Whether you’re fighting post-holiday blues, searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day escape, or eager to flee the chill of winter, February is an exceptional month to whisk away.
From sunny beach getaways to Nordic adventures and all the Carnival festivals between, these are the best places to visit in February.
Rio de Janeiro
Are you searching for a winter escape that dazzles? Rio de Janeiro just soared to the top of your travel list. Each February, Rio’s Carnival, touted as The Greatest Show on Earth, attracts millions of visitors for five energizing days of color, light, and sound. Each day, parades fill the air with the echo of drums as dancers in flashy costumes samba through the streets alongside towering, shimmering floats.
Ways to participate in Carnival are vast and seemingly endless. You can attend the Sambadrome to watch samba dancers compete, or don your finest ball gown and mask at an exclusive masquerade. You can also simply wander the streets and stumble into one raucous party after the other. No matter how you celebrate, Carnival is sure to be your most vibrant vacation.
Whether your idea of romance is swimming with manta rays or roaming pristine beaches, Maldives is an easy choice for a Valentine’s Day getaway.
With dozens of sun-soaked islands to visit, you can dive into its beauty in a way that best fits your travel style. If your idea of perfection is a postcard view from a luxurious overwater bungalow, make your way to the serenity of Fihalhohi Island. If glowing beaches are on the docket, head to the Vaadhoo Islands to witness the water light up in bright blue hues courtesy of bioluminescent plankton. Is a low-key cultural experience more your speed? Maldives has that, too! Maradhoo Island expertly pairs authentic Maldivian life with world-class diving opportunities.
Winter in Norway is for nature lovers and culture enthusiasts. Spend your days exploring the crisp alpine wilderness with sleigh rides and snow sports, then look to the sky for the evening’s entertainment. On dark nights, you can witness the Northern Lights illuminate the sky in otherworldly hues of purple and green.
February is a fantastic time to visit to enjoy Sami Week, an annual festival that takes place in Tromsø. Sami Week celebrates the indigenous people and culture of the Scandinavian Arctic, the Sápmi. Activities abound throughout the week, including bustling markets and live music. The highlight is the National Reindeer Racing Championship, in which twelve of the world’s fastest reindeer race through the streets of Tromsø at 60 km per hour (27 miles per hour). This unique sight is not to be missed!
Ready to trade dark winter days for a warm stroll through ancient history? Pack your bags and head to Egypt this February! You can’t miss iconic sites, like the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings, but those who wander off the beaten path will be well rewarded, too. To explore with a fraction of the crowds, head to the well-preserved ancient temple of Dendera, or to Saqqara Necropolis where the first pyramid was built.
It’s best to time your visit with the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, a celestial event that occurs twice a year, including on February 22, in the southern Egyptian city of Abu Simbel. On this day, the sun rises over the horizon and perfectly lights up a chamber within the Temple of Ramses II. This chamber holds the statues of Ra, the sun god, and Amun, the king of gods, bathing them in sunlight. This clever feat of solar alignment has been celebrated by Egyptians for 3200 years and is a must-see.
Colorado has its fair share of cozy mountain towns, but there is something special about Aspen. Once a former mining village, Aspen, which is tucked at the base of the Rocky Mountains, transformed from its rugged roots to become the lively hub of snow sports and fine dining that it is today. By visiting in February, you can take advantage of post-holiday prices without sacrificing any of the excellent ski powder Aspen is known for.
While some come for the world-class ski slopes, others choose to admire the snow-dusted mountains with a bottle of wine, which is best enjoyed beside the fireplace of a rustic lodge, of course. No matter how you take in the scenery, you can expect Aspen to deliver an elevated experience. Just don’t forget to attend as many après-skis as possible during your stay!
Portugal’s charming capital city may be a year-round destination, but it’s hard to beat the advantages of traveling to Lisbon in February. While winter holds most of Europe in its chilly grasp, Lisbon remains free of the cold. In fact, it is the warmest spot on the mainland, thanks to its mild sea climate. Plus, you can explore popular locales, like the colorful castles of Sintra, sans crowds – all while saving with low-season prices.
