Imagine getting away from it all in the middle of January and lying on a sunny beach somewhere, listening to the waves while topping up your tan just after Christmas. If that sounds like paradise to you, we’ve found the destinations that could make your dreams of catching some winter sun come true.
If you live anywhere towards the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere, winter can be a drag. Long, dark nights and temperatures that rarely allow you to take your hat and scarf off can last for months on end, leaving many of us dreaming of the day spring comes back around and the sun finally reappears.
Wintertime can take its toll on our mental and physical health, and if you’re wondering whether you can justify splashing out on a holiday during the winter months, what better excuse could there be than your own wellbeing? It’s worth considering topping up on those vitamin D levels and fending off the gloomy British weather by escaping to sunnier climes for a few days or even a few weeks.
The benefits of taking time out to travel somewhere that allows you to be outside in the sunshine every day, or even swimming in the sea, can make a world of difference to how your brain and body cope with the winter months.
Holidays are also a great way to reduce stress, and doing so can have a significant uplifting effect on various aspects of health, wellbeing, relationships and mood.
Holidays in November, December, January and February also tend to be a lot cheaper than the rest of the year, with some great deals available on hotels and flights. While the temperatures at popular destinations might not hit the heights they do in June, July and August, there are still plenty of accessible places where the sun shines nearly all year round.
These days, we can get away while taking many of our home comforts with us, and in this article we’ll include details of gambling regulations in various destinations around the world, so you can plan a few lucky spins or high-rolling nights out while you’re away.
To help you decide whether a winter getaway might be something you fancy this year, here are our top 10 winter sun destinations, most of which can be found at reasonable prices at jet2.com. But remember, all these lovely destinations may be in areas that don’t yet allow online gambling, so be sure to check the regs before you travel if you still want to log in to your favourite sites while you are away.
The Canary Islands are located just off the west coast of Africa’s Western Sahara, making them an ideal holiday destination all year round. The island of Gran Canaria, which was formed during a period of volcanic eruptions between 14 and nine million years ago, rarely experiences cold weather and it barely rains there at all.
Unlike the harshly contrasting seasons we experience in the United Kingdom, the temperate climate of Gran Canaria only varies by about eight degrees between the coldest and warmest months. So you can expect to enjoy temperatures in the low-to-mid-20s between June and October; mid-to-high teens in October, November, April and May; and low-to-mid teens in November, December, January and February. Of course, you might get lucky if you visit popular resorts like Maspalomas, Playa del Ingles or San Agustin in winter and find yourself enjoying temperatures in the low 20s – this happens regularly, blessing winter travellers with the chance to sunbathe and sea swim out of season.
If you decide to head out to Gran Canaria and wish to gamble online, you will be able to do so without restriction – as long as you use sites that have a licence to operate in Spain. Internet service providers in Gran Canaria will not allow you to access unlicensed foreign gambling websites. Land-based gambling activities and games of chance, including bingo, poker, betting and slots, are legal in all of Spain’s 17 provinces.
The islands of Madeira have a warm, subtropical climate and they welcome visitors to their spectacular volcanic landscapes throughout the year. Located to the north of the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa, Maderia enjoys sunny weather all year round with temperatures in December, January and February often around the mid teens.
The main island of Maderia is home to resorts such as Funchal, Canical, Calheta and Santa Cruz, where holidaymakers can enjoy views of the island’s mountainous vistas and there are plenty of sports and outdoor pursuits available for those feeling energetic. People who prefer to sunbathe can do so in any month of the year in Madeira, where there is also the benefit of a thriving food and drink scene. The island benefits from tremendously fertile volcanic soil meaning that products like bananas, passion fruit, mango, tangerines, cherries, figs, avocados and plums grow in abundance. You can also enjoy wonderful freshly caught seafood in Madeira, as well as local specialties like Espetada (grilled beef cooked on skewers made of local laurel wood) and bolo do caco (flatbread cooked on a hot basalt stone slab).
Gambling laws in Portugal are relatively strict, meaning that you’ll only be able to gamble in officially licensed venues, such as casinos. When it comes to gambling online, only state-owned and locally licensed operators can provide services, meaning you’ll only be able to access sites with a Portuguese licence during your time on Madeira.
