Temperature: 30°C high; 26°C low Season: dry Travel time from UK: 11 hours 30 minutes Time difference: GMT +7
What’s just as raucous as a Full Moon Party, but significantly wetter? Thai New Year, or Songkran, that’s what. A five-day public holiday in mid-April, the country essentially turns into one giant, good-natured water fight, with locals and tourists alike soaking each other in the streets. One of the more enthusiastic places to embrace this soggy ritual is
Koh Samui. But the island of your budget backpacker days has – in parts, at least – grown up. A world away from flimsy beach huts and lethal bucket ‘cocktails’, Kamalaya is a jungly wellness retreat staffed by monks. Or the Four Seasons remains as ‘be seen’ as ever. The private infinity pools of its hillside villas make for a more relaxing way to get soaked. Sustainable travel tip: Thai staff who work in busy beach destinations such as Koh Samui must contend with the high costs of living in a tourist town, without comparable wages, so the best thing you can do here is tip – generously, and often.
2. BOLIVIA, SOUTH AMERICA
Temperature: 17°C high; 4°C low Season: wet Travel time from UK: 20 hours Time difference: GMT -4
The end of rainy season in
Bolivia, April marks a magical time on its famous salt flats. The weather makes 4×4 touring manageable again, but the bright-white plains remain partly submerged in water, turning them into a mirror. A rough-and-ready four-day tour is unforgettable, passing smoking volcanoes, a flamingo-flecked red lagoon, and deserts scattered with Dali-esque ‘rock trees’ on the way. After, scrub up in its newly chic capital, La Paz. Gustu, founded by Noma’s Claus Meyer, serves riffs on local dishes (think: llama tartare). For a nightcap, try craft cocktails blended with native firewaters at design hotel Atix, a glass parallelogram with floor-to-ceiling views of surrounding Andean slopes. Sustainable travel tip: Gustu isn’t just La Paz’s hottest restaurant: the kitchen is staffed by graduates of Meyer’s Melting Pot cooking schools, which mentor students in some of Bolivia’s most deprived areas. Eating here not only supports the regional food system, but creates better jobs for locals too.
3. AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Temperature: 11°C high; 4°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 1 hour 15 minutes Time difference: GMT +1 Amsterdam turns orange on April 27, when King’s Day brings a brightly-attired army of partygoers to the city’s streets, parks, and boats bobbing about the canals. This is the Dutch in their good-time prime. It’s also peak season for tulips, with large patchworks of vibrant flowers blooming all around. Make the 30-minute drive to Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens, for rainbow-hued displays. And as one of Europe’s chicest stays, Amsterdam isn’t short on fabulous design hotels ( The Hoxton Amsterdam and Soho House Amsterdam), Instagrammable brunches (we like Little Collins’ potato waffles and kimchi Bloody Marys), or farm-to-table cuisine (more accurately nursery-to-table at De Kas, inside a greenhouse). Sustainable travel tip: Hurrah for Eurostar! From this April you can take a direct train from Amsterdam to London St Pancras, as well as the other way (those coming into the UK previously had to change at Brussels). Launching with two services a day, the train lands you canalside in just over four hours (zippier than the plane when you factor in travel to and from the airport).
4. NAPLES, ITALY
Temperature: 18°C high; 9°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 2 hours 40 minutes Time difference: GMT +1
If Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels stoked curiosity about
Italy’s under-visited southern city, HBO’s recent smash-hit TV adaptation, My Brilliant Friend, has set that curiosity aflame. Less of an Italian Disneyland than Florence, Venice or Rome, Naples is the real deal. Street art adorns 18th-century buildings and public housing alike. Along slender, cobbled lanes, small, family-run workshops turn out the likes of exquisite leather gloves. Piazzas around every corner call for a Spritz stop; pizzas are made according to strict regulations (dough must be no more than 3mm thick). Between museums housing Caravaggios and a trio of castles, there’s people-watching on its lengthy seafront promenade, Lungomare. Soak it all up in mild-tempered April, before the blistering summer sets in. Sustainable travel tip: Take the train to Naples and treat yourself to a bonus city break (or two) en route. Follow the Eurostar from London to Paris with the high-speed TGV to Milan (eight hours) or Turin (five hours 40 minutes), before venturing on to Naples (five or six hours).
