Although most visitors will choose to travel to Europe in the spring to save some serious bucks, there are many other perfectly acceptable reasons to cross the pond between March and May; the weather, for starters, is much more enjoyable in the springtime. The crowds aren’t as condensed, and there are flowers just about everywhere, from London’s aromatic magnolia trees to Holland’s brimful markets.
Here are six cities that will make you want to pack your bags immediately and jet off to the Old Continent.
I’ve been told Germany is a country of habit; most regions have their own distinct set of customs, culinary or otherwise, which have been passed on from one generation to the next for several centuries. And this is precisely what Germany is all about this year – the country is highlighting its many different living traditions (from the German Beer Purity Law to spooky Walpurgis Night which celebrates spring by “dancing into May” and casting spells on visitors), including Hamburg’s seafaring heritage. The world’s biggest post festival and its majestic regatta gather roughly 1.5 million people and hundreds of ships, from teeny tiny motorboat to historic sailboat and even cruise ships.
If you can’t make it to Sevilla in time for the legendary Easter celebrations, then perhaps the equally famous Feria de Abril will be a better fit. The carnival kicks off at midnight on the second Monday after Easter Sunday with a traditional lighting-up of the fairgrounds, only after which Sevillanos and visitors can start eating tapas, drinking manzanilla, talking, dressing up in traditional costumes and dancing flamenco till dawn. The feria is famous for its 1000+ casetas, ornate and bright marquee tents that host both private and public parties, including one where wine is drawn from a well and poured into buckets.
What better way to welcome spring than by walking around the world’s second largest flower garden, Keukenhof? This luxuriant former hunting ground features approximately 7 million flower bulbs arranged in various and imaginative designs, and spread over some odd 32 hectares. Many tour operators offer hassle-free day trips to Keukenhof from Amsterdam, which includes a drive through Holland’s iconic colourful fields.
Even though there isn’t much going on in Rome in the spring per se, two of the best arguments to visit the city in April and May are the clement weather and sparse crowds. After all, who wants to visit Rome in 40+ degree temperatures? There is only so much gelato one can eat to cool off! Visitors can expect al fresco dinners, (almost) tourist-free attractions and pink azalea-covered Spanish Steps – a sight to behold!
Although not England’s biggest tourist destination, Gloucester in the springtime can only mean one thing: Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. This whimsical event has been held every year since the 15th century on the last Monday of May on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill. The festival as such is pretty self-explanatory: a 9 lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled, and competitors race down the hill after it. While it may not seem like much at first, visitors should be aware that the cheese can reach speeds up to 112 km/h!
The Swiss Travel Pass couldn’t make Switzerland any more beautiful, but it made it easier to visit. The operator recently introduced the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, an eight-day, 1,200 kilometre voyage which underlines the best of Switzerland. Departing from the country’s multicultural metropolis, Zurich, the tour includes stops in Montreux, Lucerne, Interlaken, Zermatt and Lugano to name a few. The ideal trip for first-timers in Switzerland!