- Weather in February: 0 to +6°С
- Advantages: Cheap, tasty and lots of entertainment.
- Disadvantages: Many places where you can’t pay by credit card. In some ATMs, the withdrawal fees can be very high.
If you want to choose a European city to travel to, and one that’s both inexpensive and fun, then the capital of Hungary is usually at the top of the list. In February, it offers everything you need to enjoy life and party on.
Start the day with Budapest’s famous thermal baths. Just imagine showing up in a dressing gown and slippers and taking a dip into hot mineral water (around 40°C). Soaking in warm water as the cold rages on around you is an experience that one can enjoy at Budapest Baths. Such a contrast not only feels good but improves health.
Apart from a hot open-air pool, there are lots of indoor pools. They all have quite different temperatures — from steaming hot to cold. The highest temperature in a pool is around 40°C, while the lowest is about 18°C.
You may choose from six different thermal bath centers — it all depends on your preferences and the size of your wallet. For example, a ticket to the most famous bath center, Széchenyi, with over 18 pools, will cost €22 for three hours.
The price only includes access to the territory and use of a locker, so it’s advisable to bring your own towel. Or on the other hand, you may choose Veli Bej Bath with five springs, where a three-hour ticket goes for €8.
The biggest fun in the evenings is to be found in the ruin bars. The name speaks for itself — virtually all of these establishments are located in buildings that are in dire need of repair. Inside, it looks like unwanted furniture has been brought there, yet it has been arranged with taste.
A number of diverse spots are concentrated in a single space, where guests are offered wine, cocktails, or craft beer.
Since their very beginnings, the bars have transformed into full-fledged cultural centers, where people don’t just spend time having fun, but also share their art and discuss the subtler points of life. You need to share tables with other guests, but on the other hand this gives you the chance to get to know both locals and other tourists.
The biggest and most popular bar is Szimpla Kert. Here you can have a drink, watch films, and listen to local DJs. A cozier yet no less surreal ruin bar in the heart of Budapest is Csendes Letterem. Here, all the furniture once belonged to different owners, and Barbie dolls hang from the ceiling.
Keep in mind that Hungary has its own currency, the forint (1 forint / ≈ 0.0025 Euros). They also accept Euros as payment, but give change in forints at an unfavorable exchange rate. So, we recommend withdrawing money in ATMs or taking Euros with you and exchanging them locally.
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: +9 to +16°С
- Advantages: Inexpensive, a cool vibe, a lively city of contrasts.
- Disadvantages: A hilly city, where you often need to climb up and down the hills to get around.
Lisbon is a city which comes out of its winter hibernation before all others. Europe has been generous by giving Portugal a warm February. So, unwrap your leather jacket and pack your suitcases!
Apart from architectural delights – red rooftops in old districts, Azulejo ceramics, and the picturesque and modern park Parque das Nações – Portugal is not teeming with tourists. That’s why it’s a great destination if you enjoy traveling and gaining tons of new experiences without much pressure on your wallet.
You can take breakfast in locals’ favorite little haunts — you will recognize them immediately thanks to the queues to get in. It’s cheap, yet quick and tastes good (from €5). You can travel among the districts on a little tram. Transport prices in Lisbon are lower than in other European countries (from €1.5 + €0.5 for a multi-use travel card).
Shopaholics will enjoy a warm welcome at Avenida da Liberdade; February offers a good chance of enjoying post-holiday sales.
The weather will allow you to explore the city on foot, so you can enjoy a light cardio session, walking through the Alfama district, up to the Castelo de S. Jorge castle (an adult ticket costs from €10), then to Santa Justa Lift and under the Arco da Rua Augusta arc to reach Commerce Square. Here, you can admire the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and the Sanctuary of Christ the King monument from the embankment.
That way, you can immerse yourself in the cultural part of the city in just a day and in a single burst. If that’s insufficient and you want to visit a museum, then there are lots of them in Lisbon — from national history museums to contemporary ones.
The most striking museum is МААТ (from €5), where interactive exhibitions are often held on robotization and electricity, as well as the Money Museum of the Bank of Portugal, which is located in a 19th century monastery (free entry).
If you liked Lisbon and you want to snatch another piece of Portugal, then there are plenty of spots to visit out of town. For example, Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe. Or the city of Sintra, where you will find the Park and National Palace of Pena with their fairytale beauty. If you still have lots of time left over, like during the February holidays, then you can always visit Porto.
Where to stay:
Prague, Czech Republic
- Weather in February: -1 to +4°С
- Advantages: Cheap, food tastes good, beautiful; nice and kind people.
- Disadvantages: Dirty in some places; beggars.
Of course, you cannot expect a generous above-zero temperature from Prague in February, but a pub crawl can be great fun. Especially when you take into account that in Prague, it’s amazingly delicious, yet cheap.
