Just when winter seemed like it might never end, these cool destinations will have you planning an escape route in no time at all. From crazy carnivals to lazy beach breaks, check out our inspired ideas for holidays in February.
Best city breaks in February
If you can’t wait til Easter to jet off on holiday, we bring you the best cities to grab a quick weekend break in February. But first, we answer the question on everyone’s mind: where does the sun shine at that time of year?
Prague, Czech Republic
Average temperature: 4°C
Prague is party central, with a raucous nightlife befitting the birthplace of absinthe. Throw your arms in the air like you just don’t care at Karlovy lázně, the ultimate mega-club, with each of its five floors devoted to a different music style. CAMRA bods should make a beeline for the 550-year-old U Medvídků to sample the infamous X-Beer 33 (alcohol content 11.8%). Those in search of something a little more exotic can hang at Palác Akropolis, an Art Deco palace of music, theatre, dance and exhibitions in the trendy Žižkov Republic. An independent city until the early 1920s, Žižkov is now a district of Prague, still home to rebel hearts and offbeat bars such as Bajkazyl and Bukowski’s. Nurse your hangover at Café Slavia (Smetanovo nábřeží 1012/2), preferred haunt of Franz Kafka and philosopher Václav Havel, who, in 1989, became the country’s first democratically elected president. After a couple of coffees you might be inspired to start all over again by The Absinthe Drinker, a Viktor Oliva painting hanging on the wall, but however much you imbibe, don’t forget to take snaps. Prague is a photographer’s dream, boasting a diversity of styles, encompassing Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Art Nouveau. Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site this time of year ensures you’ll avoid the abundance of selfie sticks that plague attractions such as Prague Castle in the warmer months. The price you’ve got to pay? Cold weather and temperatures dropping to around freezing, so woolly winter coats (or beer jackets) are essential! Read our city guide for some more tips on what to get up to in the fairy-tale city of Prague.
Where to stay in Prague
Stay in central Prague (Prague 1) if you’re on a short break, for easy walking access to the main sights like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. It is possible to find affordable lodgings in this tourist district, especially in February – try the 3-star comfort at U Tří Bubnů, housed in a listed fourteenth century building opposite Kafka’s old pad, but with doubles as cheap as £60* if you book in advance.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Average temperature: 32°C
February is a good time to visit Malaysia’s capital; the weather is hot and the heavy rains are yet to hit (that happens in March). Best known for the 451-metre-tall Petronas Towers (worth a visit, if only to boast that you’ve walked across the world’s highest double-decker sky bridge), the city is home to a fascinating mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures, offering a veritable merry-go-round of sensory experiences. One of the best ways to explore is through the city’s street food. Your taste buds are in for a treat, whether you’re slurping rich laksa soup from a street stall or scooping up handfuls of rice, dhal and spicy curry from a banana leaf. Walk off the calorie overload at the Batu Caves, known for the heart-busting 272 steps leading to awe-inspiring cavernous shrines and a golden statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan. In terms of sights, sounds and flavours, it’s hard to find a better February holiday destination than KL. See our insider tips on the KL’s other attractions, including Butterfly Park and Little India.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Pretty much all of the hotels in KL will be close to a shopping mall but look for a place to stay near an LRT or monorail station for the best way to get around the city. For budget privates and dorms, the staff at Classic Inn look after their guests and it’s well-situated next to Berjaya Times Square. Those after a few more creature comforts can head to the towering Shangri-La Hotel, right in the heart of ‘KLCC’ (city centre), with its own gym, shop, restaurants and business centre – all for less than £100 a night*.
Average temperature: 11°C
The south of France is perfect for low-season holidays in February. The tourist hordes of August are long gone and flight prices are at rock bottom, but the weather is mild and you can still expect nine hours of sunshine per day. Enjoy the relative quietness of the seaside on one of Nice’s 15 private or 20 public beaches; the shores near the city tend to be pebbly, so go west to Antibes, around half an hour away on the bus, if you prefer sand between your toes. Head to the Musée Matisse (open 10am-6pm throughout the year), surrounded by an extensive park studded with olive trees, and discover one of the world’s largest collections of artworks by Henri Matisse, including his famous cut-outs – and best of all, it’s free. Besides world-class museums, the city boasts a fine clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants – try fresh French fish dishes at L’Ane Rouge by the harbour and get three courses for €27 per person from their market menu*. Check out our guide for more ideas of what to do during your stay on the French Riviera – including helicopter rides to Monaco.
