Six cheap February half term destinations nobody else is thinking of

January’s long, dark days are the perfect time to start planning for warmer climes. While this month often feels interminable, February half-term is less than four weeks away – and there are deals to be found, if you’re prepared to deviate from the obvious winter-sun destinations.

Ryanair has returns from Manchester to Alicante in half-term week from as little as £33pp. The popular summer sun destination on the Costa Blanca enjoys some of the highest winter daytime temperatures of anywhere in mainland Europe, with daily averages of 16°C to 17°C and low rainfall.

Elsewhere, one-way fares to the Albanian capital of Tirana are as low as £13. Opting for a package deal – particularly in popular summer holiday destinations – can also prove economical.

According to Skyscanner, the trending destinations over the half-term break include the US, Spain, Ireland, Thailand and Italy. The platform’s travel trends expert, Laura Lindsay, tells i that shopping around can unveil some good fares.

“This is particularly useful when you are trying to get a flight during a busier time like the school holidays,” she says.

“Combining two different airlines or two departure or destination airports could mean a big saving.”

These are six cheap, last-minute holiday options that the masses aren’t thinking of.

Malta

Valetta, Malta
Valetta in Malta (Photo: tunart/Getty)

Malta’s historic capital of Valletta is prone to overcrowding in the busy summer months, making February an ideal time to explore this pretty city.

Valletta is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities, making it the perfect size to explore with little legs in tow. Its history and culture are brought to life at Malta 5D, a cinematic experience that incorporates moving seats, air blasts and water sprays that kids will love, while the explosive sound of the daily cannon fire on the 16th-century Saluting Battery will delight youngsters. In the south of the island, a dedicated Playmobil Fun Park will also keep little ones entertained.

Winter in Malta is mild, with February temperatures in this popular archipelago averaging around 15°C, although it’s worth packing a jumper for the evenings. And according to the Met Office, Malta enjoys higher sea temperatures than in any other part of Europe.

Love Holidays has several packages across the island from £402pp departing Saturday 10 February, including seven nights at the five-star family hotel Grand Excelsior in Valletta for £595 per person including flights and breakfast.

Cyprus

Enjoy a coastal hike in Cyprus (Photo: Ascent Xmedia/Getty)

February enjoys an average daily maximum temperature of 17°C, making it the perfect time to embark on one of this ancient island’s 52 designated walking trails. From lizard-spotting and birdwatching on short trails through forests and national parks, to picturesque coastal hikes that take in ancient temples and sea caves, there are routes for all ages and abilities.

i found packages during half-term from £516pp self-catering at Anemi Hotel & Suites in Paphos, to £588pp all-inclusive at Atlantica Oasis Hotel in Limassol, both departing 10 February from London Gatwick with Tui.

Morocco

The elevated view of Djemaa El-Fna, located within the vibrant Medina of Marrakesh. This expansive and bustling square attracts a multitude of people, as they navigate through the pathways of the old city. Numerous small shops and stalls offer a diverse array of goods, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can be seen strolling around the square, with some engaged in shopping for souvenirs. As the sun sets, the sky transforms into a warm orange hue, serving as a backdrop behind the majestic minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque. The architectural landscape showcases a blend of traditional and modern styles. Surrounding the square are buildings adorned with balconies and windows, housing shops, restaurants, and cafes. The overall ambiance is lively and bustling, making it an irresistible attraction for both tourists and locals alike.
Djemaa El-Fna, located within the vibrant medina of Marrakesh (Photo: Tomasz Bobrzynski/Getty)

Money-saving website Savoo named Marrakech the best value all-inclusive destination in the world in 2023, but if you’re keen to sample the local cuisine, Morocco is an economical choice. According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living database, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs just £2.76, meaning gastronomes can look forward to gorging on tagine and sfenj for a song.

Expect a feast for the senses in the labyrinths of souk Semmarine and Djemaa El Fna, where snake charmers and street performers will make young eyes pop. And with an average temperature of about 20°C, freezing mornings waiting for your delayed commuter train will feel light years away.

i found seven-night packages from £688pp room only at the centrally located Diwane Marrakech flying from London Gatwick with easyJet, where you can save up to £300 on holidays using the code BIGSALE for all new holidays booked up to 5 February.

Tuscany, Italy

A giant paper-mache carnival float moves through the streets of Viareggio during the 150 years of traditional Carnival in Viareggio, Italy on 7 February 2023. From 4 to 25 February 2023, the floats of one of Italy's most famous carnivals parade through the streets of Viareggio. Carnival represents the highest expression of the artistic, historical and cultural heritage of the City of Viareggio. It is a magical, identity-filled celebration that every year reinforces the sense of belonging to the city community, but it is also a collective ritual that is an expression of human civilisation. (Photo by Enrico Mattia Del Punta/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A giant paper-mache carnival float moves through the streets of Viareggio during the 150 years of traditional Carnival in Viareggio, Italy, in 2023 (Photo: Enrico Mattia Del Punta/NurPhoto)

Tuscany is beautiful year-round and visiting in February means fewer crowds and shorter queues outside top museums such as Florence’s Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia.

It’s also carnival time. Every weekend in February, the seaside town of Viareggio plays host to one of Italy’s most famous festivals, with colourful floats, music and fancy dress.

To Tuscany villas has properties across the region beginning at £402 per week based on three sharing, while flights to Pisa start from £150 return.

Costa Blanca, Spain

Cheerful couple of hikers above coastline
Go for a hike in Spain’s national parks (Photo: Vesnaandjic/Getty)

Consider an active winter sun holiday with a difference on the Costa Blanca. Dodge the skyscrapers of Benidorm and go hiking, horseback-riding and cycling in the national parks and mountains of Alicante.

i found a three-bedroom villa with a pool for £680.86 for seven nights with Home to Go, arriving 10 February, in Polpo, a pretty hilltop village a 15-minute drive from Benidorm which Spanish author Miró described as “an oasis on the Costa Blanca”.

Albania

Albania, Durres, Durazzo, main square
Durrës central square in Albania (Photo: Andrea Pistolesi/Getty)

Many visitors to Albania in winter migrate to the mountains for winter sports, but lower-lying areas have a much milder climate. Architecture fans will love the eclectic mix of Ottoman and Soviet-era buildings in Tirana, the country’s capital, where you can also visit the derelict Piramida (a former museum and Nato base), the elegant Et’hem Bey Mosque and Bunk’Art, a gallery in an underground bunker.

Durrës, a summer resort, is 22 miles away. It’s home to archaeological ruins, including a Roman amphitheatre, which includes frescoes and mosaics.

i found return flights from London Stansted to Tirana for £47 with Ryanair departing 12 February, returning 16 February, plus a double room at the three-star Arc Hotel with a mountain view and breakfast for £133 for four nights.