February brings with it a sense of fun as countries across the Caribbean and Southeast Asia enjoy perfect tropical weather that lends itself beautifully to carnivals and street parties, island getaways and archaeological discovery. It's summer in the Southern Hemisphere which makes Latin America a great place to explore with endless hiking opportunities in Patagonia while winter drapes its coat of snow and frost over the Northern Hemisphere, perfect for frozen wilderness and hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland and Finland.
If you're planning a February 2018 holiday, take a look at our pick of destinations and experiences that this month has to offer. You'll also find a guide to the top beach breaks in February as well as where's best for wildlife and a range of recommended tours to take advantage of these destinations.
Every month of the year holds its own unique offering of special events and festivals. In February this means epic street parties and desert spectacles. Here's our choice of the best festivals that take place around the world.
With the festivities of New Year’s Eve already a month behind us you may be itching for another excuse to party. Well, lucky for you Brazil comes alive in February for the world’s most famous street party. While Carnival is celebrated throughout the country, the real heart of the action is found amongst the crowds on the streets of Rio de Janeiro with lively samba parades & dazzling costumes.
While the ancient wonders, beautiful Red Sea beaches and warm dry climate are reason enough to visit Egypt in February, the list doesn’t stop there. On 21st February, the date of King Ramses II's ascension to the throne, you can witness the bi-annual occurrence of the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, when the sun’s rays align to illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple.
Set against the massive golden citadel of Jaisalmer in the mighty Thar Desert, this vibrant festival celebrates Rajasthan's rich cultural heritage with extravagant song and dance performances, quirky moustache contests, turban tying competitions and ceremonial processions. Camels also feature highly with camel races, polo and even camel dancing.
Dating back centuries, Chinese New Year is one of China's most important festivals with celebrations lasting almost two weeks. Traditions associated with Chinese New Year include the lighting of firecrackers, gifting of money in red envelopes and decorating the streets with oval red lanterns. Many cities will also host colourful parades with dragon dances to scare away evil spirits.
If you want to up the romance stakes this Valentine's Day then why not think outside the box, or even outside the country for that matter. What could be more romantic than whisking your sweetheart off to an exotic, far-flung destination for an unforgettable holiday for two this February.
Nothing quite says romance like strolling arm-in-arm across a pristine white sandy shore framed by palm-trees with waves lapping at your feet. Or what about stepping out of your overwater villa straight into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean? The scene you're picturing would be the Maldives, an idyllic Valentine's destination for February. If you've got some extra time on your hands consider combining the Maldives with the cultural delights of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka + Maldives
The sensual country of Argentina is home to the sizzling city of Buenos Aires, South America's self-pronounced 'Capital of Romance' and the home of the passionate tango. Naturally, a trip here in February is the perfect expression of romance and with lovely warm weather, tempting stretches of coastline, striking landscapes, plus prime steak and delectable wine, you simply cannot go wrong in Argentina on Valentine's Day.
Waterfalls, Wine & Wilderness
The spectacular Garden Route is the perfect escape for lovebirds in search of world-class wine, brilliant cuisine, quiet coastline and dramatic landscapes. Start or end in cosmopolitan Cape Town for the best in urban adventure and make the most of February's glorious weather. With pleasantly warm temperatures and clear, sunny skies, South Africa is the ideal place to combine culture, scenery and beach for a romantic getaway.
Garden Route Self Drive
If your idea of romance involves wrapping up warm with a snowy winter wonderland as your backdrop then Lapland is the perfect destination for you. Here you can spend a night in a glass igloo while the Northern Lights dance overhead. There's also the chance to meet Santa Claus and his animal helpers so you can get in early with your Christmas wishlist too. Lapland's certainly not cheap but it'll definitely be a Valentine's destination you never forget.
The sense of the exotic makes Morocco a surprisingly romantic travel destination. Traditional riads offer an intimate and often stylish place to stay with only a handful of rooms characterised by ornamental details and rich-coloured furnishings with tranquil inner courtyards for all to enjoy. In Morocco you can also ride a camel out into the Sahara for a night spent at a desert camp under the stars - what could be more romantic?
This popular destination in Southeast Asia has plenty of credentials as far as romance is concerned. Firstly, it's home to the unbelievably gorgeous Halong Bay where you can spend the night on a luxurious junk boat cruising around the karst islands. Then there's the charming riverside town of Hoi An home to attractive merchant houses, quaint tea stores and peaceful pagodas. It's particularly romantic at night when lit by colourful lanterns.
Hanoi to Hoi An
Gaze upon Petra's Treasury facade by candlelight while Bedouin music transports you to another time. In Wadi Rum soak up the otherworldly desertscape under a sky full of stars and spend the night in a camp, away from distractions. While at the Dead Sea you can relax in the therapeutic waters and treat you and your loved on to a massage or spa treatment in the surrounding resorts. This is romance perfect for the adventurous couple.
Passage to Petra
Combining beautiful surroundings with an alluring atmosphere that harks back to a bygone era, Myanmar offers plenty in the way of romance. From the watery world of Inle Lake to the gleaming pagodas of Yangon, there's culture to discover and sites to explore. For something special, float above the stupa-filled plains of Bagan in a hot air balloon or journey from Mandalay to Yangon on the Irrawaddy River aboard a luxury vessel.
