Looking at a short break this February half-term? Here’s what you can expect in 2024
Already got those back-to-school and winter blues? There’s no better way to brush off this feeling than having your first trip of 2024 planned! Let’s not miss a precious day of that non-school term time to get out and explore this year and book a short escape for the February half-term.
Now, while a February family holiday might sound enticing, there is no escaping the fact that everywhere in Europe is still pretty chilly in February! If a family-friendly ski vacation in Europe isn’t your idea of fun, then perhaps you want to check out some of our city break or winter sun destinations.
Let’s jump into some of the great reasons to plan your European family escape in February.
This post is part of our Discover Europe series – destination inspiration and reviews for family travellers
Things To Know Before Heading To Europe In Late Winter
- Whilst COVID testing and sudden closures may be a thing of the past, the travel industry can still be plagued with issues, including strikes and last-minute cancellations. Stay alert to the current situations before you travel. It should go without saying, take out travel insurance!
- February half-term holiday dates in the UK depend on your local council or Borough, but for most, it will fall the week of 12 to 16 February 2024. You may also have some extra inset days added on! Double-check this with your child’s school before travelling, as penalties for missing school days are steep.
- We use resources such as 12Go to plot whether travelling by train, plane, or bus across Europe is best. Often, we can spot deals and destinations we may not have thought of before, and February is definitely MUCH cheaper than mid-summer to travel Europe!
- February can still be bitterly cold in most destinations in Europe, so make sure you pack appropriate layers for European winter travel.
February Half-Term Holiday Ideas
So the question is, will you embrace the cold or escape it?! Here are our top suggestions for finding both when planning family holidays in February.
Best February Ski Holidays in Europe
Conditions can be at their powdery best come February, so it’s no wonder ski vacations in Europe are a top choice for many families during the February half-term break. The top 3 European ski destinations we’d recommend families try in February:
Zermatt is incredible at any time of year but at its powdery best in February. A great place to learn to ski, kids will love Wolli’s Park for beginners at Sunnegga, with five magic carpets and a huge range of kid-friendly activities. The fun doesn’t end with skiing; you can also enjoy sledging, ice skating and winter family excursions. (Closest airport SIR or GVA)
Les Deux Alpes, France
A wonderful beginner-friendly resort in the Alps; there are plenty of ski schools and easy slopes with long green runs. Family-friendly accommodation is plentiful around the easy-to-navigate town, with free shuttles running to the slopes and family lift passes. The snowpark at La Toura is a great addition, with dedicated sledging slopes, and families will enjoy the relatively short transfer time from Grenoble or Geneva. (Closest airport LYS or train London – Paris – Grenoble)
St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
Your pound often stretches a little further in Austria without compromising on skiing quality. In this picturesque winter wonderland, you’ll find over 300 kms of slopes in addition to ski schools and plenty of action off the slopes too, with a Ferris Wheel, multifunction sports centre and trampoline Hall among the region’s attractions. (Closest airport INN).
Best February Half-Term City Breaks in Europe
If you don’t fancy embracing the cold and snow quite that much, why not enjoy some of Europe’s best cities without the crowds? February half-term breaks are the perfect time for exploring these cities:
You don’t necessarily even need to leave the UK in winter; February can be a wonderful time to enjoy a short family break in the capital. As well as all the classic museums in Kensington, enjoy the Imagine Children’s Festival at Southbank Centre, catch a Westend show such as Frozen the Musical or with older kids and teens in London, try Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria at the Royal Albert Hall.
Athens can be an excellent educational experience for the whole family to enjoy during the February half term. Still a little chilly, with average temperatures around 14°C, but this can be perfect for getting out and exploring the historic city on foot. Visit the Acropolis Museum and venture to the top of the Acropolis. Apokeras – Carnival Season starts in late Feb this year, so those with later school breaks may catch the start with a wonderful, colourful, festive feeling that falls over the city.
