It’s not just the cold that makes the winter unbearable. The lack of sunlight and vitamin D leaves millions of people with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and plenty of others just plain sad.
Florida and California are popular winter getaways, but the clouds and rain are unpredictable. If you’re after more than just high temperatures, these cities are among the sunniest in the world, making them great destinations for beating the winter blues.
1. Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S.
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,872
Second only to Yuma, AZ’s global record 4,015 hours of sunlight a year, Phoenix has the hotspots that make a trip to the Southwest special.
Soak up the sun on a walk among the flora at the Desert Botanical Garden, a stroll through the manicured streets of Scottsdale, or a hike in the scenic trails at Camelback Mountain. Architecture lovers shouldn’t miss Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and educational foundation.
2. Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,609
The Middle East is no stranger to sunlight, and a trip to Abu Dhabi is great place to combine sunbathing and sightseeing. Explore the mosques, palaces, and markets before cooling down with drinks and an air-conditioned view from the Etihad Towers’ Observation Deck at 300, the highest point in the city. As for the sunbathing, there are plenty of lavish beachside resorts to choose from, so you won’t even need to leave the hotel to get your fill.
3. Denver, Colorado in the U.S.
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,107
Sunshine doesn’t only need to be enjoyed poolside. Denver’s location right outside the Rocky Mountains means you can enjoy some rays while carving up the world’s best ski resorts. And there’s more to Denver than the nearby Rockies: All four major sports teams have downtown stadiums, it’s home to over 50 craft breweries, and the Denver Art Museum is one of the largest in the Western United States with over 70,000 works on display.
4. Darwin in Northern Territory, Australia
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,098
Australia’s Northern Territory, or “Top End,” is rich in natural beauty and Aboriginal culture. From the city’s beaches to the waterfalls and wildlife at Kakadu National Park, there are plenty of ways to relish the copious hours of sunshine. Plus, Australia’s summer is during our winter, making Darwin a true winter escape.
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,094
Beautiful beaches? Check. Exotic wildlife? Yup. Wine country? You betcha. No city does summer (our winter) quite like Cape Town. Try experiencing your first sundowner — aka sunset — in the beachfront at Camp’s Bay.
6. Faro in Algarve, Portugal
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,036
Put on your shades and slip into vacation mode as soon as you land in Faro: there’s a beach right down the road from the airport. The southernmost city in Potrugal, Faro’s weather is enough to pull any winter wanderer from Lisbon or Porto.
Plus, the cobblestoned streets and beautifully tiled buildings of “Cidade Velha,” or Old Town, offer prime Instagram prospects to showcase your tan.
7. Gustavia, St. Barthélemy in the French Caribbean
Average Annual Hours of Sunshine: 3,033
With 14 beaches in less than 10 square miles and a top-notch dining scene, St. Bart’s is perfect for a sun-filled retreat. Look out for vacationing celebs – this island’s a popular hideout for the rich and famous.
Prefer the shade? Nasa data suggests you should plan a trip to the the Great Lakes, Latin America, or Southeast Asia.