If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that time is, as Einstein determined, relative. Days dragged on like months, months flew by in an instant, and everyone seemed to lose track of where we were on the calendar. Next spring may seem unthinkably far in the future, but in the relative world of the return of international travel, it’s right around the corner.
In fact, if you are considering a spring trip to Italy or Switzerland, you should start planning your trip now. Travel is expected to boom by 2022, since many who may still feel uneasy about taking a flight for this fall or winter instead have set their sights on next spring. Hotels are going to be booking up quickly over the next few months as homebound travelers begin anticipating their next trip, as will the top tour guides, A-list sights, and more.
The first step in putting together a spring trip is deciding on the destination. Here are a few of our favorite spring spots in Italy and Switzerland to consider:
Top Spring Destinations in Italy
Rome is perhaps at her most beautiful in spring when the Spanish Steps are blanketed in bright pink azaleas, parks like Villa Borghese and Parco degli Acquedotti are verdant and inviting, and the Roman skies are the bright cobalt blue of a baroque painting. Later in the summer, the city’s soaring temperatures can make walking through sights like the Colosseum or neighborhoods like Trastevere a chore, but on a perfect spring day, we guarantee that you’ll fall in love with the glory (and grit) of The Eternal City.
One of the most beloved aspects of Roman life is its piazza scene, and spring is when the city comes to life with outdoor restaurant and café tables, colorful buskers, open-air markets, and the evening passeggiata. If you get caught in a spring shower, Rome has an endless array of indoor attractions to wait out the storm from stunning churches to some of the most prestigious art collections in the world.
There are also a number of spectacular spring celebrations in Rome, from the Easter celebrations at St. Peter’s Square to the rose petal drop in the Pantheon for the Feast of the Pentecost.
Read more about Rome:
- Top Dishes to Eat in Rome from Pasta to Puntarelle
- Neighborhoods in Rome: Where to Wander and Where to Stay
- The Palazzi Museums of Rome
With a much more compact city center than Rome, Florence can quickly become overrun with tourists in the busy summer season. Visit earlier in the spring, however, and you get to savor its Renaissance splendor without having to jostle your way through gaggles of tour bus crowds on the Ponte Vecchio.
Where Rome is famous for its azaleas, Florence is the heart of Italy’s wisteria hysteria, and the flower-covered pergola at the Bardini Gardens is at its peak in late April. You’ll find the cooler spring temperatures keep the air crystal clear (Florence is closed in by hills on all sides and the skies are often hazy on hot summer days), so be sure to head up to one of the many panoramic perches in the city to take in the view.
Among the top spring festivals in Florence are the Florentine New Year on March 25, celebrated with medieval processions and open-air markets, and the Scoppio del Carro pyrotechnics show in front of the Duomo each Easter day.
Read more about Florence:
- Florence to Explore: A Neighborhood Guide
- Florence for Lovers: Romantic Hightlights
- Our Secret Florence
One of our favorite destinations in southern Italy, Puglia—or, more specifically, the Salento peninsula that forms the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”—is an excellent spring destination if you are looking for warmer climes. The beaches here are among the most beautiful in Italy, though the water may still be on the chilly side for swimming until later in the year. You can, however, bask in the warm Mediterranean sun and enjoy waterfront meals of excellent fresh fish and seafood.
Even if you’re not a beach enthusiast, Puglia offers a satisfying array of delights from the baroque capital of Lecce to the charming conical-roofed trulli dwellings of Alberobello. Whitewashed villages are set like gleaming pearls along the coastline or strewn across the inland hills, all with a quiet, authentic air before the summer holiday hordes arrive. The region is also known for its historic wines and olive oil, so you can indulge in tastings and tours while visiting.
Read more about Puglia:
- Puglia for Kids: Family-Friendly Tips for Italy’s Heel
- Il Salento: Italy’s Southern Surprise
- Surprise Sunshine and Serendipity
The Italian Riviera
The Italian Riviera stretches along much of Liguria’s crescent-shaped coastline between France and Tuscany and home to the glamorous resort town of Portofino, favorite haunt of Hollywood celebrities since the 1960s, as well as the colorful clutch of fishing villages known as the Cinque Terre, which has become one of the most visited spots in Italy over the past few decades.
Like the equally famous Amalfi Coast to the south, the most popular areas of the Italian Riviera can get so unmanageably overcrowded in the summer that it often takes much of the pleasure out of visiting. In the spring, however, these delightful villages show their quieter sides and you can catch a glimpse of what life must have been like there before mass tourism took over.
On fine days, you can hike the famed Cinque Terre trails or charter a boat to skirt the coastline and admire the view from the sea. Or you can simply nab a table at one of the water front cafés in Portofino and nurse your negroni while you watch the boats bob in the harbor.
Read more about the Italian Riviera:
Top Spring Destinations in Switzerland
Located just across the border with Italy, the Canton of Ticino has a more temperate microclimate than much of the rest of Switzerland so is an ideal spring destination if you are not planning on hitting the slopes. The area’s unique landscape juxtaposes dramatic Alpine peaks against the palm-lined shores of Lake Lugano, and it’s home home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Castles of Bellinzona and Monte San Giorgio) and the lovely cities of Lugano and Locarno.
Avid skiers can instead head toward the “Top of Europe”, or the Jungfrau region. Home to the UNESCO-listed peaks of Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch, this region sits in the highlands southeast of Bern and offers some of Europe’s best skiing late into the spring, as well as spectacular views along the region’s scenic Jungfrau railway line and the picturesque resort towns of Interlaken, Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren. The highlight of the region is the Jungfraujoch, a glacier saddle sitting at more than 11,000 feet above sea level with sweeping panoramas from its Sphinx observation platform.
Scenic Rail Journeys
Switzerland is home to a number of magnificently scenic rail lines, but many people don’t know that trains can be cancelled in the winter when a heavy snow hits. In the spring, you still can enjoy the snow-blanketed scenery with a much lower risk of having your rail trip postponed or cancelled due to the weather. Our two favorites are the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. The Glacier Express runs between the exclusive ski resort of Zermatt and chic St. Moritz, passing through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Europe. The UNESCO–listed Bernina Express departs from Chur (the oldest town in Switzerland) and runs over the Bernina Pass to Tirano, just east of Italy’s Lake Maggiore.
Read more about Switzerland: