The Algarve's a winter warmer

Escape from dreary February with our selection of sun-drenched places to holiday this month guaranteed to put the sparkle back into your winter.

For sun-worshippers…

Short haul: Algarve, Portugal

With long sandy beaches and sparkling seas, the Algarve offers one of the best February boltholes for sun-lovers who don’t want to venture beyond the Med. Make a beeline for the seaside town of Tavira overlooking the Gulf of Cadiz, where you can see up to 80 different species of birds, or alternatively hire a car and explore the rugged hills inland. If walking is more your thing, visit the Cape St Vincent national park, the most south-westerly point in Europe, known as ‘the end of the world’. Mardi Gras Carnival also comes to the Algarve this month; enjoy carnival parades featuring elaborate floats, public street parties and partying into the night.

Long haul: Puerto Rico

The laid back Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is perfect for a February break. The weather is a balmy 28C in February, and its gloriously long beaches make it perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Head for Boquerón Beach in the south western corner of the island, rated as one of the country’s best stretches of silica.

RinconsurferCatching the waves in Rincon
Creative Commons / Cowanrock

Rich in birdlife too, the area also hosts a colourful market where you can tuck into freshly shucked oysters or Caribbean lobster. Alternatively, head to the north west coast, which is best for surfing; Rincón, known as the ‘Caribbean pipeline’ regularly boasts 12m-high (40ft) waves. But there are plenty of swimming spots too where the surf is more playful than pounding.

For culture vultures…

Short haul: Stockholm, Sweden

Enchanting Stockholm has plenty to offer from great shopping to friendly locals. Perfect for foodies, the city is fond of fish and shellfish, and is home to strömming, a delicious herring from the Baltic. Visit the old town of Gamla Stan where the cobbled streets give way to beautiful museums and churches. Art is plentiful in the city and doesn’t stop underground; the metro is home to work by 150 different artists ranging from sculptures and mosaics to paintings.

Stockholm cultureThe Old Town of Gamla Stan
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

For fans of Steig Larsson, author of the global-loving book triology starting with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, try the Millennium tour to discover Stockholm from another perspective. Visit the home of fictional journalist Mikael Blomqvist and finish in Lisbeth Salander’s upmarket apartment.

Long haul: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

High-rise buildings loom over shabby French colonial villas and saffron-robed monks collecting alms walk past karaoke bars; this is the face of 21st century Ho Chi Minh City. Gateway to Vietnam, the city is a beguiling cocktail of tradition and modernity. Imagine incense-filled pagodas featuring delicate carvings and tilework, bustling roads choked with countless motorbikes, pavements teeming with street vendors, locals hunched over steaming bowls of noodles, western-style coffee shops and gleaming malls.

With the Lunar New Year starting in February, this is a special time to visit Ho Chi Minh City. The event is celebrated with gorgeous flower displays across the city and outdoor shows featuring dragon dances, musical performances, circus acts and folk games, before ending in a spectacular fireworks display.

For adventure-lovers…

Short haul: Austria

Austria’s ski slopes offer something for everyone but Solden ski resort is one of the best in the country, with 28km (17 miles) out of 160km (99 miles) of pistes dedicated to pure black slopes, hugely appealing for advanced skiers. A combination of high-speed, high-capacity chair and gondola lifts means getting around the extensive pistes is relatively easy. And thanks to its setting in one of Austria’s largest glacier areas (it’s linked to two glaciers), the resort also benefits from reliable snow fall.

AustriaskiSlope off to Austria for skiing
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Away from the slopes, the resort is renowned for its great nightlife with more than 50 bars and clubs varying from popular beer-swilling watering holes to sophisticated lounge bars. There is also a good selection of restaurants.

Long haul: Phuket, Thailand

Home to an array of incredible natural wonders from rugged mountains to crystal clear waters, the island of Phuket offers a picturesque playground for would-be adventurers. If you’re looking for an adrenalin kick, head to Kathu where you can bungy jump 50m (150ft) over the green-blue waters of a jungle lagoon. Alternatively, enjoy a zip lining adventure high in the forest canopy; try a hair-raising, off-road ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) tour or a spot of rock climbing and abseiling on sheer limestone cliffs in nearby Phang Nga Bay.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.