Are you looking for winter sun destinations in Europe?
Whether you want to stroll down the streets of Spain, take a trip to Turkey or catch some rays in Rhodes, there are quite a few destinations with warmer weather throughout the winter months.
How cold does Europe get in winter?
Before we begin, let’s make one thing clear: everywhere in Europe is a little cooler in the winter, and you probably won’t be sunbathing or swimming in any of these destinations in January (with the possible exception of the Canary Islands – although the water will be very chilly).
However, this list of the best places for winter sun in Europe should act as a guide for destinations where you can spend time outdoors, perhaps doing sport or enjoying meals al-fresco, just layering up at night when it gets a bit chilly.
If you’re venturing to Europe from cooler parts of North America, or if you reside in Northern Europe, you’ll definitely notice that these places are sunnier and warmer than where you’ve come from!
So, let’s take a look at the top places for winter sun in Europe.
Top 10 Sunniest Places in Europe in winter
- Tenerife, Spain
- Malaga, Spain
- Palermo, Sicily, Italy
- Caligari, Sardinia, Italy
- Paphos, Cyprus
- Valetta, Malta
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Rhodes, Greece
- Antalya, Turkey
- Faro, Portugal
Best Winter Sun Destinations in Europe
The Canary Islands
If you want an island paradise to visit in the winter, where you can enjoy gorgeous beaches, rugged volcanic terrain and traditional Spanish towns and villages, try visiting one of the Canary Islands!
The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, near the northern coast of Africa.
Due to their location, the islands enjoy a year-round mild climate.
The average temperatures vary among the islands, but they are around 20°C/ 68°F throughout the winter.
This isn’t much of a contrast to the summer; the average high is usually 28°C/ 82°F.
Average temperature in January: 20°C/ 68°F high to 13°/ 55°F low
Lanzarote is the most western island of the Canary Islands, and it’s characterised by its volcanic features.
On this island, you can find white sand and rocky beaches, hiking routes through volcanic terrain and plenty of sports and activity opportunities.
There are also lots of gorgeous hotels, some all-inclusive, that operate throughout the winter months!
Average temperature in January: 20°C/ 64°F high to 12°/ 54°F low
Fuerteventura is the nearest Canary Island to Africa.
It has similar weather to West Africa; quite desert-like and dry.
Fuerteventura has the biggest beaches of all the islands; road tripping around enjoying epic views is an absolute must!
One thing to know about Fuerteventura is that its name literally translates to “strong wind” in Spanish. This can bring the temperature down a little!
It also means that watersports such as windsurfing are immensely popular.
Average temperature in January: 16°C/ 61°F high to 10°/ 50°F low
Gran Canaria is one of the two main islands of the Canaries, and where the largest city on the islands is located: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
This is the biggest city in all the Canaries. Visit to enjoy restaurants with al fresco seating and plenty of local shops.
Sunsets from El Pico de las Nieves, the highest point of the island, are even better in winter, and you can drive, cycle or hike some beautiful routes through the forested mountains.
Plus, you’ll find all kinds of beaches in Gran Canaria! It is slightly cooler than other Canary Islands in the winter, but still warm enough for driving around beaches and taking in gorgeous views.
Average temperature in January: 20°C/ 68°F high to 10°/ 50°F low
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and it’s widely thought to be the warmest place in Europe in winter.
There are so many activities that you can enjoy in Tenerife in winter.
Explore Mount Teide which is the highest point in Spain (although you may see a blanket of snow if you venture this high!), go hiking in the Anagana Mountains and take in spectacular views of the black lava beaches, take boat trips out into the Atlantic Ocean or whizz down mountain biking trails.
In fact, it’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities, as the weather usually sits around 20°C.
It’s only around 8°C cooler than the summer months, which makes Tenerife one of the best sun holiday destinations in winter.
Smaller Canary Islands
- El Hierro is the smallest island, with lots of rocky beaches. It’s not a tourist destination, so it’s great to visit if you like more off the beaten track places.
- La Palma made the news in 2021 for its volcano eruption, but tourists are slowly starting to return.
- La Gomera is home to the Garajonay National Park, where you can take in stunning views of La Palma, El Hierro and Tenerife. In winter the visibility is great as there is no haze from the Sahara Desert. If you visit, listen out for La Gomera’s unusual whistling language!
The Balearic Islands sit to the east of Spain and have a Mediterranean climate. They’re certainly chillier in the winter, but warmer than places further north, and they have gorgeous beaches and landscapes.
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 7°/ 45°F low
Mallorca is a sun-soaked Balearic Island that stays warm in the winter months.
