When most people envision traveling to Europe, it’s usually during the spring or summer when temperatures are warm and there are quite a few activities to do. However, venturing to Europe is also a great thing to during December, and not just for holiday festivities. While most usually envision the continent to be freezing during this time of the year, there are actually many warm places you can visit here. This article will explore some of the warmest places in Europe you can visit in December, January and February..
Warmest Places in Europe to Visit December through February
Crete – Greece
Greece is always a fantastic place to visit in Europe thanks to its coastal landscape and rich history. Better yet, it’s home to a warm climate which makes it ideal to visit anytime during the year. One of the best, and warmest places, to visit in Greece is Crete. Crete has an average temperature of about 62°F which means you can relax on its beaches without fear of freezing. However, this time also is pretty rainy so you’ll have to keep a close eye on the weather. As Greece’s largest island, you’ll find plenty of unique activities to do, many of which aren’t as crowded because the tourist season is over. Archeological sites and wildlife areas are less crowded and the area is usually adorned with beautiful decorations for the holiday season.
Where to stay in Crete:
I suggest either the town of Chania or Rethymno. Both cities are beautiful with picturesque alleyways to walk and museums to explore. They are both lively during winter and there are many hotels and restaurants open.
Suggested hotels in Chania:
Splanzia Boutique Hotel
Located in the alleyways of the Old Town and just 15 minutes on foot from the beach, the Splanzia Boutique Hotel offers contemporary rooms in a Venetian building. Rooms are equipped with Internet, air-conditioning and satellite TV.
Scala de Faro
A 5 star boutique property situated in the old town close to the Archaeological museum and 18 minutes on foot from the beach. The hotel is built in a historical building of the 15th century but was recently renovated and offers luxurious rooms equipped with Internet, Smart TV, air conditioning, coffee facilities, slippers, bathrobes and toiletries. The highlight of the hotel is the breathtaking view of the lighthouse and harbor from the Sea View rooms.
Suggested hotels in Rethymnon:
Veneto Boutique Hotel
In the heart of Rethymnon’s old town is the Veneto Boutique Hotel, in a 14th century, restored Venetian building with original features and boutique furnishings that complement the historic building. The hotel is minutes from the old town shops and restaurants as well as a four-minute walk from the beach. However, if guests choose to dine at the hotel, they can select wines from the expansive cellar and enjoy traditional Cretan cuisine from the local chefs.
Rimondi Boutique Hotel
The nearby Rimondi Boutique Hotel is a luxurious hotel housed in two separate buildings with a large pool and courtyard in between. Suites here are equipped with air conditioning, a mini bar, free wifi, and a modern bathroom with deluxe amenities. Rimondi Boutique Hotel also has a small spa for guests.
Things to do in Crete in winter:
- Visit the archaeological sites that remain open all year round.
- Explore the picturesque villages
- Go hiking (although the Samaria Gorge is closed during winter there are many hiking paths available)
- Have a 4×4 safari adventure
- Take a cooking class or do a wine tasting. Crete is famous for its wines.
Sicily – Italy
Sicily is one of the largest Mediterranean islands located at the bottom of Italy’s boot. It can get to be a calm and breezy 57°F in this area during December. While here, it will also be much less crowded which gives you the opportunity to explore another side of this island that one can’t fully experience during the warmer months. If you happen to come during Christmas, you can try some traditional Christmas foods like baked clams and panettone, a sweet bread filled with raisins and candied fruit.
While it might be warm, there’s also the chance that you’ll be able to see snow on the top of the nearby Mount Etna. You’ll also be able to explore ancient towns and see some historic sites like the Valley of the Temples and Palermo Cathedral without the long lines that spring and summer bring.
Where to stay in Sicily
I suggest the town of Catania, as there are many hotels and restaurants during the winter. From there you can take many day trips to nearby towns like Taormina and Syracuse even by public transport.
Suggested Hotels in Catania:
Il Principe Hotel Catania
This 4-star hotel is located in the historical centre of Catania and only 20 minutes on foot from the beach. All rooms offer elegant furnishing free Wi-Fi, and a satellite TV.
Domenico Florio Palace
This elegant bed and breakfast is located in the centre of Catania and offers guests free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and a flat screen TV.
Things to do in Sicily in winter (December through February):
- Explore the volcano of Etna, the biggest active volcano in Europe.
- Visit the nearby towns of Syracuse, Ortygia and Noto.
