Swap winter hibernation for a sunny sensation instead, on a walking holiday where you can put enough Vitamin D into your energy banks to get you through the sleepy season. Check out our endorphin-inducing idylls below, with winter sun walking holidays that take you to the likes of the Peloponnese, which is very easy on the eye in winter, or some new Spanish sierra saunters which will knock any winter doldrums for six. Throw caution to the wind and take a family walking holiday this Christmas, or a Valentine’s trek with someone you’re grateful to have walking alongside you in life. Or open the door to 2024 with a windy, wild trail somewhere new. Winter doesn’t have to suck. It can also blow your mind.
Canary Island hopping
We have been sharing the joys of winter sun walking holidays on the Canary Islands with customers for years now, but our latest trip is an island hopping hikers’ heaven. Spend eleven days between Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera, trekking the trails of some of Spain’s most spectacular national parks: Mount Teide, Caldera de Taburiente and Garajonay respectively. Also, as you stay in the same accommodation on each island, and take different walking trails each day from your hotel or guesthouse, there’s a lot less unpacking to do. This trip is available all year round, including Christmas and New Year. For more sunny yellow Canaries walking holidays, see here.
Sierra translates as mountain range in Spanish, and we have two new additions to our sierra holidays this winter. The Sierra de Guara Natural Park is an exquisite winter escape, walking between remote villages in a limestone landscape that is perfectly poised between the Pyrenees and the Ebro Valley. This is categorised as an easy to moderate holiday with canyons, limestone spires and abandoned villages creating a natural playground. Stay in some gorgeous traditional casas along the way for a winter holiday with some seriously sassy sierras going on.
It’s maybe not appropriate to describe the Sierra Nevada as sassy on our Camino Mozárabe walking holiday, an ancient pilgrimage that starts in its foothills in the grand city of Granada. Spend eight days walking the ancient trail taken by Christians heading to Santiago de Compostela during the period of Muslim rule. Covering 620km in total, this section is as divine as it gets, taking you 120km between Granada and Córdoba over eight days. This trip is available from the beginning of January until the end of November. December is available on request only.
Our Cape Verde hiking holiday opens in November when temperatures are between 22-28C. These island idylls are never short of a coastal breeze, making it perfect to explore this tropical Atlantic archipelago that was once described by Charles Darwin as a “glory of tropical vegetation”. Combine Creole culture with a glorious climate and community camaraderie on the islands of São Vicente, Santo Antão and Fogo, all boasting their own natural heritage highlights in a seascape of voluptuous volcanoes. Although it’s a self-guided walking holiday, the trip includes a guided hike up Mount Pico (2,892m), a simmering volcano that last erupted in 2014. For another type of seasonal spark, trek through the contrasting landscapes of coffee plantations, fruit-filled valleys and dramatic coastal paths on these remote and restorative islands.
Costa Brava, Spain
Spain is never short on salty saunters, and two of our most popular winter sun walking holidays are on the Costa Brava. Such as our Walking the coast and mountains of Costa Brava tour which is, quite simply, a tapas of adventurous treats. Spend a week mixing and matching Catalonia’s coast, castles and cuisine, with just enough challenges to push those muscles, such as on a glorious circuit of Cap de Creus Natural Park, the easternmost peninsula on mainland Spain. This trip is not available in December, but they open the window and let the winter sun in during January and February.
The Peloponnese, Greece
Many islands and mainland accommodation providers in Greece close their doors during the depths of winter. Two exceptions are the Peloponnese Peninsula and its nearby island of Kythira. Spend eight days trekking through Hellenic heaven on the 75km Menalon Trail, which covers the Western Menalon massif and Mylaon Valley, traverses walnut and olive groves, and leads you to ancient architecture such as the Old Philosophou Monastery, with an option to climb up Pliovouni summit, the highest peak of the trail at 1,643m. Kythira Island is the southernmost Ionian island, tucked off the Peloponnese, and just over an hour by ferry. It boasts a panoply of ancient sites, remote villages and trails, hidden river valleys and waterfalls. If you combine both, you could make this the most gorgeous and Greek season of goodwill.
Rota Vicentina Trails, Alentejo and Algarve
A 400km colossal web of natural trails that have been crafted over the centuries by Portugal’s rural residents, the Rota Vicentina comes in two equally perfect packages. The Caminho Histórico or the Historical Way and the Trilho dos Pescadores or the Fishermen’s Trail. Both link Santiago do Cacém in the Alentejo region with the dramatic headland of Cabo de São Vicente on the southern Algarve coast. The Historical Way heads inland through ancient cork forests, remote villages and wildflower meadows, and the Fishermen’s Trail clings to cliffs, seduces you with sandy coves and beckons hikers on from one headland to the next. This is the one that is most popular with hikers and although it is open for most of the year, we only take winter bookings for travel in February. Average high temperatures in the region during this time are 15-17C, but night times are chillier, and rain showers are more common. For more information, see our detailed blog.
This Portuguese archipelago of four islands is way out there in the Atlantic and our Madeira walking holidays focus on the main island of the same name. Although it is only 55km long, it’s mostly the coast that has been developed, leaving an inland of wilderness areas. These include the high altitude Madeira Peaks and the UNESCO Laurisilva forests. Walkers are also gifted with unique walking trails called levadas, which are man-made irrigation channels dating back to the 16th century, still directing water but also walkers who follow these ambrosian arteries across the island. Temperatures range from 12-18C in winter months, and the sea is still 18-20C in December, so get in!
We hope that some of these winter sun walking holidays have perked you up as the summer draws to a close. For more walking holidays that may give you a shiver down your spine for the right reason, take a look at our blogs on the best places to go in December, January and February. Or check out all our winter sun walking holidays here. Or if you’re a fan of cycling to combat the shiver season, check out our blog on Winter sun cycling holidays.