November means winter is fast-approaching, which equals getting up and going home in the dark, usually in the pelting rain, no winter coat on earth a match for the season’s creeping damp.
It’s almost NHS-prescribed, then, that you go on holiday if you’re to survive until the sunlight finally peeps through again around March. Happily, the Caribbean is basking in a mellow, pre-Christmas glow, while the rainy season has dried up in East Africa and South-east Asia.
And if you want to see how winter is really done, leave behind our soggy isles for epic white-outs in the extreme north and south. We’ve a few tips to help your trip have a positive, sustainable impact, too. Here's where to go to get some much-needed winter sun on a November holiday.
Temperature: 23ºC high; 18ºC low
Flight time from : 4 hours 30 minutes
Time difference: none
Short-hop year-round sunshine is what Tenerife is known for. Which is great – but beyond the beaches and the package-holiday crowds, there’s another side to this Canary Island which delights the more curious traveller: architecture in the colonial towns of La Laguna and La Orotava, low-key restaurants in fishing villages such as Garachico, lunar landscapes to walk in its blackened interior, and contemporary art and architecture in the capital Santa Cruz. Plus, 200 miles out in the Atlantic, the island is one of the best places in the world for stargazing.
Where to stay: Families love the pink palace that is The Ritz-Carlton Abama, with its sandy beach and ents on a massive scale.
Sustainability tip: The waters around Tenerife are busy with whales, and with whale-watchers. Not all whale-watching trips are responsibly operated – check out their eco-certification first. Whale Wise Eco Tours use solar-powered electric boats to minimise noise and carbon footprint.
Temperature: 33°C high; 20°C low
Travel time from : 15 hours
Time difference: GMT -5
Join the Gypset in this Pacific coast surf town, where brightly painted design boutiques and vintage surfboard shops rub up against al pastor stands and street eats sold from wheelbarrows. Less glam than Tulum, but much hipper than resort-y Puerto Vallarta further south, it’s an easy-breezy scene, more catching waves and afternoon Margaritas than yoga and cold-pressed juice. An absence of major hotels, in favour of hippie-chic guesthouses (Casa Love and Petit Hotel Hafa are favourites), gives the impression of a best-kept secret – but, come Christmas, Sayulita is packed. Nip in just before peak season, though, and not only have the summer rain and humidity finally eased off, but it’s the best time for whale watching, too.
Sustainable travel tip: Consider staying in Sayulita’s quieter neighbour, San Pancho. The small hotels here are closely tied to the community. Tailwind Jungle Lodge, for example, hosts community events, donates to sustainable development in the area and promotes local businesses to guests – and it’s just a 30-minute drive to Sayulita for a day’s surfing.
Where to stay: Just 36 guests are given the run of green jungle, white beach and blue water across 250 acres at Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita.
Temperature: 20°C high; 13°C low
Travel time from : 3 hours 10 minutes
Time difference: GMT +1
Down in the southern Med, between Sicily and the North African coast, November does not mean gloomy dark afternoons and morning frosts. Even though you might spot the odd red telephone box, that’s as far as the British influence extends – sunny Malta gets eight hours of shimmering rays a day this month, while the mercury floats, or perhaps gloats, at around 20°C. Better still, this is a European autumn sun break with more going for it than beaches (though it has those, too). Capital Valletta’s honey-coloured forts are so cinematically good-looking, they starred in Game of Thrones as King’s Landing, and the old town’s palazzos are lately finding new life as high-design hotels, such as millionaire philanthropist Mark Weingard’s upcoming Iniala Malta.
Sustainable travel tip: You can get to Malta by ferry and train, stopping at some gorgeous spots in Italy along the way. After taking the Eurostar from London to Paris (2.5 hours), catch a high-speed TGV from the Gare de Lyon to Milan (7 hours) and stay overnight. The next morning, take a fast train to Rome (3 hours), spend the day in the Eternal City, then hop on a sleeper train to Sicily’s Siracuse. Enjoy a leisurely morning here before taking a taxi to lovely Pozzallo, where Virtu Ferries operates several 90-minute crossings to Valletta per day.
Where to stay: 66 Saint Paul’s on balconied Ursula Street has a tiny rooftop pool.
Temperature: 29°C high; 21°C low
Flight time from : 10 hours
Time difference: GMT-5
Time’s running out to get to Cuba before it’s changed forever. The big resorts haven’t got to all the beaches yet, and Havana still has that rickety, time-warp romanticism going on – but for how long? Warm and sunny November is the ideal time to swing by before crowds fill out December to February. The silver lining? A fast-evolving boutique bar and hotel scene, catering to a more sophisticated traveller: in Havana, the colonial-cool of Twenties-era Casa Habana, or cocktails at 304 O’Reilly, a toy warehouse turned gin bar. Make time to escape to the Caribbean shores of Holguín, where you’ll find small, thatched, barefoot beach hotels with not a hint of a package deal.
Sustainable travel tip: State salaries and rations see most Cubans surviving on meagre means, so consider staying in acasa particular – a cross between a B&B and a homestay – and eat in paladares, which are restaurants run out of locals’ homes.
Where to stay: Beach-front Villa Maguana is set in the Guantánamo Province of Cuba.
Temperature: 20°C high; 10°C low
Flight time from : 2 hours 45 minutes
Time difference: GMT+1
November is a wonderful month for a short break in southern Spain, when the summer crowds have gone home and it's still T-shirt weather. Cádiz is a charming place, hanging off the edge of Spain, bleached white and with the sound of flamenco in the air. A hip new hotel scene is putting Seville in the limelight but still both cities are quieter than touristy Granada and Córdoba. Beyond Marbella'sbeach clubs, head out to the Sierra de las Nieves national park to go swimming in natural rock pools and kayaking on the dam. Málaga has carved itself a new reputation, with an offshoot of Paris' Pompidou Centre, a glassy cube on the dockside, joining The Picasso, Carmen Thyssen and Contemporary Art museums.
Sustainable travel tip: Andalucia has long had the worst unemployment rate in Spain, with much of the economy based around seasonal tourism. Visiting out of season is a first good step, but opting for guesthouses and fincas in quiet inland villages is even better, both bringing money to rural communities and declogging the overdeveloped coast. Look to under-visited cities such as Almeria and mountain villages such as Periana.
Where to stay: Hacienda Finca Cortesin is one of Europe's smartest places to escape to.