Looking at Europe for March, April or May? Here are our favourite family vacation spots
With the travel woes of the past few years hopefully well behind us, Spring 2023 is looking like an excellent opportunity to travel internationally without restriction.
Spring makes an incredible time to visit Europe with long days, pleasant weather and spectacular colours abound.
So, where should you be heading if you plan to take Spring Break in Europe? Here are some of the most popular locations to plan a family trip from March to May.
This post is part of our Discover Europe series – destination inspiration and reviews for family travellers
Things to know before heading to Europe in Spring
- COVID-19 travel restrictions have been all but abolished across Europe. US citizens should be aware of current travel recommendations from the US State Department and CDC risk warnings before finalising travel plans to Europe.
- It’s important to be aware of upcoming ETIAS requirements for US citizens. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a visa waiver program that is expected to come into effect by November 2023.
- As you can imagine, spring weather is highly variable across the continent, with the highest peaks still experiencing good ski conditions until April. Much of the European countryside is bathed in a blanket of colour as trees return to full bloom and the waters of the Meditteranean start to warm in preparation for summer.
- It’s easy to hire a car in Europe. Driving in most European countries is on the right. The only exceptions are Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom. If you hold a license from outside the EU or are from a non-Vienna Convention on Road Traffic Signatory country, you might need an International Driving Permit.
- Always take out travel insurance! It should go without saying from cancellations and delays to lost luggage, all international travellers should be insured before they leave home.
Best European destinations for spring flowers
One of the popular highlights of visiting Europe in spring is seeing the flower season in full bloom. The tulip fields of Keukenhof in the Netherlands no doubt immediately spring to mind, but there are plenty of other destinations that benefit from this glorious blanket of colour too. Why not consider;
- Bonn, Germany – Cherry blossoms rule the streets in this smaller, quaint city of western Germany straddling the Rhine River. Ideal for visiting on a Rhine River cruise in spring.
- Val d’Orcia region, Tuscany, Italy – you don’t get much more beautiful European landscapes than the sight of Tuscany in the spring. Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spring brings an intense sea of red poppies.
- United Kingdom – Bluebells rule the Woodlands from mid-April to late May across much of the UK’s woodlands – in fact, more than half the world’s bluebells can be found here. Lavender fields in the UK are also popular to visit in late Spring. Many National Trust properties and Woodland Trust estates are the best places to visit in the spring for flowers.
What about the lavender fields of Provence? To see the lavender in Provence, southern France, in full bloom, you ideally need to wait until at least June and into the early summer to see hem at their best.
Best destinations for late-season skiing in European Spring
Snow still falls in the highest points of the Alps well into March, bringing great Spring Break skiing conditions most years. For the best chance of late snowfall in Europe, try:
- Zermatt, Switzerland – Look no further for late-season skiing in Europe. Zermatt is open 365 days a year (with the assistance of snowmaking machines in summer) and operates Europe’s highest ski lifts. March and April are the best times to visit for clear blue days on the peaks and blooming flowers in town – the perfect combination.
- Val Thorens, France – Home to Europe’s highest resort, it is part of the Three Valleys ski area, and most slopes are above 2000m. They even offer a snow guarantee through to May!
- Riksgränsen, Sweden – Sitting in the Arctic Circle, skiing really opens up here after March when daylight hours are long, and temperatures warm above freezing; skiing can be enjoyed here through to May, under the late evening sun!
Best European destinations for sunny weather in Spring
You’ll need to head quite far south to the Mediterranean for fairly consistent warm and sunny weather in spring. Brilliant blue skies can be experienced; however, the water temperatures might remain a little bit nippy (around 15°C to 20°C / 59°F to 68°F).
- Malta & Gozo – Boasting over 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s almost no bad time to visit Malta. Spring is our favourite, though; from the stunning historic capital Valletta to the peaceful azure waters of Gozo, there are many amazing places to stay for seaside views, alfresco dining and soaking in Mediterranean vibes in spring.
- Crete, Greece – Experience the Aegean without the throng of tourists and the scorching heat of summer. Not only covered in a blanket of wildflowers in spring, but Crete also offers visitors snow-capped mountains, stunning lakes and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities from hiking to mountain biking.
- Gran Canaria, Canary Islands – Enjoy almost perfect year-round mild weather in the Spanish archipelago. Spring offers visitors uncrowded beaches and ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. Often a few degrees warmer than even Tenerife, it’s a very popular spot with beach-goers for early summer sun, so book early for Spring Break!
Best European Destinations for a Spring Road Trip
Looking to get behind the wheel and see where the road takes you? Here are some of our favourite spring drives in Europe:
- Transylvania, Romania – The countryside in Transylvania becomes carpeted in colour over spring. The backdrop of the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains against ancient castles, fortified churches and picture-perfect villages makes it seem almost fairy-tale-like. (If you’re looking to tackle one of the world’s most dramatic drives, the Transfăgărășean, you’ll likely need to late until late May after all the winter ice has melted).
- The Algarve, Portugal – Get in ahead of the summer crowds and enjoy a spectacular coastal drive taking you through sleepy seaside villages to dramatic cliffs, caves and hidden beaches. For a longer journey, continue up the westernmost coast of mainland Europe to Lisbon.
- Arctic Fjords of Norway – Late spring is the perfect time to tackle the unimaginably beautiful landscapes of Norway. Take on the world’s longest road tunnel (24.5km!); the hair-raising hairpin turns of Trollstigen, cable cars and spectacular waterfalls in this European road trip of a lifetime.
So whilst there’s still no certainty when it comes to planning school breaks, you can see why Europe is top of our bucket list for an incredible family vacation to remember.
More inspiring family destinations
- Top tips on where to head during the October half-term
- Best spots in Europe for catching winter sun
- Fabulous February half-term destinations
- 17 Hidden Gems for Family Travel from Around the World
- Best City Breaks to Take With Kids
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