Whether you’re looking for half-term holiday inspiration or a romantic Valentine’s escape, our travel hotlist for February offers winter blues (and greens) of an altogether more appealing kind, plus snowy escapes and one of Europe’s most charming, yet unsung, cities.
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Just one Caribbean country made the Abta Travel Trends Report’s “one to watch” list for 2020: the so-called Spice Isle. Nicknamed after its abundant nutmeg plantations – you’ll notice that the warm, spicy scent is carried on balmy breezes across Grenada’s lush green hills – a slew of uncrowded beaches of golden sand, laidback rum bars and colonial-era forts add up to one idyllic winter-sun escape. Anyone hoping for chocolates for Valentine’s Day won’t be disappointed either: cocoa is another plant that flourishes locally, and you can learn about the whole bean-to-bar process first-hand with such producers as Belmont Estate or Tri-Island Chocolate (including some toothsome samples, of course). A seven-night trip with Inspiring Travel Company, staying at newcomer luxury resort Silversands Grenada, costs from £2,565 per person.
Average temperature in February: 30C
Flight time: 10h 45m
Want to follow in the footsteps of Lyra from His Dark Materials and see a polar bear in real life? Well, you’ve come to the right place: the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is inhabited by almost as many polar bears as humans. Head out into the frozen tundra on an exhilarating dog-sledding or snowmobile adventure and you’ll have a strong chance of spotting the Arctic’s apex land predator and maybe some cubs. As much as the terrain of glaciers and snowy peaks is mesmerising, keep one eye on the skies for the green glow of the Northern Lights; the endless winter nights are prime time for observing these phenomena. Ready to go polar for your February holiday? Tour operator Original Travel offers a four-day Svalbard Big Short Break from £2,290pp (including all flights, transfers and accommodation). Or, if you prefer doing your own thing, Basecamp Spitsbergen is a stylish reimagining of a traditional sealing hut, its 16 cosy rooms made out of recycled driftwood and local slate. Pack your thermals and prepare to be wowed.
Average temperature in February: -17C
Flight time: 6h 15m
Palm Springs, USA
Like some kind of Mad Men-inspired mirage, an incredible concentration of mid-century buildings rises out of the Californian desert – sleek, low-rise structures, all gleaming white and glass. It’s such a fine architectural set-piece that the town even gets its own annual festival, Modernism Week (13-23 February), offering a rare chance to snoop inside celebrity-owned homes along with a packed calendar of parties, neighbourhood tours and exhibitions. Hop in a classic convertible rental to take in the sights beneath the Coachella Valley’s sunny blue skies. Once you’ve had your fill of architecture, don a pair of Jackie O shades and kick back on a lilo in the Ace Hotel & Swim Club’s pool – with its bingo games, karaoke and vinyl collection, this former Motel 6 still has bags of vintage charm.
Average temperature in February: 24C
Flight time: 13h 30m
It may not be the most obvious choice for Valentine’s Day, but with its whimsical pastel buildings, cobbled squares and a packed gig schedule this February that includes Editors and Jade Bird (or, for classical music fans, Chopin recitals; this is the composer’s home town), Warsaw makes a refreshing alternative to more tourist-choked European capitals. For the most romantic stay in town, check into the five-star Raffles Europejski Hotel. This Art Deco building was renovated and reopened just last year, only five minutes’ walk from the Old Town, and features its own collection of museum-quality contemporary art. By day, tuck into a breakfast of fluffy Polish pancakes dusted with cinnamon in the dining room’s honey leather banquettes. By night, the lobby is strewn with glittering Polish high society sitting on low-slung velvet chairs. There’s even an ice cream parlour just off the lobby – if it’s not frosty enough for you outside, that is.
Average temperature in February: 0C
Flight time: 2h 20m
The British winter weather is a distant (bad) dream as you alight on this string of volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. From the cuisine to the music, there’s a fascinating fusion of Brazilian, Portuguese and African heritage (Senegal is its closest mainland neighbour) to absorb in the local Creole culture – start your orientation by tucking into a plate of the classic slow-cooked stew, cachupa, while listening to some live, folksy morna music. The natural surroundings have the wow factor too, each island distinct: from the windswept planes of Boa Vista to Fogo’s simmering volcano to the banana-palm forests of Santo Antao, which show where the “green” in the nation’s name comes from. For world-class scuba diving and surf to rival Hawaii, head to Sal Island and base yourself at the picturesque fishing village of Santa Maria (five-star beach-front hotel Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort offers seven nights from £979pp including flights – see capeverde.co.uk) where an afternoon of kite-surfing can be followed by sipping the local Fogo wine in atmospheric bars garlanded with fairy lights.
Average temperature in February: 25C
Flight time: 8h 30m