If you’re worried about adding extra calories, a daily portion of walking among museums and ancient streets will help you to shed those calories and add to your stock of inspiration and memories.
The Czechs know how to entertain during the February cold. Every Sunday in February, Prague locals organize the Masopust carnival, Prague’s carnival, celebrated every year, marking the end of winter. This is an entire month of celebrating right up until Easter. You will encounter locals in carnival costume everywhere — outside, in the cinema, in the theater, and in restaurants.
If you want to get involved, you can buy a costume from one of the local stalls especially across the city’s historic center. You can also hire them from all supermarkets. The Bohemian carnival is held on 23rd February at the Clam-Gallas palace. There, people not only put on masks but also organize contests, parades and games.
As for couples in love, there are special discounts on 14th February: look out for shops with the sign “Sleva” in the window. Although there will be lots of discounts anyway in February — all shopping centers hold sales promos after the festive period.
You can eat literally anywhere, and most likely it will be delicious. Everything is more expensive downtown, but it gets cheaper the further you move away from the center, and that doesn’t mean that the food quality declines. Try pork knuckles as well as Czech goulash with bread. All Czech dishes are filling, with impressive portions.
If you want to drink some local beer somewhere with good vibes, then head to Vytopna. Here, a little electric train will bring you your drinks. It’s better value if you go as a big group, as the prices here are a bit steep. It’s advisable to book a table in advance, otherwise you risk spending an hour queuing to get in.
Keep in mind that the Czechs have their own currency, the koruna (1 koruna / ≈ 0.042 Euros).
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: +6 to +13°С
- Advantages: You won’t know this part of France, beautiful countryside, lots of little towns that are all completely different to each other.
- Disadvantages: Not many people speak English in the provinces.
Normandy is not the bourgeois Paris nor is it the aristocratic Nice. It’s cozy Europe, whose lands still remember Joan of Arc. A great destination in February, especially on Valentine’s Day.
Despite all the stereotypes, the locals see Normandy as the birthplace of romance. Proof is that the town of Cabourg is located right on the meridian of love. This is even stated on the welcoming sign, where the word “love” is written in over 100 languages.
You can devise a huge number of travel routes, but make sure that they include Rouen, Étretat, Mont St. Michel and Honfleur.
Rouen is the capital of Normandy, and it is from here that you should begin exploring the province (it’s intriguing to wander along the same paths that famous French painter Claude Monet took). Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, which has been destroyed more than once in wars, was virtually the main hero of Monet’s paintings. Everything here is beautiful: the little churches, the lovely little houses, and the little narrow streets.
Étretat is a Norman goddess, you can’t call it anything less. Until the 19th century probably only fishermen knew of it, but the brushes of impressionists have drawn everybody’s attention to it. La Falaise d’Amont (one of the largest maritime sites in Normandy and home to numerous birds), Les Jardins d’Etretat (the historic neo-futuristic garden), and a view over the English Channel.
Mont Saint-Michel is an unconquered fortress island that fended off attacks from neighbors over the centuries: at one time, due to a misunderstanding, they couldn’t build a church on it for ages; another time, the Vikings decided that this beauty should be theirs; then somebody turned it into a prison; then they turned it into a factory.
It’s also believed that the tidal flows here are the strongest in Europe, so the island has to bravely withstand them. But it remains unconquered and retains its majesty and charm. Just a couple of dozen Normans currently live here.
Local restaurants serve 19th century recipes, and they have come up with lots of entertainment for guests — from music and medieval feasts to laser shows and installations. And don’t forget the charming view from the monastery courtyard.
Honfleur is probably the most charismatic of Normandy towns. It blends the old and the new, sea and river, wood and stone, brightly colored little houses, and medieval buildings. Be sure to visit Église Sainte Catherine — it’s fascinating to view this historic largest wooden church in France next to stone buildings.
Parks here were created for romantic walks — there are lots of pathways, as well as arches adorned with flowers. The little streets, as is typical for medieval towns, are narrow but cozy with lots of little shops and cafes.
Unlike the wine-making part of France, Normandy is France’s apple kingdom. Here, they make great freshly-squeezed 100% pure juice, but locals here mostly prefer to transform apples into cider.
You can spend the nights in Rouen, but the easiest choice is to travel between towns in a rented car. You can hire a car here.
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: +1 to +9°С
- Advantages: One of the most unusual cities in Europe, with lots of secret places.
- Disadvantages: Too many tourists.
If you’re still yet to decide on where to go in Europe, then just listen to this music: “Venice, Italy”. February and Venice probably sound like a strange combination, but don’t jump to conclusions. From 4 to 21 February, locals here put on one of the year’s most important festivals – the city becomes an open-air theatre for Carnival celebrations.
