Flowers begin to bloom, the skies change to lighter shades of blue and the weather becomes more and more pleasant.
Spring is the perfect shoulder season for travelling, and many destinations come into their own during the spring months.
From admiring beautiful cherry blossom in Japan to celebrating iconic festivals in India, this is our guide on where to travel in spring.
Every spring, in March and April, Japan is coated in cherry blossoms. It’s notoriously difficult to predict exactly when the cherry blossom will bloom in each city and how long it will last for, but if you visit during the spring months, you’re sure to catch a glimpse of the beautiful pink flowers. During this time of the year, the streets of all of Japan’s major cities transform into charming walkways.
In Osaka, the ancient Osaka castle is a wonderful sight during cherry blossom season. Constructed in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, Osaka castle is the largest in the city. In the years since its construction, it has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times, but it still retains its lovely old world charm. The castle is surrounded by a moat and park with plum, peach and cherry trees, so it’s a beautiful spot to spend time relaxing in during cherry blossom season.
The cherry blossom in Kyoto usually blooms in the last week of March through to the middle of April. It’s hard to predict just when the cherry blossom will appear and how long it will last,but there are plenty of beautiful sights to see in Kyoto, regardless of when you go. The abundance of grand pre-war buildings in Kyoto means it is a city that transports travellers to a completely different era. The grand palaces, traditional “machiya” townhouses and ornate shrines dotted throughout the city all look incredible when lined with pink sakura flowers, as well. Ryoanji rock garden and the Golden and Silver Pavilion temples are also must see spots during spring.
Capital city Tokyo has no shortage of incredible cherry blossoms during March and April. Despite being home to more than 13 million residents, this bustling cityscape houses no fewer than four national parks amongst other green spaces, which are delightful during spring. The UNESCO recognised Ogasawara National Park and the beautiful gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace are both beautiful when painted pink with the blossoms’ blooms. The Hamarikyu Garden and Ueno Park are also great places to escape the bright lights of the city and enjoy the spring weather.
During April and May, peak tulip season arrives in the Netherlands. It’s likely there’ll be a fair few crowds, but when you reach spots such as the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens, it’s easy to see why people make the journey. Just south of Amsterdam, the colourful Keukenhof Gardens are located in a charming town called Lisse. Each year, more than 7 million bulbs are planted in autumn, all of which bloom in spring. Over 800 different tulip varieties are meticulously arranged in the gardens – the scale is truly unimaginable.
Keukenhof Gardens is a great place for families, as the horticultural displays are accompanied by unique artworks and fun-filled events. Each year, the gardens are dedicated to a specific theme, and the flower displays, artworks and events are adjusted accordingly. There are 10 miles (15 kilometres) of hiking trails through the gardens, which are perfect for leisurely strolls or for budding photographers to capture the perfect shot of the tulips in bloom. Open from March to May each year, the Keukenhof Gardens are a sight not to be missed.
Morocco is a cornucopia of colourful medinas, incredible mountains and vast desert. As a country that offers such a variety of landscapes, Morocco is a must-visit on many bucket lists. For many travellers, the most difficult decision when it comes to visiting Morocco is deciding when to go. In the summer months, temperatures are unbearably hot and in winter, some nights in the desert drop to below freezing. Spring is the perfect time to visit for warm and sunny but comfortable temperatures. The spring months are a great time for exploring cities, climbing mountains or sleeping out under the stars in the desert.
March to May are particularly good months to wander through the souks of cities like Marrakesh and Fes. Days are sunny and the air is fresh, but temperatures don’t become stifling. In Marrakesh, the vibrant souks sell everything from fragrant spices to Berber carpets, and the bustling market place square Jemaa el-Fnaa hosts storytellers, musicians and performers. In Fes, a city with just a fraction of Marrakesh’s tourist footfall, travellers can get an unfiltered look into Moroccan culture. Wandering through the three spirited districts of Morocco’s cultural and religious capital is a great way to spend the spring months.
In Portugal, the height of summer can be very hot and busy, so visiting in spring is best if you really want to explore. In northern Portugal, the Douro Valley is home to its very own microclimate, so temperatures become pleasant as early as March. This area of Portugal is a hotspot for wine tasting, so it’s perfect for food and wine lovers. Formally demarcated as a wine region in 1756, the Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in the world: wine has been produced there for some 2,000 years. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage protected landscape, and is most famous for its port produce.
