5 spring getaways which wont bust your summer budget

first_imgPretty much any time of year is a good time to go to Amsterdam – but there’s an extra dollop of joy that comes with a visit in spring. It’s partly down to the tulips; come April, the vivid displays in the country’s vast bulb fields (easy day-tripping distance from town) paint rainbow stripes across the countryside between Haarlem and Leiden, and the famous Keukenhof Gardens (this year celebrating a Flower Power theme) open for their short but glorious season (21 March – 19 May). There’s more to Amsterdam than tulips though. Spring is also time for King’s Day (a massive city-wide party on 27 April); Liberation Day (5 May), which culminates in a huge outdoor concert on the Amstel Canal; and National Museum Week (8-14 April), when museums turn the spotlight on Dutch national heritage. This spring there’s an extra cultural attraction as well: to mark the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, the Rijksmuseum is staging ‘All the Rembrandts’ (ends 10 June), an exhibition that brings together its collection of 22 paintings by the 17th-century master, along with 60 of his drawings and more than 300 prints. Stay at: Hotel do Colegio or Terra Nostra Garden Hotel Fly to Washington DC from £222 The American capital is a seriously impressive city at any time of year but it’s at its loveliest in spring, when the weather hits a happy place between the freezing cold of winter and the sweltering heat of summer, and thousands of cherry trees burst into bloom around the Tidal Basin. That’s the cue for the National Cherry Blossom Festival (20 March – 14 April 2019), billed as ‘the nation’s largest springtime celebration’, which sees the city come alive with all kinds of events and activities, including live music performances, fireworks, a kite festival and an all-American parade complete with floats, marching bands and giant helium balloons. It’s a great time to stroll the city parks and explore the many outdoor attractions, among them the Washington Monument, which has its own cause for celebration this spring. After being closed for repairs in summer 2016, the 169m-high marble obelisk is finally about to reopen to the public, complete with a swish new lift to whizz you up to the observation deck. 3. Tokyo, Japan – fly from £409 Stay at: The Embassy Row Hotel All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 26 February 2019.  Search hotels in Amsterdam Summer in Montreal is busy, busy, busy, with a festival-packed calendar pulling in the tourist crowds. Go in spring instead and sure, things will be a bit chillier but temperatures start creeping up nicely as April morphs into May and hotels won’t yet be charging high-season rates for their rooms. Colour washes across the Montreal Botanical Gardens as hyacinths, irises, narcissi and primroses begin to flower, clouds of blossom appear on the crab apple and cherry trees, and in the Insectarium the annual Butterflies Go Free event sees thousands of multi-coloured butterflies released into the main greenhouse. It’s not the only regular fixture that marks the return of spring to Montreal either. In the Quartier des Spectacles you can have fun playing on a row of musical swings when the popular 21 Balançoires installation reappears from 9 April to 31 May. Meanwhile, in the Gay Village, May sees 180,000 multi-coloured balls creating a kilometre-long rainbow over a temporarily pedestrianised stretch of Sainte-Catherine Street. They’ve been strung up every spring for the past eight years but 2019 is your last chance to catch them: once the balls come down again in September, the installation is being retired for good. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Ten to 15 minutes’ walk away from Ueno Park is NOHGA Hotel Ueno, one of many new hotels that are popping up as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympics. It has 130 cool, clean-lined rooms (from around £105 a night) and makes a point of showcasing local design and craftsmanship in everything from the room card keys to the staff uniform.  