As winter drags on, the rain, sleet and snow can dampen our spirits and make us long for summertime, but fear not there is light at the end of the wintry tunnel. For those looking to for a much needed dose of sunshine and warm(er) weather, there are plenty of spring-like destinations abroad that fit the bill. But you don’t have to fly off to the America’s for a taste of sunshine, you can melt off those winter blues much closer to home. We name some of the nearest and most budget-friendly destinations that allow U.K. travellers to escape the chill and revel in a warmer climate that will have you feeling like yourself in no time at all. Although it might still be too cool for a dip in the ocean, these destinations hold a host of cultural sights and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed. The best part? Because prices to these sun-loving holiday spots peak during the summer months, you are sure to find some huge savings during February and March on flights and hotels. Now there’s no excuse to wait around for the snow and ice to melt when there’s s a world of warmth waiting for you.

The Canary Islands

tenerife 2 Just a few hours from London are the striking Canary Islands. The volcanic archipelago is composed of seven distinctly beautiful islands, the largest being Tenerife closely followed by the popular Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. Although the weather in February and March won’t be warm enough to jump into the ocean, visitors can expect temperatures to hover around 19°C. Perfect weather for a round of golf at one of the several world-class courses, a adventurous bike ride or hike in Mt. Teide National Park. Or for a cultural twist try exploring the many charming Canarian villages.

Cote d'Azur

Saint_Tropez_Ville What better way to spend the blustery month of March than touring the iconic French cities of Cannes, St. Tropez and Nice? You will miss the crowds of the summer season while enjoying iconic landmarks and some of the country’s best restaurants and shopping. The days are crisp but with an average of twelve hours of sunlight a day, the Cote d’Azur might just be the remedy for those winter blues.
 

 Crete

crete
Don't think that just because you can't swim through Crete's glossy waters that the island has nothing to offer you over the winter. Now's the time to take advantage of the low number of visitors to the island and dive into Crete's fascinating history. Cool, sunny days are perfect for exploring the wealth of ancient ruins and artifacts left behind by Crete's earliest inhabitants. The Minoan Palace of Knossos, Gournia, Phaistos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum are just some of the many sights that bring the ancient Minoan and Greek culture to life. Or, fast-forward through time as you walk along streets of Chania that was once inhabited by the Ottomans and Venetians. This sightseeing trip to Crete will be a history lesson for the ages.

 Madeira

Madeira_5_2014 There is something undeniably magical about Madeira. They four islands that compose Madeira have retained an air of remoteness despite being discovered by two Portuguese explorers in 1419. Because Madeira lies off the coast of North Africa it boasts a warm, subtropical climate year round. This being said, the temperatures in February can still hover around 16°C during the day. Bring a sweater and a light jacket and you'll be ready to trek across Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo, some of Madeira's most awe-inspiring and rugged landscapes. Or cozy up in Funchal, the vibrant capital of Madeira where you can explore the host of museums, cathedrals, outdoor markets, historical landmarks and the picturesque Old Town.

Malta

Malta-Fort-StAngelo-56 Renown for its jaw-dropping beaches and rocky coves, Malta is an island that is just as beautiful over the winter months as it is during the summer. Cooler temperatures linger but with the sun out, it feels like spring time. February and March are the perfect time to visit Malta without the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist season. Take advantage of this freedom and wander the medieval cobbled streets, explore ancient Roman ruins and prehistoric caves and visit some of the island’s thirty museums without worrying about long queues or hiked prices.

South of Spain

Plaza_de_Espana,_Seville,_Spain
February and March are wonderful times to visit Adulucia’s trifecta; Seville, Grenada and Cordoba. The south of Spain enjoys dry weather with warm days and cool nights that beg for evening strolls. The ancient Moorish cities boast unimaginable charm and brim with enchanting palaces, beautiful mosques and churches as well as a host of other cultural delights. The week before Easter is Semana Santa, which is a nonstop procession of parades, musical performances and religious events. Spend your days visiting iconic sights like Alhambra in Granada, Alcazar of Seville and the Mosque of Cordoba, and your evenings feasting on local tapas and being mesmerised by dizzying flamenco shows.
And if you can't escape the drudgery of winter quite yet, just remember....summer is only 165 days away... plenty of time to plan your ultimate fun-in-the-sun holiday. Until then, keep warm and drink lots of hot chocolate!  

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