While anyone in search of Caribbean heat or Indian Ocean white sand beaches will have to travel further afield, for those looking to buy somewhere easily accessible that is sunnier and warmer than the UK in midwinter, here are the best bets
Flight time from London: 2hrs 50mins to Malaga
The Costa del Sol lives up to its name even during the winter months with an average of five hours of sunshine every day in January. As the mildest part of Spain, temperatures reach highs of a very acceptable 15C, in London meanwhile that figure drops to 9C.
Unlike many of the resorts that line the coast, the fashionable town of Marbella, with its cobbled streets in the old town, stays lively throughout the winter season with a wide choice of cafes and restaurants remaining open.
Off season, there is still plenty to do outdoors during the winter months and the area has become something of a Mecca for hikers, cyclists and riders with plenty of trails criss-crossing the hills which rise up behind the coast. Skiing in the Sierra Nevada near Granada is also an easy journey to do in a day.
Winter and early spring is arguably the best time to take advantage of the vast wealth of culture on the doorstep, too, with places including the Alhambra Palace, the vineyards in Jerez, the Casa de Pilatos and other magnificent historical houses in Seville all much more agreeable to visit out of the searing heat of the summer.
What to buy: This six-bedroom villa in Monte Mayor, a secure residential estate which is hassle-free to lock up and leave and lies within easy distance of Marbella and Puerto Banus, is on the market for €1.695m.
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Flight time from London: 2hrs 55mins to Faro
Moving west along the Iberian Peninsula into Portugal’s Algarve region and the average highs in January rise to 16C, again with a generous five hours of sunshine. The area has long catered efficiently for British property owners who find the ease of travel (most resorts lie within a short drive of Faro Airport) and lack of time change an attractive choice for a winter escape.
The winter months lure golfers to the Algarve’s many and varied courses; there are a total of forty-two nine-hole and eighteen-hole courses in the region. But there is plenty to do besides. Walks along the vast beaches, wildlife watching on the various nature reserves, cycling and hiking as well as visits to the local market towns and vineyards.
In order to be based near towns that stay open during the winter months, look to buy a property near the largest of resorts which include Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, Vilamoura or Lagos.
What to buy: This four-bedroom villa near Praia da Luz not far from Lagos enjoys views to the hills behind the coast and has a heated private pool—great for the shoulder season when the nights are cool. It’s on the market for €535,000.
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The Côte d'Azur, France
Flight time from London: 2hrs 5mins to Nice
While the big names of the early 20th century who put the French Riviera on the map might not have visited in January, regular flights to Nice from all British airports, as well as the Eurostar services from St Pancras International (with just one change in Paris), make this an easy place to escape for a bit of winter sun.
Nice is among France’s most important cities so there’s never a quiet season on the famous Promenade des Anglais.
What to buy: A newly-built three-bedroom apartment just outside Nice with beautiful views of the Mediterranean is €980,000
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Flight time from London: 4hrs 25mins to Paphos
Journey-wise, the island is a longer time commitment but with average highs of 17C and some days rising to as high as 20C—perfect for enjoying lunch on a terrace–it’s the warmest short-haul winter sun option. Again, when the days are a little cooler, there’s plenty to enjoy including taking in the old town of Paphos and walking or riding up into the cedar-clad Troodos mountains.
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