The stunning rolling green hills of the Alto Douro Wine Region make it the perfect place to enjoy a hike before indulging in some wine tasting. A pleasant 7 kilometre (4.3 mile) hiking trail is flanked by vineyards on either side and follows the path of the delightful Douro River. At the end of the hike, travellers are rewarded with a visit to the Quinta da Pacheca estate, a historic winery that has been bottling under its own name since 1738. Before enjoying a tasting, travellers can soak in the surroundings with a full tour of the grounds and a gourmet picnic lunch. During the spring months, few experiences beat enjoying a spot of wine tasting and a leisurely stroll through the Douro Valley.
A diverse country that is impossible to summarise in one statement, India is a land best visited between October and March. In the national parks, animal sightings are better from February onwards when there’s less foliage and March brings with it the arrival of vibrant festivals. During this time of year, the weather is sunny but not too humid, so it’s perfect for an in-depth exploration.
The world renowned Holi festival tends to fall sometime in March each year, so visiting in spring allows travellers to revel in one of the country’s biggest celebrations. The Holi festival welcomes the arrival of spring and summer and is a celebration dedicated to fertility, colour and love, whilst also signifying the triumph of good over evil. During the festival, the whole of India takes to the streets with coloured paint powder and water balloons. Everyone douses each other in colour, and music, dance and traditional sweets are also an integral part of the celebration. There’s nothing quite like being covered in coloured paint and dancing amongst the locals; spring is the best time to visit India to learn about the local culture.
When it comes to France, Paris is more often than not the go-to destination. Sometimes though, and especially in the spring, getting out into the countryside is a much more rewarding experience. Just a few hours drive from Paris, the Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful places in France. Home to breathtaking chateaux and scenic gardens, the Loire Valley is best visited in May when the flowers in the gardens begin to bloom. This romantic region is extremely beautiful, having rightly been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Considered the ‘Garden of France’ thanks to its fertile farmlands, the Loire Valley is also an area renowned for its viticulture. It’s a real treat if you’re partial to fine wines, as the region produces everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir. Set amongst old woodland, beautiful meadows and verdant hills, the Loire Valley is renowned for its countryside charm. While you’re there, you can tour vineyards and chateaux, pick up gourmet specialities at the local farmer’s market or cycle through the pretty countryside.
The seasons in Argentina are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere, so April to June is the country’s autumn. This is the best time to visit Buenos Aires, with pleasant mild temperatures, fewer crowds and colourful foliage all features of the season. The capital city tends to be more humid around December and January, so spring is the perfect time to explore the endless restaurants, galleries and museums in this vibrant city. The spring months are also a good time to visit the spectacular Iguassu Falls and go hiking in Salta and the northwest of the country. Domestic tourism to Iguassu Falls tends to peak around Easter, so bear this in mind if you’re planning a trip to this world wonder and prefer things a little quieter.
One of Argentina’s most exciting regions to visit in Spring is Patagonia. Argentina’s Lake District and El Calafate offer ideal getaways for adventure seekers. Snow-capped peaks, forested slopes and crystalline lakes and rivers are all ripe for exploration. Choose from hiking, mountain biking or ice climbing – they’re all great ways of seeing Argentina from a different perspective.
A bucket list country for any lover of the outdoors, New Zealand has some of the world’s best hiking and with a population of just 4.6 million it’s easy to get a piece of this spectacular scenery all to yourself. This Australasian slice of paradise also has a fascinating history and culture, as well as a fresh and inspiring food scene. Thanks to its remote location and small population, you can discover this country’s treasure trove of wonders away from any crowds and get an authentic taste of the life that is lived and loved by its inhabitants.
Spring is the best time to visit this island nation for a variety of reasons. From March to April, New Zealand‘s world-class wine is being harvested, so there’s plenty of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc floating about. It’s also the perfect time to take to the skies and enjoy a scenic flight or helicopter ride over the verdant terrain below, as blue skies offer an unrivalled view of the country’s peaks and lakes.