5. ZAMBIA, AFRICA
Temperature: 25°C high; 15°C low Season: dry Travel time from UK: 14 hours 30 minutes Time difference: GMT +2 Zambia isn’t nearly as popular as big game neighbours Botswana and Tanzania, due in part to terrible roads and pricey travel packages. If you’ve got the cash to splash, though, this African bush less travelled is a dream. Victoria Falls is its best-known attraction: locals call it ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, the smoke that thunders, as the falls themselves – the largest in the world by volume – are often obscured by spray. April, though, is the start of dry season, so the cascading water is more easily seen. Then onto South Luangwa National Park, with one of the highest densities of big game anywhere in Africa, and far fewer safari vehicles sharing the view. Mix it up with a few blissful days on a luxury houseboat on Lake Kariba, where you can spot the Big Five from the deck. Sustainable travel tip: Elephant poaching is rife in Zambia: an astounding 95 per cent drop in the population has been reported in the country’s south-west. According to Responsible Travel, Kafue National Park is setting a better example with regular anti-poaching patrols courtesy of an independent Zambian NGO, Game Rangers International, resulting in more stable population numbers. Visiting the park helps fund this initiative.
6. BALI, INDONESIA
Temperature: 31°C high; 23°C low Season: dry Travel time from UK: 15 hours 30 minutes Time difference: GMT +8 Bali at peak time? Are we mad? The key, see, is to come in early April. Before that terrifying Easter rush. Between the sad truths of dirty beaches and party-too-hard backpackers, Bali still has its charms. Laid-back Canggu, with its coffeeshops of MacBook-tapping freelancers, smacks of Tulum before it was Tulum: boho, beach-chic, but relaxed. Go for smoothies and veggie bowls at Shady Shack, and try to score an in-demand suite at tropical-brutalist boutique The Slow. Ubud, too, is still the Bali you want it to be in parts. A winning blend of spiritual and swank begins with ritualistic cleansing at Tirta Emou water temple, before undoing it all at elegant Locavore – on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Sustainable travel tip: The tourism overload in Bali is well documented, and its attendant pollution most severely affects locals, who make little money from the boom (the lion’s share of that wealth goes to the government and foreign investors). JED is a tourism network owned by the communities of four local villages, offering trips that not only bring you up close to a more authentic Bali, but give back to the Balinese too.
7. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Temperature: 20°C high; 4°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 10 hours 45 minutes Time difference: GMT -5
Repeatedly hailed both the
United States’ greatest and friendliest city, the absence of a direct flight from the UK to charming Charleston has long been a frustration. But now that British Airways has stepped up, you can soar out of Heathrow and into this southern belle’s cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages. And springtime is the perfect moment, before steamy summer envelops the Deep South. Try jazz-club-hopping in the French Quarter, slurp fresh oysters on the seafront, and don’t miss the colourful Georgians of Rainbow Row. Better still, April’s annual Festival of Houses and Gardens invites you inside some of the city’s most incredible antebellum homes. Go have a snoop. Sustainable travel tip: Eating is one of the great pleasures of Southern culture, and Charleston’s restaurants are on a sustainable kick. Check out McCrady’s, which sources from local farmers and fishermen; Gnome Cafe, where vegan fare is paired with fair-trade coffee; and Five Loaves Cafe, which not only serves organic, Carolina-raised meat, but gives you compostable containers for taking home your leftovers.
8. TORONTO, CANADA
Temperature: 12°C high; 4°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 7 hours 50 minutes Time difference: GMT -5 Canada’s biggest city, Toronto is a thrumming commercial and arts hub that still manages to be polite, tidy and clean – how Canadian! Also very Canadian: its long, bitter winters. Towards the end of April, though, the city thaws and cherry blossoms burst forth – in central High Park, paths flanked by candyfloss-coloured blooms need no filter. Find more of Toronto’s new lease of life at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) – recently relocated to a disused, five-storey aluminium factory. A new St Regis, in the defunct Trump Tower, looks to up the luxury ante, too. Not forgetting the delightful little indie shops and restaurants of the Distillery District, a repurposed Victorian whiskey distillers. Don’t miss dinner at Cluny Bistro: will it be the truffled chicken, or crispy wild boar? Sustainable travel tip: The Gladstone is the first B-Corp certified hotel in Canada – an accolade that recognises high standards of environmental performance and social responsibility. Powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, the hotel also recycles and composts all waste and has a green roof that contributes to natural cooling of the environment, while each guest room is designed by a different local artist.
