Winter Sun Destinations

The phrase winter getaway has traditionally been synonymous with snowy slopes, cosy Alpine cottages and hot chocolate - but thanks to budget airlines and the emergence of tourist industries in the developing world, there's no reason for you to miss out on sunshine in the new year.

4 hours or less

As you've probably noticed, most of Europe is largely bereft of sunshine during the winter months, but there are a few corners of the Iberian Peninsula that stay warm and toasty all year round.

Marbella

Our friends at ITV have helped burden Marbella with a rather unfortunate reputation, but it ticks all the boxes for a fun family holiday: good weather (12°C in January is about as good as it gets in Europe), an abundance of shallow waters, and some of the best paella in Spain.

*Major operators (closest airport is Malaga): British Airways, Iberia, Air France

Gibraltar

A charming British overseas territory tacked onto the bottom of Spain, Gibraltar has the logistical advantage of being culturally similar to the UK - this means you don't have to worry about familiarising yourself with local language and customs.

*Major operators: British Airways, Royal Air Maroc

Lanzarote

OK, we're cheating a bit here; Lanzarote is closer to Africa than the Costa del Sol, but - with a flight time of just over 4 hours, the guarantee of sweltering heats (an average of about 20°C for the first quarter of the year), and some breathtaking terrain to explore - we couldn't resist adding this Spanish outpost to the list.

*Major operators: British Airways, Iberia, Air Berlin

Up to 8 hours

If your budget can stretch beyond the Mediterranean - and you're ready to venture outside your comfort zone - a few weeks in the Middle East or Northern Africa could be right up your street.

Dubai

With famously strict social etiquette and some of the most expensive hotels in the Gulf, Dubai isn't for everyone, but it is an undeniably attractive destination for jet-setting twenty-somethings. Temperatures during the winter months average out to around 25°C.

*Major operators: British Airways, Emirates, Qantas

Cairo

This is one holiday that doesn't need a brochure. Despite the recent political strife, Egypt remains an extremely popular tourist destination - and with good reason. From unique cuisine to bustling street markets, and not forgetting the remnants of one of the world's great early civilisations, there's plenty to keep you occupied.

*Major operators: British Airways, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines

Marrakesh

In the mid-west of Morocco, Marrakesh is a diverse and populous city that has remained largely unblemished by the spread of western customs - mystical magicians and snake charmers can still be found performing within the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square.

*Major operators: British Airways, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc

8+ hours

Prepared to fly for 12 hours? The world is your oyster.

Barbados

With highs 32°C during the winter months, the Caribbean is the perfect venue for a new year getaway. Barbados has a long tradition of tourism, which is reflected in the friendliness of locals and array of nautical activities (scuba diving, surfing, boating, et al) on offer across the island.

*Major operators: British Airways, Iberia

Cape Town

South Africa has exploded as a holiday destination in recent years and it's not hard to see why. Cosmopolitan Cape Town has a little something for everyone, with gorgeous beaches along the west coast and boundless safari reserves in the surrounding areas.

*Major operators: British Airways, Emirates

Miami

Big burgers, SeaWorld and garish sports - it's fair to say a holiday in America's Sunshine State is more raucous than relaxing, but don't knock it: Florida has some excellent tourist infrastructure - and southern cities like Miami hit highs of around 16°C in January (the winter months also fall outside of the traditional hurricane season).

*Major operators: British Airways, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic

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