Where to stay in Nice
It’s all about the seafront when picking a hotel in Nice but you don’t need to fork out for a good location and decent mid-range accommodation in February. 3-star Albert 1Er is neatly placed between the Old Town and the Baie des Anges, with balcony rooms overlooking the sea available. Tucked slightly further back from the beach, but with its own charming courtyard and affordable rooms from £49* is Hôtel De La Fontaine, a friendly boutique-style option.
Average temperature: 30°C
A little piece of France in India, Pondicherry (aka Puducherry) is probably the only place on the subcontinent where you can buy baguettes from shopkeepers who greet you with a cheery ‘Bonjour!’. Located on the fringes of the Bay of Bengal, this unique city was under French rule until 1954 and combines the best of a city break and a beach holiday. Cross the canal into the French quarter and stroll along quiet cobbled streets with names like Rue Dumas, lined with elegant colonial mansions, some of which have been converted into chic hotels and Bohemian bars. Pondicherry’s spiritual centre is undoubtedly the Sri Aurobindo Ashram collective, as seen in the film Life of Pi, where visitors can participate in yoga and meditation sessions. Six miles north, you’ll find the ashram’s offshoot colony at Auroville, or the ‘City of Dawn’, a world-famous community that was founded in the 1970s, dominated by a big golden globe (as pictured). From there, you can catch a rickshaw to the nearby beach, a serene spot with sands so golden they blaze under the Indian sun. At sunset, join the locals for a walk down Pondy’s promenade, with its famous statue of Gandhi, catching snippets of conversation in Tamil and French. A far cry from the cacophony associated with most Indian cities, this Gallic anomaly is definitely a one off. For tips on trips to India check this out.
Where to stay in Pondicherry
For a charming stay, book in to the five star La Villa Hotel (Rue Surcouf) in the old quarter and make full use of their free bicycle hire to explore the city on two wheels, or, come nightfall, enjoy your free private mini-bar and the hotel’s DVD selection for your evening entertainment. On a smaller budget? Coramandal Heritage Hotel is an intimate colonial house of 10 rooms, around a 10-minute rickshaw journey from the train station. Best of all, you can snag a double here from less than £20*.
Best beach holidays in February
Dig out your flip-flops for some winter sun this February, with these sunny locations for a beach holiday.
Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
Average temperature: 30°C
With no shortage of postcard-perfect beaches on its south-east coast, ‘Dom Rep’ remains a hot ticket for British holidaymakers fleeing the cold. Bayahibe is a small fishing village with lush vegetation and white sands sloping into calm, clear water – the nearest airports are La Romana, Punta Cana and Santo Domingo. Once you’re done sunning yourself by the sea in this most tranquil of palm-fringed settings, you can enjoy some of the best diving in the country. Excursions include cave dives, shark dives and an exploration of the coral reef – contact Discover Bayahibe for more information on scuba lessons and packages for certified divers. Don’t worry if you don’t dive: beneath the waves lies a seventeenth century Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, effectively an underwater museum accessible to snorkellers as well as divers. Bored of village life? Hire a car and head a couple of hours down the road to DR’s capital, Santo Domingo. Founded in 1496, it’s the oldest colonial city in the Western Hemisphere, with some buildings, such as the Palacio de los Gobernadores, dating back to the days of the conquistadores. By the by, the country lays claim to a couple of other superlatives, namely the highest mountain (the 3,098-metre Pico Duarte) and the lowest lake (Lago Enriquillo) in the Caribbean. Our guide gives you the lowdown on this big, bold island, from humpbacks to high peaks, bird life to baseball.
