Spring arrives in Europe at least a month before it does in Canada, so by the time April comes, my thoughts turn to the old continent. Pretty much any part of Europe is great to visit in spring (even Scandinavia, if you wait until later in the season). As an added bonus, airfares are much more affordable than is summer (about $550-$900 CAD return, from Canada).
If you’re looking for spring destinations ideas, I have listed below seven countries which are especially lovely at this time of year.
The air is crisp and the tulips are in bloom, especially if you visit Keukenhof in mid-April. Spring is also a great time to cycle (the Dutch favourite pass time it seems), eat white asparagus, attend the Jazz Festival in Maastricht (late March) and wander the canal-lined streets in Amsterdam. If you’re feeling boisterous, there is also Orange Day (King’s Day) happening on April 27.
Although the water may still be a little chilly, spring is the perfect time for hiking in Greece and seeing wildflowers. Try the island of Crete, or the Pelion region. As mentioned above, it will also be cheaper to fly here (and less crowded) than if you go in summer.
Spring is the best time of year to visit Turkey, with mild temperatures, long days, and less rain than in the fall. It’s considered high-season in Istanbul and Cappadocia, but off-season on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts (a little too cool for swimming) where you may be able to snatch good deals. Did you know that there are also tulips in Turkey? In fact, this is where they originated from!
Talking of flowers, Japan is another country where you can witness a floral phenomenon in spring: the famous sakura (cherry blossoms) which attracts visitors and locals alike. Good places to see blossoms are Ueno Park in Tokyo, and the Osaka Mint, among many others. The weather in spring is also comfortable for sightseeing, although by mid-May it is already getting hot and humid in central Japan.
Spring in the northern hemisphere corresponds to fall down-under, and this is a great time to visit the southern part of Australia which can get really hot in summer. The oceans will still be warm enough to swim in March. February to April also correspond to grape harvest in the wine regions, a good time to visit Australian wineries.
This is another wine country which is enjoying fall during our northern hemisphere spring (March-May). The temperatures are more moderate than during summer and make walking around more pleasant, especially in cities like Buenos Aires and Córdoba. It’s the perfect time to visit the wineries in the western part of the country (Mendoza, San Rafael, Cafayate).
Peru & Bolivia
Spring (and also fall) is an ideal time to visit these two Andean countries, especially if you plan to hike the Inca trail, or do one of the other multi-day treks in the highlands. The weather will be dry, not too cold, and the paths will not be muddy. If you are camping, remember that nights can be quite cold (near freezing) at altitude, especially in June (or September).
Bonus destination: Eastern Canada
It doesn’t get warm here until mid-May, but the provinces of Québec, Ontario, and the Maritimes do have one unique feature that you will find nowhere else (except a few areas in the northeastern USA): maple syrup! Depending on the year, the maple sap starts flowing sometime between mid-March and mid-April, and is used the make the famous maple syrup. During this time of year, people go to sugar shacks to stuff their faces with traditional foods and copious amounts of maple syrup and maple taffy (which is rolled on snow into lollipops). Some small towns, such as Elmira (Ontario), also host maple festivals.
What other spring destinations would you recommend? Share your ideas with other travel nuts!