The best winter sun holidays

winter sun

Feel like sunshine will never return to the British Isles? There's nothing like booking a holiday to lift the spirits and these sun-soaked destinations are guaranteed to replenish your vitamin D levels.

Oman

Oman

If the year-round sunshine of the Middle East appeals to you, but you're after something a little more rustic and picturesque than the gleaming skyscrapers of Dubai, then head to ruggedly beautiful Oman. The capital, Muscat, is full of beautiful architecture and rich cultural heritage – as well as bustling souks (which tend to be cheaper and more traditional than those found elsewhere in the UAE). The warm seas surrounding Muscat are ideal for watersports and are the perfect dolphin-spotting location. It is worth noting that, when exploring outside of your hotel, Omanis do prefer visitors to cover their shoulders and knees as a mark of respect for the local culture.

“Muscat is a beautiful city. The old souk and old city are worth a walk around.”

Visiting Oman

  • Suitable for: children of all ages, but there is more to do for older kids
  • Flight time from UK: 7.5 hours
  • Best time to visit: October – April

Where to stay

Mumsnetters recommend the Al Waha hotel, located within the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa complex and just outside of the capital, Muscat. Al Waha means “the Oasis” in Arabic and this resort lives up to its name. Al Waha is Oman's first dedicated family hotel and has pretty much every service and facility you could need: from essentials like laundry and childcare, to a library and even a florist. The resort is perfectly positioned for exploring Oman, but there's also plenty within the hotel to keep you occupied; Al Waha boasts a private beach, 500-metre lazy river, dive centre, family Adventure zone, dedicated kids' pools and boat excursions like dolphin watching – to name but a few.

“We needed a place that would be fun for both really young ones and teens and that is not too far, guaranteed sun. This is the place to go!”

Compare holiday deals and book your stay here.

Marrakech

Morocco

Marrakech is the perfect destination if you're craving sun but don't want to travel long haul.

Your Moroccan adventure will include great food, friendly people, copious amounts of mint tea, and haggling in the vast souks as standard. If you're feeling adventurous you could take an excursion out into the Atlas mountains. To relax, treat yourself to a calm yet invigorating Hamman spa experience.

Top travel tip: if you're staying in the Medina, pack some ear plugs – the call to prayer sounds early each morning and will wake any light sleepers.

Visiting Marrakech

  • Suitable for: children of all ages
  • Flight time from UK: 3.5 hours
  • Best time to visit: the weather in Morocco is lovely for much of the year and, while it won't be boiling during the winter months, it will be much nicer than the UK.

Check out our full Marrakech travel guide here.

Where to stay

Previous Moroccan travellers have sung the praises of Villa dar Tamazerte, located just outside of Marrakech, which sleeps up to eight people comfortably in its four atmospheric and gorgeously-appointed bedrooms. The villa is part of an eight villa complex and is set within 1.5 acres of private walled gardens. It has its own pool and a rooftop dining terrace, which overlooks the Atlas mountains. The perfect base for exploring the city or spending lazy days by the pool.

“Exceptionally beautiful villa with equally exceptional staff. We found the perfect balance of luxury accommodation, varied and exciting activities for children, complete security, wonderful cooking that everyone will love, and guaranteed sunshine!”

Compare holiday deals and book your stay here.

Dubai

Dubai

From souks to skyscrapers, Dubai doesn't do anything by halves, including family holidays. It's a great option for a winter break, as there's plenty to do no matter what your children's age. Why not take a desert tour, spend a day at the huge Wild Wadi water park, or watch a camel race? Older kids can explore the enormous malls or hit the slopes of the indoor snow dome. There are plenty of attractions that cater to younger children, including Kidzania – an indoor theme park – and Children City, the first educational city for children in the UAE.

Dubai isn't all mod cons and 156-floor skyscrapers, so head down to 'old' Dubai and try your hand at haggling with the locals – the spice and gold souks are particularly interesting. The weather during the winter months is, on average, a balmy 22 °C – perfect for lazy days at the beach after exploring.

Visiting Dubai

  • Suitable for: children of all ages
  • Flight time from UK: Seven hours
  • Best time to visit: November – March (the weather seriously heats up in the summer)

Check out our full Dubai travel guide here.

