Best places to go for a holiday in February

COUNTRIES

ENGLAND

Why you should go: England does cosy well. Wander the dales, fells and moors, and reward yourself by hunkering down in a Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms such as North Yorkshire's The Yorke Arms, which featured in the first series of The Trip. Another stand-out winter stay is Lancashire's quirky the Inn at Whitewell, where the Queen once had a pub lunch.

Don't miss: From mid-February to early March, take part in the National Parks Dark Skies Festival in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Northumberland and South Downs. Events include owl prowls, lantern walks, night zip-lining, nocturnal photography workshops, ghost walks and stargazing. Break out the horned helmet if you're heading to York for Europe's largest Viking festival. Those who take fashion a little more seriously can stay on-trend by attending London Fashion Week. See darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk, jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk, londonfashionweek.co.uk, visitbritain.com 

See also: How Aussies can avoid the Heathrow Airport nightmare
 

COSTA RICA

Majestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica. Tropical hike. sunjul15cover - Cover story by Sally Macmillan CREDIT: Shutterstock Cover option

Majestic waterfall in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: This tiny Central American country – it's just 464 kilometres long and 274 kilometres wide – is big on eco-tourism and incredibly well organised. During dry-season February, join other nature-obsessed tourists who come to see sloths, toucans, macaws, caiman, monkeys and more. Don't be surprised to find you're sipping your cocktails through a bamboo or cardboard straw. Costa Rica's green initiatives are world-class – it's planning to be plastic-free by 2021.

Don't miss: Tortuguero National Park, on the country's Caribbean coastline, incorporates a labyrinth of freshwater canals accessible only by air or water. Stay at a jungle lodge, such as Evergreen Lodge, and head out on daily boat excursions to see iconic mammals, birds and reptiles. See visitcostarica.com 

See also: Costa Rica's sprawling luxury mountain retreat

FRENCH POLYNESIA

sunjune10tahiti Tahiti ; text by Paul Chai credit:?Shutterstock Huahine island landscape from the mountain Pohue Rahi, forest with the lagoon and islets, south Pacific ocean, Leeward islands, French Polynesia Huahine

Huahine Island landscape from the mountain Pohue Rahi, French Polynesia. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Celebrate Valentine's Day in one of the most romantic – and stunningly beautiful – countries on the planet. From Tahiti, head to nearby Moorea on the ferry or take a 50-minute plane ride to Bora Bora where a powerboat transfers you from the airport to postcard-perfect overwater bungalows. There's good reason that Bora Bora is an in-demand honeymoon destination: the lagoon's Listerine-blue water is out of this world.

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Don't miss: In Bora Bora, head out with the locals on an outrigger canoe for a full day's adventure on the water. This includes meeting stingrays, swimming among reef sharks, snorkelling above coral gardens and a picnic on an uninhabited motu (islet). See www.tahititourisme.com.au 

ANTARCTICA

Paradise Bay Antarctica SunJul22coverhard - Too-Hard Destinations - Brian Johnston CREDIT: Shutterstock

Paradise Bay, Antarctica. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: OK, it's a continent not a country, but that's just the start of the notable features of this frozen frontier. Antarctica attracts modern-day explorers keen to see glittering blue icebergs, penguins, whales, seals, glaciers and surreal snowscapes. February is when penguin chicks start learning to swim; it's also peak whale-spotting time.

Don't miss: Nowadays, there's a wide choice of expedition ships to take you to the end of the earth. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will debut a next-gen polar build, the 126-passenger National Geographic Endurance, in 2020. Most cruises offer passengers the chance to take a polar plunge – life's too short for regrets so just do it. See au.expeditions.com 

UNITED STATES

SunDec10cover Around the World in Special Days ; text by Brian Johnston *** EDITORIAL USE ONLY *** credit: Shutterstock New Orleans, LA/USA - circa March 2011: People throwing beads and watching celebration from balconies during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana

People throwing beads and watching celebration from balconies during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: With Aussie schoolkids safely back in classrooms, it's a great time to duck across to the United States. Skiers should point their planks towards Colorado's Telluride – one of the prettiest ski resorts around. Time your visit to coincide with the Telluride Comedy Festival in the historic Sheridan Opera House (sheridanoperahouse.com ) over the President's Day long weekend. See tellurideskiresort.com, travelplanski.com 

Don't miss: See the zany parades leading up to New Orleans' Mardi Gras, which falls on a Tuesday between early February and early March (the date is tied to Easter). Parading usually starts a fortnight before Mardi Gras. Krewes rolling through various neighbourhoods include the sci-fi-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus and the Krewe of Barkus's puppy parade. At Orlando's epic Disney World, the weather is pleasantly mild; on Oahu's North Shore in Hawaii, the waves are incredibly wild. See neworleans.com, disneyworld.disney.go.com, gohawaii.com 

CITIES

SYDNEY

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 26: The rooftop bar at the Glenmore Hotel overlooking Circular Quay, the Opera House and the city skyline at The Rocks on December 26, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cole Bennetts/Fairfax Media)

The rooftop bar at the Glenmore Hotel overlooking Circular Quay, the Opera House and the city skyline at The Rocks. Photo: Cole Bennetts

