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The best winter sun holidays six hours from the UK

From Morocco to Gambia, here are the best sun-soaked shores to beat winter blues that are a medium-haul flight away

Natalie Wilson
Tuesday 26 September 2023 13:04 BST
<p>If winter sun’s on your Christmas wishlist try these sunny mid-haul destinations for size </p>

If winter sun’s on your Christmas wishlist try these sunny mid-haul destinations for size

As sunset creeps closer to the end of the working day plenty of Brits are dreaming of a dose of vitamin D to top up the tan and start the new year with a healthy glow.

While long-haul winter bargains seem to be a thing of the past as flight prices surge, a rise in mid-length flights under six hours long holds the promises of trading winter blues for turquoise oceans on holidays that don’t require long-haul journeys to far-flung destinations halfway across the world.

From active holidays on mountainous Madeira to beach bathing on Egypt’s sandy shores, there are plenty of inviting climates to make a beeline for during the post-Christmas slump, and they aren’t necessarily going to break the bank.

With direct flights linking the often-dreary UK to north African hotspots and tried and tested Spanish islands, here are the sun-drenched destinations to escape to this winter.

Read more on winter sun holidays:

Hurghada, Egypt

Egypt’s desert climate offers warm winters and year-round sunshine to holidaymakers

Flight time: 5h 30m

Egypt’s year-round balmy climate with highs of 22C in December and seven sunshine hours make it the place to go for a warm winter holiday. Head to Hurghada, a hotspot for tourists in the eastern Sahara desert, for family-friendly resorts with shallow sea shelves teeming with underwater treasures. And it’s a less-than-six-hour flight away from the UK – that’s not even three reruns of The Little Mermaid...

How to get there

EasyJet offers an all-inclusive five-night stay at Labranda Royal Makadi from £475pp, including return flights from Bristol, 23kg of luggage per person and airport transfers. The five-star resort features a private beach, three pools and seven restaurants for buffet meals and international a la carte dining.

Departing 18 January 2024.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Southern Tenerife still sees daily highs of 22C come December

Flight time: 4h 30m

With a rep for being the cheap and cheerful star of the Canaries archipelago, Tenerife welcomes 23C beach days and eight hours of sunshine well into winter (and it’s quicker to reach than a Cornwall road trip from London). Devote days to being a beach bum, dining al fresco and hiking trails in the Parque Nacional Las Cañadas del Teide to avoid being sun-starved come December.

How to get there

Tui provides a four-night half-board package to the adults-only Guayarmina Princess Hotel from £582pp. Guests will stay in stylish terraced rooms with seafront views and enjoy the sands of the Costa Adeje. Price includes return flights from London Luton, 20kg of luggage per person and overseas coach transfers.

Departing 15 December 2023.

Marrakech, Morocco

Swerve sweltering summers and head to Marrakech in winter for welcoming temperatures

Flight time: 3h 40m

Morocco has an average winter temperature of around 20C on its south-west coastline plus bustling souks, predictably dry weather and seven sunshine hours in colourful Marrakech at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Riad hotels featuring lush garden courtyards, decadent decor and delectable bites squeeze into the Medina neighbourhood, which is a delight to explore during the Christmas period.

How to get there

Love Holidays features an all-inclusive seven-night holiday to the Marrakech Ryads and Parc wellness hotel from £343pp, including return international flights from London Gatwick and a spacious double room for two adults. The four-star hotel serves traditional Moroccan cuisine from the à la carte restaurant and there are two parasol-peppered pools to kick back and relax by.

Departing 5 December 2023.

Sal, Cape Verde

Guaranteed sunshine makes Cape Verde the ideal winter destination

Flight time: 5h 50m

Just shy of a six-hour flight away, Cape Verde promises tourists a tan top-up with temperatures that range up to 26C come winter and the end of the island’s rainy season. The golden sands of Sal and the buzzing town of Santa Maria cater to lazy beach days and vibrant nightlife in the “African Caribbean” destination dotted with luxe resorts that stretch in front of the Atlantic Ocean.

How to get there

First Choice is offering a seven-night stay at the beachfront Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria in Sal, Cape Verde from £1,172pp next year. Think waterparks, swim-up bars and five restaurants including a steakhouse. The all-inclusive package includes return flights from London Gatwick, 20kg luggage per person, coach transfers and selected local brand alcohol.

Departing 31 January 2024.

Banjul, Gambia

A tropical climate promises highs of 32C in Banjul throughout the festive period

Flight time: 6h 20m

To truly soak in the sun, west Africa’s Gambia enjoys scorching average temperatures of 34C through winter, creating a year-round appeal for a guaranteed winter week in the sun that’s just over six hours away. Here, wildlife such as hippos and chimpanzees complement long stretches of fine white sand and mouthwatering Gambian delicacies. There’s also the added bonus of a jetlag-free trip as the Gambia runs just one hour behind the UK.

How to get there

Thomas Cook provides a week’s holiday to Kombo Beach Hotel, B&B, in Banjul for £875pp, including return flights from Manchester. Located directly on Kotu Beach, the hotel is within walking distance of local markets and lively restaurants when guests aren’t spending time poolside with a cocktail or switching off in the wellness spa.

Departing 10 January 2024.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Eight hours of daily sun in Madeira bring a much needed dose of vitamin D to December

Flight time: 3h 50m

Year-round mild conditions bless the capital of the autonomous Portuguese island of Madeira with balmy weather, an average temperature of 20.1C in December and low winds. The ideal jaunt for an active holiday in nature, Madeira offers holidaymakers the famous mountain peaks of Pico Ruivo and Pico de Arieiro to explore, cliff-flanked public beaches and wineries to sample.

How to get there

Jet2 Holidays features a seven-night holiday in a sea view studio, B&B, at Porto Santa Maria in Funchal Old Town, from £995pp, including return flights from Leeds Bradford, 10kg hand luggage, 22kg checked luggage per person and express transfers. The adults-only hotel has an Atlantic-facing location, a stylish rooftop terrace and elegant rooms for the ultimate Madeira holiday.

Departing 17 December 2023.

Read more of our best winter sun hotel reviews

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