- Explore the nearby towns of Taormina, Savoca, and Castelmola.
- Take a cooking class or do a wine and food tasting.
- Check out the filming locations of the God Father.
Côte d’Azur – France
The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Rivera, is one of the best places in Europe to relax on the beach and enjoy fresh seafood. However, what many might be surprised to learn is that this coastal area is also fantastic to visit during the somewhat colder months. In December, the average temperature is a warm and refreshing 57°F. Many seaside restaurants aren’t packed which means you’ll be able to get great views of the coast while enjoying your meal. While some tourist areas are closed during this time, but there are plenty of other unique places you can visit. You can explore the Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a village known for its fragrant violets during the summer, and which offers stunning scenery and is often a place of inspiration for many artists and writers. There are also many historic villas you can view and museums you can wander around in, like the Palais Lascaris which is home to many historic musical instruments.
Where to stay in Côte d’Azur
Although the entirety of the Côte d’Azur is beautiful, the best place to stay is Nice; this city is spectacular all year round, and especially so in December, as it has a wonderful Christmas market to get you in the festive mood.
Suggested hotels in Côte d’Azur:
With its iconic pink dome and fabulous 16,309 crystal chandelier, the Hotel Negresco stands proudly as the Grande Dame of the Cote d’Azur. Its location on the Promenade des Anglais is exceptional and in the heart of everything. It has a two-Michelin star restaurant, a cosy bar, and a brasserie that evokes a merry-go-round.
The Hotel Windsor is a family-run contemporary art hotel in the heart of the city. Its boutique-style atmosphere and 19th-century facade bely the incredibly unique interiors, which range from whimsical to fantastical and beyond. Rooms are designed or inspired by artists, and a new one is created every year. Tucked away in the courtyard, the gardens and pool offer a respite from the bustling streets.
Things to do in Nice in winter:
- Ice skating
- Have dinner on a beach-side restaurant
- Visit the Christmas Market
- Wander around the scenic historic centre
- Ride the Ferris Wheel
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Monte Carlo – Monaco
At 56°F, Monte Carlo is the ideal place to be in Europe during the month of December. This stunning area is often transformed into a winter wonderland during this time but doesn’t feature the chilly temperatures that most of Europe has. With its tall palm trees, numerous yachts, and stunning architecture, Monte Carlo is one of the best places to venture to in December, January and February. Here, you’ll find plenty of activities to do, like walking along its many beaches, or browsing through one of its interesting museums, like the Oceanographic Museum or the Museum of Antique Automobiles. While you usually need tickets to enter, lines won’t be long thanks to it being off-season.
Where to stay in Monaco
Monaco is a place like nowhere else on earth; it is glamorous, exciting, and filled with luxury in all of its forms. During the winter, Monaco occasionally gets a dusting of snow, making it all the more scenic and picturesque.
Suggested hotels in Monaco:
Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort
The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is an unforgettable hotel; when you visit Monaco, it has to be done luxuriously, and this hotel has everything you could ever want, particularly its breath-taking views.
Fairmont Monte Carlo
This hotel is extraordinary; Monaco is famous for many reasons, including Formula 1; some of the rooms at the Fairmont Monte Carlo have an incredible view of the track, making it one of the most unique and exciting hotels in the world.
Things to do in Monte Carlo in winter (December through February) :
- A winter walk along the harbour
- Explore the racetrack
- Visit Monaco Christmas Market
- Explore the historic streets
- Visit the museums on a chilly day
Cyprus can get to be a balmy 66°F during December which makes it a great place to visit for those who are trying to escape the dreary winter weather. You’ll find plenty of beaches you can lounge around on, as well as multiple museums, like the Byzantine Museum and the Folk Art Museum. In addition to this, Cyprus offers many hiking trails which aren’t crowded with the usual summer tourists. You can climb up some mountains and even visit some archeological sites without fear of getting lost in a crowd. You can also try some traditional dishes at local restaurants like Halloumi cheese, a mixture of sheep and goat milk, and Souvlaki, meat placed on a skewer with vegetables and then grilled.
Where to stay in Cyprus in winter
Cyprus is full of scenic towns and coastal villages, and perhaps one of the most beautiful is Paphos. It was the Roman capital of the island, and has a huge amount of history, as well as plethora of myths and legends.
