Temps are low in Europe in February, but so are the crowds—and hotel rates. Isn’t that reason enough to get those 2020 travel plans off to a roaring start?
1 Madeira, Portugal
If you want to avoid the cold and wet weather that hits much of Europe in February, visit the island of Madeira, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa.
This environment makes Madeira the perfect place for outdoor activities, even during the winter months. Try hiking Ponta de São Lourenço, which is a nature reserve filled with red-streaked volcanic rocks that offers majestic views of the ocean. Or, if you don’t want to hike, but still want amazing views, visit the Cabo Girão Skywalk, which is a clear platform that hangs off of Europe’s highest cliff— definitely not for those afraid of heights. Be sure to sample some of the area’s wine while you’re here, too. Head to Blandy’s Wine Lodge, where you can take a tour and find out how this region’s wine is made.
You can also try paragliding, or even the famous street tobogganing. Plus, if you visit at the end of February, you can take part in the Carnival festivities.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
Explore the winding streets of Prague’s Old Town to admire the pastel-colored buildings this February. Take a walk down Karlova Street, which historically was the way Bohemian kings traveled to their coronations, and check out the local shops selling glassware, wooden toys, painted eggs, puppets, and other crafts that make great gifts.
Warm up from the cold by visiting one of the city’s museums, like the Prague Jewish Museum, the National Museum, or the Museum of Beer. For a unique experience, check out the Franz Kafka Museum, which is devoted to the famous writer.
3. St. Moritz, Switzerland
There’s no wrong time to visit this swish alpine resort town, which stuns both in summer and winter, but February is arguably the best. Ultra-luxe ski resorts are in full swing, the winter temps are at their warmest (ideal for lingering on the high slopes), and Switzerland’s world-famous White Turf horse-racing event takes over three weekends on the town’s frozen lake.
4. Paris, France
Paris is an obvious choice for a Valentine’s Day trip across the pond. The city is known as the most romantic in the world, and it certainly won’t disappoint if you decide to visit this winter.
Plus, February is often the cheapest month to fly to Paris, and you can enjoy off-season hotel prices and fewer crowds at the big attractions. Skip the lines and still get a chance to see some of the most popular tourist sites in the world, including the Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, and the Arc de Triomphe.
One night, take a Seine dinner cruise, where a heated boat will take you down the iconic river that flows through the center of the city. Consider booking a ticket to performances at the famous Moulin Rouge or Opéra Garnier for another exciting night in Paris.
5. Tenerife, Canary Islands
Your options are limited, but it is possible to squeeze in some European beach time during the second month of the year. While mainland Spain fluctuates from cool to cold, the southernmost Canary Islands—specifically Tenerife—are warm year-round. February is one of the best times to visit Tenerife’s southern beaches, when temperatures hit the low 70s and there’s less chance of rain.
Lounging by the water at Playa de la Tejita is requisite, but if you’ve got more time to spare, don’t miss a hike through the forests of the Anaga Mountains or a walk through Garachico, where you can also swim in rock pools formed by lava. Heads up: time your trip for the tail-end of the month and you’ll be just in time for the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival (February 19–March 1, 2020), a celebration of music, color, and life.
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