20 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.
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The benefits of Europe in the spring
Spring is the perfect time to fly away to Europe—especially if you’re keen on lower hotel rates and fewer tourists. It’s during this window that some destinations start showcasing colorful buds while others cling to a frosty winter climate for a bit longer. The weather certainly comes into play, though it’s not the determining factor for a lot of cities that don’t revolve entirely around outdoors. (Insert architecturally significant buildings, must-see museums, and quaint cafes.) Whether you prefer to vacation in an idyllic village or urban sprawl, it’s all waiting across the continent. Before you commit to a locale, scroll through to discover the best places to go in Europe for spring break. Find out why river cruises are Europe’s best-kept secrets.
Prague, Czech Republic
Visiting Prague feels like stepping into a storybook, where Gothic churches and fairytale castles still exist. Speaking of, your first stop should be Prague Castle, built in the 9th century, it’s an enduring symbol of Bohemia. We dare anyone to resist the charm of Old Town Square as the crowds gather in front of the Astronomical Clock for the animated hourly show. Other notable monuments include the emblematic Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Lennon Wall. Sightseeing isn’t the only basis for jetting off to Prague this spring. The City of a Hundred Spires also wins affection for its friendly locals, beer halls, traditional Czech taverns, symphonies, and bustling markets. When you’re looking for a place to stay, it’s hard to beat the Four Seasons Hotel Prague. Don’t miss these fantasy destinations that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale.
When you envision spring break, Glasgow probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind. That’s primarily because this underrated port city in the western Lowlands of Scotland doesn’t get the credit it very much deserves. Perched on the River Clyde, Glasgow (“dear green place” in Gaelic) lives up to its name with over 90 verdant parks and gardens. Though rain is par for the course, luckily, there are ample indoor activities to occupy your time. Spend the day bopping around cultural institutions such as the National Theatre of Scotland and then at night hit up a comedy club or music venue. Like staying ahead of the curve? This is the European travel experience most people don’t know about.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and the longest fjord in Norway, Bergen is a paradise for nature lovers. Slightly longer days and rising temperatures make spring the opportune time to visit this coastal city in the southwestern part of the country. Gobble up a traditional Norwegian breakfast, before hopping on a bus to the Fløibanen Funicular where you can ride the cable car to the top for sweeping views. Perhaps that’s enough high-altitude excitement for one morning. But, if you’re game to journey further, start the nearly 12-mile trek to Mount Ulriken. After an action-packed hike, chow down on fresh seafood and catch a few winks at Hotel Norge by Scandic. Get the answers to the 10 things you’ve always wondered about hotels.
Situated at an elevation of 5,310 feet, under the shadow of the near-symmetrical Matterhorn peak, Zermatt is an epic playground in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The snowy season lasts until May, enabling skiers and snowboarders to pack in every last run. Zermatt provides heaps of stuff to do besides hitting the slopes. You’ll also be able to try snowmobiling, hiking, ice skating, curling, and climbing. When you’ve had your fill of frosty fun, join in on the après-ski festivities, shop til you drop along Bahnhofstrasse, relish spa treatments, or warm up with a cup of hot cocoa. Here are 10 more vacation ideas for people who love cold-weather activities.
Located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, Split is the gateway to the wonder of Dalmatia—and one of the few destinations in the region that’s open for business 365 days a year. A spring break trip to Croatia’s second-largest city isn’t going to be an island-hopping adventure like it would in the warmer months, but you can still charter a boat. There’s plenty to do on dry land during the low season, too. It’s particularly enjoyable to explore Diocletian’s Palace and the waterfront promenade without the swarms of summer tourists. Wallet-friendly rates, shorter queues, and less congestion on public transportation are an added perk especially when you consider that Split is already one of the best budget-friendly beaches in the world.
A dynamic and modern metropolis, Berlin draws travelers from all corners of the globe. Over the years, Germany’s capital has evolved from a place synonymous with pain and sorrow to a hip urban escape that brims with art, culture, and non-stop energy. Reminders of the city’s complicated past—from the graffitied remnants of the Berlin Wall to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe—are ever-present and absolutely worth visiting. Want to experience a different side of Berlin? Go gallery hopping, eat street food at Markthalle Neun, wander through the diverse Kreuzberg neighborhood, or see a burlesque show.
