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 When” 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.)
Cape Town, South Africa
The weather is good in February, with temps in the 60s and 70s, and the packs of tourists don’t arrive until June (when peak safari season starts). There’s also a new nonstop flight from Newark to Cape Town, which saves you from connecting in Europe and shaves several hours off your flight time.
Lake Titicaca, Peru
Every February, a mix of Catholicism and Andean traditions are brought together in the Fiesta de la Candelaria, which takes place in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This is one of the largest festivals in the country, celebrated by dancers who come from all over Peru and Bolivia for several days of performances, processions, and competitions.
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.
Nevis & St. Kitts
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 other islands; in fact, it’s almost like stepping into the Caribbean of 20 years ago, with a couple of stoplights, a laid-back way of life, and a handful of high-end accommodations—including a Four Seasons that is fresh off a multi-million-dollar renovation. While the neighboring island of St. Kitts has a number of mega hotels, the portion of it closest to Nevis—Christophe Harbor—is another crowd-free luxury haven, home to the Park Hyatt St. Kitts and a stretch of government-protected land.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Finding Your Perfect Caribbean Island Resort.
The Grenadines, Caribbean
The small, unspoiled islands of the Grenadines give you the feel of the old-world Caribbean. Explore by yacht and you can mingle with locals on tiny Bequia, snorkel in the Tobago Cays Marine Park, and rub elbows with high society on the private island of Mustique. The weather is excellent in February, with prices considerably lower than during the holidays.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.
In 2020, Carnevale kicks off on February 8, with Fat Tuesday falling on February 25. 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.
February is one of the darkest months of the year in Iceland, bettering your chances of seeing the spectacular display of the Northern Lights. It’s also when the Winter Lights Festival takes place, with beautiful art installations and cultural events happening all around Reykjavik. Winters can be harsh and unpredictable, and some activities will be unavailable, but the dramatic snowy scenery—not to mention the extra time that locals have available for visitors—can make this a particularly satisfying time to visit and enjoy glacier hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and heli-skiing, topped off with a dip in a natural hot spring (which you may well have to yourself at this time of year) to rest your weary muscles.
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 explore Myanmar. Revel in the kaleidoscope of festivals on tap, including the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival in Mandalay, the Pindaya Cave Festival in Pindaya (near Inle), the Kayik Khauk Pagoda Festival across the river from Yangon, as well as others in off-the-beaten-track corners of the country.
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 it feel like springtime in Vermont or Switzerland: green hills, colorful wildflowers, snowcapped peaks, and flowing streams and rivers.
February is one of the cooler months of the year for Abu Dhabi, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s; this makes it a great time to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi—a good portion of which is outside—ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World, and sightsee at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Plus, rates at both city and desert properties are at the lower end of the scale for the emirate.
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.
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.
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.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
This park’s two sections—the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District—lie in the Sonoran Desert to the west and east, respectively, of the city of Tucson. The weather there is not as extreme in winter, when daytime temperatures range from the low 50s to the high 70s (it can get up to triple digits in summer). Explore its trails by foot or horse to see the continent’s largest cacti, the namesake of the park.
You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.
In the first half of the month, the country is lush and green, there is no rain, and the breezes keep temperatures in the high 80s during the day.
During the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, held every February, the city is packed with events, exhibitions, and huge art installations.
Other Good Options This Month
Click on any of the destinations below to find out why February is a good time to go.
North America and the Caribbean
Colombia: Cartagena and Bogota
India: Delhi, Agra & the Taj Mahal
Africa and Middle East
Australia and Pacific
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