Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Ask Kate: Warmest Place in Europe in the Winter


Whitewashed Granada

Today’s letter is about Europe — and where to travel for some winter sunshine.

Hey Kate,

In the next few weeks I’m planning on leaving the UK but I can’t decide where to go first. January is a bit cold and dreary in Europe, I’m aware, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on where to go in Europe for warmth this time of year.

First, have realistic expectations — nowhere in Europe is tropical in the winter.  The Canary Islands are the warmest place in Europe, and January temperatures will be in the mid-50s to mid-60s (12-18 C).

So don’t look for summer — look for spring.  And that’s not a bad thing.  Last year I spent February and March in Portugal and Spain, and even though it wasn’t beach weather, it was so nice to be walking around in a light jacket instead of a winter coat!

Here are the places I recommend that you visit:

Portugal.  You’ll find the warmest temperatures down south, but it’s still quite pleasant in the north.  In the south, Lisbon is beautiful, and be sure to check out Sintra and surprisingly wonderful Évora as well.  In the north, Porto is a lot of fun, and go further out to the Douro Valley for amazing scenery and wine. Find hotels in Portugal here.

Andalusia.  This is the warmest part of mainland Spain, filled with flamenco, orange trees, whitewashed buildings, and romance.  Sevilla and Granada make good bases, and consider visiting Cordoba, Malaga, and Cadiz — or renting a car and exploring the tiny villages.  Cadiz also has Spain’s biggest Carnival celebrations. Find hotels in Sevilla here and hotels in Granada here.

Malta.  You’ll find year-round sunshine and warmth in Malta and some of the world’s most beautiful cities, like Valletta.  Be sure to check out the ancient city of Mdina and the island of Gozo.  Malta is small, but rent a car to explore it to the fullest. Find hotels in Malta here.

Southern Turkey.  Ignore the popular resorts like Kusadasi — they’ll be mostly shut down — and head to towns where people live year-round, like Fethiye and Antalya.  Walk the streets, eat everything in sight, talk to people, and enjoy a relaxed side of southern Turkey. Find hotels in Fethiye here and hotels in Antalya here.

Just because you’re in Europe during the winter, it doesn’t mean you need to be shivering in a snowstorm.  Get out there and enjoy your winter sun!

If you’re traveling to any of these countries (or anywhere in the world, actually), be sure to buy travel insurance before you go! It will save you so much money if something happens to go wrong on a trip. I never travel without it and always use World Nomads.

Want Kate to answer your travel question?  Email kate [at] adventurouskate [dot] com and perhaps yours will be answered next week!

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53 Responses to “Ask Kate: Warmest Place in Europe in the Winter”
  1. Oh I bet Turkey this time of year would be incredible – great suggestion!

  2. Muerl says:

    Maderia? Funchal’s Winter high average is 19.8 according to Wikipedia. (I may have just seen a bus advertising it 😉

    • Madeira — another great choice!

      • Carrie says:

        Spent Last Christmas and New Year in Funchal, and had a marvellous time. The New Year firework display in the harbour was fantastic. (get there early). Lots of local low priced restaurants and bistro to eat. Fish and seafood is out of this world. Just try and get away from the hordes that come in on the cruise liners!
        We did a lot of walking in the mountains: Hire a car or get there by taxi – very cheap) and explored the lavadas. Its usually very quiet and peaceful away from the city at that time of year. Bring a torch as you walk through a few long dark tunnels at the side of the water! The weather was warm and very pleasant, both day and night. Some days warm enough to sunbathe,
        Be warned – no beaches worth looking at, and the north side of the island is dead in winter.

  3. I always had avoided Europe because I imagined it all as dreary weather – this post is very inspiring!

  4. Lily says:

    Istanbul is cold but nice in the winter (and hot as hell in the summer–I’d recommend the winter, much less crowded) but I agree with Kate: Southern Turkey is really nice! I’m guessing Greece would be nice as well (I’ve only been during the summer). Italy/Spain are probably pleasant.

