Balmy weather, pretty flowers, and reasonable prices make spring one of the best times of the year to travel. Our 10 favorite spring destinations will help you make the most of the season, with three destinations picked for their flora at this time of year; four more proposing terrific international cities worth seeing between April and June – before the arrival of summer crowds and jacked-up prices; and three finalists that make great sun-and-sand escapes – even with winter over!
While much of the Caribbean can become unbearably hot after April, the three remarkable ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) are located largely outside of the hurricane belt and typically blessed with balmy dry weather all year long. Beautiful stretches of sand, swaying palms, and aquamarine waters are sufficient incentive to visit any of these three South Caribbean isles, but each is quite different from the other: Aruba touts long sandy shores, striking desert-like vistas, and a host of grand all-inclusive resorts and flashy casinos while Bonaire, considered one of the world's best diving destinations, is relatively undeveloped and ideal for a tranquil getaway. Curaçao, meanwhile, is the largest of the lot and boasts plenty of island culture, a tasty liqueur that bears its name, and an incredibly cosmopolitan capital, Willemstad. If you’re looking to enjoy some Caribbean paradise after April, the ABCs have got you covered as optimum spring destinations.
Tulips, above all other flowers, have come to symbolize the season, which is why Amsterdam – the capital of the world's best-known tulip-producing country, the Netherlands – makes our list of spring destinations. April and May are the best times to see the graceful flowers abloom in the city’s markets and public gardens, while tulip festivals in the heart of “bulb country” beckon as day trips. You needn’t be a flora fanatic to love spring in Amsterdam, however, since warm days in this Venice of the North are also tailor-made for strolling the 1,000-plus bridges that span the city’s 165 canals. Better yet, hop on a boat and spend the afternoon in the water, cruising past a whirl of monuments, gabled Dutch houses, and city cyclists.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Amsterdam Travel Guide.
Arizona has a lot more to see than idle tumbleweeds and cactus-lined desert roads. In fact, the Southwestern state is home to some of the globe’s most spectacular natural landscapes, including the breathtaking Grand Canyon. Trying to comprehend the vastness of nature’s forces in this colorful canyon is nothing short of mind boggling. Equally stunning are the dramatic red rock buttes and pinnacles that cradle the state’s splendid new age town of Sedona. Pleasant temperatures are the main reason Arizona tops our list of spring destinations – the heat can be positively scorching in summer – but we also love the season for the wildflowers, like the sweet white blossoms that bloom on saguaro cacti, which you’ll see en route.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Arizona Travel Guide.
While summer can be quite hot and humid in this European hot spot, Hungary’s capital city of Budapest makes for a glorious spring destination. Known as the Paris of Eastern Europe, Budapest is blessed with a spectacular setting along the Danube and splendid blue skies to match. Stunning architecture, cosmopolitan monuments, quiet residential streets, and charming open-air courtyards where children play and gardens grow are just some of the highlights of a stop here, but springtime brings festive picnics along the riverbanks and lazy afternoons spent shooting the breeze in ornate local coffeehouses.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Budapest Travel Guide.
Often touted as “the most beautiful city in the world,” Cape Town is at its best experienced as a spring destination – when fall is underway in South Africa. Flanked by spectacular natural scenery, this cosmopolitan city is still warm come autumn (around 70 degrees) so the beaches are still welcoming – while the frosty Atlantic Ocean along their shores is not (but then, it rarely ever is). Aside from delighting in near-perfect temperatures, refreshing sea breezes, and vistas of the famous Table Mountain blanketed in a layer of auburn leaves, this time of year is also harvest season in the Cape region which means plenty of opportunities to sample award-winning wines. One of the best times to do just that is early May, at the annual Waterfront Wine Affair (www.waterfront.co.za), the largest wine event in town. Outside the city, several wine routes lead you through thriving vineyards and charming Dutch villages. Imagine sitting with a glass of wine in hand, gazing onto the sprawling vineyards that stretch towards the distant ocean . . . for some of us, nothing is more divine.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Cape Town Travel Guide.
Split by a narrow channel – the Bosphorus – which puts part of Istanbul in Europe and part in Asia, this marvelous Turkish metropolis is like no other city on earth. Straddling two continents whose traditions couldn’t be more different, Istanbul is a fascinating mix of Western enclaves, Byzantine ruins, glorious mosques, magnificent palaces, and colorful souks. Starting in April, clement temperatures kick in after months of winter rain, but hotel prices remain low and crowds few on the ground, making this enticing city a leading spring destination, before the hot, humid, and extremely crowded (and pricier) summer months arrive. Plus, with Turkey angling for admittance to the European Union, Istanbul is on the cusp of major change – putting it on the top of our list of cities to watch.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.
Boasting impressive historical relics, brilliant coastal settings, and heavenly gastronomic fare, the Mediterranean island republic of Malta is much beloved by the select few who know of it; Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, among other celebrities, certainly raved about it after sampling the island’s unique offerings while filming Troy on its shores (in 2003). Indeed, Malta’s crystal-clear waters, magnificent beaches, hilltop bastions, colossal temples, limestone cliffs, and arid rural landscapes combine to create an uncommonly stirring spring destination. You can get the most out of a trip by visiting between April and June, when the rainy winter months have ended and summer prices and temperatures have yet to peak.
No city on the planet is more synonymous with spring destinations than Paris – and with good reason. French joie de vivre is never more evident, or more captivating, than when spring comes to this romantic city on the Seine. Locals idle at sidewalk cafés to people watch and fashion spot while gossiping over café au lait. Or, they linger in one of the numerous city parks – revered urban oases where carefully manicured French floral arrangements make colorful tributes to the onset of the season. Mild evenings also lend themselves spectacularly well to admiring the city's floodlit monuments from the decks of a river cruise boat. Of course, you could also just stretch out along the banks of the Seine with a bottle of wine, a baguette, and some cheese. Best of all, you can enjoy it all without having to deal with higher summer prices – or the throngs of people who typically descend on the City of Lights then.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.
Tokyo’s dizzying array of attractions, from ancient temples and landscaped gardens to towering skyscrapers and bustling markets, are reason enough to visit this exotic city, but the pleasant temperatures and bloom of the city's famed cherry blossoms, a short-lived affair that unfolds for about a week each April, are what makes Tokyo especially captivating as a spring destination. Ueno Park is among the most popular spots to see the fabled blossoms; masses of locals and tourists congregate here to socialize, knock back sake, and belt out songs (with the help of portable karaoke machines) on blankets strewn below 1,200 cherry trees. Stick around for a nighttime stroll through the park, when paper lanterns illuminate the blossoms to especially breathtaking effect.
For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Tokyo Travel Guide.
Closer to home, the dazzling views of cherry blossoms burgeoning along the Potomac make spring the best time to visit Washington, D.C., too. The pretty pink flowers frame the American capital’s famous national monuments in early April every year – a natural event celebrated with parades and hi-jinks as part of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival (www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org). The mild weather is just the thing for walking the grassy expanse of the National Mall, too: a gravel path encircles all the major sights – the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial among them – and a massive green space where spring concerts and fairs are often held. Catch a show, picnic on the grass, or just meander from museum to museum . . . there's no shortage of sights to see – the only downside is that droves of seasonal visitors are doing the exactly same thing.