Whether you’re planning a family trip during spring break, a romantic getaway for two, or a solo trek, Europe is a great destination during the month of April. Not only are flights cheaper than they will be in the height of the summer, but cities will also be a lot less crowded. The middle of spring is when the weather starts to turn, making it ideal for exploring new places, while the occasional hot sunny day provides excellent beach weather. Here are six European destinations to consider for your next April vacation.
If you’re lusting after a holiday that involves hiking, scenic views, and fishing villages, look no further than Cinque Terre. “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 choose which of the five villages to hit each day. We don’t advise you try to see all five in one, as you won’t get the full experience of what each charming village has to offer. There’s a train that runs between all five villages, but for those looking for a little more adventure, it’s possible to hike between them. (Just be sure to make sure 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, beaches to catch some rays, and boats to rent or charter. With the 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.
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While Ireland might not be the first destination that comes to mind for an April vacation in Europe, trust us, it’s worth it. The temperature is pretty mild—on average, 55 degrees Fahrenheit—and it usually only rains about nine days out of the month. [Writer’s note: When I visited in April, there was not a day that the sun didn’t come out for at least a few hours.] As long as you’re prepared for the potential wet weather, there are plenty of things to do. Galway itself is a very charming city. Remnants of its medieval walls are strewn among the brightly colored pubs filled 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. Make sure to stop by the Galway Cathedral located on its bank. We suggest taking an excursion to nearby Burren and the famous Cliffs of Moher, which are only an hour-and-a-half drive away. There are daily tours leaving the city, or if you feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road, you can rent a car. You’ll see 16th-century castles, fairy tale–esque forts, old cottages, and even some newborn lambs frolicking in the grass.
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Portugal’s location in southern Europe makes it an ideal location to visit any time of the year, but there are definitely many reasons to visit in the spring. While much of Europe is still rainy and chilly in April, the average temperature in Lisbon hovers in the high 60s, and the thermometer has been known to hit 80. On sunny days, both locals and tourists flock to the stone steps that lead down to the sea to enjoy the fresh air. Castelo de São Jorge, a Moorish castle from the 12th century, sits on a hill in central Lisbon and provides visitors with both a history of the area and amazing views of the red-roofed buildings that extend towards the ocean. Lisbon’s access to the Mediterranean provides plentiful fresh seafood at all the local restaurants. For a half-day trip from the city center, hop on the tram heading west to the outer district of Belem, where you can see the Torre de Belem, a tower constructed to guard Lisbon from attacks by sea. There are multiple museums, the Discoveries Monument (which has an excellent observation deck), and the famous “pastel de nata,” a traditional Portuguese pastry.
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Are you a fan of “Game of Thrones?” If yes, you must visit Dubrovnik. The city was one of the major shooting locations for scenes in King’s Landing, as well as Qarth and Slaver’s Bay. The walls surrounding Dubrovnik’s Old Town are some of the most well preserved medieval walls in Europe, and you’ll want to spend a few hours walking their entirety and taking in the views of the red roofs, nearby islands, and lush hills extending from the coast. Inside the walls, all the quaint streets and alleys are made of stone and lined with bars and restaurants sporting fresh seafood and Croatian wine. While the average temperature in April hovers in the mid 50s, there are the occasional hot days that are perfect for sunbathing on the beach just outside of the walls.
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No list of springtime vacation destinations would be complete without Greece. While Santorini may be the most popular island, Mykonos is just as picturesque—all of the streets are lined with the iconic blue-and-white buildings. Mykonos is also closer to Athens than Santorini (two to five hours on the ferry, versus five to eight), and can be cheaper to get to. Every restaurant offers dishes more delicious than the last, and all of the fresh seafood and Greek salads might make you want to eat more than three meals a day. If you dine alfresco, you might be lucky enough to be visited by one of the three giant pelicans that call Mykonos their home. While the average April temperature is around 65 degrees, it often gets hotter than that, and with the near-constant sunshine, trips to the beach should definitely be in the itinerary. Buses run every day from downtown to the southern part of the island, where pink sand beaches are covered in lounge chairs for visitors to enjoy. Be sure to visit Mykonos’ iconic windmills, too. Just note that many hotels and restaurants will be closed in April, though more places will open up after the Greek Orthodox Easter holiday, which falls this year on April 16th. But the upside is far, far fewer crowds than the busy summer months.
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For traveling history buffs, Budapest is an awesome springtime getaway. The Budapest History Museum is filled with artifacts, the House of Terror Museum divulges the horrors during the Nazi and Soviet occupation of the city, and the Hungarian National Museum is the largest public collection of fine art in Hungary. Budapest also offers some more obscure museum experiences. The Hospital in the Rock is a World War II hospital that was repurposed as a nuclear bunker in the late 50s, but is now open as a museum with tours of the facilities. Another oddity is the Labyrinth, a series of underground tunnels that once imprisoned the infamous Count Dracula. If you’re looking for some fresh spring air after all these museums, don’t worry. The Danube is a great river to walk along and the City Park provides plenty of room for picnics and lounging. If you can, extend your vacation into May, as the May Day celebrations in Budapest should not be missed. The entire city is off for the holiday, and the City Park is transformed into a festival with live bands, rides, and all the Hungarian food you could imagine.
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