Dublin lures history buffs and booze enthusiasts alike. A compact and walkable city, it’s also super easy to navigate. Soak up centuries-old heritage at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, and Kilmainham Gaol. Of course, you can’t talk about Ireland’s capital without mentioning Irish whiskey and stout. Jameson Distillery Bow St. and the Guinness Storehouse are legends in that department. Have some flexibility regarding your vacation dates? Consider timing your trip to the St. Patrick’s Festival, a month-long celebration that culminates with the parade on March 17. Ireland for St. Paddy’s might be a no-brainer, but these are 15 spring break destinations you never would have imagined.
Barcelona is an awesome spring break spot for folks who love the constant energy of a major city. Late dinners at award-winning restaurants, infamous clubs, eye-catching architecture, internationally acclaimed museums, and a cosmopolitan vibe make the capital of Catalonia second to none. While evenings notoriously stretch into the wee hours, the cultural attractions will surely inspire you to hop out of bed in the morning. From the many Modernisme landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí and his contemporaries to Sagrada Família, the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world, fantastical structures stand at every turn. Equally fascinating is the art scene. Barcelona boasts both the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró as well as a slew of attention-grabbing galleries. These 12 spring break destinations practically cost less than staying at home.
Paris tempts travelers year-round, but it’s exceptionally lovely in the spring. Pale pink blossoms envelop the manicured parks, leafy trees edge the Champs-Élysées, and sidewalk cafés buzz with a renewed sense of excitement. Take advantage of the pleasant weather with a picnic lunch in front of the Eiffel Tower, stroll along the banks of the Seine, lose yourself in the beauty of Jardin du Luxembourg, or book a patisserie-themed walking tour. Carve out a few hours to absorb the atmosphere of the très chic Left Bank district. Of course, the Louvre and the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés are requisite stops. Find out the 15 most over-hyped destinations in Paris.
Seeking a holiday filled with enchanting architecture, history, and relaxation? It doesn’t get better than Budapest. The Pearl of Danube possesses 118 thermal springs—more than any other capital in the world—and a veritable smorgasbord of venues to reap the bubbly rewards. Choose from traditional Turkish baths, Neo-Baroque pools, Art Nouveau spas, and modern facilities. In addition to having healing properties, locals claim the mineral-rich waters are the ultimate hangover cure. (That’s a very good thing because Hungary produces excellent beer and wine.) Budapest has long played an instrumental role in the country’s musical heritage. Musicophiles can learn about the life of composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt at the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum. Before you go, find out how to pronounce Budapest correctly.
After the long and harsh winter, spring reinvigorates the sophisticated city of Stockholm. (Keep in mind, it’s still bound to be quite chilly through early May, so pack layers.) The city once again feels abuzz as well-dressed patrons flock to the art galleries, stylish boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and hip hotels—Downtown Camper by Scandic is a great value that doesn’t skimp on style. Passing showers? Wait out the rain at a cozy coffee shop. Of course, no trip to Stockholm would be complete without scoping out the Nacka Fountain, among the most awe-inspiring water sculptures in the world. If Sweden’s refined capital sounds right up your alley, read up on these other spring break destinations for grown-ups.
Most people think of Santorini as a summer hotspot—and that’s totally accurate. So, you might be surprised to hear that American Express Travel reported a significant increase in spring bookings year over year. While it might not be beach weather just yet, there are loads of benefits to visiting this idyllic island during off-peak season. 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 or call weeks ahead to snag a coveted dinner reservation. Flights and five-star stays are less expensive, too. While you’re there, be sure to check out these 17 other picturesque Greek Islands.
Florence, aka the Cradle of the Renaissance, is a bastion of classical art and architecture. It’s impossible not to be blown away by the grandeur of the famous Duomo. The Galleria dell’Accademia showcases works by Michelangelo, while the Uffizi Gallery displays such masterpieces as “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. You certainly won’t go hungry in Florence. It’s teeming with authentic osterias, family-run trattorias, and gelato shops. A food-focused walking tour is great for tasting your way through the epicenter of Tuscan cuisine. For a hands-on culinary lesson, practice pizza making under the tutelage of a true master. Before you go, brush up on these 12 Italian phrases everyone should know.
