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We’re hankering after the first taste of spring: mild temperatures, sprouting blooms and the promise of bank holiday weekends. Fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat, and with Easter a prime time to plan a getaway, we’ve compiled some budget-friendly but atmospheric travel destinations to tide you over until summer.
1. Fez, Morocco
A textile paradise filled with woven rugs, butter-soft leathers and artisanal products, Fez is a laid-back alternative to frenetic Marrakech. In spring, temperatures sit around the low twenties – ideal for trawling the souks. In the heart of the medina is Riad Fes Maya Suite and Spa, a prized homestay bedecked with wood-carved ceilings, king-size canopy beds and intricate zellige (mosaics). Guests are invited to join the owner’s mother, Fatima, for some local Fassi cuisine on the impressive roof terrace. Arrive hungry as a plates of smokey tagine and delicate almond pastries continue to appear in front of you.
2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Contrary to popular preconception, Lanzarote’s wild north offers volcanoes, wineries and bucket loads of adventure. Away from the all-inclusive resorts and tower blocks, it’s a destination that caters to intrepid travellers. Visit the wild and rugged Famara beach, a world-class surfing and kite-surfing destination, or the botanical Jardín de Cactus, an oasis that took root in a former quarry. Stay at the effortlessly chic 17th-century farmhouse, El Jallo before paying a visit to the neighbouring bodegas where vines grow in volcanic craters.
Let Seville seduce you with its heady mix of baroque architecture, Moorish traditions and cutting-edge dining. Follow the intoxicating scent of orange blossom around the grand gardens of Alcázar before indulging in a lengthy lunch at Ovejas Negras – burrata salad and local delicacy “boquerones” (anchovies seasoned in garlic and parsley) are among the freshest tapas in town. After lunch, retreat to Las Casas de la Judería, an elegant Andalusian hotel. Here, 27 white-washed townhouses are interlinked through courtyards and underground passageways, making for an intimate and relaxing stay.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Few European cities rival Prague for architectural heritage. With more than 100 spires stretching to the sky, a host of emerging art galleries and a sprinkle of fairytale charm, this cobbled capital was practically built for mini-breaks. Head away from the touristy old town square and dine in the Argentinian steakhouse Gran Fierro – local cuisine is worth a try but not our favourite thing in the world. Step behind the black velvet curtain at Hemmingway’s to reveal one of the world’s best cocktail bars and be the first to lay your head at the new Mama Shelter residence in vibrant Vltava.
5. Paros, Greece
With its blonde sand, white-washed houses and blue-domed churches, Paros is the little-known Adonis of the Cyclades. Best enjoyed in spring when the landscape is still tinged with green and the sea has warmed up to an acceptable swimming temperature, Paros is much more than a transport hub for island hoppers. Head to Kolymbithres in the bay of Naoussa, where obscure granite formations and pocketed coves make for one of the best beaches to take a dip in. Stay in the family-run Hotel Argonauta, where each of its 16 spacious bedrooms are structured around a lemon-filled inner courtyard with balconies overlooking the narrow streets below.
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