The 28 days of February can seem to go on for ever when the skies stay resolutely grey. If you want to escape the winter gloom and reacquaint yourself with how the sun feels on your skin, have a look at some of these holiday hot spots. And if you’re planning ahead for a break in May, these destinations should inspire you.
Unlike some of the other Canary Islands, La Palma is wonderfully lush and green and deserves its nickname of La Isla Verde. Plan your visit for late February after the carnival, crowds and hotel price hikes have left the capital, Santa Cruz de la Palma. Instead, hole up in the hillside Parador de la Palma, which has sea views and its own pool. Cachet Travel has a week’s B&B from £978pp, including flights and car hire.
Costa Rica’s natural wonders range from majestic volcanoes to cloud forests to national parks filled with lagoons and reefs – all packed with some of Central America’s most exotic wildlife. Explore this bewitching country on a 12-day tour offered by Sunvil, in which you’ll bathe in hot springs by the Arenal volcano, take a boat trip through the waterways of the Tortuguero National Park and wander through Monteverde’s cloud forest. The price of £2,524 includes flights, accommodation, transport and some meals.
Discover an African safari Senegal style with a stay at the Fathala Wildlife Reserve just north of the Gambian border. You’ll have giraffes wandering past your luxurious tents and rhinos making use of the nearby waterhole. The Gambia Experience offers three nights in the lodge as part of its holiday in the Gambia, where you’ll also stay four nights at the oceanfront Ngala Lodge. A week’s B&B at both lodges start at £1,169pp, including Birmingham flights, some meals, a game drive and a bush walk, departing 9 February.
Take advantage of the Patagonian summer with an exhilarating exploration of Torres del Paine National Park. Discover its mountains and blue icebergs by hiking its trails and taking a boat trip across Lago Pehoe. Toucan Travel has a 10-day overland tour departing 9 February that starts in El Calafate in Argentina and includes Torres del Paine before finishing at the foot of the world in Ushuaia. The price of £1,179 (plus a local payment of US$580) includes accommodation, park entry and some meals, but excludes flights. Book before 31 January and pay only £943.
Book now for May
Next year, Matera takes over as the European Capital of Culture. Before this exquisite town in Italy’s instep gets too busy, explore its extraordinary prehistoric houses – called sassi – that were dug into the rock and are now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Citalia has a five-night break at the five-star Palazzo Gattini, a sumptuous 15th-century palace right next to Matera’s cathedral. Departing 19 May, the holiday costs from £851pp and includes flights, breakfast and private transfers.
The joys of spring are especially fragrant in the Greece’s largest island, as the wildflowers are in full bloom in the agreeable mid-20s heat. At stylish Villa Levantes you’re only a five-minute drive from the coastal town of Kissamos and 10 minutes’ walk from a sandy beach. This contemporary, three-bedroom villa has wonderful views of the sea and its own pool. A week’s rental with Oliver’s Travels costs £1,217 for 6 and 13 May departures. Book before 28 February for a 5 per cent discount.
Summer comes early to the Bozburun peninsula, specifically in the delightful seaside town of Selimiye and its waterfront restaurants and bars. May is an appealing time to explore this southern Turkish town before the summer crowds from Istanbul descend. There are only six bedrooms in the seafront Losta Sahil Evi boutique hotel, all of which have a terrace or patio from which to take in the sea views. Simpson Travel offers seven nights’ B&B at Losta Sahil Evi from £664 for a 6 May departure, including flights and transfers.
Mary Novakovich is editor at large at 101holidays.co.uk