Winter holidays: follow the sun

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Whether you're mourning the summer we never had – or want to escape the big chill ahead – Chris Leadbeater has the hottest spots for winter holidays


What's the attraction?






The Incas and the Mayans held it as a focal point. Arch-narcissist Louis XIV adopted it as his symbol. But this coming weekend marks the departure of the sun – or at least much of its warmth – from Britain for a few months. On Sunday at 2am, clocks will go back an hour – and so will begin our hunt for winter sun. Between now and Christmas is the ideal time to seek out a warmer corner of the planet. November is a fine month to visit the Caribbean – prices reflect the mild possibility of wet weather. You can also find solid-value sunshine escapes closer to home. Holidays listed here are per person and each costs under £1,000.

Tenerife temptation



Huddled 200 miles west of Morocco but less than four hours away by air, the Canary Islands have long been the simple choice for winter sun. Options are myriad. At the cheap end of the scale, a self-catering week at the three-star Malibu Park Apartments in Tenerife's Playa de las Americas starts at £324 via Thomas Cook (0844 879 8406; www.thomascook.com), with flights from Gatwick on 19 November. At the pricier end, Destinology (0800 210 0422; destinology.co.uk) offers a week's B&B at the chic Abama resort on the island's west coast for £869, with the same options.



In the Red



With the political tensions that reached a boiling point in March now reduced to a low simmer (the main beach resorts, along the shore of the Red Sea, were mainly unaffected by the revolutionary fervour), Egypt is back on the holiday map. Breaks in the Red Sea resorts tend to be leisurely, drama-free affairs, with plenty of opportunity for snorkelling and diving on the impressive reefs. An all-inclusive week at the five-star InterContinental Taba Heights, flying from Gatwick on 19 November, costs £593 through Longwood Holidays (0844 770 4877; longwoodholidays.co.uk), transfers included.



Alternative Africa



Egypt is not the sole option for African sunshine. A six-hour flight from London, Gambia is the leading West African beach hotspot for British travellers. There is not much of this narrow slice of a nation – the smallest country on the African continent, a thin wedge driven into the side of Senegal – but what there is comes dotted with unfussy retreats such as the four-star Ocean Bay Resort, near Banjul. A week's stay with breakfast, flying from Gatwick on 19 November, costs £425 through Direct Holidays (0844 879 8173; directholidays.co.uk), including transfers.



A Caribbean classic



Antigua, a little smaller than the Isle of Wight and considerably warmer in winter, is a glorious option for a sun-kissed escape. There is a distinctly English feel to this Caribbean island, with its narrow streets and quaint villages. Choose between the sheltered coves of its south and west flanks, or the Atlantic-hemmed contours of the east. Tropical Sky (0844 332 9349; tropicalsky.co.uk) offers inexpensive breaks to the isle, with an all-inclusive week at the four-star Grand Pineapple Beach Hotel on the east coast, flying from Gatwick on 19 November, for £959.



Far-flung Florida



Somewhere that calls itself the Sunshine State clearly has no doubts about the warmth of its climate. But there is more to Florida than Orlando and Miami, even if your only wish is to relax on the sand. There is a hint of the undiscovered to its westerly Gulf Coast – where, for example, the small city of Naples has been voted by the Travel Channel as having the best beach in the US.



A week here at the four-star Bellasera Suites on a room-only basis, flying to Miami on 19 November, costs £845 through Virgin Holidays (0844 557 4321; virginholidays.co.uk), with car hire.



Maldivian moments



Logic suggests that the paradise isles of the Maldives are out of reach if you are planning to stick to a budget. After all, it is a destination that has marketed itself as honeymoon haven for the last decade. But in a place where the main attraction is the undoubted beauty of the setting, luxurious accommodation is less crucial than you may think. And bargains can be found.



Kuoni (0844 488 0483; kuoni.co.uk) sells getaways to the three-star Biyadhoo Island Resort. A week's full-board, flying from Heathrow on 26 November, costs £969 (online bookings only), including transfers.





Cities in the sun



There is no rule that says a winter sun holiday must involve a week of mere lazy slumber. To combine good weather with a dash of culture, several cities make likely candidates. All prices listed below are per person, based on two sharing for a three-night weekend break between 24–27 November.



Beirut is an increasingly vibrant metropolis on the Lebanese stretch of the Med – staying at the five-star Le Bristol Hotel, room-only, with Pegasus flights via Istanbul from Stansted costs £381 with Expedia (03301231235; expedia.co.uk).



Nearer to hand, Mallorca's elegant capital Palma will still be warm in November – Lastminute.com (0800 072 1795; www.lastminute.com) asks £310 for a break at the four-star Puro Hotel, with Monarch flights from Gatwick, and breakfast.



Malaga has the Museo Picasso to go with its Costa del Sol temperatures; a B&B stay at the four-star Malaga Centro hotel costs £198, including flights from Gatwick, with easyJet Holidays (0843 104 1000; easyjet.com/holidays).



And Marseille, the most interesting city on France's south coast, will have hints of summer sparkle as well as fine restaurants – the three-star New Hotel costs £168, room only with Travelocity (0871 472 5116; travelocity.co.uk), including easyJet flights from Gatwick.







Insider information



"Egypt is always a favourite for winter breaks, as it offers a fantastic choice of high-quality resorts and high temperatures within a short flight time. Those looking for something different should consider Cape Verde, a collection of islands off West Africa. In India, Goa is an excellent option."



Grant Fern, Holiday Adviser, Thomson ( thomson.co.uk)





Who said that?



"On the green of the hill/ We will drink our fill/ Of golden sunshine/ Till our brains intertwine/ With the glory and grace of Apollo."



– John Keats, 'A Draught Of Sunshine'





"I need something to remind me that there's something else/ You need a holiday, somewhere in the sun."



– Blur, 'Advert'





"After the on-off summer and the hint of a late revival, it seems that the weather has finally come back into line and decided that it's autumn after all."



– BBC Online weather report, 17 October

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone