Porto, Portugal’s second city
Porto, Portugal’s second city

Where to go on holiday in April

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Estella Shardlow
Thursday 06 February 2020 16:58

Looking for an Easter break? There’s still some snow time to be enjoyed in the Alps, just as European city breaks are warming up. Or discover under-the-radar spots in South America and the Far East, which unfurl their most impressive scenery this month.

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Bolivia’s famous salt flats become dazzling mirrors in April, as the last of the seasonal rains settle across the landscape. Besides surveying the other-worldly crystalline mounds of Uyuni, the largest salt flat on Earth, Bolivia thrills with smoking volcanoes, flamingo-filled lagoons and surreal deserts where the stones resemble trees. It’s best taken in on a roaming 4x4 adventure tour. An Abercrombie & Kent 10-day tailor-made Lake Titicaca and Uyuni trip takes in the highlights, from $4,295 per person. But whether you go it alone or take a guide, chances are your flight lands in La Paz, the sky-high city (a whopping 3,640m above sea level), where increasingly cool fine-dining and design hotel scenes mean it’s worth lingering in town for a few days. Check into art-filled, parallelogram-shaped property Atix (rooms from £132) and try the llama tartare at Noma alumnus Claus Meyer’s restaurant, Gustu. After soaking up the capital’s thronging squares you’ll need to catch your breath with a cortado among the vintage typewriters at The Writer’s Coffee.

The perfect reflections of the Uyuni salt flats

Journey time: 18h 45m via Madrid

Average temperature in April: 14C

Crete, Greece

Seek out some rays in Greece’s southernmost island. As Crete peels back its blue shutters for the season, you won’t have to elbow through the crowds (except for the Easter school holidays, of course) to visit Crete’s blockbuster ruins – most famous of which is the 4,000-year-old fresco-adorned Palace of Knossos – or the pink sands of Elafonisi beach. Newly refurbed Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas (rooms from €254) occupies prime position overlooking Mirabello Bay, with that all-important infinity pool and suntrap terrace – most rooms have private plunge pools, too. But don’t miss a visit to the island’s interior either, where the most authentic slice of Cretan village life is to be found. Here, it’s all languid tavernas serving homemade cheeses, vineyards and olive groves clinging to craggy hillsides, and walking trails threading through Samaria Gorge, just as the wildflowers are coming into bloom.

Heraklion, the capital of the Greek island of Crete

Journey time: 4h

Average temperature in April: 17C

Zermatt, Switzerland

Yes, you can still ski in Europe after Easter – if you pick the location wisely. At 1,620m above sea level, car-free Zermatt is one of the highest resorts in the Alps, with runs open until the end of April (in fact, the glacier even means you can ski in summertime). Presided over by the soaring shark’s fin form of the Matterhorn, get ready for a glamorous après scene that sees ski bunnies swooshing between Papperla Pub and Z’Alt Hischi for mugs of steaming Gluhwein. For an even more impressive panorama, take a ride up the world’s highest-altitude 3S cable car – see if you can count all 14 glaciers and 38 mountain peaks. With 360km of pistes, keen skiers and boarders should be kept busy all week. As for where to rest those weary limbs after long days on the slopes, check out the Zermatt properties by new eco-friendly self-catering concept Lagom, which enables travellers to customise chalet services (whether you want housekeeping, toiletries, etc) and carbon-offset the booking.

Hit the heights for late-season skiing at Zermatt (Getty/iStock)

Journey time: 1h 40 (to Zurich)

Average temperature in April: 4C

South Korea

Cherry blossom season isn’t exclusively Japanese: parks and gardens across South Korea are similarly tickled pink in springtime, and a host of festivals celebrate these beot-kkot in bloom. While Seoul’s five palaces are extremely pretty places to blossom-watch, how about heading to a more under-the-radar option such as Jinhae Gunhangje (1-10 April) in Gyeongsangnam-do? As well as its petal power, this southwestern province has plenty more secrets up its sleeve. For starters, there’s island-hopping by ferry to glorious beaches and time-capsule fishing villages, while inland awaits a lush landscape dotted with hot springs, temples and paddy fields. Oh, and this stretch of coast has some of the country’s best seafood: hold your nose and delve into Busan city’s enormous Jagalchi Market, where all sorts of scaly or tentacled creatures are hawked from rickety stalls; after buying your fish of choice head to the upstairs eatery where they’ll prepare it for you. That’s what we call fresh.

Sunset in Seoul

Journey time: 11h

Average temperature in April: 4C

Porto, Portugal

From grandiose palaces to an ornate 75m bell tower, there’s nothing second-rate about Portugal’s second city, Porto. After the obligatory shots of the Rio Douro, crisscrossed by spectacular bridges, let your mind whisk back to medieval times as you wander the Ribeira district’s cobblestone streets, passing 15th-century churches, merchants’ houses and the former stock market, Palácio de Bolsa. Besides a few glasses of the city’s namesake fortified wine (there’s even a dedicated Port Wine Museum on the riverside), eating well comes easily in Porto, whether it’s lining up for the ultimate pork sandwich at Casa Guedes or sampling small plates of seafood at Tapabento. Need some holiday reading material? Lello Livraria is often called the world’s most beautiful bookstore, due to its Hogwarts-esque oak interiors and stained-glass ceiling. Continue the literary leanings by staying at Gallery Hostel (rooms from £54): rooms are named after local writers, and its free walking tours reveal the neighbourhood’s lively cultural scene.

Journey time: 2h 20

Average temperature in April: 13C

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