The average temperature stays comfortably in the mid-teens, sometimes reaching up to and over twenty degrees celsius. Additionally, Mallorca has around 300 days of sunshine per year.
There are beautiful beaches all over the island, and while you might not be sunbathing, you’ll love walking around them.
However, there are so many cultural attractions that you can enjoy in Mallorca in the winter.
Its capital city, Palma, is a cultural destination with the majestic Palma Cathedral and plenty of museums.
You can also visit places like beautiful Soller (take the train ride from Palma through the mountains!), Port de Soller and Pollenca.
Mallorca is also a fantastic place to visit for sports, including golf and cycling. In the winter, the weather is slightly cooler, which makes it perfect for action-packed activities!
Mallorca in winter is gorgeous – a perfect place to enjoy some winter sun!
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 7°C/ 45°F low
Ibiza in winter?! You certainly won’t see many partygoers in the winter season, but it’s still well worth visiting.
In fact, if you aren’t a partygoer yourself, you might prefer to visit Ibiza in winter.
The island has a mild temperature throughout the winter months, and it’s obviously a lot quieter.
Ibiza is a beautiful island, with incredible beaches and charming, sleepy towns.
Many people say “Ibiza parties in the summer and rests in the winter” and there’s something quite magical about witnessing Ibiza during its time of rest.
Plus, enjoy cheaper accommodation and great travel deals!
There are quite a few destinations in southern Spain that can stay fairly warm throughout summer.
Temperatures hover around the mid-teens for most of January and are higher, up to late teens and early twenties, at the start and end of winter.
Plus, these are sun destinations – Andalucia, the southernmost province in Spain, is typically very dry and sunny!
Average temperature in January: 17°C/ 62°F high to 7°C/ 45°F low
A glorious beach destination in the south of Spain, Marbella is famous for its warm temperatures and trendy bars and restaurants.
Expect temperatures of up to 17°C / 65°F even in the coldest months.
Average temperature in January: 17°C/ 62°F high to 8°C/ 46°F low
The Spanish city of Malaga is close to Marbella and has a beautiful Moorish old town, as well as lots of wonderful beaches!
Expect similar temperatures to Marbella throughout the winter. In fact, it’s one of the warmest winter city breaks in Europe!
Average temperature in January: 16°C/ 61°F high to 6°C/ 43°F low
Seville is a popular city nestled in inland Andalucia. It’s famous for its gorgeous architecture and delicious oranges!
Temperatures usually hover around the mid-teens celcius/ early 60s fahrenheit in the coolest parts of the year.
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to -1°C/ 30°F low
Granada is another popular Andalucian city, probably most famous for its majestic Alhambra building and beautiful Moorish Sacremonte area.
Temperatures here are a bit cooler in the winter, with average highs in January being around 12°C/ 54°F. However, the winter season is short, and it’s still a lot warmer than elsewhere in Europe!
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 9°C/ 48°F low
The famous city of Barcelona is located in northern Spain, in the Catalonia region, and is most famous for its architecture by Gaudi.
While it’s not a super warm European destination throughout the whole winter, it’s generally quite a bit warmer than cooler destinations in the north, and the winter season is a lot shorter than elsewhere (it’s a great place to visit for winter sun in November or March for this reason!).
Average temperature in January: 10°C/ 50°F high to 3°C/ 37°F low
Again, the Spanish capital can be chilly in winter – it can even snow here – but it typically warms up quickly, and is usually quite a bit warmer than places further north!
Attractions in Madrid include the Plaza de Espana, Retiro Parque, multiple museums and walking tours and day trips to places like Toledo and Segovia.
As it’s in a relatively northern location, France doesn’t have quite as many winter sun destinations as other parts on this list. But it still has a Mediterranean coastline, and the French Rivera area stays fairly warm throughout the year.
Average temperature in January: 13°C/ 55°F high to 3°C/ 37°F low
One of the most glamourous places to visit in all of Europe, it’s no surprise that St Tropez is one of the best European winter sun destinations.
In fact, with the gorgeous coastline and brilliantly clear waters, it’s the ideal place to escape the winter blues!
Temperatures in St Tropez usually hover around 14°C/ 57°F throughout the winter months.
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to 4°C/ 39°F low
Sitting on the Mediterranean coast, the city of Marseille has beautiful blue waters with boats bobbing in the harbour.
It’s actually the second biggest city in France, so there’s a range of attractions here.
The weather is generally mild and sunny throughout winter, although there can be some cooler weather too.
Average temperature in January: 13°C/ 55°F high to 5°C/ 41°F low
Sitting a stone’s throw from the Italian border, Nice is one of the biggest cities in France.
