As the nation shivers in the January cold, the thought of booking a winter sun holiday isn’t far from many people’s minds. But what short haul options are available that can be booked at the last minute?
We called upon HolidayGems.co.uk resident travel expert, Neil Latham to get his pick of the best – and closest - winter sun destinations available at the moment.
Tenerife has two sides. The first is the traditional seaside holiday resort, lots of ex-pats and busy bars. The other side is exotic, other-worldly and fascinating. While the south of the island has the familiar friendly face of Los Cristianos and Playa San Juan, to the north, you have a very different island.
Take a trip up the coast and encounter banana plantations, prehistoric forests, volcanoes and vineyards. If you want a busy winter sun holiday, stay south of the island. If you want to experience something a bit different, head north and enjoy the adventure.
While Marrakech blisters in the summer heat – the mercury can sometimes hit 40°c – the winter is when the Red City comes into its own.
UK holidaymakers can usually reach Marrakech within 3.5 hours, a short journey which results in an extraordinary experience. Marrakech is unlike any other place in the world. Visit the Jemaa el-Fnaa and journey into the labyrinthine souks where you can pick anything up from carpets to lamps to handbags and exquisitely handmade clothes.
One of the many things Marrakech does well is comfort a weary traveller, and a hearty tagine, cleansing mint tea and an invigorating hammam is all that’s needed to refresh you for the next day’s adventure.
Madeira is not just another “fly and flop” holiday. Although there are countless beaches, luxury hotels and spas where you can switch off and relax, Madeira also has a huge appetite for adventure.
The many walking trails can offer stunning views and a bracing swim under a waterfall. There is plenty of opportunity too for scuba diving, paragliding and deep-sea fishing.
And for the true adrenalin junkies, the sledge ride down the cobbled streets from Monte to Funchal needs to be experienced at least once!
This is a firm favourite amongst British holidaymakers, and a trip to Gran Canaria can make you forget that it’s winter in the UK, simply because of the standard of good weather all year round.
While the beaches are some of the best in the Canary Islands, there is also a lot more to explore on the island.
Wander the gigantic sand dunes and roam around the volcanoes of this rocky island. Besides stunning beaches, the island has some great hiking trails, and the two nature parks boast diverse flora from pine forests to sun-bleached cacti.
When it comes to winter sun, the Canary Islands are the number once choice: not far from the UK and guaranteed sunshine.
And like some of the other islands in this group, there is a flip side to the traditional Canary Island ‘sun, sea and sand’ holiday.
This different side to Lanzarote sees some interesting destinations in amongst the quiet fishing villages along the north coast. This is where traditional Lanzarote is to be found sitting comfortably with a growth of new age businesses. Along the cobbled streets and crisp white dwellings are the beginnings of an alternative side to Lanzarote with entrepreneurs offering anything from luxury yurts to the intriguing-sounding Breathing Intensive breaks.
Of course, if the bohemia of the north gets too much, it is only a short trip to the south of the island if you miss the 2-for-1 cocktails and all day breakfasts that gives Lanzarote its old school charm.
Holiday Gems offers last minute holiday and you can leave tomorrow!