Parts of Europe can be as bone chilling as Alaska in the winter, and across most of the continent — winter means wearing a coat, living off warm beverages and bingeing on Netflix for a while.

But without embarking on a “proper” long haul a flight, you can enjoy bountiful sun, glorious sun well after autumn leaves us behind.

If you’re itching for a getaway, but don’t want to pack a heavy coat, here are top picks for a little bit of winter sunshine in Europe, or at least islands really nearby.

Cyprus

Not only will you find water not far off the color of a pool in parts of Cyprus, you’ll find weather nearly warm enough to want to dive in. Winter temperatures from November through March hover around 65°F, or 18°C and up.

Cyprus is a perfect place for social distancing, with a variety of villas and boutique hotels, rather than behemoth properties with shared elevators and thousands of other people.

Azore Islands, Portugal

With many parts of Portugal situated far south enough to bring temperate, lovely weather in winter, the Azores aren’t your only choice. Faro is always wonderful too, but when travel matters more than ever, the scenery of the Azores mixed with the weather is second to none.

Think: rugged mountains, quaint coves, friendly local towns and all the delicious food and culture you’d hope to soak up anywhere in Portugal, but with the added thrill of being on islands.

The Azores are easy to reach with direct flights from Portugal and various European gateways via Ponta Delgado (PDL) Airport, and with temperatures hovering around 60-65°F, or 16-18°C, you really can’t go wrong.

Sevilla, Spain

Come for the sun, leave with diet plans. Sevilla isn’t just a place to escape and sit by the pool, it’s at the epicenter of European culinary culture, and year round food growing conditions bring some of the greatest produce on earth. It’s home to way too many Michelin restaurants.

While tables are tough to come by in summer, things are quieter here in winter, and you can enjoy a far more local experience, with better prices and even better sunsets. Fun fact: Sevilla historically is the warmest place in continental Europe, with an average year round temperature of 66°F, or 19.2°C .

This may be the best mix of culture, weather and relaxation you’ll find anywhere in the world during winter, let alone Europe. There’s always the Canary Islands if you’re more into the sun than the other stuff.

Turkey

Ok, you may not be talking tanning weather, but Turkey can be lovely in winter.

Antalya and Bodrum are among your top choices for easy access, great coastal views, lovely food and plenty to explore, being major cities themselves. Both Antalya and Bodrum can be reached directly from many European gateways, or one hops via Istanbul from just about anywhere in the world.

With temperatures in the teens celsius and high 50’s, low 60’s Fahrenheit, you can’t go wrong. Unless, of course, you’re coming from the UK, where Turkey is currently on the dreaded “red list”. Rumors suggest that may soon change though, as the country may move to “amber”.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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