If you’re looking to escape the cold weather and visit a warm and sunny destination this winter, we’ve got the perfect list for you! Here are 7 of the best World Heritage Sites to go to for winter sun. From tropical beaches to city getaways, you’ll get plenty of vitamin D while everyone else shivers back home. So pack your bags and get ready for some fun in the sun!
Laurisilva of Madeira, Portugal
Madeira, Portugal is all about the views. The Laurisilva of Madeira is a natural World Heritage Site known for its lush landscape, Levada walks, and stunning waterfalls. This Portuguese island in the North Atlantic is 580 miles (935 kilometers) west of Morocco and 310 miles (500 kilometers) north of the Canary Islands. In winter, the weather is still warm enough to wear a T-shirt (at night you might want a fleece or light jacket). The island is home to many different hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, many of which offer stunning views of the coast. There is an endless supply of restaurants and cafes in the capital of Funchal.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park is a World Heritage Site located in southern Florida. The park spans nearly 1.5 million acres, making it the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities year-round, but winter is a particularly special time to explore the Everglades. It’s the dry season, making it the most popular time of year for visitors and also one of the best times to spot wildlife. The cooler temperatures make it more comfortable to hike and bike through the park, and the lack of mosquitoes means you won’t get eaten alive.
Galle, Sri Lanka
Located on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, The Old Town of Galle is a World Heritage Site known for its Dutch fort, which was built in the 16th century. The city is also home to several churches, museums, and other historical landmarks. Galle is particularly lovely in the winter months when the weather is cooler and there is little rain. Visitors can enjoy the many restaurants and shops, or take a day trip to one of the nearby beaches. The Old Town of Galle, with its colonial fortifications and narrow, cobbled streets is a picturesque coastal destination, and watching at least one sunset from the fort’s wall should be mandatory before leaving the city.
With its mild Mediterranean climate and its wealth of ancient history, Paphos is a popular destination for winter sun seekers. December is an ideal time to visit Cyprus if you’re looking forward to emptied-out beaches and avoiding throngs of other tourists. This World Heritage Site includes the remains of the ancient Roman city of Nea Paphos, as well as numerous other archaeological treasures. Paphos is also known for its stunning natural scenery, with its beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters. Weather can be unpredictable during December so have a backup plan in case of rain.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a World Heritage Site that is home to two of the most active volcanoes in Hawaii. The park is open year-round, but winter is a particularly good time to visit because the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. There are numerous trails and roads through the park, which offer access to sweeping ocean panoramas, massive volcano craters lush tropical vegetation, and incredible lava caverns. The park also has a visitor center and museum, which provide information about the history and geology of the area. Please be aware that Hawaii is currently facing a problem with overtourism. If you decide to come, we strongly suggest being mindful of your travel choices and maintaining sustainable tourism practices. Visit the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii website for more information and resources to help plan a responsible trip.
According to UNESCO, Valletta is ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.’ Although its population is significantly smaller than that of other capitals, Valletta offers an abundance of charm and character. This World Heritage Site, located on a hilly peninsula between two natural harbors, was conceived and planned as a single, holistic creation of the late Renaissance. During the winter months, temperatures remain mild here and you can enjoy exploring the city’s defensive walls, forts, and museums, or take a leisurely stroll through its quaint streets all with a Mediterranean breeze. Since Valletta is relatively quiet in winter, you can have all the city has to offer with the bonus of lower prices.
If you’re looking for a winter getaway that’s off the beaten path, Zanzibar, Tanzania is the perfect destination. This archipelago off the coast of East Africa is a World Heritage Site known for its sandy beaches, turquoise waters and lush vegetation. In December and January, the weather is warm and sunny, making it ideal for beach lovers. Visitors can explore Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with winding streets and Persian-influenced architecture. There are also several spice farms on the island where you can learn about the history of Zanzibar’s spice trade. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture, Zanzibar is the perfect winter destination.