1. Cork to London from €31 return*
You can land at London Stansted just in time for a monster breakfast on Pancake Day (March 5) – the team behind Breakfast Club (in Soho and various other London locations) always have something fluffy up their sleeve. Or get your first rays of spring sun in St James’s Park, a short walk from Buckingham Palace – your best bet to enjoy the magical cherry blossoms in the city centre. Check out the best hotels in London for every budget to find the cheapest deal on offer.
2. Cork to Liverpool from €37 return*
Liverpool celebrates spring in a big way. The Liverpool Spring Food and Drink Festival takes place by the boating lake of the gorgeous Sefton Park (27 & 28 April 2019), bringing the best street food (give those duck wraps a try), an artisan market, a craft and lifestyle area – and a Prosecco tent for bubbly treats. In early May the Liverpool Spring 5K and Kids 1K take place entirely within the park limits (the 10K race ends up here, too) and everyone is welcome. Expect to see plenty of bands, strategically placed around the route to boost your energy levels.
3. Dublin to Edinburgh from €31 return*
Visit Edinburgh’s 350-year-old Royal Botanic Garden, home to 100,000 plants from around the world – including daffodils, a season favourite. The Scottish capital also hosts over 3000 events a year. Among the best this season is Edinburgh International Science Festival (6-21 April 2019) offering plenty of workshops, discussions and hands-on experiments for the whole family. Discover the top attractions and things to do in Edinburgh, so you don’t miss a thing.
4. Dublin to Paris from €47 return*
Spring is when the City of Lights truly reveals its breathtaking beauty. Take an atmospheric night-time cruise down the Seine on a Bateau Mouche, sailing past landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. But art lovers will relish European Museums Night (18/5/2019), when the Louvre, Centre Pompidou and other world-renowned museums and galleries stay open until late – and they won’t cost you a cent. Check out our insider’s guide to Paris galleries before you go.
5. Dublin to Amsterdam from €47 return*
Spring brings out the best in Amsterdam. During the annual Tulp Festival in April over half a million tulips fill the city with spectacular bursts of colour. You can also easily venture outside the city to the flower strip (bollenstreek) and the kaleidoscopic Keukenhof Gardens. But there’s more cause for celebration. King’s Day (27/4) is a great excuse for Amsterdam’s biggest street party, with plenty of music, food and one massive flea market taking over the streets and parks. The ‘free market’ (vrijmarkt) is where locals sell their second-hand goods – and where you’ll find the best bargains.
6. Dublin to Barcelona from €51 return*
The beach of La Barceloneta wakes from its wintry slumber. If you’re not into rollerblading, rent a bike and swish past the city’s waterside attractions and blooming streets – check out our local’s guide to Barcelona for the best tips. The first days of spring find the city virtually tourist-free, which means that you’ll have usually busy museums, like Museu Picasso, all to yourself. You’ll still have to queue up, though, at the Barcelona Beer Festival (15-17/3/19) to get a taste of around 500 different brews alongside a delicious pick of tapas.
7. Dublin to Lisbon from €51 return*
A warm spring day is the perfect time to discover Belém, a picturesque district boasting manicured gardens, magnificent views of the Tagus River and jaw-dropping historic attractions, like the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém. It is also here that you’ll most enjoy a traditional Pastel de Belém (Portuguese custard tart), first introduced by Jerónimos monks in 1837. For further explorations, check out our list of the top 7 things to do in Lisbon.
8. Dublin to Budapest from €51 return*
Budapest in full bloom is one reason to visit the city in spring 2019. The other reason would be, of course, the fantastic festivals. The 39th Budapest Spring Festival (5-22/4/19) features dozens of performances – from classical music to contemporary circus. Meanwhile, the Füvészkert Botanical Gardens welcome the Sakura Festival (7-8/4/19), where dreamy cherry blossoms provide an ultra-Instagrammable backdrop to your picnic. Finally, don’t forget to try one of these luxurious bath houses in the ‘City of Spas’.
9. Dublin to Milan from €60 return*
Let fashionistas do the shopping, while you explore Milan’s wonderful parks – and there’s more than the serene Parco Sempione in the city’s busy historic centre. After visiting the Brera Palace and Pinacoteca di Brera’s stunning collection of Italian paintings head towards the back of the building, where you’ll discover the palazzo’s botanical garden. This small 18th-century park designed by Fulgenzio Vitman is a well-kept secret in the area, providing precious moments of nostalgic reverie. Discover more of the city’s secrets in our local’s guide of the 10 best things to do in Milan.
10. Shannon to Alicante from €60 return*
If the weather in the first days of spring is a bit nippy for swimming, there’s plenty of alternatives to Alicante’s urban beaches. Nights are vibrant in El Barrio, Alicante’s Old Town, an area jam-packed with bars and restaurants that serve tasty Valencian cuisine and awarded local wines. It’s also worth heading to San Juan Beach to try dishes with ingredients sourced from the local farmers’ market at the popular Casa Pepe. If you’re not into seafood try the rice with rabbit and snails, served in a classic “paellera”.
