Low season prices and unusually warm weather await those who can now escape to the Mediterranean

Andalusia enjoying 20C temperatures next week - Getty

Andalusia enjoying 20C temperatures next week – Getty

The lack of snow may have stopped the games on the tracks, but the warm, off-season weather is good news for sun seekers. After all, for those who prefer their break with less ice and more ice cream, there is no greater luxury than escaping the heat while enjoying a UK cold drizzle.

The start of 2023 brought record temperatures across much of Europe. In Poland, Denmark and Belarus, which is usually around freezing at this time of year, mercury has hit young people recently. And in Spain and Portugal, already known for their mild winters, the weather was warm enough to escape the beach. Even the northern Spanish city of Bilbao, not traditionally recognized as a winter sun destination, recorded 25.1C on New Year’s Day.

Met Office experts attribute the rise in temperatures to the warm air mass moving across the continent from Africa’s west coast, and believe this reflects the increasing hot air events the world is experiencing. Still, you’ll need to act fast for a last-minute break in the sunshine as more typical winter conditions are expected to return soon.

The Costa del Sol is already well established as a winter getaway. Average January temperatures typically hover around 15C and the sun shines 325 days a year. But next week, the region is expected to be positively spring-like when the thermometer hits 21C. And as a bonus to this unexpected bikini-friendly vibe, low season prices at some of the area’s best accommodations mean travelers can snag luxury beach vacations at (relatively) affordable prices.

Next week’s at the Marbella Club, the most luxurious hotel in the area, will get you £400 a night (a significant savings over the £708 May price). It’s the same story in the nearby and equally revered Puente Romano. A double room here currently costs £334 per night compared to £667 in May.

The Algarve was also sunnier than usual, reaching 23C on December 27. While it’s not that hot right now, it will hit 19C next week (several degrees warmer than the January average). The mini heatwave coincides with some surprisingly cheap off-season flight prices. Fly with Wizz Air from Gatwick for as little as £30 for a return flight from London. Or go a little further to the woefully underrated city of Funchal, Madeiran, where the temperature is predicted to remain below 21C for the foreseeable future (a five degree increase from the monthly average). Flights with Ryanair from London Stansted are around £37 this month.

Algarve is hot enough for a beach break right now - Getty

Algarve is hot enough for a beach break right now – Getty

But traditional hotspots aren’t the only ones enjoying the winter sun. During the festive season, residents of Marseille used social media to post photos of swimming in the sea, tropical sunsets, and outdoor lunches.

Last year was sizzling in this southern city where mercury refused to drop below 25C for 113 consecutive days. It was very hot in the summer and the uncomfortable stickiness was exacerbated by the crowds of tourists. But now is the time to dabble in the museums of Marseille alongside a dose of unexpected sunshine. Unlike most of the Riviera, this is a year-round city, and most restaurants, bars, and hotels stay open with a more local flavor than you might find in high season. Dine under the seaside parasols of Tuba Club or enjoy the sunset on the terrace of Le Petit Nice Passedat hotel.

Meanwhile, January isn’t normally the time for a Balearic getaway, but the unusually hot weather on the islands means its empty beaches beckon. Winter is the season to enjoy the bright sunshine and a more authentic side of Ibiza, with a forecast of 19C next week. Join international expats in Santa Gertrudis for galleries, shopping and long lunches in the town square. Or take a hike to explore Mallorca’s mountains – while temperatures in summer can be prohibitive, it’s now an 18C like spring and perfect for exploring (book a guide via mallorcahiking.com).

You should be able to get some flight and hotel discounts here too. Skyscanner has flights to both islands starting at around £30, which is a significant savings in high season. By the way, prices in some five-star hotels in Ibiza are much cheaper than in summer. Book a double room for £185 at The Standard, in a stunning location in Ibiza Town.

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