Top Spring Travel Destinations

Courtesy Keukenhof

Cultural festivals, sporting events and nature in bloom
make these spots must-visits in springtime.

As winter wanes and the days grow longer, the itch to get outside and explore fresh scenery can inspire even hibernating homebodies to travel. And with nature bursting into bloom the world over and summertime heat and crowds still on the horizon, spring is often considered the top season for travel.

But in the months between ski vacations and beach getaways, where best to go?

We’ve scoured the world over for the perfect spring trips and have come up with an array that spans time zones and interests. Blossoming flowers and newly emerging wildlife are some of the season’s signature pleasures—and events like the annual Keukenhof Flower Festival in Holland (featuring seven million flowering plants) or National Park Week at Yosemite National Park (where the famous waterfalls are at their fullest) offer perfect opportunities to experience them.

Springtime brings just as much excitement for urban adventurers. In cities around the world, April and May are rife with exciting cultural events, from London’s pre-Olympics culture festival, with thousands of shows, exhibits and concerts, to the PEN World Voices festival in New York with its panoply of literary events. Music-lovers and foodies, too, can partake in events ranging from New Orleans’s rollicking Jazz Fest to Chang Mai’s processions, concerts and traditional dishes celebrating Songkran (Thai New Year).

It’s no accident that some of the year’s best cultural offerings are happening now—nothing inspires artistic sentiment quite like spring. “We actually moved the festival into May so that it would take place during springtime in New York,” says Jakab Orsos, the director of the PEN World Voices Festival. “Good literature and good art is galvanizing and liberating, and nothing invokes that more than the freshness of spring, so we’re calling on the season to help us emphasize the way people experience the written word.” In keeping with this theme of awakening, says Orsos, the festival organizers are even putting out their own New York City travel guide for the week, including the best places to find creative inspiration and rub elbows with literary heroes.

Whether the draw is the culinary scene in Austin, Grand Slam tennis in Paris or classical music in Istanbul, now is the time to indulge in a little wanderlust. Herewith, a Departures index of trips guaranteed to shake the winter doldrums.