It’s very historical, with a past dating back to 600 BC when it was founded by the Greeks.
There are loads of historic sites here, so you’ll find lots to do, and the temperatures usually sit around 14°C/ 57°F.
Average temperature in January: 10°C/ 50°F high to 3°C/ 37°F low
Corsica is an island of contrasts.
On the coastline, temperatures can be mild and sunny in the winter, but you’ll usually be able to see snow-capped mountains in the distance.
There’s even skiing in Corsica for the adventurous!
While this island does have a Mediterranean climate, it can be a bit chilly in the depths of winter, but it’s still a great vacation destination!
Although the southern European country of Portugal has a warm climate, the Atlantic Ocean can make Northern Portugal chilly in the winter months.
But if you venture to the south, you should find plenty of sunshine!
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 8°C/ 46°F low
The capital of Portugal, Lison is a year-round sunny destination.
The weather can be a bit mixed in winter, but you should at least get some sunshine while you’re there – I was walking around in a t-shirt when I visited in January.
It’s well worth visiting Lisbon for its cool vibe, great restaurants and wealth of historical attractions.
Average temperature in January: 17°C/ 63°F high to 8°C/ 46°F low
Portugal’s Algarve region is the perfect destination for a beach break on either side of winter.
Or, if you don’t mind slightly cooler weather (not warm enough for sunbathing, but definitely warm enough for sunny walks!), visit in December, January or February.
Popular Algarve towns include Faro and Lagos.
Average January temperature: 18°C/ 64°F to 12°C/ 54°F
Madeira is similar to Spain’s Canary Islands, in that it enjoys a southern position in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s actually just north of the Canaries, but south west off the coast of Portugal.
With towering cliffs, charming beaches and enigmatic mountains, there’s so much to explore in Madeira.
Plus, Madeira comes alive during December. Although it stays warm, the festive spirit is high, making it one of the best places to visit in Europe for Christmas.
Average January temperature: 17°C/ 62°F to 12°C/ 54°F
Like the Canary Islands, the Azores are a subtropical archipelago, where it’s never too hot or too cold.
The islands are famous for whale and dolphin watching, diving and surfing, although there are lots of on-land places to visit too.
It’s home to Portugal’s highest mountain and beautiful crater lakes, as well as gorgeous towns and villages.
If you’re looking for sunny weather throughout the winter, Southern Italy is a good option.
Expect average high temperatures of around 14 – 17°C or 57 – 63°F, definitely warm enough for some al fresco pizza and risotto, and perfect weather to explore the country’s gorgeous towns and cities.
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to 3°C/ 37°F low
Rome only just made it onto this winter sun destinations list, as it can be quite chilly in winter (sometimes it can even snow!).
However, it’s one of the most romantic European cities, with incredible architecture and glorious Roman ruins.
Plus, cold weather doesn’t usually last for that long – winters are short and summers are long and hot!
Average temperature in January: 16°C/ 61°F high to 11°C/ 51°F low
Sorrento is one of the most popular Italian destinations, adored by beach lovers as it’s the start of the glorious Amalfi Coast.
This is one of the warmest areas of Italy in winter, and as it’s very touristy, it’s well worth visiting in the off-season.
Average temperature in January: 14°C/ 52°F high to 6°C/ 43°F low
Also close to the Amalfi Coast is the city of Naples, where pizza comes from!
With a Mediterranean climate, Naples is a great base to explore the beautiful coastline.
Temperatures are around 13°C or 55°F in the coolest months.
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 10°C/ 50°F low
Italy’s largest island, Sicily sits at the bottom of the country (Italy is often thought of as a “boot” shaped country and Sicily is its “ball”!).
With incredible cuisine, ancient ruins and views of Mount Etna, there’s so much to do in Sicily, it’s a really unique place to visit in Italy.
Thanks to its southern location, the average high temperature in Sicily is around 12°C, although winds from the Sahara can raise the temperature to around 20°C.
Average temperature in January: 14°C/ 57°F high to 5°C/ 41°F low
Like Corsica, Sardinia has both chilly mountains and beautiful warm beaches!
It’s usually sunny in Sardinia, although the temperatures in winter can be a bit chilly.
But the winter season is short, and there are plenty of options for attractions throughout the year.
Check out Caligari, walk around beautiful beaches and see numerous ruins!
Croatia is another Mediterranean country, sitting opposite Italy on the Adriatic sea.
As it’s quite a long country, the north can be chilly in the winter, whereas the south has an average winter temperature sitting in the mid-teens Celcius/ late 60s Fahrenheit.