During February, Lisbon also plays host to Carnival, a spirited annual affair. To witness the height of the festivities, plan to be there on Carnival Tuesday, February 21, 2023. In need of a more quiet escape? Stroll through the city’s museums (Calouste Gulbenkian is a must-visit) or enjoy an intimate Valentine’s Day dinner at one of Lisbon’s top-rated restaurants. Just be sure to top off your day with a glass of quintessential port wine.
Jet off to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, a land where natural wonders abound and the reggae music is on repeat. With an average of 76 mm (3 in) of rain and temperatures in the high 20s C (80s F), February is the ideal time to explore this tropical paradise.
Reggae Month, whose timing correlates with Black History Month, kicks off on February 6, Bob Marley’s birthday. Activities center around Kingston, and there is something for everyone keen to join the fun. From lectures and documentaries to performances and concerts, Reggae month is an energetic celebration of how a musical genre impacted Jamaica’s culture, history, and economy.
For a break from the music, head to the nearest sandy beach (of which there are plenty) or take to the mountains. If hiking is your speed, check out Blue and John Crow National Park, which offers spectacular trails for beginners and avid hikers alike.
Experience the magic of the most remote place on the planet with a trip to Antarctica this February. With 24 hours of daylight during polar summer, you can literally soak in your surroundings all day long.
By February, when summer is wrapping up, the ice is more broken apart. This allows expedition ships to access remote areas further south, including to the Antarctic Circle at 66º south. Broken ice also creates ideal conditions for whale watching. It’s common to spy humpbacks, orcas, and minke whales, though if you’re lucky, you may cross paths with a blue whale, the largest creature on the planet.
In Antarctica, there is no shortage of wildlife. In addition to whales, you will visit boisterous penguin colonies, see sleepy seals, and experience an abundance of avian action above.
The king cake has been cut, the booze is flowing, and colorful beads soar through the air as groups strut by in costumes dripping with glitter. Welcome to Mardi Gras, the biggest party in the USA!
This year, Mardi Gras will take place on February 21, 2023. It is an open and welcoming celebration of community and culture with activities centered around the French Quarter. Here, tradition and history flow through the streets amid a cacophony of color and extravagant parade floats.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without devouring your way through the city. With its Creole and French influences, paired with its proximity to the Gulf Coast, NOLA’s culinary scene is a delightful blend of culture and flavor. Be sure to sink your teeth into a Po’ Boy oyster sandwich, snag a heaping bowl of gumbo, and round it out with fluffy beignets.
While Europe cozies up in February, Tenerife experiences an onslaught of sunshine. As the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Teneriffe offers an array of scenery. From volcanic trails to verdant forests and pristine beaches to bustling port towns, it is a feast of landscapes. Plus, with its pleasant temperatures and nearly eleven hours of sun, you will have plenty of time and warmth to explore the island’s beauty.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, then Teide National Park is a must-see. With its jagged geological formations and dusty volcanic hiking trails, its environment is full of natural textures that are ripe for exploration. Make sure to visit the summit, which you can do over a two-day trek or via cable car and a short hike, to peek into Mount Teide’s impressive lunar-like caldera.
Last but not least, join the locals in celebrating the world-famous Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival, a month-long series of colorful street parties and parades held between January 20th, 2022 – February 26th, 2023.
For an intoxicating and opulent experience, high-tail it to Venice this February. Each year, Venice hosts its world-famous Carnevale, which will take place from February 4 to 21, 2023. Carnevale traces its rich history to 1162, when Venice’s military victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia prompted mass celebration. Today, as it was over 800 years ago, Carnevale is a time of indulgence and merriment. Head to St. Mark’s Square, the hub of the action, to witness a sea of elaborate period-piece costumes and lavishly decorated masks.
While Venice is ripe for partygoers, the winter chill also sets a romantic backdrop across the city, ideal for an intimate Valentine’s Day. Brave the rain and bundle up for a cozy gondola ride through the misty and mysterious canals, or escape to the small island of Murano, a stone’s throw from Venice, to slip away from the commotion of Carnevale.