Where to stay in Dominican Republic
The top-rated Aparta-Hotel Villa Baya is well-placed near the beach and 5 minutes walk from Bayahibe’s centre (rooms from £40*). Prices get higher in Santo Domingo, though you’ll be nearer the airport, so treat yourself for a night or two with the rooftop pool, terrace bar and excellent onsite restaurant at JW Marriott Santo Domingo.
Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Average temperature: 24°C
Question: where can you find the whitest sand in the world? Answer: Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, around three hours drive from Sydney. It’s a fact – Hyams Beach boasts a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. Despite this pretty attractive claim to fame, Jervis Bay has managed to retain a discreet charm, attracting snorkellers, walkers and nature lovers. There are two national parks here: Jervis Bay and Booderee. Mainly composed of shrubland, the latter has 206 species of bird, 23 species of reptile and 27 species of mammal, including kookaburras, hump back whales and wallabies. Picnic on Cave Beach and you might spot some cockatoos and kangaroos, but apart from the wildlife, you’ll rarely have to share the beaches with more than a handful of others. Australia is excellent choice as a February destination because the weather is unlikely to be too hot, and Jervis Bay makes a great stop-off on the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney, one of our top ten Australian road trips.
Where to stay in Jervis Bay
There’s a clutch of hotels and motels in and around the Jervis Bay territory, such as Sanddancers Bed & Breakfast, just north of the famous Hyams Beach (from £133* a night). You can find even better value for money at the family-run Bay N Basin Lodge, though you’ll need to book early as there are only seven rooms. It’s not technically on the coast, but instead sits south of Jervis Bay on St George’s Basin, an inland water body that fortunately comes with its fair share of those gorgeous white sands.
Average temperature: 32°C
The mere name conjures up images of spices, silvery sands and, erm … Freddie Mercury? Yep, the legendary rock star was born in 1946 in Stone Town on the island of Unguja (one of the archipelago’s two main islands) – although back then he was known as Faroukh Bulsara. Less than an hour from the mustachioed one’s birthplace is Paje Beach, a long, wide stretch of heaven on the island’s east coast. At low tide, the reflective waters retreat as far as the eye can see, clearing the way for villagers to harvest seaweed, an important source of local income. The weather is hot at this time of year, but there’s (thankfully) a guaranteed breeze, so it’s perfect for those hunting out pleasantly hot places to go in February. The same winds that made Zanzibar a centre for trade between Africa, India and the Middle East in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, now attracts kite surfers to this island’s shores. And Stone Town itself, with its bewitching Arabian-Nights ambiance, twisting alleys, aromatic bazaars and dream-like minarets, is unmissable. Listen out for the local music, Taarab – a haunting cacophony of trade-route influenced sounds, distinctive enough to transport you back to the days of the spice islands. While Zanzibar is a popular tourist destination, check Foreign Office guidelines before booking.
Where to stay in Zanzibar
Stay centrally in Stone Town at Africa House Hotel and you’ll be minutes from Shangani Beach, with breakfast served overlooking the sea. For something more unusual, one of these amazing underwater hotels is located just to the north on Pemba Island, at the idyllic Manta Resort.
Best events in February
Get festive this February with these incredible events around the world.
Chinese New Year, Hong Kong, China
Average temperature: 19°C
Welcome in the new year in Hong Kong, which literally translates as ‘Fragrant Harbour’. And fragrant it will certainly be during Chinese New Year, with the aroma of spring rolls (chūnjuǎn), lucky dumplings (jiǎozi) and longevity noodles (chángshòu miàn). The big day changes from year to year so check here before you book, but festivities generally precede it by at least a couple of weeks, as shops become festooned with red and gold decorations and locals exchange red envelopes filled with lucky money. On New Year’s Day, join the tens of thousands lining the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui (a southern area of Hong Kong at the tip of the peninsula) to watch the International Chinese New Year Night Parade, a spectacular street party featuring dragons, dancers and drummers, against a backdrop of exploding firecrackers. The parade starts at 8pm, but festivities will already have kicked off a few hours before. It’s all free, but you can buy tickets for the spectator stands from the tourism office at the Star Ferry office in Tsim Sha Tsui. The next day, wander to the waterfront to catch the fireworks display, launched from a fleet of boats, pontoons and barges in the evening, serving to shoo off evil spirits and invite good fortune for the coming year. Don’t forget to have a punt on the horses at Sha Tin Race Course – the biggest and most popular race of the year is usually held on the third day of the new year celebrations. Eat enough jiǎozi beforehand and you might get lucky, or at least really really full! Can’t make it all the way out to Hong Kong this year? Find out where in the UK and Europe you can see in the Chinese New Year, including London’s Chinatown.
