Europe in April – start planning now

Oyster.com
Published: 2/13/2020 12:18:10 PM
Modified: 2/13/2020 12:18:00 PM

Whether you’re planning a family trip during spring break, a romantic getaway for two, or a solo trek, Europe in April is a great destination.

Why? For starters, flights to Europe are cheaper than they will be in the height of the summer. That also means that Europe’s most famous destinations will be a lot less crowded. The weather across most of Europe also drastically improves as the spring gets into full swing – you may even find hot days in the Canary Islands and Sicily in late April. However, you’ll want to pay attention to when Easter hits, as Holy Week can mean variable opening hours and, in some places, huge crowds. But don’t worry – we’ve scoped out the 10 best destinations in Europe for you to visit this April. Read on and get planning.

1. Cinque Terre – Italy

If you’re lusting after a holiday that involves hiking, beautiful views and colorful villages, the Cinque Terre is for you. “The Five Lands” from north to south are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. There are hotels in each of the five villages, or you could choose to stay in nearby Biassa or La Spezia, where the IC trains stop. Many properties in the region will have a daily shuttle to Riomaggiore, and from there you can set your pace of exploring. There’s a train that runs between all five villages, but for those looking for a little more adventure, you should definitely consider the Cinque Terre hike that links the towns and provides amazing scenery. Just make sure that the paths are open when you visit. The trail going south from Monterosso to Vernazza is definitely worth all the steps, as the view of Vernazza is spectacular. Of course, there’s an abundance of fresh seafood in the towns, and you can choose to explore the coast by boat or kayak as well. With temperatures in the mid 60s, and the likelihood of rain diminishing, April is the perfect time to visit Cinque Terre before the summer crowds arrive.

2. Amsterdam

While Amsterdam isn’t exactly warm and sunny in April, this is still one of the best times to visit the city. Why is that? You might have heard of the Netherlands’ most famous flower once or twice: the tulip. If you time your visit to mid-April or later, you’ll arrive at peak tulip season, when the massive fields surrounding the Dutch capital are at their most spectacular. Keukenhof Gardens is the place to see these beauties in bloom, and is only open for 51 days per year (30 of which are during the month of April). It’s about a 35-minute drive from central Amsterdam, though packages that bundle transport and admission are available as well. Of course, there’s plenty to do in the city itself. Amsterdam hosts its own Tulip Festival in April, and several major music festivals generally occur during the month. The Canal Ring and other neighborhoods are packed with restaurants and cafes, and the whole scene is generally just incredibly charming. Make sure to give yourself time to visit major sights like the Rijksmusem, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House as well.

3. Lanzarote, Tenerife and The Canary Islands – Spain

While you shouldn’t expect crowd-free beaches in the Canary Islands in April, it’s hard to argue with almost zero rainfall, sunny skies and warm temperatures after a long, grueling winter. If you’re looking for lively beach vibes and are willing to pay a premium, the hotels of Gran Canaria’s Maspalomas and Tenerife’s Playa de las Americas are certainly alive at this time of year. However, if you’d like something more peaceful and a bit otherworldly, you’d do well to head to Lanzarote or stick to the interior and northern regions of Tenerife. Both offer stunning rugged landscapes that crash into mind-bogglingly blue seas, making for incredible scenery around almost every corner. We recommend renting a car to best reach either island’s beautiful landscapes. On Lanzarote, check out the volcanic terrain of Timanfaya National Park and the picture-perfect crescent bay of Playa de Papagayo. On Tenerife, head to Las Canadas del Teide National Park (or opt for a tour).

4. Lagos, Sagres and The Algarve – Portugal

Looking for warm days and light-jacket nights plus nearly always sunny skies? Head to the Algarve in April. While the water might be too cold for a dip in any of the seaside towns that make up the region, an April visit is perfect for strolling the region’s more charming towns and taking in the dramatic coastal scenery. We recommend spending most of your time in Lagos, which has a hard-to-top charming historic core, along with some of the prettiest beaches (and seaside cliffs) in the region. While April isn’t quite beach season, surfers are certainly more than welcome and eager to get into the water. The beaches of Sagres – the westernmost of the Algarve towns – are legendary for surfing (and far less crowded in April). The landscapes in this region are also unbelievable. Make sure you rent a car to criss-cross the region. Other cool towns include beautiful Tavira, at the eastern edge of the region, as well as the more local inland hills.

5. Paris

Yes – Paris is always a good idea. And Paris in April is a particularly good idea, as this already pretty city is bursting with early blooms. You’ll have to contend with the possibility of wet weather – on average the city sees eight days of rain in April – but that’s all the more excuse to tuck into a romantic cafe, or hit up one of Paris’ incredible museums, like the Musee d’Orsay or the Louvre. The major plus to visiting Paris in April is that you’re safely missing the summer high season in the city, when rates on hotels become prohibitive and flights are sometimes over $1,000 round-trip from the United States.