Read about the best places to visit in Croatia in winter here – but there’s only really one main warm one, which you can read about below!
Average temperature in January: 13°C/ 55°F high to 7°C/ 45°F low
Dubrovnik, in particular, is quite warm and sunny year-round, and winter is no exception.
Plus, this city has big problems with over-tourism in the summer months – and if you visit in the winter, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and a much more relaxed trip!
Visit to see the beautiful old town, nearby beaches and Game of Thrones filming locations.
With beautiful weather, fascinating history and incredible beaches, many people think of Montenegro as a less touristy Croatia.
Temperatures around the coast usually hover around 12-13 degrees in the cooler months,
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to 2°C/ 36°F low
This is a beautiful coastal town by the Adriatic Sea.
The beautiful old town is a must-visit, and while it’s a cooler temperature in January, there’s still plenty of sunshine each day.
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to 1°C/ 34°F low
Albania is a lesser-visited destination in Europe, but its pleasant weather makes it one of the best destinations to visit during the cold months.
The Albanian Riviera has gorgeous beaches and lots of cute towns that are perfect for a winter trip!
Greece is one of the southernmost countries in mainland Europe, and it’s a popular summer destination for tourists from all over Europe.
It has gorgeous long summers which give way to short – but surprisingly sometimes very cold – winters.
However, Greece has over 6,000 islands, and some of these are fantastic winter sun destinations.
Average temperature in January: 14°C/ 57°F high to 9°C/ 48°F low
Rhodes is probably the warmest Greek Island in winter, with highs of up to 15-16°C (around early 60s°F).
It’s close to southern Turkey (you can even do a day trip to Marmaris in Turkey from here!), in a convenient location to enjoy some glorious winter sunshine!
On Rhodes, there are lots of ancient sites and beautiful beaches, and it usually has comfortable temperatures for exploring.
Average temperature in January: 16°C/ 61°F high to 8°C/ 46°F low
As an island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s no surprise that Cyprus stays warm throughout the year!
Cyprus is a small place, but Paphos, Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Nicosia are all worth a visit for gorgeous beaches, great food and unique culture.
For the more intrepid, you could cross over into North Cyprus which is part of Turkey.
Average temperature in January: 16°C/ 61°F high to 9°C/ 48°F low
One of the warmest places in Europe in winter, Malta still has highs of 16/17C or early 60s Fahrenheit in even in the colder months.
With beautiful beaches and hikes with panoramic views, there are loads to enjoy on this Mediterranean island.
Parts of Turkey are very cold during the winter.
There are ski slopes, snowy landscapes and even Istanbul can be chilly!
However, head to the south coast of Turkey, and you should be able to enjoy a bit of winter sun.
You could even do a road trip all over Turkey to enjoy all of its winter climates.
There are also lots of fantastic all-inclusive hotels in Turkey, which are very affordable and have indoor and outdoor pools and Turkish hammams.
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 8°C/ 46°F low
One of the most beautiful destinations in Turkey, Antalya, a city on its southern coast, is also great for the winter months.
It can rain a little in winter, but you can also get some nice clear, sunny days.
You won’t be going sea swimming, but it’s good enough weather to enjoy the beautiful beaches and archaeological sites.
Three hours away from Antalya is the gorgeous town of Kas, which is also a great place to visit in winter.
Average temperature in January: 15°C/ 59°F high to 6°C/ 43°F low
Fethiye is a popular destination and coastal city in Turkey.
It’s well-known for being a bit of a “Britain abroad” town, with lots of places to get British fry-ups or a roast dinner!
However, the region has lots of gorgeous hotels and beautiful beaches, and visiting in winter means you avoid the summer crowds.
It has similar weather to Antalya.
Average temperature in January: 12°C/ 54°F high to 6°C/ 43°F low
Sitting on Turkey’s Western coast, Izmir has a mild climate, although temperatures can drop to 12°C/ 54°F in the coolest parts of the year.
However, it’s an excellent time to visit the Ephesus ancient ruins and other points of interest – it’s the third biggest city in Turkey, so there are also plenty of indoor attractions!
What is the hottest place in Europe in the winter?
The Canary Islands are probably the most popular destinations for winter sun in Europe, but Tenerife is widely regarded as the warmest place in Europe in the winter.
It has temperatures usually around 20C/mid-70s F.
What is the warmest city in Europe in winter?
The Canary Islands have the warmest cities, but in mainland Europe, you’re probably looking at Andalusian cities like Seville or Malaga.
Of course, this can change year on year, but if you’re looking for a winter escape that’s easy to access from the rest of Europe, Southern Spain is a good option!