Head off on the spur of the moment for a loved-up escape this February
Savour snowdrop season
Why go? The first flowers of spring are already carpeting the North Norfolk countryside. Walsingham Abbey opens its grounds from early February and you can follow the snowdrop walking-trail along the banks of the River Stiffkey to the sea. The windswept tidelines and sand dunes of Holkham Nature Reserve are right on the doorstep – the marshy flats will be teeming with waders, geese, hawks and harriers.
Where to stay: Machrimore is a peaceful boutique B&B in nearby Wells-next-the-Sea (doubles £40).
Getting there: Drive along the A148, 30 miles from King’s Lynn.
Culture, culture, culture
Why go? Maribor is this year's European Capital of Culture and it’s easy to see why on a walk around the old city walls, past red Slovenian rooftops, baroque towers and large squares. For culture try the 15th century Maribor Castle, fortified ruins on Piramida Hill or the gothic-style cathedral. Pohorje Mountain dominates the skyline: you can sit in a café and watch the skiers swish down the slopes!
Where to stay: Tourist Farm Joannes is set in lush vineyards just outside of Maribor and offers transfers (doubles €24/£21).
Getting there: Ryanair flies daily to Graz, Austria (£42 return). From there it’s a 30-min drive or train (six a day; €28) to Maribor.
Sun and souks
Why go? It’s a year since the revolution that changed the face of North Africa and capital Tunis is welcoming tourists with open arms. Roam around the archaeological ruins of Carthage on the turquoise coast, thread through the narrow streets of the UNESCO-listed Medina and let the smell of spices wash over you in the bustling souks. A 20-min bus will transport you to the blue-and-white village of Sidi Bou Said, an age-old hilltop Mecca for artists and boho travellers.
Where to stay: The Dar Said is a mid 19th century hotel du charme in the Sidi Bou Said suburb (doubles from £140).
Getting there: Tunis Air flies once daily from Heathrow to Tunis; returns from £168 (3hrs).
Québec Carnival capers
Why go? Ever fancied dog-sledding through the local streets? The world's largest winter carnival, the Québec Winter Festival runs from Jan 27-Feb 12 so warm yourself up with a flapjack before taking part in some of the huge range of activities on offer: skating, snow rafting, sleigh rides, snow sculpting and night parades – a demi-French, demi-Canadian winter wonder!
Where to stay: Refuge du Faubourg offers chalets, condos or rooms inclusive of a two-day Carnival pass (doubles from £70).
Getting there: Return flights operate daily with United Airlines via New York from £547 (11 hrs incl of stop).
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