Best vacations in april 2017

Best international destinations to visit in April 2017

Japan looks the prettiest when the cherry blossoms are out. Image courtesy: ©Ark Tui/500px

Hike to the Everest Base Camp, rub shoulders with Roman gladiators at the Colosseum before summer temperatures hit, ski-tour some of the Alp’s finest terrain on the Haute Route, discover Wordsworth’s lyrical landscapes as England’s Lake District transforms under a blanket of daffodils or recline with a picnic beneath the cherry blossoms in Japan, there is something for everyone in this round-up of best places to visit in April.

It’s blooming gorgeous in Japan in April
No time of year excites the Japanese quite like spring, because it is sakura (cherry blossom) season. Across the country, people await the first blooms, which usually appear in the southern Okinawan islands by February, before spreading northwards, erupting in cities such as Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima in late March and April; Hokkaido sees blossom into May.

Not only is this the prettiest time to be in Japan, it is among the most festive. Hanami (parties under the blossom) are widespread in city parks. Families and friends roll out their tarps and eat beneath the trees; stores even sell hanami bento boxes, which contain seasonal produce, pink-tinged dumplings and veg cut into blossom shapes. Especially scenic sakura spots include Kyoto’s canal-side Philosopher’s Path, Mt Yoshino in Nara and Kumamoto Castle.

Spring temperatures make Rome ideal for sightseeing

Rome is less busy during spring time in April. Image courtesy: ©TTstudio/

History buffs might like to visit Rome on its birthday. The Eternal City was founded on 21 April 753 BC, and every year it celebrates with events, illuminations and truck-loads of fireworks.

Festivities aside, April to May is a delightful time to visit. Rome is a city for sightseeing, which is far better done on milder spring days (15-20°C; 59-68°F) than in the depths of winter or heights of summer with the largely shadeless Forum being particularly unforgiving in the latter. It’s also less busy (and a little cheaper), though seasonal attractions are open; for instance, atmospheric after-dark tours of the Colosseum run April to October. To top it all, menus fill with good spring things, such as artichokes and asparagus. Vignarola, a Roman speciality combining peas, fava beans, lettuce and artichokes is the season’s signature dish.

Get hot and wet with cool festivities in Thailand

Songkran is celebrated with the world’s biggest water fight. Image courtesy: ©Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

All of Thailand sizzles in April – from the highlands of Chiang Mai to the islands of the south, the mercury is rising above 30°C. Sweaty stuff, but a great time to hit the beach. Ko Samet is an easy white-sand escape from Bangkok; further afield, try paddling around the James Bond karst rocks of Ao Phang Nga, diving off Ko Tao, water sporting on Phuket or simply lolling on offbeat Ko Kood.

If you’re stuck in the city, head to one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars for a bit of a breeze. However, come mid-month, cooling down gets easier. Songkran, Thai New Year, is held 13 to 15 April and is celebrated with the world’s biggest water fight. Traditionally, family members gently sprinkled each other for good luck; now water balloons and pump-action pistols are employed. It’s all refreshing good fun. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two of the best places to go for a festive drenching.

Tackle an Alpine classic when conditions are best

Skiing in Chamonix is a great experience. Image courtesy: ©Magnus Kallstrom/

The 120-km Haute Route links Chamonix/Mont Blanc and Zermatt/the Matterhorn via some of the Alps’ finest terrain. It ticks off two countries, skirts beneath most of the range’s highest summits, crosses cols, traverses lakes and descends glaciers. Simply, it is the crème de la crème of ski-touring, and only for those with experience.

Long days at high altitude (it tops out at 12,434ft Pigne d’Arolla) make it a challenging prospect. The main Haute Route ski-touring season runs from mid-March to late April. This is when the glaciers are safely covered in powder, the weather is generally milder, and the mountain huts are open, heated and cooking up hearty hot meals. Don’t ski? Come back in summer to do it on foot.

Discover your inner Indiana Jones in Jordan

Petra is a must-visit place in Jordan. Image courtesy: ©Adriano Ongaro/500px

Compact Jordan is the complete package. Ancient wonders? Visit the 2000-year-old rock-hewn city of Petra or Kerak’s Crusader castle. City sights? Try Roman Jerash or the souks of Amman. Jaw-dropping landscapes? Camp in the alien-esque deserts of Wadi Rum. Wildlife? Explore Dana Nature Reserve. Beach? Pick between the salty Dead Sea or snorkel-friendly Red Sea.

