In the words of House Stark: winter is coming. But don’t shelve the shorts and T-shirts just yet. When you’re defrosting your car, when your feet go numb on a chilly train platform, or when you have to whip out your anorak on a Sunday afternoon, just remember that somewhere in the world the sun is shining gloriously. Jealous? You don’t have to be. Wave goodbye to the winter blues (and the green-eyed monster) and jet off to one of these UV-blessed spots instead:
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
From bone-dry droughts to rain that pours so hard that all the rivers burst their banks – Alice Springs in Australia’s arid Red Centre has all the extremes of weather you could want. It also gets between nine and 11 hours of sun per day, even in the winter. That’s a whopping 3,456 hours of sunlight. Suffice to say, hats and sun cream are necessity, even if you do wake up to frozen ground.
Most people haven’t heard of Kiribati. No surprises there really, this island republic is flung out into the Central Pacific somewhere between Hawaii and New Zealand, boasting a small 33-isle archipelago that is largely uninhabited. Given its small size though, it still packs a mighty punch with its holiday offering. Think untouched sands (which you’re likely to have to yourself), one of the world’s most pristine coral reefs, traditional Pacific Island culture and an incredible 12 hours of sunshine a day.
The land of the lemurs offers 3,500 hours of sunshine every year: that’s an average of nearly 10 hours of vitamin D PER DAY. Combine that with the beaches, rainforest, deserts, trekking and diving that Madagascar is famous for – not to mention that fact that this majestic isle is home to 5% of all the world’s plant and animal species – and you’re onto a winner.
Perth, Western Australia
Perth may be one of the most isolated cities on the planet (it’s closer to Singapore than Sydney, and closer to Jakarta than Australia’s capital, Canberra), but it’s also one of the sunniest. In fact, it’s officially the sunniest capital city in the world, with an average of eight hours of sun per day, year-round. It’s wonderfully close to Fremantle and Rottnest Island too, so you can take home a suitcase full of brightly-lit quokka selfies.
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Vegas is perhaps best known for its wild pool parties, day-long gambling stints, weekend weddings and stag and hen dos by the bus-load. But while most travellers go for the delights of Sin City, they’ll stick around for the sunshine – all 3,800 hours of it. That means that visitors are likely to catch some rays 85% of the time. Much better odds than London, where it rains 156.2 days a year.
Zanzibar is blessed with 2,755 hours of uninterrupted sunshine. It’s also a stone’s throw from the mainland, making it the perfect spot for a twin-centre holiday. Enjoy a week-long safari in the wildlife Mecca that is the Serengeti National Park, before spending seven days lazing on one of Zanzibar’s 25 white silica beaches, each framed and lapped by the soothing turquoise sea.
Yuma, Arizona, USA
You may not know much about Yuma other than the fact it featured in US Western flick 3:10 to Yuma, but it’s actually the most sun-filled city on our list. In fact, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the sunniest city in the world. We’re talking annual sunshine of 4,000 hours! We reckon that equates to around 2,000 sun-cream applications.
Cyprus may not be the hottest destination on this list, but visit in the summer and you can expect 12-13 hours of the bright stuff every day, which makes it one of the sunniest spots in Europe. Spend the other 11 non-sunny hours sleeping or in the bar, cooling off with icy shots of zivania – a potent, raisin-flavoured tipple that is only made in Cyprus.
Fresno, California, USA
Cosmopolitan Fresno is the fifth biggest city in Cali, and a great sunny pit-stop on the journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles (or vice versa). It boasts 3,700 hours of sun per year, not to mention a verdant location in the San Joaquin Valley, backdropped by the snow-dusted Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Rhodes, Greece, Europe
As far as sunny European islands go, Rhodes is the best of the best, boasting the longest holiday season in Greece. Expect 300 days and 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. It’s so warm that you can comfortably swim in the Med here throughout October and November. You may get a goosepimpley when you make the dash for your sun lounger though.
Agadez, Niger, Africa
Known as the ‘frying pan of the world’, Africa‘s Agadez is pretty hot: you’ll get 3,483 hours of sunshine per year here and any rain will probably evaporate before it even hits the ground. There’s more to this scorched city than heat though. Agadez is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is best-known for being the gateway to the Sahara. Its historic centre dates back to the 15th century, a confection of mudbrick architecture and cultural gems.
Lisbon, Portugal, Europe
Lisbon is one of the sunniest spots in Europe. Envisage over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and 12 hours of UV per day in the summer. Plus the coffee here is to die for and you can snaffle a cup (and a pastry!) for around €2.50. What’s not to like?