Throw away the blanket of winter blues and head to these delightfully warm places in Europe in December, January and February to spend your holidays. Chase the winter sun in Europe, enjoy beach towns, go surfing, shed 10 pounds of jackets and wear swimsuit – this and more amazing things to do in these warmest places in Europe in December through February.
Europe is not usually on everyone’s radar for soaking the sun in the winter. Of course, winter city breaks in Europe are always a great idea – from drinking mulled wine in Prague to wandering through Christmas markets in Vienna and Colmar France – but don’t ignore these warmest places to visit in Europe in December to February. You can start the holidays by sipping hot chocolate and then bask in the southern coast of Europe with a glass of bubbly and shed those layers of clothing.
Warm places in Europe in December, January and February: Winter Sun in Europe
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The warmest temperatures in Europe are experienced in the Mediterranean region and the southern coasts of the continent. Typically, the Mediterranean coast boasts of warmest winters with temperatures as highs averaging 12 degrees Celsius. And then there is the Atlantic coast cities, where winter temperatures are even warmer at 15 degrees Celsius.
Visiting these winter sunshine destinations in December, January and February means you are saving on airfare, experiencing pleasant weather minus the crowds. In many areas you can enjoy beach and water activities in full swing including scuba diving. These warmest places in Europe in January and February are perfect for those seeking to travel on a budget with low airfare and tons of hotel and tour deals.
As a bonus, some of these handpicked places are busy all year round, which makes it perfect for an off-season winter travel destination as well.
Nicosia Cyprus – Perfectly Warm place in Europe for winter sun
Winter sun can be hard to come by in Europe but there is no shortage on the beautiful and intriguing island of Cyprus. Whether you’re into history and archaeological sites, culture, beaches or food there’s something for everyone and all within a compact travelling distance.
Cyprus, although officially one nation, is divided into two parts, Northern Cyprus (Turkish) and the Republic of Cyprus (Greek). If you are travelling between the two you will need to cross a border but this is easy and hassle-free with no stamps required.
Nicosia is the capital divided between the two regions and has a border running right through the middle. You can spend some time exploring the history of the city as well as comparing the cultures on either side.
When you cross the border you will see a change in language, currency, cuisine and even time zone. There are lots of cute cafes, restaurants and shops to wander and on the Turkish side, you will find bathhouses and markets.
Hiring a car is the best way to see some more of the country and you can head South or North depending on what you want to see.
The winter season means accommodation will be cheap and it is easy to see lots of places from one base. For those who prefer more off-the-beaten-path travel the North offers plenty of interesting and historical sites including ancient ruins and a town where the old churches have been turned into mosques.
If it’s beaches you’re after then you will be spoilt for choice although winter weather can mean it’s not always warm enough for swimming. Areas such as Larnaca and Paphos are popular for their beaches and in the off-season, they will be reasonably quiet. So grab yourself some discounted accommodation and relax with a book!
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Find more hotels in Nicosia Cyprus here
TOURS & ACTIVITIES: All of the activities and tours in Nicosia Cyprus
Valletta Malta – 300 days of sunshine in a year
There is an obvious thing that northern Europeans miss during winter months: the sun. Source of life in general, it is a source of happiness and good mood for most human beings. It is no surprise then when people look for sunny places for their winter holidays.
One reason that should be enough? Maltese are proud of their 300 days of sunshine in a year. Many of them are in winter too, keeping temperatures to a minimum of approximately ten degrees Celsius and much more pleasant averages. You leave your northern European airport in heavy and warm jackets and you could almost land in flip-flops.
Our favourite town in Malta is its capital Valletta, absolutely a gem built on a little peninsula only one kilometre long. It stretches between two little gulfs, which during history were paramount to defend the island and its importance for the Mediterranean marine trade.
Nowadays Valletta is a mix of old XVI and XVII century buildings with their famous bow windows and some very new and modern palaces like the new Parliament designed by world-famous Italian architect Renzo Piano.
The most popular tourist place is Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, with the last painting of Caravaggio in one of its chapels. Enjoy a sunny day reading a book in one of the beautiful Upper or Lower Barakka Gardens, the latter being our favourite.
To completely take a break from the work routine, traffic and rush schedules, choose a boutique hotel. The Luciano Valletta or Luciano Boutique will be your must go for a very pleasant stay.
TOURS & ACTIVITIES : Check out all the activities in Valletta
Sicily Italy – Winter sun in Europe minus the crowds
If you’re thinking of taking a vacation in Italy in the winter, Sicily should be at the top of your list. The weather is comfortably cool and there are many wonderful activities that you can do in Sicily, making it one of the delightfully warm places in Europe in December, January and February.
