With the chilly weather firmly setting in, now is the perfect time to look ahead and book in for a much-needed dose of sun. And, thanks to its enviable Mediterranean location, Spain offers mild climates and plenty of sunshine, even through winter.
Winter sun aside, one of the most appealing reasons to visit Spain out of peak season is the sense of peace and quiet. While during the summer months the country is awash with tourists from elsewhere in Europe and beyond, the winter sees the crowds dwindle, leaving a plethora of diverse and historic cities and islands just waiting to be discovered.
From the white beaches of the Balearics to the Moorish cities of the south, these are the best destinations in Spain to soak up the winter sun.
Picture-perfect Seville, which sits in the southwestern region of Andalucía, is the perfect spot for a winter city break. In fact, with an average temperature of 64.6°F, we’d take a February trip to Seville over a peak summer visit, when average temps soar way into the nineties and above.
The historic city is awash with culture, with some of the finest examples of Moorish architecture on display throughout its streets as well as a number of museums, spanning from contemporary art to the history of flamenco dancing, to while away the hours. After a day of exploring, make the most of the mild European temperatures with an al-fresco glass of Andalusian Manzanilla sherry at one of the city’s many tapas bars.
To see the city in style, check into a suite at Hotel Alfonso XIII, which was originally built to house international dignitaries at the start of the 20th century. Since then, the impossibly glamorous hotel has continued to welcome the world’s elite, from prominent royals to A-List celebrities.
Just a few hours south of Seville is the city of Marbella, which sits on Spain’s famous Costa del Sol. With long sandy beaches, a plethora of upscale hotels and restaurants, a buzzing nightlife, and, of course, nigh on year-long sunshine, Marbella is a prime destination no matter the time of year.
During the day, take a quiet stroll along the seafront promenade (which during peak season is awash with throngs of tourists), before indulging in a spot of retail therapy in one of Marbella’s many designer boutiques. When it comes to food, you’re spoilt for choice, but our top recommendation is the city’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Skina.
The city also has plenty to offer in terms of luxury hotels, but the adults-only Nobu Hotel Marbella, which is complete with a Six Senses spa, multiple restaurants and lush gardens, is among the most exclusive.
With an average February temperature of around 62°F, Valencia makes a great spot to catch some winter sun in Spain. While this isn’t quite sunbathing weather, the invitingly mild temperatures are perfect for exploring the beautiful city – and the absence of crowds will make winter visitors feel more like locals.
The city’s off-season also gives tourists a chance to witness some of Valencia’s most honored traditions and occasions. For example, January 22 is dedicated to San Vicente Mártir festival, when the city honors its patron saint with parades and mass service, and in March, the famous Fallas festival takes over the city, with five days’ worth of firework displays and colorful celebrations.
Of course, no matter what time of year you visit Valencia, sampling the city’s signature dish is a must. The city is the undisputed home of paella, but for a more elevated take on the time-honored classic, head to Quique Dacosta’s two-Michelin starred El Poblet.
Come summer, Spain’s famed party island is awash with tourists who descend in their masses for the beautiful beaches, unrivaled nightlife and hedonistic lifestyle. However, as the peak season draws to a close, the crowds slowly disappear, leaving Ibiza ready to welcome some quieter winter visitors.
Ibizan winters tend to be milder than that of mainland Europe, with temperatures rarely dropping below 60°F. While this rules out long days on the beach, walks along the island’s stunning coastline, immersive wellness breaks and culinary tours are very much still on the cards. And what the guidebooks don’t tell you is that those incomparable Ibizan sunsets are somehow even more vibrant in the winter months.
One hotel proving that the island should be on your winter sun bucket list is Six Senses Ibiza (the island’s first BREEAM-certified resort), which is embracing the off-season with open arms with tailor-made restorative wellness retreats and detox programs.
While the majority of southern Spain enjoys mild temperatures even during the off-season, it is the Canary Islands that travelers flock to for some real winter sun. Thanks to its positioning just off the coast of northwest Africa, the island cluster tends to enjoy stable temperatures throughout the year – even in January, which is the Canaries’ coldest month, the mercury rarely dips below 70°F.
As the largest and most developed of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a bustle of activity all year round. While the island does have a certain rep for impersonal resort complexes, it is possible to find a slice of quiet paradise. The adults-only Meliá Hacienda del Conde, for example, sits away from the tourist traps in an unspoiled corner of the island.
The drawback of the archipelago’s year-round sunshine, however, is that everyone knows about it, with many British holidaymakers flocking to the islands for a dose of Vitamin D. If a quieter winter break is what the doctor ordered, mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands are likely to be a safer bet.
In association with spain.info