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TUIAs the days get shorter and colder, many of us will start dreaming of jetting off for a bit of winter sun. Whether you’re hoping to enjoy a Christmas or New Year break, or simply top up your vitamin D levels, going on holiday in the winter can be one of the best ways to stop the darkest, bleakest months from getting you down.

If you don’t have the time or money to take a long-haul holiday, there’s good news: there are many beautiful destinations less than six hours from the UK that stay warm over winter.

To inspire you, we’ve partnered with TUI – one of the world’s leading tour operators who specialise in providing affordable yet comfortable hassle-free holidays.

So, if you’re dreaming about a winter break, here are nine sunny destinations you can reach in six hours or less.

1. Sal, Cape Verde

Sal, Cape Verde

Dreaming of Caribbean-style white sands? Head to Cape Verde, a 10-island archipelago located 500 km off the coast of West Africa. Just a six-hour flight from the UK, these islands still aren’t on many travellers’ radars, so they’re ideal if you like to feel off-the-beaten-track. The island of Sal is Cape Verde’s most popular destination, and the dramatic, lunar-like landscape will take your breath away.

The Cape Verde islands were discovered by the Portuguese, and are a fascinating mix of African, Brazilian, and Portuguese cultures. In Sal, you can stroll through laidback Santa Maria, known for its pastel-coloured buildings, surf shacks, and local restaurants. However, the long beach is the main draw; perfect for sunbathing on the sand or trying your hand at water sports in the choppy waves.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 26C | January: 24C | February: 24C | March: 25C

From £633 - Experience the hidden gem of Cape Verde

Flights from Major UK Airports | All-inclusive Options | Last-minute Availability

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

2. Gran Canaria, Spain

The Canary Islands are another popular choice for a winter holiday – and if you’re unsure which island to pick, Gran Canaria is a real crowd-pleaser. Just four and half hours away, the third-largest Canary Island is incredibly diverse. Home to sweeping beaches, dramatic cliffs, rugged gorges, and humid forests, there’s a landscape for everyone. It’s basically like its own mini continent!

The south of the island is where most sun-seekers go. The soft sands of Playa del Inglés eventually reach the vast, rolling sand dunes of Maspalomas, which, framed against the deep blue Atlantic, are spectacular. Or, if you want to escape the crowds and experience a slice of authentic life, the sleepier towns of Puerto Rico, Puerto Mogan, and Bahia Feliz are ideal.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 22C | January: 21C | February: 21C | March: 22C

From £244pp - Sun-seaker's paradise Gran Canaria

Flights & Accommodation Included | Flights from Major UK Airports | All-inclusive Options | December Availability

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

3. The Gambia

The Gambia

Known as ‘Africa’s smiling coast’, the Gambia is a tiny West African island, south of the Canary Islands. And despite its glorious winter sunshine, friendly locals, beautiful shoreline, and incredible wildlife, The Gambia remains a hidden gem, where you can often enjoy a whole stretch of beach to yourself! Plus, there’s no need to worry about jet lag, as the timezone is the same as the UK.

While the Gambia is only 31 miles at its widest point, there are still plenty of ways to combine relaxation with adventure. Crocodiles, chimpanzees, green velvet monkeys, and 540+ species of birds live here – so animal lovers will be in their element. You can also take cookery classes, visit craft markets, and explore the capital, Banjul, which is known for its peanut-processing industry!

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 33C | January: 33C | February: 34C | March: 35C

From £634pp - Experience the beauty of Gambia

7 Nights | Nature Paradise | Bed & Breakfast | Flights from Manchester

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

4. Funchal, Madeira

Marooned in the North Atlantic Ocean, with a gorgeous subtropical climate, Madeira is glorious at any time of year. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, it’s home to some of the best scenery in Europe. From rugged beaches to sultry rainforests, this island has it all, and when it comes to flora, it’s unrivalled. It’s no wonder that Madeira’s second nickname is the ‘Floating Garden’!

The capital, Funchal, is a joy to explore. During the day, you can wander through the old town, admiring colourful colonial buildings and basalt churches. In the evening, you can enjoy long dinners in local tavernas, visit cosy wine bars, or stroll along the bustling marina. To explore nature, head to the interior of the island, where you can hike up volcanic peaks and along the flower-filled levadas.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 21C | January: 20C | February: 20C | March: 21C

From £238pp - Holidays to Madeira

All-inclusive Options | Flights & Accommodation Included | Last-minute Availability

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

5. Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife, Spain

As the largest Canary Island, Tenerife is a perennial favourite for winter sun. While it can be a little windier than Gran Canaria, it still has seven hours of sunshine even in the darkest months. Plus, there’s so much to see and do here, so whether you want a lazy beach break or an action-packed adventure, it ticks the box. Plus, it’s home to many of the best beaches in the Canary archipelago.

