Spring is finally upon us, and that means it’s cherry blossom season. While iconic destinations like Hirosaki, Japan, and Washington, D.C. are most often associated with these wondrous trees, there are a handful of lovely destinations all over the world that are home to parks filled with white and pink cherry blossoms—and are certainly worth planning a spring vacation around. Seasons vary from place to place, but generally, the best time to see these trees in full bloom is between late March and early to mid-April.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the deep significance of the cherry blossom in Japanese culture, or you want to hop between European cities to walk through blossom-filled parks, we’ve got a fitting destination for every kind of flower-lovin’ traveler, below.
No surprise that Japan is on the list, as it is, after all, perhaps the most storied place in the world for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). It’s hard to choose just one recommendation within this illustrious country for seeing the sakura (cherry). One of the most famous for gazing at the mesmerizing Japanese Cherry Blossom is Yoshino, a town in the stunning Kii Mountains, where pink blossoms blanket the sloping mountainside. Hirosaki, a city on the island of Honshu, is home to some magnificent blossoms too, as well as the celebratory Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival. Or check out the beautiful Odawara Sakura Festival at Odawara Castle, where 320 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in early April.
Wander along the famous Han River in Seoul’s beautiful Yeouido Park to spot some of Asia’s prettiest pink blossoms. It’s home to the annual Spring Flower Festival (the city’s largest), and the entire park is filled with idyllic spots for a nap or a lazy afternoon picnic. And of course, a visit to Seoul in the springtime wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace, where the cherry blossoms contrast with the palace’s striking architecture. Other festivals to keep an eye on are Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival and the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival near Busan, both typically held in April.
As if anyone ever needs an excuse to travel to Paris...but if you do, the cherry blossoms are a good one. Spend your late-March and early-April days with a croissant in hand, ambling through the Champ de Mars. The greenspace is dotted with stunning cherry trees that blossom all around the Eiffel Tower, making it even more photogenic than usual.
The illustrious streets, parks, and gardens of the Big Smoke burst with color in the springtime as the cherry trees begin to bloom. Take your time ambling through Regent’s Park, Kensington Gardens, or outside St. Paul’s Cathedral (just to name a few) and snap a few Instagrammable shots beneath the flirtatious pink and white flowers.
Jerte Valley, Spain
Every March, over two million (yes, million) cherry trees blossom in Spain’s magnificent Jerte Valley, yielding an explosion of white flowers across the villages and mountainsides. If you visit in mid-March, you can celebrate with locals at the Cherry Blossom Fiesta, where there are performances, delicious local bites, and more.
While the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Amsterdam has unfortunately been canceled for 2019, there’s still plenty of reason to book a trip to this colorful city for some blossom-spotting. The clouds of pastel blooms against the backdrop of this gorgeous city will be irresistible for anyone with a camera—make sure to head to Kersenbloesempark in Amstelveen (a suburb of Amsterdam) to see the 400 cherry trees gifted to Holland from the Japan’s Women Club.
Our list wouldn’t be complete without Washington, D.C., home to some of the finest cherry blossom trees in the U.S. and the famous National Cherry Blossom Festival, a three-week long celebration between late March and mid-April. The National Mall Route will take you around the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for unforgettable views of the nation’s capital in full pink and white bloom.
For several weeks each April, locals in Vancouver celebrate the thousands of cherry blossom trees that bloom across the city by way of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Take a leisurely walk through the famed Stanley Park, or enjoy a waterfront seafood lunch with views of the trees. There’s even a “Bike the Blossoms” ride that you can join during the blooming season for spectacular views of the pink and white flowers that blanket this coastal city.
Brooklyn, New York
New Yorkers flock outside in the spring, not only to enjoy the sun and warm weather touching down in the concrete jungle, but for the city’s beautiful cherry blossoms. Brooklyn, in particular, is home to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where each year the Sakura Matsuri Festival takes place at the end of April to celebrate Japanese culture and the garden’s lovely cherry trees as they enter full bloom.