Desperate for a little winter sun? With summer a distant memory and a long dark winter stretching ahead of us, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to places where it’s hot in December.

Thankfully, the choice of destinations is plentiful — whether you’re looking for all-out luxury or a cheap deal. From popular picks like the Maldives to more off-the-beaten-track locales, KAYAK knows all the hottest countries in December for a winter sun getaway. All you need to do is book your flight, pack your sun cream and sunglasses.

Here are 9 options to add to your travel agenda this December:

CountryDestinationAvg. temp DecemberAvg. hours of sun
UAEDubai26 °C8
USAKey West, Florida24 °C7
CaribbeanThe Bahamas26 °C7
Costa RicaCosta Rica30 °C8
New ZealandQueenstown21 °C7
The MaldivesThe Maldives29 °C8
SpainThe Canary Islands22 °C6
MoroccoMarrakesh20 °C7
Dominican RepublicDominican Republic29 °C8

A person walks across a salt landscape with hexagonal patterns towards a sunset on the horizon.

Where is hot in December

  1. Dubai
  2. Key West, Florida
  3. The Bahamas, Caribbean
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Queenstown, New Zealand
  6. The Maldives
  7. The Canary Islands
  8. Marrakesh, Morocco
  9. Dominican Republic

1. Dubai

  • Average December temperature: 26 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 8
  • Flight time from the UK: 7 hours
  • Suitable for: Luxury Travel, Couples Travel

When considering warm countries in December, Dubai is one of the classic choices. Sitting on the very trendy Persian Gulf, its unparalleled coastline is packed with luxurious hotels and vast resorts boasting pristine beaches. The temperatures in Dubai in December are hot but not uncomfortable, with the average sitting at around 26 °C. This makes it the perfect month for both relaxation and sightseeing.

It’s a city that’s managed to fuse the traditional and modern with intoxicating results. In Old Dubai, you’ll find that the smells of spices permeate the air from the local souks. Venture into the city centre and you’ll find space-age shopping centres and even the tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa.

Foodies will be in heaven thanks to countless dining options. Add Dubai’s December shopping festivals into the mix and you’ve got yourself the perfect winter escape.

Top tip: if you’ve always wanted to do a desert safari, December is the perfect time. The nights are quite mild, so all you’ll need is a cardigan.

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2. Key West, Florida

  • Average December temperature: 24 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 7
  • Flight time from the UK: 9 hours 25 minutes
  • Suitable for: Family Travel, Couples Travel

If you’ve got your sights set on the United States, Key West in Floride makes an ideal December destination because of its year-round tropical weather. The average temperatures sit around 22 °C and there’s low humidity, making it a wonderful time to explore.

In December, the islanders embrace Christmas with such spirit and often hilarious results. Key West is also easily reachable from either Fort Lauderdale or Miami. While there, take a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park: an isolated marine where you can do some snorkelling or lie on the beach. The sunsets from Mallory Square are also legendary, while the Ernest Hemingway House is a must-visit for book lovers.

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3. The Bahamas, Caribbean

  • Average December temperature: 26 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 7
  • Flight time from the UK: 9 hours 30 minutes
  • Suitable for: Luxury Travel, Family Travel, Couples Travel

December is the beginning of the Caribbean’s dry season, making it a great time to visit and get some much-needed vitamin D. Not sure which idyllic destination to choose? Consider the beautiful Bahamas. Even though it’s peak season, December guarantees good weather, plus you’ll have a choice of 16 main islands to explore.

For a mix of beach life and nightlife, New Providence is a good choice. You’ll be able to combine your beach walk with a selection of clubs and restaurants in Nassau, the Bahamas’ capital. If you’re looking for a quieter life on a beautiful beach, Exuma – with its powdery white sand and turquoise waters – is it. Prefer surfing? Eleuthera, famed for its pink sand beaches, is the place to head for.

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4. Costa Rica

A person stands on a beach with calm waves under an orange sky.
  • Average December temperature: 30 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 8
  • Flight time from the UK: 10 hours 50 minutes
  • Suitable for: Couples Travel, Luxury Travel, Family Travel

For a mix of beach time and incredible adventures, Costa Rica couldn’t be a better pick. It’s one of the hottest countries in December, with the month marking the start of its dry season.

A major highlight of any Costa Rica escape is visiting its lush rainforest regions like Monteverde. It’ll be particularly verdant after the rainy season, plus there are multiple ways to enjoy it. Whizz across the canopies while ziplining, set off on a guided hike or stay in an eco-lodge where you wake up to the sounds of twittering birds and insects.

Rather laze around on the sand all day? The country’s coastal regions are lovely and balmy in December. You’ll have your pick of resorts on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, giving you a better chance of finding a good deal.

