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Winter sun holiday destinations to escape to

Dark mornings, cold hands, heating bills and chapped lips are among the most disliked things about the British winter, according to our new study. Half of the nation spends their winter days longing for sunnier and warmer climes.

Almost nine in 10 have considered seeking out winter sun between November and February. If you’re one of those craving some vitamin D, we have some ideas if you’re wondering where to escape for an exotic winter holiday experience.

a couple relaxing by the sea with a picnic

From frost to sunshine, the winter escapes we long for  

As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops many of us long for warmer and sunnier climes. Our recent winter travel survey found eight in 10 hate the UK’s winter weather. And findings from other travel experts suggest, for many people, simply counting down the days until spring officially starts isn’t enough.

“With the shorter days and colder temperatures approaching, 93% of British travellers are planning 1-2 trips this winter,” a spokesperson for popular travel site Tripadvisor told us. 

Findings from its latest Seasonal Travel Index (covering 1 December 2023 – 29 February 2024) also suggest 92% of UK travellers planning to travel as much, if not more, this winter compared to last. And plan to spend the same amount or more on travel this winter compared with last year.

“Winter is a great time to travel,” added Tripadvisor, “whether it’s taking advantage of off-season discounts, chasing the last of the European sun, avoiding school holiday crowds or the chance to experience summer in another hemisphere.”  

But winter doesn’t have to be a season of cold and gloom. Whether you prefer relaxing on a sandy beach, exploring cultural gems or embarking on outdoor adventures, we’ve researched some of the top winter sun holidays that offer something for everyone. 

If you can’t take a holiday this winter, don’t panic – there’s still chance to escape. Our recent research found 72% would consider working remotely outside the UK with a third (35%) saying that they could work just as efficiently from a beach as they can from their desk. 

The opportunities to combine business with leisure have never been greater, whether that’s ‘bleisure’ (business meets leisure), a ‘workation’ or becoming a fully-fledged ‘digital nomad.’

Wherever and however you choose to travel, it’s very important to make sure you have the right travel insurance in place. That way, you’re covered financially for the unexpected – from lost or stolen baggage, to emergency medical treatment or a natural catastrophe

Especially as our winter travel study found 40% of UK people are more likely to forget travel insurance for a winter getaway. And more than a quarter (26%) rarely or never take out travel insurance before they head on holiday. The main reason is it’s seen as too expensive. But, by making it part of your pre-travel checklist, it could end up saving you money should things go wrong.    

Get travel insurance for your winter sun holiday

Inspirational winter sun getaways (December, January, February) 

Our winter survey shows that seven in 10 want to travel somewhere new. So where are the holiday destinations we most want to have a winter escape to?

The Canary Islands were selected as the nation’s most desired location for winter sun. 44% of respondents put it at the top of their list. Sitting close to the equator, the islands experience a wonderful subtropical client all-year-round within the range of 18–24°C.  

The Canary Islands offer something for everyone, making them an ideal location for family holidays. Relaxing on a stunning beach. Trying new activities. Enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Or exploring its outstanding natural attractions – with five of its seven islands being declared a Biosphere Reserve. 

If you’re hoping to try any activities, like diving or golf, make sure you have the right sports travel insurance cover in place. 

Another top winter destination is the Maldives. Our research revealed that, if money was no object, 34% would love to stay in a luxury overwater bungalow. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves and views of the Indian Ocean. Temperatures average around 30°C providing a perfect escape from the winter chill.  

Third on the nation’s winter destination wish list is Barbados. It averages 29.5°C in December and its dry season runs to April – bringing with it plenty of sunshine and cloudless blue skies. In addition to its balmy weather, Barbados offers pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, vibrant culture and gorgeous cuisine. All this makes it a strong contender for the perfect winter holiday. The country also provides tax incentives for those looking to combine business with leisure.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Antigua and Barbuda rank as top winter destinations. For water enthusiasts, the Caribbean is a haven of aquatic adventures. Snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing and fishing are just a few ways to explore the underwater world of coral reefs, shipwrecks and diverse marine life. And, if you don’t just want sun and sea, the Caribbean also boasts a rich tapestry of culture and history to enjoy.