Capital Coast Resort and Spa
Though a little far out from the centre, Capital Coast Resort and Spa is a luxurious resort that offers incredible views of Paphos, as well as incredible service, beautifully designed rooms and comfy beds.
Amphora Hotel and Suites
Amphora Hotel and Suites is the perfect place to relax. This hotel is right next to the beach, which is ideal for early evening winter strolls. It is modern, minimalist and perfect in the winter where there are far fewer crowds.
Things to do in Cyprus in the winter
- Take an early evening beach walk
- Go skiing in the Troodos mountains
- Go town hopping and meet the locals
- Explore Ayia Napa
- Discover Choirokoitia
Located on Spain’s Costa de Sol, Málaga is known worldwide for its remarkable beaches with yellow tinted sand and the historic buildings scattered around it. At a warm 63°F in December, Málaga is the perfect spot to enjoy some summer-like weather during the latter part of the year. While here, you can explore the Picasso Museum, which highlights the works of this famous Spanish painter, Alcazaba, an ancient fortress, or visit the Plaza de la Constitución which features festive decorations for the holidays. You can even take a food tour around the city and try some local dishes and drinks that are sure to please your palate.
Where to stay in Malaga
Spain is a beautiful country with a huge amount of diversity, cultural differences and various styles of architecture. Málaga is one of those places that is truly memorable, due to its unforgettable charm, welcoming locals, stunning beaches and gorgeous traditional food.
Suggested hotels in Malaga
Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro
This stunning 4-star hotel is located in the very heart of Málaga, and is not too far from the historic old town. It simultaneously has a cosy feel, whilst also adopting a cosy atmosphere, whilst offering astonishing views of the city and the sea below.
Hotel Palacete de Alamos
This boutique hotel has a beautiful façade and incredibly cosy rooms. Hotel Palacete de Alamos is very trendy, and has lots of little quirks to it, making it very unique. It is also located in the heart of the old town, which is a great place to stay if you enjoy quirky bars, restaurants and cafes.
Things to do in Málaga in the winter (December through February)
- Visit the thermal pools to warm up
- Explore the Picasso Museum
- Enjoy some roasted chestnuts
- Discover the Christmas market
- Discover nearby skiing resorts
Algarve – Portugal
This beautiful coastal town features an average December temperature of 56°F with cool sea waters you can swim around in. While here, you can explore some of the villages that are built on the edge of cliffs or climb up to the Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse to get some amazing panoramic views. You can also stop by the Vila Real de Santo António Christmas Village which features various Christmas market stalls covered in festive decorations and selling plenty of local goodies that you can enjoy like the Bolo Rei, a traditional Christmas cake. Algarve also hosts various concerts during this time, like the local philharmonic symphony.
Where to stay in Algarve
The Algarve is a beautiful area of Portugal that is sunny and warm all year around, and there is a plethora of gorgeous towns to stay in. Perhaps the best one to stay in, however, is Lagos. This is the perfect place to base yourself for taking day trips around the Algarve, and the town itself has a great nightlife and lots of culture in the day!
Suggested hotels in Algarve
This hotel is modern, cosy and has everything you could ever need, as well as a great location right in the heart of Lagos. It is situated by all of the best beaches, which is perfect for early evening winter strolls.
Tivoli Lagos is the perfect place to stay when visiting Lagos; it has spacious rooms that are decorated in a crisp modern style, as well as many of the rooms offering balconies with city views. It is in a perfect location which is walkable to all of the main sights and attractions.
Things to do in Lagos in winter (December through February)
- Visit the Sagres Fortress
- Go on a coastal bike ride
- Explore the Alvor Broadwalk
- Discover the historic city walls of Lagos
- Take a day trip to Albufeira
With an average temperature of 63°F in December, Malta is one of the warmest places in Europe during the winter. Situated right below Sicily, this country offers plenty of interesting things to do. One fun event to try out is the Chocolate Festival. Held in Hamrun, this event features the best edible works of chocolatiers. You can taste test and buy some of the creations which are placed on tables that are lined up and down the local streets. Besides this, Malta also holds the Battle of Malta Tournament in December which is a famous poker event in Europe. You’ll also find some historic attractions you can explore, like St. John’s Cathedral and the Teatru Manoel, a stunning theater that was built back in 1732.
You might want to check out: How to spend 3 days in Malta.