Lisbon is a glorious city that can still be easily explored on foot even in the winter months – though who can resist catching the 28 tram (without the queues!) or exploring the funiculars and lifts that dot the city? Castelo Sao Jorge and Oceanario Lisboa are great indoor escapes if it does rain, but you should almost certainly catch some sun heading to Belem or Sintra on your February half-term trip.
Another city that can often shine at its best in the winter when crowds are lower. Carnevale di Venezia is the star of the show, and masks are a must to play a part in the February celebrations all the way through until Shrove Tuesday. Weekends can be crowded even in winter, so a half-term week of school holidays can be the perfect time to enjoy this unique experience.
If you can withstand the cold, this is one of the most incredible and unique family holidays in February. Sitting above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is most famous as one of the best spots in Europe to experience and photograph the Northern Lights. However, there’s a treasure trove of other snowy experiences here that don’t involve skiing, such as dog sledding, reindeer sleigh rides, and snowshoeing, providing a hands-on way to explore the Arctic environment.
Tromsø’s also has family-oriented museums, like the Polar Museum and Science Centre, that offer educational yet fun insights into local history and science, making it an ideal destination for a memorable and adventurous family holiday.
A Little Beyond Europe in February
If it’s beach weather you crave for your February half-term holiday, you’ll still have to fly just a little further in February! Mainland Europe really isn’t known for February beach weather. We suggest instead:
Dubai or Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Flight time from the UK around 6.5 hours
You are almost guaranteed sunshine during February on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. Enjoy temperatures in the mid to high 20s during the day. The water temperature should be around 22.5°C.
Waterparks tend to re-open from their mid-winter maintenance – for a theme parks holiday, try staying at the Legoland Hotel in Dubai or the Warner Bros-themed Hotel, The WB Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, for a great, fun novelty experience for the kids combined with theme park tickets.
Get on your UAE bucket list a trip into the mountains (yes, the UAE has mountains!) to explore the wadis and try the world’s longest zipline. And don’t miss heading into the desert while the weather is cool, more than just dune bashing safaris, try a UAE desert glamping experience.
The Canary Islands
- Flight time from the UK around 4.5 hrs
OK, still technically part of Europe, but certainly a little further afield! Year-round sunshine is also the massive draw card of the Canaries. If you’re seeking somewhere where it’s hot in Europe in February, Maspalomas on the southern coast of Gran Canaria is always popular with families, as is Los Cristianos, Tenerife with a good number of family-friendly resorts to choose from.
Even if you still feel it’s a little cool for hitting the beach in February (you’ll be lucky if it hits 20°C in the water!), The Canaries still have plenty on offer for outdoor adventurers, including the Teide National Park in Tenerife, exploring the volcanic landscapes of Lanzarote, or enjoying the rich historical and cultural experiences in Gran Canaria’s capital, Las Palmas.
- Flight time from the UK around 4 hours
The Azores – an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean – offer a unique and tranquil escape for families during the February half-term break as it’s a less crowded time of year, but milder temperatures make it perfect for outdoor exploration.
From lush green hills to crystal-clear crater lakes, the Azores are a dream destination for families that love hiking. For families visiting the Azores, São Miguel and Terceira are top choices. São Miguel, known as the “Green Island,” offers the stunning Sete Cidades lakes, thermal baths at Furnas, and whale-watching opportunities. Terceira, rich in history, features the charming city of Angra do Heroísmo, along with fascinating volcanic caves like Algar do Carvão.
More before you go!
Are you still plotting a European Vacation and not sure where to head? You may also be interested in:
- Spring Break in Europe – If you’re still holding out until March, here are the best destinations for late seasons skiing, early beach action and where to catch the most vivid flower and nature displays in Europe from March to May.
- Looking for the Autumn half-term in Europe? Autumn is another excellent time for a short break abroad when there is mild weather in many countries. These are our favourite destinations, just a few hours’ flight from the UK for a magical October escape.
- December in Europe With Family – Looking for somewhere festive or escaping to somewhere warm? You’ll love these early winter travel ideas around Europe.
- Rail Travel With Kids Around Europe – We explain exactly how to plot a European adventure by rail using Interrail/Eurail
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