West Europe February, Best Cities

Europe February Weather

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

Best West Europe cities February, sightseeing in good weather

• 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 Moorish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, where the days are warm and the nights coolish, as well as Malaga and Cadiz cities that don’t depend on beaches for tourism.
Barcelona too is a lively, fascinating city – spiced up by weird Gaudi architecture, though it may well be chilly and/or wet in February.
Swimming in the Mediterranean in winter is no fun, nor is the sad, overbuilt Spanish coast that is now dedicated to stuff-the-culture, we want sun, sea and sangria tour groups.

• The French Riviera tends to be bright and sunny T-shirt weather in February, with chilly nights. Again, swimming is not comfortable in February, especially off pebble beaches. We love Nice, Antibes and Monaco but find Cannes and St Tropez pretentious. If Nice Carnival is in February this year – check Europe Festivals February – then it’s a brilliant attraction and well worth a visit, along with little Menton’s Lemon Festival at the same time.

• 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 goes completely crazy during the stunning seven day Venice Carnival.

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)

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,  a lovely seaside city and 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, spacious and long) 3 weeks.

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

Spain: La Tamborrada, beautiful San Sebastian-Donostia on the northern Basque coast and another excellent gay carnival at Sitges.

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

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