The best alternative winter sun breaks for 2018
Trade scarves for swimmers on these sun-drenched alternative escapes this winter, because when the heat's up, you can get your feet up
If you want to dust away the cobwebs, blow the budget and annihilate that leftover annual leave in one swoop, Sydney's your best bet. You'll want to spend a few days on the beach, so try Bondi if you can take the crowds, or explore the wilderness of Ku-ring-gai National Park in a kayak if you really want to get away from it all.
Where to stay: The Old Clare. From £153. mrandmrssmith.com
Getting there: Book flights from Heathrow to Sydney from £338 one-way. kiwi.com
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When we hunker down here in the UK, the beaches of Brazil hot up, meaning November through February is the best part of the year to hit the Copacabana (or an hour down the road to the quieter, western beaches of Prainha and Grumari if you’re into surfing and extra space) for a spot of frescobol and chill. Alternatively, check out the street art or indulge in huge, cheap cocktails and get your knees up.
Where to stay: Gran Melia Nacional. From £189. melia.com
Getting there: Latam offers flights to Rio de Janeiro from £711 one-way. latam.com
Cape Town, South Africa
Winter in South Africa isn’t about scorching highs and , but with temperatures still in the balmy twenties, it’s a great alternative to the brisk streets of London. What’s more, it’s the best time of year to take to the water in search of whales and sharks (if you’re feeling brave), and the top-rate art scene never stops.
Stay at: The Silo. From £846. theroyalportfolio.com
Getting there: Thomas Cook offers flights from Gatwick to Cape Town from £280 one-way. thomascookairlines.com
When it comes to winter sun, Kerala – a coastal haven on India's southern coast – has it all. Whether you fancy exploring the colonial history of Kochi, heading out into the country's backwaters or just want to kick back on a beach minus the crowds, this is the place to head.
Where to stay: Lakes & Lagoons boat hotel. From £126. i-escape.com
Getting there: Jet Airways flies from Heathrow to Kochi from £266 one-way. jetairways.com
Male Atoll, Maldives
With leagues of pristine ocean and acres of tropical forest, this atoll is an absolute must-visit. Resorts like Coco Bodu Hithi in the northern part of the atoll offer sustainable dive tours that'll see you going in search of hawksbill turtles, manta rays and – if you're as fearless as us – sharks.
Where to stay: Coco Bodu Hithi. From £805. Dive tours from £34. cococollection.com
Getting there: BA flies from Gatwick to Malé from £795 return. ba.com
Burgers, bikinis, beaches – Miami is the good-time city when you go Stateside in winter, and that's why you should hit it up, stat. South Beach will still be hot enough to kick your feet up, and when you get bored you can meander into Little Havana to play the locals at dominoes, or hit the mural-covered streets of Wynwood, where you'll find plenty of hipster grub stops, craft breweries, independent cinemas and bars.
Where to stay: The Confidante Miami Beach. From £126. hyatt.com
Getting there: Norwegian offers flights from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale International from £163 one-way. norwegian.com
You know the drill – if you want to splash the cash on some guaranteed sun, beautiful beaches and one audacious skyline, it's time to head to Dubai. Lap up unparalleled luxury in one of the city-state's many high-end resorts, then head out onto the gulf by paddleboard to snap the city from way out in the shimmering sea. We're sold.
Where to stay: Fairmont The Palm. From £175pn. fairmont.com
Getting there: Royal Brunei offers flights to Dubai from £293 one-way. flyroyalbrunei.com
Famous for its year-round balminess, the ancient city and windsurfing mecca of Essaouira sits right on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Sure, those breezes might mean the temperature’s likely to be a little lower than your average wintertime scorcher, but the waves, sand and old-school coastal forts more than make it more than worth your while. And you know what they say: twenty’s plenty.
Where to stay: Villa Maroc. From £77. villa-maroc.com
Getting there: Easyjet offers flights to Essaouira from £34 one-way. easyjet.com