The 15 Best Places to Go in Europe for Spring Break
Cheaper flights, lower room rates, fewer tourists, and tons of seasonal activities make this the opportune time to embark on a real-life Eurotrip.
Canals, cycle paths, colorful houses, and masterpiece-filled museums, are just a few of the reasons to visit Amsterdam this spring. This charming capital is home the world’s only floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt. It’s acceptable, even encouraged, to eat pannenkoeken (pancakes) for dinner. Pass the stroop (syrup), please! When the sun goes down, get cozy at a bruin café (drinking den) or make your way to the notorious Red Light District. Stateside, these are the U.S. cities you need to visit in the spring.
For a spa-centric holiday, consider Budapest. This incredible beauty destination boasts 118 thermal springs—more than any other capital—and a veritable smorgasbord of venues to “take the waters,” from traditional Turkish baths and Neo-Baroque pools to Art Nouveau spas and modern facilities. Bonus: Hungarians claim these mineral-rich waters are the ultimate hangover cure.
Lisbon is tasty, intriguing, affordable, and picturesque with its trademark hills, cobbled lanes, stone structures, and UNESCO-listed Jerónimos Monastery. Hungry? Beyond bacalhau (dried and salted codfish), feast on an abundance of fresh-caught octopus, tuna, shrimp, and clams. Looking to party? Take your pick of upscale cocktail dens, raucous dives, or trendy clubs in this lively nightlife locale. No wonder Portugal made our list of the best budget travel destinations.
Paris tempts travelers all year round, but it’s particularly lovely come spring. Flowers begin to bloom in the city parks, leafy trees edge the Champs-Élysées, and outdoor cafés buzz with excitement. Take full advantage of the delightful weather with a picnic lunch in front of the Eiffel Tower or visit the many art museums with manicured gardens, such as Musée Rodin and Musée Marmottan-Monet. We admit Paris can pricey; save by splitting an Airbnb with pals. Don’t miss these other popular destinations in Western Europe.
Italy’s third-largest city abounds with epicurean delights—pizza, pasta, seafood, and sweets, oh my! And with bookings up 31 percent, according to American Express Travel, now is a splendid time to savor the authentic flavors of Naples. A walking tour is a great way to navigate, err taste, the local food scene. City Wonders offers a two-hour culinary adventure through its UNESCO-listed historic center.
Between hot springs, glaciers, and cascades, Iceland is a paradise of natural splendor. And Reykjavik is the gateway to all this glory. With photography exhibits, art museums, and music performances, the world’s northernmost capital packs a punch when it comes nurturing your creative side. November through March is prime for Northern Lights spotting. But your chances of catching a glimpse are pretty good until mid-April. Bonus: WOW Air has cheap flights to Reykjavik from New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. starting at $99 one-way or $198 round-trip. Bonus: Iceland is one of the 11 best bucket list destinations that won’t break the bank.
The “Cradle of the Renaissance,” is steeped in classical art and architecture. The Galleria dell’Accademia is brimming with works by Michelangelo, while the Uffizi Gallery displays such masterpieces as “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli and “Annunciation” by Leonardo da Vinci. Florence is the epicenter of Tuscan cuisine. Its narrow streets and piazzas are decked with al fresco cafés, trattorias, and gelato shops. There’s also wine bars, swanky lounges, and exuberant discos to occupy your evening hours.
Dublin is a playground for history buffs, architecture lovers, and booze enthusiasts alike. Soak up centuries-old heritage at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, and Kilmainham Gaol. Imbibe in Irish whiskey at Old Jameson Distillery and sip stout at the Guinness Storehouse. The St. Patrick’s Festival is a month-long celebration that culminates with the legendary parade on March 17. Ireland for St. Patty’s might be a no-brainer, but these are 15 spring break destinations you never would have thought of.
Most people think of Santorini as a summer hotspot, but spring bookings are up 94 percent, according to American Express Travel. While it might not be beach weather, there are plenty of benefits to visiting this idyllic island during off-peak season. Airfare and room rates at posh properties such as Villa Katikies and Lagadi Suites are less expensive. And fewer crowds mean you won’t have to contend with tons of tourists for a front-row seat to the spectacular sunsets over the blue-domed churches and volcanic cliffs.
After the long and harsh winter, spring reinvigorates Sweden’s capital. (Keep in mind it can still be quite chilly through early May, so pack layers.) Patrons pack into the stylish boutiques, hip hotels like Downtown Camper by Scandic and At Six, and art galleries. Plus, warmer weather is ideal for exploring the various events and festivals that take place this time of year. And, of course, no trip would be complete without checking out the Nacka Fountain, among the most awe-inspiring water sculptures in the world. Check out these other 20 spring break destinations for grown-ups.
London is an exhilarating urban escape. Fashion, food, art, heritage … this multicultural metropolis has something for everyone. Oxford Street is a shopper’s dream. The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben ooze history. Walk in the footsteps on The Beatles at Abbey Road. Feast on crispy fish ‘n’ chips or world-class Indian cuisine. Slog back a pint of ale at any of the myriad local pubs. With all this and more, it’s easy to see why London is such a popular travel locale.
Late-night dinners at internationally acclaimed restaurants, a world-class drinking scene, and partying till dawn make the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia an epic spring break spot. Add to that fantastical structures at every turn—the highlights include Sagrada Família, the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world, and many Modernisme landmarks designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and his contemporaries. And don’t forget the fascinating art scene: Barcelona is home to both the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró. Prefer to stay stateside? These U.S. destinations look like they belong in Europe.
Clean, cool, and eco-friendly, this former Viking fishing settlement has transformed into one of the most gloriously livable cities on earth. Copenhagen touts high-profile kitchens, curved canals, cycling routes, and excellent public transportation. The 400-year-old Rosenborg Castle is adorned with turrets, gables, and a moat. The upper rooms are decked with furnishings and portraits from monarchs past, while the basement Treasury houses the dazzling Danish crown jewels. The Tivoli Gardens, the Nyhavn district, Holger Danske, and the Royal Library round out the must-see sights.
Vienna’s coffee house-and-pastry tradition dates back to the Austro-Hungarian empire. It goes without saying that you’ll need to sample a few sweet treats and an espresso drink or two. Luckily, from high-end patisseries to corner bakeries, there’s plenty of places to satisfy your sugar and caffeine cravings. But its allure isn’t limited to your taste buds. It’s also considered one of the greenest cities in the region. And spring is perfect for enjoying its public parks, bike trails, walking paths, and palace gardens. Find out where you can take cheap European vacations for less than $400.
Affordable, fun, and gorgeous, Slovenia’s capital is an under-the-radar spring break gem. Cobbled lanes, expansive parks, a mix of Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings, the medieval hilltop castle, and the tree-lined Ljubljanica River contribute to its postcard-worthy panorama. Plus, you can rest your head in high-end hotels, like the InterContinental Ljubljana and Vander Urbani Resort, for a fraction of the cost of many other major European cities. You’ll also want to know about these 12 spring break ideas that cost less than staying home.