February is a brilliant time to visit Europe; the weather is neither extremely hot or cold, there are far less tourists, and you experience a greater sense of what the locals get up to during the quieter months of the year.
This article will help you to uncover some of the numerous festivities that you can experience in some of Europe’s most incredible and famous cities, as well as exploring some of the best things to do, see and experience in these European metropolises.
Best places to go in February in Europe
Venice, Italy, for the Carnival
February 8th, 2020 – February 25th, 2020
The Carnival of Venice is a long-standing tradition, with its first recorded event occurring over 700 years ago. The Carnival centres on the two-week build up to the Mardi Gras, and the city becomes more enchanting, magical and captivating than it already is.
The city’s famous, historic masks and costumes come to life again, and the city exudes a wonderous charm of excitement. There are an abundance of performances, exciting eating experiences and an overall vibrant atmosphere; when coupled with the city’s existing splendour, it makes for an incredible time.
Whilst the Carnival is brilliant, it is also important to explore Venice’s historic sites, for instance, Piazza San Marco and the basilica; both the Piazza and the basilica are crucial to the Italian Renaissance, and have been at the epicentre of political, social and religious events for centuries.
Ensure you spend lots of time really taking in their exquisite beauty and cultural importance. Moreover, a quintessentially Venetian thing to do is to take a romantic ride on one of the city’s famous Gondolas, for a truly authentic experience; they offer some of the best views of the canal, and the magnificent surrounding architecture.
Check out my 2-day Venice itinerary.
Sitges, Spain, for the Carnival
18th February 2020 – 26th February 2020
Each year, in the run up to Lent, the gorgeous Spanish city of Sitges hosts an extravagant and enticing carnival, that consists of a whole variety of celebrations. The carnival consists of a whole array of different performances and parades, such as The Burial of the Sardine, The Extermination Parade and The Debauchery Parade.
Like many European festivals that attract visitors from around the world, Sitges’ carnival is no different, and the friendly locals welcome all visitors. As well as the fun and the excitement involved in the carnival, Sitges itself is an incredibly city that is so worth exploring.
For example, the Maricel Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum that encapsulates guests in a journey from tenth-century artworks until modern day; not to mention, it is housed in a beautiful building with gorgeous interior features and breath-taking views.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, for the Carnival
19th February 2020 – 1st March 2020
Tenerife is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the entirety of Europe, and it is famed for its white sandy beaches and luscious blue oceans. From the end of February until the middle of March, the island becomes alive with celebrations, and attracts so many visitors from across the globe.
Each year, the public selects a theme for the festival, providing it with a high degree of excitement from the very beginning. The Carnival consists of a series of performance, parades and parties, that inject the city with a magical and exciting atmosphere; there are also lots of live performances and great places to eat and drink.
Aside from the festival, Tenerife is a great place to escape to in Europe for some winter sun. Some of the best things to do include spending a day on Playa de las Americas, which is one of the island’s best beaches, with its great variety of water sports and activities, as well as plenty of sand to relax on.
Menton, France, for the Fete du Citron
February 15th, 2020 – March 3rd, 2020
The warm, sunny town of Menton on the French riviera hosts an annual lemon festival, otherwise known as the Fete du Citron. Essentially, the festival is a three-week long tribute to the wonderful lemon fruit, with its abundance of carnivals, parades and performances, all celebrating the lemon.
One of the best thing about the Fete du Citron is that the entire town exudes an enticing lemon aroma for the entire festival. Annually, the festival attracts around 160,000 foreign visitors, and it is rumoured that Queen Victoria attended the festival in the year 1882. This brightly-coloured, vibrant and exciting festival is something that everyone should see.
Menton is located right at the end of the Cote-d’Azur, right next to Italy, so it exudes a truly unique coastal charm; some of interesting things to do here, aside from the Fete du Citron include the Jardin Botanique Exotique du Val Rahmeh.
This immense botanical garden is full to the brim with bright, colourful plants, trees and flowers, and it projects a really exotic atmosphere. The garden is beautiful all year round, and if you are visiting in February for the festival, it follows the theme of nature and beauty.
Read here more about the Menton lemon festival.
Nice, France, for the Carnival
February 15th, 2020 – February 29th, 2020
Perhaps one of the biggest and most popular European festivals that attracts foreign visitors is the Nice Carnival, held annually for two weeks every February. The city explodes into excitement, with its theatrical parades and carnival shows, as well as an array of live bands and performances; the atmosphere is incredible and unforgettable.
In the evenings, there are also firework shows, which look majestic above the Nice’s gorgeous skyline. Another aspect of the Carnival you should definitely see is the flower battle, where literally over 100,000 flowers are unleased and fall from the sky; it is spectacular and incredibly unique.
