When the weather outside is frightful, heading somewhere sunny is just so delightful. If you fancy spending Christmas 2020 on a sun lounger, these toasty destinations, which are all hot hot hot in December, should be on your radar. Coronavirus is very much still part of our lives at the moment, so remember to check local government guidelines before you book.
Where is hot in December? Top 11 destinations for winter sun
|Country||City||Average December |
|Barbados||Bridgetown||29° / 23°|
|Cyprus||Ayia Napa||18° / 9°|
|Cuba||Cayo Coco||27° / 21°|
|Turkey||Marmaris||17° / 10°|
|Guadeloupe||Grande-Terre||30° / 20°|
|Curaçao||Willemstad||31° / 25°|
|Dominica||Roseau||31° / 22°|
|Greece||Athens||15° / 8°|
|New Caledonia||Noumea||29° / 22°|
|Saint Lucia||Soufriere||29° / 23°|
|Spain||Tenerife||21° / 16°|
1. Bridgetown, Barbados
At the start of the dry season, Barbados is consistently hot in December, making this one of the best times of year to visit. This Caribbean Island is quite rightly famous for its powdery beaches lapped by turquoise water, but if you fancy a bit of culture you’ll find it in the capital Bridgetown. This UNESCO-listed city is packed with colonial-era buildings. Head to Queen’s Park on Christmas morning for the annual parade, a tradition that dates back to 1907 where people dress up in festive costumes and sip rum punch.
2. Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Head down to the Med and enjoy the incredible beaches of Cyprus, which is reliably hot in December with average temperatures of 18°C during the day. It’s perfect for sun-seekers who don’t want to fly too far. December is also the perfect time to visit Ayia Napa. It’s got a reputation as a clubbing and nightlife capital, but with coronavirus restrictions in place it’s far more peaceful. There are 14 beaches along the coastline, and all of them have a Blue Flag certification. To get into Cyprus you’ll need to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel.
3. Cayo Coco, Cuba
If it’s a warm December beach holiday you’re after, head to Cuba. Cayo Coco, on the Jardines del Rey peninsula, is one of the most beautiful spots. It has incredible white sand beaches, backed by swaying palm trees. There’s a huge coral reef just off the coast, and you can sometimes see tropical fish in the shallows – pack your snorkel. Currently, tourists are only allowed to visit the beach resorts of Cayo Coco, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Largo del Sur, so now isn’t the time to explore the romantic streets of Havana. It is, however, the perfect excuse to spend a week or two loafing on a lounger in the hot December sun. What better way to end a stressful year?
4. Marmaris, Turkey
Marmaris is warm in December rather than hot, with temperatures sitting around 16°C during the day. The bright sunshine makes it the perfect place to banish any Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): the sun comes up at 8am and doesn’t go down again until 6pm. Enjoy the blue skies as you bask on the golden beaches, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Aegean. Best of all, this is low season, so you’re likely to find some good deals on flights and hotels. It’s likely you’ll have your temperature taken on arrival in Turkey, and if you have any COVID-19 symptoms you may be asked to take a test.
5. Grande-Terre, Gaudeloupe
If you want variety from your December sun beach holiday, you’ll find it in Gaudeloupe. This Caribbean archipelego is technically part of France. Grande-Terre, the easternmost of the two main islands, is where you’ll find the best beaches. Long stretches of golden sand sit beside shallow turquoise lagoons, protected from the ocean by coral reefs. If relaxing all day isn’t your style, head over to Guadeloupe National Park on neighbouring Basse-Terre and take a hike up La Soufrière volcano.
6. Willemstad, Curaçao
Mid-December heralds the end of the rainy season in Curaçao. It’s the perfect time to arrive in the lesser-visited of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) which feels like a little touch of Europe in the middle of the Caribbean. The capital city, Willemstad, sits on the east coast and makes a fantastic base for exploring the island’s pristine beaches. There are more than 40 of them to discover. While scuba diving may be off the cards during the pandemic, you can still visit the Tugboat shipwreck with your snorkel as it’s only five metres below sea level.
7. Roseau, Dominica
Although it’s still technically rainy season, December in Dominica isn’t as wet as October and November. You might get one or two cloudy days, but it’s a small price to pay for cheaper flights and hotels. The humidity starts to calm down at this time of year, making it perfect for exploring what people affectionately call ‘the nature island’ thanks to its natural hot springs, rainforests and volcanoes. Feeling energetic? Plan a hike along the Waitukubuli National Trail. The first of its kind in the Carribbean, it’s split into 14 segments and each is designed to take a day to complete.
8. Athens, Greece
For a city break that’s guaranteed to be warm in December, it’s hard to beat Athens. The stifling summer temperatures have given way to a far more pleasant 15°C during the day. Perfect for exploring famous attractions like the Acropolis, Parthenon and Ancient Agora. It’s also an ideal temperature to sit outside and enjoy the bright sunshine as you sip the locals’ favourite, frappé (iced coffee with evaporated milk). The city takes Christmas seriously, with Orthodox celebrations taking place for a full month starting from 6 December. At the time of writing, travel to Athens is allowed unless you live in Scotland, where all travel to Greece is subject to quarantine on your return.
9. Nouméa, New Caledonia
The paradise archipelego of New Caledonia sits among UNESCO-listed lagoons, where tranquil turquoise waters play host to rare marine animals like turtles, whales and dugongs. Base yourself in the relaxed and colourful capital, Nouméa, where you’ll find an interesting blend of European and native cultures. It’s certainly much warmer than old Caledonia (Scotland) at this time of year, with temperatures soaring to around 29°C during the day. You’ll find plenty of places to enjoy it, with lots of pristine beaches between Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons. Hot in December? In every way.
10. Soufrière, St Lucia
Incredible scenery, soaring temperatures and plenty of luxurious resorts make St Lucia one of the best destinations that are hot in December. You’ll find the best beaches in the north, around Rodney Bay, but if you want a more tranquil holiday head to Soufrière, on the south of the island. If you’re feeling brave, clamber one of the pitons. These cone-shaped mountains are an icon of St Lucia, and are shrouded by rainforests where you’ll spot mangoes growing wild and colourful birds flitting from branch to branch. Gros Piton is slightly easier to tackle, but it’s best to go with a local guide.
11. Tenerife, Canary Islands
Tenerife is one of the warmest European destinations in December, and has the perfect mix of volcanic beaches to kick back on and mountainous landscapes to explore. Spain was removed from the UK’s travel corridor list on July 25th, but there are hopes that the Canary Islands – like Tenerife – will be put back on it if Covid-19 cases drop. The islands are set to be one of the first destinations to offer testing so that passengers travelling back to the UK don’t have to quarantine. The islands are also offering to pay traveller expenses if they happen to contract the illness during their trip.
Ready for some December sun?
It might be dark and chilly in December in the UK, but elsewhere in the world there’s bright sunshine and high temperatures. Remember to keep an eye on the FCO’s travel corridor list, as countries are regularly added and removed. Let’s start 2021 with some much-needed vitamin D.
Discover where you can go
When we updated this article all of these destinations (apart from Spain) were on the UK’s quarantine exemption list, but things change quickly. Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel advice: updated daily, this article has everything you need to know about travelling right now.
- How to plan a multi-country holiday during Covid-19: our top tips on incorporating one (or two) extra destinations into your winter break.
- 11 tips for family holidays in 2021: get ready to plan next year’s trips.