted with sun-drenched islands feels just as warm and exciting during the winter. Temperatures rarely fall below 30C (86F) here, so you would still be able to make the most of the turquoise waters and flourishing seabed. Think snorkelling among peculiar fish in Martinique, sunbathing on pink-sand beaches in the Bahamas, climbing up to the Pitons – the volcanic spires – in Saint Lucia or trekking through lush forests on Barbados. For a journey back in time, visit the pastel-hued Cuba.

St Lucia | © Baarssen Fokke / Alamy Stock Photo

Mexico

Winter is, naturally, the coldest time in Mexico. But when we say cold, we mean 30C (86F) with plenty of sunshine, especially along the country’s Caribbean coast. The Yucatán Peninsula should be your go-to destination for emerald cenotes and ancient temples. Recline on the silky sands of Tulum, feast on tacos and cocktails on Isla Holbox and marvel at Mayan sites in Cancún. For the ultimate resort experience, stay in the town of Playa del Carmen along the glamorous Riviera Maya. And if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, the lovely beach town of Zihuatanejo is where you can go fishing and surfing, or simply stock up on vitamin D.

Tulum | © Helmut Corneli / Alamy Stock Photo

The Maldives

The Maldives are home to some of the world’s plushest hotels, so it comes as no surprise that this archipelago is a favourite among celebrities, even in the winter months when temperatures still rise to 28C (82F). Next to underwater restaurants and all the luxurious resorts and spas – some of which literally float in neon green waters – you’ll also find unspoiled nature and impressive wildlife. Try flyboarding or jet-skiing in blue lagoons, swimming with turtles and sharks and snorkelling amid bright-coloured coral reefs. Alternatively, spend your days idling away in Male, the capital, where local fishermen will teach you how to cut fish.

Maldives | © Stuart Manktelow / Alamy Stock Photo

The Canary Islands, Spain

These Spanish islands just off the north-west coast of Africa reach an average temperature of 20C (68F) during the winter. Their subtropical climate and amazing beaches make the Canaries an obvious choice for a sun-filled escape. Tenerife, Fuertaventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote are the most popular of the bunch – there are eight of them in total – with the latter’s volcanic beaches attracting swimmers even in midwinter. Don’t miss the craters and petrified lava rivers of Teide National Park in Tenerife, and be sure to explore the less visited but equally pretty islands of La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera.

Playa de Papagayo, Lanzarote | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

The Seychelles

Nature reserves, coral reefs and rainforests have placed the Seychelles high on the lists of sunseekers and honeymooners. This paradise comprises 115 islands, all floating in the vast Indian Ocean. You can expect year-round warm temperatures (from 24C/75F to 29C/84F) and just the right amount of sunshine which sometimes gives way to cinematic tropical downpours. The beaches here are truly spectacular as are the various private-island resorts such as North Island, which is accessible only by helicopter and serves both as a villa complex and a natural habitat; some endangered wildlife resides on this island, including giant tortoises and rare endemic birds.

Seychelles is an archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean | © salvatore ferri / Alamy Stock Photo

Sri Lanka

Another Indian Ocean gem, Sri Lanka experiences high temperatures in the winter – reaching 28C (82F) on average – and torrential rains during monsoon season, typically between May and September. During the drier, sunnier months, the country’s green paddies and tea plantations shine even brighter. Hit the golden beaches to the west of Galle for sunbathing and find your dream surf spot somewhere along this palm-fringed coastline that guarantees some grand swells. Lagoons, wetlands, forests and waterfalls are all part of Sri Lanka’s glorious landscape. A visit to the mighty 16th-century Galle Fort is also a must.

Mirissa, near Matara, Sri Lanka | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Costa Rica

Its name means “rich coast”, and Costa Rica is no doubt nature-rich; more than 25 percent of the country is made up of protected national parks and reserves, home to some incredible wildlife, from wild crocodiles to squirrel monkeys and rare birds. Visit the white-sand beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, which is one of only five blue zones in the world (areas where people tend to live longer than anywhere else), and you might even discover the secret to longevity. Stay within a huge rainforest in one of Costa Rica’s luxurious eco-lodges and bask in the sun for hours on end (with temperatures rising up to 27C/81F), all the while embracing the country’s green philosophy and farm-to-table culture.

Playa Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica | © Bildagentur-online/Schickert / Alamy Stock Photo

Morocco

Morocco isn’t the hottest place on this list, but it is as warm as needed to see the cultural highlights without the scorching summer heat – think 15C to 20C (59F to 68F) in the winter as opposed to the 40C (104F) of summer. Marrakech, with its colourful souks selling spices and goods, snake charmers and musicians entertaining passers-by at Jemaa el-Fnaa and astonishing riads with exquisite tilework and regal courtyards, seems like a good place to start. Stop by Fez to find your dream leather jacket at the Chouara Tannery or buy a sequinned rug at the Fes el-Bali medina, and hike up to Agadir Oufella to admire the terracotta-hued ruins of an ancient fortress.

Marrakech | © Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo

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