Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

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February might be the month of romance, but there’s not much to love about the ongoing trudge of a UK winter. So why not brighten the mood with a rejuvenating escape – after all, it’s summer in South America. Carnival season brings feasts and festivities, with parties popping everywhere from Venice to New Orleans. Or embrace the cold with a cosy break in an interesting European capital, a favourably priced ski jaunt to the Rocky Mountains or an adventurous trek to the Arctic Circle. For more ideas of where to go in February, see our travel suggestions below.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    1. MENDOZA, ARGENTINA

    Temperature: 31°C high; 17°C low


    Season: summer


    Travel time from UK: 18 hours 30 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -3

    Summer in Argentina is in full swing, and few places look lovelier under the season’s clear, blue skies than Mendoza. The convivial, famously laid-back city isn’t just the gateway to Argentine wine country, but a destination every bit as seductive as the region’s finest reds – where buzzy bars and restaurants spill out onto pavements, world-class beef is grilled over wood fires, and even the ice cream comes laced with Malbec. Road trips to the Uco Valley wineries are framed by the frosted Andes soaring over neatly plotted, brilliant-green vines. In late February, the Vendimia Festival, celebrating the grape harvest, takes over the town: it’s a fine time to join the party, or flee to a rustic bungalow in a placid Uco pasture.

  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    2. ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

    Temperature: -3°C high; -9°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 3 hours 20 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +3

    A city of palaces and poets, wellspring of art and philosophy, St Petersburg is the very image of wintry romance. It was here that Pushkin died in a duel defending his honour; where Dostoevsky was first welcomed into the literati; and Tchaikovsky crafted his early symphonies. And although the White Nights of summer put a rare spring in the step of locals, winter is when St Petersburg is at its most classically Russian: with frozen canals and brooding, snow-draped streets. A traditional banya – bathhouse – provides respite from biting temperatures, though it’s a Russian style of soothing: a typical treatment involves being beaten with twigs. Braving frigid winds to root out modern St Petersburg is worth the frostbite: in Loft Project Etagi, formerly a bread factory, vintage-fashion stalls huddle for warmth alongside vegan street-food and art galleries.

    Read our guide to St Petersburg, Russia

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    3. SINGAPORE, ASIA

    Temperature: 31°C high; 25°C low


    Season: wet


    Travel time from UK: 13 hours 10 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +8

    Often regarded as a little sterile culturally, Singapore is finally forging an identity a little more than 50 years after its founding. Melting-pot hawker centres serve some of the world’s best street food – just ask Michelin, which in 2016 awarded a star to Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. The stall’s eponymous dish will set you back about a pound. The cocktail scene is also considered Asia’s best – Singapore has six venues inside the World’s 50 Best Bars list – while a state-mandated passion for green design has created a cityscape as stimulating as it is sustainable (see the Supertree Grove, a collection of illuminated vertical gardens that look like something out of Avatar). Chinese New Year in February sees the city at its most exuberant: handily, it also marks the wane of the monsoon.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    4. FINNISH LAPLAND

    Temperature: -6°C high; -13°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 5 hours 20 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +2

    February in Finnish Lapland might be bracing, but there’s plenty going on here that’s hot. How about hopping aboard the world’s only sauna gondola – a wooden cable car that treats passengers to a steamy ride over the slopes of Ylläs Ski Resort? Or working up a sweat by fat-biking across Ylläs National Park’s stark-white scenery (the thick treads help plucky cyclists pedal in deep snow). Of course, Christmas is high season here, but conditions are every bit as romantic in February, without the sky-high prices or crowds. Northern Lights-stalkers also have a good chance of spotting those elusive, swirling illuminations – perhaps best viewed from the Aurora Domes at Harriniva, where igloo-like tents are fitted out with a transparent wall, wood-burner and Champagne.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    5. IBIZA, SPAIN

    Temperature: 15°C high; 8°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 2 hours 30 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +1

