Where to go this Easter
Bunny-hop into the spring break with a culture-packed city weekend, an exotic beach hotel or an A-list food festival
Spring is in the air – and so is the promise of adventure. The combination of improving weather in the northern hemisphere and a four-day bank holiday weekend (for those based in the UK) makes Easter the perfect time to escape, whether you fancy a trip that’s deliciously far-flung or one nearer to home. With new hotels, seasonal celebrations and fine weather as diverse gains, each place appeals in its own way – you just need to decide which one is for you…
Take off to
Late March and early April are a prime time to visit Morocco: sun-baked landscapes glow with gentle warmth by day but aren’t yet scorching, while nights are refreshingly cool. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the largest city – Casablanca – is finding fresh appeal with travellers this spring thanks to the opening of the new Royal Mansour Casablanca. The sister hotel to Marrakech’s most opulent stay, it’s set inside a landmark Art Deco building fusing silver-screen good looks with a social atmosphere. In between R&R time, take in the kaleidoscopic food stalls of the Central Market or enjoy gin and jazz at Rick’s Café, inspired by (what else?) 1942 film Casablanca.
Take off to
Under-the-radar university hub Tartu might be small, but it holds real appeal for travellers – a photogenic Baroque-style town hall, rambling central square and an eclectic art museum, Tartmus, included. This year, things kick up a notch further as the city is crowned European Capital of Culture, bringing with it exhibitions, concerts and festivals punctuating the events calendar. Themes such as climate change, human connection, European identity and technology drive the programming, which you can take in alongside classic local sights. Don’t miss the wooden house-lined ‘Soup Town’ district or the mediaeval cathedral ruins.
Take off to
Paris might be hogging the French limelight this year as host of the Olympics, but Provençal port city Marseille deserves attention, too, as home of the sailing and football competitions. Beat the summer sporting crowds and visit around Easter, when the sun is beginning to shine and locals meander along the three-mile Corniche Kennedy skirting the Mediterranean Sea. Settle in for a bowlful of rich bouillabaisse at institutions such as Chez Michel, and stock up on rainbow blocks of Savon de Marseille soap at a branch of Savonnerie Marseillaise de la Licorne.
Take off to the
With rainy season over – and the peak prices of high season not yet in effect – this Indian Ocean star shines in late March and early April. Lush, mountainous and bursting with rare birdlife, giant tortoises and towering coco de mer trees, the Seychelles has much more than pristine icing-sugar beaches (though you’ll find plenty of those, too). Island hop from gateway Mahé to relaxed Praslin and cute La Digue by ferry, staying in quaint guesthouses, or splash out on a private island hotel. The latest hot spot for your Easter stay is new Waldorf Astoria Platte Island, set on a former uninhabited isle and complete with outdoor cinema, conservation activities and kids’ club for sun-seeking families.
Take off to
For an early blast of warmth in the Med, Malta is just the ticket. The island and its neighbour Gozo (opening image) boast eight hours of sunshine daily and high-teen temperatures throughout late March and early April. As home to the Knights Hospitaller religious order– as well as one of the most ornate gilded cathedrals in Europe – compact capital Valletta has long celebrated Easter weekend with traditional Catholic pageantry and solemn processions. But in a more contemporary vein, 2024 shines with the opening of the large MICAS contemporary art museum in the old fortification walls (one exhibit is welcoming visitors now, with the rest opening by the end of this year).
Take off to Sri
Prowling leopards in Yala National Park, undulating tea fields in Kandy, shallow golden shores at Pasikudah – Sri Lanka brims with enticements, whatever the month you choose to visit. Easter falls outside of monsoon season and also coincides with the end of the new Gourmet Galle food festival, running until 31 March. A-list chefs from Sri Lanka and abroad will dish up dinners in heritage villas and sleek hotels or lead inspiring masterclasses along the south coast. And once the feasting is done? Unesco-listed old port Galle still appeals with its 18th-century Dutch church, grand mansions and whitewashed mosque.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Take off to the Riviera
Mexico traditionally goes all-out for Easter, with passion plays, burning effigies and choruses of ringing church bells. But in the resort-lined Riviera Maya, the occasion takes a more relaxed approach. Spend days basking in 30°C sunshine, dipping in the balmy Caribbean Sea, as a bounty of new hotel openings serve up the experience in style. Coddled in mangrove and fringed by two miles of white-sand beachfront, Riviera Maya EDITION boasts sleek minimalism. Next door, just-renovated Belmond Maroma dazzles with local handicraft décor and hand-painted clay tiles. Or check into SHA Mexico wellness hotel, north of Cancún, to pair the tropical surrounds with detoxes or anti-ageing programmes in a full health reboot.
Take off to
Few cities can rival this southern Spanish star when it comes to Easter spirit. In a tradition dating back to the 16th century, streets fill with elaborate processions featuring Baroque gilded statues all through the week. But late March and early April is also an ideal time to explore this enchanting capital of Andalucía before the scorching temperatures of summer set in. Take in the detailed frescoes of Plaza de España, marvel at the artistic intricacies of the Royal Alcázar and wander through the world’s largest Gothic cathedral – a Unesco World Heritage Site.