When temperatures dip below freezing and daylight hours shorten, it’s time to think about planning a luxury holiday for some winter sun. Lazing on golden beaches, discover enchanting sunny cities or driving with the top down will help you to feel relaxed, refreshed and recharged for returning to the rainy UK. Our helpful guide has everything you need for planning the perfect luxury winter sun holiday from top Europe and international destinations to five-star hotels and must-see attractions (if you ever get sick of lounging on beautiful beaches).
Oh, Barcelona. One of Europe’s only cities where you can sunbathe on golden beaches during the day, sightsee at world-renowned art museums and historic buildings in the afternoon and party till dawn. With its otherworldly architecture, world-class restaurant and nightlife scene, and sun-drenched shorelines, Barcelona is the perfect European destination for a luxury winter sun holiday.
Things to Do
Barcelona has more on offer than golden beaches. Spend your days at world-class art museums admiring internationally acclaimed works, goggling at funky Gaudi buildings or shopping at flagship stores. Whether you’re a culture addict, foodie, sun worshipper or hipster, Barcelona has something for everyone.
Picasso Museum. Rated one of the must-see attractions in Barcelona, the Picasso Museum features Barcelona’s favourite painter’s works. Here you can view Picasso’s pre-Cubist and lesser-known works with highlights including the Las Meninas series.
Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family. You can’t come to Barcelona and not see Gaudi’s famous Basilica. Combining both Gothic and Art Nouveau forms, this church captivates audiences with its funky, intricate design and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a tour and learn about this basilica’s fascinating history and never-ending construction.
La Rambla. As the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca once said, La Rambla is “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”. Running through the heart of Barcelona and connecting Placa de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell, it’s here that you’ll find some of Barcelona’s best shopping and pavement cafes where you can sip coffee in the Spanish sunshine.
Where to Stay
In addition to a fantastic range of attractions, Barcelona also has many trendy five-star hotels.
Majestic Hotel & Spa. Located in a neoclassical building in central Barcelona, the Majestic Hotel & Spa offers guests a relaxing and stylish stay. You can indulge in exclusive spa treatments, admire the view from the rooftop swimming pool, or listen to live music at the piano bar. Rooms are elegantly designed using classic decor and modern amenities. Onsite, you’ll also find two restaurants, a cocktail bar, a spa featuring steam baths and a sauna, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
Ohla Barcelona. Situated in Barcelona’s historic centre, Ohla Barcelona is within easy walking distance of some of Barcelona’s best attractions. Rooms at this boutique hotel feature contemporary decor and large windows which allow for plenty of natural lighting. As a guest at Ohla, you can swim in the stunning rooftop pool, dine at any of the three onsite restaurants or sip cocktails at the boutique bar. There’s also an onsite gym and wellness area with sauna.
Bagues. This five-star boutique hotel has a fantastic location in the heart of Les Rambles and the Historic Gothic Centre. The building was built in 1850 by Josep Fonsere i Domenech, a leading Renaissance architect and was then used as a Masriera jewellery workshop. You can see many of the pieces created in this building at the onsite Masriera Jewellery Museum Hall. Onsite you’ll also find a restaurant, terrace with a small outdoor pool and solarium, modern gym facilities with sauna, and a cocktail bar.
When to Visit
Barcelona has sunshine year-round. During the winter the weather can be relatively mild, but temperatures around 15 degrees in February. Rain showers are rare so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Spanish sunshine without the crowds or hot temperatures of the summer months.
Travel to Southern Florida for a luxury winter sun holiday in Miami, a vibrant city full of creativity and diversity. Miami’s culture is the perfect mixture of American and Cuban with Cuban cigars, sidewalk cafes and American hospitality the norm (especially in neighbourhoods like Little Havana). As you roll down Ocean Drive Blvd with the top down, you’ll be glad you booked a luxury winter sun holiday to Miami.
Things to Do
Whether you’re sunbathing on Miami’s iconic beaches, stepping back in time by admiring art-deco buildings or playing some beach volleyball, Miami has plenty of sunny activities on offer.
Ocean Drive. Home to the world’s most extensive collection of art-deco buildings, Ocean Drive is an iconic part of Miami city. Make sure to check out The Sunray Apartments, which served as a backdrop to the Scarface films, or the Carlyle, which appeared in the BirdCage. Ocean Drive is also where you’ll find some fantastic restaurants.
Crandon Park. If you’re looking for Miami’s best beaches, head to Crandon Park. The park covers over 800 acres, including two miles of protected beach, and is the ideal place to escape the crowds and relax in your own corner of paradise.
Venetian Pool. Almost one hundred years old, this spring water pool is one classy way to relax. With its two waterfalls, cool cave-like grottos, and poolside views of Miami, there’s plenty to explore without leaving the refreshing waters.