    Winter on the White Isle isn’t as bonkers as it sounds. It’s the best time to experience Ibiza as the locals know it – almond trees flush pink-white with blossom; beach bars and pavement cafés are laid-back not lairy; and the tapas and drinks come cheap. Bargain isn’t a word too often associated with this Balearic, but without the club crowds, proprietors look to lure customers with deals. During winter nights, island restaurants participate in Gastrojueves – ‘Gastro Thursdays’ – where meals are offered half-price. Craving a blowout? Small towns across Ibiza celebrate Carnival with parades early in the month; superclubs such as Pacha throw the after-parties. Really, though, it’s all about taking time to soak up the quieter side of Ibiza. The Nobu hotel in Talamanca, all soothing white bedrooms and fabulous sea views, is a fine place to do it.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    6. CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

    Temperature: 31°C high; 24°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 14 hours 40 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -5

    A riotous clash of Spanish, Latin and Caribbean cultures, the Colombian seaside city is a feast for the senses, with corn-yellow colonial villas and palm-dotted plazas, citrus-kissed ceviche and potent rum cocktails. True, old Cartagena’s picturesque romance has turned it into a well-known destination. But the locals in its Getsemani neighbourhood still cling to artsy authenticity: streets here belong to bright murals and vagabond musicians, Champeta dance clubs (Afro-Caribbean beats meet salsa) and hip restaurants (find Di Silvio Trattoria’s thin-crust pizzas in a former soap factory). Ready to dial it down? Rent a boat for the one-hour ride to the Rosario Islands, where simple beach shacks pour Mojitos into coconuts on peaceful, powder-soft beaches. February sea breezes take the edge off summer’s humidity.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    7. BAHIA, BRAZIL

    Temperature: 31°C high; 25°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 13 hours 30 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -3

    It’s carnival time in Brazil – but it’s not only Rio de Janeiro that brings the party. Salvador, capital of Bahía – the north-eastern state and birthplace of Afro-Brazilian culture – hosts bigger, longer and louder festivities. Drumming troupes thunder through the streets playing the region’s signature axé music: a rousing fusion of reggae, merengue and salsa. And while the Sambadrome is the base for carnival activities in Rio, in Salvador it’s the whole city. Caipirinha-weary revellers can recover with a stint at any one of Bahía’s golden, jungle-fringed sands along its 1,000km-long coast. Beach town Trancoso is where Brazilians go on holiday: it’s a languid, curiously hippie-glam mix of billionaires and bums.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    8. PARIS, FRANCE

    Temperature: 9°C high; 3°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 1 hour 15 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +1

    The City of Love should be an obvious pick in February, but potential suitors are all-too-often put off by the weather. Très grosse erreur. Anyone who knows the French knows they scarper tout de suite in summer, shuttering restaurants, frustrating foreigners and not giving a tiny French fig. Come instead in winter, when everything’s open, visitors are fewer, reservations easier and rates lower. All the best stuff is indoors anyway: cute, candle-lit bistros; echoey art museums; bo-bo (bourgeois-boho) bars. South Pigalle – or SoPo – still sizzles as Paris’s hottest spot, and recently welcomed the capital’s coolest quarters: Hôtel Bienvenue Paris, with its airy, pastel rooms and leafy central courtyard (the floral tiles are Insta-gold). Could it be any more on-point? The restaurant serves French-Japanese fusion and natural wines, so, mais oui.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    9. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

    Temperature: 3°C high; -1°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 1 hours 50 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +1

    Home of hygge, layering up is all part of the fun in the undisputed capital of Scandi-cool. The Danes’ design prowess has lately seen the city popularised as a hipster dreamland, but it’s been fabulous far longer than beanie-clad bicyclists have been on Instagram: leading-edge visual arts, high Nordic cooking and fancy coffee are all in the Danish DNA. Steep yourself in it all at Design Hotel digs Nobis, where contemporary interiors have reinvigorated the former Royal Danish Conservatory of Music, restaurant Niels does frilly things with local, seasonal ingredients, and there’s a traditional sauna to stave off the chill.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    10. COTSWOLDS, UNITED KINGDOM