9. COACHELLA, CALIFORNIA
Temperature: 27°C high; 13°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 10 hours 50 minutes Time difference: GMT -8
It’s the place to be seen in April. And even if you’re a bit over trust-fund babies strutting around in denim underwear and apache headdresses, the lineup often makes it one of the
best festivals in the world. In typically eclectic style, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, Rage Against The Machine, Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey, Charli XCX, Calvin Harris and Carly Rae Jepsen are all slated for 2020. Another reason to show up, of course, is tacking on a little jaunt to retro party playground Palm Springs. Do the pool thing at Ace Hotel and Swim Club (known for its Coachella pool parties), then find mid-century modern design Eden at the historic Sunnylands estate. Sustainable travel tip: Music festivals don’t tend to be the most sustainable way to spend a weekend, but Coachella has come up with a few ways to reduce your footprint: a recycling store that offers various rewards for empty bottles and cans; an energy playground where playing on a see-saw, um, helps power a phone-charging station; and prizes for carpoolers.
Temperature: 20°C high; 11°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 3 hours 50 minutes Time difference: GMT +2
As the southernmost of the Greek islands,
Crete is also the hottest. April makes a great shoulder season – outside of the Easter school holidays, of course – with the mercury rising amiably before summer’s sweltering peak. Take advantage of thinner crowds with lazy days on blockbuster beaches – ordinarily packed, pink-hued Elafonisi should be left in relative peace. Note that the further south you go, the more likely you’ll find a truer Crete, unbothered by resorts. Spectacular, rugged mountain drives thread through lazy villages, where tavernas typically produce their own meat, cheese and wine. You can bet on a few free rounds of house raki after the meal, too. Better plan on staying the night. Sustainable travel tip: Two excellent eco-resorts are tucked away in Crete’s more traditional corners. Milia is a mountain retreat that runs on solar energy and natural spring water, and is perfectly placed for hiking adventures; and Dalabelos is a working farm that offers 10 stone cottages and two luxury villas, sweeping sea views, food grown onsite, and a chance to get involved with the wine and olive harvest.
Temperature: 14°C high; 5°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 1 hour 15 minutes Time difference: GMT +1
Who doesn’t love
Paris in the springtime? Or at any time of year, come to that – Paris is always a good idea, as Audrey Hepburn said. But go now, when the city is warming up and the trees around the Tuileries are in blossom. When we can join the young Parisians who come out blinking into the spring sunshine, shrugging off their good coats to bare a new-season Breton stripe, sit out beside the Canal Saint-Martin and smoke Gauloises, or stroll a long, golden-evening stroll along the Seine, hand in hand with someone else who loves Paris in the springtime. Here’s our pick of best things to do in Paris, France, by day and the best things to do in Paris at night. Sustainable travel tip: Take the Eurostar, of course, but don’t stop there: there’s little more romantic than cycling around Paris in the spring, and, like most major cities now, it has a handy bike-sharing scheme (you can’t miss the bright-green Vélib’ stations). Above: A view from the Pont des Arts of l’Île de la Cité at sunrise.
Temperature: 27°C high; 19°C low Season: dry Travel time from UK: 13 hours 5 minutes Time difference: GMT -5
For long-haul, guaranteed sunshine,
Cuba is a perfect option. April and March are the best months to go to Cuba, weather-wise: when it’s pretty dry, hot-but-not-too-hot (between 19ºC at night and 29ºC in the daytime) and days are long and sunny. Prices, meanwhile, aren’t bad, the holiday traffic long gone. Havana is heaven. But go to the beaches, too, for unspoilt Caribbean white sands and turquoise seas, with a Latin beat. Sustainable travel tip: Very little private enterprise is permitted in communist Cuba, which leaves locals struggling to survive on tiny state salaries and rations. An exception to the rule: casas particulares (B&Bs) and paladares (in-home restaurants). Choosing to eat and sleep in these independent ventures not only helps Cubans, it gets you inside a proper Cuban home, up close to the ‘real Cuba’ that so many visitors come to see, but won’t find inside a resort.
