5 Spring Sunshine Escapes
It’s supposed to be spring, but nobody has told the weather in much of Europe! Escape the dreary grey skies and chill winds and treat yourself to a dose of sunshine on a Vitamin D—soaked car hire break. Here are the destinations where we’d recommend you rent a car this spring:
A relatively short flight from much of mainland Europe, the Canary Islands offer some balmy relief for the sun-starved among us. March and April are great months to visit too, with temperatures in the low- to mid-20s on Lanzarote and Tenerife and a glorious 7 hours of daily sunshine.
Tenerife is probably the most versatile of the islands, offering something for all ages. Enjoy deluxe Thai-themed cabanas and exclusive nightclubs or relax on empty beaches and explore the historic cities, including the 16th-century World Heritage Site at San Cristobal de La Laguna. Lanzarote will appeal to the watersports enthusiast and adrenaline junkie, with everything from surfing and hand gliding available for you to appreciate the warm seas, volcanic landscape, and Atlantic breezes.
Madeira has shed its image as the preserve of the blue-rinse brigade to become an outstandingly beautiful outpost for the heat-seeking hip. With its year-round subtropical warmth, Madeira is ideal for outdoor pursuits, and a network of more than a 1,000 miles of small canals called “levadas” doubles as walkways to explore Madeira’s dramatic volcanic landscapes, tiny villages, and lush vineyards.
The levadas, a remarkable system of stone- and concrete-lined watercourses built between 1461 and 1966, irrigates the entire island with water from the rainy north and ensure that Madeira is a lush oasis of crops and flowers all year (hence the nickname Garden in the Atlantic). The paths used to maintain these canals act as great trails for hikers, crisscrossing the magnificent landscape and offering routes up to 1,861 metres high into the mountains.
Rent a car in Amman and explore the antiquities of Jordan, particularly the rose-coloured city of Petra, a jaw-dropping ancient wonder carved from the sandstone cliffs by the 3rd-century Nabataeans and approached via a legendary gap in the rocks called the Siq .
Trekkers and climbers will want to explore Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon), and temperatures will be far more bearable than the scorching days of high season, in July and August. Accommodation is especially good value compared with the rest of the Middle East, particularly for standards up to and including three-star.
Immerse yourself in the exotic with a flight to Morocco. A sprawling expanse of Saharan dunes, lofty peaks, and rugged coastline, Morocco is sure to captivate you with its unique landscapes, ancient souqs, and fascinating Berbers and nomadic “blue men” in turbans. Fly into Marrakech-Menara Airport and pick up your rental car there or drive the 479km south of Meknes and you’re right in the heart of the Morocco at its most intense.
Marrakech is an intriguing city that may overwhelm you at first with the sheer scale of its medina, the wealth of its history, and the intensity of its souks and bazaars, but it is worth it for the sheer excitement and energy.
Fez is home to a breathtakingly enormous medina (old Arab quarter of a North African towns) a UNESCO World Heritage Site measuring an incredible 6.2 square kilometres and one of the Arab-Muslim world’s best-preserved old cities. Be prepared to get lost in the vast network of tempting alleys and streets, where friendly locals are always ready to guide you back to where you were headed.
With endless sandy beaches, abundant package resorts, and a picturesque little capital, Aruba is the most popular of the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). Admire the pastel-hued colonial buildings of Orangestad and snap up designer “bargains” in this duty-free shopping haven, where day-tripping cruise-ship passengers stroll and spend lots of money.
Just 20 miles long, Aruba is easy to explore by bike or moped, but once you see the incredible beaches, you may never want to move. Away from the turquoise waters and white sands of the resorts, however, you’ll find wild, windswept beaches to north and east and an arid desert-like interior. Arikok National Wildlife Park is a lunar landscape of cacti, caves, twisted divi-divi trees, disused gold mines, and old plantations.