Springtime is a fabulous time to come to Europe. Sure, you might get a little rain, but there are medieval arcades to walk under and churches to duck into. Otherwise, the air is often crisp, the sky is clear for photography, the spring vegetables are special, and the wildflowers profuse.
A big draw for many potential visitors is how cheap it is to travel in Europe during spring. Lodging and airfare are cheaper and museums tend to be less crowded however there are more benefits to visiting in spring beyond saving money and avoiding some crowds.
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Flora and Fauna
One of the joys of spring is when the flowers start blooming. March is the time for the flowering of Mimosa, a symbol of International Woman's Day. Many fruit trees are in blossom in March and April.
In late April the tulips start blooming in the Netherlands. You may think of the Dutch when you think of tulips, especially in Keukenhof Gardens, but the Floralia Brussels flower show in Germany celebrates spring blooms at the castle of Groot-Bijgaarden where you can see 500 varieties of spring flowers in bloom.
April and May are ideal months to visit the Greek temples in Agrigento, Sicily. The weather is perfect, the wildflowers are in bloom, and the tourism is lazy and relaxed.
Bears wake up in April in Central Finland's Taiga Forest. And they're hungry! But you can see them up until June if you're lucky. April in Scandinavia brings spring flowers, and the Aurora Borealis, the "Northern Lights" can be seen up until April as well.
In the north of England, you can see The Harrogate Spring Flower Show. Serious gardeners might want to attend the Chelsea Flower Show - The Greatest Flower Show on Earth according to Ferne Arfin.
And let's not forget Ireland. how about planning a Spring trip to the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, Tully (County Kildare)? Nothing like studs, gardens and a restaurant to get the old blood flowing. And, as a special bonus in St. Fiachra's Garden you'll get to discover "St. Fiachra, whose statue can be found in a lake. He is the patron saint of gardeners and also helps those struck down with sexually transmitted diseases." You don't want to miss that!
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Spring Fruits and Vegetables In European Markets (And Restaurants)
After a long winter of roasted root vegetables, Romans look forward to a bitter green called puntarella, a form of chicory, which is a late winter green that flourishes in Lazio. It's the harbinger of spring, dressed with a little oil and chopped anchovy.
In Italian spring markets, you'll find many familiar and many unfamiliar vegetables. There will still be artichokes in spring, and they will be inexpensive, but there will be several kinds. Our favorite is the spiny artichokes of Sicily and Sardinia. They've evolved to shoo away the sheep; practically every plant in Sardinia has spines!
Other oddities include, agretti, a marsh grass that you sauté in a little oil and some garlic, seasoning lightly if at all because it has a saltiness inherent in its place of birth. There are also Cardoons (cardoni in Italian, a relative of the artichoke) and the onion-like lampascione, really a specific type of hyacinth bulb that was once cucina povera, the cooking of the poor, and now has become quite fashionable as a side dish in Puglia preserved "sottolio" or under oil.
All of the above are specific to Italy, but other markets in other countries will offer their own unique specialties. France has marvelous wild strawberries, but even rarer are the strawberries grown in the Aveyron which ripen earlier than garden strawberries.
April marks the starts of a two-month asparagus festival in the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire in the Cotswolds. Germany has its own collection of asparagus festivals, for white, green or wild asparagus.
To take advantage of these unique foods you might not find in restaurants, you'll need a kitchen. You can get one in most vacation rentals.
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Many tourists lug a heavy DSLR around Europe, hoping to capture that perfect image. If you're a landscape photographer, you'll be glad you visited Europe in the offseason. For coastal cities, when the sea warms up and the air temperatures are cooler at night and warmer in the day, a haze forms off the sea — obscuring the gorgeous landscapes. To get the clearest landscape photos Spring and Fall (and even winter) are your best bets to visit.
Strong overhead sunlight is also the worst kind of light for most pictures. It turns people ghoulish, darkening the eye sockets while blasting the forehead with white light. In spring and fall the "golden hour", the time when the slanting light is warm and inviting and you get that romantic glow in your pictures, occurs earlier in the day, just as you're getting tired from sightseeing rather than when you're at dinner.