Winter can be a miserable season. Luckily, we’ve found the best sunny and warm destinations to visit and switch on the summer vibe. Whether you’re planning a family trip, a romantic getaway, or a quiet solo retreat, there are beautiful beaches, holiday festivals under the sun, and much more to explore.
A place with good weather all year long? The privileged location of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago around 300 kilometres off the northwest cost of Africa, makes this Tenerife island a perfect tropical retreat in February.
One of the most breathtaking (and least known) parts of the island is its north side, and Icod de los Vinos in particular. This beautiful town takes pride in an 800-year-old tree that’s considered one of the icons of the Canary Islands. The 18-metre-high Drago Milenario is believed to be the oldest tree of its kind in the whole world. A legend tells that the ancient Romans were interested in the red resin produced by the tree, thinking it had unique curative properties. A people known as the Guanches lived in the Canary Islands until about the 15th century. Some of the caves in which they lived still remain, and there’s a small museum in the village to learn more about their way of life and legacy in modern-day Tenerife.
A visit to Tenerife isn’t complete without taking a plunge in the Atlantic Ocean. Head to Palm-Mar in the south of the island to take a dip or do some water sports. Pay attention, because you’ll most likely also bump into the lively sea life in this area, from octopuses to turtles.
Don’t miss the Las Teresitas beach, either. Unlike other beaches on the island, this one has golden sand and is ideal for a nice day with the whole family. If you get bored, you can always play some golf at one of the courses in the luxury resorts.
Winter is also the best season for whale watching, because this is the time when migratory species such as dolphins and baleen whales are present in the area. Various different companies organise whale-watching tours from Puerto Colon next to the Las Américas beach.
Did you know that bananas are a cash crop on Tenerife? The local plátano has a unique, sweet flavour and grows at an altitude of less than 300 metres above sea level. Bananas are also frequently used in the local cuisine and to prepare desserts. One of the most famous recipes is roasted banana with cheese and mojo verde, a green sauce made of cilantro, garlic, olive oil, and cumin.
This southern Spanish city is lively all year long. Do not miss a walk through Malaga’s Old Town, starting at the vibrant, historical Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square). If you like shopping, a stroll down Calle Larios is one of the best things to do in town. This lively street takes its name from the man who developed the textile industry in the city in the 19th century. The end of Calle Larios leads to the seaside boulevard and Malagueta Beach, an excellent place to practise water sports such as paddle surfing.
If you’re not into getting wet in the Mediterranean Sea – the temperature of the water at this time of year is around 15ºC – you can always profit from the city’s rich cultural scene. The Centre Pompidou Malaga, a branch of the famous art museum in Paris, has an extensive collection of modern art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
As in London and New York City, Malaga also has a neighbourhood called Soho. The best way to explore the city’s art district is by taking a stroll through its unique streets. Every first Saturday of the month, Soho hosts a market featuring crafts, works by local artists, and vintage items.
Art lovers should also not miss the Contemporary Art Centre located on the banks of the Guadalmina River. The museum’s permanent collection presents 400 contemporary works, some of which represent new waves of art.
At the end of February, the city gets ready to celebrate Carnival, an event full of bright colours, good food, and much singing. One of the most awaited events by locals is the so-called ‘burial of the sardine’, in which a giant figure of a fish is ceremoniously taken to the beach, where it is then burned. This symbolises the end of the festivities and the start of the countdown to the festivities in the following year.
If you want to feel like a real local, Atarazanas Market is the place to buy your groceries. This former warehouse is now a beautiful market with fresh local produce and other products situated in a unique building with Mudéjar-style arches and stained-glass windows. Hunger will most likely strike after a visit to the market, so explore Malaga further and head to one of the traditional bars in the building and order some local fried fish (pescaíto) and a Spanish beer.
And when you’re done in Malaga itself, why not set out on an exciting day trip? The Caminito del Rey, or King’s Little Path, is a narrow walkway suspended 100 metres above a gorge just one hour by car from the city centre. It takes about four hours to complete the whole route, and the view from the trail is stunning. It’s well worth it!
Head downtown to experience the largest choreographed fountain in the world. The light, sound, and water show at the Dubai Fountain happens every evening, but you must buy tickets online in advance. The structure has 50 colour projectors and a sound system that plays everything from classical music to contemporary Arabic songs. Although it sounds surreal, the fountain can spray up to 83,000 litres of water into the air!
If you want to experience something unique and are not afraid of heights, climb into the basket of a hot air balloon and enjoy a panoramic view over the desert as well as the iconic skyline of the city from a height of 1200 metres.
In February, the average temperature of the sea in the Persian Gulf is around 22ºC, so why not take a dip? Sunset Beach is one of the best spots in Dubai – enjoy a morning plunge while gazing at the iconic Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeirah or have a romantic evening while watching the sunset.
Dubai is internationally known for its lively cultural scene, and the city is hosting the Dubai Expo 2020 until the end of March. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the best in art, music, architecture, sports and wellness, science, and culture from the 192 countries participating in the exposition. We highly recommend visiting Al Wasl, a stunning crown-shaped dome that’s considered one of the architectural and cultural masterpieces of this international event. Every evening, the structure turns into a 360-degree projection screen full of colours and patterns.
Throughout the month, the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival brings together local and emerging artists from a variety of disciplines, showcasing the emirate’s arts scene. Simultaneously, the Symphonic Middle East festival at Dubai’s Opera welcomes renowned performers from around the world.
Dubai is also a mecca for lovers of fine dining. The emirate’s Marina is one of the most elegant hotspots to enjoy a memorable dinner – check out one of the chic restaurants or have a drink on a rooftop with views over the skyline. Champagne, please!