If you’re seeking sea and sand, head to the south of the island, where you’ll find city-sized resorts, seemingly endless beaches, and all the watersports and dive centres you can imagine. For a quieter holiday, the west and north are better, and you’ll find secluded beaches, traditional villages, and wild mountains. If you enjoy hiking, you can trek up the world’s third-largest volcano, the unearthly Teide.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 23C | January: 22C | February: 22C | March: 23C

From £232pp - Winter getaways to Tenerife

Flights & Accommodation Included | All-inclusive Options | Flights from Bristol, London, Liverpool, Manchester and More

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

6. Paphos, Cyprus

The heat in Cyprus during the summer months can be unbearable, but in winter, temperatures almost never fall beneath 17C. If you’re interested in culture and history, then visiting in winter just makes sense. You can visit the fascinating archaeological sites and ancient ruins without wilting in the heat, enjoy long lazy lunches in the sun, and, if you’re brave, even take a dip in the sapphire sea!

The Paphos region of Cyprus has beautiful Blue Flag beaches fringed by swaying palms, so you won’t be short of swimming spots. In the old part of Paphos, you’ll find ancient tombs, temples, and forts, while in the modern city, there are all the restaurants and bars you could wish for. Inland, there are sleepy villages, pine-covered hills, swathes of olive groves, and the imposing Troodos Mountains.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 19C | January: 17C | February: 17C | March: 20C

From £217pp - Embrace the culture and history of Cyprus

All-inclusive Options | Flights from London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool | Last-minute Availability

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

7. Lanzarote, Spain

Lanzarote, Spain

Lanzarote, or ‘the island of eternal spring’, is another Canary Island perfect for some winter sun, with temperatures rarely falling below 16 degrees Celisus. With gorgeous beaches, bustling resorts, and a unique volcanic landscape in Timanfaya National Park, this UNESCO-protected island has it all.

Puerto del Carmen on the southeast coast is perhaps the liveliest area, with a promenade bursting with restaurants, bars, and jazz clubs – plus three sandy beaches to discover. Or, Arrecife, the capital, can cater to everyone’s holiday whims, boasting museums, castles, shops, and more beaches. And, as you can drive the entire length of the island in an hour, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 19C | January: 18C | February: 18C | March: 19C

From £215pp - Sun, sea, and sand in Lanzarote

First-class Beaches | All-inclusive Options | Flights from Major UK Airports

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

8. Agadir, Morocco

Agadir, Morocco

If you’re keen to visit this beautiful country for a relaxing break, then it’s worth heading to the coast. Agadir is the most popular beach resort in Morocco, and for good reason. With six miles of stunning coastline, top surfing conditions, and great hotels, it’s the ideal base for a beach holiday.

The sandy beach backs onto palm-lined avenues, pretty parkland, and characterful cafés, while you can discover a more traditional side in the spice-scented souks and lively bazaars. Half an hour north is the quiet fishing village of Taghazout, where you can enjoy a more laidback taste of Moroccan life. Wherever you stay, you can expect mouthwatering cuisine, compelling culture, and a warm welcome.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 23C | January: 22C | February: 23C | March: 26C

From £197pp - Agadir and Taghazout holidays

All-inclusive Options | Flights from London, Birmingham and Manchester | Last-minute Availability

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

9. Fuerteventura, Spain

Fuerteventura, Spain

Featuring some of the Canary Island’s most magnificent stretches of sand, Fuerteventura is a beach lover’s dream. The island has 150 beaches – many of which are quieter than those found in Tenerife or Lanzarote – so you can really unwind, take in the glorious views, and maybe even give surfing a go.

The heart of the island remains Corralejo’s Old Town, where you’ll find traditional restaurants serving tapas and seafood. And across the rest of Fuerteventura, you can explore ancient villages, climb rolling sand dunes in Corralejo Natural Park, and pick up some hand-made souvenirs at one of the local markets. Or, venture off the beaten track to the untouched Los Lobos island, which is home to a volcano, superb snorkelling spots, and wildlife found nowhere else on the planet.

Approximate average daily temperatures
December: 21C | January: 19C | February: 19C | March: 19C

From £227pp - Embrace beach life in Fuertaventura

Last-minute Availability | Flights & Accommodation Included | Departures from Major UK Airports

Prices and availability are accurate as of 13th November 2023.

Final thoughts…

Escaping the gloomy chill for a sun-soaked holiday isn’t just a great way to break up the long, dreary winter months, it’s also a good way to feel refreshed, renewed, and revitalised. And, after a week or two in the sun, you’ll hopefully return feeling relaxed too.

The beauty of all these destinations is that while they offer warm days, hours of sunshine, and plenty of unique cultures to immerse yourself in, they’re all less than a six-hour flight away. Without long flights or connections, travelling can instantly become less stressful – and not having to worry about jet lag makes your return so much easier too.

Plus, booking a holiday with TUI is a guarantee of a hassle-free holiday. You can feel confident you’ll be heading to comfortable yet affordable accommodation in beautiful and unique destinations. So, whether you’re drawn to North Africa, the Canaries, or peaceful Cape Verde, why not think about treating yourself to a winter break this year?

Have you been to any of these destinations – or are you tempted to book a break now? Perhaps you have your own suggestions for the best short-haul winter sun destinations? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.