Best Winter Sun Destinations In Europe

Winter is a magical time to travel Europe. There’s nothing quite like a train journey through fields of deep snow, alongside frozen lakes, and beneath towering white mountains. But if the thought of leaving the bed this winter is too much to bear, consider this. European winters may generally be icy, but some places have the perfect combination of winter sunshine and outdoor and indoor attractions, even when the temperatures head south. Here are some winter sun destinations perfect for the cryophobic among you.

European winter sun destinations

1. Sicily, Italy

Winter sun destinations | The Ruins of Taormina Theater at Sunset in Sicily, Italy

Winter is a perfect time to visit Sicily. As the island’s famed warm weather fades, so too do the sun-worshipping crowds. In their place are cooler temperatures, beautiful blue skies, blooming almond trees, and for the very brave, clear ocean waters that are ideal for a refreshing dip. There’s occasional rain in winter, but not enough to ruin the trip. And for the days when the weather turns, there are plenty of interesting historical sites and towns to explore. A warm Sicilian meal is also never very far away.

Average hours of winter sunshine: 4 hours

Average winter high: 16°C / 61°F

How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Sicily from throughout Italy, including direct trains from Rome that take approximately 10 hours.

2. Malaga, Spain

Winter sun destinations | Coastline on a bright day in Malaga, Spain

Spain’s Andalusia region has been one of the most popular winter sun destinations for a long time. The region receives a lion’s share of the continent’s warmer winter weather. Many resort towns along the Costa de Sol barely skip a beat as the cooler weather approaches. The town of Malaga is particularly worth visiting in winter. There are several historic sites, museums, bars, and restaurants to keep you busy. And during the colder months, it’s still possible to manage a morning on the beach.

Average hours of winter sunshine: 5 hours

Average winter high: 13°C / 55.5°F

How to get there by train: There are several daily trains to Malaga from Madrid that take 2.5 hours.

3. Seville, Spain

Winter sun destinations | View of Seville in Spain

Summer temperatures in Seville can border on the ridiculous. But as November and December roll around, it starts to reach realistic levels. It’s seldom cooler than 16°C / 61°F for more than a few days, even in the heart of winter. Though there’s usually a handful of rainy days in December, most of the time you’ll be able to bask in up to five hours of sunshine. And when it does get a little too cold for a walk along the river, there are dozens of delectable tapas restaurants around every corner waiting to warm you up.

Average hours of winter sunshine: 6 hours

Average winter high: 12°C / 53.5°F

How to get there by train: There are hourly trains to Seville from Madrid that take 2.5 hours.

4. Sagres, Portugal

Winter sun destinations | Tonel beach in Sagres, Portugal

Portugal’s Algarve coast is no stranger to winter sunshine. Though temperatures — and visitor numbers — are lower than in the summer months, there’s still a lot to keep you busy. When the colder weather moves in, many brave surfers take to the waters to ride the impressive swells. But the storms are just as dramatic from land. These storms will clear, though, and in their place you’ll find pristine golf courses, quiet streets, and beautiful sunsets over abandoned beaches.

Average hours of winter sunshine: 4 hours

Average winter high: 14°C / 57°F

How to get there by train: There are regular trains from Lisbon to Faro. From there, connect to the town of Lagos. Sagres is a short bus drive away from Lagos.

5. Crete, Greece

Winter sun destinations | Harbour with marine vessels boats and lighthouse in Crete, Greece

Winter may be Crete’s low season, but that’s no reason to avoid this famed Greek island. In fact, for many travelers in the know, that’s precisely the reason to visit. Not only does the island experience warmer winter weather than much of continental Europe, but it also seems to operate to a different schedule at this time of year. Rains in October and November bring with them sprouting fields of grass, and come December, the first spring flowers. The temperatures rarely drop below 13°C / 55.5°F. If you’re still looking for a bit of snow, the mountains are never far away.

Average hours of winter sunshine: 3 hours

Average winter high: 13°C / 55.5°F

How to get there by train: There are regular ferries to the island of Crete which are included in the Eurail Greek Islands Pass.

Although these destinations are very different from their summer selves, they’ll do enough to keep you cosy during the colder months. And when you’re done chasing these winter sun destinations, it might be time to venture into the icy, snowy climes to round off a perfect winter Eurail trip.

Related articles:
The ultimate Eurail winter itinerary
Central Europe in winter: our top 4 cities
Winter in Europe by train: the ultimate adventure (video)

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