Where to Stay
Miami has a fantastic collection of five-star resorts, luxury boutique hotels and modern urban hotels. Here are some of our favourites:
EAST. Advertised as a lifestyle hotel, EAST boasts an impressively large complex featuring four swimming pools, restaurant, 24-hour fitness centre, retail shops, a movie theatre, restaurants and bars, a spa, and much more. Rooms have a modern design and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in rain showers and spacious balconies. While you could stay at your hotel, South Beach’s renowned nightlife and shopping scene are only a 15-minute drive away.
The Betsy. Set amongst the world’s largest collection of Art-Nouveau buildings on Ocean Drive, The Betsy Hotel offers guests an iconic stay. Plus, there’s direct access to the beach and a secluded courtyard pool for a relaxing afternoon in the Florida sunshine. Each room exudes elegance with fresh orchids, original art, hardwood floors and marble bathrooms. The Betsy also has a state-of-the-art fitness centre, rooftop cocktail bar and outdoor pool with ocean views, wellness centre providing spa services and sunrise yoga, private library, and two onsite restaurants.
The Delano. The Delano is situated directly on the soft, golden sands of Miami Beach, making it the ideal choice for winter sun seekers. Onsite, you’ll find an indoor and outdoor pool, rooftop spa offering exclusive treatments with stunning views, a 24-hour fitness centre, two restaurants serving international cuisine, and a cocktail bar and lounge. You can easily walk to Miami’s Botanical Garden and, of course, Miami’s iconic South Beach.
When to Visit
Miami’s subtropical climate practically guarantees winter sunshine. Temperatures remain stable throughout the year with lows of 23 degrees Celsius in January. Winter is Miami’s dry season, so you’re likely to have sunny days with clear skis. During the winter, you can also catch some fabulous festivals like the Art Deco Weekend in January or the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in February.
Travel to a land of dreamy beaches, safari parks with exotic animals and world-class vineyards. Meet elephants and lions at Kruger National Park, admire clear star-lit nights, experience Cape Town’s dining and drinking scene or get active at Table Mountain. However you spend your days, a luxury winter sun holiday to South Africa promises to be the adventure of a lifetime. Plus, as a winter sun seeker, you’re guaranteed sunny, warm days.
Things to Do
South Africa is packed with attractions and has plenty of things to do for all types of travellers. You can lounge on white sand beaches, meet penguins in Cape Town, drive along the iconic Garden Route with the top down, or tour world-class vineyards. Here are some of our favourite attractions:
Kruger National Park. As the only self-drive National Park in Africa, visiting Kruger lets you experience South Africa’s wild side. The park is home to a vast array of animals and you’ll easily spot giraffes, rhinos, hippos, zebras and elephants as you drive through its 7,5000 of protected terrain. You can hire a guide to help you find the harder to spot animals like lions and jaguars.
Table Mountain. Serving as Cape Town’s dazzling background, the formidable Table Mountain calls hikers and adventurers from across the world. Hiking to the top, on the easiest route, isn’t that difficult and can be accomplished in a few hours. If you’re not keen on the walk, you can take a gondola to the top for stunning views.
Wineland Vineyard Tours. A short drive from Cape Town lies South Africa’s world-renowned Cape Winelands. The area produces unique, excellent grapes due to the microclimates created by the nearby mountain ranges. You can explore the vineyards on private guided tours, by bicycle or on the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
Where to Stay
Jardin D’ebe’ne. Located at the base of Table Mountain in Cape Town, this boutique guest house provides a unique stay. The building was previously an old Cape Dutch homestead and has been carefully refurbished to reflect a more modern African style. At this bed and breakfast, you’ll also find a peaceful garden with relaxing day beds, plunge pool and sun deck overlooking Lions Head. Jardin D’ebe’ne is the ideal place to stay for winter sun seekers visiting Cape Town.
Fancourt Hotel & Spa. Driving the Garden Route is a highlight of any trip to South Africa and the Fancourt Hotel & Spa is ideally located along the route, nestled between mountains and forests. Staying at the Fancourt allows you to experience South Africa’s stunning natural beauty while also getting the celebrity treatment. Onsite, you’ll find a golf course, wellness centre, four restaurants serving international cuisine, bar with local wines, spacious garden terrace and spa with indoor heated Roman Baths. The Fancourt also has a leisure centre, which has a kids club, fitness centre, cinema and outdoor swimming pool.
Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa. Located in South Africa’s northern city of Johannesburg, the Saxon features luxurious suites. Each room is decorated with modern African art and features a balcony overlooking the garden and outdoor infinity pool. There’s also an onsite spa with steam room and hot tub, state-of-the-art fitness centre, and three fantastic restaurants.
When to Visit
South Africa has some of the best winter weather. The winter months of December to March are generally dry and warm, ideal for watching the wildlife or lounging on the beaches. Temperatures are around 25 degrees Celsius and there’s plenty of sunshine.
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