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Inspiration for April holidays

April    

April
With spring in full swing across much of Europe, there are plenty of walking and cycling holidays to tempt you.

 

Watch out for dolphins & migrating birds in southern Spain
Dolphins, Costa de la Luz
The most striking feature of the Costa de la Luz, besides its sweeping beaches, is its proximity to North Africa – you can see the mountains of Morocco – and this means it’s on an important migration route. You don’t have to have an interest in bird-watching to be impressed by the numbers, with the sky resembling the A1 in rush hour. In the strait itself, dolphin and whale-watching trips start in earnest this month, heading out daily in search of the four resident species – long-finned pilot whales and common, bottlenose and striped dolphins.
Delve deeper in Portugal
Coimbra, Portugal
Portuguese explorers led the way during the Age of Discovery. Many centuries later, the tables have turned – the great cities, with their faded elegance and reminders of the Golden Age; the whitewashed, fortified villages along the border with Spain; and the timeless Douro Valley lend themselves perfectly to leisurely exploration. With plentiful warm spring sunshine usually the order of the day at this time of year, choose a train journey linking Porto, the Douro, Coimbra, Lisbon and Sintra, or a discovery by car of the interior and coast of the wonderfully varied Alentejo region.
Fall into a slower rhythm on Gozo
Gozo
Given its wonderfully unhurried atmosphere, as if the entire island has been lulled by the cerulean sea which laps its shores, ‘riot’ does not seem an appropriate word to use in relation to Gozo, Malta’s tranquil neighbour. However, used to describe the profusion of spring flowers and the impressive variety of colours, ‘riot’ could not be more apt. As you explore the myriad paths inland and along the coast, you’ll encounter the sherbet-yellow flowers of cape sorrel; the bobble heads of wild fennel; purple vetch; blue borage; and cheerful-looking crown daisies.
Enjoy spring from the saddle in south-west France
Autoire, Dordogne
Our cycling holiday in the Dordogne valley promises picturesque views over this placid river, sleepy villages, places of interest to visit en route, and the earthy cuisine of south-west France. In April, the villages are sleepier than usual, with far fewer visitors than in summer, and the hedgerows and verges are burgeoning with life under the warm spring sunshine that makes riverside picnics hard to resist.
See nesting storks and wildflowers on the Costa Vicentina
Costa Vicentina
On Portugal’s hauntingly beautiful Costa Vicentina, virgin beaches backed by dramatic cliffs are washed by the restless waves that roll in from the Atlantic, swirling round the sea stacks that are dotted just off the shore. That Europe’s only marine stork colony chooses these precarious-looking towers to nest on is hard to believe, but you can see it with your own eyes in April, the start of the breeding season. There is plenty to draw your eye on dry land too, with carpets of wildflowers lining the scenic coastal paths.
Indulge yourself as you walk to the Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard
The awe-inspiring Pont du Gard, a three-tiered aqueduct spanning the River Gardon north of Nîmes, showcases the Romans’ engineering prowess. Arrival here is undoubtedly a highlight, but this holiday is principally a celebration of French cuisine, and includes two nights at the gastronomic Hostellerie le Castellas. Naturally, the cuisine is superb all year round, but the reason we recommend this holiday in April is because the thyme is in flower, meaning that the low, rolling hills are carpeted in blue, and the scent of wild herbs drifts on the warm breezes as you walk.
Admire the tulips while cycling in Holland
Tulips in Holland
Holland is, of course, synonymous with tulips. To see them in flower, travel in the second half of April (or in May), when the fields are a blaze of colour, enhancing the views of dike houses, canals and slowly turning windmills. As any introduction to Holland should, the holiday includes a stay in Amsterdam, with a day to visit the Van Gogh Museum, or to take a boat trip on the canal to admire the terraces of gabled 17th-century merchants’ houses.
Enjoy classical music on the Amalfi Coast
Ravello
Italy’s dramatic Amalfi Coast has drawn artists, writers and musicians since the days of the Grand Tour. Wagner found inspiration for Parsifal at the Villa Rufolo in the elegant town of Ravello, so it is fitting that this handsome mansion and its manicured gardens are the setting for a series of classical music concerts that starts in April each year (www.ravelloarts.org). During the day, you can walk along panoramic trails such as ‘path of the gods’ and stepped mule tracks that wind through the lemon groves, linking the towns and villages which cling to the slopes above the sea.
Explore idyllic Menorca on foot
Fornells harbour, Menorca
Menorca is one of the Mediterranean’s hidden treasures. Dotted with prehistoric sites, the rolling hills and wooded valleys at its centre descend to a coastline of red sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches. In April, the wildflowers, the yellow of the broom, and the pretty butterflies which flit across the trails enhance the allure further. Whether you choose to explore on foot or by car, you have ample opportunity to appreciate another of the island’s myriad attractions: its delicious seafood.
Relax on near-deserted beaches in Sardinia
Capo Spartivento, Sardinia
Given its enticing beaches and plentiful sunshine, it is surprising that Sardinia remains relatively little-known, but this is no bad thing as, provided you avoid Easter, you can enjoy them more or less to yourselves if you visit in April. There is, however, more to Sardinia than its beaches. All our holidays on the island (we offer a hotel-to-hotel walk, a cycling holiday and a journey by car) balance time by the sea with jaunts into the picturesque interior, some of which reveal aspects of the island’s rich cultural heritage or its diverse wildlife, which ranges from flamingos to Sardinian deer.