We don’t know about you, but it’s around this time of year that we begin dreaming of blue skies and sunshine, drinking cocktails outdoors and feeling the sand between our toes. Sadly the weather here in the UK has other plans – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anywhere nearby where we can’t fulfil our desires. We’re talking about Spain, where the sun can often be found to be shining, while the mountains are capped with snow and the cities are abuzz with the silly season.
Benidorm is like a big hug in winter – while a lot of resorts shut up shop for the colder weather, it’s pretty much business as usual here. Daytime temperatures sit around 15°C in January, the coldest month, but the weather is generally warm enough to catch some sun on the beach all winter. Many hotels will throw big Christmas bashes, so you won’t even have to miss out on your traditional 25th of December feast!
As we shiver in our layers and avoid stepping outside, Seville’s temperatures are sitting around the balmy early-to-mid teens. It’s great wandering weather, whether you’re going for a stroll around one of the city’s parks, meandering around one of its famous palaces or cathedrals, or heading to one of its rooftop bars, Seville shines in winter. The city also has a number of Christmas markets during the festive season, and you can get your carol fix in several of its squares, with the smell of roasting chestnuts gently wafting through the air.
With 20°C days and plenty of sunshine, Tenerife is everything England is not in the winter. Make the most of the weather with a bracing dip in the ocean, or take to the hills for a refreshing hike that could get too hot in the warmer months. Many of the smaller towns hold Christmas markets and processions in the lead-up to the big day, while the island’s British bars keep the festive spirit alive, just like back home.
4. Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is a joy to visit any time of year, and this holds true even come winter – the area experiences an average of over 320 days of sunshine a year, after all. Sure, it’s too cold to swim, but stay in the sun, and you’ll get away with wearing just a bikini, no problems at all! Wander around towns like Marbella and Cordoba, where you’ll find far fewer crowds than during the summer months. Likewise, shopping during winter will be a breeze – forget battling fellow tourists for a bargain, the markets and stores will be (almost) all yours!
5. La Palma
Quieter than the other Canaries, La Palma offers an excellent opportunity to get away from the depths of winter – and the UK’s festive season crowds. There’s every chance that you’ll encounter temperatures in the low-to-mid-20s – just the right temperature for a stroll along one of the island’s famed black sand beaches. It’s also the best time of year to visit if you fancy an amble through its forests – it’s warm enough to be outside, while not too hot for you too break a sweat.
Wedged between the sunny Costa Tropical and the snow-dusted Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada offers the best of what winter in Spain has to offer. One day you might be soaking up the sunshine on one of the area’s famous beaches, and the next you could be hitting the slopes at a nearby ski resort. While you’re there, you mustn’t forget to check out the famous sights of the city itself – the iconic Alhambra and the 11th-century El Bañuelo baths.
Like its Canarian neighbours, Lanzarote is still on the warm side in the winter, which might explain why so many people flock here for some winter sun! Winter in Lanzarote is similar in temperature to British summers, so you can rest assured that you’ll catch some much-needed vitamin D! The summer weather in Lanzarote can be too hot for hiking, and too dry for flowers to bloom. Come winter, though, and the island comes to life in an array of colours, and the sun shines without the harshness of summer – conditions ripe for a hike!
Barcelona’s brightly coloured buildings practically scream sunshine! Autumn and spring are when the city is at its dampest, but come winter blue skies are common. You’ll also find it easier to get into usually hectic attractions like the Sagrada Familia, and when walking down Las Ramblas you won’t encounter quite as many elbows as usual. The city is also home to a mean hot chocolate, and a churros or two will go down a treat when the temperature falls in the evenings.
With crisp but sunny days, Madrid offers the chance to indulge in some sunlight during your winter city break. Some of Madrid’s foods, such as heavy stews and roasted pork, are best enjoyed during the colder months, and the city’s January sales give you the chance to stock up on warm clothes for your return to the British gloom. Christmas markets are held in the city, pretty lights are strung up everywhere, and local buses are decorated to celebrate the festive spirit!
Like its neighbour Benidorm, Alicante is a great year-round destination. The average winter temperature is around 16°C – not quite reaching the heights of summer, but still a far sight warmer than England! There’s still plenty of fiestas during the colder months – the Old District is where you’ll find plenty of nightclubs and bars to while away the wintery evenings. During the day, the markets are throbbing with retailers flogging their wares, and the promenades are abuzz with people enjoying the sunshine.