Marrakesh, MoroccoJust a few hours flight away is the enthralling city of Marrakesh, where you’ll encounter old-school hustle and bustle the second your plane touches down. Many travellers’ fantasy of Marrakesh is fully-laden souks, exquisite palaces and mystical magic carpets rides – and boy, does this city live up to those expectations! Stay in an authentic riad (homes set around courtyards), learn to whip up traditional Moroccan cuisine at one of the many cooking schools and get your haggle on at the centuries-old souks laden with a cornucopia of treasures. Weather in February: Average 20 degrees C Top 3 Things to do in Marrakesh:
- Lose your head in the historical Djemaa el-Fna, aka the Main Square, where alongside touristy snake charmers, authentic gems can be found. This is the place to shop, dine and people watch. Oh and don’t forget to haggle with the traders – it’s an offence not to!
- Take in the extravagance of the sprawling 19th century Bahia Palace which epitomises Islamic and Moroccan style of architecture.
- Explore the traditional Berber dwellings just outside of Marrakesh on either an authentic camel safari, or if you prefer your vehicles fast, on a quad bike.
Punta Cana, Dominican RepublicThe diverse Caribbean isle of Dominican Republic has long proved popular with travellers, thanks to superb watersports facilities, a wealth of sprawling national parks and fantastic budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts. The region of the same name occupies the eastern coast and plains, and boasts a whole host of well-known resorts from La Romana, Bavaro, Bayahibe and Punta Cana itself. Yes there is mile upon mile of glorious coastline, but there is so much more to experience; striking colonial architecture (Christopher Columbus first set foot here in 1492), quaint fishing villages and lush mangrove lagoons all await. It’d be a crime to just fly and flop! Weather in February: Average 28 degrees C Top 3 Things to do in Punta Cana:
- Get your scuba on in the gloriously warm Caribbean waters; Punta Cana is famed for its shallow waters and an abundance of caverns and wrecks. Take time to explore the well-known La Cueva dive site, which is best from February through to November. The of course there’s the wreck of the cargo ship, the Monica and the wreck of the Astron freighter.
- Explore the very first European settlement in this next of the woods at Santo Domingo; whose carefully preserved colonial legacy earns it’s a highly coveted UNESCO listing. Its here that the mighty Alcazar de Colon stands – the first cathedral in the Americas.
- Enjoy a safari Dominican Republic style! Meet the friendly locals, experience the diverse scenery which spans mountains, valleys, lakes and of course, stunning coastline. Explore traditional sugarcane plantations, try horse riding along the beach and even swim with dolphins.
TenerifeThe lively Canary Islands are just a short (cheap) flight away and the cluster of perennial family favourite islands boast around seven hours of sun per day and is reliably hot in February too. Head of the clan is undoubtedly Tenerife, which boasts soaring sea cliffs, traditional towns, magnificent golden sands (alongside volcanic beaches), majestic Mount Teide and more annual fiestas than you can shake a stick at! There are resorts to suit all budgets and tastes; from the lively south with its chic boutiques, superb watersports facilities and championship golf courses; to the wild and rugged north with its wealth of colonial architecture, authentic fishing villages and vast botanic gardens. Weather in February: Average 21 degrees C Top 3 Things to do in Tenerife:
- Climb mighty Mount Teide, which at 12,198 feet (3,718 meters) tall, offers breathtaking views over the Canary Islands; squint and you may even glimpse Africa in the distance! And if you don’t fancy the hike, take the cable car up instead!
- Admire the pretty colonial town of Garachico, which takes a step back in time; horse drawn carriages click-clack along narrow streets, overlooked by the impressive 16th century Iglesia de Santa Ana church and the imposing Castillo de San Miguel fortress.
- Descend into the pristine Masca Valley Bay on a 2/3 hour hike which offers spectacular views along the way, culminating in a gorgeous little bay where you can take a swim. Don’t forget you’ve got to climb back up again!