The belt-tightening of January is over and spring is on the horizon – what better way to celebrate than a late winter break? Whether you fancy strolling through snowy city streets or sunning yourself on a tropical beach, we’ve got the lowdown on the best places to visit this February.
Best city breaks in February
Prague, Czech Republic
Average temperature: 4°C
It’s no surprise Prague is party central – it’s the birthplace of absinthe, after all. Though there are plenty of bars to hop into in the old town, one of the best places to let your hair down is at Karlovy lázně: the largest club in Central Europe. Each of its five floors is devoted to a different music style.
The Czech Republic is also famous for its beer, and you can try one of the world’s strongest at 550 year old brewery U Medvídků. Their X-Beer 33 has an alcohol content of 11.8%, so go easy. For something a little more bohemian, pop into Palác Akropolis – an Art Deco palace of music, theatre, dance and exhibitions in the trendy Žižkov Republic neighbourhood.
If you’re feeling hungover, follow in the footsteps of writer Franz Kafka and philosopher Václav Havel by sipping a coffee at Café Slavia. Afterwards, take a stroll around – preferably with your camera. Prague is a photographer’s dream, with Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Art Nouveau buildings all crammed together. Visiting the historic centre of Prague – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – at this time of year means you’ll avoid the selfie stick crowds of summer.
Freezing temperatures are a small price to pay to experience this unspoiled beauty – just pack a woolly winter coat and you’re set.
Read our guide to things to do in Prague for more holiday inspiration.
Where to stay in Prague
Stay in central Prague (the Prague 1 district) for easy walking to popular sights like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. While this is the main tourist area, it’s super easy to find cheap places to stay. Especially in February – U Tří Bubnů is a 3-star hotel in a listed fourteenth century building opposite Kafka’s old pad, with doubles as cheap as £52* if you book in advance.
Best time to book flights to Prague: 14 weeks before departure
Saving: 14% on average flight prices from the UK to Prague
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Average temperature: 32°C
February is an ideal time to visit Malaysia’s capital, as the weather is hot and the heavy rains of March are yet to hit. In terms of sights, sounds and flavours, it’s hard to find a better February holiday destination than KL, as the city has a fascinating melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. One of the best ways to explore this diversity is through the city’s street food. Your taste buds are in for a treat, whether you’re slurping rich laksa soup or scooping up handfuls of rice, dhal and spicy curry from a banana leaf.
Walk off the calorie overload at Batu Caves, known for its glute-enhancing 272 step staircase leading to an awe-inspiring cavern with a golden statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan. Alternatively, head to the 451 metre-tall Petronas Towers. Take the elevator, enjoy the view and boast that you’ve walked across the world’s highest double-decker sky bridge.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Look for hotels near LRT or monorail stations – this is the best way to get around the city, and staying nearby will make your trip far more convenient. For budget stays, you can’t go wrong with Classic Inn. As well as boasting great service and prices from £20 per night, it’s also well-situated next to Berjaya Times Square. If you’re after something more luxurious, book into the Shangri-La Hotel right in the heart of KLCC. This swish hotel has its own gym, shop, restaurants and business centre – all for less than £100 a night.
Best time to book flights to Kuala Lumpur: 5 weeks before departure
Saving: 6% on average flight prices from the UK to Kuala Lumpur
Average temperature: 11°C
Where better for a low-season holiday than the French Riviera? Flight prices are low but temperatures are warm, with nine hours of sunshine per day. Plus, without August’s tourist hordes, you can really stretch out and enjoy the city’s vast number of public beaches – 20 to be precise. The city’s beaches are pebbly, so if you prefer sinking your toes into soft sand hop on the bus to Antibes, around 30 minutes away.
If it’s too chilly for sunbathing, visit the Musée Matisse instead (open 10am–6pm). It is one of the world’s largest collections of artworks by Henri Matisse, including his famous cut-outs. It has free entry, and the olive tree-studded grounds are well worth a stroll too.
Where to stay in Nice
The best place to stay in Nice is along the seafront, and during February those all-important views come with a lower price tag. 3-star Albert 1Er is neatly placed between the Old Town and the Baie des Anges, with balcony rooms overlooking the Med. Tucked slightly further back from the beach, but with its own charming courtyard, is Hôtel De La Fontaine – a friendly boutique-style option.
