The palace of Peterhof is one of St Petersburg’s most popular visits and when the flowers are coming into full bloom, the magnificent gardens are at their finest. The famous, and much photographed, system of fountains – including the spectacular Grand Cascade – are turned on in April so now is the time to visit. The sequence of 37 gilded bronze sculptures, 64 fountains and 142 water jets descends from the terraces of the Great Palace to the city’s canals and the sea and operate without pumps using differences in elevation to power the fountains.
The capital of Slovenia has a beautiful Old Town with medieval buildings overlooked by the hilltop castle. The Ljubljanica river flows through the city centre and the embankment is lined by many outdoor cafes, perfect for a coffee stop to break up an afternoon’s sightseeing. From the castle there are views across to the Julian Alps and Mount Triglav.
After the chilly winter and before the intense summer heat, springtime is a perfect time to explore the Spanish capital. After exploring the Prado and Reina Sofia galleries, Madrid’s 350-acre Retiro Park is a lovely green space in the city centre to wander in afterwards. There is a boating lake, rose garden and from May onwards there are free concerts in the bandstand every Sunday.
Early spring is a great time to visit Venice, before many of the crowds arrive. On 25 April is the annual Festival of St Mark, the city’s patron saint. A highlight is the Regata di Traghetti, a boat race featuring gondoliers who compete while transporting passengers in their gondola. A tradition of the festival, still continuing today, is that men give their loved one a rose. There’s a reason to visit if you needed one!
The second largest city in Portugal, renowned for the fine tipple of a similar name, has a special charm in April and May. After the rainy winter season, the city is fresh and green. The cafes and restaurants that line the waterfront along the River Douro and nearby beaches start to come back to life. Ribeira, the Unesco-protected medieval part of the city, is the most picturesque part of Porto and is well-worth exploring in our opinion.
About the author
Katie Cosstick is the PR manager for Cox & Kings and MasterChef TravelLast modified: June 10, 2021