More surprisingly, Jordan can also be very green – especially at this time. In April, humidity and rainfall are low, temperatures loiter delightfully around the low 20°Cs (68-73°F), the central valleys are lush from winter rains and there are wildflowers everywhere. In particular, Ajloun Forest is abloom with strawberry trees and rock roses and Dana’s oases are bright with oleander and birds. Also, the vastness of Petra can be explored without breaking a sweat. In short, a beautiful time to travel across the country.

See a host of golden daffodils in the Lake District, England

Lake District is charming during spring. Image courtesy: ©Mat Robinson/500px

Poet William Wordsworth loved the Lake District. He lived in Grasmere, at Dove Cottage (now open to visitors), and found inspiration in the surrounding fells, most notably in April: it was a daffodil-filled walk in April 1802 that provoked his most famous work, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’.

Spring in the Lakes might make anyone feel lyrical. New-born lambs gambolling, Wordsworth’s daffodils nodding, the hills an extraordinary shade of green. Services such as boats across the lakes are becoming more frequent, yet summer tourists haven’t descended, so roads, campsites and honey-pot towns aren’t heaving, and holiday cottages are more affordable. There’s also plenty of great hiking and cycling. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but it always is. Prepare for cold and rain, hope for sun, set out to be inspired.

Discover flowers, festivals and on-foot adventures in Nepal

Trekkers in Mount Everest National Park. Image courtesy: ©Bartosz Hadyniak/Getty Images

Quick! You can just squeeze in a trip to Nepal before the summer monsoon renders it hot, wet and treacherous. Indeed, March to April is a great time to explore the Himalaya: the rhododendron trees are in full and fabulous bloom, painting the land in incredible reds, pinks and purples, turning to white higher up.

Long, warm days also make this an appealing time to hike. In particular, there’s a buzz in the Everest region as hardcore mountaineers start gathering (most summit attempts are made mid-May); tackle the Everest Base Camp trek to rub shoulders with the climbing elite. The Kathmandu Valley is lively too – Bisket Jatra (Nepali New Year) is celebrated in mid-April, most exuberantly in Bhaktapur, where a god-toting chariot is dragged through streets and tug-of-war contests are held.

Head to Melbourne for laughs, mellow weather and fewer people

Kite surfing on St Kilda Beach in Melbourne Image courtesy: ©JavenLin/Getty Images

It’s all happening in Melbourne in March. The city explodes with events: Fashion Festival, Food & Wine Festival, Formula 1 Grand Prix. Which is great – if you want to fight your way to the bar and pay a premium for your bed… Alternatively, wait until April and visit Australia’s culture capital when there’s more room to breathe.

The Comedy Festival (the world’s third-largest laugh-fest) runs to the middle of the month anyway; the pleasant autumnal weather continues (highs around 20°C; 68°F), but the city isn’t so overrun. That means you’ll have more space while browsing the creative laneways, walking in the Botanic Gardens (aflame with autumn colour), cycling the buzzy neighbourhoods of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Carlton, and strolling seaside St Kilda. If you do get some autumn rain, shelter in one of Melbourne’s 100-plus art galleries or aboard the free City Circle Tram.

Day 1
Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri – Abu Dhabi

Some of you may have noticed my recent hotel and restaurant articles over the past few weeks from my trip to Dubai and if you did – you’ll have most likely realised just how much I fell in love with the city. Dubai was never on my radar in the past, for some unknown reason. But with an opportunity to visit I quickly fell in love. Dubai is a big modern city, surrounded by dessert and offers some of the best attractions and restaurants in the world. As well as the tallest and largest buildings. With today (date of publish) marking exactly 30 days till I return once more and for the first time Abu Dhabi, I want to share with you as always my travel itinerary and I hope you’ll join me along the way on social media next month!

If you have any plan to visit Dubai you should visit this website for affordable accommodations in Dubai.

This time around we’ll also be exploring Abu Dhabi for the first time. Flying into Abu Dhabi airport with Etihad, we’re being whisked away on arrival to the heavenly looking Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri. It looks magical when lit up at night and I can’t wait for our dinner at Shang Palace, though not before enjoying a cocktail in this sultry looking bar pictured above. This is five star accomodation pushed to the limits. Oh, and did I mention the hotel has a complimentary river boat service! Follow me on Instagram Stories where I’ll be revealing all!