Best time to book flights to Nice: 24 weeks before departure
Saving: 12% on average flight prices from the UK to Nice
Average temperature: 30°C
Puducherry (formerly known as Pondicherry) is a little slice of France on the Bay of Bengal. Under French rule until 1954, it still keeps a lot of its Gallic charm – we’re willing to bet it’s the only place on the subcontinent where you can buy baguettes from shopkeepers who greet you with a cheery ‘Bonjour!’
Pay a visit to Pondy’s spiritual centre, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram collective: as seen in the film Life of Pi. Here you can take part 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 founded in the 1970s and marked by a big golden globe.
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. At sunset, join the locals for a walk down Pondy’s promenade, with its famous statue of Gandhi, and catch snippets of conversation in Tamil and French. A far cry from the cacophony associated with most Indian cities.
Before visiting the subcontinent, check out our first-timers guide to India.
Where to stay in Puducherry
The five star La Villa Hotel in the old quarter is a charming base for exploring Puducherry, especially if you make full use of their free bicycle hire. Come nightfall, you can make the most of your free private mini-bar and the hotel’s extensive library of DVDs and books. If you’re on a smaller budget, the Coramandal Heritage Hotel is a wonderful option. This intimate colonial house only has 10 rooms, and is a 10 minute rickshaw journey from the train station. Best of all, you can snag a double here for as little as £15.
Best time to book flights to Chennai: 4 weeks before departure
Saving: 6% on average flight prices from the UK to Chennai
Best beach holidays in February
Dig out your flip-flops and get ready for some winter sun this February with our pick of the best winter beach destinations.
Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
Average temperature: 30°C
With southeast coast that’s positively lined with postcard-perfect beaches, the Dominican Republic is a hot ticket for British holidaymakers fleeing the February cold. One of our favourite destinations is Bayahibe – 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.
Aside from sunning yourself by the Caribbean Sea on the tranquil palm-fringed beaches, you can also enjoy some of the best diving in the country. Excursions include exploring nearby caves, close encounters with sharks and watching the sealife flourish on the coral reef. Even if you don’t dive, snorkellers can still catch a glimpse of the seventeenth century Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which is effectively an underwater museum just hidden offshore.
If you get bored of the slow-paced village life, hire a car and take a road trip to DR’s capital, Santo Domingo. Founded in 1496, it’s the oldest colonial city in the Western Hemisphere, with buildings like the Palacio de los Gobernadores, dating back to the days of the conquistadores. The country is also home to the highest mountain (the 3,098-metre Pico Duarte) and lowest lake (Lago Enriquillo) in the Caribbean.
Where to stay in Bayahibe
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.
Best time to book flights to Punta Cana: 1 week before departure
Saving: 39% on average flight prices from the UK to Punta Cana
Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Average temperature: 24°C
Where can you find the whitest sand in the world? Jervis Bay, of course. We’re not exaggerating, either: Hyams Beach gets a mention in the Guinness Book of Records for its fine quartz sand. Just a few hours drive from Sydney, this pretty beach has kept its discrete charm. It’s a popular destination for walkers, snorkellers and nature lovers in general.
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, probably because it’s located near two national parks: Jervis Bay and Booderee.
The shrubby Booderee is a nature lovers dream with 206 species of bird (including kookaburras), 23 species of reptile and 27 species of mammal – including cute wallabies and majestic humpback whales. Picnic on Cave Beach and you might spot some cockatoos and kangaroos, too. Apart from the wildlife, you’ll have the bay all to yourself.
February is autumn in Australia, so it’s likely to be warm but not too hot in New South Wales. If you’re planning a longer stay, 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 has its fair share of those spectacular white sands.
Best time to book flights to Sydney: 6, 8, 12 and 23 weeks before departure
Saving: 3% on average flight prices from the UK to Sydney
Average temperature: 32°C
Ah, Zanzibar. Just the name of this exotic destination makes us think of aromatic spices, silvery sands and Freddie Mercury – the legendary rock star was born here in 1946. 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. The weather is hot during February, but a guaranteed breeze leaves you feeling refreshed as you loaf around with a good paperback. Hundreds of years ago, trade winds made Zanzibar a popular stop-off point for ships moving between Africa, India and the Middle East. These days they attract kite surfers to this island’s shores.
