Tenerife

Spain

With warm winters, sprawling volcanic beaches and the biggest mountain in Spain, Tenerife is jam-packed with enough allure to give you a tan just reading about it. Actually go there and you'll find even more: quaint fishing villages, lava-formed seawater pools and Teide National Park, which is easier to explore in the off-season sun than in the baking summer.

Stay: Rooms at Meliá Hacienda del Conde cost from £110. melia.com

Getting there: Ryanair flies to Tenerife from £80 return. ryanair.com

Gozo

Malta

Disconnected from the Maltese archipelago's main island by 5km of sea, Gozo is a blissful contrast to the buzz of capital city Valletta across the water. It's got ancient sites, gorgeous beaches, a natural bridge and – well – plenty of space to kick back in the quiet and forget about the freezing cold flat you left behind in London.

And if that's not enough to get you booking, maybe the island's 300 days of sun a year will help.

Stay: Dar tal-Kaptan adults-only B&B costs from £94pn. dartalkaptan.com

Getting there: Air Malta flies to Malta from £56 return. airmalta.com

Paphos

Cyprus

The Cypriot town of Paphos may be more famous for its British expat community than its old town charm and elegant waterside resorts, but a few familiar accents doesn't mean it's a write-off. Come wintertime, Cyprus is pretty much the warmest place in Europe, with temperatures still 19ºC on the coast as late as December. Head to Almyra resort on the beachfront and hop in the infinity pool – you can see the waterside castle from there, so there's no real need to leave (except for local vineyard tours, of course).

Stay: Rooms at Almyra Hotel cost from £226pn. designhotels.com

Getting there: easyjet flies to Paphos from £56 return. easyjet.com

Madeira

Portugal

Beyond the beautiful black sands and rugged, rocky escarpments of this Portuguese island, there's one thing that makes wintertime travellers tick: surf swells. In fact, the waves here are so good that it's been dubbed the Hawaii of the Atlantic. You can expect modest crowds, and a variety of breaks that suit every ability. Cut your teeth at one of the surf schools in the island's north east, then take a tour of the rest of Madeira with a guide.

How: Take a surf class with Salty Madeira from €50. salty.pt; find out more about holidays to Madeira at madeiraallyear.com

Stay: Castanheiro Boutique Hotel costs from £115pn. castanheiroboutiquehotel.com

Getting there: Jet2.com flies to Funchal, Madeira from £100 return. jet2.com

Atlas Mountains

Morocco

Glorious castles, harsh deserts, soaring peaks. OK, Morocco's Atlas Mountains aren't exactly a classic destination for pools and loungers, but come winter in this temperate part of the world, you can get all the R&R you need. Park the bus at the Kasbah Tamadot – an opulent oasis in the foothills below Mount Toubkal – and enjoy great grub, hospitality and jaunts to explore the surrounding terrain if sitting still and breathing in all that lovely mountain air gets a bit stifling. Nah, us neither.

Stay: Rooms at Kasbah Tamadot from £408pn. virginlimitededition.com

Getting there: Ryanair flies from London to Marrakech from £67 return. ryanair.com