Rosewood – Abu Dhabi

One of the original reasons I wanted to visit Abu Dhabi was because of the Rosewood Abu Dhabi. The pool with aluminium trees spurting from the grounds, a terrace which looks out over the waters edge and a dining room which oozes glamour and sophistication. Just wait till you see The Manor Club. An executive lounge we’re planning to spend a lot of time in which has won countless accolades for being one of the best in the world. I plan to be filling my Twitter feed throughout my two nights stay here.

Shangri-La Hotel – Dubai

After three no doubt unforgettable days in Abu Dhabi, we’ll be heading back to Dubai once again. You can travel between the two in approximately 1.5 hours and it will cost you no more than £100 each way. Perfect for short stays. We’ll be starting the return experience at Shangri-La Dubai. With views looking out over the Arabian Sea or the nearby towering Burj Khalifa, we’ve got big expectations when it comes to these views. I can’t wait to sample its many restaurants too, with a total of eight bars and restaurants to choose from. How will we ever decide? Follow me on Facebook and discover where I decide to eat!

Viceroy Palm Jumeirah – Dubai

Admittedly this trip is a little whirlwind, working with a lot of hotels and restaurants and so there was one in particular I wanted to really enjoy. One where I could put my feet up and experience without a big camera and only my phone besides me. Though realistically I know that’s never going to happen – but in my head it is for now. That hotel is Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai. A shiny new hotel opening it’s doors on March 31st 2017. I’m very excited to be one of the first to explore it and can’t wait to share that experience with you next month!

Intercontinental Dubai Marina – Dubai

My last and final hotel, the Intercontinental Dubai Marina is one that actually has three elements about it which I’m very excited to explore. Firstly the location. Situated within Dubai Marina, it’s one of my favourite parts of Dubai. It’s smart, modern and has some of the most perfect places to eat outside and watch the world go by. Secondly, the hotel. Neutral and calming interiors but lots of luxury and a swimming pool which looks out across the Marina. But above all – I can’t wait to be dining at Jason Atherton’s latest venture, Marina Social. If it’s anywhere near as good as his London restaurants – we’re set to be in for a real treat.

Instagrammable attractions, short breaks and going local: just a few travel trends we’ve picked up from our latest insights. It seems we’re looking for more authentic experiences away from the main tourist sites, but also visiting multiple weekend and short break destinations, not to mention those ineffably ‘cool’ places that you just have to post on social media.

So where should you lay your holiday hat in 2017? We’ve predicted the top travel destinations for next year:

Skyscanner’s Top Seven Hotspots for 2017

  1. Malta
  2. Asturias, Spain
  3. Barbados
  4. Cornwall, UK
  5. Romania
  6. Okinawa, Japan
  7. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

There is more on each of these great destinations listed below:

1. Malta

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016)** 59%
Average Flight Price*** £175
Key reason to visit in 2017 Lost & Found Festival, The four-day extravaganza in April 2017

Search for flights to Malta here

Old favourite Malta, which has seen an increase of 59% in flights takes the top spot for places to go on holiday this year, thanks to speedy flight times and direct routes from more than 10 UK airports, but it’s no longer all about those – admittedly gorgeous – beaches. Malta’s reinventing itself as a seriously hip weekend break contender, with new boutique hotels and cool bars down at the Valletta waterfront complimenting an emerging dance scene centred around clubbing capital, Paceville. In fact, the Maltese islands are one of the best new music destinations in the making, with big-name international events lined up for 2017 like Annie Mac’s Lost and Found bringing us the unexpected concept of the ‘castle rave’. In addition to the great music and dance scene, the country continues to be popular with Game of Thrones fans as they continue to seek out the filming locations.

Find out more about Malta’s diverse attractions in our video guide

2. Asturias

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016) 108%
Average Flight Price £128
Key reason to visit in 2017 Flight prices have dropped 26% YoY

Search for flights to Asturias here

If ever there was a contender for the maxim ‘visit before everyone else does’, it’s Asturias. This fertile principality in Northern Spain may be way behind the Costa del Sol in terms of fame but therein lies its appeal and the ability to escape the crowds – plus a coastline to rival any found around Marbella. In a place where you could be trekking in the Picos de Europa National Park in the morning and swimming in the Cantabrian Sea in the afternoon, it’s no wonder that we’ve seen interest in flights to the area increase by a huge 108% in the last year. The simply stunning scenery of Alpine Europe, which provide some stunning ‘Instagrammable’ moments, coupled with the best of Spanish food and fiesta-loving culture will likely result in main hubs like the city of Oviedo not staying a secret holiday destination for long.