Why you should go: The Emerald City is at its flashy, splashy, finest in February. Sydney's ocean temperatures are at their warmest, averaging 23.7 degrees Celsius. Clovelly is a great family-friendly beach; for harbour beaches, try Camp Cove near Watsons Bay or Quarantine Beach near Manly's haunted Q Station, a hotel fashioned from a former quarantine station. Ghosts are also said to inhabit Cockatoo Island – catch a ferry to glamp here on a Saturday when paranormal tours operate. See cockatooisland.gov.au 

Don't miss: Sydney hosts one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. If you can't make it to town for the late autumn/early winter Vivid light installations around Circular Quay, Sydney Lunar Festival is the next best thing. Wander among contemporary interpretations of the 12 animal signs lining the Circular Quay foreshore or catch the nightly lion dancing around these over-sized lanterns. Cheer on the southern hemisphere's largest dragon boat races and attend some of the 80-plus associated events. See sydney.com 

SIEM REAP

The ancient Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The ancient Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Siem Reap is inextricably entwined with the big attraction down the road – namely, the awe-inspiring, intricately carved, occasionally jungle-swathed Angkor temple complex. The best time to visit the World Heritage-listed site is at dawn and sunset. In between, haggle for souvenirs or enjoy a massage at Siem Reap's night market or slide into a booth at Miss Wong Cocktail Bar for a martini or craft creation.

Don't miss: Pop into Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor to luxuriate in its art deco meets French colonial glamour vibe. The cool, lemongrass-scented corridors are lined with black and white photos of Angkor temples and the emerald-green swimming pool is the largest in the kingdom. Raffles' famed Singapore Sling is served in the old-school Elephant Bar. See tourismcambodia.com 

NASHVILLE

SatSep29nashville Nashville Tennessee music ; text by Katrina LobleyShutterstock*** REUSE PERMITTED ***NASHVILLE - NOV 11: Neon signs on Lower Broadway Area on November 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Neon signs on Lower Broadway Area in Nashville. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Nashville is hotter than its iconic hot chicken, attracting 14.5 million visitors annually. Although it's famous for country music, there's so much more going on. Check the ever-evolving skyline from the Westin's stunning level-27 cocktail bar, browse art exhibitions at the Frist, an art deco splendour next to the Union Station Hotel (pop in here to see the foyer's barrel-vaulted stained-glass ceiling), or gape at Elvis's gold Cadillac at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Don't miss: Go to a gig every night. Must-do venues include the Grand Ole Opry and the 90-seat Bluebird Cafe (of Nashville TV series fame), both in the 'burbs, the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, and the Station Inn in the Gulch. Keep your eyes peeled for John Prine while tucking into meat and three at Arnold's Country Kitchen; Keith Urban adores the chocolate cake at Midtown's Rotier's Restaurant. See visitmusiccity.com 

QUEBEC CITY

sunnov4cruise Crystal Cruises Crystal Symphony ; text by Sally MacmillanShutterstock*** reuse permitted ***Aerial view of Chateau Frontenac hotel and Old Port in Quebec City, Canada.

Aerial view of Chateau Frontenac hotel and Old Port in Quebec City, Canada. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: It's way below freezing – pack every warm thing you own – but trust the Quebecois to turn those double-digit minus temperatures into a heartwarming party. North America's most European city hosts Carnaval de Quebec over 10 days: explore the glittering Ice Palace, cheer on the parade and the beloved Bonhomme mascot, and see teams attempting a canoe race along the ice-choked St Lawrence River. See carnaval.qc.ca 

Don't miss: Snap a photo of the multi-turreted Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel that seems to have leapt straight from the pages of a fairytale. Toboggan the epic 82-metre-high ice slide, Les Glissades de la Terrasse, near the hotel. Overnight in the Hotel de Glace (valcartier.com), an ice hotel built from scratch each year and open early January to late March. See quebecregion.com 

PERTH

Why you should go: It's the perfect time to hit Perth's golden beaches. Stick around on the sand long enough to watch the sun sink into the ocean or catch a big-sky sunset (along with city views) from The Reveley's rooftop bar in the Elizabeth Quay riverfront precinct. Enjoy the balmy nights by flopping into a colourful beanbag at the retro Northbridge Rooftop Movies (rooftopmovies.com.au) or into a deckchair surrounded by towering pine trees in the University of Western Australia grounds for the Somerville outdoor cinema experience.

Don't miss: The Perth Festival (early February to early March) brings world-class theatre, music, dance and other events to one of the world's most isolated cities. Overlapping that event is Fringe World (mid-January to mid-February, fringeworld.com.au) – the fringe festival program includes comedy, cabaret, circus and dance. Golf fans can see top players in action at Australia's richest annual golf tournament, World Super 6 Perth, at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club in mid-February. See visitperth.com.au 
 

See also: Best places to go in December

See also: Best destinations to visit in November

See also: Best places to visit in October

See also: Best destinations to visit in September

See also: Best destinations to visit in August

See also: Best places to visit in July

See also: Best places to go for a holiday in June

See also: Best destinations to visit in May

See also: Best places to go in April

See also: Best places to go for a holiday in March

See also: Best places to go in January

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