It’s a sweet spring this year in the UK with three long weekends practically stacked on top of each other. First is Easter, then the Royal Wedding (Friday, April 29th has been declared a national holiday) and then May Day the following weekend. With more than enough chances to get away, these destinations are sure to inspire.
Spring is when this city is buzzing. It’s hard to leave after you relish in the capital of Catalonia for a few days. The Mediterranean, the delicious food, the shopping, the art… While the weather will be fine for taking in the city sights, don’t overlook a day-trip to the countryside to visit some of the region’s vineyards. There is nothing better than renting a car and hitting the open road for the day. Head towards Tarragona and don’t miss the first stop: Freixenet. Next is Codorníu in Sadurní d’Anoia, a quaint town worth spending the day in. For tours of the wineries, call ahead to book a time.
After months of cold and darkness, spring is without a doubt the best time to visit Sweden. All the locals are out on the streets enjoying the first of the good weather. The city’s cultural scene explodes, people spill out of cafés, preferring the outdoor patios to the tables indoors and the city breaks out of hibernation. For the artistically inclined, hit up Fotografiska Museet at Stadsgårdshamnen (Sara Moon is on display) and then to Moderna Museet at Skeppsholmen (Jean Loup Seif / Jutta Koether exhibits). This year the Vasa Museum, housing the world’s only intact 17th century ship, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Don’t miss Stockholm this spring!
Bangkok is hot in the springtime, daily temperatures can easily soar above 35°C in April and May. That being said, the weather doesn’t seem to be deterring travellers from heading to the capital of Thailand this season. If the heat is too much, duck into a temple or a city museum, it’s also a good excuse to sleep in late. When evening rolls around, hit the streets. Grab some local street food and sit down for a drink on an open-air patio. Bangkok Songkran Frestival (April 13-15th) is the perfect excuse to get away. It’s traditional Thai New Year and you can catch the parties around the Grand Palace in Sanam Luang and on Khao San Road.
Taking a trip to Rome has been fashionable long before Roman Holiday came out with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck selling the city to the world as a fun, frivolous and exciting city to experience. Spring is the best time for sightseeing, the city is cool but the sun is warm enough to indulge in the sweetness of gelato. If you head to Rome during Easter holidays, expect prices to be jacked up! There is an open-air mass on Palm Sunday held in St. Peter’s Square. Outside the city, locals flock to parks and the countryside to enjoy the sun and family picnics. In April the city hosts a unique “open house” even where private owners of historical properties open their doors to the public for a weekend. Don’t miss this! For a more unique visit, check out Secret and unusual Rome: 10 places off the tourist path.
The hype around Dubai hasn’t died down, especially not for Britons this year. Once April hits, the weather heats up really fast. Daily average temperatures are over 30°C but can easily hit 40°C by the end of April (note: pack sunblock!). Shopping is the main lure for tourists and what better place to spruce up your spring/summer wardrobe than Dubai? There are 70 shopping malls, including the 7th biggest in the world (Dubai Mall). While department stores and boutiques have a fixed-price system, don’t be afraid to bargain in the marketplaces in the souk district. Qatar Airways and KLM fly from London to Dubai for £316 and £325 (rtn, tax incl) respectively for trips from March 31st to April 7th. 2011.
“Low season” is music to any budget traveller’s ears. It’s your chance to find cheap hotels in Paris that are centrally located, almost impossible to find in the summertime. While Paris has its share of tourists all year round, the city is still relatively quiet in April and May, the perfect time to visit and not wait 10 hours in line for the Louvre! One of the city’s best kept spring secrets are its fairs, two of which are definitely worth checking out if you find yourself some cheap flights to the French capital this spring. Foire de Paris runs from late April to early May and revolves around three things: wine, food and design. Foire du Trone is more carnival-style that transforms one corner of Paris back to the 12th century; it’s great for kids!