Temperature: 23°C high; 11°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 3 hours 35 minutes Time difference: GMT +1
Marrakech is not hot all year round. Yes, it’s in Africa, near the Sahara but in winter it can be chilly and only marginally brighter than Manchester, and that zellige tiling doesn’t offer much cosy warmth. Our tip: wait til spring, the best time to visit Morocco, when it starts to warm up a bit and you can at least hope to waft around your pool in a floaty kaftan, rather than hunkering down with a book, wearing 12 cardigans and a scratchy djellaba. The hillsides are bursting with almond blossom, and the city comes alive with colour, and sunlight casts ornate shadows in every sensational courtyard. Sustainable travel tip: You can get to Marrakech without setting foot in a plane or a car, though you should expect it to take a couple of days. (Eurostar to Paris; high-speed TGV to Barcelona; high-speed AVE to Algeciras; ferry to Tangier; then, finally, a high-speed Al Boraq train to Marrakech.) However you get there, the Beldi Country Club hotel is a good option for a low-impact stay: built with local materials and by local artisans, and serving a seasonal menu of local organic ingredients, it’s a refuge from the city’s chaos, but just seven miles from its heart. Above: Kasbah Beldi.
Temperature: 19°C high; 11°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 2 hours 45 minutes Time difference: GMT +0
Lisbon has absolutely every element vital for a great weekend break (or more). Burgeoning social, food, arts and design scenes; great little places to eat and drink (read about Lisbon’s best restaurants and bars); interesting old corners and markets to poke around (see our guide to the best shops in Lisbon) with just the right amount of crumbling, poster-paint-bright historic facades. There are old palaces to stay in and Lisbon rooftop bars with pools to hang out in. It’s beside the sea! And it’s all ridiculously, delightfully affordable. Go at any time – though April is a great time to go to Lisbon, when the days are long and sunny and the cobbled streets are beginning to warm up. Sustainable travel tip: Not only can Lisbon be reached by train from London in less than 24 hours, it’s also a chance to travel in style on the overnight Sud Express train, which has sleeper cabins with private showers, and a café/bar. First, catch the Eurostar from London to Paris, then the high-speed TGV to Hendaye on the French/Spanish border, followed by a night on the rails. Arrive in Lisbon refreshed and ready to go.
Temperature: 23°C high; 10°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 4 hours 30 minutes Time difference: GMT +2
For short-haul sunshine in Europe in April,
Cyprus is an excellent destination for a beach holiday, or for walking. This roughly beautiful and interesting island in the southernmost reaches of the Mediterranean is wonderful in springtime. It’s beach weather at the coast – warm enough to swim in the sea, and not yet too hot; while in the rugged interior, April is the greenest month of the year, and the hillsides are bursting with wonderful light and colour: wildflowers and orchids grow along the pathways and fragrant herbs scent the air. Sustainable travel tip: Consider moving your trip inland, away from the coastal resorts. Various operators offer cycling and walking holidays through the island’s traditional villages and unspoiled mountain scenery, where you’ll eat in small tavernas serving home-grown fare, stop off for a tipple at any number of vineyards and stay in locally owned B&Bs.
Temperature: 27°C high; 15°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: from 10 hours 5 minutes Time difference: GMT -6
Spring is a lovely time of year in
Texas. The weather is not yet too intensely hot (high twenties during the day), the skies are blue and clear, and things start to move outdoors – festivals, gigs, parties, eating and drinking. Austin‘s SXSW influx of visitors have left (unless of course SXSW is what you seek, in which case come in March) but the city is still abuzz with live music and vibrant happenings. The weather in Marfa, out in the High Texan Desert, is just right for walking the many miles around Donald Judd’s large-scale installations and land art out under the desert sun (at this time of year, not too harsh), and just right too for staying in a vintage van or airstream at El Cosmico. Sustainable travel tip: Be aware that, while Marfa has fast transformed from a forgotten desert outpost (pop 1,900) to an international hipster hangout, the town’s annual per capita income is less than £15,500, and 20 per cent of its population lives in poverty. So tip generously and often. In Austin, consider the Park Lane Guest House, with its solar-powered cottages, bicycle rentals and breakfast sourced from the onsite organic garden.
