The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Winter sun without jet lag: 5 hotspots where you won’t even have to change your watch, from Portugal to Ghana

With relatively short flights, and the clocks set to GMT, these destinations are an easy way to pretend it’s summer

Kotu Beach in Gambia
Kotu Beach in Gambia

As winter tightens its grip on Britain, the temptation intensifies for an escape to a sunnier location. The smart way to do it? Head south, naturally, but stay within the same time zone. Not only does sticking to GMT eliminate any prospect of jet lag, you’ll also minimise the time spent in the air rather than on the ground in your destination.

Porto, Portugal

Portugal’s alluring second city is perhaps the cheapest metropolis in the Eurozone, and it packs culture, history and intrigue into a small area, dramatically located beside the Douro river. Gastronomically, it offers excellent cuisine plus a fortified wine all of its own, and climatically, the Atlantic location keeps the frosts away through winter. Ryanair flies from Stansted to Porto for £150 return, departing on 27 December and back on 30 December. You can also book packages through the airline’s new Ryanair Holidays operation.

Porto (Alamy)

Tenerife, Spain

The largest Canary Island is also the most beautiful and diverse of the Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco. The Canaries are an hour behind the mainland, which puts them firmly in GMT. Thanks to Tenerife being 1,800 miles closer than Greenwich to the equator, the island is full of warmth and colour even in the depths of winter. Although the oceanic location creates some cloud and bluster, there’s plenty to explore – particularly in the north of the island, location for the handsome capital, Santa Cruz, and the adjoining colonial town of La Laguna. An Expedia package departing on New Year’s Day for a week costs only £237pp, including flights, transfers and B&B at the Hotel Trianflor in Puerto de la Cruz, on the north-west shoulder of Tenerife.

Marrakech, Morocco

The slump in demand for North African destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia (still on the Foreign Office “no-go” list) appears to be feeding through to Morocco, at least looking at some of the prices for packages. Thomson has a deal at the upmarket Riu Tikida Garden on the outskirts of the city. The all-inclusive price for a week of £258pp for departure on 6 January includes flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and even drinks. But be sure to explore away from the all-inclusive compound to discover the most exotic place you can reach within three hours’ flying time of Gatwick.

Ben Youssef Madrasa, Marrakech

Kotu Beach, Gambia

The newest president-elect in the world? Not Donald Trump, but Adama Barrow, who defeated Gambia's long-term authoritarian leader, Yahya Jammeh, in the 1 December election. The victory has been enthusiastically greeted by many people in the small West African nation, who see the chance for a fresh start. And the ban on international phone calls and the internet that prevailed during the campaign has now been lifted, which may enhance the appeal of the country. A week at the Badala Park Hotel on Kotu Beach – the main resort strip – costs £360pp flying from Birmingham on 6 January with Thomas Cook, including flights, transfers and breakfast.

Accra, Ghana

Exchange Christmas at home for a trip to West Africa’s most popular nation for adventure, Ghana. The capital, Accra, is virtually on the Greenwich Meridian, and a mere six hours’ or so flying time from Heathrow. With Explore’s 16-day Kingdom Of The Ashanti trip, you can visit slave forts along the Gold Coast, track elephants on foot in Mole National Park and go window shopping at the largest market in West Africa, Kumasi. There may be availability on 16 December; alternatively, you could go in early March; £1,499pp without flights.

Click here for the latest tours and holidays in Spain, Portugal & Morocco, with Independent Holidays.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in