Something happens outside almost every day in the course of two and a half weeks. The main rule is that everybody has to wear a mask, and then everything else happens by itself. It all begins with water — the multitude of glowing platforms smoothly navigate through the city canals, announcing that the festival is open.
Naturally, this is all accompanied by music, shows and pretty costumes. Afterwards, parades, balls, street shows, costume and mask competitions are held.
If you have a mask lying around at home that somebody brought you as a present from Venice, then it’s time to brush off its dust — you have finally found a use for it.
You can find the detailed festival program here. All events are free. But to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere, you can take in a ball dance and a formal dinner, but it would cost you about €500 per person.
If you get tired of the constant noise and festivities, then we suggest you take a break at the galleries and museums, which are plentiful in Venice.
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: -2 to +3°С
- Advantages: Incredibly beautiful environment.
- Disadvantages: An expensive country.
Europe is not just medieval towns with ginger-bread cottages on river canals and seas. It’s also the north with volcanoes, geysers, mountains and water that in real life look better than any photoshopped picture. Oh yes, even yours.
As a rule, people normally visit Iceland in summer – even during the warmest time of the year, the average temperature is only 12-15°С. And you’re unlikely to want to go there when you are up to your knees in snow, with a hellish wind and generally awful weather. Yet there is one, somewhat strong reason, to go there in February — to catch the northern lights.
Iceland is just about the ideal place on Earth not only for getting the best view of this miracle of nature, but also for the chance to see it in colors other than green alone.
It’s great as a family holiday — it’s much easier to instill a love for travel in children if you can show them something amazing.
The smartest and simplest way to go about this is to take locals along with you. Firstly, they know where the best spots are — it’s very important to avoid artificial light nearby.
Secondly, that way is safer. And thirdly, if for some reason you fail to catch the northern lights, they will arrange a tour for free on another day, when there will be bigger chances of seeing this unusual natural phenomenon. Tour companies take responsibility for your fun, so until you get to see this beauty, they will take you around the best viewing platforms.
Prices for group tours start at €74 per person. You will be included in a small group of up to eight persons, they will pick you up at Reykjavík and take you back. You’ll take great photos, the tour guides will tell you about the northern lights and even share their Wi-Fi so that you can upload the photos to your Instagram straight away. Individual tours will cost around €500.
The thing about the northern lights is that nobody can give you a 100% guarantee that you will see them. However, there are websites that locals use to track weather conditions so that they can forecast when they’re most likely to appear. You can also do this independently here while planning your trip. But we can with certainty tell you that the chances of seeing the northern lights in February are high.
Iceland has its own currency (1 krona / ≈ 0.0065 Euros).
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: -3 to +6°С
- Advantages: Inexpensive resort, outside the tourist season, uncrowded pistes, attractive historical city.
- Disadvantages: Inappropriate for highly experienced skiers, as the pistes are too basic; need to find transfers to the pistes.
Austria and good old Innsbruck will suit those who need ski resorts like air to breathe. The skiing season is winding down in February, which means that there won’t be any queues, and nobody will get in the way of your snowboards or skis on the slopes.
The city is not just a resort zone with snow and pistes. It has an attractive historical center, a pleasant atmosphere, and a jaw-dropping view of the mountains from almost anywhere — even if you were to take a photo with your eyes closed, you would probably get a decent picture. Innsbruck, the 800 years old city, has a rich history.
The most popular tourist site is the Golden Roof building. Even though not all of the building has a golden roof, but only the lodge, from where Emperor Maximilian I and his wife used to observe knight tournaments, festivals and other events that took place in the square below. Maria-Theresien-Strasse, a largely pedestrian street at the heart of Innsbruck, is considered the best shopping street. A walk along this street is a must for all. You can also find shops on Anichstrasse and Sparkassenplatz.
The most interesting and captivating museum is Audioversum, a unique collection of interactive, ears-on exhibits that let visitors investigate their perception of sound. Here, you’ll learn everything about one of the most important sensory organs – your ears. How we hear, what it’s like having hard of hearing, and how sound reaches your brain and gets recognized by it. The exhibition is interactive, so you will not only learn everything, but also get to feel it with the help of earphones, special instruments and 3D glasses.
The Nordkettenbahnen cable car will take you 2,000 meters higher, providing you with a breathtaking panoramic view; you’ll even be able to see a little piece of Italy.
You won’t even need a guidebook to see the main attractions. They will in fact find you while you take a walk around the city.
Where to stay:
- Weather in February: -2 to +5°С
- Advantages: Tons and tons of places to see, restaurants and other entertainment.
- Disadvantages: High prices and garbage on the streets.
It would seem that we all know this city from movies, so when you find yourself outside in the Big Apple, you immediately feel like a hero from a movie. You can wander around New York endlessly and admire ‘those very same little streets’, enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee at parks, and examine the extravagant clothes of the local fashionistas; in any case, you’ll have great fun!
