The Canaries, as they are affectionately called, are a Spanish archipelago and a true winter-time treat to help get your glow back. They consist of a cluster of sunny volcanic islands: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife.
There are some beautiful hotels and lots of activities you can take part in, from diving, hiking and horse riding as well as windsurfing, waterparks and jeep safaris – for those who really want the adventure. Each island has its own flavour – scenic Tenerife is great for groups and party animals, while Lanzarote is very family-friendly – and Fuerteventura is ideal for couples seeking a more leisurely time.
If you fancy travelling long-haul, then Cuba is an excellent winter destination. Known for its beautiful beaches and fascinating history, Cuba has something for everyone. The capital, Havana, is full of curiosities and a fantastic spot to explore with cobbled streets, unique architecture and vintage cars all forming perfect picture-taking opportunities.
Extra options for those wanting to learn more about Cuban flavours include cigar factory tours and salsa classes, all accompanied by the excellent local rum. If you want to just relax though, then the beaches of Cuba have some brilliant all-inclusive hotel options, which you can indulge in without breaking the bank.
There is so much on offer in Greece, from old-school architecture and culture to sun-soaked olive groves and the bluest of seas. Islands like Crete have excellent nightlife as well as family-friendly waterparks. Corfu is known for its beautiful beaches and sophisticated shopping; you won’t go hungry either, the local seafood and artisanal feta is beyond delicious.
There are hundreds of Greek islands to pick from and you can hop on short or long cruises to see lots in one go. If the islands aren’t your thing, head to the mainland for the history of Athens and a bustling city-life full of drama. You might not have thought of Greece as a winter destination but it has lots of options, including ski resorts, thermal lakes and even Santa Clause villages which come to vivid life at Christmas-time.
If you’re really after a winter wonderland then Sweden gets very cold and is incredible scenic too. There is so much to do: learn about the ancient traditions of the Sami and their reindeer, make friends while dog sledding, visit ski resorts to stay active (or just drink hot chocolate), and experience seeing frozen waterfalls.
While you’re there, Abisko is considered by many to be the best place in the world to see the Northern lights (visible from September to the end of March). You should also take in Stockholm, the capital where you can explore the Old Town of Gamla Stan, get cosy in front of a fire with some traditional pastries and coffee, or even relax in one of the country’s famous saunas.
By Dr Sunny Kleo