Oh, January! Everything from our toes to the tip of our nose freezes when we step outside. Thanks to the well-received early payday in December we haven’t been paid for ages and not even the thought of Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon can beat these winter blues! In fact, the only thing that could cheer us up is the prospect of sunshine and the good news is that warm weather and beaches are closer than you think. There are several destinations in Europe where sangria and sun loungers are still in season and we’re heading there pronto!
With highs of 21°C and little cloud cover, February is a great time to hit the beach on the island of Gran Canaria. It’s also carnival season on the island, so what’s not to celebrate? This year the Las Palmas carnival kicks off on 10th February and ends on 5th March. The highlights are the Carnival Queen Gala and the Drag Queen Gala which is the only one held in Spain. Away from the carnival, Las Palmas is home to several spectacular beaches, with many naming Las Canteras as one of the best city beaches in the world. Head to the Playa Chica area for great snorkelling all year round, yes, even in February.
Although January and February are the coldest months of the year in Paphos, the average temperature of 17°C still makes beach days a possibility. February is very much out-of-season for the resort, but while you won’t find hordes on the beach, you will find a greater number of visitors exploring the spectacular hiking trails. Take an excursion to the pine-covered forests and flourishing vineyards of the Akamas Peninsula, where it’s possible to stop and sample the local produce, or spend a leisurely day exploring the Paphos Archaelogical Park, where you’ll find a completely different experience away from the usual summer crowds.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a destination more beach-centric than Fuerteventura. The European island is home to more than 150 different beaches, and even in February you’ll have trouble deciding where to start. We’re big fans of Sotavento, a 17-mile long beach which runs down the south-east coast of the island. The sea temperature is a consistent 21°C all year around, which makes it ideal for water sports. However if there’s one sport more than any other that’s synonymous with this beach it’s kite surfing, with the world kite surfing championships hosted here every August.
With temperatures of 18°C in February, beach days in the Algarve can still be a possibility. However, the chilly sea temperatures of 14°C mean that water sports are not really an option during this period. Still, like in Spain, February is carnival season in the Algarve and Loule hosts one of the most vibrant, with floats, local stalls and cultural dances and events. If you needed another reason to visit in February, the golf courses are generally very quiet this month so it’s an ideal time to enjoy The Beautiful Game at a time when the waiting times for holes are at a minimum.
The Canary Islands benefit from fantastic weather all year round, and Tenerife’s wealth of family-based attractions make it an ideal destination for a cheap half term break. We love Playa Jardin beach for its sheer uniqueness; its black sand is offset by vibrant pink blooms, which is not an accident but rather a clever design feature by local artist César Manrique. Kids will love the on-beach playground, but away from the sand, Loro Parque, a zoo with dolphin and orca shows, will appeal to the little ones.