The hottest countries in Europe in December, or in any other winter month for that matter, aren’t countries but places.

Spain, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Greece spread over so many latitude lines, or parallels, that they can’t be regarded as a whole when planning your trips to the warmest places in Europe in December.

December temperatures in Malaga or Marbella are much higher than temperatures in northern Spain cities such as Bilbao and San Sebastian.

The average temperature in December or January in Algarve is higher than the average temperature in Porto.

Places in Europe located closer to the tropic lines or the African continent are warmer in the winter than places located closer to the North Pole. That’s how geography works. We can only pursue warm places to spend a milder winter.

This list of the warmest places in Europe in December will help you plan your winter escape in style. Don’t forget to pack your sunglasses and sunscreen and to download and install the best apps for European travel!

Malaga cathedral with orange tree

Malaga Cathedral in winter – Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz : https://www.pexels.com/photo/malaga-cathedral-with-an-orange-tree-in-front-17162850/

1. Costa Del Sol, Spain

The scenic coastal stretch of Spain’s Costa del Sol enjoys mild sunny weather even during December, especially popular beach destinations like Marbella and Malaga.

Average December Temperature:

68°F (20°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Marbella – At the chic boutique hotel Casa Pendolo experience Andalusian architecture merged with modern design, just 5 minutes from the beach.

– Malaga – For families and groups, try beachfront accommodations at Barceló Malaga overlooking golden sands, featuring two outdoor pools.

What to Do

Don’t miss exploring the charming historic city center of Malaga, sampling wine and serrano ham in mountain villages like Mijas and enjoying sunset seaside escapes with sizzling tapas spreads.

2. Seville, Spain

As one of Europe’s warmest cities in December, atmospheric Seville shines with its colorful architecture, soulful flamenco shows and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Average December Temperature:

High 61°F (16°C), Low 43°F (6°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Seville – Live like 19th century nobility at the elegant Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza housed in a traditional manor right near Seville Cathedral.

– Seville – For budget luxury inside the Jewish Quarter, look no further than Corral del Rey with its Andalusian courtyard and rooftop pool deck.

What to Do

Must see attractions include the massive Seville Cathedral, romantic parks bursting with flowers and fountains like Maria Luisa Park as well as the Moorish Alcazar Palace’s intricate architecture and gardens. Don’t leave Seville without catching an authentic flamenco performance either!

Armacao de Pera beach

Armacao de Pera beach in Algarve, Portugal, in the winter – around 19 degrees C in the air, but the water was freezing cold

3. Algarve, Portugal

Portugal’s picturesque southern coastline stays pleasantly warm enough to enjoy Algarve’s breathtaking beaches, resort towns and stellar seafood through late fall and early winter.

Average December Temperature:

61°F (16°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Lagos – Boasting Atlantic Ocean views, the chic The Cliff Bay resort dazzles guests with five pools surrounded by tropical lush gardens.

– Tavira – For history buffs, stay in Tavira’s medieval core at Quinta do Caracol surrounded by walls of an ancient Moorish castle.

– Pera – This village has the most incredible sandy beach, lined with sand dunes and close to a natural reserve.

Here’s my article about Pera, Portugal and its scenic natural reserve.

What to Do

Top activities include beach hopping along the Algarve’s famed golden sand coastline, enjoying fresh catches of fish at oceanside restaurants in Foodie capital Olhao and exploring pastel-hued Tavira’s historic churches and Roman ruins.

Check out my article about the best places to visit in the Algarve.

Lisbon in winter can also be a nice option, but you won’t have the beaches of the Algarve.

Etna Sicilly in December

Snowcapped Etna, Sicily – Image by 6657176 from Pixabay

4. Sicily, Italy

December shines ideal weather to explore Sicily’s trove of Greek temples, Byzantine mosaics and lava-formed coastal rock formations more comfortably before summertime crowds arrive.

Average December Temperature:

60°F (15°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Taormina – For 5-star luxury, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo offers sublime lodging, fine dining and gorgeous views near Taormina’s charming city sights.

– Modica – Get a taste of Sicilian country life at cozy bed & breakfasts like Hotel Quarto Miglio set on an olive grove, perfect for trying beloved Modican chocolate.