Where to stay in Hong Kong
Book early to secure your Hong Kong hotel amidst the popular Chinese New Year period. HK is not known for its affordable accommodation and you may have to sacrifice space for a lower price, but those who venture further to outlying villages along the south coast such as Tin Wan may be rewarded with a better deal. Try Ovolo Aberdeen Harbour or Caritas Oswald Cheung International House, both around a 15 minute taxi ride into the city.
Carnevale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
Average temperature: 9°C
Grab a mask and a cloak and take part in this surreal reenactment of eighteenth century Venetian life. Also known as mardi gras, the Carnevale dates change according to Easter each year, as it’s the last big hurrah before the period of abstinence (Lent). The donning of masks originally allowed locals to overturn the social order and drink, gamble and philander in anonymity, though the carnival was actually banned by Mussolini in the 1930s, until its revival in the late 1970s. Tickets for masked balls such as Il Ballo del Doge start at a cool €800 per person for after-dinner entry, up to €3,350 for “super VIP entry and costume over the top”. The best costumes can be seen for free, however, on Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) in the historic centre. Save more money by consulting our eight things to do on a budget in this city of canals, gondoliers and gelato.
Where to stay in Venice
Finding budget accommodation in Venice is a challenge at any time of year, but don’t be put off, just book early and go for a functional but friendly guesthouse like Hotel Rio. Still within easy reach of St Mark’s Square, rooms start from a manageable £57. If you’re looking for a quieter retreat away from the noisiest Carnevale festivities, the pretty mosaic-tiled palazzo, Domus Orsoni, is situated in residential Cannaregio but still close to the train station (rooms from £85).
Carnaval du Quebec, Quebec City, Canada
Average temperature: -5°C
Quebec City, with its zig-zagging cobbled streets, domes and spires, acquires a fairy-tale magic in the snow. But, lest you be fooled, winter here is not for the faint-hearted. Le Carnaval traces its origins right back to the hardy French pioneers who, having endured sub-zero temperatures for months on end (sans central heating) would get together just before Lent and, in today’s parlance, party hard. The snow sculptures alone makes the visit worthwhile, turning the streets into an icy museum of awe-inspiring creations. The night parades are attended by city mascot Bonhomme, a fun-loving but vaguely sinister giant snowman, whose humongous palace – built with 300 tonnes of ice – is the centrepiece of the festival. The fun continues with snow and ice tobogganing, dog-sled rides and a canoe race on the frozen Saint-Lawrence River. Don’t miss the snow bath, in which semi-naked grown-ups roll about in the white stuff. As we said, not for the faint-hearted. Check the website for next year’s dates.
Where to stay in Quebec
Slightly out of the action in Lower Quebec, Hotel Royal William is a good budget hotel option (from £60* a night). If you’d rather be in the thick of it, the intimate Hotel Manoir D’Auteuil is a short walk from the centre of Old Quebec but retains a surprisingly quiet atmosphere. And if you’re feeling particularly frost-resistant, Quebec also plays host to one of the world’s 12 coolest ice hotels.
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*Published February 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.
*Skyscanner looked at 250 million exits on flights over a three-year period to make the data as robust and accurate as possible. Our overall results should be considered as a guide for travellers. While Skyscanner has identified the average flight prices and best time to book, there will never be one date where it can guarantee that flight prices will be at their cheapest. However, there are clear trends we can see that are useful to show travellers.
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