Take a bike ride around the city; enjoy Sicilian Cassata or cheesecake with freshly squeezed oranges while people-watching. You can also go shopping at Palermo and its night markets.
If you have enough time, here are 3 must-see attractions in Sicily.
Taormina – Taormina is a small town that is perched on a hill 250m above the sea and its history goes back to the 4th-Century. Taormina remains one of the most popular tourist destinations especially for day trips. Among the attractions to see are the Teatro Greco – a Greek theatre built in the 3rd-Century, where you have splendid views of Mount Etna and the Bay of Naxos.
Argigento – The Valley of the Temples – Argigento is located on the southern coast of Sicily and is home for The Valley of the Temples which consists of 8 temples that were built between the periods of 510 BC and 430 BC.
The place was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In addition to the ruins, you can stroll down the magnificent beaches and marvel at its crystal clear waters.
Mount Etna – Mount Etna is an active volcano but continues to attract thousands of tourists to Eastern Sicily. You can walk around the older craters located at Etna Sud or take a breath-taking cable car ride up 2,900m for a 2 to 4 round trip excursion of the summit craters. Check out this winter hiking tour to Mount Etna
Another option is to rent out an All-Terrain Vehicle which has been designed to provide more traction on the volcano’s surface.
The Hotel Gutkowski would be a good place to stay during your vacation in Sicily. Its interiors feature an eclectic mix of styles: minimalist, designer retro, and beachcomber chic. You will get a fantastic view of Sicily’s open sea especially from the hotel’s fashionable roof terrace.
TOURS & ACTIVITIES: View recommended activities in Sicily
Madeira Portugal – Warm places in Europe by the Atlantic Coast
Madeira is one of the best places in Europe for a winter break during the months of December, January or February.
Madeira is a Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean, more or less in front of Morocco in Africa. This excellent location means that during the winter Madeira has more sun and milder temperatures than in the rest of Europe.
When it’s cold in Europe, the streets of Funchal are lively and colorful. Funchal is Madeira’s capital city and here during the day, it is possible to walk around wearing a t-shirt or sit in a terrace-bar under the sun for a fresh beer.
Being Madeira a volcanic island, it has many hiking opportunities and the hikes around the volcanoes and calderas are very popular. Also, Funchal’s Botanical Garden is worth a visit and thanks to Madeira’s good climate it is possible to grow exotic plants difficult to find in other places in Europe.
One of the most interesting things about Madeira is its irrigation system. The levadas are irrigation channels that bring large amounts of water from the west of the island to the south, which sees less rain and it is drier. This amazing network of 2.170 km of levadas is also a network of walking paths and it is very nice to hike along the levadas with the sound of running water.
Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to taste Madeira’s cuisine, more precisely its dishes made of fish. In a place like Madeira, you are always sure to get the last catch which is even better if accompanied by local wine.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Search hotels in Madeira Portugal here
TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Find tours and activities in Madeira Portugal
Mallorca Spain for a guaranteed warm winter sun in Europe
While Europe might not be known for its guaranteed warm weather in December and January (except for the Canary Islands), there are quite a few places that still offer you decent temperatures and a couple of well-needed hours of sunshine a day.
Mallorca is one of those destinations and with some luck you’ll be able to walk around in your t-shirt during the day (although you will need a warm coat for the evenings!)
The biggest of the Balearic Islands is a very popular summer destination, mostly families looking for a beach holiday, but it attracts lots of hikers and cyclists in the shoulder season as well. However, visiting in winter is a great option too. Granted, you won’t be able to do a lot of sunbathing, but the island has much more to offer – and you’ll have it almost completely for yourself.
As many beach resorts are closed during the winter season, the best place to stay would be in the capital Palma de Mallorca. This city is big enough to be buzzing with energy, even in the non-touristy months. Wander around the historic town and discover its stunning architecture, cozy cafes and Mediterranean feeling.
The best way to discover the island is by car. Plan a couple of days into your itinerary to drive around and stop at the gorgeous towns of Deía, Valldemosa, Soller, Alcúdia or one of the many other ones. Having your own transport is particularly useful when you like to enjoy the cliffs and coastal scenery. Stop at viewing points or find one of the many hiking trails the island is famous for.
Oh, and don’t miss the local Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastiá festivals! You’ll get to enjoy big bonfires, a fire run, life music and many other activities. These festivals might be a big reason to visit Mallorca in January!
