INSPIRATION • March 2019
Taking exceptional events and meteorological mood swings into account, travel writer Alicia Miller pinpoints the city break destinations ready to delight this April
Delicate pashminas and silk slippers for sale in the cavernous Grand Bazaar; glittering treasures and intricate frescoes to view at the ornate Topkapi Palace; haunting calls to prayer, ringing out through cobbled streets, from the Blue Mosque – Istanbul makes for a brilliant break at any time of year. But, the city where east-meets-west is especially enchanting in April, when temperatures leave the banks of the sparkling Bosphorus strait sun-licked rather than scorching, and tourists numbers haven’t yet hit their frenetic summer peak.
Dream flight: Take BA0680 from London Heathrow at 17:40 on Friday, and arrive into Istanbul at 23:55.
By April, Berlin’s icy winter has passed and the city comes into its own – candy-floss-pink cherry blossoms adorn the Gardens of the World; families greet giraffes at the city’s sprawling zoo, and crowds sip the season’s first alfresco brews at the verdant Prater Biergarten. Stroll the broad, tree-lined streets – they get greener with each passing day – and along the undulating river Spree, taking in the regal Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, their stone exteriors popping against springtime blue sky.
Dream flight: Take BA0994 from London Heathrow at 17:00 on Friday, and arrive into Berlin at 19:55.
If flowers are your thing, there’s nowhere better in April than Amsterdam. The city itself is a corker, decked out with hundreds of thousands of rainbow blooms as the month-long Tulip Festival takes over. But the real display is out of the centre, an easy train journey away at sprawling Keukenhof Gardens – here there’s a whopping seven million flowers at peak Insta-perfection. Gardening doesn’t quicken your pulse? King’s Day might – on 27 April all of Amsterdam dons orange and joins joyous, raucous canal parties.
Dream flight: Take BA0442 from London Heathrow at 18:00 on Friday, and arrive into Amsterdam at 20:20.
Sea-breeze-kissed Lisbon boasts the perfect weather in April. Its sunny 19°C days are just right for clinking chilled glasses of port and tonics on restaurant esplanade terraces, a pleasure sometimes denied in summer’s baking heat. It’s also just the right temperature for strolling along the Tagus river, in the charming Belém neighbourhood (famous for its tower), and popping into pastel de nata-packed bakeries. Make for popular Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, and take your tarts away to enjoy on the grass in nearby Garden Vasco da Gama.
Dream flight: Take BA0504 from London Heathrow at 20:15 on Friday, and arrive into Lisbon at 23:00.
With its masterpiece-packed museums, atmospheric cafes and terracotta-roofed Duomo, Florence is a favourite with visitors year-round. But April is when the city takes on a particularly local feel, as Florentines celebrate the city’s half marathon (7 April) and a weekend-long biking festival (mid-April). At Easter, the Scoppio del Carro, an elaborate cart procession pulled by oxen – ending in a fireworks display – is an only-in-Florence affair. There’s no arguing with the 20°C sunny weather, either.
Dream flight: Take BA3279 from London City at 9:20 on Friday, and arrive into Florence at 12:25.
In summer it packs out; in winter, its pebbled beachfront – the city’s heart and soul – is disappointingly bare. No question, spring is the nicest time to be in this southern French spot. Rosé-soaked beach clubs are setting up their loungers on the sun-warmed, but still pleasantly sleepy seafront. You can browse the fresh flowers of the Cours Saleya market – slice of steaming socca (chickpea pancake) in hand – without a sweater. And, you can navigate the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum in peace, as high-season tourist throngs haven’t yet hit.
Dream flight: Take BA0356 from London Heathrow at 18:00 on Friday, and arrive into Nice at 21:05.