Warmer weather, lighter days and fewer crowds means spring is a great season to travel. Journey just below the Alps and into Italy for some al fresco dining. Wander through the sunlit castles and cathedrals of Mitteleuropa; or climb the Acropolis for an incredible panorama of Athens. It is, after all, a time of optimism when the continent comes into bloom in the countryside and markets flourish in the cities. In this spring guide, we look at some of the European cities that deserve all the attention you’ve got.
Overlooking the peaceful spring landscape from its perch on the Umbrian slopes of Mount Subasio, Assisi is one of Italy’s medieval masterpieces. Protected both by giant ramparts and the formidable reputation of St Francis, its basilica contains art by Renaissance greats like Cimabue.
Prague, Czech Republic
Renowned for its gleaming spires, astronomical clocks and magical bridges, a rich history envelops the city of Prague. In spring, the beer gardens start to fill and markets begin to occupy Wenceslas Square in strength. Don’t get waylaid from seeing Prague Castle, which was once home to the Holy Roman Empire and still has the majesty to prove it.
Nothing gleams brighter in spring sunshine than Vienna’s creamy Hofburg Palace, except perhaps Schonbrunn Palace, which in English, means beautiful spring. Head to a Mozart or Strauss concert for a diet of heavenly singing and divine counterpoint, or grab a cup of artisanal coffee and a thick slice of Sachertorte (chocolate cake) at a renowned patisserie.
A city with the largest market square in Europe, one of its most beautiful altar pieces (by Veit Stoss in St Mary’s Basilica), Wawel Castle that would not look out of place in a Disney film, Krakow is a spring must-see. Don’t just go for the culture, though. The bars, restaurants and cafés are all lively at this time of year and offer everything from grilled oscypek (sheep’s cheese) to bigos (a traditional Polish stew).
Make the most of spring’s clear skies by ascending the Berlin TV Tower to see the Reichstag building, Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden Boulevard. Stroll through Tiergarten, a 520-acre park with medieval roots, which offers the perfect spot for a picnic and then head to the city’s museum district and make the most of having them all to yourself.
Greece’s Mediterranean climate is the perfect combination of sun and breeze in springtime, when flowers like peacock anemones and camomiles thrust their way to the surface. This makes it the perfect time to see the Evzone guards marching at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the colossal columns of the Temple of Zeus. Visit the Plaka district and dine at its restaurants for some slow-roasted kleftiko or a crumbly feta salad.
If a spring getaway is now scribbled on your calendar, why not book one of these locations, which are available on the following trips: Best of Italy; Imperial Europe; Bohemian Highlights or Greek Island Hopper.
Image Credits: Assisi © iStock/bluejayphoto. Prague © iStock/deejpilot. Vienna © iStock/matejphoto. Main Market Square of Krakow © iStock/martin-dm. Skyline of Berlin © iStock/querbeet. Changing of the Guard in Athens © iStock/bluebullseye.