Spring is a fantastic time to plan a trip in Europe. It’s shoulder season, so the crowds will be thinner, and the prices will be a bit friendlier on the budget. Additionally, in many parts of the continent, the weather begins to improve enough that you won’t need your heaviest winter attire. So, where exactly should you go during this season? Here are the best cities in Europe to visit during springtime!
Tirana is quirky and funky and has undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years, thanks to Albania’s big tourism push. These efforts have succeeded, as visitor numbers increase by millions each year. However, that means the previously unknown city is rising in popularity, so go before June for a quieter experience. It’s also much more pleasant temperature-wise.
Kosovo’s cultural capital isn’t on many traveler’s itineraries in Europe. But it should be! The best time to visit is spring before it gets too hot to hike up to the fortress or enjoy a tasty Kosovo coffee along the river.
The Swiss banking capital is often merely used as an arrival base for travelers before they immediately jet off for the Alps or smaller towns. However, in spring, Zurich begins to come out of the cold weather hibernation zone. You’ll find numerous cafes and bars with outdoor seating (without heat lamps) waiting for you to enjoy an Aperol spritz in the sun. And this is when activities on the lake begin to open for the season.
Greece’s capital is crowded and way too hot in summer. For the most enjoyable trip, visit in spring. Poppies and daisies decorate the city and the ancient ruins that still exist next to modern apartment buildings. Additionally, the hike to the Acropolis is much less strenuous during these months than the 90-plus-degree summer days.
Most visitors to Austria stop in Vienna, Salzburg, and maybe Innsbruck if they like mountains. But Graz, a smaller city in the south, near the border with Slovenia, is a must-visit in Europe. The entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the well-preserved buildings. Their bright colors and medieval architecture are best seen in spring light, and don’t miss a walk along the river!
The Bavarian capital is known to Germans as one of the bougier cities. And what better way to enjoy a bit of glam than during the city’s spring thaw? Enjoy a drink at one of the many outdoor beer gardens or admire the impressive botanical garden. And if the ever-precarious weather takes a turn for the worse, duck into one of the more than 80 museums in the city.
Visitors to Croatia often skip the capital and fly directly to the coast. But Zagreb is a great little city and beautiful in spring. Forget the crowds in the Netherlands. Zagreb is full of tulips in April and May, and you won’t have to line up for hours to see them!
The high season in Croatia isn’t always pleasant, and the crowds in Dubrovnik are among some of the worst in all of Europe. Thus, the smart time to visit is during shoulder season, like spring! Walk the walls without bumping elbows every five minutes and take in the sites and epic ocean views without feeling like a sardine.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo is a city rich in history and has been central to many events throughout the past decade. While it’s beautiful throughout the year, spring is especially scenic. The surrounding mountains turn green after a long winter, the coffee shops (with some of the best brews in Europe) re-open terraces, and the sunshine paints the entire city in lovely light.
France’s gastronomical capital always serves something good. And if you visit in April and May, you can enjoy glorious weather before a bit of spring hiking in the Alps. Stroll along the Rhone or Saone Rivers, or have a coffee outside at Confluence, where the two turquoise bodies of water meet!
Madrid might not be as popular as Barcelona or Mallorca, but plenty remains to do. And due to its inland location and lack of sea breeze, it’s much more comfortable during springtime. Additionally, earlier in the season, the city’s numerous almond trees bloom in an amazing display of white and pink.
The Scottish Highlands might be the most storybook-esque in all their snowy winter glory. However, if frigid temps and snow aren’t your thing, the warmer season is also lovely. The cobblestone streets and historical buildings come to life. It’s more pleasant than the crowded summer when midges (tiny gnats) can be quite a problem.
Romania is far from the tourist trail, and that also goes for the capital city. However, Bucharest makes for a nice little spring visit. The temps are pleasantly in the 70s, perfect for strolling streets best explored on foot.
Toulouse is called “La Ville en Rose” or “The Pink City” due to the unique bricks used in most buildings in the city center. When sunlight washes over the dwellings, they turn a rosy pink. The best time of year to view the phenomenon is during spring when the lack of light in winter is gone, and before the extreme heat of this part of France in summer.
Bruge might be the more popular medieval town in Belgium, but Ghent is a tad bigger and has more of a “city” feel. Take a cruise on the canal, have coffee at one of the many outdoor cafes, or have a wander and bask in the springtime weather.
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
If you decide to visit the Netherlands during April and May, some options exist for escaping crowds. Once you’ve had your fill of flowers, head to one of the country’s coolest and most underrated cities: Rotterdam. Have a picnic along the canal, take one of the many ferries, or have a picnic in one of the numerous parks.
This city in northern Germany is perfect for those looking for fantastic architecture and history. More popular in winter due to fantastic Christmas markets, you’ll surely have a less crowded experience in spring. And don’t forget to climb the cathedral steps for sweeping views of Cologne.
Italy as a whole and Florence in particular are very popular among travelers to Europe. So, if you want to avoid the hordes, go in shoulder season — i.e., spring. The temps will still be pleasant enough to enjoy wine outside with views of the main square, and you won’t be waiting for hours at each museum and site.
Budapest has become much-loved over the years amongst travelers. The city baths, different forms of architecture, and great cafe scene are just a few reasons why. Spring is a great time to visit the city, thanks to the flowers blooming in the parks and streets.
The Danish capital is quite trendy and popular among foodies, thanks to the many high-end restaurants that call it home. However, spring is probably the best time to visit as you’ll be able to dine outside and enjoy the markets in the sun.
Bratislava is a terrific, lesser-known place to visit once the weather warms up a bit. Stroll around the Nove Mesto neighborhood before checking out the castle. And then, if you have time, head up to the Tatras Mountains, just a few hours’ drive away.
In a city best known for winter and Christmas markets, it might come as a surprise that we advise visiting in spring. But it’s really the most enjoyable time to visit as the crowds have thinned and flowers bloom all over town. It’s one of the prettiest times to view the multicolored gingerbread-esque homes.
Move over, Stockholm. Malmo is here to steal the show amongst visitors in spring. Enjoy the coastal location with a fika (Swedish coffee and cake break) along the water in the friendlier temps. Then, bike through the city and peruse the many markets throughout the week.