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European Vacation?
Tourism in February



Venice Carnival costumes, Italy

Venice Carnival costumes, Italy

Europe in January    Europe in March

For cultural/sightseeing choice is still limited in February, one of the two worst months in the Eurozone.

North and middle Europe are usually either cold, wet and grey, or cold, white and dark, with daylight in increasingly short supply as you move north.

On the upside, tourists are also in short supply, many cities add interesting lights to their streets, and indoor entertainment is exceptional.

The best bets are to head down south or get some colour in via a wild Carnival somewhere.

n.b. Carnival locations are likely to be crowded/ overpriced/ booked but zany.

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There are pre-Lent Carnivals all over Europe in January/February/March depending on the date of Easter, see festival links above. Some of the best are:

Italy: #1 for colour has to be Venice. But also Viareggio, Italy's maddest event with parades sporting huge puppets among the kaleidoscopic folk, revelry of all sorts and fireworks of course...but only on successive Sundays.

Belgium: Binche Carnival (very strange and colourful) 3 days, near Brussels.

France: Nice Carnival (huge, wild, colourful and long) 3 weeks.

Germany: Cologne, and Munich Carnivals (both mad), 5 days

Spain: La Tamborrada, San Sebastain and other excellent Carnivals at Sitges(Gay).

Austria: Vienna Opera Balls, (elegant and expensive), the Thurs before Lent.


Also see European Festivals or Arts Festivals for suggestions, information and dates.



For sightseeing/culture in reasonably comfortable weather conditions

Spain: with the exception of Madrid(cold) and the North(wet), Spain is generally warm and pleasant in February. The best bet for a dry cultural experience is in the south, visiting the magical Moorish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, where the days are warm and the nights coolish. Barcelona too is a lively, interesting city, though it can be a little chilly/wet in February.
Swimming in the Mediterranean in winter is no fun, nor is the sad, overbuilt coast that is now dedicated tosod-the-culture, we want sun, sea and sangria tour groups.


Italy: The southern part of Italy has generally mild winters with blue skies, so Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sicily are excellent cultural targets, while Amalfi takes good care of those who need a scenic uplift. Venice is chilly, damp and foggy, but has an interesting, spooky quality, and goescompletely barmy during the stunning seven day Carnival period.


Skiing: All over, but especially French, Switzerland and Italian Alps, Pyrenees, Austria.

Skating: Netherlands, on canals if it's cold enough (once every few years)


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