The Winter Sun Index
The best destinations in the US and around the world to enjoy some winter sunshine
As the colder months are starting to settle in, you may find yourself dreaming of a sunny escape. Whether you are longing for a January holiday in Dubai or a sun-kissed Christmas vacation in Thailand, there are a variety of winter sun destinations to choose from.
Destinations across the US, from Los Angeles to Orlando, alongside worldwide seasonal vacation favorites, have been analyzed on their winter temperatures, precipitation rates, sunshine hours, and average hotel prices to reveal the best US and global locations for a winter sun vacation.
This report also reveals the best winter sun destinations in terms of hotel affordability, so that you can top up your vitamin D without breaking the bank!
The best winter sun vacation destinations in the US
1. Phoenix, Arizona – 7.88/10
Ranking as the best destination in the US for a winter sun vacation is Phoenix, Arizona. On average, vacationers in Phoenix can lounge in 8.66 hours of daily sunshine through the winter months. Phoenix is known for its stunning year-round sun and warm average temperatures, owing to its nickname the Valley of the Sun.
Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona and is well known for being home to high-end spa resorts, golf courses, and nightclubs. Phoenix also shows off some truly incredible landscapes surrounding the city with beautiful hiking trails to explore.
2. Miami, Florida – 7.54/10
Miami is the second-best winter destination for sun worshippers in the US. Enjoy a pleasant 7 hours of sun per day in Miami during the winter months, and a tropical average temperature of 70.34 °F. Miami likewise ranks as the most popular US winter destination on Instagram, having seen over 84 million hashtags on the social media platform.
On top of this, Miami is home to many high-end hotels and a truly mind-blowing skyline. Party-goers and sun worshippers flock to Miami year-round to enjoy its pristine beaches and non-stop nightlife under the sun.
3. Orlando, Florida – 6.95/10
Ranking as the third best US destination for winter sun is Orlando, Florida. Orlando offers mild weather conditions during the winter months, with average temperatures hitting 61.70°F and an average of 6.68 hours of sunlight each day. Furthermore, Orlando offers some of the cheapest hotels on this list at just $87 per night!
Orlando is a great winter sun vacation for thrill-seekers and movie-buffs alike. Home to over a dozen theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
The best winter sun vacation destinations across the world
1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 8.38/10
Dubai ranks as the best destination in the world for a winter sun vacation. Visitors to Dubai can expect to bask in 8.82 hours of sunlight each day during the winter months, with average temperatures reaching a comfortable 68.84 °F. Dubai is by far the most popular winter sun destination of those studied, seeing over 111 million Instagram hashtags and the most winter-related Google searches for things to do, reaching over 55,000.
Dubai is probably best known for its ultramodern architecture, including The Burj Khalifa. Dubai’s most iconic building stands at 830m tall, making it the tallest building in the world.
2. Bangkok, Thailand – 8.11
The runner-up for the best winter sun vacation city in the world is Bangkok. Bangkok offers an average of 9.06 hours of sunlight each day in winter. With average temperatures reaching a friendly 63.80 °F Bangkok is ideal for warm and sunny winter escapes. Bangkok is also ideal for those on a budget, with average hotel stays costing around $68 per night.
Bangkok is unique in the way its impressive Buddhist temples contrast with its vibrant nightlife scenes. Bangkok is a hub of cultural and exciting activity from the Grand Palace to Khaosan Road. Sweltering hot all year round, Bangkok is a great city to visit during the winter months when the weather is cooler but still pleasant.
3. Cape Town, South Africa – 7.72
Ranking in third place is Cape Town. For those looking to vacation in Cape Town, sunlight hours average 10.22 each day, from December through to February. Despite these extended sunny days, average temperatures reach 67.46 °F and Cape Town sees a low average of 0.70” of rainfall over winter. Lying beneath the impressive Table Mountain, Cape Town is most known for its bustling harbor and warm weather.
