Winter in Europe offers a huge choice of experiences so whether you’re looking to bask in the winter sun, soak up a fabulously festive atmosphere at a Christmas market or explore some of the continent’s most beautiful gardens there’s bound to be a place that’s perfect for you.

My favourite destinations in Europe for winter sun

For winter sun you’ll want to head to the Canary Islands – daytime temperatures rarely dip below the twenties, and whilst you’ll see some rain, it’s usually in the form of short-lived showers rather than a day-long deluge. Winter is a great time to explore the beautiful landscapes that the canaries have to offer, like the otherworldly dunescapes of Lanzarote, or the majestic views from Mount Teide.

The Canary Islands offer superb hotels for all budgets, and it’s a great place to head if you’re looking for somewhere to simply unwind and soak up a spot of winter sun. There are lots of bars and restaurants to enjoy, and plenty of places to really kick back and relax.

My favourite destination in Europe for festive fun

You’ll find great Christmas markets across Europe, but my standout favourite town for a fabulous festive feel has to be Bruges. You can revel in the charm of the Grote Markt, complete with cute wooden chalets and glittering ice rink as well as simply marvelling at the stunning Flemish architecture.

There’s horse-drawn carriage rides, scrumptious chocolates and of course lots of lovely Belgian beer to enjoy too. You’ll find a host of culture, great restaurants, and there’s even a museum dedicated to the humble Friets.

My favourite winter destination in Europe for something different

On the outermost reaches of Europe lies Madeira – a Portuguese autonomous area that offers a host of ways to enjoy its temperate climate. You may decide to venture up to Monte Palace by cable car, and take the famous wicker toboggan back down, or head out to explore the Levadas, unique irrigation channels that date back to the sixteenth century.

Madeira is famous for wine of course, and there are plenty of places that offer tastings and tours, plus if you’re feeling brave you can sample the local delicacy, Espada, a curious dish of fried scabbard fish and Madeiran banana that is unique to this quirky island.

Winter destination essentials

Whatever you’re looking for from a winter sun destination you’ll need all the usual holiday essentials so remember to check on your passport, be sure you’ve got the necessary travel insurance for Europe and be sure to take a case big enough to bring back all those lovely souvenirs. You’ll need sun protection for warmer places like The Canaries, and plenty of warm clothes for more northerly destinations like Bruges.