Where to stay in Malta
There are so many spectacularly beautiful places to stay when visiting Malta, but perhaps the best, as well as the most practical, is Valletta. This is city is Malta’s capital, and exudes a gorgeous historic charm, with its immense sixteenth century architecture on display. Valletta is the best place to stay in Malta because it is a base for day trips to other parts of the island
Suggested hotels in Malta
Luciano Al Porto Boutique Pension
This hotel exudes luxury boutique charm, with its uniquely designed rooms and breath-taking views of the city, there is not better place to stay. The hotel is centrally located, giving you a great amount of flexibility.
The Vincent Bed and Breakfast
The Vincent Bed and Breakfast is a creative, artistic place to stay, with quirkily designed rooms that provide a sense of individuality and charm. Some of the rooms are more like apartments, giving you a lot more space and flexibility.
Things to do in Valletta in winter
- Explore the city’s historic centre
- Check out the abundance of seasonal festivals
- Discover St John’s Cathedral
- Go horse riding
- Evening beach walks
Madeira – Portugal
Madeira is a small archipelago located directly beneath the country of Portugal. Known for its warm weather, Madeira can get to be an average temperature of 55°F during December. While here, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do, like wine tasting or walking along the pebble covered beaches. During this month, the area also decorates local boats in festive attire before they go sailing out around the sea for all to enjoy. It also has a special 3D Christmas illumination event which displays colorful lights made in various shapes, like angels. Madeira also hosts many concerts and has numerous nativity scenes placed around it to celebrate this time of the year.
Besides holiday events, you’ll also discover plenty of other things to do here, like hike up Pico Ruivo, gaze at art at the Sacred Art Museum, or visit the historic town of Santana.
Where to stay in Madeira:
Perhaps the most lively and vibrant part of the island to stay on is Funchal. Here, you can roam around old, cobbled streets and bask in the town’s sixteenth century history architecture. It is also a great place to stay as a base for exploring other parts of the island.
Hotel Alto Lido
This stunning four-star hotel exudes a luxury charm, with its modern interiors and excellent views of Funchal. One of the most appealing things about Hotel Alto Lido is its rooftop bar with gorgeous panoramic views; it is the perfect place to enjoy an early evening cocktail.
Enotel Quinta Do Sol
If you are looking for a central location, great views and amazing service, Enotel Quinto Do Sol is a fantastic place to stay. The rooms are large, light and spacious, and many of which have balconies that offer jaw-dropping views of the scenic Funchal below.
Things to do in Funchal in winter
- Take the cable car up to Monte
- Visit the Valley of the Nuns
- Explore the hilly streets
- Discover the botanical gardens
- Try the local delight, Pastel de Nata
Gran Canaria – Canary Islands
As one of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is a beach lover’s paradise. Known for its unique black lava and white sand beaches, it has an average temperature of 62°F in December. Because the weather is so agreeable, there is plenty to do outdoors, just like as if you were visiting during the summer. While on the island you can venture over to one of its many beaches or visit some spectacular nature areas, like the Roque Nublo which is a towering rock formation. You can also take a tour of Europe’s only coffee plantation, go scuba diving, or visit one of its museums, like the Museo Canario de Meteoritos which is one of the largest archeological sites on the island.
Where to stay in Gran Canaria
The part of Gran Canaria that has the most going on is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It has some of the best beaches on the island, a great nightlight, and lots of exciting things to do in the day. The weather is also incredibly sunny even in the winter, but without the crowds.
Suggested hotels in Gran Canaria
AC Hotel Iberia Las Palmas
Part of the Marriott group, this hotel offers luxuriously designed rooms with a sleek and modern feel. It is ideal for returning to after a long day of exploring the hidden gems of Las Palmas, and the rest of Gran Canaria.
Exe Las Canteras
Exe Las Canteras is the perfect place to stay if you are visiting Gran Canaria for a romantic getaway. It is positioned right on the beach, and offers incredible views of the surrounding area.
Things to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in winter (December through February)
- Explore Vegueta, the historic neighbourhood
- Visit the Canarian Museum
- Discover the brightly coloured houses
- Rent a moped and explore the hidden gems of Las Palmas
- Stroll along the beach in the evening
Tenerife – Canary Islands
With a warm average temperature of 68°F, Tenerife is one of the best destinations to visit to escape the winter weather. Home to many beautiful beaches, Tenerife offers some unique natural landmarks you can enjoy, like Teide National Park. You can also partake in some of the holiday festivities while here like the Christmas markets in La Laguna. Better yet, all of these destinations on the island can be visited with ease because it’s one of the least crowded times of the year.
