5 European Cities for a Spring Break
There is something about spring in Europe that no other continent can emulate. Graceful architecture, leafy boulevards just coming to life, and a dazzling array of attractions are just some of the reasons we’ve picked the following cities as our favoured spring haunts. Hire a car in any of them and feel winter loosen its grip:
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Europe’s westernmost capital, where the gentle climate means the ancient, winding alleyways are warm and inviting. Lisbon is in the middle of an exciting revival, with a palpable energy in the bars and cafes. Visit the arty neighbourhood of Baiiro Alto, with its fascinating murals, traditional bars, and vibrant Capoeira schools. Outside the city, the fortified towns of Sintra and Cascais are well worth a half hour drive.
The European Capital of Culture for 2014, Riga has a wonderful heritage. The traditions of the Latvian capital are deeply intertwined with classical music, historic architecture, and an absorbing history. Park your rental car and wander the maze of side streets and alleyways in the city centre, where a medieval heart is scattered with some of the finest Art Deco buildings anywhere. If you like your food and like to try the local specialties, try the Central Market for such treats as hemp butter and pig snout. The best views of the city can be enjoyed with a sunset tipple at the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija‘s 26th-floor Skyline Bar.
Justifiably dubbed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a coastal beauty framed by sapphire seas and dramatic mountains. The Dubrovnik Carnival Fest in March brings a playful atmosphere to the city, with masked revellers in the city and musicians accompanying street dances. Take in Dubrovnik Old Town (a UNESCO Heritage Site) historic monasteries, regal palaces, and baroque churches from the city wall, which forms a 2km ring around the city.
Synonymous with waltzes and home to the music of Strauss, Mozart, and Beethoven, Vienna is a powerhouse of culture brimming with extravagant architecture, magnificent churches, and flamboyant statuary. This romantic gem seduces with elegant coffee houses serving luscious pastries, graceful avenues, and an exceptional arts scene. Spring is even more appealing in Vienna, with the launch of its ball season.
Known for the quality of its architecture and design, the Danish capital is a handsome city made even more attractive by the early spring light. Wander the celebrated Kongens Nytorv square and admire the newly renovated, 18th-century Hotel D’Angleterre on the banks of the Nyhavn Canal. Shop to your heart’s content on Stroget street and visit Northern Europe’s biggest aquarium, The Blue Planet, Northern Europe’s largest aquarium.