Best short breaks in March

By Annabelle Thorpe

For most of us, it feels like the year doesn’t really start until March – the days become noticeably longer, the temperature rises and the post-Christmas gloom finally starts to ebb away. It’s a great time to travel, with prices low, most places crowd-free and is an ideal time for either a city or an activity break, before temperatures make both choices a little daunting.

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City breaks in March

Many cities in Europe celebrate the beginning of spring. Join the Spring Carnival Parade in Barcelona, when decorated floats parade slowly down Las Ramblas, or watch thousands of runners take part in the annual marathon in Rome. Romans also celebrate the Feast of St Joseph’s in March, when traditional sugared doughnuts are for sale everywhere, and there is live music and partying on the streets.

Lovers of dance should head to St Petersburg for the world-renowned International Ballet Festival Marinsky. For those in search of a party weekend, celebrate St Patrick’s Day in New York, where Fifth Avenue becomes a riot of floats and green-clad revellers and the party continues well into the next day.

Lisbon is a great option in spring. It has a thriving art scene, wonderful dining options and a real buzz about it just now. And for a real burst of warmth you could indulge in a few days in Seville for tapas, seafood and flamenco.

It’s good to catch Venice before the summer crowds and cruise passengers descend. You can even get there on the Orient Express. Other popular cities that work well in March include Sorrento on Italy’s southern coast and Palma which is much calmer than in summer.

For something unusual, Kiev in the Ukraine offers everything from beautiful churches such as the 11th century Saint Sophia’s cathedral, to the National Museum of Chernobyl and the Lover’s Bridge, which connects the city centre to Dnieper Park.

UK holidays in March

For something a little quieter, spring can be a wonderful time to discover the British countryside. Many gardens put on special weekends focusing on spring bulbs; book a cottage in Cornwall and walk through fields of daffodils and tulips at spectacular gardens such as Cotehele, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project.

You could pull on your walking boots and explore the Lake District, perhaps staying in the Gilpin Hotel or renting a luxury cottage.

Head west to the Castle Hotel in Shropshire, or hide yourself away at Pen-Y-Dyffryn in the Welsh borders. It can be nice to rent a cottage for a weekend or midweek break. A lot of rental companies will only deal in week-long rentals but here are some selections of short break options in East Sussex and Kent and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Or take your pet to one of these dog-friendly cottages.

Active holidays in March

Once you’ve shaken the winter gloom from your system, spring is a great time to start a new hobby, or revive an old one. Try a golfing weekend in a destination with near-guaranteed sunshine in March such as Tenerife or Morocco.

In spring, some of Europe’s most popular regions such as Tuscany or the Loire have yet to hit main tourist season and the roads are still quiet – perfect for a cycling break.

If you want to get in serious shape for the new season, book a fitness break, where a team of personal trainers can put together an individual programme of exercise, training and diet to put a real ‘spring’ in your step.

Winter sun

Not many places in Europe offer guaranteed hot weather so early in the year – you can see our suggestions for hot short haul destinations in March.

You’ll find direct flights from across the UK to Madeira, where you can combine lazy days in a luxury hotel or on the beach, with excursions into the mountainous interior, criss-crossed with walking trails and wonderfully unspoilt villages.

It’s only a three-hour flight to Marrakech where you’ll feel you’ve been dropped into another world of exotic sights, sounds and fragrances. My pick of the best places to stay include Riad Hikaya and Villa des Orangers.

In the south of Italy, Sorrento is absolutely sumptuous in springtime. The beaches may be deserted but you can soak up the spectacular scenery of the Amalfi coast and explore Pompeii without the crowds. Further south is Sicily which will be fabulous in March.

Note that prices will start to rise over the Easter holidays. However, in 2022 Easter Sunday falls on 17 April.

Last updated: 26 April 2021

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Before you book

Travel guidelines and advice are changing constantly amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Check the latest travel restrictions for UK residents.