What to Do

Must-sees include Greek amphitheaters overlooking Mount Etna, riding a cable car up its smoldering silhouette, seeing Byzantine masterpieces at Monreale Cathedral as well as savoring seafood like sweet Marsala-glazed prawns.

larnaca beach finikoudes promenade

Finikoudes beach is right in the center of Larnaca and it is perfect for families – this is early spring not winter, but the weather is perfect for the beach – Cyprus is one of the hottest countries in Europe in December

5. Cyprus

Cyprus winters serve up more mild coastal conditions perfect for soaking up charming harborside towns and venturing out to its wealth of ancient archeology contrasted by high-end resort amenities.

Average December Temperature:

66°F (19°C)

Best Places to Stay:

Paphos – Overlooking the Med Sea, the Almyra Hotel is perfect for friends or families with contemporary style rooms plus live music at its trendy bar.

Larnaca – Situated near pretty Palm Tree Promenade, the laidback boutique hotel Golden Bay Beach offers great value just steps from the sea.

What to Do

Top picks include wandering seaside lanes and medieval fortresses in old town Paphos, viewing exquisite mosaics inside the Tombs of Kings, hiking to mountain villages to taste wine and halloumi cheese or relaxing along some of Cyprus’ beautiful beaches.

winter in Chania crete

Chania Old Harbor in December

6. Crete, Greece

As southernmost Greece stays mild through late fall, December invites lazy exploration of Crete’s charming Venetian port cities, spectacular gorges and ruins at the center of ancient Minoan civilization without overheating.

Average December Temperature:

High 64°F (18°C), Low 50°F (10°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Chania – Opt for charming renovated farm manor stays outside Crete’s culture-rich second city at Antigoni Country Hotel to soak up gorgeous views of the White Mountains from its infinity pool.

– Elounda – Pick all inclusive luxury and myriad amenities perfect for both families and couples alike at Elounda Peninsula hotel situated just steps from a sandy beach lined with tavernas.

– Agia Galini, Tymbaki, Matala or any other place in Southern Crete

Here’s how to get from Chania to Elafonisi, the pink sand beach in Western Crete.

Crete in December, Violeta Matei wearing a t-shirt

December in Crete is windy but warm – I was wearing t-shirts throughout the entire winter

Violeta in the wind in Winter in Europe

Even on the roughest winter days I’m wearing t-shirts. The sea was warm – this is the south of Crete, on Matala Beach

What to Do

December is perfect for hiking through nature reserves like Samaria Gorge carved by the island’s famous endemic wildflowers and fauna or visiting a wealth of Minoan archaeological sites – including famous Knossos Palace – to understand foundations of Europe’s earliest advanced society without crowds.

Further cultural explorations through Venetian, Byzantine and Ottoman occupations rewarded in Crete’s quaint towns hugging sparkling shores or hillsides dotted with citrus groves.

Pico Ruivo in Madeira

Image by Michał from Pixabay

7. Madeira Islands, Portugal

This Portuguese volcanic island chain crowns the Atlantic offering winter adventurers balmier conditions to traverse mountainous trails through surreal landscapes of sheer ravines and delicate terraced farmlands.

Average December Temperature:

66°F (19°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Funchal – Wake up to turquoise ocean vistas right from bed at the adults-only Boutique Hotel The Vine, nestled on a banana plantation above Funchal.

– Santana – Stay amidst lush nature inside charming thatched roof Abrigo do Pastor guest cottages, perfect for Madeira’s inland mountain hikes.

What to Do

Madeira entices nature lovers to lace up hiking boots and climb peaks for stunning views over the island’s sub-tropical forests and coastline or follow one of the many levada irrigation canals lined with incredible landscapes.

After working up an appetite, dive into fresh Atlantic seafood platters, enjoy Madeira’s namesake wine and embrace traditional culture through spirited music and dance.

Nice, France

Image by Prosag-Media from Pixabay

8. Nice, France

While slightly cooler than its Mediterranean neighbors, Nice still averages mild temperatures through December perfect for lingering strolls among old town street art, Belle Epoque opulence and seaside cafes without throngs of summer tourists.

Average December Temperature:

56°F (13°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Nice – Overlooking Place Massena, boutique Hotel Negresco echoes the French Riviera’s early 20th century splendor with fine art and a Michelin-starred restaurant steps from the beach.