    Here’s an idea: Why don’t you go to Morocco? It’s not much further south than Spain and it’s always hot!

    • Robin says:

      Your first impression as your plane lands is that the country is clay red; the stone covered ground, the mountains, the buildings, the walls around them…everything.
      If you can bear seeing old and handicapped beggars and skeletal, dying cats in the medinas and being hounded by vendors, Morocco is otherwise a beautiful, wonderful place to visit with warm and hospitable people. You barely see women as they are in the home caring for children etc.. In cafés and in shops be on your guard because you will be cheated. If you can accept this as what they DO in order to get a bit ahead in life…on the backs of unsuspecting, ‘rich’ tourists, go ahead. I was able to understand the begging ‘situation’ as well as vendors who call out to you; why?.. because they NEED to earn whatever they can in order to feed their families. This is not North America where beggars are druggies. These people do not have the social net that we enjoy. Once you accept what might seem like an annoyance but is their only way to survive, you will really be able to enjoy this stunningly beautiful country and its wonderful people. The food; tajine, couscous, brochettes loaded with vegetables are absolutely delicious. Marrakech and the area with desert to the south is especially beautiful. Personally I have a problem with the cats…but otherwise I am anxious to visit Morocco again.

      • TJ says:

        ”You barely see women as they are in the home caring for children etc”? You must have gone to a village in the middle of nowhere…not all women in Morocco stay at home and look after the kids. Many women are entrepreneurs, educators, scientists, nurses…and lead a pretty good life.
        Beggars go to tourist places, mosques and markets…most of the time they are genuinely poor.
        Your narrow description of Morocco can be likened to what one might say about north America: ”If you can bear seeing people getting shot all over the place and everyone scoffing buckets of food, walking around in the XXXL clothing…etc, etc.”, which, of course, is not what north America is all about, is it?

        I am glad you find the simple folk of this country to your liking.
        Moroccans no longer think tourists are rich. Unless, of course, you go to places where people lead a simpler life and have never left their town/ village. Much like in some remote or unique parts of countries like the USA, I imagine, where people think Paris is a country and Turkey is the capital of Pakistan etc.
        Visiting a small part of Morocco shows you but a small fraction of the whole picture. Climates, norms, languages and attitudes toward tourists vary, depending on where you are.

        You were right about the cheating thing, but it only happens if they sense that you wouldn’t question prices etc. For instance, they would think twice before they do it to a French or Belgian tourist…

  5. alistair brown says:

    In winter the warmest paces in Spain are Almeria and Valencia.The ouro valley an be very cold , rainy anddreary. Better try South Portugal and its pristine landscape . In Italy go down south from Napoli and r places like Cosenza .. an of course all of Sicily. Do no forget the Canary Islands and Malta ( in both cases lousy food , good cheap hotels and great weather).

  6. AJ Aerni says:

    Perfect timing! I will be leaving south eastern Asia in the next month and heading towards Europe to walk the Camino de Santiago in April. I’ve been spoiled with days in the 90’s and nights in the low 60’s here in Thailand the past month. Looks like the canary islands are a must-visit place on my itinerary. Be well. And namaste.

  7. Millie says:

    I found Andalusia to be great at that time of year. I was there mid February 2012, and we had not a drop of rain! Clear blue skies, gentle breeze… Nicer than the oven it would be in summer I’d venture!

  8. province says:

    Summer is fast approaching and one country that I would recommend to travelers , visitors and guests out there is the Philippines – you will surely enjoy your stay here.

  9. Katherina says:

    Hi Kate! Great tips 🙂 On the Canary Islands, I’d like to add that it really depends on the island itself (and even the region!). I went back home for Christmas and it was around 22ºC! Also, it´s usually warmer in the south of Tenerife than in the north – which is why many english people spend their winter holidays in this area.