Best of Myanmar
It's great exploring every nook and cranny of a destination, but sometimes you just need a sun lounger on the beach with a cocktail in hand to top off your holiday. While the Northern Hemisphere is still submerged in the chill of the winter, south of the equator conditions are nice and steamy. The weather across Southeast Asia, Central America and the Indian Subcontinent is perfect for sunbathing with plenty of beaches to choose from.
For such a compact country, Sri Lanka experiences a dramatic variety of weather conditions with half of the island dry and the other wet at any given time. In February the southwest coast is experiencing dry conditions with sunny days and warm temperatures perfect for enjoying the miles of coastline and palm-fringed beaches as well as national parks in the south.
For many travellers the dry season between December and April is considered the best time to travel around Central America with pleasant temperatures and largely clear skies. February is a great time to take advantage of the perfect weather with less crowds than you would find over New Year and Easter - peak holiday seasons - and better availability and prices.
In India the southern region of Goa is pleasantly warm with low humidity offering the perfect conditions to kick back and relax on palm-fringed shores. It's just after the peak season so you needn't worry about fighting over beach umbrellas. There's another reason to visit as the streets come alive with the revelry of the Goa Carnival, complete with music and colourful floats.
East Africa experiences two dry seasons throughout the year and February marks the end of the second season, which starts in December. This means it's the last month for a while that offers perfect beach weather with dry, sunny days and cloudless skies. With wildlife spotting still good in Tanzania, it's a great beach choice at the end of a safari adventure.
If you're looking for a safari adventure in February then East Africa will be your best bet - here the dry season means sparser vegetation, making it easier for spotting the Big 5 while in Uganda the mountain trails are in better condition for trekking to see the gorillas. Elsewhere, it's a good time to take a jeep safari through Yala National Park in Sri Lanka on the look out for the elusive leopard and Costa Rica has plenty of wildlife to keep you happy from the nesting turtles on the coast to the dense interior forests home to myriad birdlife.
The wet and warm season in the Amazon is the best time to take a luxury cruise with higher water levels making more and more waterways accessible by boat. Between January and April plants drop their fruit, which attracts myriad animal and bird species to the seasonal buffet that litters the ground. Numerous plants are flowering at this time too which makes it great for photography.
Off the shores of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina on the Atlantic, orcas begin to arrive for the small nurseries of baby sea lions that populate the region between February and April. Commonly known as Killer Whales, it's not hard to see how they earned this name when they use their incredible hunting skills in what was designated an UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 1999.
February to March is the optimal time to visit India's national parks in search of the majestic Bengal tiger. With temperatures steadily heating up, the greenery is starting to thin out across the country so catching a glimpse of that flash of stripes in the undergrowth becomes all the more likely. In neighbouring Nepal, Chitwan National Park is a great location too with the added bonus of rhino.
The Galapagos are truly a year-round destination with endemic species populating the numerous islands throughout the year. Each month brings something new to see and in February it's the sight of greater flamingos nesting on Floreana Island. It's also the start of the black-tailed pintails breeding season and the peak of the Galapagos dove nesting season so a great time for birders to visit.
Here's a selection of our tours perfectly suited for February travel from the pulsating cities of South America to the stunning coast of South Africa.
Our Adventure range takes you overland to the true heart of adventurous destinations. Whether camping in the Okavango Delta, staying in rustic accommodation in the Peruvian Amazon or camping under the Saharan stars in Morocco, this range forsakes just a little bit of the comfort of our Signature range, ensuring we deliver you the best value possible for your holiday.
Adventure tours takes you straight into the centre of where it’s all at, typically using local transport or overland style vehicles and stay at simple, clean and locally-owned guest houses, haciendas, eco-lodges and simple hotels to maximize the opportunity to interact with the locals.
On The Go's Signature group tours place local interaction and authenticity at the heart of your cultural travel experience. Upping the comfort stakes, this range is a clear cut above our Adventure range.
Appealing to a wide age demographic from the 20s to 60+, we maximize your days with excitement and awe and then bring you home to a comfortable 4* hotel with western amenities, air-conditioning, WiFi and, where appropriate, a swimming pool. Hotels can sometimes be of 3 or 5 star standard too, ensuring you get the best value for your holiday.
Visiting all the main attractions you’ll be accompanied throughout by our highly qualified English-speaking local guides too. Group size is typically 18 with a maximum for 28, apart from festival tours, where group sizes can be larger due to the one-off nature of these events.
On this range you won’t be joining other travellers, but will be on your own private itinerary. Accommodation, pace of travel and the style of trip is tailored to your individual needs. From pre-priced packages available off the shelf to fully curated tailor-made holidays, this range also includes our selection of one-night stopovers, day-tours and short breaks.
The Independent range gives you all the great service aspects of our Signature range with the flexibility to create a truly unique and bespoke holiday or adventure to a variety of destinations around the world.
On our Handpicked range we bring you the most iconic experiences in destinations where you’ll join travellers from other travel brands on your tour, safari or sailing holiday. Collaborating with our carefully handpicked portfolio of local partners, these holidays represent exceptional value and there’ll be plenty of cultural experiences shared with other like-minded travellers.
Group sizes and accommodation standards vary by destination where typical group size is 18 travellers and hotels, boats and safari lodges are of a 3-4 star standard.