The Best Places to Travel in Europe in February
February might be one of the most underrated months to travel to Europe — between smaller crowds and great deals on flights and hotels, this can be one of the best times to head across the pond. Maybe you want to visit Paris for a romantic Valentine's Day getaway, or maybe you want to plan an active vacation in the beautiful Swiss Alps (complete with skiing and fondue). With so many culturally-rich cities and picture-perfect small towns, there's a European destination for every kind of traveler this winter.
These are the best places to travel in Europe in February to take advantage of great deals and fewer crowds.
Related: More European trip ideas
If you want to avoid the cold and wet weather that hits much of Europe in February, visit the island of Madeira, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa.
This environment makes Madeira the perfect place for outdoor activities, even during the winter months. Try hiking Ponta de São Lourenço, which is a nature reserve filled with red-streaked volcanic rocks that offers majestic views of the ocean. Or, if you don’t want to hike, but still want amazing views, visit the Cabo Girão Skywalk, which is a clear platform that hangs off of Europe's highest cliff— definitely not for those afraid of heights. Be sure to sample some of the area’s wine while you're here, too. Head to Blandy’s Wine Lodge, where you can take a tour and find out how this region’s wine is made.
You can also try paragliding, or even the famous street tobogganing. Plus, if you visit at the end of February, you can take part in the Carnival festivities.
Prague, Czech Republic
Explore the winding streets of Prague's Old Town to admire the pastel-colored buildings this February. Take a walk down Karlova Street, which historically was the way Bohemian kings traveled to their coronations, and check out the local shops selling glassware, wooden toys, painted eggs, puppets, and other crafts that make great gifts.
Warm up from the cold by visiting one of the city's museums, like the Prague Jewish Museum, the National Museum, or the Museum of Beer. For a unique experience, check out the Franz Kafka Museum, which is devoted to the famous writer.
If you want to hit the slopes and explore a wintry wonderland this February, consider visiting Zurich. Take a day trip to a nearby ski resort to take advantage of this region's mountainous terrain — head to Flumserberg for family fun and beginner slopes, or visit Stoos, which has the classic Swiss scenery you would expect. Amden offers sledding and skiing, and Rigi even has snowshoeing trails and hot springs.
When you want to take a break from skiing, you can wander through the Old Town or visit the Kunsthaus Zürich, a fine arts museum, or Löwenbräu Areal, a remodeled brewery that now houses 2 modern art museums. While you're in Switzerland, be sure to sample some fondue — hop on The Fondue Tram, which takes you on a two-hour ride around Zurich while you eat to your heart’s content.
Explore the ski resorts here on the French-Italian border this February for amazing terrain and even better views. Try La Rosière, which is kid-friendly and offers border-free skiing between France and Italy, or visit the bigger Les Arcs resort area to take advantage of night skiing, luge tracks, and a ski waterslide.
Paris is an obvious choice for a Valentine's Day trip across the pond. The city is known as the most romantic in the world, and it certainly won't disappoint if you decide to visit this winter.
Plus, February is often the cheapest month to fly to Paris, and you can enjoy off-season hotel prices and fewer crowds at the big attractions. Skip the lines and still get a chance to see some of the most popular tourist sites in the world, including the Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, and the Arc de Triomphe.
One night, take a Seine dinner cruise, where a heated boat will take you down the iconic river that flows through the center of the city. Consider booking a ticket to performances at the famous Moulin Rouge or Opéra Garnier for another exciting night in Paris.
You won't find snow in Kyrenia, Cyprus this February, where the temperature sticks around 60 degrees. This city, located on the northern side of the island, has plenty to offer travelers, even during the off-season.
Visit the white-sand beaches at Alagadi Beach, famous for its turtles, or head to Escape Beach, where you can try volleyball or scuba diving. Wander around the cobblestoned waterfront, and stop for a meal at The Cabin Restaurant & Bar Lapta or Lagoon Fish Restaurant for delicious seafood.
Be sure to check out the famous Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum, which houses a well-preserved shipwreck that sunk 2,300 years ago.
Take advantage of smaller crowds and explore the many museums that this historic city has to offer. Be sure to pay a visit to the Prado Museum, the main Spanish national art museum; the Reina Sofia Museum, which displays 20th-century art; the Museo del Romanticismo, which is devoted to Romantic period art; and the Sorolla Museum, which features work by the artist Joaquín Sorolla.
At the end of February, Madrid hosts its annual Carnival celebration, which features parades, parties, and the famous tradition of burying of the sardines.
This beautiful city on the French Riviera is most popular from May through September, so visiting during winter gives guests the opportunity to explore without the crowds. February usually sees temperatures in the 50s, so you won't be able to swim in the stunning blue waters, but there's still plenty to do in this chic city.
Take a stroll or bike ride along the famous beachfront Promenade des Anglais. Then visit the Parc du Chateau, with beautiful greenery as far as the eye can see. Be sure to wander through the Old Town, where you'll find brightly-colored buildings and streets filled with cafes and restaurants.
It might sound crazy to head to a country like Iceland in the heart of winter, but the long, cold nights provide the perfect opportunity to see the northern lights. If you're lucky enough to have clear night skies and an active aurora, you can see the other-worldly green glow from anywhere in the city. Head outside the city center to see the lights more clearly — try Grótta island on the western tip of the Reykjavík peninsula, Laugarnestangi, or Mosfellsheiði for amazing views.
The winter is also a great time to do snow-specific activities, such as ice caving and glacier hiking. After a day out in the snow, take advantage of the area’s hot springs and geothermal pools — try the Instagram-famous Blue Lagoon or the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach.
In the winter, this romantic Italian city is shrouded in mist, making it even more picturesque and mysterious. Explore the canals and winding alleyways on foot or on a traditional gondola, and then warm up at at a cafe. Be sure to try the region’s specialty, cicchetti, which are Italian small plates.
The Carnival of Venice will take place this month, too, making February a perfect time to visit. This festival has a history spanning more than 700 years and the streets are filled with food booths, live performances, parades, and parties.