• 26 January 2020

Winter in most of Europe can be cold, rainy and snowy. And that definitely has its charms. But from time to time you want to break away and catch some of that lovely sun you miss so much. If you can’t wait another three months, why not try a warmer part of Europe, like Portugal or Spain for a mid-winter break?

Spain offers wonderful sites to visit, great food, a relaxed atmosphere and the chance to leave those heavy winter coats at home and wear a big sun hat instead. Southern Spain is especially delightful this time of year, kissing the Mediterranean as it does.

Winter in Benidorm, Spain
Winter in Benidorm, Spain

Where to enjoy the winter holidays in Spain

Andalucia is the hottest part of Spain in winter. It’s the best bet for a warm honeymoon destination in Europe for couples who choose to marry in winter. Between November and February, most of the places we mention here maintain a sunny outlook. Making it ideal for a beach holiday. 

Spain also offers the Canary Islands as an option, if you’re serious about experiencing an even more relaxed holiday life. There are several towns and cities you can consider staying in as you follow the sun to Spain. Here are the top five options: 

1. Málaga

The bright walls and buildings of Málaga’s iconic surrounding white villages – Mijas, Ronda, and Frigiliana among them – add to the feeling that you’re in the warmest place in Spain in winter. The actual temperatures themselves are pretty mild here, but with the sun out, and your sunglasses on, it feels nothing like winter.

Málaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol, literally translating as the Coast of the Sun. The beaches are good for a picnic or just lounging around. Best of all, they feel slightly less crowded, which is true of most of Spain in winter. 

The city itself is a wonder for lovers of old buildings and architecture. The Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga, for example, is a gorgeous Renaissance-era construction started in the early-1500s. 

Málaga, Spain
Málaga, Spain
2. Canary Islands

Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, may not be in the Mediterranean, but it’s close enough to the equator to feel positively tropical in summer. It’s been a popular destination for winter sun-seekers since the 60s as well.  

The island setting means there are marine life explorations to be done – whales and dolphins can be seen via boat trips all around the islands. You could also just opt for the beaches if you like. But Mount Teide (which admittedly can sometimes show some snow), and the national park are just as inviting. 

The various islands themselves are also good to explore: Gran Canaria, La Gomera, El Hierro and others all offer incredible and unique experiences. Best of all, you can travel between the seven islands easily via ferry. 

Puerto de Santiago City, Canary Islands
Puerto de Santiago City, Canary Islands
3. Almeria

Another province of Andalucia, Almeria’s claim to fame is that it features the only desert in Europe, The Tabernas, north from Almeria city. Most winter days, the temperatures here reach beyond 20°C. So it’s not uncomfortably hot. But you can experience some of what desert life is like here, except with friendly accommodation and exquisite food. 

The white sands extend to the beaches, which are relatively isolated, especially this time of year. Almeria, possibly the hottest place in Spain at this time of year, also has an avid cycling tourism crowd. The climate is perfect for two-wheeling between the small town attractions. 

Desert Tabernas in Almeria Province
Desert Tabernas in Almeria Province
4. Murcia & Cartagena

Murcia is a beautiful old town (est. 831 AD), just off the coast, and 30 minutes from Cartagena. It benefits from the mild winters of the Mediterranean coast but offers some old city scenery and culture to boot. 

Cartagena – an old port city – is close enough the Murcia to make it a viable option to stay. You’ll have the added plus of a gorgeous beach to stretch out on, and the chance to see a museum based at an excavated Roman theatre. In fact, there are a few ancient leftovers that can be visited. Like a Roman Domus that allegedly belonged to a wealthy family, and a palace left behind by the Moors.  

But what you’re really looking for are the beach day trips. Try the Playa de Calblanque; it’s quite isolated and well worth the 30-minute drive from Cartegena (or 60 minutes from Murcia). 

Ancient Roman Amphitheater in Cartagena
Ancient Roman Amphitheater in Cartagena
5. Marbella

Marbella is also on the Costa del Sol. Not surprisingly, its sandy but well-kept beaches are its most popular attractions, especially those with beach bars. The cool drinks and easy local snacks they sell there are very welcome on the warm mid-afternoons.

Marbella has a pretty Old Town area. It’s marked by cobbled streets, shops, bars and restaurants, but feels quite separate from the main town. Look out for Orange Square, which is basically the centre of the Old Town. It’s so named because of the orange trees that line it.  

It may seem odd that a town like Marbella has such a rich shopping and restaurant culture. In truth, it has a reputation for being a bit of a playground for the rich and famous. So you won’t be at a loss for finding something to suit even the pickiest of palates or the deepest of wallets here. 

Sandy beach in Marbella, Spain
Sandy beach in Marbella, Spain

That’s just five of Spain’s southern towns and cities that host visitors looking for clear sunny skies in winter. The temperatures aren’t excessive – many of the locations mentioned here average highs between 15-24°C. But the sun is almost always out, and it’s definitely the warmest place in mainland Spain in winter. 

You don’t really have to settle for just one of these places. A good tour plan over a week or two can get you the best of all worlds. Commit to a taste of Spain for the winter and soak it up.  

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