The likelihood of warmer temperatures also mean that bike tours of Versailles – a must-do for any Paris visitor – are a better bet than in winter.

6. Galway and Western Ireland

While Ireland might not be the first destination that comes to mind for an April vacation in Europe, trust us, it’s worth it. Temperatures are pretty mild – averaging around 55 degrees Fahrenheit – and it usually only rains about nine days out of the month. Of course, this is Ireland, and weather can change on a dime, so you’ll still need to be prepared for potential wet days. We suggest basing yourself in Galway. Here, the charming Latin Quarter makes up the heart of town, and you’ll find tons of friendly bars and buzzing pubs with live music (The King’s Head is a must-see 800-year-old bar.) There are plenty of quaint shops selling Irish crafts, and the River Corrib provides a lovely setting for a romantic walk. Head west of the Corrib for a taste of the local foodie side of town. We suggest taking an excursion to nearby Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. If you feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road, you can rent a car and explore County Galway of nearby County Clare. You’ll see 16th-century castles and fairy tale worthy sights like Kylemore Abbey.

7. Lisbon – Portugal

Portugal’s location in southern Europe makes it an ideal location to visit any time of the year, but mid-spring is all the more enchanting. While much of Europe is still rainy and chilly in April, the average temperature in Lisbon hovers in the high 60s. That makes exploring the city all the more pleasant. There are plenty of shops, historic bars, and cafes throughout the neighborhoods of Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto, and the Alfama. We also recommend St. George’s Castle, dating to the 12th century, which sits on a hill in central Lisbon and has stunning city views. After that, head to Belem, which is an easy and quick tram or train ride to the west. Belem’s historic sights include the Torre de Belem and the incredible Jeronimos Monastery. Another must-do in Belem is a visit to Pasteis de Belem, where the iconic pastel de nata may or may not have been invented in the 1830s. If you’re after something more modern, stop off at the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology) or spend an afternoon at the lively LX Factory, which is packed with cafes, restaurants, vintage sellers, street art, and cool boutiques Other day trips include tours to the whimsical castles of Sintra. Lisbon also happens to be a stellar destination for LGBTQ travelers, with a small, but lively gay bar scene, and even hotels that cater to the community (like The Late Birds Lisbon).

8. Dubrovnik – Croatia

While “Game of Thrones” certainly made Dubrovnik famous, the truth is this stunning Adriatic Sea city has been charming visitors for decades. If you’re in town because of your undying affection for the television series, you’ll quickly notice locations for scenes in King’s Landing, as well as Qarth and Slaver’s Bay. While that attention has translated to massive summer onslaughts of tourists, April in Dubrovnik can be a bit calmer. You’ll get to explore the walls surrounding Dubrovnik’s Old Town – which are some of the most well preserved in Europe – with less crowds. Inside of those walls, Dubrovnik’s quaint streets and alleys are made of stone and lined with bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood and Croatian wine. While the average temperature in April hovers in the mid 50s, you can also expect warmer days that make strolling around all the more pleasant.

9. Sicily – Italy

To say that Sicily is trending is an understatement. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that social media has been lighting up with pictures of its pretty beaches, stunning towns, and beautifully aging (and chaotic) cities. We also happen to think Sicily in April is pretty much perfect. Temperatures are in the mid 60s and skies stay drier than the winter months. You’ll also be missing the hordes of tourists that descend upon historic destinations like Catania and Syracuse, letting you actually enjoy all of the atmosphere. Palermo buzzes year round, and its equally majestic and crumbling core is worth more than a few days of exploring. Keep in mind that public transit it terrible across Sicily, so you’ll want to rent a car to get around. That gives you plenty of opportunity to explore destinations from Mount Etna to Ortigia Island and the ruins of Taormina. Alternatively, you can opt for a tour that hits up a mix of Sicilian historic sights and beautiful natural destinations.

10. Seville – Spain

While we’ve cautioned you about visiting Europe during Easter, there’s on place where Easter and Holy Week are actually the reason for visiting. Welcome to Seville (Sevilla), where the ceremonies at this time of year are surreal. Don’t expect bargains – April in Seville means high prices on hotels – and you certainly won’t have the town to yourself. Instead, you’ll need to book your hotel far in advance, as Seville’s Holy Week festivities are some of the most remarkable in the world. Expect a series of processions that include iconic costumes and pageantry, all of which start and end at the city’s magnificent cathedral. While Semana Santa, as it’s known in Spanish, is prime time for visiting Sevilla, you’d also do well to visit for the April Fair (Feria de Sevilla). This historic event (dating back to the early 19th century), celebrates flamenco, food and lights.


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