Anyone excited about Spring?
Trees are slowly getting ready to bloom, Europe’s cultural agenda is aligning art and film festivals and we are happy to start planning some weekend adventures.
In March, April, and especially May, some cities in Europe offer the best options: pleasant weather, manageable crowds, and reasonable rates. With softer temperatures, blooming flowers and tasty seasonal cuisine one starts to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And sorry for being dramatic, but winter is not for me and I am looking forward to not hibernating on the weekends 🦔
If you are like me and are more than ready to start planning some exciting outgoings around Europe, continue reading. Here are some vernal vacation ideas that span a range of worthy destinations, from those with mild temps and little jostling for attractions to those that exemplify the season’s spirit of rebirth. If you are looking for inspiration, look no further as this list will provide plenty of ideas. Not only in terms of countries but also in terms of architecture, Instagram spots and restaurants. I’ve included all those important aspects in the specific map of each place. In this way, you can quickly have a glimpse of what each city has to offer. And no, it didn’t take me a glimpse to put these detailed maps together.
Spring, let us welcome you ✈️
Why go in Spring? Fewer crowds to fight
Paris is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. The city’s charm is balanced and carefully preserved. The skyline is protected under UNESCO Heritage rules, which limits buildings to six storeys.
From the cobbled lanes of Montmartre, the vibrant Marais to the grand Georges Haussman-designed central Paris, it’s no wonder that such a lovable city keeps attracting creatives (and couples). Art and Paris go together like café and croissants, champagne and oysters and pretty ladies and flowers.
The romantic appeal of Paris is something in between Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and Funny Face (1957).
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Paris.
Why go in Spring? Sechseläuten, an ephemeral street festival to welcome the season in mid-April
Since its foundation by the Romans about 2,000 years ago, to later becoming Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich has fought wars, educated some well-known poets and produced some of the best Swiss foods (to name a few). All those years of history have given the city a mature kind of allure.
In spring, Zürich is reborn again. With the first rays of sunshine, activity comes back to the garden terraces, weekly markets and hiking paths around the defrosting Lake Zürich. In March, museums begin new exhibitions and in April the Sechseläuten festival takes place.
Don’t miss the stunning Pavilion Le Corbusier, it reopens in May. This colourful museum by the pioneer of Modernist architecture was his last project and the only one in glass and steel exclusively.
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Zürich
Why go in Spring? Porto cinema festival—and a chance to celebrate the Holy Week events in nearby Braga
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, has a vast and interesting history; and its Roman, Celtic and Muslim influences have left behind a rich architectural legacy. This beautiful area of the Douro River has a surprising mix of buildings: Medieval religious architecture, contemporary structures by starchitects Siza and Soto de Moura and the prettiest and quaintest azulejo-tile houses you can imagine.
During Spring, Porto tends to be less crowded than in the summer months and there are some very exciting events going on. The International Film Festival of Porto takes place in late February-beginning of March.
Additionally, the nearby city of Braga celebrates the Holy Week in a spectacular way. The most famous parade, the Passion of Christ, leaves the city fully booked meaning that using Porto as your home base is perhaps the most sensible option. Train rides are €6,20 roundtrip.
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Porto
Why go in Spring? Rooftop frenzy begins
Madrid, Spain’s capital, is popular all year round but it’s around Spring when it becomes most delightful. Temperatures are soft, days are longer and parks are in bloom.
The average building height in downtown Madrid (5-6 stories) meaning that any building with more than 4 stories often hides a potentially interesting spot on its top floor.
Madrid is full of, sometimes unknown, rooftops and the season begins around late March, beginning of April. Check the Top 11 Rooftops of Madrid.
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Madrid
Why go in Spring? Mărțișor, a local tradition marking the beginning of spring, and Women’s Day
Bucharest is an emerging European city where you’ll find Neoclassical architecture proudly standing next to Communist buildings. Long avenues, vintage cafés and buildings with high risk for collapse. A lot of personality within a growing city of which I have high hopes and lots of love (my sister lives there).
© Cosmin Dragomir
In late February-early March, the city is full of mărțișoare. Small symbolic items tied with a red and white entwined cord, the mărțișoare announce the arrival of spring in Romania. Thus, on March 1, according to the tradition, Romanians offer mărțișoare to their loved ones. Anyways, the Capital’s cultural agenda is full of events during this period, including live concerts, unique shows and business events.
The entire city transforms in the spring months when the green parks and the gardens full of colourful and fragrant flowers. There are many such green spaces in Bucharest such as Regele Mihai I (Herăstrău) Park, Tineretului Park, Alexandru Ioan Cuza Park, the Cișmigiu Garden and Carol I Park. Other smaller parks, which are just as beautiful, are Kiseleff Park, Izvor Park, Circului Park, Drumul Taberei Park and Icoanei Garden.
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Bucharest
Why go in Spring? World Whisky month fun
Edinburgh is beautiful in any season, but there is something magical about the capital in Spring. All that said, winters are never easy in this city so the World Whisky month is a much-welcomed event. From the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queen Street, Edinburgh has plenty of places you can enjoy a dram or two. In May expect to find many Edinburgh whisky joints taking part in the celebration.
If whiskey – or alcohol in general – is not your thing, worry not as there are plenty of other events taking place during Spring. For example, the Beltane Fire Festival, an annual participatory arts event and ritual drama festival happening on April 30, 2020 and Edinburgh Marathon Festival, which takes place on May Bank Holiday Weekend – 23/24 May 2020.
On the other hand, if you are sensitive to the cold temperatures, it’s better for you to wait to summer, where the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place. Although I am not sure why they call it summer: last time I visited in August I was wearing wellies and a coat.
Check the map below for inspiration or download the Free Architecture Guide of Edinburgh
Why go in Spring? A full slate of blooms at Chelsea Flower Show
Perhaps leaving the best for the end, London is the cherry of the cake of this list. London is my home, the place that nurtures my creativity and where I’ve discovered some of the most amazing places (and I’ve discovered quite a lot by now). And it’s amazing all year round.
Why should you visit in Spring? I’ll give you some compelling reasons: St. Patrick’s Day, Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and Museums at Night. However, the Chelsea Flower Show is a unique garden show like no other in Europe. Held at Chelsea since 1912, it is the most famous flower and landscape gardens in the world. Highlights to the Chelsea Flower Show include the avant-garde show gardens designed by leading names with Floral Marquee at the centrepiece.
I hope you enjoyed this wish list and that you are able to visit these amazing cities and buildings soon. I’d be delighted to read in the comments your travelling plans and the places you’d really loved. Safe travels ✈️