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Where to go on holiday in April

Holiday ideas April 2016Where to go on holiday in April

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

April is a great month to grab some early summer sunshine – the days are getting longer and the Mediterranean is warming up nicely. It’s a smart time to take an activity holiday – walking or cycling, perhaps – and it’s not too late for some spring skiing.

Where to go on holiday in April depends partly on the date of Easter. In 2016, Easter Sunday falls early on 27 March, so travel in April isn’t affected, but in 2017 Easter Sunday falls on 16 April. If you plan to travel over Easter, please see my Easter holiday ideas.

If you’re travelling with school-age children, see our section on family holidays at Easter. If you’re travelling solo, see our pick of the best singles holidays in April.

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SK Place VillasVilla life, CV stylePieve de ComunagliaItaly is one of the best holiday destinations in April

Mediterranean holidays in April

In the Mediterranean in April you can expect long sunny days, uncrowded resorts and a friendly welcome as locals gear up for the summer season. Walking is great at this time when you can expect to see hillsides carpeted with wild flowers. The only drawback is that the sea can be a bit chilly for swimming.

I recommend the sister islands of Malta and Gozo where you can expect temperatures of 19ºC and eight hours of daily sunshine. Also try Paxos for a genuine unspoilt Greek island experience and the beautiful French island of Corsica.

Further south, the island of Crete offers a superb choice of accommodation including boutique hotels and stylish houses to rent, with even warmer weather. Spring is also a great time to be in Greece to witness the Orthodox Easter celebrations (which in 2016 falls on 1 May).

Mallorca is usually associated with cheap package holidays but away from the budget resorts it’s a beautiful island with some excellent villas. On the Spanish mainland I recommend these villas in Catalonia.

Further south in Spain, the Costa de la Luz offers sandy beaches, warm weather and great seafood, while the Aegean coast of Turkey has remarkably good weather in April, though it’s not too hot for sightseeing. Take a look at this superb collection of boutique hotels in Turkey.

North Cyprus is one of the best holiday destinations in April, not only for its sunny climate but also because prices are low (it is outside the Eurozone). My favourite hotels include the Pia Bella near Kyrenia harbour, where I’ve stayed with my family. The Greek side of Cyprus has some truly spectacular hotels for both families and couples. Our favourites include the Anassa and the Almyra (which was particularly good when my daughter was very young).

Other Mediterranean hotels I recommend include Forte Village Resort in Sardinia – which is great for families, couples and sporty types – and Sani Resort on mainland Greece. I’ve stayed at both.

If you love being on the water and visiting quiet coves and villages, a gulet cruise is a great way to explore the coast of Turkey – ideal for families or friends travelling together.

On the southern shores of the Mediterranean, Morocco has fabulous weather in April plus many superb hotels. I recommend the cities of Marrakech, Fes and Taroudant but you should also try to spend time on one of the beaches or go hiking in the Atlas Mountains. If you want to explore in the company of like-minded people, take a group adventure tour.

beach-at-coral-reef-club-barbados

Long haul beach holidays in April

Once Easter is out of the way, low season rates kick in across the Caribbean, providing decent bargains. I personally love small, friendly Tobago. For stylish hotels and buzzing restaurants in the Caribbean, you can’t beat Barbados, and if you want a relaxing adults-only all-inclusive experience, head for Sandals, which has resorts in JamaicaAntiguaSt Lucia and Grenada. For idyllic powder-white beaches, check out Anguilla.

For great-value beach holidays in April with culture rolled in, Cuba is good choice. The thawing of diplomatic relations with the US means that changes are likely to come soon, so now is a good time to go (before McDonald’s and Burger King arrive). I recommend a stay in the capital Havana (try the Saratoga Hotel) combined with the colonial city of Trinidad and an unspoilt beach destination such as Cayo Ensenachos. You could see them all on a 10-night Affordable Luxury tour of Cuba.

Bermuda is warming up nicely in April and the rainy season hasn’t yet kicked in – the perfect time for lazing on the beach, playing golf or sightseeing. The best hotels include Cambridge Beaches and – if you’re on a budget – Grotto Bay Resort.

