Spring lifts the spirits of travellers all around the world, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom. For many, there's no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are our editors' picks of the best places to visit in the spring.
Spring in Japan is simply stunning, and the cherry on the cake is the annual hanami (cherry blossom) celebrations. Head to Osaka in early April to see the city's castle rise high above a sea of petals, or walk through the Expo 70 Commemorative Park beneath a canopy of pink.
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Portugal is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with Lisbon and Porto leading the way. Cities aside, spring is a beautiful time of year for the Rota Vicentina, a network of walking trails on the west coast of Portugal’s Alentejo region. There’s an inland route – the Historical Way – that passes through charming towns, or the sea-scraping Fishermen’s Trail. Along the latter, cliff-top paths offer stunning ocean views, lined by aromatic shrubs and flowers. In the sky above you might spot the odd huge silhouette – the native storks should be returning from their winter holidays around now too.
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Mardi Gras isn't the only reason to make a trip down to New Orleans. Louisiana’s capital is just as enchanting once carnival comes to an end. Spend a day soaking up the faded beauty of the French Quarter’s backstreets in the sunshine. Then, head to Frenchmen Street in the Marigny for a night of live jazz and cocktails.
Amsterdam really comes to life from April onwards, as cafés and bars spread out over the cobbled streets. Tourist numbers are lower than in the summer months too. Get to know the city's ins and outs in a canal-boat ride, or take a trip to the unforgettable Keukenhof gardens. 25km out of town, tulips bloom in spectacular colours from late-March to mid-May in beautiful ornamental arrangements.
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The Wye Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and for good reason. The river itself is fantastic for canoeing and kayaking, and the hills will please walkers. And, even if you're not into birdwatching you'll rejoice at the sight of the gorgeously flecked goshawk engaging in its so-called ‘sky dance’. Its mate-attracting display of flying prowess is a spring phenomenon.
Travelled on foot, by bike or car, the scenic 400km Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen takes in medieval walled towns, traditional villages with half-timbered houses, vineyards and the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein. It's undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Europe in spring. This picture-perfect route through Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg was created to attract visitors after WWII. More than sixty years later it's hugely popular and often overrun by the summer months. Go in spring instead and enjoy the bright greens and chilly mornings.
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Cornwall is packed with good restaurants – and plenty of activities to help burn off all that delicious food. Set out for a wander on the moors as spring flowers bloom, or go a dip in the sea if you're brave (or mad). Don't worry if a spring storm rolls in while you're visiting – the waves make for an incredibly dramatic scene.
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The Loire Valley’s sleepy villages are just shaking off their winter chill around now, while out in the vineyards buds are starting to burst and wildflowers are cropping up along the riverside. Whether you’re in search of a truly memorable cuvée or the most magnificent château, spring is a great time to visit.
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For active types, the popular seaside town of Essaouira makes for a perfect long weekend getaway in spring. With pleasant temperatures and strong winds – locally known as the alizee – it's a prime location for windsurfing and kitesurfing. It's one of the best places to visit in the spring for adventure enthusiasts. And if you're not drawn to the waters, you can enjoy afternoons strolling past the whitewashed and blue-shuttered houses, nipping into art galleries and sipping on mint tea.
The jagged Brittany coastline is a wonderful place to explore – full of secret coves, quiet beaches, and spots to sup cider and watch the world drift by. Springtime is a particularly appealing season. Charter a boat and head to the Îles de Glénan for a spectacular display of colour, then enjoy a well-earned crêpe complete in a cosy crêperie.
Top image: Porto Covo beach in Alentejo, Portugal © Vitaly Fedotov/Shutterstock