Montenegro – For cool, warm & warmest places in Europe in December to February
Montenegro is still very much a hidden gem of South-Eastern Europe and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It offers almost every landscape you can think of from lush, green mountains to beautiful sandy beaches nestled along the Adriatic Sea. Montenegro is one of those places where you can experience both the cold and the warm beaches in the same month. That’s why Montenegro is also considered a tricky winter destination – but we got you covered!
One of the best things about Montenegro is its mild climate that makes it perfect for those trips where you want to get away from the frigid cold and into the winter sun in Europe. There are plenty of things to do in Montenegro but the most popular activities involve the water. You’ll almost always be able to look out into the bay and see someone kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.
Instead of driving or catching a bus from town to town, think about chartering a boat and create your own itinerary. We highly recommend a boat tour from either Tivat or Kotor that will take you to the towns of Perast, Budva, and everywhere in between.
If you want winter sun in Europe while also still being able to have fun in the snow then Montenegro is a must visit in the winter. In Northern Montenegro are Kolašin and Žabljak, two mountain resorts where you can ski and/or snowboard before or after heading south for sunnier destinations.
Deciding on where to stay in Montenegro may be a little difficult as there are many towns to choose from. If you want to have access to some of the best beaches then stay in Budva. If you want to be able to walk to the Old Town of Kotor in minutes, then stay in Kotor.
If you’d like to be in a quaint town where modern construction is prohibited, then Perast is for you. However, my favorite place to stay was Tivat. Tivat is a small town that’s home to a platinum-rated marina and now a plethora of restaurants and shops. Consider a stay at The Regent Porto Montenegro as it has stunning water views and just so happens to be in the heart of everything. You won’t regret it.
Malaga Spain for tapas, winter sun in Europe
Craving for crave some winter sunshine, book a flight and head over to Malaga in Southern Spain. The town is mostly famous for its warm temperatures during the winter months. Loads of sunshine hours and temperatures above 10°C are awaiting you.
However, there is much more about Malaga that you’ll love. Lately, many museums have opened up such as the prestigious Pompidou center. If you are wondering where to stay in Malaga, choose the fashionable Soho district.
The historic city center boasts countless little shops that are selling Andalusian handicrafts and Spanish fashion brands. You can just go on shopping sprees forever!
Our favorite thing to do in Malaga, particularly during the winter, is enjoying tapas on the countless terraces. Have some boquerones al limón followed by a sweet Malaga wine and you’ll know why Malaga is one of the best warm places to visit in Europe.
TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Browse activities in Malaga here
Algarve Portugal – Escape winter blues to one of the warmest places in Europe
Looking for a warm place to visit in Europe to escape the coldness of your hometown? Well, look no further – Algarve is definitely one of the best European destinations to enjoy sun and nice weather in winter!
Located in Portugal, the Algarve region runs along the south Atlantic coast where you can find some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, and of course the warmest weather in winter. Indeed, you can still enjoy average temperatures around 54°F and 63°F during winter, which is quite a nice weather compared to other countries in Europe. Also, it is actually the cheapest time of the year to go to Algarve!
Of course, don’t think about swimming as the sea temperature is cold at this time of the year. But visiting Algarve during winter is actually a very good idea if you are not seeking to swim : you can explore the region, hike or even lie on the beach without sweating and suffering from the extreme heat of summer, and most importantly without the crowds!
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the best things to do in Algarve in winter:
- Explore the amazing coastal villages such as Aljezur or Sagres where you can visit the famous lighthouse of Cabo de Sao Vicente
- Stop at Vila Real de Santo António Christmas Village to enjoy the Christmas market stalls covered in festive decorations
- Visit Algarve’s most famous beach, Benagil cave. Whether you see the cave from above or you rent a kayak to go inside, the cave is an absolute must-see in Portugal!
Consider staying in a city such as Lagos or Faro so you can also enjoy the pretty architecture and feel the Christmas vibes. If you are looking for a nice place to stay, here is a hotel we strongly recommend : the Iberostar Selection located in Lagos.
TOURS & ACTIVITIES: More activities in Algarve Portugal
Lanzarote Canary Island – Chase winter sun from the top of an active volcano to the Cactus Gardens
And how can we finish this list of warm places in Europe in December through February without a destination from the Canary Islands. Lanzarote, the Island of Fire is located in the Canary Islands, off the Coast of West Africa.
There are so many reasons why we keep visiting Lanzarote to chase winter sun in Europe year after year.
Firstly, cheap flights. Isn’t that obvious (and to be honest very simple)? Quite often there are cheapest flights and promotions to the Canary Islands in December. After securing the cheapest flights, go with the flow and book accommodation, car rental,etc. For my first flight to Lanzarote I paid £2. No, this is not a misspelling, I have paid a £2 fee to go to the Canary Islands. Not bad,right?
