Winter European escapes
European winters are fairly chilly (and dark) continent-wide, but that doesn't mean that pleasant-weather holidays are off the proverbial table. In past winters, I have taken advantage of the lower airfares and hopped to the following locales for still-sunny, not-freezing, mid-winter breaks.
This southern region of Spain boasts the most annual days of sunshine in Europe. During a November visit, temps in sea-level Seville hovered in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit with plentiful scorching sunshine. In Granada, however, with the Sierra Nevada mountains in view, the weather was substantially cooler but with abundant light. Kick back with a tinto de verano (a wine/lemon soda drink that is typically consumed in summer) and ponder how to pack sunshine into your carry-on to take home.
Across the border from Andalusia is the coastal city of Lisbon. Nestled on the Atlantic Ocean, the seven-hilled Portuguese capital draws many similarities from San Francisco, but with sunnier skies and warmer year-round temps. Wind is a factor in Lisbon as the Tajo River branches off into the Atlantic, bringing in breezy weather. But the oft-visited southern city is ideal to visit in the off-season where fewer crowds will be fighting to catch the views from one of Lisbon's lookout points.
Another city with seven hills, the ancient city of Rome is best enjoyed in non-summer months. As one of the most visited cities in Europe, winter means shorter lines at the Vatican, fewer selfie sticks in front of the Trevi Fountain, and less humidity. Beware the hibernating starlings, though, as they swarm above the Eternal City and relieve themselves en masse.
Nice is a questionable inclusion in this list as the Mediterranean breeze can make this French seaside town quite cold in the winter. Known for its crystal blue waters and miles of rocky beaches, most travelers opt to save Nice for the summer to experience a true Cote d'Azur season. But for those who feel like a dip in the sea isn't necessary to enjoy southern France, Nice has plenty to offer in terms of outdoor markets, hiking, and day trips to nearby locales like Èze and Monaco.
Where have you traveled to escape the harsh winter weather? Please share in the comments below!
Lead photo: Snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, Andalusia, Spain.