To get us through to the end of winter, the best idea is to have a holiday in spring to look forward to. This is where to head for warmer climes, adventure and culture
As winter recedes, we have all the glory of spring ahead of us. Time, therefore, to plan an escape before the maelstrom of travelling in high summer kicks in. Europe, at its beautiful best between late March and mid-June, is the top pick but there are other global destinations when UK springtime is also an excellent time to visit.
As we all know, southern European summers are getting hotter and hotter – so culture vultures should make the most of spring. High up on everyone’s list of sights to see should be the Alhambra - one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world - overlooking the Andalucian city of Granada. Take note, the palace takes at least a day to visit and tickets/tours should be booked well in advance.
Stay: Splash out at the famous Parador de Granada, a former 15th-century convent which sits within the grounds of the Alhambra Palace.
Following the devastating earthquake in September 2023, Morocco needs our love. Early spring is a beautiful time to visit when the Atlas Mountains are still snow-capped and hot days still give way to cooler nights. Marrakesh is the obvious starting point (base yourself in the heart of the action in the medina) for a day or two of culture and shopping, then breeze out of the city for a chill-out in the nearby countryside.
Stay: Seven-suite Riad Mena, once one of Marrakech’s grandest homes, has the added advantage of partnering with Berber Lodge, a 30-minute drive outside the city and in every way the most exquisite of rural retreats.
A perennial favourite for sun worshippers and an excellent choice for families as there is little jetlag – even if the flight is long. May and June tend to be drier and cooler than the hotter, wetter tropical months of the southern hemisphere’s summer. Mauritius’s Indian Ocean star was somewhat eclipsed by the rise in popularity of the Maldives, but this island has always offered great beaches, great hotels and plenty of nature-loving adventures in its gloriously mountainous interior.
The southern Mediterranean location of Aphrodite’s island gives it a spring time advantage over Greece in terms of early warmth and sunshine. While the beach is never far away, this is the perfect time to head for the hills, or the Troodos Mountains to be more precise, for an activity holiday walking or cycling under blue skies and amongst the blush of spring flowers.
Stay: the picturesque village of Lefkara, the perfect base for both mountains and sea, has a new boutique hotel – The Agora. It’s adults-only with a focus on outdoor activities. Bikes can be rented on site.
Mid-April to mid-June is the best time to visit Botswana – particularly the Okavango Delta given that the rains of the previous months have replenished water levels and turned the landscape green. The weather becomes increasingly dry allowing for excellent bird watching and game viewing, and the camps and lodges tend not to be quite as busy as the back end of summer or early autumn when prices peak. Combine a trip to the Okavango with a few days in the Savuti to make the most of both a water- and land-based safari.
Stay: This all depends on budget. Botswana is the most expensive country in southern Africa so accommodation is expensive. Try Bushman Plains camp (the only safari camp to be majority-owned by local bushmen) in the Okavango Delta; choose Savuti Camp for unbridled luxury in the Savuti.
Springtime is all about gardens. You could schlepp all the way to Japan for the cherry blossom but, quite honestly, why bother when there are so many exquisite gardens on our doorstep – all at their finest in May and June. Hop across the Channel to France and join a garden tour – there are several companies offering these, be it Martin Randall Travel, the Land Gardeners, or Susan Worner Tours, to name but three – all of which combine excellent accommodation and food with horticultural expertise.
‘See Naples and die,’ so the saying goes, in reference to the southern Italian city allegedly so captivating that one need look upon no other in a lifetime. While you may not altogether agree, there is no doubting the allure of this dilapidated, historical metropolis where art, architecture and a general sense of frenetic disorder collide. Explore the city’s numerous treasures, absorb the views of Mount Vesuvius, load up on pizza, then tootle up the Amalfi coast for a bit of R&R.
Stay: Four-bedroomed Casa d’Anna, a 10-minute walk from the historical centre, overflows with genuine Neapolitan character and flair.
By springtime in the UK the Caribbean has drifted out of the high season. Yes, the temperature and humidity increase as the months go by, but prices come down - a good time to go, therefore, to catch a genuine blast of heat and warm seas. Head to Grenada, the Spice Island, which not only benefits from direct UK flights but is also one of the lushest, prettiest, most colourful islands with plenty to do: there are rum distilleries, waterfalls and gardens to visit, rainforest-clad hills to walk in, and beaches and waterborne activities aplenty.
Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, much of the Levant is off-limits at the moment. Turkey, however, is also best visited in spring particularly for those wishing to travel around a bit absorbing the country’s history, landscape and culture. Be sure to include the central, semi-arid region of Cappadocia in any itinerary and take an iconic balloon ride above the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations of the spectacular Goreme Valley.
Spring is a great time to hit the road in the USA, particularly down south before the steamy heat of summer sets in. An enviable route is to start in the picturesque, South Carolina city of Charleston (great food, beaches, colour, cobbles and history) and make your way to Nashville in Tennessee, the capital of Country Music. Time the trip it to coincide with CMA, the world’s biggest country music festival which runs for four days in early June.
This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.