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5. Queenstown, New Zealand

A man on top of a mountain with a view of a river and mountain ranges.
  • Average December temperature: 21 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 7
  • Flight time from the UK: 26 hours (via Singapore and Sydney)
  • Suitable for: Couples Travel, Family Travel, Backpacking

Another hot country in December ideal for an intrepid adventure is Queenstown. It’s actually known as the ‘adventure capital of New Zealand’ thanks to its sheer variety of outdoor activities.

December sits comfortably in New Zealand‘s summer season, guaranteeing you warm weather and less rainfall. Not sure how you’ll be filling your days? Queenstown has no shortage of options. Head up into the mountains for scenic hikes and thrilling mountain biking. Or hit the lake for jet boating or jet skiing. Really want to test yourself? Enjoy a bird’s eye view of New Zealand’s South Island during a skydive.

Plus, if you’re after a little festivity, there are plenty of Christmas events going on. Visit Santa’s Grotto in nearby Wanaka or book tickets for the Queenstown Lake Christmas Show (it’s particularly fantastic for kids).

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6. The Maldives

  • Average December temperature: 29 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 8
  • Flight time from the UK: 10 hours 25 minutes
  • Suitable for: Luxury Travel, Couples Travel

It goes without saying that the Maldives is one of the places where it is hot for Christmas! Despite being a predominantly Muslim country, the resorts embrace the Christmas spirit. You can easily have a traditional Christmas should you wish, but why come all this way and stick to tradition?

With near-perfect weather at this time of year, an average temperature of 28°C, and warm water, this is the time for you to step back and relax by the beach, regrouping after a long year’s hard work. If you’re a foodie, then the private Amilla Maldives is not going to disappoint.

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Where’s hot and cheap in December?

7. The Canary Islands

  • Average December temperature: 22 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 6
  • Flight time from the UK: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Suitable for: Couples Travel, Budget Travel, Family Travel

When it comes to where’s hot in Europe in December, Spain’s Canary Islands are a safe bet. The archipelago is fortunate to have good weather all year round due to its location just off the coast of northwestern Africa.

The Canaries make the perfect choice when looking for warm places to visit in the final month of the year. Lanzarote’s weather in December is pleasantly warm, with average temperatures of 22 °C and barely any rain. Tenerife also has an average temperature of 22 °C and a minimum of six hours of sun per day.

These gorgeous islands really are the ideal destination if you’re looking for beach holidays in December in Europe. Want to see one of the brightest meteor showers of the year? The Geminids are visible from both Tiede in Tenerife (one of the highest peaks in Spain) and at Maspalomas Lighthouse in Gran Canaria. You don’t even need a telescope as the air space is protected at night, guaranteeing a real galactical experience.

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8. Marrakesh, Morocco

  • Average December temperature: 20 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 7
  • Flight time from the UK: 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Suitable for: Couples Travel, Solo Travel

Marrakesh, the ‘Red City’, is easily one of the greatest cities to visit in the world. It can get rather crowded and overwhelming in the summer months when it’s peak season. That’s why December is a brilliant time to plan a trip. The city’s streets are empty of crowds and flights are reasonable. The weather is still mild, with an average of 20 °C, though you may need a cardigan in the evenings.

Prepare to browse beautiful souks bursting with colour from freshly dyed carpets and high pyramid spice sacks. The souks of Marrakesh are the best places to hunt for a Christmas gift, with Jamaa el-Fna being a particularly fantastic option. Looking to treat yourself? You’ll find some of the world’s most luxurious hotels in Morocco‘s best-known metropolis. Even Yves Sant Laurent decided to open a museum here! Why not plan to pay it a visit?

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9. Dominican Republic

  • Average December temperature: 29 °C
  • Average hours of daily sun: 8
  • Flight time from the UK: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Suitable for: Family Travel, Couples Travel, Budget Travel

With miles of flawless beaches, clear blue turquoise waters and a fascinating blend of cultures, the Dominican Republic makes for a wonderful December escape. The average temperature here is 29 °C, with the Caribbean Sea’s waters sitting at a balmy 28 °C.

There’s a huge choice of resorts to choose between, ranging from family-friendly options to luxurious spa hotels. You’ll be able to bag a great deal in December, too, making it a lovely spot for some cheap winter sun. Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, oozes charm and is packed full of museums. There are also plenty of great restaurants. that showcase the country’s exciting cuisine, which has indigenous Taino, Spanish, Middle-Eastern and African roots.

For a quieter pace, head to Las Galeras. This quaint little town has perhaps one of the best beaches on the island. It comes complete with coconut palms, white sand and a sea that appears in every shade of blue. Heaven!

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Looking ahead to 2024? There are so many incredible destinations to add to your travel bucket list. Discover the best places to visit in January or get planning your February sun holiday.

About the author

Jemima Forbes Jemima is a full-time travel and lifestyle writer and part-time explorer. While she feels most at home on a tropical beach or in the Scottish wilderness, she also can’t resist the pull of tasty street food or a good museum in the world’s best cities. When she’s not globetrotting, you’ll find her reading or working on her debut fiction novel.

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