If you’re an active vacation fan, New York won’t let you down. Museums, theaters, unusual bars and shows — the offers are just so many.
The core of the museum program will most likely consist of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, the Whitney Museum and the Guggenheim Museum. Here, the most exciting and famous exhibits have been assembled from the entire world. If you are planning to visit absolutely everything, then plan for extra time — this is definitely not a two-hour stroll.
If you aren’t sure which of them are undoubtedly worth viewing, then base your choice on your favorite genres: for classical arts we choose The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whereas for contemporary art it’s MOMA, the Whitney Museum and the Guggenheim Museum.
By the way, you can save money and get into the most famous museums without queuing using discount passes: New York CityPASS and New York Pass. If you are in town for 3-5 days, then New York CityPASS would be the best (from $126), and it gives you discounts to 6 sites. If your trip is for 10 days or more, consider New York Pass, which is valid for up to 90 sites ($419).
It’s also unpardonable to visit New York without going to Broadway shows and Cirque Du Soleil. You might not be able to get tickets once you are already there, so we recommend you study the shows’ repertoire in advance and buy tickets online.
But where can you grab a snack? Right on the street! New York is famous for its street food. So, if you get hungry along the way and you aren’t interested in sitting somewhere posh, then head to Wafels & Dinges, a food truck serving waffles, or to Calexico, a Mexican snack-bar.
For more refined dishes, you can try Clover Hill in Brooklyn, where they serve signature specials; or Hometown Bar-B-Que for classical American grill; alternatively, treat yourself to haute-cuisine at Nougatine at Jean Georges, a 2-star Michelin restaurant.
Where to stay:
- NY Moore Hostel
- Harmony Suites
- Hilton Club West 57th Street New York
- Baccarat Hotel and Residences New York
- Weather in February: 12-24°С
- Advantages: Ideal place for family vacation.
- Disadvantages: Apart from its theme parks, it has no other tourist attractions.
Orlando is an entire city of parks! Or to be more precise, of theme parks. Here you will find the world’s most famous and most visited one, Disney World, as well as Universal, Legoland and even the Kennedy Space Center.
It will take ages to list all the advantages, especially as the names speak for themselves. Instead, we prefer to tell you about some ins and outs that you should keep in mind when choosing a theme park.
Firstly, February is the ideal time to visit Orlando. The weather is fine for walking around, without being too hot to stand in queues for the attractions. The only downside of a February trip is that the water parks are closed at this time, but on the other hand there will be fewer people.
Secondly, be smart in deciding how you choose parks. Each of them is an entire city with different neighborhoods. You won’t be able to visit any of them exhaustively in a day, therefore we recommend staying in a hotel near the entertainment center.
And thirdly, if you nevertheless get tired of the crazy flow of Tiny Toons and superheroes, you can always book a tour in Orlando itself. For example, order a helicopter trip with Maxflight Helicopter Services, go for a ride on a quad bike or buggy with Revolution Adventures, or even go and admire the alligators at Gatorland.
For fans of cultural vacation, Orlando has a unique museum of artifacts called Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. If you are into history or mysteries, then visiting it is a must.
Where to stay:
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Orlando East/UCF Area
- The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Weather in February: 10-21°С
- Advantages: Amazing weather, leisurely pace, natural environment and soothing ocean waves.
- Disadvantages: A lack of developed public transit infrastructure, so you absolutely need a car to get around town.
New York is a city that is intuitively understandable to everybody and almost feels familiar, whereas Los Angeles’s image is somewhat harder to portray. The neighborhoods are highly diverse, so if you’re going to the City of Angels, then think about what you want the most: a relaxing holiday on the ocean coast or long walks around Hollywood.
Fans of the ocean may spend a number of days on the coast, walking along Venice Beach, Zuma Beach and Santa Monica Pier. In these places, you can feel the full majesty of the Pacific Ocean and at the same time dash into the lovely, cozy little shops. For full relaxation, head to Malibu, although you won’t be able to go swimming there due to the water temperature; so the only purpose of going there is to get some decent photos.
If you have long dreamt of seeing the Hollywood Walk of Fame, then head off to that same Hollywood. Here, you will find the Paramount Pictures film studios, the famous Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Dr and the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.
Hollywood is always lively, while in the little streets you can see thousands of agencies offering diverse entertainment even including helicopter tours. We recommend not getting enticed by expensive trips, and instead taking a leisurely bicycle ride to the main film industry sites by yourself.
To eat, take a look at The Milky Way, a kosher restaurant that Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, operated before she passed away; or perhaps Spago, which all the film stars really like.
Where to stay:
We are sure that we’ve just dispelled the stereotypes about the gloomiest and harshest month. So many places around the world serve to prove that it’s a great time for vacations. Therefore, now isn’t the time to be deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – it’s time to choose a destination.