See our pick of the best Caribbean holidays and details of the weather in the Caribbean in April.

If you want a destination closer to home, try Egypt’s Red Sea Coast which is only five hours flying time from the UK and gets very warm in April. Five-star hotels like the Movenpick Resort & Spa El Gouna are great value.

The Indian Ocean is another outstanding region to visit in April. Diving and snorkelling in the Seychelles is particularly good, although it’s hard to beat the resort hotels of the Maldives and Mauritius.

In Africa rains in the east make Kenya an unwise choice, but Namibia is a great choice in April. See more holidays in Africa.

Asakusa Kannon TempleRasa Ria baby Orang UtanTake the trainMeet the locals

Other long haul tours and adventures

April is a popular month to visit Japan, one of the world’s most exciting and fascinating countries. Choose from an amazing selection of self-guided and group tours from Inside Japan Tours. I’ve travelled with them, and recommend them thoroughly.

If you love nature, you could explore the Galapagos Islands on a small-ship cruise. April is a magical month as new-born seal pups can be seen on the beaches, there are wild flowers all around and the seas are calm. Choose from a private holiday or escorted tour.

This is also a good time to be in Borneo, where you can gaze at orang-utans, stay on beautiful tropical beaches, go hiking in the forest, stay in local long houses and experience an overnight climb of Mount Kinabalu. Try this amazing nature tour.

The Cape Verde islands off the West Coast of Africa combine excellent beaches, lively culture and great hotels – all easily accessed with direct flights and at surprisingly low prices. In April you can expect temperatures of 25ºC and 10 hours of daily sunshine.

April is also a good month to combine the natural wonders of both north and south Chile  – you can explore the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert  – one of the world’s driest places – and the dramatic icebergs and glacial fjords of the Torres del Paine National Park.

Life on the ocean wave

Activity holiday ideas in April

The ski season is almost over, and low altitude resorts should be avoided. But spring skiing is a special experience, particularly if you like to get in some serious exercise in the morning then take a late lunch on a sunny terrace and take it easy in the afternoon.

Skiers can find cheap holidays in April with Peak Retreats which features some excellent resorts in France. Or save money by booking a chalet holiday with Ski Total (see their late deals in April 2016).

America has a long ski season and you should find superb conditions in Colorado where the best resorts include good-value Breckenridge and Crested Butte which has the authentic feel of the Wild West.

If you are taking the kids skiing, go with Esprit Ski which has excellent childcare and lessons for children. Want to push the boat out? Take a look at Sir Richard Branson’s The Lodge, Verbier.

Mediterranean beach clubs offer great bargains at the beginning of the summer season. I recommend Mark Warner‘s flagship club at Lakitira, which is particularly good for watersports, tennis, diving and mountain biking. If you want to swing a club, look at the gorgeous Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily.

Love Spain? This is also a great time of year for a cycling holiday in Catalonia. The trips are self-guided with a selection of routes and difficulties, and your luggage is transported from one hotel to the next. Or you could take a cycling holiday in France such as this gentle 8-day Secret Provence tour.

I also recommend these hotel-to-hotel walking holidays. They are a perfect way to explore some of Europe’s most attractive coastal trails such as the Costa Vicentina in Portugal and the Lycian Way in Turkey. You stay in small characterful hotels and inns while your luggage is transported each day to your next overnight stop.

How about a cycling holiday in the UK? I really like Saddle Skedaddle which offers group trips and independent itineraries for all levels, including road cycling and mountain bike weekends and point-to-point journey such as the C2C (Coast to Coast) and Hadrian Cycleway.

If you want to take care of your mind and body, why not try a luxury spa retreat in the South of France or Andalucia. Other healthy options include a fitness holiday or a yoga break with expert yoga teachers. Or take a themed health break at the luxury Vilalara Thalassa Resort on the Algarve.

Jordan is an amazing country of spectacular scenery, ancient culture and friendly people. Don’t miss Petra or the Dead Sea. April is the perfect time to visit.