    Temperature: 7°C high; 1°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from London: 2 hours by train


    Time difference: GMT +0

    If there’s one thing that can make a British winter appealing, it’s the thought of getting cosy in the Cotswolds. Amid a quintessentially English landscape, publicans pull artisan ales, sipped by roaring fires. Frosty walks ramble past country manors and up green hills topped with Iron Age forts. But while its home to some of the most beautiful villages in the UK, this isn’t back-in-time England. Clued-in movers and shakers have helped sow an ultra-modern crop of Michelin-starred restaurants in the Cotswolds between the organic spacs, antiques stores and tea rooms. Naturally, rates and reservations are more manageable in winter. Two of the best hotels in the Cotswolds that particular embody contemporary village living: Soho Farmhouse (copper bathtubs; bottled Negronis), and Lady Bamford’s trailblazing Daylesford farm and estate, where the organic ethos extends to everything from the farm shop and pub to wellness treatments.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    11. Bahamas

    Temperature: 25°C high; 17°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 10 hours 15 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -5

    Swap the white sludge on your doorstep for a bright white beach in the Bahamas. Those in the know head for the islands in sleepy February, just as the December holiday crowds have dispersed and before the raucous spring breakers descend in March, for the pristine sands, laidback lifestyle and 18th-century streets tinged with the scent of frangipani. Take advantage of the relative quiet with a barefoot stroll across Pink Sands beach, consider a diving class after a long lunch on Harbour Island or while away the afternoon with a mojito and a novel — what’s the rush?

    Above: Poolside at The Other Side, on North Eleuthera.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    12. Venice

    Temperature: 9°C high; 1°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 2 hours


    Time difference: GMT +1

    February is carnival time in Venice, which makes it either the very best time to come, or the worst. Noblemen clink swords in St Mark’s Square, courtesans cloaked in red silk drift down the Grand Canal on plumed gondolas, and gilded masks allow royalty to walk freely among the commoners. What seems like a Canaletto painting comes to life every year when revellers gather for three weeks of masked debauchery. Those seeking the quiet charms of the floating city will be disappointed, but if you dare to join the huddled masses you’ll be rewarded with an otherworldly experience. You can flaunt your finery on the Rialto, dance the quadrilles at the Doge’s ball and wake up the next morning in a luxurious four-poster bed in your very own Venetian palace wondering if it was all a dream.

    Above: Palazzo Contarini Polignac, Dorsoduro.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    13. Sri Lanka

    Temperature: 31°C high; 23°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 10 hours 45 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +5.30

    Silky beige sand and sumptuous hotels mean the Sri Lanka’s south coast is the envy of its South Asian neighbours. The nation’s troubled political history is now behind it, but prices have yet to catch up. Go now before package-holidaymakers abandon Bali and Thailand en masse for these serene shores. Dual monsoon seasons make it tricky to navigate, but while the ‘maha’ monsoon hits the north-eastern coast in February, the western beaches stay blissfully sunny. Begin in the historic capital Colombo and slide down the coast to the colonial town of Galle, sampling some mouth-watering seafood along the way.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    14. Costa Rica

    Temperature: 28°C high; 17°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 10 hours 50 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -6

    This little slice of Central America packs a powerful punch. With verdant rainforests and towering volcanoes sitting beside vibrant cities, explorers are spoiled for choice. You can trek through rugged Tenorio National Park, frolic in Arenal’s secret waterfalls and finish the day dining on French fusion in San José. Dive into the action in Costa Rica February, just as prices dip after peak tourist season. The rainforests are still lush (monsoon season ends in December) and the coconut-strewn beaches of Puerto Viejo as idyllic as ever.