Where to stay in Tenerife
The best place to stay in Tenerife is Puerto de La Cruz, which is located on the north west coast of the island. It is slightly less touristy than other parts of Tenerife, making it a great place to relax and get some winter sun in peace!
Sol Costa Atlantis Tenerife
This hotel is the perfect romantic getaway for any couples visiting Tenerife. It has spacious, luxurious rooms, and balconies with incredible views of the ocean. It is also situated in a spot that is a great base for making day trips around the island.
Hotel El Tope
Hotel El Tope offers a comfortable and personal experience when visiting Puerto de La Cruz. Here, you can stay in light, spacious rooms that provide stunning balconies with views of the vast sea ahead.
What to do in Puerto de La Cruz in winter (December through February)
- Explore the national park
- Visit Playa de las Americas
- Do a coastal bike ride
- Discover the beauty of Los Gigantes
- Go town hopping
Fuerteventura – Canary Islands
Another one of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is one of the largest islands that make up this group. Known for its tranquil beaches, it has an average December temperature of 67°F. While here, you’ll find many different things you can do, like visit Lobos Island, known for being a sanctuary for rare birds, see the Corralejo Dunes, a stunning geological formation, or visit one of its numerous museums, like the La Cilla Grain Museum which teaches guests the history of the island’s farming practices. You can also explore the island’s distinctive culinary side by trying local Majorero cheese, a fresh juicy pineapple, or some mojo picón.
Where to stay in Fuerteventura
Situated on the south coast of the island, Moro del Jable is the ideal place to base yourself when visiting Fuerteventura. It has some of the best beaches on the entire island, and has some of the best natural scenery you will ever see!
Suggested hotels in Fuerteventura:
Occidental Jandia Playa
Located literally on a beach, Occidental Jandia Playa is the ideal place to stay in Moro del Jable if you are seeking some winter sun. It is modern, friendly and cosy, and offers impeccable service and unbeatable views.
Iberostar Playa Gaviotas
This hotel has everything you would ever need for the perfect holiday all under one roof; it has a great gym, pool tables, a bar and restaurant, as well as beautiful rooms and coastal views.
What to do in Moro del Jable in winter (December through February)
- Visit the beautiful lighthouse, Faro de Moro Jable
- Do a 3-hour dune buggy tour!
- Explore the Calderon volcano on a tour
- Visit some Lemurs at the Oasis Park
- Take a walk along Playa del Matorral
Lanzarote – Canary Islands
Lanzarote is one of the warmest places in all of Europe during December, January and February as it can reach an average temperature of 69°F. The island offers many stunning beaches as well as some beautiful natural wonders you can explore, like the Cueva de los Verdes which features caverns that were formed by a massive flow of underground lava. Lanzarote also has submarine safaris you can take, flourishing gardens you can walk around in, and historic sites you can visit to learn more about its history, like the Castillo de las Coloradas, an old castle.
Where to stay in Lanzarote
Situated on the eastern side of the island, Costa Teguise is the best place to stay in Lanzarote if you are looking to explore other parts. It has a lot going on, such as seasonal festivals, water activities and a great nightlife.
Suggested hotels in Lanzarote
Sands Beach Resort
This resort offers guests self-contained apartments, that provide you with a great amount of flexibility during your stay. Also, it is located right on a beach, which is perfect for early evening winter strolls!
Barcelo Teguise Beach
Barcelo Teguise Beach is an incredibly luxurious hotel, with beautifully designed interiors, as well as stunning views from its infinity pool. Like many hotels in Lanzarote, there are many activities to do, such as pool tables. TVs showing sports, and a great bar and restaurant.
Things to do in Costa Teguise in winter (December through February)
- Do a volcano and cave tour
- Explore the Timanfaya National Park Area, there are lots of tours you can do
- Embark on an evening dolphin-watching cruise; this is best at sunset!
- Hike to Los Volcanes National Park
- Relax at the Lanzarote Aquarium
Europe is an amazing place to visit during the winter months of December, January and February. While some might envision it to be covered in snow and freezing temperatures, there are many places that have warmer climates even during this time of the year. If you’re looking to experience Europe during December through February, but in places that have higher temperatures, definitely consider the destinations mentioned above. They not only have great temperatures, but are packed with plenty of things to do and see.