It’s simple geography really: the north isn’t going to be anywhere near as hot as the south in winter. That said, there are a few places to have a sunny and warm family holiday and avoid the long-haul drama. With temperatures between 14 and 20˚C, less than five hours flying time and direct flights from the UK, here are the best European destinations with a higher than average chance of blue skies and sunshine in December, January and February

11. Tenerife, Canary Islands

Located just 300 km from the shores of Africa, Tenerife belongs to Spain's Canary Islands. Southern Tenerife in December has highs of 20˚C, seas warm enough to swim in and almost no crowds anywhere. It’s off-season, so there’s a chance some of the smaller attractions won’t be open. But big tickets like Siam Park are year-round and winter’s good for exploring the mountain towns and villages which can seem like a lot of effort with kids in high summer.

Bright and lively Christmas in Santa Cruz comes with colourful local events, cute markets, prettily decorated streets and lots of quaint customs. And winter’s the best time to get wild outdoors on this dramatic island. The fierce heat has cooled to manageable and rock climbing, hiking, walking and exploring in Mt. Teide National Park is fantastic fun – even for younger kids. West coast beaches do their best surfing conditions at this time of year too – Los Gigantes is particularly spectacular. It’s also the season for driving around on peaceful roads so, even if you opt to stay in the slightly warmer south, Puerto de la Cruz and historic La Orotava are easy days out.

November to January temperatures: 19˚C - 21˚C

Flight time: 4 hours and 30 minutes