Poised on the banks of the Danube River, Vienna has long been a mecca of music, art, and culture. The city’s coffee house traditions date back to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Nowadays, you’ll find everything from high-end patisseries and grand cafes to corner bakeries. After satisfying your caffeine cravings with a delectable Sachertorte and espresso, venture to Schönbrunn Palace. Continue the royal tour with a visit to Belvedere, which holds the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. Vienna’s stock as a green capital continues to rise. Spring is a sublime time to enjoy the many public parks, bike trails, walking paths, and manicured gardens. Can’t make it across the pond? Check out these small towns across the United States you’d swear were in Europe.
London is renowned for its fashion, food, art, and royal legacy. In other words, this multicultural conurbation really does have something for everyone. Planning your first trip to The Big Smoke? Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben definitely warrant a spot on your itinerary. You’ll probably want to walk in the footsteps of The Beatles at Abbey Road, too. Already ticked the iconic sites off your list? Savor crispy fish and chips or world-class Indian cuisine. Have a pint of ale at a corner pub. Make your home base at the Charlotte Street Hotel, which also happens to pours a top-notch classic martini. Before you go, find out how you can avoid the line at popular tourist attractions.
An under-the-radar spring break gem that’s affordable, fun, and undeniably picturesque, Slovenia’s capital has a fairytale mix of Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings. Cobblestone streets, expansive parks, the medieval hilltop castle, and the tree-lined Ljubljanica River also contribute to its postcard-worthy panorama. As the weather warms up, people begin to spend more time outside and alfresco cafes open up for the season. From a budget perspective, it’s even more good news. Rooms at high-end hotels, like the InterContinental Ljubljana and Vander Urbani Resort, cost a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay in other European cities.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Canals, bike paths, charming rowhouses, and masterpiece-filled museums are just a few of the reasons to visit Amsterdam. Spring ushers in mild temperatures—ideal for boat cruises, leisurely afternoons in the park, and cycling tours—as well as the first signs of colorful blooms. On that note, the capital of the Netherlands is home to the world’s only floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt. It’s also acceptable, even encouraged, to eat pannenkoeken (pancakes) for dinner. When the sun goes down, drink a few pints at a bruin café or head to a prohibition-style speakeasy. For an only-in-Amsterdam evening, meander over to the notorious Red Light District. Staying on this side of the pond? These are the most beautiful places in America in the springtime.
Iceland is blessed with hot springs, glaciers, jagged peaks, waterfalls, and volcanos. The gateway to all this natural splendor? Reykjavik. Your first question probably involves the northern lights. November through March is prime for aurora borealis chasing, however, the odds of glimpsing this celestial phenomenon are pretty decent until mid-April. Beyond astronomical pursuits, the world’s northernmost capital gives travelers the chance to go horseback riding, whale watching, hiking, ATVing, and caving. Reykjavik also promises to nurture your creative side with photography exhibits, art museums, and music performances. We highly recommend journeying to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa just 45 minutes outside the city.
Lisbon commands attention with its trademark hills, cobbled lanes, and pastel-hued facades. Time Out Market Lisbon is a mouth-watering introduction to the city’s vibrant dining scene as it puts tasty stalwarts and palate-pleasing newbies under one roof. Feast on beloved staples like bacalhau (salted codfish), octopus rice, charcuterie, and custard tarts. Be sure to visit the UNESCO-protected Jerónimos Monastery and São Jorge Castle. Looking for nightlife? Lisbon proffers an abundance of upscale cocktail bars, low-key dives, and trendy clubs. It’s also delicious and surprisingly affordable—Portugal made our list of the best budget travel destinations.
What was once a Viking fishing settlement has transformed into one of the most gloriously livable and immaculately clean cities on earth. Copenhagen touts high-profile restaurants, curved canals, cycling routes, superb public transportation, and magnificent landmarks. Tracing its roots back 400 years, 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 jaw-dropping Danish crown jewels. Endlessly Instagrammable, the waterfront district of Nyhavn dazzles with its colorful townhouses. Tivoli Gardens, Holger Danske, and the Royal Library round out the list of must-see sights. Next, read on to learn about the best spring break destinations in every state.