Ready for your own spring adventure? You get good value for money at L’Auberge de la Fontaine, a relaxed inn in a grey-stone Victorian building directly over the road from Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau area. There’s a kitchen for guests to use and the 21 bedrooms of varying shapes and sizes start from around £65 a night. For all its futuristic skyscrapers and flashing neon lights, Tokyo at heart is wedded to its traditions and spring in the Japanese capital means one thing above all other: sakura, or cherry blossom. In late March/early April, the city goes into happy, festive mode as gazillions of ornamental cherry trees burst into pretty pink bloom, creating extraordinarily beautiful but short-lived displays in the parks and gardens. Everyone makes the most of the fleeting floral beauty, holding hanami (flower-viewing) picnics and parties under the trees and strolling along lakeside paths to admire their reflections in the water. Ueno Park is a particularly popular spot, and is home to several good museums if you fancy a break from blossom and people-watching. Along with the flowers comes a whole raft of pink-tinged sakura-themed food and drink that hits supermarket shelves and coffeehouse counters for a few weeks. Sakura cakes, sakura sweets, sakura beer, sakura matcha lattes… Heck, you can even find sakura-flavoured KitKats – which, as a treat to take back to the office, have to beat picking up the usual last-minute Toblerone at the airport. Photo credit: Getty Find hotel dealsCheck-inCheck-outGuests12345678910Rooms12345Search hotels Download the app to book train tickets Fly to Montreal from £261 Search hotels in Montreal As the days get longer and winter’s on the wane, it’s time to look forward to sunnier days ahead. Check out our pick of five great destinations that all have an extra little spring in their step at this time of year. Fly to Tokyo from £409 Photo credit: Getty Photo credit: Getty If you want to live like a local, try Yays Zoutkeetsgracht in the Western Docks. A conversion of an old salt factory, it now houses bright, contemporary serviced apartments from around £117 a night. There’s no in-house bar or restaurant; instead you’re encouraged to go out and support local businesses, and a neighbourhood guide, created by local staff, tells you all the best places to go.  It’s been a surprisingly long time coming but word on the Azores is now well and truly out, and these wonderfully unspoiled islands are finally whizzing to the top of many people’s travel wish lists. Quite right too. A little piece of Portugal cast adrift in the middle of the Atlantic, the archipelago is lush and lovely, with a gentle pace of life, dramatic volcanic scenery and endless opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and generally communing with nature. You can bathe in thermal springs and mud pools, eat food cooked in hot volcanic sands and enjoy stunning views of cliffs, waterfalls and pristine crater lakes. And spring is the perfect time to go, as the wild agapanthus, lilies and hydrangeas come into bloom, lining the roadsides and acting as hedges in the fields. The icing on the cake? The Azores is a great place for whale- and dolphin-watching. Several species are resident year-round but come in April and May and you have a good chance of spotting larger cetaceans such as blue whales and fin whales as they make their annual migration past the islands. Search hotels in Ponta Delgada 4. Azores, Portugal – fly from £44 Fly to Amsterdam from £35 2. Montreal, Canada – fly from £261 Search hotels in Washington Photo credit: Freeartist Stay at: Yays Zoutkeetsgracht Stay at: L’Auberge de la Fontaine Fly to the Azores from £44 This isn’t the cheapest hotel scene in the States but one of the best bets if you want to stay somewhere cool and still keep below the £200-a-night mark is The Embassy Row Hotel in Dupont Circle. As well as bold colourful décor, fun events and a rooftop pool, it also has rooms from around £158 a night. Oh, and a pair of Instagram-friendly angel wings painted on the wall by the entrance. Photo credit: Getty 5. Amsterdam, Netherlands – fly from £35 Stay at: NOHGA Hotel Ueno Search for hire cars Search hotels in Tokyo In Ponta Delgada, the main gateway to the islands, Hotel do Colegio has characterful accommodation in a former school and conservatory of music, from around £43 a night. Inland, in Furnas, is an Azores classic, the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, with Art Deco interiors and a lovely setting in botanical gardens where you can bathe in an outdoor geothermal pool; rooms from around £86 a night. 1. Washington DC – fly from £233 RelatedThe BEST time to holiday in the most popular destinationsDeciding when you should jet off can make or break a holiday. After weeks or months of planning, the last thing you want is a holiday plagued by monsoon rains or unbearable heat and crowds. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and found the best times to visit all…5 fab spring music festivals5 fab spring music festivalsWhen is the best time to visit friends and family living in Western Australia?In partnership with Someone you love has taken the leap and moved to Western Australia. Every time you Skype they can’t stop banging on about how great it is, and whenever you take a peek at their Facebook page it’s packed with photos of pristine beaches, sun-soaked rooftop bars and…last_img

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