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Escape the chill: Where the sun hibernates in Europe

Last Updated on January 1, 2016

Natasha Milton is a travel enthusiast who tries to spend half her year working and the other half travelling through Europe. Today she shares her top three places to head to for some sun during the long and cold winter months in Europe.

From the massive snowfalls of Northern Europe to the frost-covered farmlands further south, most of the continent is quite chilly (or downright freezing!) from October to March. For those of us who just can’t stand the cold, the only solution is to follow the sun. Where exactly does it go during this frigid season of bare tree branches, howling winds and black ice?

If you’re on the hunt for sunshine this winter, here are a few European hot-spots that manage to stay warm all year round.


The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira sits delightfully far south in the Atlantic – just off the west coast of Morocco. Its capital, Funchal, is a popular resort holiday destination that caters to Europeans seeking winter sun. Madeira holidays can be expensive during the high-season, but in the winter it’s easy to find incredible all-inclusive deals. For anyone willing to book at the last minute, there are incredible savings to be made.

The old fort and fishing boatsWhen in Funchal, visiting the stunning Ponta de Sao Lourenco wildlife area is an absolute must. For those visiting Madeira over the Christmas holidays, it’s also worth looking at the array of festival celebrations planned in Funchal.


South of Turkey and just north of Egypt, this small, sun-drenched Mediterranean country has a rich variety of experiences on offer. Its bustling capital city, Nicosia – the world’s only remaining divided capital – is the perfect destination for history buffs and culture vultures. Walking over the famous ‘Green Line’ into the Turkish-occupied northern half of the island is a truly fascinating experience.

Of course, the country’s best known holiday town is Ayia Napa, where you won’t be short on pubs, clubs and beach parties. If you fancy a beach holiday, but something a bit quieter, the town of Paphos on the west coast is also a brilliant option.


Situated just below Italy and west of Tunisia, this gorgeous Mediterranean island is warmed by the sun all year round.

In addition to its beautiful beaches – most famously Golden Sands in St. Paul’s Bay – it’s also worth exploring the historic walled capital, Valletta. Walking around this former fortress is a fantastic way to experience modern life in Malta through the lens of history. Bustling open-air markets, churches, art museums and authentic Maltese eateries line the cobblestone streets. Prepare to be charmed! If you’re still not convinced, Irene Springer explains in detail here why Malta is one of the best places in Europe to head for winter sun.

Textured Wall

So, if you’re dreading the increasingly chilly days ahead, it’s worth considering jetting off to one of Europe’s few hot-spots this winter. Happy hibernating!


Images by Ben Salter, George M. Groutas and Bob Jagendorf used under creative commons license.