Looking to escape the winter blues and sneak a quick week in the sun?
There´s still time to get some sun with plenty of destinations close to home to choose from. Nick Ball, editor of Lanzarote Guidebook gives us the lowdown on how to reach the beach in eight hours or less.
Best Beach : Hurghada
Egypt has really started to come of age as a winter sun destination over the last decade, thanks to the development of popular resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh and the patronage of VIP visitors such as Tony Blair.
Even during the dark depths of December, temperatures here can still hit a sizzling 26C, making it pleasantly warm for days on the beach.
Whilst Sharm may be better known, the most stunning stretches of sand can be found in and around the resort of Hurghada – the gateway to the Red Sea – which boasts some 30km of beautiful golden grains lapped by crystal clear waters – ideal for snorkelling or just soaking up the rays.
Winter sun seekers can swap their heavy winter sweaters for swimming gear in just under five hours – with direct flights to Hurghada available from major UK airports such as Heathrow.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Best Beach: Papagayo
At just four hours away, the Canary Islands are the closest winter sun destination to the UK and boast tempting temperatures of around 20C along with some seriously stunning beaches.
Lanzarote is the most easterly outpost in the archipelago, located around 100 miles away from the coast of West Africa and the fringes of the Sahara desert. Here you’ll find a number of man-made beaches in the main holiday resorts.
But the premier playa on the island is at Papapayo (Parrot in Spanish) – located just a short walk from the popular resort of Playa Blanca and 100% natural. Comprised of five interlinked but distinctly different sandy bays, this is a real beach lover’s paradise. Find cheap flights to Lanzarote.
Best Beach: Jumeriah
Dubai is as well known for its incredible hotels and shopping malls as it is for its beaches. So why not soak up some stunning views of the world’s only seven star establishment along with some sun?
The famous Burj Al Arab Hotel is located right on the beach at Jumeriah – providing a stunning backdrop for this beautiful 3km long strip of sand – absolutely ideal for families as the waters here are calm and shallow.
Whilst some sections of the beach are reserved for the sole use of hotel guests there are still plenty of stretches open to the public. And after roasting in the rays just dust yourself down and explore this modern architectural marvel which has won a host of awards and plaudits.
Winter temperatures average out at around 23C and you can be in Dubai in 7.5 hours from the UK. Find cheap flights to Dubai.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Best Beach: Jandia
Holidaymakers won’t have any problems finding their very own place in the sun on Fuerteventura. This laid back Canary island boasts over 125 miles of beach and is located on the same line of latitude as parts of Florida and Mexico with the mercury rising as high as 23C during December and January.
Head south in the winter months to enjoy the island’s microclimate and stake a place on the sand at Jandia, which should be easy enough – this huge natural beach extends some 20km along the shoreline. There are also plenty of dunes and lagoons to explore and all just a four hour flight from the UK. Find cheap flights to Fuerteventura.
Best Beach: Taghazoute, near Agadir
Winter weather conditions in Morocco can best be described as pleasantly warm rather than roasting hot. The mercury dips quite sharply come nightfall but daytime highs hit around 20C.
But there’s still sufficient heat to enjoy a day on the beach and Agadir is ideal. There are plenty of spectacular, wide sandy strips to enjoy in and around this popular resort town, as well as atmospheric little beachfront villages close by such as Taghazoute, just 11 miles away.
Fly direct to Agadir´s Al Massira airport in just five hours from the UK or into Marrakesh and transfer by taxi. Find cheap flights to Agadir.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Best Beach: Playa de las Vistas
Tenerife is one of the most popular winter destinations for sun starved northern Europeans and the south of the island is home to a host of excellent beaches in and around the twin resorts of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos.
Get off the beaten track and away from the crowds by heading for the stretch of coast that runs between these two popular destinations. Here beach lovers can explore the smaller, picture postcard playas such as Las Caletillas and El Camison, along with the real jewel in the crown – Playa de Las Vistas.
As the name suggests, this palm fringed beach enjoys great views out to the Atlantic as well as offering excellent facilities such as sun beds and amenities. It has recently been replenished with fresh sand making it one of the longest beaches on the whole island.
Fly to Tenerife South in just four hours from the UK and enjoy temperatures in the low 20C during December and January. Find cheap flights to Tenerife.
Best Beach: Konnos Bay
It may be at the cooler end of the temperature spectrum, but it´s still possible to enjoy days on the beach here during the winter months (although it´s important to note that December and January can be wet).
Unlike the other resorts on the island such as Ayia Napa, Paphos is open for business all year round. And there are no less than eleven blue flag beaches in this region, making it an ideal base for exploring gems such as Konnos Bay, Cape Greco or nearby Coral Bay.
Fly direct to Paphos and escape the winter blues in just under five hours from the UK. Find cheap flights to Paphos.