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Where’s hot in February? Best holiday destinations for some final winter sun

Trade snow for sand on half-term family breaks and romantic Valentine’s getaways  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Trade snow for sand on half-term family breaks and romantic Valentine’s getaways (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The great British winter weather: freezing fog, sleet and overcast grey mornings are at their most dismal during February’s 28 (or 29) days, and often seem to have no end in sight.

Fortunately, while it can feel like the longest, the shortest month of the year is broken up with ideal excuses to escape for a final burst of winter sun before the welcome transition into a much milder UK spring.

With a week-long half-term and – love it or hate it – Valentine’s Day, February is primed for family holidays for some far-flung fun in the sun and romantic long weekends for overseas one-on-one time.

From balmy St Lucia’s white sands to sundrenched Gran Canaria and the Algarve in southern Europe, here’s our guide to finding some failsafe sunshine in February. Post-pancake day vitamin D, a tan top up close to home and the thrilling rides of Florida’s theme parks await.

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Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

The sun-drenched Canaries bring the vitamin D to Europe for winter (Getty Images)
The sun-drenched Canaries bring the vitamin D to Europe for winter (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 21.3C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 6

For mild temperatures, hiking trails and 147 miles of volcanic coastline punctuated with traditional tapas haunts, the third-largest Canary Island is a dream for vitamin D this winter. Sun-drenched Gran Canaria, known as the “miniature continent” for its versatile landscapes, offers not only parasol-peppered beaches but multiday hiking routes weaving a blanket of fertile forest and peaks of 1,950m best tackled in February’s low 20C heat. Better still, the black sands and Pico de las Nieves mountains are less than a four-and-a-half-hour flight away.

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Goa, India

A pleasant 28C blesses Goa in February (Getty Images)
A pleasant 28C blesses Goa in February (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 28C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 10

Go to Goa this February to experience India’s capital of coastal cool with 10 hours of sunshine a day and no sign of monsoon season. The ideal antidote for the winter blues, Goa’s pocket-friendly nature extends from the opulent shoreside hotels to its deliciously diverse coconut-laced cuisine, with miles of golden beaches to stroll. Inland, the birth country of yoga welcomes Westerners to study the discipline, or tour Unesco-listed churches and the colourful chaos of Panaji if a parasailing adventure isn’t on the agenda.

St Lucia, Caribbean

St Lucia’s tropical climate welcomes a balmy but bearable 29C in February (Getty Images)
St Lucia’s tropical climate welcomes a balmy but bearable 29C in February (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 29.2C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 7

If you’re looking to escape to the Caribbean this winter, up to seven hours of daily sunshine and average temperature highs of 29.2C make St Lucia a hotspot for a February getaway. In fact, the island's tropical climate is at its most bearable come winter, with balmy breezes and beaming rays. The lush natural landscape is a playground for explorers looking to hike the Piton Mountains, zip wire across Pigeon Island National Park, and snorkel while topping up their tans on Sugar Beach.

Auckland, New Zealand

It’s high summer in New Zealand during the second month of the year and a dry time to explore the harbour city (Getty Images)
It’s high summer in New Zealand during the second month of the year and a dry time to explore the harbour city (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 24.2C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 7

It’s high summer in New Zealand during the second month of the year and a dry time to experience the harbour city of Auckland’s fine wine, Lord of the Rings backdrops and the All Blacks rugby team. Bathing on Takapuna Beach meets a host of festivals, including Auckland Pride, Pasifika Festival of culture – a celebration of the Pacific Islands – and a lantern festival to ring in the Lunar New Year during February’s 28 days. Plus there are plenty of world-renowned vineyards to wine and dine in on the day of love.

Orlando, Florida

There’s fun for the whole family next half term in balmy Orlando (Getty Images)
There’s fun for the whole family next half term in balmy Orlando (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 23.1C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 6

A family break in Orlando is one way of escaping the February gloom. With temperatures just shy of 25C and much lower humidity than the state’s sweltering summers, the Floridian city’s famed half-term havens – Disneyland and Universal – promise fun for everyone. Once you’ve had your fill of the theme parks, check out the golf courses, bargain outlet shopping and a foodie scene of Cuban sandwiches and key lime pie that’s bound to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

Phuket, Thailand

With temperatures in the low 30s, it’s no wonder backpackers flock to Phuket (Getty Images)
With temperatures in the low 30s, it’s no wonder backpackers flock to Phuket (Getty Images)
  • Average temperature in February: 33.1C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 9

Firmly in the dry season, Phuket shines in February with nine hours of daily sunshine illuminating the largest Thai isle – a great time to kick back at a whole hoard of beachside boutiques, ultra-luxurious hideaways and spa and fitness retreats that line the shores of the mountainous island. A firm favourite with holidaymakers, Phuket is a lively hub for scuba diving, Muay Thai boxing, island hopping secluded coves and, of course, sampling a taste of some culinary delights by the masters of Pad Thai.

Algarve, Portugal

Portugal’s southernmost beaches are blessed with t-shirt weather by February (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Portugal’s southernmost beaches are blessed with t-shirt weather by February (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
  • Average temperature in February: 17C

  • Hours of sunshine per day: 6

Portugal’s southern fringe maintains its mild temperatures year-round. The Algarve is primed for t-shirt weather while visitors explore the coastal town of Lagos, along with Albufeira and Portimão, while their free from crowds. Think miles of golden sand and beaches blessed with seafood spots offering sizzling sardines and cataplana fish stew or rounds of golf on one of the regions 40 manicured greens.

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