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.