The depths of winter make for the heights of sightseeing in many destinations that are usually overcrowded: Think U.S. national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s also a prime time for extreme climates on either end of the spectrum, from the Middle East to Antarctica.
(Don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to book your destination to get the best value for your dollar, see our “Where to Book Now” series.)
Though February is high season in the Caribbean (since it’s sunny and dry there, and often the opposite back home), Nevis sees far fewer crowds than many of its neighbors—including sister island St. Kitts, which is built up with mega hotels and casinos. Nevis, by contrast, feels like the Caribbean of 20 years ago, with no more than a couple of stoplights, a laid-back way of life, and a handful of high-end accommodations. —Lindsey Epperly, Trusted Travel Expert for Caribbean Islands
January and February have the best weather, with less humidity and a cool breeze in the mornings and afternoons. The sun goes down a bit earlier, but the sunset is amazing. —Eric Sheets, Trusted Travel Expert for Colombia
We love to visit during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, held every February, when the city is packed with events, exhibitions, and huge art installations. —Bertie and Victoria Dyer, Trusted Travel Experts for India
Yellowstone National Park
In February, Yellowstone is a winter wonderland with limited visitors. Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to see wildlife—elk, bison, even wolves—and to cross-country ski, snowshoe, and ride in snowmobiles or heated snow coaches.
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In 2017, Carnevale will peak in February: Fat Thursday falls on February 23, Shrove Tuesday on February 28. All that is sumptuous and extravagant about Venice is kicked up several notches during this period of elaborate celebrations marked by Baroque costumes, masked balls, sinful sweets, and general bacchanalian overindulgence. —Maria Gabriella Landers and Brian Dore, Trusted Travel Experts for Italy
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
In early February, the worst of the hot and steamy weather has not yet arrived—but the huge crowds that descend on Angkor Wat in January have already departed (just make sure to arrive after February 7th this year, when the Chinese New Year ends). —Andrea Ross, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia
Beijing and Shanghai, China
February might be cold, but if you’re just visiting China’s main cities, it’s brilliant: There aren’t too many other visitors, and you’ll get great value for money. Just make sure to avoid the week of Chinese New Year (starting on January 27 in 2017), when the cities shut down while everyone goes home to be with family. —David Allardice, Trusted Travel Expert for China
Yunnan Province, China
By February many parts of Yunnan are already in spring mode, with camellia and other flowers in bloom; to the east and south of Kunming, fields of yellow rapeseed flowers turn the area into a photographer’s heaven. If you time your trip to Chinese New Year, you can witness dragon dances, waves of firecrackers, village banquets, and many other celebrations. (What you won’t find then, however, are discounts on flights or hotels.) —Mei Zhang, Trusted Travel Expert for China
February is the coolest month of the year in this tropical country—and one of the drier ones as well—making it a delightful time to go exploring. There are also several festivals on tap in the country: the Maha Muni Pagoda Festival in Mandalay, the Pindaya Cave Festival in Pindaya (near Inle), and the Nan Taw Pagoda Festival in Maymyo. —Antonia Neubauer, Trusted Travel Expert for Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal
Prices are as much as 40 percent cheaper in February than during peak season, and the vegetation is lush and green from the rains. The periodic thunderstorms that roll through often provide beautiful rainbows, which form a great backdrop for your photos. Plus, many of the wildlife have babies—zebra, wildebeest, antelope—and the predators tend to be more prolific with the greater availability of prey. This is also a time when migratory birds in full breeding plumage are in residence; their coloring is just exquisite. —Julian Harrison, Trusted Travel Expert for Southern Africa
In February Israel is virtually empty of tourists, so you have unfettered access to almost all of the sites without waiting in lines. If you are looking for the best rooms in the best hotels and the best tour guides—all at fabulous prices—this is the time to go. Temperatures are mild, in the 50s and 60s for the most part, and although you will have some rain, the scenery makes you feel that it is springtime in Vermont or Switzerland: green hills, multicolored wildflowers, snowcapped peaks, and flowing streams and rivers. —Joe Yudin, Trusted Travel Expert for Israel
February is one of the cooler months of the year for Abu Dhabi, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s; plus, rates are at the lower end of the scale for the emirate. The Qasr al-Hosn Festival, a celebration of Emirati culture, runs from February 3rd to 13th at the same-named fort, with performances of music and dance. —Lindsey Wallace, Trusted Travel Expert for the UAE, Maldives and Seychelles
By February the sea ice has melted, allowing for longer voyages and prime whale-watching when the humpbacks surface and feed. These shorter autumn days also allow glimpses of the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. What’s more, the icebergs have been beautifully sculpted by summer winds—reflecting the sun’s rays like giant crystal chandeliers—and special offers often come available for these late-season departures. —Ashton Palmer, Trusted Travel Expert for Expedition Cruises