Winter warmth and sunshine is just a three to five-hour flight away, even within the jurisdiction of the European Union. Buy a home in one of these five European destinations, and you could enjoy Christmas on the beach every year. Christopher Nye, Senior Editor at Property Guides shares some sensational winter sun options.
Spain’s Canary Islands
Combine average December temperatures of 20+°C with fantastic beaches, regular winter flights and a four-and-a-half-hour flight time and it’s easy to see why the Canaries are a favourite with winter sun-seekers.
Tenerife is the largest and most developed island, with sea temperatures warm enough for year-round swimming. Most of the residential tourist development is on its southern coastline, specifically around the resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos. Head northwards up the coast or into the interior for quieter communities.
Lanzarote’s main resorts are Puerto del Carmen – the largest – followed by Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. Puerto del Carmen attracts younger crowds, thanks to its famous strip overlooking one of the island’s busiest beaches, Playa Grande. Playa Blanca is more suited to families and highlights include Papagayo beach, the marina and the seafront promenade. Costa Teguise in the north is more family-oriented too, with its sandy beach at Las Cucharas, and the windier conditions making it attractive to wind-surfers.
Sparsely developed and less busy than the previous two islands, Fuerteventura’s trump card is its sweeping beaches and ideal conditions for wind and kite-surfing. The majority of homeowners choose the northern area of La Oliva, where key resorts include Corralejo and El Cotillo, both popular for their cosmopolitan lifestyle, and coastal scenery. Other options are Caleta de Fuste, with golf courses and well-manicured resort areas, or Jandía and Costa Calma in the south.
To its fans, Sicily is just as beautiful as Tuscany, while property is far less expensive. It’s so far south that even in winter you can still swim in the sea (although local people will assume you’re mad if you do!) while marvelling at the views of the Mount Etna’s snow-covered slopes. Indeed, you can ski on Mount Etna too, so long of the volcano is quiet.
For seaside homes, the northern coast around Cefalú or the west around Trapani are highly popular. The southern coasts around Gela and Pozzallo are popular with local holiday-homeowners, and a little cheaper.
Sicily was Greek for much of its long, long history – it was in Siracusa that Archimedes leapt from his bath and ran naked down the street yelling ‘Eureka’ (“I’ve found it!) – and the island has a dazzling range of architectural styles. For many of us, it’s the wild, extravagant baroque palaces that are most beautiful. Cities like Palermo, Ortygia and Ragusa have these in abundance, including plenty of projects to renovate.
Although infamous for the mafia – now all but disappeared so far as the lives of everyday people go – you’ll find the Sicilians are friendly and always helpful.
Sicily also has beautiful countryside, with its famous lemons and blood oranges blooming on the foothills of its mountains. And all with direct flights throughout the winter from the UK.
The Mediterranean’s third-largest island, sunny Cyprus is just a four-and-a-half-hour hop on the plane from the chilly, wintry UK. Flights into Larnaca and Paphos go regularly all year.
Typical temperatures there between December and February are 15-17ºC when you can expect five to six hours of sunshine. Just be sure to stick to the coast, as inland areas are usually significantly cooler in the winter.
The Paphos and Limassol areas in the south-west are established hotspots with UK homeowners and holidaymakers. In the former, popular areas in the old harbour town of Paphos include Kato Paphos, Paphos Harbour and Universal, or for less developed areas try Coral Bay with its dazzling beach, or the nearby villages of Peyia, Tala and Pissouri.
Another historical gem located in the Med near North Africa is the island of Malta, which enjoys similar winter temperatures to Cyprus. Its busiest, most developed areas include Sliema, Marsascala, St Julians and around Valletta. Most second homeowners there purchase apartments, typically on small modern complexes close to the seafront.
For those who prefer something more traditional, explore the island’s countryside and sleepy farming villages where you’ll find delightful ‘houses of character’, farmhouses and villas. Two popular areas for this are Balzan and Naxxar, both rural but just a short drive from the seafront.
Life gets especially chilled on the smaller Maltese island of Gozo, reached by a short ferry ride from Malta. Houses of character are the buzzword here but a landmark residential project is the redevelopment of the former Fort Chambray, where buyers can own part of a stunning historic building.
For a sub-tropical edge, try the island of Madeira, where the winter climate includes average temperatures of 20ºC and five hours of daily sunshine. Dubbed the ‘floating garden in the Atlantic’, it’s only a four-hour flight from the UK.
Most homeowners and visitors focus on its pretty capital Funchal, with its relaxed pavement cafés, world-class restaurants and impressive harbour, where cruise ships come and go. Sandy beaches are scarce in Madeira, but the island’s lush rolling interior with its colourful flora and dramatic sea views is breath-taking. More than half of the island is protected by UNESCO World Heritage status, so active visitors can enjoy exploring the island’s 600 miles of nature trails, even in the winter months.
Coastal highlights include the beach at Calheta and the world-class surfing at Paul do Mar.
Images via Unsplash