  10. Georgia says:

    Hi Kate! Completely agree with Andalusia. Tarifa is a fantastic little town that’s really worth a visit, and it’s cheap to fly to Gibraltar from London (nearest airport to Tarifa) – plus it’s only a 45 minute ferry ride to the heat of Tangiers in Morocco from there if you want to cheat a little x

    • GrahamP says:

      Andalusia … yes. Granada, Andalusia … definitely not.. During the winter it’s v.cold whilst it may be sunny during the day it can be sub-zero at night. My advice, keep to the Andalucian coastal areas, not inland.

  11. Tereza says:

    wha about Greece ? 🙂 I see u havent vsited that county yet (which is pretty odd )plus its definitely one of the warmest (and most beautiful ) places in europe all year round..Especially in Crete…in December temperatures can climp up to 20 degrees very often.

    • Greece is another good choice — but many islands, especially resorty islands, are virtually shut down in the winter. Crete is a good year-round choice.

    • Marin Velcev says:

      As for Greece – Rhodes is warmest place, not only in Greece (generally warmer than Crete) but probably in entire Europe. OK it is more or less Asia but Canary Islands and Madeira are geographically in Africa. I am following temperatures in Mediterranean for years and this is definitely the warmest place there. You can see lot of typically tropical plants in Rhodes (Plumerias, tropical ficus trees etc.) Rhodes Town is one best historical place in Mediterranean, too.

      If we speak about Crete, then southern Crete (Plakias, Agia Galini, Matala …) could be as warm if not warmer then Rhodes, but Northern Crete could be very wet and pretty cold (but not freezing).

  12. thkalas says:

    The warmest place in europe is the town of ierapetra in southern crete and pigadia town in the lad of karpathos, with an annual average of 20,4C and 20,2C respetively.Only the Canaries and Madeira are warmer than these two places. In january ( which is the coldest month) karpathos island(at the eastern coast) has an average of 16,5C high temperature and 12,5C average low temperature. There is no other place in mediterrenean with such a high average of low temperature.

  13. thkalas says:

    ALICANTE 18,0 7,5
    MALAGA 18,2 7,9
    MURCIA 18,3 6,1
    VALENCIA 18,7 6,2
    MELLILA 18,2 10,5
    KARPATHOS (greece) 17,3 14,5
    MALTA 17,0 10,5
    LAMPEDUSA 16,8 14,2
    ANTALYA 16,7 7,9
    FARO 16,8 9,5
    IERAPETRA (greece) 17,6 12,8
    KASOS(greece) 17,6 13,0

    So it’s clear that if you exclude the canary islands and madeira, then only in southern crete and islands of karpathos and kasos you have a average low temperature much higher than 10C .So…what do you prefer?To be in Valencia having 18,7 degrees and when the sun goes down to start freezing because the temperature will immediately go below 10 or you wanna be in Karpathos where you wear the same clothes all day long and you don’t have to worry about feeling cold at night?

    • Tom says:

      Southern Crete it is! Sounds fantastic…and the best option.

    • Marin Velcev says:

      Look to Rhodes …

    • Sonia says:

      Your figures are totally wrong for Greece. Average January lows for Ierapetra and Karpathos are both below 9 degrees. You cannot judge climate from a single year since there is considerable variation. The warmest winters in Europe (including minimum temperatures) are probably in Spain (Almería and Cartagena) and Malta. Cartagena is probably the only city in Europe with an annual mean above 20 degrees. The eastern med is significantly colder than the western med at equivalent latitudes, which is why southeastern Spain has a similar climate (although drier) as coastal Israel or Lebanon and why Barcelona (in north eastern Spain) has much warmer winters than Istanbul which is at the same latitude.

  14. Andrew says:

    My wife and I are looking for something a bit more interesting this winter. Not just sun. We have heard St Marteen is quite unique. Does anyone have a good idea? we are in Edmoonton Canada so travel is tough.