Take a trip back in time and visit Sicily, where the winter months offer an ideal opportunity to explore white sandy beaches, ancient cities and an island steeped in culture. The sun shines on Sicily throughout December, January and February and there is less than a centimetre of rainfall on average for each of those months, making this an increasingly popular destination for travellers seeking an escape from wintery weather elsewhere.
The island’s capital city, Palermo, is a destination filled with distinctly Sicilian charm, where you can wander down historic streets and get a sense of the place where the mafia originated and where many scenes from The Godfather movies were filmed. If you are looking for a luxurious getaway, Sicily has no shortage of exclusive hotels, with the highest concentration of five-star accommodation options located in the town of Taormina, where you can look out from your balcony across the town’s cobblestoned streets to views of Mount Etna. There are also places to stay among Sicily’s lush vineyards, olive groves and the spectacular countryside of the Etna National Park.
Gambling in Sicily is only permissible at destinations with a licence from the Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS), and it was only in 2006 that the Italian gambling market opened up to international operators. In 2010, a new law was passed allowing online real-money games to be offered by foreign operators within Sicily, so you can now play bingo, casino games, poker and sports betting at sites with an AAMS licence.
The Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) lives up to its name in Malaga, which is the second largest city in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain and lies on the south of the Iberian Peninsula – the land mass that includes Spain and Portugal in southwest Europe. Average high temperatures of 17-18 degrees Celsius between December and February make Malaga the warmest winter city in Europe, and there have even been record highs of 26.8 degrees in January and 30 degrees in February.
As well as boasting miles of sandy beaches and some of the best food and drink to be found anywhere in Spain, Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and has plenty of museums and monuments to enjoy. Malaga’s nightlife is excellent all year round, so if you fancy sunny days on the beach in December followed by nights out without a jacket, this coastal Spanish city might be just the place for you.
Malaga has several casinos dotted around the city, including Le Tram Salon de Juegos and Salon de Juego JOKERBET, both of which are close to the seafront and the city centre. You can also gamble online during your trip to Malaga as long as you play on sites that have a licence to operate in Spain. You may well find that some of the sites you typically play at in your home country are not available during your trip, due to Spain’s online gambling laws.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to get away from the crowds, visiting Tenerife in wintertime might be just the holiday for you. While the island, which is the largest and most populous of all the Canary Islands, receives around five million visitors every year, most of them arrive between April and October. That means you can escape to Tenerife in February, for example, and enjoy average temperatures of between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius while exploring popular areas such as Playa de las Americas and Puerto de la Cruz, which offer beautiful beaches, delicious food and spectacular views relatively peacefully.
Visit Tenerife in February and you can witness one of the world’s largest carnival celebrations as the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife takes over the island’s capital for a week-long party with thousands of people in fancy dress and some wonderful traditional music, food and drinks.
There are three casinos on the island, located in Playa de Las Americas, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz. Online gambling has been legal in Spain since 2011, thanks to the Spanish Gambling Act, so you can enjoy playing at any site that has a licence to operate in Spain.
The average high temperature in Malta throughout the month of December is a temperate 17 degrees Celsius, with January and February not much lower at 16 degrees. This winter warmth makes Malta an attractive destination for an out-of-season getaway in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
The islands of Malta are located between Sicily and North Africa, and over the centuries the country has been ruled by the Romans, the Moors, the French, the British and the Knights of Saint John, giving Malta a unique heritage and rich history that add to the distinctive character of its towns, villages and cities. Like Sicily, Malta has the power to transport you back in time as you explore places like the capital city of Valletta, tranquil fishing towns like Marsaskala and Marsaxlokk, or historic cities like Mdina. If you’re a history buff you’ll be in your element in Malta no matter what time of year you choose to visit, with several fortresses, megalithic temples and ancient halls and burial chambers to explore. If you just want to relax, Malta’s stunning coastal resorts and warm honey-coloured architecture will welcome you for a break where you can wind down and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and flavours of the Mediterranean.
Malta is something of a hub for the online gambling industry, due to its legal framework, and online gambling has been regulated in the country for nearly two decades. There are lots of sites that hold Maltese licences, ensuring you can enjoy a few games while you sun yourself, and there are plenty of casinos around the country if you fancy a night out and the chance to win some money.
Also nestled in the middle of the Mediterranean in Majorca, where warm winter temperatures mean that people continue to visit resorts like Cala d’Or, Porto Cristo and Can Picafort throughout December, January and February.