3. Barbados

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016) 39%
Average Flight Price £650
Key reason to visit in 2017 Festivals that showcase island life

Search for flights to Barbados here

No longer the preserve of billionaires, we’ve seen Barbados becoming the very definition of affordable luxury in the past year, with flight prices dipping and good value all-inclusive resorts like Sandals Barbados drawing the idea of Caribbean paradise within reach. Rooms at the Sandals resort start from £650 per night compared to the more upmarket Sandy Lane Hotel which cost £1,400 per night (January 2017). The glamour of Barbados is still to be found in the nightlife of St Lawrence Gap and the presence of reality stars from the likes of Lucy Watson and Jess Woodley, but its authentic, exuberant culture remains the outright winner. Don’t believe us? Visit during July and August for the Crop Over festival, and celebrate the sugar cane harvest in traditional Barbadian style – that is, dancing to carnival music in the streets with a rum punch in hand. Want more tips on how to spend your time? Check out our best things to do in Barbados.

4. Cornwall

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016) 21%
Average Flight Price £133
Key reason to visit in 2017 The new Tate St Ives opens in Autumn 2017

Search for flights to Cornwall here

With new year-round flights from around the UK and travellers looking more favourably at UK destinations as a way to make their pound go further, it looks like Cornwall will be travellers’ staycation favourite in 2017. Much of the region still waits to be discovered, even by holidaymakers who’ve been coming here for the cosy fishing villages and Caribbean-esque beaches for quite some time. A region of artistic tradition since before Tate St Ives came on the scene, Cornwall still has a vibrant community of working artists and great independent galleries, inspired by the kind of wild beauty you’ll find in abundance around the Bedruthan Steps and Bodmin Moor. Add to this the kind of top culinary names you don’t normally see outside London (Rick Stein’s acclaimed seafood restaurants in Padstow are just the start), and Cornwall’s appeal stretches way beyond Newquay’s bubbling surf. For inspiration to keep you busy, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best places to go in Cornwall.

5. Romania

Average Flight Price £163
Key reason to visit in 2017 Homestays offer insight into traditional culture

Search for flights to Romania here

Home to some of Europe’s most intriguing unexplored frontiers, travellers are beginning to get off the beaten track in Romania, with the number of people looking to travel to lesser-known destinations like Timisoara up by 76% last year. New routes from Ryanair and Blue Air are also making the destination a good value option for a weekend break, while still remaining an authentic place to travel. Farm homestays and village markets in areas like Maramures provide insight into traditional trade, wine-making and artisan crafts preserved for centuries. While tourists come for all the usual holiday activities like many included in our helpful guide as well as skiing, horse-riding and hiking in the great Romananian outdoors, it’s the clip-clop of a horse and cart past fields of workers making hay by hand, under the shadow of the snow-capped Carpathian mountains, that forms the lasting impression of this travel destination.

6. Okinawa

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016) 44%
Average Flight Price £666
Key reason to visit in 2017 Some of the most beautiful secret beaches in the world

Search for flights to Okinawa here

Bargain return flights as little as £411 from the UK make Japan’s southern prefecture more accessible to UK visitors than ever, and it shows: Skyscanner experts have seen a rise of 44% in people looking to fly to Okinawa in the last year. Japan might not be synonymous with beach holidays, but this sub-tropical destination has everything more intrepid travellers could want from an island escape: undersea coral gardens, castaway shores and incredible caves. Hilton and Hyatt have recently opened hotels in Okinawa, pointing the way for mainstream holidaymakers to access this remote string of islands. And if you end up staying a little longer than intended, expect your health to improve: Okinawa’s residents are known for their strong sense of community, plant-based diet and active outdoor lifestyle, said to be a few of the reasons why people here are famous for living longer.

