February is a prime time for sightseeing without the peak season hordes. Even crowded cities such as Paris see fewer tourists during the month of love and romance. Having shorter queues and off-peak season discounts, the bleak weather won’t be such a bother.

    But if warm weather seems more appealing, why not go to Bhutan to watch winter come to an end? Or San Blas where it’s warm and sunny? Carnival season is also in February, with wild celebrations and festivities taking place from New Orleans to Rio. 

    1

    San Blas Islands, Panama

    Explore over 300 tropical islands

    Chilling on a beach in the San Blas Islands of Panama means soul-soothing sunshine, palm trees dancing to the cool afternoon breeze, and idyllic surf sessions. Go on an island-hopping excursion with the indigenous Kuna people, indulge in the fresh catch of the day, and don’t forget to cool down in their famous natural pool.

    Isla Perro, or Dog Island, is one beach you should explore. One of its highlights is a gunboat shipwreck, marking the island as a popular snorkelling site. Electricity might be rare in San Blas, but there’s no need for it when you can sleep under the stars at night, whether it’s on a beach on a tiny, secluded island or on the deck of a cosy catamaran.

    Beach, please!

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    2

    Paris, France

    Guys, don't bend down to tie your shoelaces on Valentine's Day in Paris

    Paris is known as a romantic getaway, and there’s no better time to visit the city of lights and love than in February. Grey overcast skies bring out the timelessness of Parisian architecture and design. From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, you can explore the country’s most iconic landmarks without having to worry about overly large crowds of tourists and long queues. If you're in Paris for a Valentine's Day treat, why not splash out on a dinner cruise along the Seine?

    If ever you’re caught in a downpour, seek refuge in one of the city’s thousands of cafés. With your espresso in hand, sit and indulge in the cherished Parisian past-time of people watching along Champs-Élysées.

    Feel the love

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    3

    New Orleans, LA, USA

    Head to Bourbon Street for the world-famous Mardi Gras

    Every day in New Orleans is considered a day of celebration, but in February, the city’s penchant for parties gets more amped than usual. Mardi Gras is a time to eat, dance and be merry. Before the festivities kick-off, explore Jackson Square and sign up for New Orleans’ world-famous cemetery tours. Fuel up for the long day ahead at Café du Monde, where you can snack on incredible beignet pastries. To see the parades, head to Bourbon Street for the epicentre of the festivities. Catch the trinkets that Mardi Gras krewes will throw during the parade, and take them home as souvenirs.

    Remember that the magic only lasts until the stroke of midnight. As Lent starts, police will parade the streets with local cleaners. It’s best to leave Bourbon Street before then.

    Let's go

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    4

    Thimphu, Bhutan

    Get lost in the capital’s maze-like weekend markets

    February in Thimphu is the right time of year for exploring ancient monasteries, hiking through the awesome Bhutanese landscape, bird watching, and white water rafting. Wrap up in a warm jacket as you explore Thimphu’s weekend markets, the site of the Buddha Dordenma statue, the Tashichho Dzong monastery, and the Changangkha Lhakhang temple. You can also go off the beaten path to catch a glimpse of wild takin (gnu goats), Bhutan’s national animal, in the Motithang Takin Preserve.

    The weather in February is ideal for sightseeing and allows you to explore this mysterious, mountainous country at a more relaxed pace as you soak up the infectious, laid-back charm of the smiling locals.

    Take me there

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    5

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Experience Carnival’s explosion of music and colour

    A wave of party fever spreads across the city of Rio de Janeiro every February when locals and tourists come together to celebrate the world’s largest festival – the Carnival. Mingle with the locals at bustling block parties – known as blocos – and dance to the sounds of samba as the streets burst to life with music and art. Take in all the sights of vibrantly coloured headdresses, intricately decorated with sequins and feathers as you sip some caipirinhas with the locals.

    If you want to be surrounded by all the madness of Carnival and still be touching distance from the beach, base yourself in Ipanema. Also, make sure to book a ticket to the Sambadrome parade. Whether you take part in the parade itself in full costume or you decide to watch from the stands, the Carnival experience will be one you’ll never forget.

    Explore now

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    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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