Temperature: 16°C high; 4°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 2 hours Time difference: GMT +1
While things are hotting up down at the coast, up in the mountains it’s still ice-cool. A spring ski break is a brilliant thing, especially for people who are more concerned with the après ski than the quality of the powder. But where to ski in April?
Zermatt is one of the best ski resorts in April – it’s high enough that there’s still plenty of snow (it’s got the highest ski lifts in Europe) and open all year round, plus a snowmaking machine to top up the levels on the glacier. It’s quieter and cheaper than in high season (as long as you avoid the Easter holidays). No queues for the lifts or at the bar; and the sun on the terraces is properly warm for long, al fresco lunches. Sustainable travel tip: Getting to Zermatt on the Glacier Express train is easily the most scenic route into the Swiss mountains. Panoramic windows showing off the country would be reason enough, but there are three-course meals and an extensive wine list to go with. First, though, you’ll need to catch a Eurostar to Paris, followed by a TGV to Lausanne (journey time: just short of four hours), then a Swiss InterRegional to Visp (35 minutes), and from Visp, the Glacier Express. Wait times between are negligible: see seat61.com for more.
Temperature: 26°C high; 13°C low Season: wet Travel time from UK: 10 hours Time difference: GMT +2
As the coast of
Namibia has practically no rain and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, you’d be hard-pushed to not get decent weather. It is welcoming and politically stable, vast and largely uninhabited. And it’s lovely in April – a moderate 24ºC by day. The Skeleton Coast is stunning and atmospheric; the Etosha national game park packed with wildlife (four of the big five plus diverse birdlife), with lots of camps to stay at. Venture into the Namib Desert, to Sossusvlei, a salt pan surrounded by red sand dunes, best visited at dawn or dusk when the light is most dramatic. Sustainable travel tip: Plan to stay on a communal conservancy: an area of protected land managed by the local community. While the communities partner with private enterprises – including big brands such as Under Canvas – to build visitor accommodation and offer game drives and the like, local involvement keeps these projects sustainable and provides the people who live there with an income. See a full list of Namibia’s communal conservancies here.
Temperature: 20°C high; 12°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: 11 hours 35 minutes Time difference: GMT +9
cherry-blossom time in Tokyo. It has become an extraordinarily significant event, with first-bloom forecasts (from around the end of March in Tokyo to early April elsewhere in Japan) and national festivals celebrating the arrival of spring in the flowering of pink across the land. Parks across the city are filled with thousands of cherry trees. Rent a boat and row yourself, your best friend and your selfie stick around in a rosy haze. Then take a trip down the backstreets with our insider guide to the coolest places in Tokyo. Sustainable travel tip: Taxis in Tokyo tend to be quite expensive – and even charge 20 per cent extra between 10pm and 5am – so stick to the city’s excellent subway system, which, in typical Japanese style, is incredibly clean, meticulously planned and more often than not on time.
Temperature: 28°C high; 17°C low Season: spring Travel time from UK: from 9 hours 15 minutes Time difference: GMT -5
The winter-sun state is wonderful in spring and autumn. It’s one of the best places to go on holiday in April for beach breaks or outdoor adventures, with long sunny days and warm-but-not-hot weather – just right for tailing alligators through the mangroves or galloping around a cattle ranch, cruising around
Miami‘s art district or having a classic family beach holiday on the Gulf of Mexico. Sustainable travel tip: The Florida Green Lodging programme recognises hotels and B&Bs that are doing their bit to conserve Florida’s natural resources in several areas, including educating customers and employees, recycling, conserving water and reducing energy consumption. Find a map of designated lodgings here. Above: Pool at the Thompson Beach Hotel.