Part of what makes Majorca so popular all year round is that there is just so much to see and do. The island is hugely popular with those who love to get active in the outdoors, with cyclists particularly attracted to Majorca’s outstanding cycle routes. Water sports such as kitesurfing are also a big draw all around the coast of Majorca, but if you want to take things more slowly you certainly can, with attractions like the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alcúdia offering a wonderfully preserved old town to explore inside restored medieval walls. Majorca also has a renowned wine route featuring more than 70 bodegas serving outstanding local wines, and if you’re into gourmet food there are several culinary tours that operate around the island. Majorca’s markets, spas, golf courses and mountain walks mean there is never any shortage of activities, whatever your taste and whenever you visit.
Majorca’s beaches, bars and cafes are ideal places to kick back with some refreshments and play a few games of online bingo, and you can do just that as long as the site you wish to play on is licensed to operate in Spain. You may find some of your favourite sites are not accessible from Majorca, and in such cases it is likely that the site in question does not hold a Spanish licence.
The largest and most populous of the Greek islands, Crete occupies a location in the Mediterranean Sea between Libya to the south and Greece to the north. Crete’s large resident population mean it really stays alive during the winter months of December, January and February, and this makes it an attractive destination for holidaymakers who want to explore somewhere beautiful in the sunshine without wandering through ghostly deserted resorts.
Temperatures in Crete rarely dip below 14 degrees Celsius and a stroll on the beautiful virgin beaches at places like Agioi Apostoloi are often more enjoyable in winter, when the summer winds have died down. There are picturesque rivers and gorges to explore, as well as archaeological sites like the spectacular Bronze Age site at Faistos in Heraklion, and you will find accommodation available at significantly reduced rates throughout the winter months, making a getaway in Crete a real bargain.
You may find your favourite online gambling destinations are unavailable during your holiday in Crete, given that more than 2000 offshore unlicensed domains are blocked by the country’s internet service providers. However, you can find land-based and online destinations that are run by licensed operators and the country’s lottery monopoly, OPAP.
If you would like to spend some time during the winter months exploring unspoilt volcanic landscapes, lava caves and geothermal pools, or watching dolphins leap in the Atlantic Ocean at the most westerly outpost in Europe, consider a holiday in the Azores.
Located 1,500 kilometres off the coast of Portugal, the nine islands of the Azores are a natural wonderland of green pastures, brightly coloured flowers, lush vineyards and idyllic fishing villages. Four of the islands are protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, such is the diversity of the flora and fauna to be found there, and a winter trip to the Azores offers holidaymakers the chance to enjoy unforgettable outdoor adventures, outstanding natural beauty and a thriving bar and restaurant scene.
The Azores is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, who can enjoy some of the very best opportunities to watch whales and dolphins anywhere on the planet, but this remarkable set of islands are just as welcoming to those who want to sit back in the temperate winter climate and enjoy wonderful food and drink produced in a uniquely rich area of biodiversity.
Like Madeira, the Azores is regulated by Portuguese gambling laws, meaning only destinations with a Portuguese gambling licence can cater to tourists. You’ll find places to play bingo, slots, blackjack and poker, as well as locations offering fixed-odds sports betting and lottery, thanks to legislation passed in 2015 that made online betting legal in Portugal.
The warmest city in mainland Europe, Seville enjoys an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and only 50 days of rain. It has not snowed significantly in Seville since 1954, so if you’re hoping to avoid a white Christmas, you might want to check out the many wonderful sights, sounds, flavours and discoveries to be found in Spain’s fourth-largest city.
Located just over an hour’s drive inland from Spain’s southern coast, Seville is famous for its oranges, which grow all over the city and many of which are turned into delicious orange wine. The city is also famous for being the birthplace of Flamenco, for having the third-largest cathedral in the world, and for its stunning architecture. Monuments not to miss in Seville include the Alcazar palace complex, the cathedral, and the Plaza de Espana, whose picturesque walkways were one of the locations used for the filming of Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Should you opt to play a bit of online bingo during your trip to Seville,you may notice that welcome bonuses are not available. That is because the Spanish government introduced new restrictions in 2022, including an outright ban on welcome bonuses and gambling sponsorships. However, you can still play bingo, poker, slots and other games online at licenced Spanish sites, or visit land-based destinations like the glamorous Casino Admiral Sevilla.
Let us know if you are planning to escape the UK winter and where you are travelling to and make us all jealous.