INSPIRATION • March 2020
Welcome to the month of spring flowers, fools and an inordinate amount of Easter treats. It’s the time of year when even if you’ve been fooled on the first, you can still come out smiling on the last day of the month by taking a trip to one of these tantalising European destinations. Travel writer Rob Crossan reveals the best for an April getaway
No European capital city gets more sunshine than Lisbon. Rise early to get the best views of the town from (and a seat on) the legendary number 28 tram, which weaves and heaves its way up some of the seven hills from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique. Sample lusty and unpretentious Portuguese cuisine at the wonderfully atmospheric Loja das Conservas, connected to a tiny grocery store, where mackerel pie and fish soup come in huge portions at knock-down prices. Lisbon knows how to party hard and late, and no ’hood does it better than Bairro Alto. Do as the locals do and hop around as many bars as you can, but don’t miss the potent caipirinhas at Maria Caxuxa, and the petiscos snack dishes from Cape Verde served with drinks at Alto do Bairro.
Dream flight: Take BA502 from Heathrow at 15:05 on Friday. Arrive into Lisbon at 17:50.
Spectacular architecture, ferociously good football and a temperature come April that makes a dip in the Med distinctly tempting, Barcelona simply never runs out of ways to beguile. Start with a sumptuous lunch of locally sourced cuisine at GatBlau, where the superb value £20 set menu can include cauliflower with sheeps’ cheese and hazelnuts, and chocolate and orange mousse. Afterwards, avoid the Las Ramblas crowds by strolling among locals in Ciutadella Park’s 44 acres of flower-lined paths. Come nightfall hit Xixbar, which mixes eccentric decor with knock-out drinks such as a strawberry-infused gintónic in an immense goblet.
Dream flight: Take BA476 from Heathrow at 08:25 on Friday. Arrive into Barcelona at 11:30.
Dazzling Art Deco architecture, sublime cuisine and a strong contender for Europe’s most demure and delightful waterfront promenade, Nice and spring go together like oysters and Sancerre. Take lunch in Lou Pilha Leva on Rue du Collet, where moules frites and sardine fritters are the highlights of a haunt beloved by locals. Spend the rest of the day people watching along the Promenade des Anglais, with the pretty pink dome of the Le Negresco hotel on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Come nightfall, the best bars are found in the Vieux Nice district. Try exceptional microbrew beers at Au Fut et a Mesure, where the draught taps are handily situated at your table.
Dream flight: Take BA346 from Heathrow at 09:55 on Friday. Arrive into Nice at 13:00.
The cobbled streets of this Croatian charmer are ideal for a morning of purposeless meandering while you work up an appetite for a typically unrestrained local lunch of pork belly with creamy mash and fried Brussels sprouts at delightful bistro Otto and Frank. Afterwards, take your sated self on a ride up all 217 feet of Zagreb’s miniscule funicular. At the top you’ll find a 13th-century fortification tower and grandiose city views. Round off your day with a peek into Croatia’s weighty art history with a trip to the Modern Gallery, whose focus is on 19th and 20th-century works.
Dream flight: Take BA848 from Heathrow at 11:55 on Friday. Arrive into Zagreb at 15:15.
Trust the Romans to give a place an appropriate name. Originally Alicante was called Lucentum, or ‘city of light’. The name still works for this piece of eternally sun-soaked Spain, where your afternoon should begin by taking the lift to the summit of the medieval Castillo de Santa Barbara – you’ll be rewarded with fine views of Alicante and the sprawling coastline. Top-notch tapas awaits inside El Mercado Central de Alicante, where the central bar serves salmon and caviar on toast, sublime hams plus fresh bread and anchovies at rock-bottom prices. Come late afternoon, stroll along the city beach where, even at this late hour, the water will still be warm enough for you to take a dip.
Dream flight: Take BA2630 from Gatwick at 15:10 on Friday. Arrive into Alicante at 18:40.
It’s still a little early for the party to have truly started for the summer, but now is the perfect month to explore the quieter side of Ibiza. Begin in the Unesco World Heritage protected medieval hilltop town of Dalt Vila, where the winding streets are surrounded by 16th-century, Renaissance-style walls built to protect the town from Berber attack. From here take the short drive (nowhere is far in Ibiza) to San Jose, another bijou town with a spectacular tapas restaurant called Destino. Its menu runs the gauntlet from eggplant layered with mozzarella to mixed vegetable paella. Later, visit one of Ibiza’s small but growing collection of vineyards – bodega Can Rich is open for tours by prior appointment, with tastings and tapas.
Dream flight: Take BA8461 from London City at 09:25 on Friday. Arrive into Ibiza at 12:50.