    • R says:

      If you are in Canada ,St.Maarten is very nice and so is Aruba and many places in the Caribean.I would suggest Florida or Costa Rica

  15. R says:

    What about Cyprus? It is still part of the European Union.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, Cyprus is a great idea! That’s what I did in January earlier this year. I was living in London at the time & I wanted to enjoy some sunshine. I flew from Luton to Paphos & when I landed it was 20C & super sunny. I was on the island for 10 days and it was cloudy only on 1 of the afternoons, even so the sun was partially out. Didn’t really want to go back to London after the nice weather and sunshine. Definitely go from mid to end of January, the weather was pretty nice. My arm even got a bit of tan on one of days from sitting outside. For about 4 hours or so the sun is really pleasantly warm and on some days you can wear a t-shirt. Then you gotta add a sweater later and eventually a winter coat for the mornings and evenings. Cyprus is pretty quiet and not really visited by tourists during these months so it will be very quiet compared to the busy summer season. People speak English of course so you won’t have trouble. I visited the Greek southern part of Cyprus.

  16. joppy says:

    What about Batumi, Georgia, not getting any mention here.

  17. Kasu says:

    wooow…what a beautiful world. Sri Lanka….A land Like no other.
    Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt.

    Few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location. Within a mere area of 65,610 kilometres lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometres of coastline – much of it pristine beach – 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years.

    This is an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly Sri Lanka!

  18. jackie says:

    I was looking for somewhere nice and peaceful and warm for December and someone mentioned La Gomera…..does anyone have experience of going there at that time of year?

  19. Mara says:

    After reading your articles I’m still not sure. I might just go back to BKK 🙂

  20. paul maleski says:

    The Canaries and Madeira are in Africa. Cyprus is in Asia. Tarifa is the most southerly point in mainland Europe and number one, is the Island of Gavdos near Crete. The warmest place in Europe in winter, however, is the Azores 700 miles west of Lisbon. Ponta Delgada the capital, is the place to go. It’s very green and hilly a bit like the Devon, in fact the weather doesn’t change that much throughout the year. I’ve seen Gavdos, never been on it! 35 years ago, stayed in Tarifa, never seen such massive tuna as in the local fish market. Also good for wind-surfing!

  21. paul maleski says:

    By the way, Batumi on the Black Sea coast of Georgia, is south of the Caucasus mountains and is just in Asia. Very controversial subject down in that neck of the woods.

  22. Zoe says:

    Hi I have just booked a holiday to Lagos, Portugal for the 3rd week in April what sort of weather should we expect. I’m aware the lagos beaches are sheltered from winds due to the coves/ cliffs

  23. my teacher want to go on holiday in the summer for 14 nights and dont now where to do.

  24. Ossie says:

    If your looking for good all round weather then Southern Thailand is the place to be . I live on the island of Koh Samui except for the rainy season which is in November the weather is always above the lower 20s so it is very rare to feel cold ,the last time I put on a pair of jeans was over 4 years ago when I had to head back to the Uk as I write this it has just turned 4 in the afternoon and the temp is 29 on top of this the food is superb and very cheap that is one of the many reasons I chose to leave the Uk some 8 years ago to have a better healthier and more affordable life style !!!

  25. Mario says:

    If you except the Canary Islands , your best bet is southern Italy(Sicily or Cosenza) , Malta is windy and cold and not worth much, awful food , no beaches to speak of and a cultural heritage that has been systemarically destroyed , Southern Turkey ( assuming Turkey to be European , which is a big assumption) is a good bet but things are not all that quiet over there . . In Spain Valencia and Alicante are OK ( Malaga is windy ) , temperature wise Murcia is ok but there is not much to do beside enjoying a warm climate

    • If that’s what you have to say about Malta, Mario, you didn’t see much of the island. I’ve spent extensive time there. The cultural heritage is outstanding and there are plenty of big, sandy beaches: Mellieha Bay, Golden Bay, Ramla Bay, San Blas Bay. They just aren’t in the Sliema/St. Julians area.

  26. Mario says:

    Moreover , the Douro área is rainy, miserable and cold in Winter . It snows in Granada during Winter months . Check your facts !!!!

