With the year quickly kicking into gear and reaching spring already, it’s time to change up your surroundings and head to somewhere new to feel more refreshed and ready to tackle life head-on. It’s been long enough to have had some time off and the wanderlust has been increasing while you have been at work looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
It may be the case that you are just looking to avoid the peak season crowds or you just want to take advantage of the better weather conditions around the worlds, whatever the reason, here are my top destinations you need to visit this year.
1. Lofoten Islands, Norway
One of the most sought after destinations last year was the famous Iceland with its rugged landscapes, plane ruins and incredible waterfalls, however, this year and especially in April, Norway is the place to be. The Lofoten Islands are part of the picturesque archipelago which happens to fall just before the peak season, giving visitors a preview to the regions Midnight Sun. This is a two-month-long period where the sun stays above the horizon 24 hours a day creating some of the most eerily beautiful atmospheres you will ever experience in your lifetime.
The islands have plenty of hiking opportunities for those nature lovers, where they can become part of the beautiful surrounding landscapes and escape from the hustle and bustle of the main cities and towns. For even more remarkable views, rent a car and take a drive down its stunning winding roads which reach viewpoints to witness its gorgeous panoramic horizons.
2. Newport, California
Orange County, or most commonly known at The OC is famously known for its mammoth oceanfront mansions, high-end shopping, laid-back beach bars, surfing and boats. So many boats. Albeit, Newport is a great place to visit any time of year, April is especially ideal as it’s a slightly busier time of year due to the Newport Beach Film Festival which attracts more than 50,000 film lovers.
April usually marks the last month of grey whale migration when thousands of grey whale’s head back to the Bering Sea after spending winter in the warm lagoons of Baja California. The grey whales, along with dolphins and other whale species, can be seen on boat trips from Newport Landing and often from the coast as they pass and is well worth catching a glimpse.
3. Crete, Greece
Only a stone’s throw away from the UK, we only typically think of visiting Greece in the peak seasons when the sun is at its hottest and we realise we need a break from everyday life. However, during April it is an ideal time to explore the islands before the surge of tourists arrive and take them over. It will leave you feeling like you are one of the locals as there won’t be many other tourists around and you will be able to enjoy the tranquillity a lot more.
Crete, in particular, has a fabulous range of hotels, resorts and villas that you can base yourself in, enjoying the slightly cooler weather, while wandering around ancient hillside villages, lounging by the pool, taking boat trips or enjoying some delicious Greek cuisine in their many local restaurants.
4. Marrakech, Morocco
While Fez is a great city to visit in March, Marrakech takes the win in April purely due to the weather being perfectly mild and not too much in the way of heat and humidity. The tourist crowds won't quite be at their peak yet either which helps when exploring the nooks and crannies of this beautiful city with its unique architecture, colourful markets and fragrant spices and herbs.
Base yourself somewhere in the centre of Marrakech and then walk around the city with no direction in mind, that way you will stumble upon areas you would never normally have found otherwise and you will walk away enchanted. If you are a fan of Yves Saint Laurent then definitely head to the museum which only opened in October 2018 or jump in a sidecar to be whisked around in style.
5. Banff, Alberta
If this destination isn’t on your bucket list yet, then I highly suggest you add it because you would not want to miss this city in your lifetime. Banff is an incredibly beautiful location nestled in amongst the magnificent Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park which provide some surreal backdrops. This Canadian vacation spot is most notably known for its outdoor activities, primarily hiking and trekking the wilderness which you could spend months exploring.
Or for those more adrenalin enthusiasts, you can try your hand at white-water rafting, caving, rock climbing, spelunking, mountain biking, dog sledding, skiing and snowboarding. One of the most famous spots is the Moraine Lake (pictured above) which has the bluest water you will ever see, mirroring the towering rugged mountains on its clear surface for some unbelievable photo opportunities.
6. Toronto, Canada
Not usually a city on most people’s bucket lists, but Toronto is a great place to visit in spring due to the Sakura cherry blossoms in the city’s High Park and very similar to Kyoto’s cherry blossoms. If they aren’t quite your thing, then be sure to check out their varied food scene with lots of various fun and delicious restaurants or go on a tour with the Culinary Adventure to discover different neighbourhoods while sampling local specialities.
Want a more aerial view of the city? Then head up the CN Tower which will provide incredible panoramic views and offer you the chance to push your adrenalin by walking on the outside edge clipped only to the wire above you. If that’s a bit too much for you, then you can always try something a little less crazy and test your weight on the glass floors inside instead.
7. Grand Cayman, Carribbean
April is the perfect time to visit this highly attractive island as the weather is warm and most importantly dry as well. The rainy season starts in late May which makes it the off-season and therefore more affordable to enjoy the turquoise blue oceans, unspoiled white beaches, duty-free shopping, lively nightlife and delicious island cuisine.
Grand Cayman is the largest of all three islands, boasting the award-winning Seven Mile Beach which has some of the best coral reefs for diving and exploring the vibrant marine life. The Cayman Crystal Caves will keep you fascinated with their stalactites and stalagmite formations, and adventure seekers will find hiking, horseback riding, biking trails, and rainforests to explore. Or, head to Stingray City, where you can wade on sandbars among Atlantic stingrays and watch some of the most beautiful sunsets you have ever seen.
8. Ubud, Indonesia
Who doesn’t love a bit of Bali? This is pretty much the newest version of Thailand where most travellers and holidaymakers now head for some exotic paradise while still being a bit more touristy than remoter places like the Philippines. This Indonesian city provides the perfect mix of cultural exploration with its rice paddies, water temples, monkeys and bustling market places. With many luxurious resorts, boutique hotels and unique homestays you can truly experience the local’s way of life.
With many spa opportunities, available why not have an ultimate pamper day and feel super relaxed when you head out in the evening to experience some delicious local cuisines and drinks. The Monkey Forest is a hilarious visit, with these cheeky creatures running around the trees and swooping down to collect bananas or lazing in the mid-day sun with their little bellies hanging out. The rice paddies are also one of the main attractions where if you head there for sunset you can capture its magnificent light and some ultimate photo opportunities.
Be sure to check out my website for more information and travel advice as well as my Twitter @TakeLeapTravel and Instagram @taketheleaptravel.
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