Stone Town itself is unmissable. It has a bewitching ambiance with twisting alleys, aromatic bazaars and dream-like minarets, lending it an Arabian Nights feel. Listen out for the local music, Taarab – a haunting mix of trade-route influenced sounds – and you’ll be instantly transported to the days of the spice islands.
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 time to book flights to Zanzibar: 4 weeks before departure
Saving: 6% on average flight prices from the UK to Zanzibar
Best events in February
Dust off your party shoes and get ready to rock with our pick of the biggest and best events happening round the world in February.
Chinese New Year, Hong Kong, China
Average temperature: 19°C
Ring in the new year (again) by heading to Hong Kong. Chinese new year kicks off in February, and where better to celebrate than this bustling city? The fragrance of spring rolls (chūnjuǎn), lucky dumplings (jiǎozi) and longevity noodles (chángshòu miàn) fill the air. For the weeks leading up to the big day, shops are decked in lucky red and gold decorations while locals exchange gifts.
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. This spectacular street party has colourful dragons, dancers and drummers while exploding firecrackers light the sky. The parade starts at 8pm, with festivities starting a few hours before. It’s free if you’re happy to stand, but if you’d rather sit in the spectator stands you can buy tickets from 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. These are said to shoo off evil spirits and invite good fortune for the coming year. With all that luck, it’s worth taking a punt on the horses at Sha Tin Race Course. The biggest and most popular race of the year is held on the third day of the celebrations.
Where to stay in Hong Kong
Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is super popular, so be sure and book as early as possible. Central Hong Kong can be pricy, but if you head to villages like Tin Wan along the coast you can usually find more space for your buck. The Ovolo Aberdeen Harbour and Caritas Oswald Cheung International House are both a short 15 minute taxi ride from the city centre.
Best time to book flights to Hong Kong: 16 weeks before departure
Saving: 7% on average flight prices from the UK to Hong Kong
Carnevale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
Average temperature: 9°C
Grab a mask and pop on your gladrags to take part in this fun re-enactment of eighteenth century Venetian life. The Italian take on mardi gras, Carnevale dates change according to Easter each year. Back in the day, wearing masks meant locals could drink, gamble and generally party without being recognised by their neighbours. It’s the last big hurrah before Lent – and 40 days of abstaining from everything fun.
If you want to go all out, book tickets to a private masquerade ball with dinner and opera performances – these range in price from €90 to well over €250. If you’re on a budget, the best costumes can be seen for free on Piazza San Marco in the historic centre.
Where to stay in Venice
Venice isn’t known for its wallet-friendly accommodation, but if you book early you can often find some excellent bargains – such as the functional Hotel Airone, a short stroll from the train station. Looking outside downtown Venice is one of the best ways to get value for money. The romantic Hotel Le Boulevard is located in the Lido area just outside Venice city centre, with doubles for just under £50 a night during Carnavale.
Best time to book flights to Venice: 7 weeks before departure
Saving: 13% on average flight prices from the UK to Venice
Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City, Canada
Average temperature: -5°C
Who needs the sun-soaked streets of Rio when you can celebrate Carnival in Quebec City? This Canadian city is packed with fairytale magic in the snow, with its cobbled streets and tall spires. The city’s approach to mardi gras makes the most of the chilly weather, with epic snow sculptures turning every street into an ice museum. Look out for city mascot Bonhomme at the nightly parades. His massive palace, built with 300 tonnes of ice, is the festival’s centrepiece.
There’s more icy fun in the form of snow and ice tobogganing, dog-sled rides and a canoe race on the frozen Saint-Lawrence River. If you’re feeling brave, join the snow bath – where semi-naked revellers roll around in the white stuff. Carnival dates change every year, so check the celebration’s official website for up to date info.
Where to stay in Quebec
If you want to be in the heart of the action, look for rooms at Hotel Royal William. It’s in the arty neighbourhood of New St Roch, known for its cafés where you can sip a hot chocolate before joining revellers in the buzzing bars. Another excellent option is the intimate Hotel Manoir D’Auteuil. Just a short walk from the city centre, it has a peaceful and quaint atmosphere.
Best time to book flights to Quebec: 10 weeks before departure
Saving: 7% on average flight prices from the UK to Quebec
Start planning your year with our full calendar of travel inspiration.
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*Updated October 2018. 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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