7. Ras Al Khaimah

Increases in flight searches (2015 v 2016) 209%
Average Flight Price £475
Key reason to visit in 2017 Cheaper than Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Search for flights to Ras Al Khaimah here

Travellers wanting to go beyond the slick cityscapes of Dubai are increasingly looking to Ras Al Khaimah to offer a vision of the Middle East at a more authentic level – and a lower cost. Check out our video guide to see for yourself! The hotel industry has certainly been paying attention of late, with new expansions by Ritz-Carlton and Hilton in the emirate, but RAK’s best sights are found away from the high-rise lifestyle that the UAE has become so famous for. Instead, a pearl-diving museum, an abandoned fishing village (Jazirat al-Hamra) and a lofty hilltop fort (Dhayah Fort) are amongst the most-visited. Arguably the finest attraction with many instagrammable moments, however, is the Hajar Mountain range, which overlooks an otherworldly landscape of red dunes and volcanic rock formations perfect for a day’s jaunt in a Jeep.

There are currently no direct flights to RAK from the UK, but you can fly to Dubai from the UK and transfer to Ras Al Khaimah from as little as £57 by taxi. Alternatively, fly to Doha in neighbouring Qatar and get a short flight (one hour) to Ras Al Khaimah.

Published November 2016. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

Want more ideas on where to go on holiday? Look no further:

We’ve got ideas for a full 12 months of holiday ideas right here, from atmospheric city breaks in March to the best beaches to escape to this December!

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** based on flight searches from the UK to named destination between January 2015 – October 2015, compared to the flight searches between January 2015 – October 2016.

*** Average flight price decreases are based on Skyscanner’s data on average flight prices from the UK to named destination between November 2014 – October 2015, compared to the average flight price between November 2015 – October 2016.

Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.

Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach offers ‘best value in Europe’

Image copyright Rossen Donev Image caption Prices fell 10% at Sunny Beach in the year to March, the Post Office said

Sunny Beach in Bulgaria has been ranked as the most affordable resort in a Post Office study of 19 European destinations.

The research found a basket of everyday items cost £37 at the Black Sea resort while the same goods in Ibiza, the most expensive destination, cost £131.

It also found average prices for UK tourists had risen across Europe, partly because of the weaker pound.

The Post Office said people needed to shop around to find the best deals.

In March researchers looked at the cost of a basket of 10 tourist staples – from lunch to evening meals, drinks to sun cream – in 19 European beach destinations.

After Sunny Beach, the goods were cheapest in the Algarve in Portugal at just over £58, followed by the Costa Del Sol in Spain at £61.

The same goods cost £119 in Sorrento in Italy and £117 in Nice in France.

Image copyright Marcus Bassler Image caption Paphos in Cyprus was a resort where prices fell

Andrew Brown, a spokesman for Post Office Travel Money, said Sunny Beach’s good value owed much to its food prices.

“Over the course of a week’s holiday, lunch and evening meals for two will cost less than around £175 in Sunny Beach but this could mushroom to over £600 in more expensive resorts in France or Italy.”

Average prices for Britons across the 19 resorts rose 17% in the year to March – partly because of the weakness of sterling since the Brexit vote, but also the rising popularity of some resorts.

The biggest rises were in Zadar in Croatia, up 44%, the Lisbon coast in Portugal, up 29%, and Crete in Greece, up 29%.

Price disparities

However, prices also fell in several destinations, with Sunny Beach down 10%, Mamaris in Turkey down 4%, and Paphos in Cyprus down 0.5%.

Mr Brown said: “These resorts are trying to attract tourists and restaurants and hoteliers are prepared to drop their prices.

“Also, in places like Turkey the local currency has actually fallen against sterling which makes them even more affordable.”

He said UK holidaymakers should do their “homework”, as there were large price disparities between similar resorts within countries.

For example, tourists in Spain could expect to pay 25% more for everyday items in the Costa Blanca – at £76 – than in the Costa del Sol.

And at £89, prices in Majorca were 47% higher than in the Costa del Sol, although they were also almost a third cheaper than in Ibiza.

The cheapest five resorts in March were:

  1. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
  2. Algarve, Portugal
  3. Costa del Sol, Spain
  4. Marmaris, Turkey
  5. Paphos, Cyprus

The most expensive were:

  1. Ibiza, the Balearic Islands
  2. Sorrento, Southern Italy
  3. Nice, South of France
  4. Zadar, Croatia
  5. Lisbon coast, Portugal