You might want to check my post about the Carnival of Nice.
Aside form the Carnival, one thing you should certainly not miss out on seeing during your trip to Nice is the Parc du Chateau; this astonishing park has an ancient history, and now is filled with beautiful fountains and trees.
It also offers unbeatable views of the city below, making it the perfect location to view Nice’s famous sunsets from. Back in the city, make sure you spend lots of time taking early evening walks across the promenade, and getting lost in the winding, narrow alleyways of the old town.
Check out my post about things to do in Nice in winter.
Binche, Belgium, for the Carnival
23rd February 2020 – 25th February 2020
Held in the build up to lent, the beautiful Belgian city of Binche holds a wonderful annual festival, which celebrates an annual street Carnival, which has its roots in the fourteenth century. The purpose of the festival is to bring back to life historic traditions, and celebrate Belgian culture; there are a variety of different performances, events and parades, and many of the locals dress up in traditional attire to bring the city’s heritage back to life!
It is a brilliant and exciting event which attracts many international and national tourists alike. Binche itself is an incredible city worth exploring in its own right; make sure that you visit the Francois Duesberg Museum, which is dedicated to decorative arts from the year 1775 until 1825; make sure that you check out the clocks, as they are truly exquisite.
Denmark for the Vinterjazz
January 31st, 2020 – February 23rd, 2020 estimated dates
Every year, across the whole of Denmark, the country celebrates its love of jazz for the annual Vinterjazz festival; during this time, hundreds of Danish musicians and international artists perform an array of jazz styles around the whole country, in various different venues.
The festival covers smaller cities such as Aalborg and Aarhus, all the way the country’s historic jazz epicentre, Copenhagen; if you are travelling to Denmark to specifically see the Vinterjazz, like many foreign tourists do, the best place to visit is Copenhagen, firstly because it has the largest amount of jazz events, and also has a lot of things to see and explore that are not jazz-related.
Explore the historic Nyhavn to discover the famous, brightly covered buildings perched on the harbour, and the many cosy bars and restaurants that reside inside them. Also make sure you check out Tivoli Gardens, which offers visitors an exciting experience full of rides, games and live music. Another great sight to see if the Little Mermaid, which has its origins rooted in a famous fairy-tale, giving it a mystical and enticing atmosphere.
Berlin, Germany, for the International Film Festival
February 20th, 2020 – March 1st, 2020
The Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as Berlinale, is one of the biggest events in film and culture in the entirety of Europe. With over 150,000 tickets sold annually, the event is truly massive, and is popular with film-makers, actors and actresses, as well as film-lovers and general visitors. There is so much going on, such as film parties, discussions, as well as just a general vibrant and buzzing atmosphere.
Aside form the Berlinale, Berlin is a fantastic city, with its fascinating modern history, and unique blend of old and new, it is an exciting metropolis bursting with quirky things to do, see and experience. For example, make sure that you visit some of the city’s famous sites, such as the obvious, the Berlin Wall; discover the controversial history of the wall, and take your time seeing different parts of it.
Also visit the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building; learning something of their history as well as admiring their architectural grandeur is unforgettable. Make sure that you also spend some time exploring traditional German beer-houses, and see if you can manage to drink an entire litre beer!
Check out my 4-day Berlin itinerary.
Paris, France for St. Valentines Day
February 14th, 2020
Paris is famous for being one of the world’s most romantic cities, and what better place to spend the day of love? The perfect European travel destination for a romantic getaway, Paris in February is more romantic than ever.
On the list of things to do is to take a romantic river tour along the river Seine; there are so many companies that offer dinner cruises that range from a smaller budget all the way to a high-end budget, depending on how much you wish to splurge!
A romantic trip to Paris would not be complete without a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower; for decades, the tower has been a symbol of love and epitomises romance. Not to mention, the views are breath-taking, and in February there are likely to be less tourists than the peak months, making it one of the best European cities to visit.
For a romantic dinner on Valentines Day, head towards Montmartre, where the winding cobbled streets scream romance, and the cosy-lit restaurants serve some of the city’s best food.
Check out my 7-day Paris itinerary.
Click here if you are looking for the warmest places to visit in Europe in February.
Wherever you decide to visit in Europe in February, these festivals and events may be helpful in guiding your decision. February is a great month to visit European cities, as there are far less tourists, the weather is cooler, and the ques and crowds are significantly smaller, meaning you can enjoy the smaller things without feeling frustrated. This list has noted the best places to visit in Europe in February, and they are just waiting to be discovered.
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