Many people escape to southern Europe during the winter months, to escape the cold of the north. In particual southern Portugal, southern Spain, and the south of France are popular winter destinations. The Algarve of Portugal remains the warmest place to stay.
Many British, German and Dutch people travel south in autumn, and return to the north in the spring. A diverse group of people do this. Retired people in motorhomes, couples in caravans, surfers looking for waves, and travellers in general regularly make the pilgrimage south. Many people have been doing this for years, and are a good source of information and tips.
Warmest places in Europe during winter
The Algarve, Portugal: the warmest place during winter. Because of this it is popular, and some areas can be crowded with many camper vans and motorhomes. Some people like this, as you can easy meet people, make new friends and gain traveling companions. It is easy to find areas to yourself if this is your sort of thing. Most days are sunny during the winter in The Algarve. Late December and January are the coldest periods. Most people can enjoy not having to wear a jumper during this time. Some days are cooler, especially if there is a breeze. During the night however, the temperatures can be much cooler. You should bring plenty of warm bedding if staying during this cold period. Few people use heating in their vehicles, even at night. By February good warm weather is a daily occurrence. The Algarve has a good number of storms during the winter months. Some being gale force. The point at Sagres receives the full-force of southerly or westerly storms. During westerly storms it is better to move to the south coast, as the west coast receives the full force of the Atlantic weather, and gets very rough. The area east of Faro is the most sheltered from Atlantic storms, and the water there remains the warmest. The area east of Faro attracts the most visitors living in vehicles during the winter. The surfers almost always stay on the west coast, occasionally visiting the south coast, when really big swells roll in. Portugal is the cheapest country in which to spend the winter months.
Christmas time in The Algarve: On Christmas Day ex-pat pubs in the resort areas of Faro, Albufera, Lagos and Luz offer a Christmas dinner, and somewhere to meet people and have a drink. New Years eve is a similar affair, with the same resorts providing good entertainment. Albufera, in particular, offers a big night of entertainment on New Years Eve, with a free outdoor convert, featuring pop artists.
Andalucia, Spain: the southern coast of Spain remains almost as warm as the Algarve. Lapped by the Mediterranean sea, it avoids most of the Atlantic storms. This area is less crowded in winter than The Algarve. Few people use heating in their vehicles. Spain is more expensive than Portugal.
Morroco: Although not part of Europe, it is easily accessible by a short ferry crossing from Spain. Temperatures remain warm throughout the winter. Although close in terms of distance to Europe, Morocco is a world apart in culture. Costs are very low. A great option if you want a real alternative to Europe. Popular with surfers. The water is cold though.
South of France: Although not as warm as other places mentioned here, it is popular with some travellers. It escapes most of the winter storms. The south of France remains one of the most expensive places in Europe.
Southern Italy: The extensive coastline of southern Italy remains fairly warm during the winter. The island of Sicily is the warmest. Italy has become quite an expensive destination.
Southern Greece: The many beautiful islands of southern Greece remain warm throughout the winter. Traveling around the islands in a vehicle is expensive, and it is better to remain on the mainland, but the temperatures are cooler, and the sights more limited.
See the weather guide for temperatures.
Portugal is the cheapest country in western Europe. Morocco is cheaper, and the cheapest country mentioned here. Spain and Italy have seen reasonably big increases in prices since changing to the Euro. Greece is also experiencing steady rises in costs. France remains expensive.