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Where to go for guaranteed winter sun

With the last bank holiday out of the way, you'll need some winter sun to look forward to this season. Here are the best places to go in October, November, December and January for escaping the winter blues.

The Canary Islands

Yes, there is still one corner of Europe where it is reliably sunny. The Canary Islands lie off the coast of Africa and rarely see a day where the mercury doesn’t reach hit the 20° mark, even in the depths of December and January. It’s just a four hour flight to these Spanish isles, where you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to island paradises to park yourself on – why not do a bit of island hopping and take advantage of cheap internal flights? Fly first to Tenerife for volcanic scenery and black sand beaches, plus plenty of poolside lounging at Jardines de Nivaria before hopping over to Lanzarote for great food and the chance to stay on a winery at Finca Malvasia.

But, before you go, check out our guide to the best of the Canary Islands – whether you want surf or sunshine.

Teresitas Beach, Tenerife

Africa

Keep flight time short and head for the melting-pot Moroccan city of Marrakech if you’re ok with temperatures in the teens. Hit the souks here and get blissfully lost in the Medina, before indulging in a traditional Moroccan hammam (a traditional style steam room and public bath). With so many colourful sights and enticing smells swirling around you, it might be easy to miss some of Marrakech’s must-sees, but don’t fret, we’ve got a top 10 here to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Alternatively, fly further south to South Africa for guaranteed summer weather. Spend a few days in Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain and visiting Robben Island, before hitting the winelands of the Stellenbosch. Finish up with some lion-spotting on a safari in the Madikwe Reserve, staying at the fabulous Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge. More off the beaten track, but becoming increasingly popular with sun-seekers and adventure lovers alike, is Ethiopia, a wonderfully green country of untouched national parks and coffee plantations – don’t miss the truly amazing rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

Looking for somewhere further afield? Check out the charming seaside town of Rabat for fine dining, beaches and street food in Fez.

Penguins on Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Southeast Asia

It’s constantly hot in southeast Asia throughout our winter, making it a great place to escape to when you can’t face defrosting the car before work or heaving out your winter warmers. Start in Thailand, recovering from the long flight with cheap massages and fresh tropical smoothies in Bangkok, before setting out for the Bridge Over the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi and the night markets of Chiang Mai. Alternatively, you could choose Cambodia, with it’s world famous archaeological park, Angkor Wat, and its beguiling riverside capital Phnom Penh too. Don’t know where to start?Take a look at the top places to visit in Cambodia.

Finish up in Vietnam, touring from Saigon up to Hoi An, the country’s foodie capital and one of the cheapest places in the world to get a handmade suit. Hit the buzzing Vietnamese capital Hanoi last, making a side trip out to the mountainous Sapa region for a breath of fresh air and family stays in remote villages nestled between the rice terraces.

Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia

Central America

Mexico is basking in the high 20s while we’ve got our fingers crossed for a white Christmas. Make the most of it in Cancun, lying on unspoilt white sand beaches, before exploring the eco-parks and Mayan archaeological sites of the Yucatan peninsula. Check out our guide on the best things to do in Cancun before you go.

Further south, our winter is a great time to visit Costa Rica, as the rainy season tails off in early December. Hit the trails in Parque Nacional Corcovado, go turtle watching, see the still-active Arenal volcano and try your hand at a spot of birdwatching in the wetlands of the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro. Prep for your trip with a peep through these beautiful photos of Costa Rica.

Arenal volcano Costa Rica

Australia

It’s summer Down Under and for the next few months Australia will be at the beach, surfing and sun-soaking. Join the Aussies on the sands around Margaret River in Western Australia for a surf lesson, or head inland for memorable dinners at some of the world’s leading wineries – don’t miss Cape Lodge. Swing by the laidback city of Perth, for beachfront dining and the chance to meet the quokkas (a cross between a cat an a squirrel) on offshore Rottnest Island – if this isn’t enough to make you hop on a plane then check out our list top 10 attractions in Western Australia’s capital.

Over east, it’s a great time to visit Sydney and surrounding boroughs in New South Wales. Make the most of the good weather by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for sweeping views across what’s arguably the world’s most attractive harbour – and the sails of the Opera House of course. Shake things up a bit by getting out of Sydney and spending time in neighbouring towns, like Wollongong, affectionately known as ‘The Gong’ by all those who flock to this secret seaside town to escape the tourists on Bondi and catch some awesome surf. This local’s guide to Sydney will have you blending right into those Newtown coffee shops.

Sydney Harbour

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