    Above: The Harmony Hotel, Costa Rica.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    15. Melbourne

    Temperature: 27°C high; 16°C low


    Season: summer


    Travel time from UK: 21 hours 45 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +10

    It’s easy to see why Australia’s capital of cool draws comparisons with London: the temperamental weather, buzzing café scene and a reputation for attracting brooding hipsters. But in the height of summer there’s nothing to be grumpy about. This month sees the lowest rainfall and warmest temperatures of the year, luring cool kids out from their indoor habitats to enjoy the city’s gorgeous parks and bustling rooftop bars. Discover cutting-edge boutiques in the city’s emerging suburbs and if the nights get too balmy you could always decamp to their latest weekend hideaway, Mornington Peninsula.

    Above: Bar Americano in Presgrave Place, Melbourne.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    16. North American ski resorts

    Temperature: 4°C high; -12°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 12 hours


    Time difference: GMT -7

    Is there anything more alluring than powdery, just-fallen snow? Especially when your primary concern is not how to get to work but deciding what time to book your ski lesson? Fresh snowfall drives winter sports aficionados to the Rockies in their droves from November, but by February you can take advantage of the optimum skiing conditions at more affordable prices. Aspen glitters the brightest, attracting high rollers more interested in sipping hot chocolate by an open fire than hitting the slopes. Serious skiers head further up to Jackson Hole and Banff, in the picturesque Canadian Rockies. Thankfully you can kick off your skis at the lavish Fairmont Banff Springs, but when rooms come with awe-inspiring panoramas straight out of The Revenant is it even worth going outside?

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    17. Senegal

    Temperature: 26°C high; 16°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 7 hours 55 minutes


    Time difference: GMT +0

    Senegal has always danced to its own beat — usually the beat of a booming sabar drum — and attracts adventurers with its delta wildlife, spicy street food and thriving contemporary art scene. Gloriously golden beaches have also turned it into an unexpected surfing hotspot and February is the best time to catch some big waves. While it’s tropical and hot all year round, this month sees no rain, totally bearable heat and eight hours of sunshine a day — your typical Senegalese winter. Even a short trip guarantees life-changing experiences.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    18. New Orleans

    Temperature: 19°C high; 9°C low


    Season: winter


    Travel time from UK: 9 hours 55 minutes


    Time difference: GMT -6

    ‘I don’t want realism. I want magic,’ cooed Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, an enduring love letter to this romantic, crumbling city. Mardi Gras certainly delivers on that. The iconic two-week carnival sees daily parades and masquerade balls transform New Orleans into a riotous party town. Don a mask, discard your inhibitions and wander the city in mystical torchlight. After the festivities, crawl out of bed for a meal of gumbo over cheese grits and stroll through the cobblestone alleyways of the French Quarter to a soundtrack of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. Without the glittering krewes the quaint streets are almost unrecognisable — the discarded beads that litter the pavement act as the only proof that you’re in the same place.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    19. Kerala

    Temperature: 32°C high; 23°C low


    Season: dry


    Travel time from UK: 15 hours


    Time difference: GMT +5.30

    If you’re dreaming of drifting down Kerala’s tranquil backwaters in relative solitude, wait until February. The tail end of peak season sees low humidity, practically no rain and fewer tour groups to disturb your zen-like state of mind. Whether you prefer to hide away on an elegant houseboat or enjoy southern hospitality at a local homestay, it’s impossible not to fall for this state’s easygoing charm. Spend your evenings lingering over delicious South Indian thalis, exploring the meandering Dutch canals of Cochin and lazing on Varkala’s deserted beaches.

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  • Where to go in February: 20 top destinations

    20. Malaysia

    Temperature: 32°C high; 23°C low


    Season: wet


    Travel time from UK: 13 hours


    Time difference: GMT +8

    Malaysia offers a smorgasbord of delights for the passing visitor: the hedonistic, ultra-modern capital of Kuala Lumpur, a sun-drenched coastline with tropical beaches to rival those of Thailand, charming architecture in Georgetown in Penang, and mind-blowing Peranakan cuisine in Malacca. While the country’s east coast resorts close for monsoon season, their western neighbours enjoy the driest month of the year. In February you’ll find blue skies over the beaches of Langkawi and Penang and across the central peninsula.

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    Where to go on holiday in March: 20 top destinations

    For where to go in other months, see our Holiday Calendar:


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