Secondly, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Exploring Timanfaya National Park was one of the most interesting and scariest experiences of my life. With a restaurant at the top of the mountain, the sightseeing leaves you breathless. Going there is a must!
The Cactus Garden is stunning and it’s also the perfect place to take some cool pictures.
Thirdly, the beaches. On the south coast you can find the finest sand beaches with colours from dark to white, this little gem of an Island has it all.The crystal blue water and constant temperature makes it perfect for activities such as snorkeling.
Do you want to know the best thing about the Lanzarote beaches? They’re not over crowded, on the contrary, if you are lucky enough during golden hour you can have it all for yourself.
If you visit Lanzarote then it’s a must to visit their Wine Museum El Grifo. They have tours through their vineyards, the landscape is beautiful.
After visiting the vineyards, you will take part in a wine tasting tour where you have the chance to taste their oldest wine to date – El Grifo Canari, which was my absolute favourite – sweet with a coniac-like colour.
For a relaxed winter sun vacation in Europe, head to the Casa El Morro. Located in Yaiza, this is a place like I’ve never seen before. When you are there, you feel like you’ve entered a new world of peace and calm.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Search hotels in Lanzarote here
Travel Tips for Visiting Warmest places in Europe in December to February
Are you ready to explore the winter sun destinations in Europe this year? But before that let’s cover the trip essentials
Planning your trip to Europe – If this is your first ever trip to Europe, consider reading our Europe 101 guide.
Schengen Visa – If you require a visa to travel to Europe, most likely it is the Schengen Visa (for those belonging to the Euro Zone or EU, doesn’t include the UK). Read our guide to applying for Schengen Visa.
Travel Insurance – Don’t forget to insure your trip. Get Travel Insurance quotes from World’s Nomads here.
Packing List – Warm places in Europe in December – February
Now because you are looking for sunny days in Europe winter, your packing list will differ from other cities. Here is what you should carry –
- Clothing – Lightweight clothes pants, jeans, tops and dresses. Pack a pretty party outfit if celebrating New Year in Europe!
- Swimsuit – Don’t forget to carry your swimsuit and other beachwear like cover up and flip flops
- Sunglasses and water bottle to stay hydrated. Here are my favorites – Erika Rayban sunglasses and in-built filter water bottle
- Lightweight jacket – You MUST pack a lightweight, preferably waterproof jacket at all times of the year. The destinations mentioned here gets anywhere from 2-6 rainy days in a month. I am in love with this jacket from Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket
- Daypack – With so many day trip options and beach time, a day-pack is super essential to pack your essentials. We recommend that you invest in a good anti-theft backpack – which will be handy all over Europe.
- Comfortable walking shoes or hiking shoes – If you are a city hiker like us, wear comfortable walking shoes as most of the cities in Switzerland are car free. Plus who doesn’t like to wander around old towns. Here is my favorite pair.
- If you are planning to hike in the national parks, we recommend this pair.
- Camera – Don’t forget to pack your camera for capturing amazing pictures of Greek Islands or Benagil Cave. Also include this high capacity SD card to store all the memories on the go.
- Portable battery backup or juice – Pack this battery backup for charging your electronics on the go. With one nightly charge, you can use it for a 2-3 days.
- Universal Adapter – Invest in a good universal adapter that you can keep using for all of your travels. Our North American or Asian power plugs will not work out in Europe. Here is what we recommend.
- Multi-port charging cables – And here is my absolute favorite piece of electronics – this multi-port charging cable – is super handy on the go, especially if you have an iphone and your camera uses micro-usb port. They come in a variety of colors are super versatile. I also use them while commuting to work.
- Read our in-depth guide to packing for Europe for all seasons and regions.
We hope you found travel inspiration through our recommendations. Share with us if you have any favorite winter sun in Europe destinations.
Enjoy sunny days ahead!
Read more of our Europe Travel Posts
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- Spain: Best of Spain in 7 days
- Switzerland: One week in Switzerland trip
- Central Europe in 2 weeks – Visit Munich, Budapest, Prague and Vienna in 14 days
Europe in winter and other seasons – Here are seasonal Europe resources that might interest you
- Winter Destinations –More Europe in winter destinations for Christmas markets, skiing or winter sun
- Prague : What to expect in Prague in March
- Barcelona: Travel tips for visiting Barcelona in September
- Iceland: Explore Iceland in the month of October
- Paris: A monthly guide to visiting Paris at any time of the year
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