– Nice – For mid-range accommodations try the peaceful Le Grimaldi near Old Town and Promenade des Anglais, with rich Art Deco style and attentive service.

What to Do

In addition to Nice’s picturesque Mediterranean cityscapes mixing Italian influences, French Provencal charm and modern arts culture, the mild weather makes nearby day trips ideal to towns like medieval Eze Village perched atop a cliff, posh Cannes with its exclusive shopping boulevard or the perfumeries of grassy flower fields in Grasse.

budva montenegro

Image by Mujo Hasanovic from Pixabay

9. Budva, Montenegro

Often coined the Monte Carlo of Montenegro, the coastal gem of Budva sees temperatures stay comfortable through December offering off-season value and thinner crowds to explore its atmospheric cobblestoned Old Town and pink sand beaches more privately.

Average December Temperature:

53°F (12°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Sveti Stefan – Aman Sveti Stefan requires a high budget but delivers stay carved into a rocky island with historic charm and iconic Turkish-inspired architecture surrounded by dazzling blue seas.

– Budva – Offering great value with super friendly hosts and cozy rooms, apartment stays like Apartmentsoutbox Old Town nestle you right in heart of scenic Budva.

What to Do

Highlights include wandering through the stone-walled citadel and labyrinth cobblestoned lanes of Budva Old Town housing lively cafes and shopping plazas. Venture down the coast to landmarks like picturesque island fortress at Sveti Stefan before warming up with hearty Montenegrin fare like Njeguši smoked ham, savory burek pastries and even locally produced wine.

10. Dubrovnik, Croatia

As Croatia’s star attraction, the UNESCO heritage site of Dubrovnik unveils its magic beautifully during December when thinner crowds fill its lived-in Old Town quarters housing al fresco wine bars, boutiques and even one of the world’s oldest pharmacies contrasted by imposing medieval ramparts and forts overlooking the crystalline Adriatic Sea.

Average December Temperature:

58°F (14°C)

Best Places to Stay

– Dubrovnik – Historic grandeur meets contemporary luxury at the iconic 5 star Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik located right on the city’s lively pedestrian walkway with sea views over Old Town.

– Dubrovnik – Watch ships enter the harbor right from your balcony upon choosing apartments like Old Town City Center Apartments with reasonable rates for Serbian hospitality.

What to Do

Discover 2km around Dubrovnik’s colossal ancient city walls, cruise to forested island getaways like Lokrum filled with peacocks, monasteries and gardens or embark on day trips to surrounding coastal havens and countryside tracing legacies of Mediterranean cultures through Croatia’s south.

Visit the Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik, whether you’re a fan of GoT or not.

Pera, Portugal - Blossoming almond tree and ruined mill

Pera, Portugal, in the Algarve, in December – Blossoming almond trees and ruined mills scattered along the way to the beach

Why Seek for Warmer Places in Europe in December

Rather than bundling up while trudging between bustling Christmas markets and major capitals covered in frigid rain, fog or snowfall during Europe’s low tourist season, visitors can indulge guilt-free in some self-care soaking in the Algarve region’s luxurious southern Portugal sun and hospitality or wander through history basking along Cyprus’ Mediterranean shores.

December invites flexible travelers swapping gloomy hometown skies for carefree island and seaside escapes in Madeira, Crete or Sicily without overheating, overspending or overcrowding found at most idyllic European spots during summer’s peak tourist crush.

By following reliably warmer pockets from Europe’s far southern peninsulas across southern Spain through to Cyprus’ Levantine beaches ringed by snow-capped mountain sentinels, winter warriors can discover crowdless culture, adventure and simply blissful temperatures for prime off-season experiences.

Whether you crave sipping smooth Portuguese red wines or strong Greek coffee warmed by kind sunlight or prefer exhilarating snowless Alpine hiking and peaceful waterfall trails, December is arguably the perfectly cozy period to explore Europe’s sunniest treasures.

Last but not least accommodation prices in warmer places in Europe are more affordable than in the peak season. I spent one winter in Algarve and one winter in Greece, so I know how cheap these destinations can be from December through February and even March.

Violeta Matei
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