Winter destinations with the cheapest hotels per night in the US
1. Orlando, Florida – $87
Not only does Orlando rank as the third-best US destination for a winter sun vacation but it also ranks as the cheapest when looking at average hotel costs. Orlando will see you spend an average of $87 per night on your hotel stay during the months of December through to February.
2. Phoenix, Arizona – $106
Phoenix ranks as the best winter sun destination in the US, and for good reason, with an abundance of sunshine throughout the winter months. Phoenix also ranks as the second most affordable destination in terms of hotel prices, which average $106 per night.
3. Lafayette, Louisiana – $107
The US winter vacation destination that sees the third cheapest hotel prices is Lafayette; here prices average $107 per night. In Lafayette, you can enjoy over 6 hours of sun per day, making it an ideal destination for some winter sun.
Winter destinations with the most expensive hotels per night in the US
1. Palm Beach, Florida – $919
At the other end of the scale is Palm Beach. Despite offering an excellent 6.66 hours of sunlight per day at a toasty 68.24 °F, the destination is met with significant hotel costs, averaging $919 per night between December and February.
2. Miami, Florida – $523
Ranking as the second most expensive winter sun destination in terms of hotel prices is Miami. For a price tag of $523 per night, Miami offers some serious winter heat of 70.34 °F alongside a total of 7 hours of sunlight every day.
3. Kailua, Hawaii – $339
Kailua, Hawaii is hotter than Miami, where average temperatures hit around 72.92 °F during the winter months. However, those that desire to soak up these temperatures should expect to pay $339 for a hotel per night.
Winter destinations with the cheapest hotels per night outside the US
1. Murcia, Spain – $56
Murcia, Spain, offers the cheapest average nightly hotel rate from December through to February. Here stays during the festive period average $56 per night. Paired with 7.35 hours of daily sunlight, this destination is perfect for a winter sun getaway.
2. Palma de Mallorca, Spain – $64
In Palma de Mallorca during the winter you can laze in 6.64 hours of sunlight each day for a nightly price of $64. At a cooler 52.40 °F during the winter, Palma de Mallorca is a popular winter vacation.
3. Palermo, Italy – $66
The capital of the popular Italian island of Sicily, Palermo, ranks as the third cheapest location to chase the winter sun, coming in at just $66 per night. For this price, you get 5.37 hours of sun each day.
Winter destinations with the most expensive hotels per night outside the US
1. Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda – $574
Saint John’s is the capital city of Antigua and attracts visitors from around the globe. Saint John’s tropical temperatures of 77.42 °F and 8.21 hours of sun come at a significant price tag of $574 per night during winter, the most expensive hotel price on this list.
2. Nassau, Bahamas – $457
Nassau is a popular cruise ship stop with clean beaches and attractive offshore coral reefs. However, the dreamy 73.04 °F heat during winter in Nassau will set visitors back $457 per night on average.
3. Saint George’s, Grenada – $377
At Saint George’s, Granada, you can enjoy warm temperatures of 78.68 °F for an average of 8.57 hours of sun each day from December to February. However, such weather offerings come at a price, with hotels costing around $377 per night.
A seed list of 60 global and US cities was created from northern-hemisphere winter vacation listicles including trip, dottedglobe, sunshine, and holidu.
Average winter temperatures (°F), average winter precipitation (inches) rates, and average daily winter sunshine hours were retrieved from climate-data.org, calculated to give data for the winter months of December, January, and February.
“City Winter” annual searches and “City Things to Do” during winter were taken from Google Keywords. “City Winter” annual searches were recorded as annual results for each keyword. “City things to do” were taken as winter searches (from December, January, and February) for each keyword.
Average nightly hotel costs were taken from Kayak by calculating the average costs of hotels from December, January, and February. All currency conversions were made on the 28th of October 2022.
The ‘Winter Holiday Score’ was created by giving each factor a normalized rank and then combining these scores. US cities were included in the global ranking. A separate ranking was also created for US cities in isolation.