It may be winter outside, but within hours you could be sunbathing in one of these five winter sun destinations, easily reachable from the UK.
As the days are darkening earlier and the sun is shying away from our skies, we know this is the onset of freezing temperatures and dreary grey skies. So why wait for next summer? Grab your shades and start planning your warming rays way before then.
We suggest five easy-to-get-to-from-the-UK destinations where you could be relaxing in the sun by teatime.
Lanzarote, The Canaries
Volcano, black rugged landscapes and beaches
The island of Lanzarote is part of a clutch of islands called The Canaries – that make up the Spanish archipelago and is ideal for beach lovers. Peurto Del Carmen is notorious for its heady nightlife, and those that prefer a bit more quiet and elegance head for the beautiful beaches at Famara and Papagayo.
Putting aside the beaches, the volcanic island of Lanzarote puts on quite a show away from the coastline too.
The stretches of black volcanic rock landscape is trimmed by a chain of multi-hued mountains only broken by the green of the odd cactus plant that has managed to flourish.
The dark shades of the landscape offer a sensational contrast with the low-rise white-washed towns that have sprouted up along the coastline. There is the odd dash of colour courtesy of painted window panes usually, green or brown but overall the island has been protected by the kind of tourism that demands high rise architecture.
This is thanks to the initiative taken by celebrated artist and designer Cesar Manrique who insisted on maintaining the island’s natural beauty. Often his architecture works with it and he created some amazing homes by integrating them into the rock face of a volcano. Famously, hollywood actor Omar Sherif had one built for him in Nazaret which he lost to the developer in a bridge player.
- Thomas Cook Airlines have flights from London Stansted to Lanzarote (Arrecife) starting from £39.99 one way including taxes in November 2014.
Tenerife, The Canaries
Lunar landscapes and star gazing
Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, has a year-round spring-like climate and an impressive mountainous landscape that makes for an ideal getaway especially if you like to ramble. But the island has a surprising secret.
Best known for its debauched night life, it’s worth raising an eyebrow at what naturalist Alexander von Humboldt said when he climbed Mount Teide, the largest peak in Spain: “I have never beheld a prospect more varied, more attractive, more harmonious in the distribution of the masses of verdure and rocks, than the western coast of Tenerife.” Teide National Park has been named a Starlight Tourist Destination, which means low pollution and a pristine night-sky superb for star-gazing.
- Thomas Cook Airlines have flights from London Gatwick to Tenerife starting from £39.99 one way including taxes in November/December 2014 and January/March 2015.
Paphos (Pafos), Cyprus
Birthplace of Aphrodite—Goddess of love
This ancient harbour is a town of two halves. Here’s why: its lower part, Kato Pafos, has neon lights, bars and heady clubs and its upper part Ktima, is calmer, where locals live and work.
Yet Pafos is where you will find the island’s most fascinating archaeological sites and is famed for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love at Petra tou Romiou. The town’s forest has probably the most spectacular scenery on the island and the Pafos Mosaics, a compelling meze of intricate and colourful mosaics is a pleasure. It tells of all sorts of hedonistic stories including the famous tale of Narcissus.
The main attraction is the Tomb of the King’s, a Unesco World Heritage site around two kilometers from Kato Pafos. It’s a bit of a misnomer, as these tombs do not have a single royal resident, at all but they do look grand therefore where dubbed so.
There are several museums in Pafos, but if you just visit one, make it the Byzantine Museum in Ktima’s main square. The oldest icon on the island, the Agia Marina, is houses here and dates back to the ninth century.
- And as for the sun, it may not be exactly T-shirt wearing weather but most certainly an agreeable 12°C in January.
Thomas Cook Airlines have flights from London Gatwick to Paphos starting from £45.99 one way including taxes in March 2015.