TutankamunThe grandeur of Venice

April short breaks

April is a good month for sightseeing and short breaks in the Med and southern Europe. I suggest Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Seville in southern Spain and the often-overlooked city of Palma.

This is the right time to visit Venice before the summer crowds descend, and also to explore the marvellous cities of Istanbul, Cairo and Marrakech before the overwhelming heat of the high season.

For romance it’s hard to beat Prague, a city of gothic architecture, gourmet restaurants, music and street performers. It won’t be hot in April, but you’ll get there before the summer crowds.

And of course there’s Paris. As it says in the song, April in Paris is simply magical (think chestnuts in blossom).

Lovers of French food can join a cookery course in La Rochelle or Bordeaux. Run over three or four days, the courses combine classes in a professional kitchen with visits to local markets, wine tastings and the chance to dine at classic bistros and brasseries. See the prices.

If you’re looking for a treat for a big birthday or anniversary, how about getting together with a group of family or friends to rent a stately home – a perfect way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.

Find more short breaks in April.

UK holiday destinationsFarmhouse and pub stays in Devon

April holidays in the UK

This can be a surprisingly good time to holiday in the UK, particularly towards the end of the month. You could rent a cottage in Devon or Cornwall and explore our gorgeous coastline. For self-catering apartments in Cornwall, try Boutique Retreats. I also like the Tregenna Castle Hotel which is perched above the pretty resort of St Ives.

If you want to get away for a few days in the countryside, I recommend a stay at Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, or Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath. In the rolling hills of North Wales you will find the wonderful Pentre Mawr Country House.

In the Cotswolds, my fellow editor David Wickers recommends Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa, which has a two-Michelin star restaurant, world-class service and a superb spa. It’s a place where you can get some well-deserved pampering.

If you are based in London or the South East, I like Maison Talbooth, a charming, family-run hotel in John Constable country on the Essex-Suffolk border.

See our full selection of UK holiday ideas.

TURKEY_184ALuxury Nile cruisesCruising the Burgundy canalStunning ports of call

Cruise holidays in April

April is a great month to explore the Mediterranean by ship. Be adventurous and join a tall ship cruise with Star Clippers on board a magnificent rigged sailing boat.

I recommend Abercrombie & Kent for a Nile cruise – perfect at this time of year. Make sure you pick the right vessel: I’ve sailed on the luxurious and intimate Sanctuary Sun Boat III which was wonderful.

Take a river cruise along the Douro Valley in Portugal, one of Europe’s most beautiful and unspoilt regions. Alight in the coastal city of Porto where you can tour the famous port lodges.

For something different, how about a Transatlantic cruise to New York. It takes about five days to cross the pond then you can explore Manhattan for a couple of days for arrange a tour of the US before flying home.

See our selection of the best sailing and cruising holidays.

America in April

In America the spring weather is improving and air fares are affordable, so it’s a good time to visit, whether you fancy a bargain hotel in New York, a fly-drive around New England or a stay on a working cowboy ranch in Colorado.

You could soak up the sunshine in California at a stunning hotel such as Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica or catch some Rat Pack glamour in Palm Springs. See this selection of boutique hotels in California.

It’s a great time to be in Arizona – the weather is great, hotel rates are at a low point and you’ll avoid the summer crowds at the Grand Canyon. See this range of fly-drive options and escorted tours.

There’s no better way to discover the States than on the road. You could rent a motorhome and sleep where the fancy takes you, or join a luxury coach trip take a fascinating journey through Virginia or follow the Civil War route. The Great Lakes and Michigan are stunning parts of the country often overlooked by visitors. Or drive Highway 1 south from Miami to the Florida Keys.

April is a good time to visit the American South before the sultry months of summer. Discover the best of the Carolinas or take a river cruise on the Mississippi. If you’re a music fan, head to the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

America’s railway network provides another great way of exploring the country. Take the Coast Starlight from Seattle to LA or travel from Chicago to the Grand Canyon. Other ideas include a river cruise through the states of Washington and Oregon, a house rental in Orlando and a trip to Las Vegas.

You can also find more hot holidays in April and check out our sister site for honeymoons in April.

Last updated: 10 July 2015

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