Where to stay

The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a favourite among Mumsnetters for its luxurious atmosphere, excellent service, and commitment to catering to families. Take advantage of their private beach access, professional babysitting service, activity-packed kids' club, and airport meet and greet service to guarantee a relaxing holiday. As well as its excellent family-oriented facilities, the Jumeirah Beach hotel is well-known for its beautiful spa and slap-up brunches (two of our favourite things).

“Utterly brilliant. Staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has easily been the most carefree holiday for all of us.”

Compare holiday deals and book your stay here.

Caribbean cruise

cruise

A Caribbean cruise is the ultimate in luxury and relaxation. As you sail around the Caribbean, sipping cocktails and strolling on pristine white beaches, the dreary UK winter will be far away. Cruises are quite pricey but, after the initial outlay for your tickets, you won't have to pay for anything else once you're on board. If you love the all-inclusive lifestyle but fancy doing something a bit different, a family cruise could be the way to go.

Planning your cruise

  • Suitable for: children of all ages
  • Flight time from UK: Nine hours (for a cruise departing from Florida)
  • Best time to visit: December – April

Where to stay (or who to cruise with)

Disney cruises

Combining Disney characters with Caribbean beaches is always going to be a winner, right? You can chill out, enjoying the scenery and climate, while your kids take in the Disney magic. There are loads of dining options (even the fussiest eaters will be satisfied) and the accommodation is designed with families in mind, so you'll have plenty of space. If you're worried that it might all get a bit much, fear not – you can escape to the adults-only restaurant or pool.

“It was such an adventure – flying there, getting to the harbour, boarding, not to mention waking up in exotic places. The cruises are not cheap – but afterwards, when you add up how much you have done, how much you have eaten and drank, how much fun you've had, it all seems worth it.”

Book your cruise here.

Jordan

Jordan

Jordan is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Provided your kids are old enough to really get the most out of it, they'll remember it forever. The whole family will enjoy floating in the super-buoyant waters of the Dead Sea and mucky pups can get stuck in, covering themselves (and you) head to toe in its mineral-rich mud. Budding archaeologists (or Indiana Jones fans) will love exploring the ancient city of Petra and discovering one of the seven wonders of the world. If you're visiting with older kids, explore Petra by Night, when the city is lit by thousands of flickering candles.

Visiting Jordan

  • Suitable for: children aged 8+
  • Flight time from UK: Five hours
  • Best time to visit: March (nights an drop below freezing December – February, but it also gets very hot in the summer)

Check out our full Jordan travel guide here.

Where to stay

The Marriott Dead Sea Resort & Spa comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters. This five-star hotel is located right on the shores of the Dead Sea and boasts a private beach, six pools and a luxurious spa. You can rent cars and bikes from the hotel, making it a great base for discovering the rest of Jordan as well as a place for pampering and relaxation. For the more active, there are hiking and biking trails around the hotel. Rock climbing, bowling, and squash are all also available within the hotel.

“The pool will be the key attraction for children. Split into multiple levels, the top pool features a long slide down into the lower pool which my daughter spent hours zooming down. There are also jacuzzis and powerful spa-jets too. Parents, on the other, hand, might prefer the attention of the waiters on roller blades who zip around the pool area bringing drinks to your sunbed!”

Book your stay here.

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Tenerife

Tenerife is a perennially popular destination for Brits looking for a bit of sun. If you go in the autumn – rather than peak season – you can take advantage of some lovely weather without having to battle for a spot on the beach. And there are plenty of family-friendly beaches available, or – for an alternative dip – head to the salt pools along the coastline of Puerto de la Cruz. Nature-loving families will love taking the cable car up Mount Teide, as the view from the top is amazing. Whale-watching and star-gazing excursions help make your holiday extra special.

Check out our full Tenerife travel guide here.

  • Suitable for: children of all ages
  • Flight time from UK: Four hours
  • Best time to visit: autumn

Where to stay

Tui's Sensatori resort in Guia de Isadora is popular on Mumsnet as it caters brilliantly to families with children of all ages – from a sensory nursery for little ones, to a teenager's activity programme – making it easy for you to balance spending time together as a family with peace and quiet. There are plenty of food options, too, as well as a spa specialising in Clarins treatments, yoga, wine-tasting and a sushi bar – can we come too?

“We've been to Sensatori Tenerife four times now as the nursery is absolutely excellent. The staff are just really great and the hotel itself is lovely.”

Book your stay here.