20 of the best winter sun holidays for travel in 2021

Now is the right time to plan your escape from the British winter but with so much of the world to choose from, how do you decide? Maybe sometimes it’s too easy to get fixated by the weather, rather than the destination or the type of holiday. We are so obsessed with getting some guaranteed warmth and sunshine that we risk forgetting about what we might want to do on arrival. 

It doesn’t matter so much if all you really want is to collapse on the sand and lie under a sun umbrella all day. But, even if you are only going away for a week, you might want to inject a little more variety into your winter break. Maybe you like to explore the local culture, or indulge in some special meals out. Perhaps you want more of an active time, or some out and out fun. 

We have come up with some solutions, covering all bases with a selection of holidays that caters for all tastes and budgets this winter – from an African safari, to a Nile Cruise; from the best restaurants in the Caribbean to a giant water park in Tenerife. And just in case all you really do want to do is to lie in the sun, we’ve also listed what we call Islands in the Sun: our pick of places where you can find some really proper relaxation, at secluded resorts on tiny islands where peace and quiet reigns supreme.

Remember that where we can go depends not only on our own government, but on whether the country concerned welcomes tourists. A few, like Australia and New Zealand remain closed, others have other restrictions on arrivals. Things are changing fast, so before you book and just before you travel, check the latest local rules. Gov.uk is the best starting point.

Prices given below are per person for seven nights based on two sharing, including transfers and flights unless stated otherwise and are subject to availability. Weather stats are for the month recommended in the holiday example and are the daily maximum temperatures followed by average daily sunshine hours.

Sun and Food

1. Cape Town Cooking

25C, 10 hours of sunshine

South Africa is now open to British visitors – great news for this immensely popular winter sun destination and even better news for sun-loving foodies. They should head for Cape Town, which not only has the finest concentration of restaurants on the African continent, it also offers a stunning seaside location – and that, perhaps, is its culinary secret. The fish comes straight out of the South Atlantic, the meat from the fertile farmland just inland, and the wine from the Cape Winelands, just a cork’s pop beyond Table Mountain. No wonder so many talented chefs find such inspiration in the city. It offers exceptional value for money too – you can eat like a king here for £30 a head. Our Cape Town expert, Pippa de Bruyn, is your guide to the best restaurants in the city.

How to do it: Trailfinders (020 7368 1200; trailfinders.com) offers stays at four-star Kloof Street Hotel from £1,099 b&b, including a private Constantia Wine Tour with lunch, Cape Town Food Tour and Cape Point and Peninsula Tour. Departs on selected dates in February 2022.

2. Indulgence in Dubai

24C, eight hours of sunshine

Michelin doesn’t produce a food guide to Dubai, but many of chefs whom it has awarded stars to in other parts of the world have set up restaurants here, or make occasional guest appearances. It has become the foodie epicentre of the Middle East, offering a huge variety of high class menus: you can read our guide to the best here. After a searingly hot summer, winter is peak season here, both for locals and visitors – so book your tables early.

How to do it: Tui (020 3451 2688; tui.co.uk) offers stays at five-star Fairmont The Palm from £1,769 half board, based on a deluxe room. Departs January 13, 2022. Its Ossiano seafood restaurant is one of the city’s best.

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