Travelling long-haul is not always affordable or desirable, especially with younger kids or if you’re only going away for a week - say in October half term or February half term. We’ve looked at some alternatives for those desperate to escape a succession of grey-sky days and frosty mornings but keen to avoid long flights and jet lag.
The incursion of budget flight operators into at least some of the following destinations means that your travel costs can be low, and some of them also have much lower living costs than the UK.
With a flight time from London of three hours, this Mediterranean island just sneaks into the short-haul category. Between November and March expect temperatures of 16°C to 21°C - hardly boiling, but you can be sure of a daily dose of sunshine. Our top tip for those heading here out of high season is to pick a hotel with an indoor pool and/or heated outdoor pool.
Take the Family Top Pick: Mellieha Bay Hotel
Despite a flight time of just three and a half hours, this vibrant North African destination guarantees winter warmth of around 14°C in December and February. It’s also great value - you can enjoy a three-course meal in a restaurant for less than a tenner and sleep in a charming riad for about £25 a night. Flights from the UK can be as low as £100 if you book far enough ahead. Tunisia is also medium haul and is now back on the tourist map after security issues.
Take the Family Top Pick: Sahara Family Adventure.
This ultra-child-friendly destination about a four-flight from the UK is at the same latitude as Florida, meaning it’s a possibility for a family holiday all year round, especially with very young kids for whom the heat of summer is uncomfortable. From December to February, the average daily temperature is 17°C. As with Malta, choose a hotel or self-catering complex with an indoor pool and/or a heated outdoor pool. See our feature on a February half-term family break at the Tenerife Carnival.
Take the Family Pick: Gran Melia Palacio de Isora (formerly Sensatori Resort Tenerife)
Just over five hours from the UK, these lush Portuguese islands with their volcanic features hover around the 14°C mark in winter, with five or more hours a day of sunshine on average at this time of year. A hotel with a heated outdoor pool is the best option out of high season for those travelling with kids.
Take the Family Top Pick: Hotel Talisman, Ponta Delgada
A haven of peace in a troubled region, this history-rich land is best visited outside summer, when temperatures soar. It’s surprisingly cool in winter (an average of 10°C in December), but you can still count on six to seven hours of sunshine a day as you explore ancient treasures such as Petra or discover the delights of the desert.
Take the Family Top Pick: Jordan Family Adventure Holiday.
LONG-HAUL (BUT ONLY JUST!)
At seven hours’ flying time from the UK, this hyper-modern, ever-evolving and safe city has vast amounts to entertain the kids - including a raft of theme parks - in addition to January temperatures reaching up to 24°C.
Take the Family Top Pick: Atlantis The Palm
With a similar flight time and temperatures to Dubai, this lesser-known destination is about more than guaranteed good weather - there are also gorgeous beaches, ancient forts, stunning palaces, deserts, souks, wadis and oases, plus some fantastic resort hotels.
Take the Family Top Pick: The Chedi Muscat.
See more of our hand-picked recommendations for winter sun holidays with kids and our latest winter sun holiday offers.