With spring on the horizon, the romance of Europe seems more appealing than almost any other time of year. Rich in heritage, architecture, arts, music, and food, the Continent's cities welcome visitors with pretty flowers lining elegant boulevards, scintillating scenic coastlines, fine wines, and an expansive roster of museums and shopping. Spring in Europe is guaranteed to dazzle and delight your senses, whether you’re looking to take off to an exclusive enclave, the newest hot spot, or a trendy metropolis for shopping and time on the beach. Here are Europe’s best city escapes for spring.
The Netherlands takes pride in its tulips, and for good reason: these flowers are big business. This spring, explore the countryside on bicycle to see vast fields carpeted with vibrant tulips in a dazzling array of colors. Keukenhof Gardens, located in nearby Lisse, is famed for rows upon rows of flowers that stretch as far as the eye can see. Take a day trip there when the gardens are open, from mid-March to mid-May, by direct bus (No. 858) from Schiphol Airport.
Insider Tip: In the city, opt for Amsterdam's equally fabulous and historical floating flower market on the Singel canal—the only one in the world, open daily—to view floating barges that burst in fragrant swathes of red, pink, orange, and yellow petals.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Amsterdam Guide
Riga, LatviaDeeply etched in European history, Riga is synonymous with classical music, elegance, and historic architecture. Get lost in the quaint side streets on a spring morning and make sure to visit the city's medieval center, which offers the widest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. Here, the concentration of remarkably intact medieval architecture dates back to the 12th century, which contributed to Riga's World Heritage status. The European Union also recently recognized the city as the European Capital of Culture for 2014.
Insider Tip: Foodies should head to Central Market for locally sourced Latvian tidbits ranging from pig snout and sauerkraut to hemp butter. End your day with a drink and a rooftop view from the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija's 26th-floor Skyline Bar. The spot fills up fast, so get there early to enjoy spectacular panoramic vistas.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Riga Guide
The hip capital Budapest ranks as a popular budget-friendly destination. The city offers medicinal thermal baths, edgy “ruin pubs,” and a gritty, post-Communist exuberance. For exploring, the lower Pest side of the Danube River boasts opera, theaters, and the city's historic Jewish quarter, while Buda on the upper side features the castle district's posh residences.
Insider Tip: Spanning three floors, Central Market Hall offers everything from local meats to baked sweets. Spring kicks off a roster of world-themed food days, including Chilean and Moroccan eats. The Easter market is one of the busiest times of year; expect throngs of hungry crowds counting their forints.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Budapest Guide
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