11. Cork to Malaga from €60 return*
Semana Santa (Holy Week, 14-21 April) processions in Malaga are a sight to behold. It’s when the local brotherhoods parade their massive ornate floats in impressive numbers. Some of the more weighty “tronos” are carried by a couple of hundred men! The celebrations go back several centuries, and the festive atmosphere is truly intoxicating. There’s plenty more to explore in our local’s guide to the best things to do in Malaga.
12. Dublin to Prague from €60 return*
This fairytale city fills up with visitors pretty quickly once the temperatures start to rise. Opt for an early spring escape to truly enjoy the city’s most spectacular attractions, like the Prague Castle. The world-class Prague Spring Festival (12/5-4/6/19) is also an event not to be missed by classical music fans. Renowned local and international artists meet in the elegant Smetana Hall, a sumptuous architectural mix of Czech Art Nouveau, Renaissance and neo-Baroque. End your day on a high note – try our pick of Prague’s best bars.
13. Dublin to Rome from €60 return*
The scent of wisterias perfumes the air in the Roman Forum, and the Spanish Steps are coloured with pink bursts of azaleas. If crowds are not your thing avoid Easter week or the Eternal City’s birthday celebrations (21st of April) – or simply lose yourself in the charming streets of Trastevere. The historic neighbourhood is packed with sights like the 5th-century Basilica di Santa Cecilia – as well as trattorias that serve traditional Roman fare. Here’s our pick of the 12 of the best restaurants in Rome.
14. Cork to Faro from €72 return*
Often regarded solely as a gateway to Portugal’s southern coast, Faro is an intriguing destination in its own right. Stroll around the cobblestone back alleys of Cidade Velha (Old Town), admire the azulejos tilework in the 13th-century Faro Cathedral or visit the atmospheric Archaeological Museum, where the exquisite 3rd-century mosaic of god Oceanus is on display. The Old Town also has little shops, cafés and restaurants in abundance. And don’t forget to check out these 5 beautiful beaches near Faro.
15. Dublin to Athens from €72 return*
It’s highly likely you’ll get glorious sunshine in spring in Athens – without the crowds, so it’s worth checking out the best spring deals for 2019. You’ll spot lots of cosy hangouts to slowly sip traditional Greek coffee or an icy frappé in Anafiotika, a delightful neighbourhood in the shadow of the Acropolis. Or delve into the trendy bars and restaurants springing up like mushrooms in the arty Metaxourgeio. Kerameion regularly puts on high-spirited jazz gigs – and its leafy patio feels like home away from home. These are our 8 top things to do in Athens – take your pick!
16. Cork to Lanzarote from €94 return*
The sun-drenched beaches of Papagayo in the south are definitely worth a visit, but consider instead renting an airy bungalow in the lesser-known coastal village of Caleta de Famara in the north of the island. You’ll get your first surf lesson against a cinematic backdrop of dunes and volcanic cliffs, while scenic hiking trails and cycling routes will make every day a new adventure. Get more ideas with our guide to the top things to do in Lanzarote.
17. Dublin to Tenerife from €94 return*
You can’t leave Tenerife without experiencing the sublime lunar beauty of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak. And the best way to do that is by taking one of the panoramic on and off-road cycling routes snaking around the island. Some of the steepest uphill climbs are best left to the pros, but there’s plenty of alternatives for beginners, too. Valleys, gorges, and tradiotional towns like La Orotava await you – and they’re worth the sweat.
18. Cork to Gran Canaria from €94 return*
Cosmopolitan capital Las Palmas is eternally exciting, but it’s worth taking the road less travelled in Gran Canaria. Follow an early morning swim in Maspalomas beach with a 30-minute drive up the Fataga Valley, also known as the “Valley of the Thousand Palms”. The El Albaricoque Fataga Restaurant in Fataga village serves delicious local fare, like papas arrugadas – with dazzling views as a side dish.
19. Dublin to New York from €229 return*
It’s events galore every spring in New York. Catch the best new independent documentaries and films at the trendy Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan (18-29/4/19). Or vote for the most inventive cocktail served at The Bloody Mary Festival (7/4) in Brooklyn. It’s the city’s wildest brunch party – where you’ll also get the chance to try out some temporary tattoos. Read our top money-saving tips on how to holiday in New York on a budget.
20. Dublin to Bangkok from €410 return*
It’s time for Songkran Festival (13-15/4) in Bangkok – so you better have your water gun at the ready. Celebrate the Thai New Year as thrilling water fights erupt in the streets of the capital – a wackier version of a symbolic ritual meant to wash away bad luck (and your secret sins, shh!…). The biggest “fights” take place in Khao San Road and Silom Road. See 10 fun things to do in Thailand after the party’s over.
*Published December 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.