When the leaves have fallen and you clench your scarf tighter around your neck, you might be dreaming of a far-off destination where the sun is still shining and all your winter worries melt away. Winter sun destinations do just that. In the Mediterranean, the sky and the ocean compete for which can stay a more vibrant shade of blue. Here the sun kisses your skin gently and paints the landscape with a distinct yellow hue. Mornings are crisp and call for breakfast in bed with a soft blanket draped around your shoulders.
These are the best winter sun destinations across the Mediterranean Sea you can escape to.
The Island in the Sun: Malta
In the heart of the Mediterranean, you can escape to an island doused in sunlight, flooded with romantic Roman architecture, and steeped in traditions. Malta is a mere 316 square kilometres big but you can spend weeks discovering all the hidden sights and treasures of the island.
The coastline of Malta is sublime with dramatic cliffs plummeting into azure waters. Here you can take a drive along the coastal road to explore them for yourself, or simply lounge next to the water enjoying a good book or local food.
Valletta, the capital of the island, has one of the most iconic skylines of the Mediterranean. Spires and church domes pierce the sky and the exquisite baroque architecture of the city is part of the reason why it has gained UNESCO-world heritage status.
The island has an average of 8 days of rainfall per month during the winter, but even dreary rainy days come with a reward. The countryside evolves into a vivid green landscape as the rain feeds the arid soil.
If that’s not enough, eat your way through the island for the full Maltese experience. Break open a crackling fresh loaf of bread and enjoy it with a hearty rabbit stew. Accompany this with a glass of superior Syrah from the world’s smallest wine-producing country for a first-class dining experience.
Feast of Flavours: Cyprus
In the eastern waters of the Mediterranean is an island that sees more than 340 sunny days per year, making it one of the sunniest places in Europe year-round. There is also plenty to do beyond lazing on the picturesque beaches of the island, although that is never a bad option.
In the Troodos mountains, you can visit villages like Anogyra and Askas where you can get lost in the charming cobbled streets winding between monasteries and ruins. The capital, Nicosia, is the last remaining divided capital in the world. The Republic of Cyprus occupies the South of the island while the northern third is known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The wall separating the two is decorated in vibrant street art and makes your stroll along the antique streets even more pleasing.
Cypriot food is an inspired blend of Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines; balancing fresh flavours and robust compositions. This is also the place of origin of halloumi cheese, a favourite hors d’oeuvre across the world.
Get Warm in the Red City: Marrakech
Morocco has a pleasant and temperate climate in the winter and is one of the top destinations along the Mediterranean coast for some winter sun. The former imperial city of Marrakech is a labyrinth of markets, eateries, museums, and mosques. A city bursting with colours and patterns that offer value for money and unforgettable experiences.
The souks of Marrakech are an iconic part of the city’s fabric and also the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping in the early winter. Sip on some mulled tea when the evenings get cooler or indulge in delectable Moroccan cakes, baklava, and date filled treats.
The multitude of mosques and schools covered in intricate mosaic patterns is astonishing and an honour to behold. Among the most fascinating are Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian tombs, and the Bahia Palace.
Island Hopping to Beat the Winter Blues: Cyclades
The Cyclades might scream summer destination with white sandy beaches all around, but these appealing islands make fantastic winter sun destinations too. After tourists vacate the cobbled street, life returns to a slow pace and a traditional Greek atmosphere reigns supreme once more.
Larger islands like Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, or Santorini have permanent residents and you will always find a café, restaurant, or shop to visit. Hiking is one of the most popular pastimes here in the winter and you can reach phenomenal hilltops to bask in the views of the Mediterranean.
Take this time to truly experience the splendour of Cycladic cuisine and taste the wine made on the islands. Level up your culinary experience by taking a cooking class to learn about Tomatokeftedes from Santorini or a nourishing meat dish from Naxos.
Desert Paradise: Tunisia
Tunisia boasts sunshine all year but in the winter the climate is much less harsh and nature lovers can indulge in the spectacular landscapes of the smallest country in North Africa. Tunisia offers varied scenes from the deserts in the south to the Mediterranean coastline in the north. As part of a large migration corridor, Tunisia becomes home to birds seeking refuge from the European cold. See these wading birds gather in the tens of thousands on the island of Djerba, a natural wonder of the Mediterranean.
Winter is also the best time to explore the archaeological sites and remote Berber villages of Tunisia. Without the summer desert heat draining your life-force you can enjoy your time roaming around these fascinating architectural treasures. If you enjoy adventure, you can also rush around the Sahara in a 4×4 or on a quad bike adventure. If you prefer the slow life, take part in a round of golf at one of the 10 lavish golf courses in the country.
The Medina in Tunis is another slice of Tunisia that will engulf you with its sheer magnitude and historical profoundness. This old quarter has more than 700 monuments and is a well-known UNESCO world heritage site.