  27. It’s 27ºC at 13.00 today in Gran Canaria and that’s pretty much the standard temperature in November. The south of the island is sunny most days. For sunbathing in winter, the Canary Islands are your best bet.

  28. Yasmin says:

    Hi, I just stumbled upon this post on my search for a little bday get away but im so unlucky to have it in february just when all i needed it was a little sun and beach time. So my question is: Malta seems like the warmest of these places you’ve suggested, do you think I would be able to enjoy the beaches there even if for just a day or smthg..?! 😀 maybe at the warmest hours of the day or smthg? or any suggestion where in Europe I could then defrost a little? :b (Im a brazilian girl, hence my love for sunshine and beach, who lives in denmark! so just imagine me turning into a popsicle here and longing for a nice warm day at the beach…)

  29. ruth says:

    Looking for some early spring sunshine, blue skies, and culture for 6 days mid March. Travelling from Uk without wanting to go too far. Any suggestions?

  30. Gemma says:

    Hi Kate,

    I am looking at living over in Europe but want to avoid as much winter as possible. Was thinking of every year working the summer in Greece or Sicilly, however i am stuck on the other 6 months where to spend my time working. You said the Canary islands are the warmest in winter, but do you know anything about work there? Is it hard to get a job there etc?

    Look forward to hearing from you 🙂


  31. Will says:

    I have already booked 8 nights hol to Qawra in Malta 31/10 to 08/11. But still haven’t made my mind up really. Yes in Malta there wouldn’t be a language issue but people have told me Malta can make you claustrophobic being a small island nation it is. Weathet you’d expect in Malta that time of year is 18-22 degrees with a chance of rain. I am still thinking of changing it to Almeria Spain, Tavira Portugal, Paphos Cyprus, Cilento Italy, Sicily or even Lebanon. Canaries though the climate is great it’s too playgroundish holidayish if you get my meaning.

  32. inge says:

    i’m living in Malta and in the winter it can be really cold! The temperatures do not tell you the whole story. There is a cold wind and damp. I would not suggest to anyone to drive in Malta, it can be quite dangerous. Taking the bus is much easier and cheaper. It’s a beautiful island and very friendly!

  33. Marco says:

    Well, Italy has been very neglected in this forum, check Lampedusa where even in winter night temperatures never drop below 14 C and many other Sicilian, sardinian and Calabrian cities rarely drop below 10C at night in winter, not too mention the sun always out and beaches that are the best in the whole mediterranean (too many to mention) rivaled only by Greek islands (Spain, besides the little island of Formentera has virtually no beautiful beaches)

  34. Jey says:

    I am from the UK but live on the coast in Puglia (southern Italy) and also lived in Cordoba, Spain during winter.

    While there can be some great days of beaming sun (triple the winter sunshine levels of the UK) please try to keep realistic expectations.

    Sometimes the Mediterranean can be great in winter (I remember walking around Barcelona in a Tshirt during the day in December 2011 and Pompeii in February this year).

    However, sometimes the Mediterranean can really churn up some nasty weather in the winter time when it wants to, plus winter is the rainy season so while there can be nice sunny days there can also be other days that are complete washouts.
    The cold is often made worse by the humidity, wind chill and design of accomodation (buildings are much better insulated in the UK and I’ve spent many a night shivering in poorly heated apartments in Spain and Italy).

    Cordoba, while an inferno in summer felt bitter in winter with a lot of grey, wet days and the Costa del Sol wasn’t much better while this year it was particularly harsh, snowing at sea level in Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.

    It can also get quite windy for a lot of the time, bringing temps down even on otherwise nice, sunny days. Even now in late April, I take a hoody with me to the beach for when the wind kicks up off the Adriatic.
    However, find a good suntrap sheltered from the wind and you can soon be shedding the layers and feeling hot!

    I think definitely come for a city or cultural break as prices are often lower but realistically for real beachworthy warmth in winter you should be looking outside of Europe to possibly the Red Sea or Caribbean.

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