Liven up February with a trip to Lanzarote

As winter drags on, liven up February with our pick of this month’s most appealing destinations. Succumb to Valentine’s Day romance with a city break filled with diamonds and designer chocolates in Antwerp, or head off on a boundless adventure treading Myanmar’s little-trodden paths and re-discovering the ancient riches of this previously forbidden land.

Best February holidays for… beaches 

Short haul: Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Feb 2012 destinations - LanzaroteExplore the golden sands of Papagayo Beach
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With a climate more African than European, Lanzarote’s lunar landscape enjoys pleasant February daytime temperatures hovering around the early- to mid-20s. Over 90 beaches skirt this intriguingly stark isle, with the golden sands of Papagayo Beach in the south particularly dazzling, and parasol-strewn Puerto del Carmen drawing the biggest crowds. The island’s coastline is studded with beachfront resorts where good value package deals can be sought this time of year. Find huge pools, activities for all the family, sea views and platters of fresh seafood and fruit. During the latter end of February, the island can be prone to dust storms, but early in the month these are scarce – and some years February sees none at all. February also welcomes in Carnival fever. This year, festivities are set to start with a colourful Viking-themed parade in the lively port city of Arrecife on 10 February. 

Long haul: Barbados, the Caribbean

Feb 2012 destinations - BarbadosThe south of Barbados has impressive beaches
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Those hankering for a heavenly beach break this February need look no further than the Caribbean. The region is basking in the golden rays of high season, and Barbados’ symphony-worthy beaches backed by exclusive beach resorts are at their most spectacular. Many tourists flock to the luxurious resorts, shiny spa hotels, vibrant restaurants and manicured golf courses lining the west’s legendary Platinum Coast, and favourite sandy spots here include Paynes Bay, Paradise Beach and Brandons Beach. The south also has its own collection of impressive beaches and swim-friendly waters, while the less-developed east coast draws surfers with its Atlantic waves. For the ultimate island indulgence, partake in some Caribbean island hopping and experience such treats as Antigua’s famous sugar-white sands and Anguilla’s tropical tranquillity. 

Best February holidays for… cities 

Short haul: Antwerp, Belgium

Feb 2012 destinations - AntwerpThe Steen Castle enchants the most worldly travellers
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For a Valentine’s Day getaway, wander the cobbled streets and luxury chocolate shops of Antwerp, Belgium’s city of style and the world’s diamond capital. Find the city centre doused in old-world charm, and laced with alleyways concealing designer confectionary and boutique shops. For a monumental splash-out, or just out of intrigue, delve into Diamondland on Appelmansstraat and meet a wonderful array of twinkling goodies. Covet some almighty precious rocks at the Diamond Museum, and spend a peaceful afternoon browsing the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, housed in a huge classical building. As night falls, feast on fine Mediterranean fare at sleek Lux (Adriaan Brouwerstraat 13), or for something a little more rustic and understated, hunt out ‘t Hofke (Oude Koornmarkt 16) and enjoy French-Belgian dishes in an arched cellar. 

Long haul: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Feb 2012 destinations - RioLose yourself in colourful abandon at the Rio Carnival
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It’s always party time in Rio de Janeiro. But while this coastal beauty is mesmerising at the most regular of times, Rio’s fun-factor goes through the roof this month, with Carnival fever enveloping the city. From 18-21 February, become delightfully immersed in a whirl of flamboyant floats, intoxicating samba beats, sun-kissed bodies in barely-there costumes, captivating street bands and beachside parties. For a February city break that combines fun in the sun, fabulous beach life, palpable urban buzz and sheer natural beauty, Rio in February has no rival. Brazil sees celebrations erupt all over this month, and other top Carnival hotspots include São Paulo, Bahia and Minas Gerais. Accommodation during Carnival can be scarce and especially pricey. It’s strongly advised to book before travelling.  

Best February holidays for… outdoors 

Short haul: Basque Country, Spain

Feb 2012 destinations - Basque CountryTrek through the Basque Country’s undulating tapestry
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Trek through the Basque Country’s vast undulating tapestry free from peak-season crowds. This autonomous section of north of Spain is a year-round destination for active types. The mountainous backdrop around Bilbao offers great trekking, with both gentle paths and challenging terrain. Rugged coastline leads the walker through an array of dramatic vistas, and in southern parts find wide open spaces and richly fertile agricultural lands. To experience Basque Country’s beautiful outdoors from the comfort of a train carriage, El Expreso de La Robla is a deluxe new train-hotel modelled on the Orient Express that takes three spectacular routes across the Basque region. Basque Country is also a culinary hub; San Sebastian, Hondarribia and Bilbao all have particularly wonderful culinary scenes worth delving into after a good bout of rural explorations. 

Long haul: Myanmar

Feb 2012 destinations - MyanmarThe ancient Buddhist world’s door is ajar once more
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With the tourism boycott on Myanmar revised, this ancient Buddhist world’s door is ajar once more. But forget the well-trodden paths and familiar amenities that today characterise much of South East Asia; this is a back-to-basics experience where getting around can well involve rattling buses trundling over bumpy tracks. But for the adventurer, that just adds to its appeal. And in February the climate is at its most accommodating: little rain and reduced heat. Without a particularly beaten track, it’s pretty easy to stumble across people-less countryside and villages frozen in time. In Kalaw, refresh in cool pine forests, and visit the country’s national parks for intriguing wildlife and dense foliage. Myanmar’s best parks include the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park (northwest of Monywa), Hlawga National Park (near Yangon), Popa Mountain Park (central Myanmar), Lampi Island (Myeik Archipelago) and Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary (located in Minbu).


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.