A winter cruise is a fantastic way to explore the Caribbean, offering passengers a unique perspective at a leisurely pace. For this, we strongly recommend taking out specialist cruise travel insurance

For those seeking a bit more adventure, Bali and Thailand are favourites for a winter escape. A visit to Bali’s best beaches features on the bucket list of one in four (29%) people in the UK, according to our recent research. The countries also offer lush jungle landscapes, varied wildlife, stunning waterfalls and rich new cultures. 

The winter escapes most popular with the nation according to the Post Office winter sun survey 

  1. Canary Islands, Spain 
  2. Maldives 
  3. Barbados 
  4. Dubai, UAE 
  5. Miami, USA 
  6. Cyprus 
  7. Seychelles 
  8. Malaga, Spain 
  9. Mauritius 
  10.  Cancun, Mexico
  11.  Jamaica 
  12.  Marrakech, Morocco 
  13.  Cape Verde 
  14.  Fiji 
  15.  Phuket, Thailand 
  16.  Costa Rica 
  17.  Bali, Indonesia 
  18.  Dominican Republic 
  19.  Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt 
  20.  Antigua and Barbuda

According to Tripadvisor’s Winter Travel Index, top-trending destinations this season include Bora Bora and Tenerife. Meanwhile Asia is particularly popular, with destinations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia all topping the charts.

Best destinations to warm up your winter 

Looking for the hottest destinations this winter? Here’s a list of the warmest locations to escape to for some winter sun: 

December January February
Cancun, Mexico (30.4°C) Singapore (30.5°C)    Phuket, Thailand (33.1°C)
Dominican Republic (29.6°C) Cancun, Mexico (30.5°C) Cancun, Mexico (32.3°C)
Barbados (29.5°C) Manaus, Brazil (30°C) Singapore (31.6°C)
Brisbane, Australia (28.2°C) Barbados (29.1°C) Barbados (29.2°C)
Cape Verde (26.4°C) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (29°C) Dominican Republic (28.9°C)
Melbourne, Australia (25.5°C) Sydney, Australia (27.4°C) Cape Town, South Africa (27.3°C)
Lanzarote, Canaries (22.2°C) Cape Town, South Africa (27°C) Melbourne, Australia (26.7°C)
Tenerife, Canaries (21.9°C) Cape Verde (25.2°C) Auckland, New Zealand (24.2°C)
Madeira (20°C) Tenerife, Canaries (21.1°C) Orlando, USA (23.1°C)
Cape Town, South Africa (19.8°C) Playa Blanca, Canaries (20.5°C) Cairo, Egypt (20.5°C)


Source: Met Office

Travelling at other times of the year?

Don’t forget your winter sun travel insurance 

When you’re going abroad it’s important to take out travel insurance to protect you financially. Cover could include emergency expenses, trip cancellation, curtailment or abandonment and personal accidents. 

Check if it offers sufficient medical cover for the destination you’re travelling to. By doing your due diligence you could save yourself significant expense if anything unexpected happens. 

Depending on the policy you choose, you can get cover for single trip  or multiple holidays abroad or in the UK. For extra reassurance, some insurers enable you to access medical assistance from a health professional while you’re away, if you need it. You can also take out specialised cover if you’re thinking of a gap year or career break with backpacker travel insurance

If your winter sun holiday is over the festive period and you want to take gifts with you, make sure you have the right cover for personal belongings to avoid lost or stolen items. And get gadget cover if you’re taking expensive items with you. 

Always check a policy’s wording to make sure it will offer the protection you need.

Protection from an award-winning* travel insurer

*Post Office won a ‘Best Travel Insurance Provider’ award at the Your Money Awards in 2021, 2022 and 2023. 

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